Terrors of the High Seas
Yellow Rose Books
ALSO BY MELISSA GOOD
Dar and Kerry Series
Eye of the Storm
Red Sky At Morning
Thicker Than Water
Copyright © 2005 by Melissa Good
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, trans-mitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The characters, incidents and dialogue herein are fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
First Printing 2005
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Cover design by Donna Pawlowski
Yellow Rose Books
PMB 210, 8691 9th Avenue
Port Arthur, Texas 77642-8025
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Printed in the United States of America
THE GOLF CART snaked its way down the sidewalk, startling several peacocks on its way to the docks. It pulled to a halt next to the water, alongside a 54-foot Bertram bobbing in the light chop of the waves.
It was sunny but cool, a gorgeous crisp day, and the occupant of the cart paused to admire that fact as she got out and stretched.
Appropriate to the weather, she wore sturdy cotton shorts and a light tank top over a one-piece bathing suit. Her medium length, blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, currently poked through the rear of a bright blue baseball cap with a small, embroidered Dogbert on the front.
“Wow,” Kerry Stuart stated with a grin. “Perfect weather.”
She turned and hoisted a crate of supplies from the back seat of the cart, hugging it to her as she made her way up the gangway propped against the side of the Bertram. The boat rocked under her as she stepped off onto the deck, and she found herself rolling with the motion.
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me,” Kerry warbled softly, nudging open the door to the cabin and stepping down inside. She crossed over to the small galley and put down the supplies, then busied herself tucking the fresh foods into the little refrigerator.
There was milk, cream for coffee, butter, and a nice piece of Swiss cheese along with honey ham for sandwiches. Peach and tangerine yogurt for snacks, and a dozen eggs for breakfast joined the store, followed by a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and a box of frosted strawberry Pop Tarts. Kerry regarded the Pop Tarts bemusedly, and then tossed a package of miniature carrots in next to them. It was the last of the things they had to load before they set off, and she hummed as she worked, hardly believing it was finally the day they were leaving.
She’d tried to take off a few days before they went on this trip, but one thing after another kept happening at work, and finally it’d just been easier for her to go in and take care of stuff rather than let it sit and fester, or worse.
2 Melissa Good But starting today, her office had strict orders that any call to her cell phone had to be in the event of a complete catastrophe; she was expecting her staff to handle everything else without her input.
It was, after all, the holidays, near the end of the year, and if there was any time she could just disappear for a week, this was it.
Kerry straightened and opened the cabinet above the refrigerator, stocking some essential groceries in it. “Can’t sail without these.” She shook the box of Frosted Flakes gently. “Or those.” Cans of soup followed, for quick snacks after night dives.
She tended to come up chilled, and the cold fruit Dar was partial to didn’t quite fill the bill for her.
The pop open cans of pineapple and oranges went up next to the soup, along with a couple of jars of jam and one large one of peanut butter.
Finished, she rested her elbows on the counter and gazed around the boat in appreciation. To one side there was a small eating area, a table with sea green and navy fabric seats semicircling it. On the other side of the cabin was a working/living section with a television and VCR, and built in storage for their hobby gear. Her book bag was already nestled in one of the chairs—
Kerry had decided to work on some longhand poetry on the trip—
and Dar had stashed a painfully intricate ship model in a drawer to occupy her idle moments.
The boat rocked gently as a set of footsteps sounded on deck, soft and muffled as though the newcomer was barefoot. Which, of course, she was.
Kerry glanced up as Dar entered the cabin, ducking her head to clear the low entrance and giving her a rakish grin as she tossed a duffel bag onto the table on the other side of the galley. Her partner was dressed in a pair of denim cutoffs that were just barely legal—
there were more threads and rips than fabric—with a ribbed, white tank top tucked into them.
“Hey there, gorgeous,” Kerry greeted Dar. “That the last of it?”
