Three years into their loving marriage, with two infant daughters at home in Los Angeles, Nicholas Arden and Ellen Wagstaff Arden are on a plane that goes down in the South Pacific. Although most passengers manage to survive the incident, Ellen presumably perishes when swept off her lifeboat, her body never recovered. Fast forward five years. Nicholas, wanting to move on with his life, has Ellen declared legally dead. Part of that moving on includes getting remarried, this time to a young woman named Bianca Steele, who, for their honeymoon, he plans to take to the same Monterrey resort where he and Ellen spent their honeymoon. On that very same day, Ellen is dropped off in Los Angeles by the Navy, who rescued her from the South Pacific island where she was stranded for the past five years. She asks the Navy not to publicize her rescue nor notify Nicholas as she wants to do so herself.