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Opis ebooka Capture of the Defiance - S.E. Smith

Espionage, clues, and a race to find the missing information before it is too late. When Makayla Summerlin travels to Hong Kong to join her grandfather Henry in his voyage around the world on the Defiance, the reunion goes well until Henry is kidnapped and the Defiance disappears! Unsure of what to do, Makayla reaches out to an old friend for help. When Brian Jacobs receives a frantic call from a friend, he drops everything to go her. His work in Hong Kong has been carefully optimized for long-term success, but his professional and personal life become entangled when Makayla is almost kidnapped in front of him. Seeing her again has awakened old feelings, and he is committed to helping her, no matter the cost. Their team of allies grows as they slowly unravel the reason Henry and Makayla have been targeted, but will they discover the truth before time runs out for Henry? Internationally acclaimed S.E. Smith presents a new action-packed story full of mystery and intrigue. Brimming with her signature humor, vivid landscapes, and beloved characters, this book is sure to be another fan favorite! Main Content: 213 (6x9) pages, 70,233 words

Opinie o ebooku Capture of the Defiance - S.E. Smith

Fragment ebooka Capture of the Defiance - S.E. Smith

Capture of the Defiance

Breaking Free Book 2

S.E. Smith

Contents

Acknowledgments

Copyright

Synopsis

Tourist Map of Hong Kong

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Epilogue

Sample of Command Decision

Additional Books and Information

About the Author

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my husband Steve for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. I would also like to give a special thank you to my sister and best friend, Linda, who not only encouraged me to write, but who also read the manuscript. Also to my other friends who believe in me: Julie, Jackie, Christel, Sally, Jolanda, Lisa and Jake (who loved Voyage), Laurelle, and Narelle. The girls that keep me going!

I would also like to say a very special thank you to Hsu Lee. Her kindness and consideration in supplying me with Author Survival Packs at the conventions the past few years has been wonderful. Thank you, Hsu!

And of course thanks to Paul Heitsch, David Brenin, Samantha Cook, Suzanne Elise Freeman, and PJ Ochlan—the awesome voices behind my audiobooks!

—S.E. Smith

Montana Publishing

New Adult\Action\Adventure\Fiction

Capture of the Defiance: Breaking Free series

Copyright © 2017 by S.E. Smith

First E-Book\print Published January 2017

Cover Design by Melody Simmons

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, or organizations are strictly coincidental and not intended by the author.

Summary: A young woman’s trip to join her grandfather on his sailboat turns into a deadly race when he and the Defiance are taken, forcing her to seek help from old friends to discover what happened to him before time runs out.

ISBN 978-1-942562-85-6 (paperback)

ISBN 978-1-944125-01-1 (eBook)

Published in the United States by Montana Publishing.

{1. New Adult – Fiction. 2. Thriller – Fiction. 3. Action/Adventure – Fiction. 4. Suspense – Fiction. 5. Romance – Fiction.}

www.montanapublishinghouse.com

Synopsis

New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author S.E. Smith returns with an emotionally charged action adventure thriller filled with suspense.

Espionage, clues, and a race to find the missing information before it is too late!

When Makayla Summerlin travels to Hong Kong to join her grandfather Henry in his voyage around the world on the Defiance, the reunion goes well until Henry is kidnapped and the Defiance disappears! Unsure of what to do, Makayla reaches out to an old friend for help.

When Brian Jacobs receives a frantic call from a friend, he drops everything to go her. His work in Hong Kong has been carefully optimized for long-term success, but his professional and personal life become entangled when Makayla is almost kidnapped in front of him. Seeing her again has awakened old feelings, and he is committed to helping her, no matter the cost.

Their team of allies grows as they slowly unravel the reason Henry and Makayla have been targeted, but will they discover the truth before time runs out for Henry?

Tourist Map of Hong Kong

Chapter 1

Hong Kong

The figure of a man pushed through the crowds gathered along the Graham Street Market, uncaring of the curses he was drawing. Sweat beaded on his brow despite the cool breeze and temperate weather. His gaze swept the collage of faces. Almost immediately, his eyes locked with the intense, dark gaze of a man searching the crowd – for him.

Gabriel Harrington swallowed and backed away. He stumbled when he ran into an older woman who turned and began admonishing him. Pushing past her, he ignored her tirade when she continued to yell after him. His frantic flight that had started earlier that morning was now one that meant life or death.