“Lock, stock, barrel and body wash,” Dar confirmed. “We’re ready to take off outta here.”
“Ooo…” Kerry did a little happy dance. “I am so ready for this.”
Dar walked around the edge of the couch and encircled Kerry in her arms, then pulled her into a close hug. “Me too,” she agreed.
“Mom and Dad are waiting for us to pull out. They’re going to pull into our slip while we’re gone.”
“Cool.” Kerry was busy sucking in lungfuls of delightful coconutty smelling Dar. “I’m glad they’re staying with Chino. She loves Dad.”
“Mm,” Dar murmured. “I think he’s trying to sucker my mother into getting them one.”
Terrors of the High Seas 3
Kerry’s brow crinkled. “I thought she was allergic to dogs?”
Dar released her, but slid an arm over her shoulder as they walked toward the cabin door. “She claims to have grown out of it.”
They emerged onto the deck.
“I’ll leave the cart there for them, then,” Kerry commented.
“Ready for me to cast off the lines?”
Dar trotted up the stairs to the bridge and perched on the leather-covered seat. “Let me get the engines spooled up, then yeah, let ’er loose.”
Kerry went to work with a will, drawing up the gangway and lashing it into place, then hopping off onto the dock as the low thrum of the twin diesels rumbled to life. She went to the stern line and released it, then did the same with the bow, tossing the ropes onto the deck before she leaped after them.
We’re free. Kerry felt like bouncing up and down and letting out a yell, but it was early yet and there were people who slept on board their boats docked in the Island’s marina, so she regretfully stifled the impulse. Instead, she dutifully walked around the perimeter of the deck, checking over the side for debris or errant lines from other boats. “Clear!” she called up to Dar.
Dar nodded, her pale blue eyes alert as she carefully backed the large boat out of its slip. “Radio the dockmaster, would you?”
“Aye, aye, cap’n,” Kerry chortled, before ducking inside the cabin to grab the radio mic. “Dockmaster, dockmaster.”
A soft crackling sound came from the speaker, then, “Island dockmaster, go ahead.”
“This is Dixieland Yankee, leaving the dock.” Kerry had to grin at the name of the newly re-christened boat, the most dignified of the possible choices they’d come up with. Dar’s aunt, from whom she’d inherited the craft, had declined to name the motor yacht, merely referring to it by its registration number when needed. “We have a float plan filed for the American Virgin Islands.”
The radio digested the transmission for a moment. “Roger that, Dixieland Yankee. Have a good trip.”
Kerry clipped the mic onto its holder and slipped back outside and watched the concrete and wood dock recede as Dar skillfully handled the big boat. They backed into the relatively narrow throughway, then Dar nudged the throttles from reverse to forward and swung the bow toward the dock entrance, keeping the speed just above idle.
Once they were clear of the pylons, Kerry climbed up the ladder to the flying bridge and joined Dar. The boat was moving slowly, but there already was a nice breeze, and it was mussing Dar’s dark hair and getting it into her eyes. Kerry tugged at a lock.
“Want me to braid this?”
“Sure.” Dar set her bare feet on the console bars and leaned 4 Melissa Good back. She felt Kerry’s fingers slide across her scalp and that, combined with the gorgeous weather and the fact that they were headed out for a solid week of vacation together, made it just about a perfect moment.
A week. No cell phones, no laptops, no PDA’s, no pagers. Just a week of sun, sea, diving, and the two of us. Dar flexed her hands on the throttles, feeling the smooth stainless steel under her fingertips.
“What’s that grin for?” Kerry asked, finishing her task and resting her chin on Dar’s shoulder.
Dar wiggled her toes. “I’m trying to figure out what to do first,” she admitted. “We could stop for a quick dive on the way down to the cabin, or pull into Largo for lunch or—”
“Both,” Kerry broke in. “We can stop at Pennekamp and do a little reef diving, then go to that little dockside crab shack that always looks like it was built for a horror movie.”