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Authors: Gayle Ann Williams

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Tsunami Blue

BOOK: Tsunami Blue
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Praise for
TSUNAMI BLUE

"Fasten your seatbelts. Gayle Ann Williams delivers an intriguing, mile-a-minute adventurous tale, of sexy survival in a paranormal world."

Stella Cameron, New York Times bestselling author

 

 "This original romance starts quietly enough, like a calm blue ocean, and gradually builds until you're holding on for dear life, hit with page after page of creative, taut action. You'll be left grinning, grateful for the ride, thanks to original characters, a fantastic story and action that will keep you up late, turning pages. Can't wait to see what Williams has in store next!"

RT Book Reviews Magazine
4 1/2 Stars HOT(Fantastic-Keeper)

 

"This is truly paranormal romance at its best. The plot is raw, emotional and wonderfully action-packed. The villains are evil while the heroes are incredibly heroic with a gentle yet beautiful romance swirling heatedly at its core. Be prepared to laugh but also to cry for there are moments of deep sadness and hopelessness - all of which make for one amazing roller coaster ride upon murky and raging seas."

Lovin' Me Some Romance

 

"Tsunami Blue translates as an experience, and so much more than a book. Williams will take you on an amazing adventure; her stunning vision brilliantly conceived, and rapid fire from start to finish.~ I am a huge speculative fiction fan, and this is the best original work I have read in ages. It's an exceptional meshing of Williams' unique storytelling skills, her post-apocalyptic vision and red-hot romance. More please! Fans are definitely going to demand a sequel!"

A Fiendishly Bookish Review

 

TSUNAMI BLUE

By Gayle Ann Williams
 
Copyright © 2010 Gayle Ann Williams
All Rights Reserved
EBook Edition by IGLA
27 West 24
th
Street, Suite 700B
New York, NY 10010
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.  Any resemblance to real people, alive or dead, is entirely coincidental.
 

For Hugh, my biggest fan. How I love you.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As with any debut novel there are a lot of “thank- yous.”

Here are mine.

A great many thanks to Leah Hultenschmidt, my editor. Thank you for your guidance and care with TSUNAMI BLUE. Yes, you are my first editor, but I’m convinced you are the best editor in the entire world.

To my brilliant agent, Miriam Kriss, thank you for helping me navigate the mysterious waters of publishing. You are amazing.

Thank you to my beautiful sisters and my crazy brother, to my perfect nieces and nephews, and to my brother-in-laws and my sisters-in-laws. Thank you to Ty, Ann and Zach, and to Ash and David, I love you all so much.   

Thank you to my beautiful Summer Girls, Bristol (Bristol Bay), Katie (Katie-did), Mollie (Moll-teenie), Desi (Desdemona), Lindsay (Lindsay Wagner), and Hayley (Hayley-Girl). Read close girls, there may be a part of each of you in Kathryn “Blue” O’Malley.

Thank you to the beautiful and talented, Stella Cameron. A writer who gives from her heart both on the written page and to the community around her. You are a treasure.

To Caroline Cross, a wonderful person and talented writer, thank you for offering a hand in friendship all those years ago. I’ve never forgotten.

Thank you to Fancy Nancy and the crew and customers at Friday’s Crabhouse, in Friday Harbor, WA. There are no words for the amount of inspiration and fun you have brought into my life. Not to mention fodder for my stories.

And to my Friday Harbor family of friends, thank you for the cheers and support and the wine.

Thank you to Gini and Fred, and Big Hugh and Mary Lou. I will never forget you, and I will love you forever.

To Bill Chevalier, who would have loved Tsunami Blue’s boots, I thank you for your friendship. I’ll forever cherish our discussions of movies and books and gossip while sitting at the harbor downing ice-cold beer. I miss you my friend.

And once again, thank you to Hugh, the amazing man who makes this journey in publishing, so much sweeter.