Turning sharply, he cut between two of the merchants’ booths, pushing the colorful material hanging down on display out of his field of vision as he rushed through. He had already passed the irritated merchants before the men could say anything. He made another sharp turn along the sidewalk toward the busy intersection, urgently glancing behind him. If he could just get across it, he could lose himself in the crowd of pedestrians.

The skin on the back of his neck tingled and he could feel the sweat sliding down between his shoulder blades under his shirt. He slipped his hand into his pocket for the small box. It was still there.

He breathed a sigh of relief and glanced over his shoulder again. Slowing to a fast walk, he relaxed a little. He didn’t see the man who had been following him. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone and quickly dialed the number he had memorized.

“Do you have it?” The voice on the other end asked in a terse tone.

“Yes, but I’m being followed,” Gabriel muttered, glancing both ways before entering the intersection.

“Where are you?” The voice on the other end demanded in a brisk tone. “I’ll send backup.”

“I’m leaving the market near Shelter Cove. I’ll… Shit!” Gabriel hissed, pausing about three-quarters of the way across the intersection.

“What is it?”

“There are two of them,” Gabriel said hoarsely. “I’ll try to get the package to you.”

“I have a team en route,” the man said.

“It’s too late,” Gabriel replied with resignation, turning and seeing the other man he thought he’d lost standing not more than fifty feet from him. “I’ll hide the package and notify you of the location as soon as I can.”

“Negative,” the man hissed, but Gabriel was already turning to cross the intersection at a diagonal angle.

He had only taken a few steps when he saw a third man appear on the corner in the direction he had been about to go. Twisting, he bumped into an older man carrying several canvas shopping bags. Gabriel muttered an automatic apology under his breath, even as his hand slipped the package from his pocket and into one of the bags. His gaze swept over the old man’s face, trying to memorize it before he backed away.

He darted across the intersection. He was almost to the curb when a van, trying to beat the red light, turned the corner. Gabriel registered the impending impact just seconds before his body hit the windshield. He rolled several feet before coming to a stop. In the distance, he could barely make out the old man turning to see what had happened before everything went black.

Makayla looked around the Customs area of the airport from her place in line. There was a sea of people arriving from all over the world. Her lips curved upward when she saw a harried mother trying to grab a wayward toddler in front of her. The smile turned to a sympathetic grimace when the little boy started crying when his mother picked him up. Several people standing behind her gave the woman an annoyed glance.

Makayla started to turn away when she noticed that the woman had dropped her passport on the ground when she had bent to pick up the little boy. With a murmur, she motioned for the two people behind her to go ahead. With a tired sigh, she waited until they had passed her before she stooped to retrieve the fallen documents.

“You dropped this,” she murmured, glancing at the woman’s name on the open passport. “Would you like some help, Hsu?”

“Oh, yes, please,” the woman stuttered, startled, before she breathed out a tired sigh. “It has been a long trip.”

“Where are you traveling from?” Makayla asked politely, adjusting the diaper bag that had fallen off the handle of the stroller before she pushed the baby carriage forward along with her own carry-on.

“Seattle,” Hsu replied with a grateful smile. “Thank you so much for your help.”

“You’re welcome,” Makayla replied with a sympathetic grin. “My name is Makayla, by the way.”

“That is a beautiful name,” Hsu responded, moving forward with the line. She gave a relieved groan when she saw they were next and awkwardly adjusted the little boy who had finally fallen asleep on her shoulder. “I think I can put him in the stroller now.”

“Oh, yes,” Makayla said, quickly moving the diaper bag so that Hsu could carefully place the sleeping boy in the stroller.

“Where are you from, Makayla?” Hsu asked politely, straightening and placing a hand on her lower back before she took the diaper bag Makayla was holding. “He is getting heavy.”

“I’m from Florida,” Makayla said, adjusting her backpack on her right shoulder. “He looks it. How old is he?”

“He will be three next month,” Hsu replied before she turned to the Customs agent. “Thank you again for your help, Makayla. I hope you have a pleasant visit in Hong Kong.”

“You too, and good luck!” Makayla replied, watching as Hsu pushed the stroller up to the window.

A moment later, it was Makayla’s turn. She walked up and presented her passport. The agent behind the window briefly glanced up at her and then down at her passport.

“What is the purpose of your visit?” The agent asked in a cool, disinterested voice.

