Rescue Alaska is the eighth series by USA Today Bestselling Author Kathi Daley. It is a warm yet fast moving mystery series with a light paranormal twist.
Rescue Alaska is a small town in northern Alaska where visitors come to hike and ski. Harmony Carson is a lifelong resident who volunteers as a member of the local search and rescue team. Harmony has a unique gift which she often considers a curse. She is able to 'see' the individuals she is meant to help rescue, and more often than not she can feel their fear and their pain as well. When she isn't aiding in a rescue, Harmony works at Neverland - the bar owned by her brother in law Jake, and volunteers at the local animal shelter. Harmony lives in a rustic cabin with six dogs, four cats, six kittens, eight rabbits, and a blind mule named Homer.
In this first book in the series, a longtime local, Tim Maverick, sends his old friend, Harley Medford, a letter with a photo stating that if he should turn up dead at some point in the near future, the man in the photo is the one who killed him. When Tim is found dead only two weeks later, Harley comes to Rescue to find the man he is convinced killed Tim. He hears that Harmony has a reputation for finding people so he enlists her help. The journey to find the truth behind Tim's untimely death, will take Harmony on a journey of discovery she never saw coming.
Release date: November 3, 2017
Publisher: Kathi Daley Books
Print pages: 195
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Wednesday, December 6
There are people in the world who insist that life is what you make of it. They will tell you that if you work hard enough and persevere long enough, everything you have ever desired will one day be yours. But as I sat in the fifth dingy office I had visited in as many months, and listened as the fifth pencil pusher in a dark suit and sensible shoes looked at me with apologetic eyes, I finally understood that not every dream was realized and not every wish granted.
“Ms. Carson, do you understand what I’m saying?”
I nodded, trying to fight back the tears I absolutely would not shed. “You’re saying that you can’t consider my grant application unless I’ve secured a facility.”
The man let out a long breath, sounding like a wheeze, which I was sure was more of a sigh of relief. “Exactly. I do love your proposal to build an animal shelter in your hometown, but our grant is designed to be used for ongoing operations. I’m afraid without a physical presence we really must move on.”
I leaned over to pick up my eight year old backpack. “Yes. I understand. Thank you so much for your time.”
“Perhaps next year?” the man encouraged with a lopsided grin.
I smiled in return. Granted it was a weak little smile that did nothing to conceal my feelings of defeat. “Thank you. I’m certain we’ll be able to meet your criteria by the next application cycle.”
“We begin a new cycle on June 1. If you can secure a facility by that time, please feel free to reapply,” the man encouraged.
I thanked the bureaucrat and exited his office. I tried to ignore the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach and instead focus on the clickety-clack created as the tile floor came into contact with the two-inch heels I’d bought for just this occasion. Had I really been working on this for more than two years? Maybe it was time to throw in the towel and accept defeat. The idea of building an animal shelter in Rescue, Alaska, was a noble one, but the mountain of fundraising and paperwork that needed to be scaled in order to make this particular dream come true seemed insurmountable at best.
I dug into my backpack for the cell phone that rang just as I stepped out of the warm building into the bracing cold of the frigid Alaskan winter. I pulled the hood of my heavy parka over my dark hair before wrapping the bulk of my down jacket tightly around my small frame.
“So, how did it go?” My best friend, Chloe Rivers, asked the minute I answered her call. “It went.”
“What happened?” Chloe groaned.
I looked up toward the sky, allowing the snow to land on my face and mask my tears. “The grant is designated for operations, so we aren’t eligible until we have a facility. The problem is, we have no money to build a facility and no one will give us a loan for one unless we have capital for operations already lined up. It’s an endless cycle I’m afraid we can’t conquer.”
“We can’t give up. You know what you have to do.”
“No,” I said firmly. “We’ll find another way.” I knew I sounded harsh, but I had to make Chloe understand.
“Another way?” Chloe screeched. I listened as she took a deep breath before continuing in a softer tone. “Come on, Harmony, you know we’ve tried everything. There is no other way.”
Chloe’s plea faded as an image flashed into my mind. I closed my eyes and focused on the image before I spoke. I knew from prior experience that it was important to get a lock on the psychic connection before I said or did anything to break the spell. Once I felt I was ready, I opened my eyes and tuned back into Chloe’s chatter. I was certain she hadn’t missed a beat even though I had missed the whole thing. “Look, I have to go,” I interrupted. “Someone’s in trouble. I’ll call you later.”
After hanging up with Chloe, I called a cab and then called Dani Mathews. Dani was a helicopter pilot and one of the members of the search-and-rescue team I belonged to. She’d offered to give me a lift into Anchorage for my meeting today and I’d taken her up on it.
“Someone’s in trouble,” I said as soon as Dani answered.