 

Chapter One

The San Juan Islands, Washington State

December 26, 2023

 

“And so, my friends, the moon is full, the sea calm, and the wave?” I dropped my voice to a whisper and clutched the microphone, pressing the cold steel to my forehead. I took a moment, shook my head, and pushed on. “The wave”—I fought hard to keep my voice steady—“the wave, my friends, sleeps tonight. And so can you.” 

I hung my head and let the mic dangle between my fingers. A few moments passed, maybe minutes even. Then I pulled the mic up to my lips and forced my voice to become much more than just a whisper in the dark. “This is Tsunami Blue, signing off on another waveless night, somewhere in paradise.” I paused, took a breath, and then added a tag: “Hang on out there, guys. Just…hang on.”

My shortwave equipment went to dead air as I snapped the dial off and let the mic slip all the way through my fingertips to fall with a soft thud on the floor.

“Shit.” I scrubbed my hands across my face. “What the hell was that about, Blue? When did you become a fucking cheerleader?” But I knew what it was all about. It was about the day, the date, and the ghosts that lived on in my memories.

My dog, Max, jumped up and thumped his tail on the cedar floor. “I know, Max, I know. Language.”

I walked over to a small, beat-up cupboard and pulled a crisp twenty from a thick stack of bills and waved it in front of him. Max, excited almost to the point of frenzy, barked, and started to chase his tail.

“You know what’s coming, don’t ya, boy. Oh yeah, you
love
this part.” I walked over to his bowl where an old Costco pickle jar sat stuffed with twenty-dollar bills. It was near to overflowing. I shoved the bill in. Max went crazy. He knew the drill.

I swear. I pay. He gets a treat.

I was trying to reform, trying to get a grip on my language before it bled into the airwaves. It wasn’t easy. I had been surrounded by these words and the familiar smacks and punches that followed them since I was five. But I was older now, wiser. Independent. The bruises had long healed. But learned behavior? Well, old habits and all; they die hard.

However, I knew there was a handful of children out there who could hear me. I had hoped—prayed even—that there were more than a few. In my dreams there were thousands. I would never become anything like the long-defunct Disney Channel or Nick at Nite, but I could be a voice of hope, a voice that could save their young lives.

But, of course, it wasn’t working well.

I mean, when you have only a dog to answer to, albeit a
big
dog, well, you get the idea. It’s not like he can ground me or send me to time-out. Besides, the money didn’t mean a thing, hadn’t for at least twelve years. Or was it fifteen? I shrugged. Who cares? When the infrastructure went down, so did our currency. Now all that money is good for is kindling, paper airplanes, and swear jars.

So now we deal in trade. And theft. And murder.

But in the meantime, Max and I had our little game. I liked it. He loved it. I grabbed an extra-large strip of dried smoked salmon and tossed it in the air. Max went airborne, catching it halfway from the ground. I smiled. Someday that dog was gonna take flight.

 Moonlight streamed through the window of the tiny one-room cabin, my “beach bungalow.” Yeah. Right. But the moon was full, and it beckoned me to the beach and to the inky waters beyond.

It didn’t matter that it was past midnight. It didn’t matter what the calendar said. It didn’t matter what demons I fought in my head. I walk on the beach when the moon is full. I never miss.

And it sure as hell didn’t matter that tonight was the anniversary of the end of my life as I had once known it. The life I could barely remember. But what’s an anniversary with no one to share it with? After all, this was the anniversary when everyone who had ever mattered to me had died, swept away in the arms of a rogue killer wave. A wave I watched for. Waited for. Daring it to return, claim me, and just finish the damn job. 

“Come on, Max,” I said as he danced around my legs, “let’s see what the water brings us tonight. Let’s see if it has anything to say.”

I slipped on a too-small Gore-Tex waterproof jacket. Warm and well used, the coat had a ragged hole the size of a small island on the sleeve. But I treasured it. I had only one other spare now. And I just couldn’t think about what it would take to get another one. It’s not like I could go to the mall.

I pulled on black rubber boots over wool socks; it was December, after all, and everything in my world was soggy. Wet, damp, soggy. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, or at least what’s left of it.

Max ran over, dropped to the floor, and, with his massive head between his front paws, he started to bark at my boots.

