Authors: Brenda Adcock
Tags: #yellow rose books, #General, #Romance, #Science Fiction, #f/f, #Historical, #print, #Romance & Sagas, #Romance - Time Travel, #Fiction, #Time travel, #Fiction - Romance
The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock
Copyright © 2008 by Brenda Adcock
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted 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.
ISBN 978-1-935053-10-1 (eBooks)
eBook conversion March 2010
Cover design by Donna Pawlowski
Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC
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Published in the United States of America
Every novel is a collaborative effort and this one is no different. Many others made the final version possible. My eternal thanks to Teresa Cain, Gail Robinson, and Norma who endured the earliest drafts of the story. It takes gutsy women to endure the birth of a novel. Many thanks to those who assisted me with the French translations throughout the story and kept me from looking like a blithering idiot. Although I've thanked my best friend, Ron Whiteis, many times, thanks will never be enough for his contributions to my writing. He knows my mind better than almost anyone and likes me anyway. Donna Pawlowski came through with another memorable cover design. Lori Lake contributed valuable lessons in writing and, thankfully, pointed out some of my rather nasty writing habits. I told my editor to be brutal and she took me seriously. Patty Schramm did a remarkable job of pulling it into its final form and slapping me around about an annoying point of view problem, while still keeping it fun. My publisher took a chance by accepting my books and I can never thank Cathy LeNoir enough for her faith and friendship. Last, but never least in my mind and heart, I have to thank my partner, Cheryl, for her patience while I sat in front of the computer night after night when I could have been spending quality time with her.
I would be remiss not to thank the fans of lesbian literature for reading my stories. Everything writers produce is nothing without you. I hope you will enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Dedicated to Cathy LeNoir
An old proverb says: Opportunity seldom knocks twice. Thank you for opening the door when I knocked.
THE MID-MORNING SUNDAY sun promised another hot July day. Dr. Julia Blanchard slipped into her tank top rash guard and minimalist skin shorts, pulled on a buoyancy vest, and clipped an underwater work light onto it. She hoisted an air tank onto her back and fastened it snugly across her chest. She squinted against the sunlight reflecting off the calm water of the Atlantic Ocean and inhaled its salty smell. She knew she had broken the rules by returning to the site unaccompanied, but needed time alone to think. The perfect life she thought she was living was unexpectedly gone. She took a breath through the mouthpiece to check the air flow, then flipped into the water for a final short dive before returning to the Tybee Island Marina.
The fragile hull of the recently discovered shipwreck, officially known as Project 3213-D, but lovingly referred to as the
by the excavation team
rose to greet her as she made the slow forty-eight foot descent to the site. It was a magnificent sight. A ghostly apparition. Julia almost expected to hear the sound of voices rising from the remains of the vessel. Despite looking well-preserved, she knew it was fragile, held together by an underwater ecosystem of organisms making it their home. Spurred on by her curiosity about a cannon hole she noticed in the bottom of the hull on a previous dive, she swam closer. Collapsed sections of the ship's upper decks obscured a portion of the hole and she drifted into the lower deck area with as little movement as possible. Out of the corner of her eye she saw small fish skittering away and smiled to herself. Her love affair with the ocean began when she was a small child and dreamed of one day marrying Aquaman, growing gills, and living happily ever after in the peaceful calm beneath the tumultuous waves. By the time she was in high school she was no longer interested in Aquaman but wouldn't have minded meeting his sister.
She maneuvered closer to the gaping hole and flipped on her underwater light. The hole was larger than she originally thought. From the position of the wood surrounding the opening the hull appeared to be splintered outward, exactly as it would have been if the damage originated from within the ship. She was convinced the vessel was scuttled by its crew and wondered if they made it safely to shore.
Checking the air supply remaining in her tanks, Julia decided it was time to return to the surface and leave the
and its secrets for another day. She kicked her powerful legs to begin the ascent to the Atlantic Marine Institute's recovery vessel
, a thirty-five-foot Bayliner cabin cruiser. She watched the
grow smaller and eventually disappear in the cloudy water as she rose and gave it a tiny wave. Halfway to the surface she looked up and abruptly stopped her ascent. She saw the bottom of the
with its sonar boom attached. Next to it a slightly smaller second vessel, no more than a twentyfive-footer, rolled lazily in the water. She couldn't imagine who the hell would be so far from shore. The buoy clearly marked the location as a research area. It and the
were both emblazoned with the Institute's logo.
