After nursing a broken heart for two years, Moira is more than ready to get her life back. Which is why she decides not to cancel her sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands despite the virus sweeping the country.
After a week in luxury turns into her worst nightmare, Moira finds herself alone and trapped not just in a different country, but also in a lifestyle she knows very little about. Thank God she runs into Boone, a seasoned sailor who just so happens to be drop dead gorgeous.
As the two search for survivors, they turn to each other for comfort in more ways than one, and Moira is forced to accept the fact that she just might be suck in the BVIs for good. But with Boone at her side, the prospect doesn’t seem too horrible despite the many horrors the virus has created.
Stuck in paradise and fighting for their lives, Boone and Moira must do whatever they can to create a real future for themselves.
Release date: February 19, 2022
Publisher: Twisted Press, LLC
Print pages: 152
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Creating A Future
Kate L. Mary
Moisture dripped down my back as I pulled my suitcase from the ferry with a huff, the wheels bumping onto the dock where I paused to look around. My arms ached and I was sweaty, not to mention exhausted after a long day of travel, and I couldn’t wait to take a shower and change so I could have a glass of wine. I’d left my house at four o’clock in the morning to catch my flight, and it was well after five in the evening now. It had taken two planes, two taxis, and two ferries to get here, which seemed like a hell of a lot considering I wasn’t the least bit excited.
Even so, I couldn’t help admiring the view as I lugged my suitcase forward. The wheels thumping over the wooden dock was the only sound other than the lapping of the water against the shore, but I barely noticed, too distracted by my surroundings. The resort and marina were absolutely breathtaking. Situated on a hill, the hotel was majestic in its opulence, with an infinity pool to the left and a restaurant beside it that overlooked the crystal-clear water. Monohulls and catamarans and even a couple multi-million-dollar yachts bobbed in the water as I passed. The only thing on Scrub Island was the Resort, Marina, and a handful of vacation homes and villas—all of them way out of the price range for normal people—because no one actually lived here full time. Which was why it had taken so long to get here.
Only a handful of people were visible as I headed for the Dream Yacht Charters office. Not a lot, which was how the whole day had been. The flights half full, and the usually bustling Atlanta airport more like a ghost town. So many people had canceled their plans in light of everything going on, but not me. My family had begged me to, which still felt surreal after two years of them harping on me to get on with my life, but I’d refused to stay home. I needed this, even if I still didn’t know what this would turn out to be. If nothing else, it would be a break or a way to clear my head. At least that was what I kept telling myself.
The office was easy enough to find, and after checking in, I followed the instructions the woman behind the desk had given me, winding my way between boats in search of the correct one. I didn’t know a whole lot about boats and had never sailed personally but I’d been given the basic information when I booked the trip. It was a sixty-two-foot catamaran—meaning it had two hulls instead of one—and could accommodate twelve passengers, including the crew. The rooms would be small, but I didn’t care as long as it got me away from home for a while, and from the pictures I’d seen, I knew the views would be incredible. Crystal blue water and plenty of island fun, plus snorkeling and who knew what else. I could get a tan and relax, and if all went well, I’d return home feeling more like my old self.
I stopped when I reached the boat, craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the name to make certain I was in the right place. My long dark hair, sticky with sweat, fell over my face and I pushed it aside, holding it back so I could see. The words Suzie Dear were scrawled across the hull of the boat, confirming I’d reached my destination, and I let out a long breath. I was desperate to shower, change, and grab a drink—maybe even some food.
“Hello?” I called almost hesitantly.
The boat bobbed lazily on the water as I waited for someone to come out and help me, but a few seconds passed, but no one appeared. I twisted my hair around my hand and exhaled, silently wishing I’d thought to carry a hair tie. When a minute passed and still no one came, I studied the boat, trying to decide if I would be able to climb aboard without ending up in the water. It was tied to the dock, but there were several inches of space and a lot of room for error. Especially when it came to someone like me who’d never set foot on a yacht in her life. Still, I thought I might be able to make it if I left my suitcase where it was. Hopefully, anyway.
I took a deep breath and reached out, grabbing the railing at the back so I could haul myself forward. Just as I did, the whole thing shifted, and I clung tighter to the rail as I made the jump. The boat rocked when I landed, but I was secure thanks to my grip, and I only stayed where I was for a few seconds before climbing the two steps.
A sitting and dining area stood in front of me, and I could see the interior through the glass door. All the lights were on, illuminating the kitchen and another seating area, but the door was shut, telling me the air conditioning was running.
We left the marina the next morning, so I doubted I was the first person to show up, but if anyone else was here, they were either below deck or off enjoying the resort because no one was in sight. Not even the crew. Which was beyond frustrating. I was filthy and tired, and I wanted to get settled in and cleaned up, but I had no clue what to do.
I looked around, hoping to spot someone who worked for the charter company or even the marina, but the dock was deserted. The seconds ticked by, and I shuffled from foot to foot, uncertain what I should do. Wait or go in?