“Vacation,” Makayla replied with a polite smile.

“Are you traveling alone?” The man asked, suddenly more focused on her when he looked up from her photo to her face.

“No, I’m joining my grandfather who is already here,” she replied, keeping the smile on her face, even though the man’s sudden assessing gaze was making her uncomfortable.

“How long will you be staying?” The agent asked with a smile.

“A week,” Makayla answered.

She quietly answered several more questions before she breathed a sigh of relief when he stamped her passport and handed it back to her. She quickly passed through the gate and into the main section of the airport. She was relieved to get out of the crush of people. Fortunately, she was able to bypass the wait for baggage claim. Twenty minutes later, she was in a taxi heading for the marina where her grandfather was docked at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Shelter Bay.

Sinking back into the seat, she stared at the tall buildings and crowded streets. She didn’t even want to think about how the taxi driver was able to navigate through the streets without hitting either a pedestrian or another car. All the sights, sounds, and colorful assortment of people were overwhelming for her exhausted brain.

“Is this your first visit to Hong Kong?” The driver asked, glancing up in the mirror before returning his gaze to the road in front of him.

“Yes,” Makayla answered, staring out the window.

“You have friends here? I can tell you the best places to go for young people,” he said, laying his hand on the horn when a car cut in front of him. “There are lots of young people here.”

Makayla shook her head. She knew he would think she was strange if she told him she preferred to be in places where there weren’t that many people, or buildings. That was one reason she had gone into the field of study that she had chosen in college. As a marine biologist, she could escape from the mad rush of urban life and spend most of her time either in a lab or on a research ship.

“No, thank you,” Makayla finally replied when she realized that the driver was waiting for her response. “I’m meeting up with someone.”

“Okay,” the driver replied.

He finally took the hint that she wasn’t a very talkative passenger and refocused his attention on the traffic instead of her. She knew she was attractive and was used to drawing men’s attention. It wasn’t that she was a beauty. She wasn’t delusional enough about her looks to think that. It wasn’t until she had overheard a couple of guys talking about her in one of her classes that she finally realized what it was about her that drew attention.

It wasn’t her looks, but her attitude and appearance of aloofness that was like a red flag to guys. They liked the challenge of trying to get her to open up for them. She had never been very social and really didn’t care to be around a lot of people. It had taken a while to finally figure out it was a defense mechanism – a wall between her and the world. Deep down, she knew it was probably because of the way she had been raised. Oh, she didn’t blame her mom. Her mom had enough baggage without Makayla adding to the load. Makayla had learned at an early age that life could suck, and she didn’t want to fall into the same dark hole that her mom had.

Her gaze softened when she thought of her mother. Her mom had been doing so much better since she married Arnie Hanover three years ago. Makayla liked Arnie. He had been there for her mom, supporting her, encouraging her, and calmly waiting until her mom was ready to take control of her own life. It was something that Makayla had secretly wished for through the years, but had doubted would ever happen.

Pushing the memories back into the box that she kept them in, she refocused on the landscape. It took her a moment to realize they were already traveling outside of the city. It would take almost an hour to get to the yacht club. Henry, her grandfather, had offered to pick her up, but Makayla had told him it didn’t make sense for both of them to spend the money to take a taxi to and from the airport. It would give her time to unwind as well.

Makayla leaned her head back and closed her eyes. At twenty-two, she was fortunate enough to be in a better position than most girls her age. Her father had died before she was born, but he had left a trust fund that she had inherited when she turned twenty-one. The fund had grown over the last twenty plus years, and while she wasn’t wealthy by most standards, she had a nice nest egg that had allowed her to focus on her education without having to worry about how she would pay for it. Between the trust fund income and the summer internships that she had worked, she had never had to touch the principal to live on. It also helped that she didn’t need much. When living in a small dorm room or on a research ship, there wasn’t a lot of room for material things.

Makayla opened her eyes when she felt the taxi slow down and turn. She blinked her eyes to clear the gritty tiredness from them. She sat forward when she realized that they were turning into the yacht club.

She quickly fumbled for the information her grandfather had sent her and her passport to show identification to the security guard at the gate. She pressed the button on the window when the guard leaned down to talk to the cab driver.

“I’m here to see Henry Summerlin,” she stated, holding out the documents showing Henry’s membership card and her ID. “He should have notified you that I was coming.”

