Authors: Shari Barr
Â© 2010 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Edited by Jeanette Littleton.
Print ISBN 978-1-60260-294-6
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-60742-363-8
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-60742-364-5
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
Scripture taken from the H
Â® Copyright Â© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Thinkpen Design
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.
Printed in the United States of America.
Dickinson Press, Inc.; Grand Rapids, MI; October 2010; D10002531
“They're going to hit us!” McKenzie screamed, clutching the sides of the tiny sailboat,
Alexis Howell reached back and grabbed the tiller, the steering device of the boat. She tried to move the sailboat out of the path of the motorboat speeding straight for them. But the steady breeze from earlier had died down.
Instead of moving out of the motorboat's way, the
bobbed lazily, its sails hanging limp. Alex paddled frantically with her hands, but her attempts were useless.
“Watch out!” McKenzie cried. She waved one arm furiously, trying to get the driver's attention.
A man wearing a black baseball cap and mirrored sunglasses sat in the driver's seat. He stared straight ahead as if unaware of the girls. The woman in the front seat beside him looked the other way as they barreled down on the skimmer.
McKenzie and Alex yelled, but the roar of the motorboat drowned their screams.
Suddenly the driver whipped the boat into a sharp turn.
But that caused choppy waves rolling right at the girls. Again and again. Higher and higher. They relentlessly beat the sailboat.
“Hold on!” Alex cried out.
The skimmer bobbed wildly.
The sailboat toppled, dumping the girls into the blue-green ocean water.
With flailing arms, McKenzie began to sink. Seconds later she felt an upward pull. Her orange life vest popped her out of the water. She bounced up and down as the waves slowed. She coughed and sputtered from the salty water that had gone up her nose. Craning her neck, she searched for Alexis.
“Alex!” McKenzie yelled, her eyes skimming the surface of the water. “Where are you?”
The capsized sailboat lifted slightly. Alex's sunburned face appeared. “I'm under here. You okay?”
“Great,” McKenzie said between sputters. “Except for a major wedgie.”
“Wow, what was that all about?” Alex asked. She slipped from beneath the overturned skimmer, clinging to its side.
McKenzie flung her wet hair out of her eyes. She swam to the sailboat. Then she draped her arms across the bottom until she caught her breath. “Man, was that guy trying to kill us or what? I thought for sure we were goners!”
“I don't think he even saw us until he almost hit us,” Alexis said. She took a deep breath.
“How could he not see us?” McKenzie asked. “It's hard to miss this skimmer with its bright sails. And he didn't even stop to see if we were okay.”
McKenzie squinted into the distance. The motorboat was idling about a half mile away. The driver appeared to be standing and watching them through binoculars. Was he checking to make sure they were okay? If so, why didn't he just come back and ask? She scanned the cove, but only saw a cloud of haze on the horizon.
“Let's swim this thing to shore,” Alex suggested. “We'll never be able to turn it right side up out here.”
The girls had entered a narrow inlet near Sea Lion Harbor on the Oregon coast. The nearest shoreline was an isolated beach about one hundred yards away. Kicking their legs, the girls slowly towed the sailboat to shore.
A few minutes later, McKenzie felt sand beneath her feet and stood in chest-high water. The girls flipped the sailboat right side up. Then they tugged it onto the sandy beach, far from the incoming tide.
McKenzie flopped onto the sand. Glancing around, she noticed nothing but a small sandy beach along the rocky coastline. “I wonder where we are,” she said, slipping out of her life vest. She flung it to the ground.
“I think we're near your Aunt Becca's beach house,” Alex said, brushing sand from between her toes. “I try to pay attention to landmarks. Dad taught me to always watch my surroundings. I haven't got lost yet. If we get out of this inlet, we'll be able to see the house just south a little ways, I'm sure.”
“I'm glad you know how to sail.” McKenzie wrung water out of her dripping curly auburn hair.
