Are you fed up with the Winter Blues? All that snow and ice and rain? Would you like to check out a story of growing romance in a tropical paradise? Then SEA CHANGE is the book for you!
from Manifold Press - now available on Amazon HERE
Injured on duty and no longer fit for active service, soon-to-be-ex-Coast Guard Bran Kaulana is drifting, filling his days helping out at the Wai Ola Rescue Center, one of Honolulu's wildlife charities. He's working with the new veterinary, Steve Lucas, a man drawn to O'ahu by his fascination with dolphins.
As their friendship slowly deepens, the two men are caught up in the mystery of injured seals and dolphins, a ruthless gang of smugglers and a not so dormant undersea lava vent.
The hoist whined, swinging the canvas-wrapped body out over the catamaran's stern. Luckily the sea-swell was slight, and Bran braced his feet against the rear of the diving shelf, flattened his hands on the wet fabric and locked his muscles. The background ache in his thigh and hip became a hotter pain, but he ignored it. Right now he couldn't afford the distraction. The last thing they needed was for this to go wrong, and with fading light and unfamiliar equipment that was just what could happen. The loaded sling swayed with the sea's motion and he gritted his teeth as the inert weight threatened to shove him back.
"Keep her headed into the waves!" he yelled over his shoulder.
"I'm trying!" Anna shouted back, and the catamaran wallowed for a few moments while the girl juggled the controls. Wave crests glowed phosphorescent in the dusk, shimmering away from the twin prows as the cat turned once more into the wind.
A convulsion rippled through the powerful form trapped in the canvas. Tension thrummed under Bran's hands and he swore. "Shit, he's coming out of it!" Matt was suddenly at his side, helping to keep the sling from swinging in over the deck. "Lower away!" It dropped a couple of feet, nearly dragging the two men off their feet. "More!" Bran ordered, and then gave a final call. "Release!" The hook snapped open, the sling unfolded and dumped its now wide awake cargo into the water. Vin grabbed their belts to stop them falling after it.
Vin's yodeling whoop would have stampeded cattle in his native Texas. "One down," he said. "Two to go. Then we party. God, I can taste that kalua pig now!"
Bran didn't answer. Out here, half an hour off O'ahu's shore, learning the foibles of the catamaran he'd collected only a few hours ago, he felt alive. Ashore, it was as if he was living a half-life. But he didn't give himself a chance to brood on it. There were two more Monk seals to return to the sea, and the tranquilizer clock was counting down.
The rest of the operation went smoothly. The last seal disappeared under the waves and Bran took over the wheel, leaving the rest of his team to relax in the stern. He turned the Sun Dancer towards the island, only half-listening to the jubilant conversation going on behind him. Ahead were the sparkling lights of Honolulu and Waikiki, and Bran was sure he could smell the tropical perfume from the gardens and hillsides. It threaded through the ozone, and he drew it in through nose and mouth--it tasted green, vibrant, and the pleasant buzz of a successful mission was intensified.
"I'm calling first shower," Anna announced. "Vin can wash my back."
"Fine," Bran said over his shoulder. "You want to go next, Matt?" Facilities at the Wai Ola Rescue Center were pretty basic, and he was in no hurry.
"Sure. I'll give you a hand putting the slings out to dry while the lovebirds go and play."
"As long as they don't play too long, or there won't be any food left for Vin." Bran smiled.
"No sweat." Matt chuckled. "I'll just flush the head. A blast of cold water will do the trick."
There was a brief scuffle and a shriek from Anna as she tried unsuccessfully to tip Matt into the water. Since he was a foot taller than her five-three, she failed. Nor would Vin help. He just pointed out that throwing a Lieutenant Commander overboard was not the way a Junior Lieutenant got ahead in the US Coast Guard. Matt's promotion was new enough to still be the cause of ragging among his friends.
Bran let the banter wash over him, concentrating on the sea and the steady beat of the powerful engines driving them toward the shore. In another instance of sheer irony, his own promotion to the same rank had come through while he was still in the hospital, and it was a bittersweet achievement. The Coast Guard wasn't going to be his life for much longer.
* * * * *