colors; orange, pink and red streaked across the sky,
turning the ocean into a living flame as the sun set low
over the sea. Twenty feet below the surface of the water,
Abigail Drake stilled, mesmerized by the sudden, rare
beauty of fire pouring into the sea like molten lava.
The dolphins swimming in lazy circles around her took on
a completely different appearance as the bands of orange
shimmered through the water casting shadows everywhere.
She was suddenly, acutely aware of night falling and that
just a few feet away murky darkness could so easily hide
danger. She knew better than to dive alone. It was one of
the stupidest things she'd ever done, but she hadn't been
able to resist when the day had been so perfect and she'd
spotted the wild dolphins and knew they'd come looking for
Haven on the northern California coast was her hometown.
Abigail was one of seven sisters born to the seventh daughter
of the magical Drake family, each gifted with unique talents.
The Drake sisters were well known in Sea Haven, protected,
cherished even, and it was the one place they could relax
and be themselves. Except Abigail. Only here, in the sea,
was she truly at peace.
northern California coast was also home to several species
of dolphin and she knew most of them, not only by sight,
but also by their signature whistles. A signature whistle
was as good as a name and most researchers agreed that dolphins
used each other's name when communicating. This particular
group of dolphins had a signature whistle for Abigail and
she'd heard them calling to her as she stood on the captain's
walk of her family home. She'd been away for months researching
in other oceans far away, yet when she returned, the dolphins
welcomed her home just like always.
few years earlier she'd worked with this particular group
of dolphins while earning her PHD, cataloguing them, each
contact, every sighting, paying special attention to communication.
She was intrigued by their language and wanted to be able
to understand them. She'd worked with two of the males on
understanding some sign language. Over the years, each time
she came home, she visited with them, maintaining a relationship.
Although none of her sisters had been available to dive
with her, the call of 'her' dolphins had been irresistible
and she'd taken out her boat to join them.
law required a special permit to swim with wild dolphins
in the United States and Abigail had been fortunate enough
to be granted permission for her research off the California
coast a second time, but she was careful to keep a low profile,
not wanting to draw attention to the presence of the dolphins.
They could travel fifty miles easily and were difficult
to track on a daily basis, but this group, as well as many
others, often called to her using the same whistle. It was
very unusual to have the dolphins identify her and give
her a name and she was particularly pleased that they knew
she was back after her long absence.
rolled over and swam belly to belly with Kiwi, a large adult
male who had formed a tight bond with Boscoe, another male.
The two males normally swam in synchronization, their movements
an astonishing underwater ballet. Boscoe curved his body
in the exact motion at precisely the same time as Kiwi and
swam close to Abigail as the three of them made a lazy loop
together while several other dolphins danced in a long curving
circle as if they had choreographed every move ahead of
with dolphins was exhilarating. Abigail studied, photographed
and recorded dolphins, but tonight she was simply enjoying
them. Her equipment, always with her, was nearly forgotten
as they performed the strange, intriguing ballet for the
next forty minutes. At first the red of the sinking sun
spotlighted them in a fiery gold, but as dusk fell and the
night darkened, it was much too difficult to continue as
much as she wanted to stay.
Abigail pointed to the surface and shifted position to begin
her ascent. The dolphins swam around her in loose circles,
their bodies flexible, unimpeded by their heavy muscles
and enormous strength. It was surprising how the dolphins
could rocket through the water, diving as deep as they did
and using so little oxygen. Abigail found them fascinating.
surfaced, pushing her mask on top of her head and lying
back to float as she stared up at the big round ball in
the sky. Her soft laughter echoed across the water. Waves
lapped at her body and splashed over her face. She allowed
her legs to gently sink so she could tread water as she
stared in awe at the white caps, turned into sparkling jewels
by the brilliance of the full moon.
her, a bottlenose dolphin surfaced, circling her in a graceful
loop. The dolphin shook its head from side to side, emitting
a series of squeaks and clicks. She struck out for her boat,
a lazy crawl, whistling to the dolphins in a short, chirpy
goodbye she always used.
took only a few minutes to stow her camera and recorder
before climbing in. Shivering, she again glanced at her
watch. Her sisters would be very worried and she was in
for a lecture she knew she deserved. The dolphins poked
their heads out of the water, grinning at her, round black
eyes shining with intelligence.
going to get in big trouble thanks to you two," she
told the males.
shook their heads at her in perfect synchronization and
dove together, disappearing beneath the surface only to
come up on the other side of her boat, whistling and squawking
at her. Abigail shook her head just as firmly. "No!