She rose slowly beneath the cruiser to obscure her air bubbles. Her head broke the water just enough for her to remove her mouthpiece. She pushed short strawberry-blonde hair away from her face and could hear voices through the hull. It sounded as if someone was ransacking the interior cabin. She pressed her body close to the hull and made her way along the waterline to the front of the cruiser. Grasping the mooring ring on the bow, she glanced to her left at the second boat. It was a sleek white vessel, obviously built for speed. A man on the bridge of the smaller boat leaned over the side and scanned the water below.
"How long we gonna wait around here, man?" he called out to someone. "Just take the fuckin' thing."
"It didn't float out here by itself, you moron," a deeper voice answered from on board the
. "They can't stay under water forever. Patience is a virtue."
"Fuck you and your patience. The Coast Guard could cruise by at any time."
A third voice whooped, "Hot damn! This electronic shit is worth a fuckin' fortune!"
"Then start the damn engine and let's get it someplace where we can strip it," the first man yelled.
"What if I told you there was only one person on this tub and it's a woman?" the second voice said. "Think that would be worth waitin' for, you horny bastard!"
Julia peeked around the bow and saw the man on the speed boat laugh as he grabbed his crotch. "I'm up for some of that!" Julia readjusted her mask and mouthpiece, checked the time remaining in her tank and slipped silently below the water. Fifteen minutes maybe. It seemed obvious that no matter what else happened, these modern-day pirates would take the
, as well as her computer and all its precious data. She needed to get as far away from the two boats as possible unseen. But fifteen minutes or less wouldn't get her very far. She knew there were extra tanks secured to the diving platform on the stern. Getting to them was her only option. She would be safe beneath the water. When she didn't answer a hail from the harbor master on Tybee Island, or didn't return that afternoon, they would send a ship out to search for her. She would have to wait. But until the pirates tired of floating around, and left with the
, she needed more air.
Julia glided under the hull of the
and reemerged on the side away from the second boat. She heard the sound of more items being tossed around inside the cabin and a quick glance revealed the back of the man on the bridge examining the cruiser's equipment. The second boat had drifted slightly forward and she carefully made her way to the dive platform, quickly reached up and flipped open the latch on the cage holding the reserve tanks. She ducked back into the water and waited a moment before bringing her eyes level with the platform again. She cursed silently to herself when she realized the reserve tanks were secured to the sides of the cage by a second strap, just out of reach. She hoped they had been refilled after Friday's dive, but her options were dwindling fast.
"Hey!" the man on the second boat called out, causing Julia to slip back into the water under the platform.
"What?" a voice on the
"That's it, man. Let's get the hell outta Dodge. I can find some pussy on dry land."
"Okay, okay. Five more minutes. Then we're outta here. That work for you, Pinkie?"
"Yep," the man on the bridge answered. "This baby won't be as fast as ours, but she'll move."
With time running out Julia had to act soon. Placing both hands firmly on the platform deck, she pulled herself out of the water, released the straps holding two tanks, and grabbed them. A small swell caused the
to list unexpectedly. Julia lost her grip on one of the tanks and it fell to the metal platform surface with a deafening clatter. Her eyes darted up to find a man staring at her from the doorway of the cabin.
"Well, hello there, sweetness," he grinned as he pulled a pistol from the waistband of his wrinkled tan khaki shorts. "Come on up here and let's party." Waving the gun, motioning for her to come on board, he looked away for a second and yelled, "Hey, Carlos! I got a present for you. And it's already good and wet," he laughed.
Julia glanced at her air indicator. Less than five minutes left. She backed up slightly, keeping her eyes on the man wielding the gun until she felt the back edge of the platform under the heels of her feet. Sucking in a deep breath, she jumped off the back of the
, keeping her body as straight as possible, hoping her position and the additional weight of the reserve tank would take her deep enough, swiftly enough to get away from the men. From the change of pressure she knew she was descending rapidly. Bullets zinged through the water above her as she moved her legs to even out her descent. Saying a prayer of thanks, she slowed significantly and took a shaky breath. She was surprised when her lungs only partially filled. Below her she saw the
begin to emerge, beckoning to her. Working as fast as possible she removed the spent air tank and released the hose to her mouthpiece. Her lungs screamed for air as she worked to attach the hose to the new tank. Her hands were shaking and she struggled to control her panic. The lack of oxygen made her light-headed as she looked from the
below her to the wakes of two boats above her speeding away from the site.