Authors: Teagan Oliver
Obsidian wasn't the first book I wrote, but it was the first book that I sold. For me, that was a wonderful, heart stopping moment when I realized that anything really was possible. Obsidian also holds a special place in my heart as it's set in a fictional town that is based on my own hometown. For those that know me they are able to pick out the local landscape as they read through my story. I only hope I did it justice.
Shelby's story is unfortunately a sad tale that plays out quite often in the small fishing communities along the coast. The work and the living is hard and the fight to just make it day to day can sometimes mean the loss of a loved one. But being a true Mainer, Shelby carries on and takes on the task of taking care of everyone else that needs it as well.
Jamie is a tribute to my father. I'd long wanted to create a Coast Guard hero for him. What these men do on a daily basis is nothing short of heroic and hard. Like Shelby, Jamie is dealing with loss in his own way. He's determined to do anything to find out who killed his friend. I gave him the opportunity by coming to Maine. My thanks go out to the USCG members who were patient and gave me information. I appreciate it. Any mistakes or inconsistencies are my own work of fiction.
I hope you all fall in love with this place and these characters. They truly come from my heart.
Ó 2012 by Teagan Oliver
Published by Teagan Oliver of Maine. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase and additional copy for each person. Thank you.
Cover Photo: B.G. Oliver, all rights reserved.
Original First Printing: January 2007, Five Star Expressions
Large Print Edition: October 2008 Thorndike Press
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
For my Dad, for being my hero.
Writing is a mostly solitary profession, but becoming published is something that cannot be done alone. Thank you to all who answered my endless questions along the way and to my friends who offered creative suggestions for plotting all along this strange trip.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my children who love me whether I succeed or fail, and my husband who never hesitates to tell people that his wife is a writer.
My deepest thanks go to my Maine RWA family for their support, combined knowledge, and belief in me. Thank you all.
Maybe it was the gentle rise of the wind that lifted the hairs at the back of his neck and set the chimes on his porch to swaying. Maybe it was the absence of all other sounds except the buzzing in his ears that sent his senses into overtime. Whatever it was, something made him stop and turn back for one last look.
Jamie Rivard stood on the dock as David throttled up the engine of his new, twenty-six foot, Grady-White Offshore Pro and pulled away. Sunlight glistened off the hull, sending slivers of cascading light rippling into the water around it. The boat was a beauty and he was envious.
They’d spent the afternoon basking in the sun off Minet Island with nothing but the traveling sun to remind them of the time. They hadn’t caught much, but it didn’t matter. Fishing, like their good-natured rivalry, held no effects on their long time friendship. Whether it was cars, boats, women or fish, David had always prided himself on bettering him. Now, as he watched his friend head out with the setting sun gleaming across his bow, he had to concede that today he’d won.
Jamie set the tackle box at his feet and balanced the pole against his shoulder. The sky was turning orange with the last dying light and he waved as David’s boat moved out and away from the line of boats anchored just offshore.
Something had been bothering his friend all day. He’d been quick to anger and fast to laugh. Normally this wouldn’t have bothered him, but there was something else about his friend that he hadn’t been able to pinpoint. And maybe he’d been working too many long hours and seeing suspicion in everything, a hazard of a job he knew all too well.
Red Sky at night, sailor’s delight . . .
he thought, giving one last look at the sunset as he turned back, reaching for his tackle box.
Suddenly, the gentle wind became a buzzing noise that steadily increased to a blare of warning. Above the din, he listened as David throttled up the engine once again as he moved toward open water.
Jamie’s muscles tightened, his stomach clenching as panic washed over him. He reached out his hand to signal David, but it was too late.
A blinding flash fired before him, shaking everything with a resounding boom that lifted the boat from the water. It exploded wildly, fire ripping through the deck as a cloud of black spiraled upward, filling the sky. The force of the explosion rushed over him, throwing him to the deck as fractured fiberglass rained down fragments and hot ash upon him, searing his skin.
Pain and darkness washed over Jamie, swirling around him in a black pool until he could do nothing but give in, muttering a silent prayer and letting it all sink away.
The Beachside Bar wasn’t even close to a beach. Nor, was it in any way, the cultural experience the exotic name implied. Instead, it was a local hovel on a narrow Key West back street, whose only claim to a beachside atmosphere were the fake fishing nets hanging from the ceilings and the fish they served on chipped plates.
He knew the place well.
Jamie Rivard set his sunglasses on his forehead, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness before sliding up to the bamboo bar. Nothing had changed since he’d been here last. It had the same worn carpeting and the same faded beer signs hanging on the walls.
He motioned to the bartender for a beer and pulled a few dollars out of his wallet, pushing them across the bar as the man slid the bottle toward him.