“Good afternoon, Ms. Summerlin. Welcome to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club,” the security guard greeted in a polite professional tone. He glanced at the documents before returning them to her. “Mr. Summerlin is located in E40. Please go down to the turning circle. It will be located on the third turn. Have a nice day.”

“Thank you,” Makayla murmured, impressed with the efficiency of the guard.

Her gaze swept over the man’s immaculate uniform of dark bluish-gray pressed slacks and white short-sleeved shirt with the emblem of the yacht club on the shoulders. The man’s black hair was cut close to his head, and his dark brown eyes were as warm as his greeting. A small, relaxed smile curved Makayla’s lips. The journey from the airport had been less stressful than she had feared.

Within minutes, the red and white taxi drew to a stop at the beginning of a long dock. She could see the numbers depicting the dock slips in several different languages. She quickly leaned forward and paid the driver before grabbing her carry-on and backpack. She drew in a deep breath, relieved to have finally arrived from Florida, pushed open the door, and stiffly slid out of the taxi.

Chapter 2

Makayla rolled onto her toes and stretched the soreness out of her muscles as the taxi pulled away. She glanced around and lifted her face to the fading sunlight. It felt good to be out of the cramped confines of the airplane and taxi, and to be out in the wide open spaces again.

She shielded her eyes and gazed around her. In the distance, she could see low mountains behind the tall high rises of the city overlooking the sapphire blue waters of the bay. Excitement filled her when she stared out at the variety of sailboats, powerboats, and multi-million dollar yachts either berthed or anchored in the surrounding waters. She couldn’t help but shake her head at the thought of how out of place Henry’s small sailboat must look there among the larger vessels.

Adjusting her backpack strap on her shoulder, Makayla bent and pulled up the handle of her carry-on and headed down the long dock. She gazed across the long line of boats to the coastline, enjoying the gentle, cool breeze against her face. The temperature was a nice seventy degrees Fahrenheit, but she knew it was expected to drop after sunset.

Her steps slowed as she came closer to the slip where she could see the Defiance moored. A slight movement and a tuft of gray hair peeking out near the back of the sailboat told her that Henry was there and probably working on one of a probably endless list of repairs. A rueful smile curved Makayla’s lips. She had once heard that the acronym for the word ‘boat’ was ‘bring on another thousand’. She imagined that was true, especially if you owned a sailboat and were sailing it around the world.

“You know, old man, I heard tell that the two happiest days in a man’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it,” Makayla called out in greeting.

Henry turned in a quick circle, surprisingly fast for a man in his late sixties and grinned up at her. He wiped his hand across his cheek, leaving a dark smear of grease above the silver whiskers that coated the lower half of his face. The smile on her lips grew when he realized what he had done. He muttered a soft curse and pulled the rag out of the back of his pocket and scrubbed at his cheek while staring up at her.

“Well, seeing that I’m not of a mind to do either one at the moment, I guess you’ll have to wait to find out,” he replied with a huge grin. “You made it.”

Makayla nodded and looked over the deck of the sailboat. “Yeah, I made it. It’s good to see you, Henry,” she said, pushing the handle of her carry-on down and handing it to him when he reached up for it.

“You, too, girl,” Henry murmured, setting her bag down and reaching up to help her onto the sailboat. “I’m glad you’re here,” he added, pulling her into a tight bear-hug the moment she was on board.

Makayla finished stowing her clothes in the cabinet that Henry had emptied for her. It didn’t take long. She glanced up through the companionway and saw that the sun was about to set. Quickly pulling out some lunch meat, cheeses, and condiments, she prepared two turkey and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat with a side of potato chips. She grabbed two bottles of water out of the small refrigerator, carefully balanced them with the stacked plates, and slowly climbed the steps.

“Perfect timing,” Henry said with a grin. “I just finished cleaning up. Let me go wash my hands. Mm, that looks delicious. I haven’t eaten since this morning. I wanted to have the blasted engine maintenance done before you got here, but had to wait on a part.”

“No problem,” Makayla replied, placing the plates and bottled waters down on a teak table that Henry had cleared and uncovered. “Take your time. I’m going to enjoy this beautiful sunset.”

Henry chuckled and looked over at the mountains. “It is a beauty, isn’t it? I’ll be right back. I might take a quick shower as well,” he muttered with a wrinkle of his nose. “I stink.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything about that, old man, but since you brought it up, you smell like a diesel engine,” Makayla laughed, relaxing against the seat and laying her arm along the back of it.

