(Romantic Sailing Mystery Trilogy Book 2)
(Romantic Sailing Mystery Trilogy Book 2)
by R. P. Dahlke
Hurricane Hole is the second book in R. P. Dahlke's Romantic Sailing Mystery Trilogy. The author stops by today to share an excerpt. Also available: A Dangerous Harbor.
Marooned in Baja, Mexico, a Chechen arms dealer is waiting for the right diver to retrieve the deadly cargo on the bottom of the Sea of Cortez. But when the Queen of daytime drama, Leila Hunter Standiford, happens to admire a beautiful vintage Alden and it's handsome captain, she doesn't realize that the boat will soon burn to the water line, or that a dead body will be found below, or that the captain has been targeted as the sacrificial diver.
Nominated for the following 2014 awards: Global Awards (Mystery), EpicCon (Mystery), New Mexico Book Awards (writers of the Southwest: Adventure).
Inside the cabin, Leila turned on an overhead light and pointed Ari to the settee.
Feeling jealousy swim to the surface, Gabe watched Ari Starns take in the cozy interior of Leila's boat, then investigate the covered birdcage. There was a movement inside and a quick soft whistle.
"What kind of bird?" Ari asked.
"Not sure yet," she said. "It's some kind of parrot. Gabe, start the kettle, will you? I'm going to find one of my sleeping pills."
At the sound of Leila's voice, the parrot whistled and added a bright, "Hel-lo, sailor."
Passing the cage, she tapped once on the bars, her voice a firm command. "Go to sleep, Devil!"
The bird muttered something unintelligible, but remained quiet.
Flicking the igniter on the gimbaled stove, Gabe snorted. Another male she's managed to emasculate.
When Leila came back with the pill, she reached around Gabe for a mug on the wooden rack, and he inhaled the sweet, fresh scent of her soft, blonde hair. At her quick smile, his heart lurched—never mind her earlier harsh words, he could forgive her.
But that daydream snapped shut when she leaned close and whispered, "Can you give Ari something clean and dry to wear? Please? I'll make it up to you."
He rummaged around in his cubby-hole and came up with his oldest T-shirt and a pair of cut-offs. "Here's a T-shirt and a pair of shorts," he said, pointing to the door for the shower. "There's a spare towel on a hook and the soap."
Ari nodded his thanks and ten minutes later came out, looking considerably better.
Leila held out the steaming mug of tea, spiked with his rum, to the stranger.
"Here, take this," she said, handing Ari the pill.
"What is it?" he asked, holding the pill like it might be poison.
"Ambien. Only one and it will help you sleep." At his hesitation, she laughed. "What? You think we're gonna rob you in your sleep? Come on, take it."
He tossed back the pill and chased it down with the rum-spiked tea. Then, staring into the empty mug, he said, "Books, pictures, charts. All gone. Siderata. D'you know what it means?"
The pain in his eyes begged someone to just shoot him—Gabe was beginning to think that wasn't such a bad idea either.
"Something from Kahlil Gibran, isn't it?" she answered, turning away to stuff an extra pillow into a clean case.
"Yes." He pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes. "It means to go peacefully."
Gabe thought it ironic as nothing about tonight's fire was peaceful, and there was some kind of disagreement between him and the nutcase contessa, wasn't there? This guy might not be as trustworthy as Leila thought.
"That was some impressive sailing you did today," Gabe said. "Leila here says you anchored with only your sail."
"You got that, huh?" Ari looked at Gabe, and because he couldn't seem to keep his eyes off Leila, back to her.
"No auxiliary?" Gabe asked, hoping to bring the stranger's attention back to him.
"It died," he said, his gaze lingering on her face. "I detoured from my planned course to Cabo because a guy here had an engine I could buy. Of course, I had no idea my detour would mean my boat would go up in flames."
"What do you think happened?" Leila asked. "A leak in your propane?"
Ari blinked. "I wouldn't have thought so. The auxiliary was the only thing on that boat I hadn't totally rebuilt. It's—it was—an Alden. Designed in the forties and built in 1977. Layered in thick fiberglass before they knew how much to put into a hull—I suppose that's why she's still afloat—damn hull is rock solid."
Since there was no interest in what he might have to say, Gabe turned off the overhead galley light, went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and washed his face. Only problem was, a stranger was sitting on his bed. Hope he's allergic to cat hair, because the kitten will be expecting to snuggle up later tonight.
When he came out again, the stranger was holding Leila's hand. This guy doesn't waste any time. I guess I can forget about him sleeping with the kitten.
"I should let you sleep," she said, pulling her hand out of his.
"No. Please. I couldn't sleep just yet. Besides, it's an old Indian proverb: to talk about the dead is to give them passage to the spirit world.
Gabe snorted. Lay it on thick, why don't you? We're talking about a damned boat.
He thought about leaving. He could take the guy's Zodiac and go ashore. Would they even notice? But wait. What if he's a serial killer? Better he should stick around, keep an eye on this guy. Somebody had to watch out for Leila.
Silently climbing the companionway, he went forward, flopped into the soft hammock hung between the forestay and the mast, then used a foot to set it swaying.
His earlier good mood had disappeared like the pale smoke lifting off the wreck across the water. But neither Leila or Ari cared enough to notice. Looking up at the moon breaking clear of the clouds, he watched it speckle the harbor in broad, painterly strokes. A breeze picked up, blowing cool, sweet air over the bay. It was going to be a beautiful night, and here he was, alone again.
Praise for the Book
"This is an entertaining, exciting read with just enough romance to make your toes curl and enough action to keep you up all night reading it." ~ Lesley A Diehl
"This well-written and paced story is very easy to read and most enjoyable; the characters are likable and the ending is an absolute hoot!" ~ Diana M. Hockley
"Hurricane Hole is a well-crafted mystery with enough characters to keep a reader engaged but not overwhelmed, and a subtle humor that will keep a smile on your face throughout the book. There is romance and danger and a sweet and funny ending that left me very satisfied. In Hurricane Hole, R. P. Dahlke continues where she left off in A Dangerous Harbor. While either book can be read on its own, I highly recommend the pair of them. The sound of waves against a hull, the smell of the sea, romance, mystery and humor all mixed in with a sprinkling of Spanish and a hurricane to boot. I simply can't come up with anything that's missing in this well told tale. If you enjoy a great read, you will definitely be satisfied with Hurricane Hole." ~ J.C. Wing
"Great book full of warm characters you care about and want to read on to the finish. A few cute surprises to keep it interesting. Would read more by this author." ~ Debbie Andersen
"Dahlke is a talented author. There is an excellent mix of mystery and romance. It’s also complemented with well-placed humor that will keep you engaged with the story throughout. If you’re a fan of the murder mystery genre, you’ll enjoy this series!" ~ Karma
From the Author
This book was the result of my years sailing in Mexico with my husband aboard our cutter rigged Hylas 47 sailboat. Mexico is a culture that was, and still is, struggling to gain a foothold in the 21st Century. This trilogy, starting with A Dangerous Harbor, and continuing with Hurricane Hole, is about Americans who're here because they can't seem to outrun the problems they so desperately try to leave behind.