After a few more seconds, I pulled the sliding glass door open a crack. Cool air rushed out, and I paused to listen. Nothing.
“Hello?” I called but was once again greeted by silence.
Glancing back to where my suitcase sat, I tried to decide what to do. I hadn’t expected to have to navigate this situation on my own since the woman in the office had said someone would be here to greet me, but by this point, it was obvious no one was on the boat. I could wander around—maybe they had names on the doors—or wait and hope someone showed up. In my exhaustion, both options were irritating, but since the second one was doubly annoying, I decided to just go for it.
I stepped inside and once again called out, “Hello? Is anyone here?”
The kitchen stood in front of me, complete with double sinks, a cooktop, and an oven, as well as a seating area. A staircase heading into the bowels of the boat stood in each of the four corners of the room, which I knew led to the staterooms. I walked to the nearest one, pausing at the top of the stairs to listen, but headed down when I once again heard nothing. The hallway below was dark and narrow, but the bedroom door stood open, revealing a bed covered in a burgundy blanket. White towels that had been twisted into swans sat in the middle, and the sight momentarily distracted me as I recalled the trip to Punta Cana Michael and I had taken four years ago. I’d been so ecstatic when we’d stepped into our room to find swans just like these on our bed.
Pushing the memory down, I turned my attention to the door. Just like I’d thought, a piece of paper had been taped there, two names printed on it in a bold font.
Robert and Sylvia Miller
I headed back up, moving across the kitchen to another set of steps.
This hall was identical to the one I’d just left, but here nothing had been taped to the door. Peering inside, I instantly realized why. Instead of one bed, there were two. Bunkbeds. This room must have been for the crew.
Once again, I headed up, this time crossing to the set of stairs in the nearest corner of the room. Apparently, the third time really was the charm, because the name on this door was the one I’d been looking for.
The bed was made up just like the first one, and beyond that was a small bathroom that gave me claustrophobia just looking at it. I’d known before arriving that the rooms would be tiny but knowing and seeing were two different things.
Why was I here again?
For a moment, I couldn’t remember, then all my family’s nagging came screaming back and I cringed. For two years I’d been moping, and for two years they’d been telling me to move on. It wasn’t like I hadn’t wanted to, it was just that the idea had exhausted me. Almost as much as the constant lectures. I’d still been reeling from the most recent move-on-with-your-life speech my mom had given me when a co-worker started showing off pictures of her parents’ sailing trip to the BVIs, and in my fragile state, it had seemed like a sign. I’d booked the trip that day, finally spending some of the money I’d been sitting on for so long. My parents had thought I was insane, which had only made me more irritated. They were the ones who’d told me to go out and do something, who’d suggested a change of scenery, and yet they’d acted like I’d sold everything I owned so I could move halfway across the world, not booked myself a luxury vacation.
I was starting to think making them happy was an impossible feat.
Sighing, I turned my back on my room and headed up the stairs. Now that I knew where my cabin was, I needed to figure out how to get my suitcase onto the boat.
Just as I reached the top of the steps, I slammed into an object so firm it felt like a wall.
“Whoa!” The man I’d bumped into grabbed my shoulders like he was keeping me on my feet.
“Oh my God.” I put my hand to my heart, which felt like it was going to explode from the shock of literally running into this man. “You scared me.”
“Sorry.” He released me and stepped back, a crooked smile on his face as he waved to the suitcase sitting at his side. My suitcase. “I take it this is yours.”
“Yeah. Thanks.” I shoved my hair out of my face, cringing at the way it stuck to the back of my neck. “Sorry to just wander around. No one was here to help.”
His smile widened, and it suddenly hit me just how attractive he was, which only seemed to emphasize how sweaty my skin was. I probably smelled like I hadn’t showered in days.
“Not a big deal,” he said, giving me a crooked smile that accentuated the dimple in his left cheek.
The overhead lights shone off he blond highlights in his shaggy brown hair as he shoved his hand through it. They were from the sun, as was his bronzed skin. He was dressed casually, wearing tan shorts and a white button-down shirt, the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Nothing about him seemed to indicate that he was an employee, but since he didn’t seem to have any luggage with him, I wasn’t sure if he was a guest, either. Maybe his suitcase was already in his room?
“Are you a guest?” I asked, taking a step back to put distance between us.
Would this guy be on the boat the whole week? God, I hoped not. He was too good-looking, and I’d come here to get my mind on something other than attractive men who had the ability to smash a vulnerable woman’s heart into a million pieces.
“Captain,” he replied, his crooked smile growing as he looked me up and down, making the hair on my scalp tingle. “Although, not your captain. Sadly.”
“Oh,” was the only thing I had time to say before the sliding glass door opened, pulling my attention that way.
The Adonis in front of me turned as another man stepped inside. “You have a passenger!”
“That so,” the second man said.
Thankfully, this guy was well into his fifties and not least bit attractive. He had a weathered look about him that told me he’d been working in the sun for years, his chin was dotted with gray stubble, and he had a long, gray ponytail that went to the middle of his back.