“Cut the crap, Max. You’ve seen these boots for what? Two years? They’re skulls, Max. Painted
skulls
. And you know what I went through to get them. You were there, remember? The wet suit? The dive? The near drowning? Besides”—I stood and patted his golden head—“I like them. They’re old-school Goth, they’re cool, and they’re badass. So as much as I love ya, shut up about the boots, okay?” He shut up.

We pushed through the door together, jockeying for position. Taking turns or bringing up the rear were foreign concepts to both of us, so we did it the hard way every time. Max, through sheer bulk, won, and as always he ran out in front, scouting, smelling, protecting. I smiled. A girl and her dog. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Who says you need a man?

I walked the half mile to the beach, letting my head clear in the cold winter night. Moonlight lit my passage better than any flashlight, which was good, because on one hand, who had batteries anymore? And yet on the other hand, the moonlight lit the beach like Broadway, which left us exposed, vulnerable, an easy target. Danger was everywhere.

But a full moon did enhance my broadcast to levels I couldn’t otherwise achieve. They called it moon bounce, a concept that sounds sci-fi, but has actually been around since the 1940s. For one night each month, during the full-moon phase, I could bounce a signal off the moon’s surface. My voice echoed in countries and cities and homes that I prayed were still alive with people to hear me.

Mist from the sea floated inland, wrapping around me, leaving the taste of salt upon my lips. I heard the sea in the distance, a pounding rhythm that I’d learned to pay close attention to. Pausing, I wondered if tonight the sea and I would have a conversation.

Max barked in the distance, and I quickened my step. Even though wild dogs populated these islands, it was still unwise to let him bark too long.

The black sky, like a jeweled blanket, shone with thousands of stars, stars that were familiar, comforting. I smiled up into the breathtaking night as if I were greeting an old friend, and I guess in a way I was. Our landscape may have changed forever, but not the sky. I paused and reached up to trace the Big Dipper with my finger.

Max pierced the night with barking that escalated into a chorus of growls and yelps and howls.

“Max?” I shouted. I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled again. “Max!” I started to run. What had he found? Or worse, what had found him?

I ran full-out. My cardio was great—I had Max to thank for that, lots of midnight runs. But the boots? Well, not made for speed. I broke through the cedars, tripped on a madrona root, and crashed headfirst into scrub brush that tangled and tore at my cargo pants. I checked for my knife. Yep, still there, lodged safely at the small of my back. I jumped up, and with only my pride stinging, I continued to sprint onto the sand. Yeah, I know, like it’s even possible to sprint in rubber boots. But damned if I didn’t try.

I could see Max about a hundred feet ahead, his golden coat glowing white in the stark moonlight. He barked and growled and tugged on something long and lifeless. What the hell?

 On nights like this the sea often gave us gifts. A flopping sockeye with delicate pink flesh, dinner for the next night. Or Japanese floats, beautiful, handblown glass in green and amber. The hardy glass balls, some ancient and rare, had started to reappear after the last wave, and the sea, as if knowing how much I loved them, made sure I had my share. And sometimes it was a wire trap full of Dungeness crab, lines snapped in the surf or more likely cut by Runners. The traps, brimming with fresh crab, would wash up on the beach, sometimes right at my feet.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the sea would give me the greatest gift of all. It would tell me when to grab Max and run for high ground. Sometimes it even gave me time to broadcast it.

Yes, the sea would tell me when the next wave would come, and in nineteen years, I’d never once heard it wrong.

The problem, in the early years, was getting someone, anyone, to believe me. But Tsunami Blue? Well, people believed her: that solitary voice that floated on the airwaves, the voice that warned and begged and pleaded to please, please believe. Most did. And those who didn’t died.

As I ran, I strained to see the telltale glow of a Runner pirate ship on the horizon. I needed to know that Max and I were alone out here with only the sea and surf for company. This island was remote, uninhabited, and wild. We should be alone. But still. They had come once. The bastards would come again.

I needed to know that tonight was not the night we would lose our lives to the light of a full moon.