“I was about to call you. I just got off the phone with Jake.” Jake Cartwright is my boss, my brother-in-law, and the leader of the search-and-rescue team. “There are two boys; one is fifteen and the other is sixteen. They’d been cross-country skiing at the foot of Cougar Mountain. Jake said they have a GPS lock on a phone belonging to one of the teens, so he isn’t anticipating a problem with the rescue.”
The cab pulled up and I slipped inside. I instructed the driver to head to the airport, then answered Dani. “The boys dropped the phone, so Jake and the others are heading in the wrong direction”
I slipped off my shoes as the cab sped away.
“Do you know where they are?” Dani asked with a sound of panic in her voice.
“In a cave.” I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the image in my head. “The cave is shallow, but they’re protected from the storm.” I took off my heavy parka and pulled a pair of jeans out of my backpack. I cradled the phone to my ear with my shoulder as I slipped the jeans onto my bare legs.
“Where’s the cave, Harm?”
I closed my eyes once again and let the image come to me. “I’d say they’re about a quarter mile up the mountain.”
“Are they okay?” Dani asked.
I took a deep breath and focused my energy. There are times I wanted to run from the images and feelings that threatened to overwhelm and destroy me, but I know embracing the pain and fear is my destiny as well as my burden. “They’re both scared, but only one of them is hurt. Call Jake and tell him to check the cave where we found Sitka.” I referred to our search-and-rescue dog, who Jake and I found lost on the mountain when he was just a puppy. “And send someone for Moose.” I glanced out the window. The snow was getting heavier and it wouldn’t be long before we would be forbidden from taking off. “We’re almost to the airport. Go ahead and warm up the bird. I should be there in two minutes.”
I hung up the phone and placed it on the seat next to me. The driver swerved as I pulled my dress over my head and tossed it aside. I knew the pervert was watching, but I didn’t have time to care as I pulled a thermal shirt out of my backpack, over my head, and across my bare chest.
“What’s the ETA to the airport?” I demanded from the backseat. “Less than a minute.”
“Go on around to the entrance for private planes. I have the code to get in the gate. My friend is waiting with a helicopter.”
As the cab neared the entrance, I pulled on heavy wool socks and tennis shoes. I wished I had my snow boots with me, but the tennis shoes would have to do. The boots were too heavy to carry around all day.
As soon as the cab stopped, I grabbed my phone, tossed some cash onto the front seat, and hopped out, leaving my dress and new heels behind.
“You’ve forgotten your dress, miss.”
“Keep it.” I said as I flung my backpack over my shoulder and took off at a full run for the helicopter. As soon as I got in, Dani took off. “Did you get hold of Jake?” I asked as I strapped myself in.
“I spoke to Sarge. He’s manning the radio. He promised to keep trying to get through to Jake.
The storm is intensifying at a steady rate. We need to find them.” “Moose?”
“Sarge sent someone for him.”
I looked out the window as we flew toward Rescue. A feeling of dread settled into the pit of my stomach. The storm was getting stronger, and when a storm blew in without much notice, it caught everyone off guard, so the likelihood of a successful rescue decreased dramatically.
The team I belonged to was one of the best anywhere, our survival record unmatched. Still, I’d learned at an early age that when you’re battling Mother Nature, even the best teams occasionally came out on the losing end. I picked up the team radio Dani had tucked into the console of her helicopter. I pressed the handle and hoped it would connect me to someone at the command post.
“Go for Sarge,” answered the retired army officer who now worked for Neverland, the bar Jake owned.
“Sarge, it’s Harmony. Dani and I are on our way, but we won’t get there in time to make a difference. I need you to get a message to Jake.”
“The reception is sketchy, but don’t you worry your pretty head, Sarge will find a way.”
“The boys are beginning to panic. I can feel their absolute horror as the storm strengthens. The one who isn’t injured is seriously thinking of leaving his friend and going for help. If he does, neither of them will make it. Jake needs to get there and he needs to get there fast.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll find a way to let Jake know. Can you communicate with the boys?”
I paused and closed my eyes. I tried to connect but wasn’t getting through. “I’m trying, but so far I just have a one-way line. Is Jordan there?” Jordan Fairchild was not only a member of the team but she was a doctor who worked for the local hospital.
“She was on duty, but she’s on her way.”
“Tell her she’ll need to treat hypothermia.” I paused and closed my eyes again. My instinct was to block the pain and horror I knew I needed to channel. “And anemia. The break to the femur of the injured teen is severe. He’s been bleeding for a while.” I used the back of my hand to wipe away the steady stream of tears steaking my face. God, it hurt. The pain. The fear. “I’m honestly not sure he’ll make it. I can feel his strength fading, but we have to try.”