It's dark or it would be if the moon weren't so full. You
two are really trying to get me one of Sarah's lectures.
When she starts, the rest of us cringe."
she had everything fresh in her mind, she sank down onto
the cushioned seat and hastily scribbled notes on her observations.
She recorded everything to look at later, but she always
dictated while she was driving the boat after first jotting
down details of sightings and any identifying marks of new
dolphins in the area. It was important to her study to get
DNA samples to test for pesticides and any other manmade
toxins in the dolphins systems as well as for communicable
diseases and of course, family ties.
whistled, a distinct note that made her smile. Abigail leaned
over the side of the boat. "Thanks for giving me a
name, boys, but it isn't enough to make me risk a Sarah
lecture. I'll see you tomorrow if you haven't taken off."
let the time get away from her so that darkness had really
fallen as she wrote out her notes. She was still a good
distance from home and she heaved a sigh, knowing she wouldn't
get away unscathed this time. Sarah, her oldest sister,
was certain to be waiting, tapping her foot, hands on hips.
The image made her smile.
moon spilled brightly onto the water, forming mystical fantasy
pools of liquid silver on the surface. Small white caps
glistened across the sea as far as she could see, adding
to the beauty. She turned her face up to feel the slight
breeze as she started the engine and began to make her way
back to the small harbor where she kept her boat. She'd
gone several miles out to sea to join the dolphins and she
was grateful for the moon as she picked up speed to reach
the coastline. Boscoe and Kiwi raced along beside her, zooming
through the water like rockets and leaping playfully.
she called, laughing. Their acrobatics delighted her and
they followed her right through the narrows beneath the
bridge into the harbor.
warning, the two male dolphins raced directly in front of
her boat, criss-crossing so close she throttled down, shocked
by their behavior and terrified for them. They continued
to repeat the maneuver, over and over until she had no choice
but to halt her boat just inside the harbor, the wharf in
Boscoe! What are you doing? You're going to get hurt!"
Abigail's heart leapt to her throat. The dolphins often
rode the bow of the boat, leaping and performing in the
current, but they never repeatedly crossed so close in front
of the boat. The large males kept surfacing, side by side,
standing on their tails and chattering at her. She had no
recourse but to stop the engine completely and drift in
the sea to keep them from injury. Here, the swells were
larger, so that the boat was tossed a bit by the heavier
waves at the mouth of the harbor.
moment the engine was quiet, Kiwi and Boscoe returned to
the side of the boat, spitting water at her from the side
of their mouths and shaking theirs head vigorously as if
to tell her something. Several other dolphins poked their
heads out of the water, spy-hopping as they looked toward
the wharf. She knew spy-hopping was a common practice dolphins
and whales used to view the world outside of their water
environment by simply sticking their heads high in the air
above of the surface. They seemed to be looking for something
outside the water.
sat still for a moment, baffled by their unusual behavior.
She'd never seen either male dolphin act in such a way.
