Thread of Revenge

By: Elizabeth Goddard


Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

—Deuteronomy 31:6





To Dan, my hero.





Acknowledgments

A writer can’t create a novel in a vacuum. We can’t write the stories alone. We need experts to help us get it right. Many thanks to those who helped me with various aspects of this story. Susan Sleeman—thanks for your police-procedural expertise and your brainstorming help. Martin Roy Hill—I couldn’t have written this story without your expertise on all things Coast Guard. I especially appreciate your naming of the USCGC Kraken! And last but never least, I want to thank my editor, Elizabeth Mazer, and my agent, Steve Laube, for believing in my stories!








ONE

Her head throbbed and grogginess gripped her. She rocked as if on giant waves. A deep, aching chill touched her feet. The coldness licked at her toes until she slowly realized the sensation felt more than cold—it felt wet.

Salty water.

Giant, rolling waves.

Blinking, Sadie Strand pushed through the debilitating fuzziness and stirred completely awake. She drew in a breath. A small silver dolphin pendant pressed into the gray marine carpet near her cheek. Confusion racked her thoughts. She released the pendant from its snare and pushed up on her elbows, nausea washing over her again. What? Where am I? By the listing of her quarters, she realized she was on a boat and waves caused the swaying motion, the violent rocking. Oh, no!

She glanced down to her feet.

Water flooded the vessel.

Panic swept over her with the force of a tidal wave. And then the boat pitched with the next wave and cold water rushed over her. She gasped and choked until she caught her breath again.

What is going on? She didn’t know how she’d ended up on this boat, but that didn’t matter so much as how she was going to get off. She rolled to her knees to stand and get her sea legs to walk with the lurching, rolling of a boat in a storm. A sinking boat, no less.

Sadie made her way to the helm in search of the radio, aware that with each second that passed, the boat took on more water. Maybe she only needed to find the pump and expel the water from the storm, except it was already too late. The pump, if there was one, would be beneath the water that clearly rushed in from not only belowdecks, but above as waves crashed over the sinking vessel.

A drowning death was her worst nightmare. Oh, God, please help me! But it looked like that was exactly what was about to happen. Sadie was going to die in a watery grave.

Just like Karon.

That is, if she didn’t find a way to survive, or if someone didn’t come to her aid. At the helm, she found the radio and turned to the channel the Coast Guard, marine patrol or any other authorities might monitor.

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! I’m sinking. Is anyone out there? Mayday. Mayday!” Sadie repeated her calls. She glanced at the dash to relay her coordinates but nothing worked so she couldn’t know her exact location. The cold water assured her she must be somewhere in the North Pacific off the Washington coast where she’d been before waking up on the boat.

How could this happen? She continued calling for help, then realization slowly dawned. In her panic she hadn’t noticed the red light wasn’t flickering. There wasn’t the telltale squawk. Nothing. It was dead. The radio was unresponsive. Broken. Just like everything else.

That news hit her like an anchor, heavy and bone jarring. Someone had obviously sabotaged the vessel. They’d deliberately set her up to die.

Tears burned her eyes. “Oh, Karon,” she whispered. “I wanted to know what happened… I wanted to know, and now I think I do. But I don’t know why someone killed you. Or who!”

Memories rushed back at her. She’d been going through Karon’s things, looking for a clue as to why her best friend’s body had washed up on the beach. Then Sadie had woken up here. She had the sense that someone had been there in the house with her, but the image, the memory, was too vague. She couldn’t be sure. Nor could she worry about that now. Her life was in imminent jeopardy. How could she find Karon’s killer if she died too? And that gave her even more incentive to live. To survive. She had to find out who was behind this. She wouldn’t let them get away with it.

She searched for a life jacket or flotation device or smaller skiff attached to this boat before it plunged, submerging completely. Anything to which she could cling that would keep her above the surface of a blustering North Pacific Ocean.

But her search left her empty-handed. “Nothing!” Are you kidding me?

Of course, why would she expect there to be a flotation device if the radio had been sabotaged?

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