She affectionately watched Henry head down the steps muttering about ungrateful passengers. She chuckled and tilted her head back to look up at the sky when he disappeared from sight. She took in a deep breath, and held it for a few seconds before releasing it. She gazed upward, staring at the faint dots of light beginning to appear. Against the darker backdrop, she could just make out the first few stars that were beginning to shine through the twilight hues.

Her mind drifted in a kaleidoscope of thoughts and images. She turned and tiredly rested her chin on her arm. The last six years of her life had been a blur of activity. It was hard to believe so much had happened in such a short span of time. Most of it had been good, but some of it had been sad as well, she thought.

“Why the sad face? You aren’t having second thoughts, are you?” Henry asked, emerging from the galley.

Makayla turned and smiled. It was a good thing Henry was practically bald on top, otherwise his hair would be sticking up everywhere from the way he was rubbing it dry. As it was, it looked like he could use a haircut for the sides. She’d have to see if he had any electric clippers on board.

“I’m sorry about Breaker,” she murmured, twisting back around. “He was a good dog.”

Henry grunted and hung the towel over the side of the opening to dry. He grabbed two beers out of the refrigerator while Makayla watched him in silence. He twisted the tops off and held one out for her.

“I think we can celebrate your arrival and Breaker’s long life with a beer instead of water,” he said, picking up one of the plates and sitting down. “He was a damn good dog. It’d be hard to find one like him again, so I didn’t bother trying.”

“Kind of like Grandma?” Makayla asked with a raised eyebrow.

Henry’s hand paused as he raised the bottle of beer to his lips and he shook his head. He took a long swig of it before he set it down on the table. Makayla could see the amused twitch to his lips and in his eyes.

“Anyone ever tell you that you are a lot like your Grandpa?” Henry asked, picking up his sandwich and taking a bite.

“Only everyone who knows you,” she retorted, picking up her own sandwich and biting into it. “So, tell me about your trip so far. How was the trip from Australia?”

They spent the next three hours eating, drinking, and talking. Makayla slowly felt her body relax from a combination of exhaustion and contentment. It felt good after the exhausting flight. Being back on the water aboard the Defiance soothed her soul. She raised her hand to smother a yawn. She should have stuck to the bottled water, she thought, lowering her second bottle of beer.

“So, are you seeing anyone?” Henry suddenly asked.

Makayla blinked and dropped her hand to her lap. Her lips pressed together and she rolled her eyes, a habit that she thought she had given up when she was sixteen. Leave it to Henry to bring up her love life on the first night.

“That is none of your business,” she replied, lifting the bottle of beer and finishing it. “You know most grandfathers wouldn’t give their grandkids a beer, don’t you?”

Henry shrugged and grinned. “You’re over twenty-one and won’t be driving. Plus, I hoped between the jet lag, exhaustion, and the slight buzz that you might let me know if you’ve found someone,” he said.

“Well, you’ve got those three things right, but I’m not talking,” Makayla retorted, pushing up off the seat and lifting a hand to her head. “I’m done for the day.”

“You get some sleep. You can have the front bunk and I’ll take the one in the galley. Don’t worry about this stuff, I’ll clean up,” Henry instructed, rising to his feet.

“Thanks. I’ll be more coherent tomorrow,” she replied, holding onto the side of the companionway to keep from stumbling.

“Makayla…,” Henry called quietly.

Makayla glanced over her shoulder, her foot on the first step leading down into the galley. She could see the love and concern in his eyes. A part of her wanted to look away, while another part wanted to reassure him that everything was fine. In the end, it was the need to reassure him that won.

“I’m okay, Henry. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not broken. I’ve just been a little busy with school. I haven’t exactly been out of touch with the world, either,” she murmured. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Have a good night, sweetheart,” Henry said after searching her face to make sure she was telling him the truth. He seemed satisfied with what he saw there. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Makayla nodded and made her way down the steps. She passed through the galley, grabbed her small toiletry bag from off the shelf, and made her way to the head. It didn’t take her long to brush her teeth, hair, and wash her face. She didn’t bother with a shower. She was too exhausted and would probably fall asleep in it. Instead, she changed into a pair of pajama pants and an oversized T-shirt.