They were highly agitated. Dolphins were enormously strong
and fast and could be dangerous and bottlenose males sometimes
formed coalitions with other males and herded a lone female
until they captured her. Surely they weren't doing such
a thing with her? Had they formed a coalition with the rest
of the male groups to keep her from the harbor?
glanced from them to shore. The moon spilled light across
the dark waters and the wooden boards that ran out over
the water. Buildings rose up, two restaurants with glass
facing the sea, illuminated by the moonlight, but the businesses
were closed and the harbor was devoid of the bustle of activity
that took place during the day.
boat rose with the waves and slid deeper into the calmer
waters of the harbor itself. Sounds drifted across the bay,
voices, muted at first then rising as if in anger. Abigail
immediately scooped up her binoculars and focused her attention
on the wharf. A party fishing boat was tied up as usual
beside the restaurant. Just beyond the wharf was a second
pier in front of a metal business building. A fishing boat
was moored there, which was highly unusual. The fishing
boats used the other side of the harbor and she'd never
seen one tied up close to the businesses.
small speedboat, a Zodiac, engine humming
softly, was moored beside the fishing boat. She could make
out at least three men in the speedboat. One, wearing a
plaid shirt had his arm extended and looking closely she
suddenly feared he held a gun. A second man stood up. The
action put him directly in the moonlight. It spilled across
him revealing his salt and pepper hair, navy shirt and the
gun in his hand. Both guns were pointed at a third man who
tendrils of fog had begun to float from the sea toward shore,
forming ghostly fingers, obscuring her vision even as her
boat drifted closer to the wharf. She blew softly into the
air, raised her arms slightly to bring the wind. It rushed
past her, taking the streamers of gray mist with it, clearing
the way across the expanse of water.
spoke harshly in what sounded to her like Russian. The man
sitting replied in English, but the ocean boomed against
the pier as her boat drifted even closer and she couldn't
hear the words. Abigail held her breath as the sitting man
launched himself at the one in the plaid shirt. The man
in the navy shirt picked up a lifejacket, held it over the
muzzle of the gun and pressed it against the back of the
victim's head as he struggled desperately for possession
of the other gun.
him now, Chernyshev! Shoot him now!" The voice carried
clearly, thick with a Russian accent.
heard the muffled explosion, a pop, pop, pop that Abigail
knew would forever haunt her. The victim's body slowly crumbled
and fell to the bottom of the boat. The fishing boat next
to the pier moved slightly and both men turned their heads,
one shouting an order.
she realized the distinctively marked fishing boat was one
she recognized. Gene Dockins and three of his sons ran a
fishing business out of Noyo Harbor. The family lived in
Sea Haven and was well liked. To her horror she saw Gene
slowly rise from where he'd been crouching in the bottom
of his boat. His hands were raised in surrender. He was
a large bear of a man with wide, stooped shoulders and a
shock of gray hair that fell to his ears in a shaggy bowl,
wild and untamed like the sea going man he was.
breath caught in her throat and her heart began to pound.
The man gestured with his gun for Gene to climb out of his
boat. The fisherman went to the ladder, paused and dove
into the sea just as the guns went off. Abigail knew by
the way his body jerked as he fell, that Gene was hit, but
she could see his arms move as he hit the water and went
under. He was definitely still alive. The other two men
cursed and began shooting into the darkened waters, guns
spitting through lifejackets in an attempt to muffle the
gave Boscoe's signature whistle, throwing her arm forward
in a command, hoping the dolphin would obey. Though she
only had a small ability for telepathy with her sisters,
she had a much stronger connection to the dolphins and they
often either understood, or anticipated what she wanted.
Boscoe took off like a rocket, heading for the pier instantly
and erupting with several squeaks and whistles that were
clearly signals to the other dolphins in the pod.
she reached for her radio to call for help, the two men
in the speedboat spotted her. At once the man with the salt
and pepper hair turned and brought up his arms in a two
handed stance. Abigail's blood froze with sudden fear. Other
than the sharp diver's knife attached to her belt and the
long punch stick, a device of her own making she carried
to ward off sharks in the event they attacked her during
a dive, she had no weapons. No real way to protect herself.