“Sorry for not being here to greet you,” he said, tilting the hat perched on his head and offering me a friendly smile. “It’s been a crazy day. Lots of cancelations and all that. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if we were going to get anyone.”
“Oh.” I looked around, suddenly worried the whole trip would be canceled and I was going to have go home with my tail tucked between my legs.
“Not to worry,” the gnarled man said. “We’ve got things under control now.” He held his hand out. “Captain Dan at your service.”
“Moira,” I replied, taking his hand in mine. “Moira Rushing.”
The captain pumped my hand twice in a firm grip that seemed at odds with his thin arms, nodding to the staircase at my back. “I take it you found your stateroom.”
“I did.” I dropped my arm to my side when he released my hand. “I was hoping to take a quick shower then grab something to eat. It’s been a long day.”
“Traveling to the island from the states is always an ordeal,” the captain replied, and his blue eyes twinkled with his smile. “But I imagine it was twice as difficult with everything going on. Did you have any trouble?”
“No, no trouble.” I shook my head, my mouth turning down as I thought about the nearly empty airports and half full flights. “Things in the US were a bit strange, and I was concerned the ferry and cab I’d reserved would be canceled, but everything went smoothly once I got to the Virgin Islands.”
“We haven’t really been affected just yet,” the captain replied.
At his side, the other guy stood listening, his hands shoved in his pockets as he leaned against the counter at his back, his hazel eyes intent on me. My scalp prickled under his gaze, making me even more thankful he wasn’t going to be on my boat. I didn’t need silly distractions in the form of an attractive guy who was only looking for a quick lay.
“Hopefully, all this will have blown over by the time I get back home.”
I shifted when a strange feeling twisted in my stomach. Things had been shutting down when I left, stores restricting their hours and schools beginning to close to stop the spread of whatever this virus was, but the CDC was confident the changes would help. It was the only reason I hadn’t canceled my trip. Despite how against me traveling outside the US my family had been. I was in the British Virgin Islands, though, and getting home would be easy. It wasn’t like I’d gone to the Middle East.
The cell phone attached to Captain Dan’s hip started vibrating, and he sighed when he pulled it free. “I need to take this,” he said apologetically. “Get settled in and make yourself at home.” He turned to face the other man as he accepted the call, the phone inches from his face when he said, “You’ll give her the lay of the land for me, Boone?”
Captain Dan nodded once, then hurried outside, the phone now pressed against his ear. “What now?”
Once we were alone, Boone lifted my suitcase and headed for the stairs. “Let me show you how things work.”
I followed him, ducking my head as I descended. The space was confining enough to give off the impression I would hit my head, but since the man in front of me had no issue, I knew it was an illusion. He was at least a head taller than me.
Boone stepped into my small room and set my suitcase on the floor at the end of the bed, but I was still in the hall. Both because I couldn’t imagine a scenario where two people would fit into the cramped space and because I didn’t want to get that close to him.
“There’s a storage area under the bed for your suitcase.” The guy didn’t look at me as he lifted the mattress, revealing a space just big enough to fit my bag. He let it drop after a second and turned toward the bathroom. “The bathroom should be pretty self-explanatory except for maybe the toilet.” His gaze darted to me. “Have you been on a sailboat before?”
“No.” I was still in the hall, my head poking into the room and my neck craned so I could see what he was doing while still keeping my distance.
“The toilets run on saltwater, which helps with your water supply, so you have to fill the bowl by pushing this button first.” He pressed a button and a motorized groan filled the room. After a second, he released it and turned back to me. “Toilet paper and other sanitary items go into the trashcan. We don’t need those getting dumped in the ocean.”
“Ocean?” I asked, suddenly alarmed.
He pressed his lips together, studying me for a second before saying, “We open the tanks when we’re out to sea to empty the waste. They’re closed when we’re in the harbor, though. We don’t want the trash in the ocean, so it’s important to put the toilet paper in the trashcan. Got it?”
“Oh.” My gaze went to the toilet. “That makes sense. I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Yeah, I’m sure most people wouldn’t unless they’ve been on a boat.” He turned back to the toilet. “Press this button to flush when you’re done.”
Again, a motorized groan filled the room, only this time, the water rushed from the toilet instead of into it.
“That should be all you need to know.” Boone said when he was facing me again. “Captain Dan is experienced, so you don’t need to worry about any other little details while you’re out there. Questions?”
“No,” I said.
“Good.” Boone stepped from the room, crowding the hall, and I pressed my back against the wall. He grinned as if amused by my need to keep my distance. “Have fun out there, Moira.”
“Thanks,” I whispered.
He looked at me a second longer before chuckling softly. He was shaking his head when he climbed the stairs, leaving me alone.
Once he was gone, I finally stepped into my room. I imagined prison cells were bigger than this, and the irony wasn’t lost on me. I just hoped the sights were enough to make up for the cramped space.
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