Jamie chose the table at the opposite corner, placing his back to the wall. Why in hell had McAlvey chosen this dump to meet? He could think of countless other places better suited to a discreet conversation. Certainly, there were other places with adequate lighting and passable food.
He sighed. Inside his nerves were raw and on edge, but on the outside he remained calm. A skill he’d honed after years of service. Never let them see you sweat. No matter who the other guy was.
He checked his watch. McAlvey was late.
On the jukebox, an Eagle’s song ended and another slower one started. A lone couple sat in the corner with eyes only for each other, their hands moving toward each other across the top of the table. With her honey blond hair and tanned complexion there was something familiar about her. And yet, he couldn’t put a name to the face. Her companion was a heavy-set bruiser of a guy with arms like tree trunks and indistinguishable tattoos.
The soulful lyrics were an aphrodisiac to the couple as they rose from the table. The blond draped herself against the hulk of a guy, tucking an arm about his waist as they wound their way through the empty tables.
When he heard the husky pouting voice, vague memories filtered back to him of a weekend spent drowning in tequila and mourning the loss of his best friend.
“How are you?”
The blond smiled wickedly, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by her male companion who responded by tucking her closer.
“I’m just fine, honey. And you’re definitely looking a whole lot better than the last time I saw you.” Beside her, her male counterpart puffed his chest at the familiarity.
“Being sober will do it. You look good, as always.” He took a drink, letting the beer cool his nerves.
“Have a good evening,” he offered; tipping his beer in salute as the over-pecked male escorted her out. Thankfully, they’d gotten the message and moved along. It wouldn’t do for them to be hanging about should McAlvey decide to finally show.
The door swung shut behind them, leaving just him and the bartender and still no McAlvey. From the back room the sound of a pool break clattered through the open doorway. Monday evening happy hour was definitely not a high time for the Beachside.
The door swung open and a man walked in. His short blond hair showed gray at the edges as he raised his sunglasses up, settling them on his head. Deep lines of age surrounded his piercing blue eyes. Well tanned, and in his late 50s, McAlvey looked like any other guy on the Keys with his flashy shirt, white cut off shorts and deck shoes. The only thing separating this man from a tourist was the large signet ring with a crest on his left hand. To the casual bystander he looked like just another Jimmy Buffett-wannabe, out for a good time. Few would believe that this man was a Commanding Officer in the Coast Guard.
Jamie rose from his seat as much as from instilled formality than anything else. McAlvey didn’t offer greetings. Instead, he nodded his confirmation of Jamie’s presence and ordered his own beer.
“We aren’t on ceremony here, Rivard.” McAlvey said, pulling out the chair opposite him and motioned for Jamie to sit once again. They weren’t at the base and the last thing either of them wanted was to call undue attention.
“I was expecting you a half hour ago.” Jamie leaned back in his chair and apprised his CO. In the three years he’d been under McAlvey’s command they’d never been much for making small talk.
“I was unavoidably detained,” McAlvey muttered, taking a pull from the beer the bartender set in front of him.
“Things happen.” But things like this rarely happened to him. Jamie took another swig of beer and leaned back in his chair, bringing the front legs up off the floor.
“The scars are healing well. How about the leg?”
McAlvey wasn’t here for small talk and Jamie knew it. But he’d play along and see what it was he wanted. He could be patient when needed. At least for a while.
“The leg is good. The scars,” he shrugged. “ I’ll have to live with those.”
By all rights, they were charting some sort of uneasy territory here, setting rules for engagement for a battle about which Jamie had no clue.
“You need a haircut,” McAlvey said. “It’s not regulation.”
“I’ll get one. Before I come back.” Jamie took another sip of his beer to calm his nerves. It was warm. “For now, I don’t need one.”
McAlvey fidgeted with the bottle between his fingers. Moisture dripped down the side of the bottle and left rings on the plastic tablecloth. “You seem better than the last time I saw you.”
Jamie snorted. “The last time you saw me I was stinking drunk.”
It was just another reminder of the blur of days after David’s death. He cringed as he thought of how he’d acted the day he’d gone on base. Anger had driven him to drink. Suspicion had made him demand answers over David’s death. And regret made him understand what a bad decision it had been.
Despite what he let others think of him, it wasn’t in his nature to act out. Hell, it wasn’t in his nature to chase away things with alcohol, but for a while it had helped get rid of the pain.
“You know, you had no place being on the base inebriated.”
“Is that why you asked me here to meet you? To discuss my behavior?” The legs of his chair hit the floor with a thud. They both knew that wasn’t the reason, but they’d been dancing around the subject like a ghost that refused to go away.
McAlvey shook his head. “You’re a loose cannon, Rivard. You’ve just been lucky and gotten away with it up until now. I could’ve had you detained for your behavior.”