Bullets hissed into the water and thunked into the side
of her boat. Snatching up the punch stick, she dove. Something
hot sliced across her back and shoulder just as she hit
the water. Salt stung adding to the burning pain, but then
she went numb with the combination of adrenaline and the
icy blast of the ocean.
came up gasping, worried about more than just the pair of
gun-wielding murderers. Ordinarily only sand and a few leopard
sharks inhabited the harbor. The fishermen were meticulous
about keeping any fish remains from the harbor waters, but
several more dangerous species of sharks inhabited the waters
along the coastline, preferring the shallow channels. The
area was known to have great whites as there was a seal
rookery close. With both she and Gene bleeding in the harbor's
water she knew she had to get to safety as soon as possible.
She faced away from the harbor, toward the cliffs of Sea
Haven, lifting both arms up and out of the water, still
clutching the punch stick in her hand as she called the
wind and sent it across the ocean in a message to her sisters.
speedboat was bearing down on her fast, both men firing
at her. Bullets zipped through the water, one cut through
the air so close to her ear she heard it as it whistled
past and penetrated the water behind her. She dove again,
kicking her legs up to get a faster push toward the deeper
water, her heart pounding as the boat came up on her, the
propeller cutting dangerously close.
had to hurry, had to get to Gene. Boscoe, if he were holding
Gene to the surface, would be vulnerable to attack from
sharks, should any be drawn into the harbor. The dolphin
couldn't hold the bleeding fisherman up for long if sharks
became aggressive. Looking up through the motion of the
water, she could see the two men peering over the edge of
their now stationary boat, trying to get a shot at her.
She moved carefully, knowing she had to come up for air
and attack all at once. Kiwi brushed close to her in reassurance,
and took off to the opposite side, drawing the attention
of the two men by suddenly leaping out of the water almost
in the face of the man with the plaid shirt on.
signaled with a series of clicks as he leapt and Abigail
lunged out of the water on the opposite side of the boat.
Chernyshev's gun was tracking the dolphin as his partner
fell back in alarm. Chernyshev fired off a round just as
Abigail slammed the end of the punch stick against his calf
and triggered it. He screamed as the blow was delivered
with tremendous force, the sound muting as she disappeared
back beneath the water.
water closed over her head and Abigail kicked away strongly,
swimming down a few feet for cover in the murkier depths
and heading out to sea, away from where they would expect
her to come up. Almost at once she felt the pull of the
water tugging at her, grasping her body and rolling it.
She was coming up on a shallow channel and the back wave
was dragging her down.
bumped her, sliding his fin almost under her hand in invitation
and she grabbed with more instinct than thought. He took
her through the stinging sand with a burst of speed and
rocketed into the calmer waters of the harbor straight toward
the pier. When she couldn't hold her breath any longer,
she let go and kicked strongly for the surface, coming up
choking, spinning wildly around to keep the speedboat in
speedboat was beside her own vessel and the man with the
plaid shirt leaned in to grab something, before shoving
off out toward open sea. Kiwi nudged her again, presenting
his fin. He was clicking and squawking, pushing at her in
urgency. She caught his fin and went under, allowing him
to pull her through the water at a pace she'd never be able
to go herself.
halted abruptly just as Abigail was certain her lungs were
deprived forever of air. She kicked strongly, anxious to
rise to the surface. Something brushed against her back.
Eerily, it felt like fingertips skimming across her shoulder
blades and she spun around to find she was face to face
with a dead man. His eyes were open and he stared at her
in a kind of macabre horror, his dark hair floating like
strands of seaweed and his face pale beneath the water.
His arms were outstretched as if on a cross, yet swaying
with the movement of the water and he rolled with the incoming
wave, his body bumping against hers.
stomach lurched, and she gasped, losing her last bit of
air and swallowing sea water. She kicked, desperate to reach
the surface, her head breaking through as she coughed and
gagged. Her eyes burned from the salt, or maybe from tears,
but she dragged air into her lungs and caught at Kiwi a
third time. Something scraped down the back of her leg as
the dolphin pulled her through the water. A gray shadow
slid noiselessly by.
fought the urge to try for the surface. She knew the skin
of a shark was covered with hard tooth-like scales called
dermal denticles and when rubbed from tail to head felt
like sandpaper, the exact sensation she had down the back
of her leg. Whatever had scraped her was following, trying
to circle, but Kiwi was taking her through the water at
a dizzying speed. Kiwi's echolocation was so precise they
nearly hit Boscoe who was still valiantly keeping Gene's
face above the water.