The horizon was dark, black bleeding into black. No torches glowed, no sirens sounded, no arrows flew. We were very much alone.
Thank you, God
.

Lungs burning and legs screaming, I slid to a stop beside Max. I grabbed his thick rope collar and pulled him away from the form on the beach. Max didn’t want any part of giving up his discovery and he tugged back. This was a problem when you had a dog that outweighed you by more than twenty pounds.

“Back, Max, back.” I tugged hard. The dog tugged harder still, the hackles on his back raised, his teeth bared. The target of his interest didn’t move. I could now see long matted hair, outstretched arms, a trench coat of sorts, legs, boots…a
man
.

Max had found a man.

He looked at least six feet tall. Max had found a very large man.

His left fist gripped a long blade, a wicked-looking fillet knife. I had gutted a lot of fish in my time, and I knew a fillet knife when I saw one. I knew what it could do to a dog, or a woman. Moonbeams danced off the metal, taunting and gleaming.

Scared, I grabbed Max’s collar with both hands and yanked. “Down, boy,
stand down
.” Max whined, but did as he was told. He didn’t get “stand down” often. And if nothing else, Max was well trained. After all, my life depended on it.

I kicked the knife from the man’s unmoving hand, and it landed far enough away for some comfort. Funny, I didn’t feel any safer.

I couldn’t see that he was breathing. I couldn’t see that he wasn’t. I’d have to get closer. Great.

I pulled Max to my side. “If he makes a move, boy, tear his throat out. I didn’t name you Mad Max for nothing.” Max whined. I knelt in the sand next to…what? A Runner? A murderer? A thief? A body?

And the sea gives up its dead
.

The words rang in my head. Where had that come from?

I looked to the water and I
knew
, just as I had always known. The words came from the sea. So he really was dead. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Safer, certainly. But who was he? Where had he come from? Had he been a good man? A bad one? Did he deserve a decent burial? Or did he deserve to be fed, like a bucket of chum, to the sharks?

During these dark years, wave after deadly wave had blurred the lines of human behavior just as certainly as they had blurred the lines of our coast. Good verses evil? No longer black or white. I had once thought I was good. That was before I took a human life.

I sighed and willed the churning in my stomach to calm down.

I would turn the body over and check for ID, although it was highly unlikely there would be any. Most of us lived in the shadows now, obscure, invisible. ID? Who in this new, wet world would have the balls to check it? And for what purpose? Still, some carried a long-expired driver’s license or a tattered and torn passport. Some still clung to the remnants of the old life. Hell, I’d read every single book or magazine I could get my hands on from the old days. My education was steeped in pop culture images that I would never see in person. But most of us knew the truth of it. There was nothing left of the old life. Right now we were all in survival-of-the-fittest mode. And it wasn’t pretty.

“Max, come.” He’d moved around the body, sniffing and probing like dogs do. But I needed him beside me now. I was going to move the body. And even though I knew the body wouldn’t sit up and bite me—death is death, after all—I just felt better with Max, the monster dog, close.

“On three, Max.” I frowned at him and he cocked his head as if to say,
What the fu— heck?
Max did not swear; he was good, at least in my mind. “Ready?”

He looked confused.

“Okay, so don’t help. Supervise.” I took a deep breath. “One.” I braced myself in the sand. “Two.” I slid my hands and forearms underneath the body. “And three.”

I tensed my muscles, shoulders hunched, and did a lift-and-push sort of action. I had a lot of upper-body strength—that I knew—but I still lacked bulk. At five-three and one hundred eight pounds dripping wet (which I was most of the time), I knew some things were just too much for me. My mother had called me petite. Seamus, the uncle I’d been sent to live with, had called me scrawny. Or scrawny bitch. Whatever. My response: “You have no idea what comes in this small package, asshole.”

My feet started to skid backward in the sand. I braced myself with one knee, jamming my shoulder into his. My long ponytail fell forward and caught between us. I yanked at it and flipped my hair over my shoulder in frustration. I tried again, shoulder-to-shoulder, giving it all my strength.

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