“Okay, Harm, I’ll tell her.” “Is Moose there?”
“He will be by the time you get here.”
I put down the radio and tried to slow my pounding heart. I’m not sure why I’ve been cursed with the ability to connect psychically with those who are injured or dying. It isn’t that I can feel the pain of everyone who’s suffering; it seems to be only those we’re meant to help that find their way onto my radar. I’m not entirely sure where the ability came from, but I know when I acquired it.
I grew up in a warm, caring family with two parents and a sister who loved me. When I was thirteen, my parents died in an auto accident a week before Christmas. My sister Val, who had just turned nineteen, dropped out of college, returned to Rescue, Alaska, and took over as my legal guardian. I remember feeling scared and so very alone. I retreated into my mind, cutting ties to most people, except for Val, who became my anchor to the world. When I was fifteen, Val married local bar owner Jake Cartwright. Jake loved Val and treated me like a sister, and after a period of adjustment, we became a family. I began to emerge from my shell. When I was seventeen, Val went out on a rescue. She got lost in the storm, and although the team tried to find her, they came up with nothing but dead ends. I remember sitting at the command post praying harder than I ever had. I wanted so much to have the chance to tell Val how much I loved her. She’d sacrificed so much for me and I wasn’t sure she knew how much it really meant.
Things didn’t look good, even though the entire team searched around the clock. I could hear them whispering that the odds of finding her alive were decreasing with each hour. I remember wanting to give my life for hers, and suddenly, there she was, in my head. I could feel her pain, but I also felt the prayer in her heart. I knew she was dying, but I could feel her love for me and her fighting to live. I could also feel the life draining from her body with each minute that passed.
I tried to tell the others I knew where she was, but they thought my ramblings were of an emotionally distraught teenager dealing with the fallout of shock and despair. When the team eventually found Val’s body exactly where and how I’d told them they would, they began to believe I actually had made a connection with the only family I’d had left in the world.
Of course, the experience of knowing your sister was dying, of feeling her physical and emotional pain as well as her fear as she passed into the next life, was more than a seventeen-year-old could really process. I’m afraid I went just a bit off the deep end. Jake, who had taken over as my guardian, tried to help me, as did everyone else in my life, but there was no comfort in the world that would undo the horror I’d experienced.
And then I met Moose. Moose is a large Maine coon who wandered into Jake’s bar, where I worked and lived at the time. The minute I picked up the cantankerous cat and held him to my heart, the trauma I’d been experiencing somehow melted away. I won’t go so far as to say Moose has magical powers, at least not any more than I do, but channeling people in life-and-death situations is more draining than I can tolerate, and the only one who can keep me grounded is a fuzzy coon with a cranky disposition.
“Are you okay?” Dani asked as she glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. Her concern for my mental health was evident on her face.
“I’m okay. I’m trying to connect with the boys, but they’re too terrified to let me in. It’s so hard to feel their pain when you can’t offer comfort.”
“Can’t you shut if off? I can’t imagine allowing myself to actually feel and experience what those boys are.”
“If I block it, I’ll lose them. I have to hang on. Maybe I can get through to one of them. They don’t have long.”
“Do you really think you have the ability to do that? To establish a two-way communication?”
I put my hand over my heart. It felt like it was breaking. “I think so. I hope so. The elderly man who was buried in the avalanche last spring told me that he knew he was in his final moments and all he could feel was terror. Then I connected and he felt at peace. It was that peace that allowed him to slow his breathing. Jordan said the only reason he was still alive when we found him was because he managed to conserve his oxygen.”
I shrugged. I supposed I did feel good about that rescue, but I’d been involved in rescues, such as Val’s, where the victim I connected with didn’t make it. I don’t know why it’s my lot in life to experience death over and over again, but it seems to be my calling, so I try to embrace it so I’m available for the victims I can save, like the old man last spring.
“The injured one is almost gone,” I whispered. “They need to get to him now.”
Tears were streaming down my face as I gripped the seat next to me. The pain was excruciating, but I needed to hang on.
Dani reached over and grabbed my hand. “We’re almost there. I’m preparing to land. Sarge is waiting with Moose.”
Dani guided the helicopter to the ground despite the storm raging around us. As soon as she landed, I opened the door, hopped out, and ran to the car, where Sarge was waiting with Moose. I pulled Moose into my arms and wept into his thick fur. After several minutes, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I couldn’t know for certain, but I felt as if the boy I was channeling had experienced that same calm. I looked at Sarge. “He’s gone.”
“I’m so sorry, Harm.”
“The other one is still alive. He’s on the verge of panicking and running out into the storm.
Jake and the others have to get to him.”
Sarge helped me into the car and we headed toward Neverland, where I knew the fate of the second boy would be revealed before the night was over.
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