Abigail watched as several dolphins began to ram sharks,
driving them to the bottom hard so that debris rose from
the floor of the ocean and churned in a dark mass. The normally
docile sand and leopard sharks were aroused by the scent
of blood. If a great white was in the vicinity, she was
certain it would be rocketing through the water to join
in the frenzy. She added to the melee, shoving her punch
stick against a small shark and triggering the pressure
block to deliver a forceful, powerful punch to the shark's
nose in an effort to deter it. She reset the stick as quickly
as she was able and swam to the pier.
the punch stick onto the wooden planks, Abigail attempted
to pull herself out of the water. Her back burned and her
arms protested. She fell back into the sea almost on top
of a small shark. Kiwi rammed it, hitting it hard, driving
it down toward the bottom as she made another try. Using
one of the dolphins, as a stepping stone, she was able to
drag herself out of the water far enough to gain a cross
piece of wood to use as a ladder.
she reached down and snagged Gene's shirt, pulling him around
and freeing Boscoe so the dolphins could swim away from
the sharks. She hooked him under his shoulders and dragged
him, wincing as she scraped his back against the wood. He
was a big man and his water-logged clothing added to his
weight. She struggled to hold him, whistling to the dolphins,
begging for further aid. Boscoe returned, using his enormous
strength to shove the unconscious man up and out of the
water. She was able to pull Gene nearly all the way onto
the pier, although his legs dangled over the edge. She saw
Kiwi come up from a dive, blowing water from his air hole
and dragging the dead man by the arm. As she reached down
to get the stranger, she was horrified to see blood on the
dolphin. The bullet must have skimmed him just as one had
sliced across her. She dragged the dead man onto the pier,
pulling him back behind her and away from Gene.
signed for Kiwi to go out to sea, to head for Sea Lion Cove.
More than anything she wanted him safe after all he'd done
for her, but she had to try to save Gene. She knew her sisters
were out on the captain's walk. Worried. Waiting. Ready
on, Mr. Dockins, you can't die on me," she whispered.
She had no idea how he'd gotten mixed up in this, but she
didn't believe for one moment that he could have done anything
illegal. She'd known him most of her life. His wife, Marsha,
had often comforted her when other children were afraid
to play with her. Gene had taken her out in his boat often
and told her tales of the sea.
could see where the three bullets had torn into his body,
one in the shoulder, one in the chest and one had shaved
skin from his skull. He was bleeding profusely now so she
clamped down hard on the two worst wounds.
back of her neck prickled in alarm. Somewhere, out at sea,
a dolphin squawked a warning. She swung around, reaching
for the punch stick, a pitiful weapon against a gun.
you move." The voice was low and shook with rage and
the accent was not as distinct, but it was definitely Russian.
froze, her stomach clenching. The dolphins couldn't help
her now. She could only hope that her sisters had sent aid
and it was on the way. She sensed movement behind her, but
she didn't hear footsteps. Her entire body tensed. She shifted
slowly, enough so when she turned her head, she could see
shoes and trousers. He was standing over the dead man.
stream of Russian curses burst from his mouth. He stepped
forward and grabbed her braid, yanking her head back to
press the muzzle of his gun between her eyes hard. Her heart
stopped. Her gaze collided with a pair of midnight blue
eyes, black with ice-cold rage. There was a moment of absolute
terror and then recognition fought its way into her brain.
Her heart resumed its frantic pounding. She kicked out at
him, suddenly furious herself, slapping the gun away from
her face. "Get the hell away from me!"
down. I'm not going to hurt you." He tried to fend
off the kicks to his shins. "Damn it, Abbey, what the
hell are you doing here? Look at me! You know me. You know
I would never hurt you. It's over. You're safe. I'm not
going to let anything happen to you."
choked back a sob and turned away from him, trying to regain
control of herself. She hadn't seen those eyes in four years.