“My grandparents' home in San Francisco is on the beach, so my parents take my brothers and me sailing about once a month,” Alex said, tucking her dark, shoulder-length curls behind her ears. “I didn't realize the ocean is so much rougher up here, though. No wonder we don't see any more sailboats out here. The water's colder, too.”
“I have no clue where we are. I was just looking for the sea lions.”
“Aren't sea lions cool? I've seen tons of them near my grandparents' home,” Alex said.
McKenzie picked up a seashell and examined it. “Are they Steller sea lions?” she asked, glancing at her younger friend.
“Yes. Most of the sea lions along the Pacific coast are from the Steller family.”
“Why are these kind called Steller?” McKenzie asked.
“They're named after the guy who first studied the animals back in the 1700s,” Alex explained. “They're usually larger and lighter in color than other sea lions, the California sea lions. Sea lions are my favorite animal, and sea lion pups are so cute. I can't wait to find those two you were talking aboutâMario and Bianca.”
“Yeah, it's really weird,” McKenzie said. “They're always with their mom, Susie. I saw them last night after my plane got in, before you arrived. But no one's seen them since. I want to put them in my video report.”
“I can't believe this report is really going to be on TV. Can you?” Alex asked, shielding her eyes against the sun.
“Not really,” McKenzie said. “I about freaked out when the public TV guy called and told me that I had won the essay contest about endangered animals. I couldn't believe it when he said I'd also won a trip to Sea Lion Harbor to film my report.”
Alex smiled at her friend. “I am so glad you asked me to come up here and run the video camera. We'll have a blast.”
“Mom and Dad would never have agreed to let me come if Aunt Becca wasn't already working out here at the resort. They're too busy on the farm to take a vacation right now, so this is perfect. And it would have been no fun to spend every day alone while Becca's at work,” McKenzie said, digging a broken seashell from the sand and tossing it aside. “Though it's cool to have an aunt who's a private airplane pilot with a company connected to a resort!”
She stood, hopping across the sand until the waves washed over her toes. This was her first visit to the ocean, and she absolutely loved it. The Oregon coast was a long way from her parents' farm in Montana. The salty air mixed with the scent of pine trees was so different from the woodsy smells back home.
Last night, after Aunt Becca had picked McKenzie up at the airport, she had taken her to a spot farther down the coast so McKenzie could see the Pacific Ocean. The roar of the waves had practically hypnotized her. She had never heard or seen anything like it. The water here at Sea Lion Harbor, though, was calm compared to the way the ocean had been the night before.
“Let's go exploring,” Alex said, interrupting McKenzie's thoughts.
Alex had already started down the short stretch of sandy beach that lay between two craggy rock formations. McKenzie followed her, wet sand squishing between her toes. Alex hurried to the nearest rock and scurried to the top.
“Come on up.” Alex motioned for McKenzie to follow. “You've got to see this.”
The rocks were rough and hot beneath McKenzie's feet, but she scaled the rock to stand beside Alex. Below the girls lay a narrow sandy inlet that stretched into a gaping hole in the side of the cliff.
“Wow!” McKenzie exclaimed. “Look at this cave.”
McKenzie climbed partway down the rock before leaping the last few feet. She fell to her knees, reaching her arms out to keep from falling on her face. She stood and brushed the sand off her legs. The sandbar was cool here, shaded by the craggy rocks towering above the opening to the cave.
McKenzie turned as Alex leaped off the rock beside her. The girls moved closer together. They stared into the opening of the cave that yawned like a huge mouth.
Alex's blue eyes gleamed with wonder. “Look how tall it is. You could drive a truck through there. That is, if you could get a truck out here.”
McKenzie took a few steps forward. She approached the opening and felt the cool, damp air inside. She wrinkled her nose. “Pew! It smells like something died in there.”
“Are you going in?” Alex sniffed the air with a look of disgust.
“I'm a wimp. You go first.” McKenzie gave Alex a gentle shove forward.
“Why me?” Alex said, taking a step backward. “You're a whole year older than I am.”
McKenzie sighed as she shook her head. “Okay, okay. But you're coming with me,” she said, tugging her friend's arm.