Aleksandr Volstov, Interpol agent and heartbreaker extraordinaire.
He was the last person she expected to see here. The last
person she wanted to confront when she was on the verge
of hysteria. Damn him anyway. She had the right to be hysterical
after he shoved a gun in her face. Avoiding looking at him,
she crawled over to Gene again and pressed her hands to
the wounds to try to stop the flow of blood. He was deathly
pale, and his lungs were laboring for air.
did this, Abbey?"
didn't look up. "Two men in a Zodiac.
They took off out of the harbor and if you call the sheriff
and coast guard, they may be able catch them."
you get a look at them?"
trying to keep Gene alive and it takes concentration. I
can't answer your questions right now."
man lying there dead is my partner, Abbey. Who did this?"
There was ice in the voice, a warning.
felt a shiver go down her spine but she kept her attention
focused on the fisherman. "Call the coast guard, and
an ambulance. I doubt if they were stupid enough to take
the speedboat out to open sea where they could be caught,
but you might get lucky. There are a few caves along the
coastline large enough to hide that small of a boat and
it's calm tonight so if they know what they're doing that's
where they'll be."
crouched beside her and caught sight of the blood on her
back and down the back of her leg. "You're hurt!"
got to work on Gene," she protested when he tried to
tug her to him.
sorry, lyubof maya, but this man cannot possibly
gentle tone, a caress of black velvet, was almost her undoing
and she turned on him, furious, fighting back tears. "Don't
you tell me he won't live! The dolphins risked their lives
for him and I'm not giving up. Just keep your enemies off
my back while I do this."
wasn't fair that she was angry with him. And maybe she wasn't.
Her body was shaking with shock and overload of adrenaline.
And she could feel her own wounds, burning and throbbing.
Mostly she felt fear for Gene and his family. She wasn't
Libby or Elle or even Hannah with their tremendous powers.
Even Sarah would be better than Abigail, but she was all
don't call me your love, either. I'm not your anything."
raised her arms up over her head to bring the wind, to whisper
a chant, a plea, a need for a joining, and she sent the
wind out over the ocean to the cliff house where she knew
her sisters waited. Where she knew, would always know, she
was accepted, flawed or not, and they would always come to her aid when needed.
heard the sirens fast approaching. She heard the boom of
the sea and the song of the whales and her own heartbeat.
There was a rhythm of life there, an ebb and flow that was
continuous and strong. And she found Gene's heartbeat. Slow.
Stuttering. Out of sync with the universal flow. "I've
got you," she whispered softly. "I won't let you
didn't have a first aid kit, but she had the Drake magic.
It welled up like a fountain, a power from deep within her,
fed by the wind and sea. She could feel herself connecting
with Hannah and Sarah, feel strength pouring into her as
she placed one palm over Gene's head wound and the other
over the small hole in his chest.
rushed up from the surface of the sea. Dolphins leapt and
somersaulted. At a distance, several whales breached. Power
crackled in the air all around her. Through her. She felt
Elle, her youngest sister join in, the rush of power welling
up from somewhere inside Abigail to burn down her arms and
into her palms. Kate's strength added to the steady stream.
Joley joined in, her voice strong on the wind, her power
pouring into Abigail. And then, from a distance, Libby joined
them, aiding Abigail with her tremendous gift of healing.
The surge was so strong she shook with the force of it,
the burning in her palms so pronounced it was difficult
to keep her hands steady over the wounds.
wind blasted her face and brought with it the fog, obscuring
all vision on the water so that she was wrapped in a silvery
cocoon, kneeling there on the pier with Gene lying so still
and Aleksandr's body heat warming her. The relief nearly
overwhelmed her. Hannah and Joley and Elle were often conduits
for power, but never Abigail. It was both frightening and
exhilarating to feel the strength and heat pour from her
into the mortally wounded fisherman. It wasn't the same
as her gift, but much stronger and more focused. She felt
his skin burn beneath her palm as if absorbing healing properties.
She felt his chest rise as if Gene struggled for breath
and she knew he lived, although his injuries were grave.
the power faded, her legs gave out and she sank back onto
the pier shaking, arms and legs like lead. The terrible
price for having and using power was a debilitating weakness
afterward. She lay helpless, listening to the waves lapping
at the pier and the wailing of the sirens as vehicles filled
the parking lots along the harbor.
Aleksandr's voice was gentle. He took off his jacket and
spread it over her violently shaking body. "The paramedics
are here. How bad are you hurt?"
looked up at him. The lines and planes of his face so achingly
familiar to her. Tears blurred her vision. Fog swirled above
her head. She knew her sisters lay on the captain's walk,
or wherever they had been when they had completed the joining,
just as drained of strength. The wind fluttered softly without
the power of the Drake sisters carrying it and she heard
the last notes of Joley's incredible voice fade away.
thundered toward her. The wooden planks of the pier creaked
and groaned in protest, shaking beneath the weight of people
running. She wondered if the boards would give out and she'd
be dropped back in the ocean for sharks to feast on. She
was definitely hysterical. It wasn't a good time to be staring
into Aleksandr's eyes and wondering why his lashes were
so long. Or wondering why she could never get his face out
of her dreams. Why she heard his voice calling to her across
oceans. Abigail closed her eyes and turned away from him.
Stand up slowly with your hands where I can see them. Back
away from her." She recognized Jonas Harrington, the
sheriff. He was using his voice of total authority, which
he did often, but this time it carried a hint of something
deadly in it.
heart contracted. Her eyes locked with Aleksandr's. His
expression was hard, eyes, as cold as the arctic sea. She
knew he could kill a man swiftly and efficiently, going
from stillness to action in the single beat of a heart.
hurt him." The words escaped, so low they were barely
discernable, but Aleksandr could read the fear so apparent
on her face. And it wasn't for him.
is the sheriff and I'm ordering you to get your hands where
I can see them and back away from the woman."
She whispered the plea to the Russian.
Beside her, Aleksandr rose with unhurried ease. Calm. Cool.
Never ruffled. He turned to face Jonas, his hands up, palm
Jonas nearly spat the word. Jonas holstered his gun and
reached down to check the pulse of the man lying so still.
"Volstov. I should have known you'd be involved in
this somehow. This man is dead. Who is he?"
partner. The ones who murdered him are out there somewhere."
Aleksandr indicated the expanse of sea beyond the harbor.
examined Gene next. His eyes met the Russian's and he heaved
a sigh as he went to Abigail. Jonas crouched down beside
her, taking her hand. Jackson, one of the deputies stood
at his back, facing out toward sea, but his body posture
was clearly protective. "Let's get the medics in here,
occurred to Abigail that Jackson was being drawn into the
Drake family circle whether he wanted to be or not. Jonas
always had been there. Tough. Uncompromising. Someone to
count on when things got bad. Her fingers wrapped around
his wrist and held him there.
glanced from her to Aleksandr and his face hardened perceptibly.
"What's the damage, Abbey?"
made an effort to tell him Gene needed immediate help. Jonas
shook his head. "We'll get life flight en route, hon,
we'll get him to San Francisco. The paramedics are with
him. I want to take a look at you."
She managed the word, lying back to stare up at the wisps
of drifting fog. She wanted to get home where she was safe.
Surrounded by her sisters and protected by the walls of
want them to examine you, Abbey, and don't give me any grief
over it, either," Jonas said, moving back to give the
paramedics room, but retaining possession of her hand.
she said, trying to pull her hand away so she could push
at the paramedics.
Libby. She's going to be as weak as you are. Maybe weaker.
Good old fashioned medicine will have to do," Jonas
replied firmly as he stroked back her hair.
leaned over her. "What did they look like?" His
fingertips brushed droplets of seawater from her face with
exquisite gentleness. The pads of his fingers slipped over
her cheekbone and then her lower lip.
wanted to tell him, but the moment his face was in front
of hers, tears burned and she hurt, inside and out. His
touch sent butterflies winging in her stomach. As hard as
she tried to form the words to describe what she had witnessed,
nothing would come out. She turned her face away, closing
her eyes in desperation.
immediately shifted position so that Aleksandr was forced
to move back and break contact with Abigail.
you talk, Abbey?" He asked.
voice was so gentle she wanted to tell him to stop being
nice. She really had to fight the tears. She shook her head.
have to question her later, Volstov," Jonas said abruptly.
lifted his gaze to the other man's face, a cold raking that
would have given a lesser man pause, but Jonas didn't even
going to shift you, Abbey," the paramedic said.
opened her eyes and blinked several times to clear her vision.
She'd gone to school with Bob Thornton. She nodded and helped
roll so they could look at the back of her legs and shoulder.
It hurt more when she moved. She was suddenly acutely aware
of the wounds, when before it was mostly the terrible lethargy
that distressed her.
bullet sliced through her skin, Jonas, but it doesn't look
too bad," Bob reported. "See here, it's a bit
deeper through the muscle on her shoulder, but relatively
shallow along her back."
God," Jonas said, relief clear in his voice. "What
happened to her leg?"
guess a shark raked her making a pass."
it, Abbey." Jonas rubbed his thumb over her hand. "She
looks pale, Bob. Are you sure she's going to be all right?"
made a small sound, a growling in his throat that might
have been a protest of her injuries. He moved around Jonas
to Abbey's other side. She kept her eyes firmly closed and
he didn't make much noise when he moved, but she felt him
brush her arm just before he circled her wrist and brought
her palm against his thigh. She was shivering and couldn't
stop no matter how hard she tried. His body felt warm against
hers and unfortunately, tipped on her side the way she was,
he was pressed close to the front of her. As soaked as she
was, she was getting his immaculate suit wet as well.
in shock, Jonas," Bob said. "Wouldn't you be?
Someone shot her. A shark nearly got her. She pulled Gene
out of the water, at least it looks that way. And there's
a dead body here. I'd say she has reason to be pale. This
is going to hurt, Abbey," he warned.
he used on her leg and back robbed her of every bit of air
from her lungs. She almost lunged out from under the paramedic
and Jonas, desperate to get away from the fire racing over
her skin, but she ended up practically in Aleksandr's lap.
He caught her in a firm grip and held her still while the
paramedic worked on the wounds.
can do that, Volstov," Jonas offered. "I'm sure
you have more important things to do." He paused for
a moment as the other paramedics lifted the unconscious
fisherman onto a gurney and raced him toward the helicopter.
"Gene's safe now, Abbey," he added. "They're
taking him to San Francisco."
wouldn't want to mess up your crime scene," Aleksandr
replied before Jonas could shift him. "My partner is
dead. There is not much I can do until Abbey tells me what
she knows. You go on ahead and get what you have to get
done, and I'll take care of Abbey."
crime scene people are the ones entering the crime scene.
My officers know what they're doing."
ignored the edge to Jonas's voice, refusing to relinquish
his place holding Abigail. "You'll have to go to the
hospital," he said to her.
to Libby," she was adamant. "Jonas. Take me home."
worry, Abbey," Jonas assured. "As soon as you're
cleared, I'll have Jackson take you, but I'm going to need
answers as soon as you're feeling stronger."
can't clear her to go home, " Bob protested. "Abbey,
you know I can't do that. You need to be checked out by
a doctor. You have serious wounds."
is a doctor," Jonas said. "Bob, you know she has
to go home."
take her," Aleksandr said decisively. "If her
sister is a doctor and she isn't in danger of bleeding to
death, I'll take her to her house."
you won't," Jonas said firmly. "You're going to
stay here and tell me what the hell you're involved in that
I have one dead body, another nearly dead and Abigail Drake
in danger," Aleksandr said.