She barely made it to the bed before she collapsed. Rolling, she pulled the covers over her and wrapped her arms around the pillow. For a fleeting second, the image of a face from her past flashed through her mind before it was gone. Makayla didn’t even bother trying to hold onto it. The memory was gone before she knew it, lost in the fog of her exhaustion. She was too tired to think about anything but sleep at the moment.

Chapter 3

Two days later, Makayla sat back and gazed out over the water. She could already feel the itch to leave. She refocused on where she was polishing the safety railing. Henry had made some modifications to the Defiance over the last few years to make it more of an ocean-going vessel. She was still amazed that he had made it over halfway around the world already. This would be her fifth time joining him en route and the longest distance since he had started.

“What do you think?” Henry asked, standing near the mast.

Makayla glanced over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “I try not to,” she joked, watching an expression of exasperation cross his face at her snarky response. She laughed and turned to face him. “I was just thinking how impressed I am that you have made it this far. It is an incredible feat. You know, Mom still thinks that you’ve totally lost your mind.”

Henry bent and sat down next to her. She could see the thoughtful expression on his face while he gazed out across the harbor. His fingers played with the wire he was holding, rolling it back and forth between them.

“I’ve been smart about it,” he commented, turning back to face her. “I watch the weather and stay in the major shipping lanes. I’ve made some of the longer legs along with other boats. I’ve been planning this trip my whole life and I have to admit – I don’t have a single regret. I’ve seen places and met people that otherwise would have been impossible.”

“You’ve also had a few close calls,” Makayla reminded him. “The Philippines….”

Henry waved his hand. “I know, but that’s life. There are never any guarantees. One thing your grandmother made sure I never forgot was that there are never any guarantees in life. Her death was a huge blow not only to your mom, but to me, Makayla. When Mary Rose was dying, she made me promise that I wouldn’t let fear stop me from living my dreams. She reminded me every day to grasp life with both hands and live it, because as she pointed out, you never knew when your last day might be. I raised your mom and uncle as best I could. I wasn’t perfect, but I can say I did my best. Having you back in my life made me realize just how fortunate I am.”

Makayla sat in silence for a brief moment before she shook her head. “I think that’s the longest thing I’ve ever heard you speak,” she reflected with a grin before it faded and she grew serious. “You did good, Henry. Mom doesn’t blame you for what happened in her life. And as for me – well, I’ll be the first to admit you changed mine,” she said in a quiet tone, glancing away to look at the water again.

“You already had a good head on your shoulders, girl. You just needed to know what you had inside you,” Henry replied in a gruff tone. With a grunt, he stood up. “I’d better get the wiring completed if we are going to leave the day after tomorrow. We’ll be following a couple of cargo ships down to Guam, then over to Honolulu.”

Makayla nodded. “I saw the charts. It’s good to know we won’t be alone. The Pacific Ocean is a mighty big place to get lost in,” she said, picking up the polish and pouring more onto the rag she was using.

“There’s a market about a mile or so from here. I’ve got a couple of bikes and thought we could stock up on some supplies later,” Henry commented. “I went there the day before you arrived. They have a nice selection of items.”

“That sounds like fun,” Makayla said. “I could use some exercise.”

Henry nodded. “Looks like a good day to go, tomorrow it’s supposed to rain,” he reflected. “I’d better get the new wire run for the lights if we want to be able to see where we are going.”

Makayla turned back to her task. Henry turned on some music and all around them other boat owners talking could be heard. She glanced up when she saw a helicopter flying over the marina. Shielding her eyes, she saw it land on a yacht anchored offshore.

“That must be nice,” she muttered under her breath before a familiar song caught her attention and she became lost in it while she worked.

Makayla brushed her hair out and twisted it up into a messy bun. Several strands of dark brown hair fell and she impatiently tucked them up into the mass of twisted hair. Her gaze flashed to the clock on the microwave.

“Henry, if we are going to go shopping, we need to do it before it gets much later,” Makayla said, grabbing a pile of canvas shopping bags from off the table. She frowned when she heard Henry’s muffled reply. “What?”

“I’ve got at least another hour or two of work,” Henry said, glancing up at the sky. “I need to get this done now, especially since the front is expected to move through starting tonight instead of tomorrow.”

Makayla could see the frustration and regret on his face. She could also see the dirt and grease. Shaking her head, she glanced up at the sky before looking at him again.

“I can go,” she said. “It isn’t far. I saw it the other day when the taxi brought me here. I’ll go get what we need and be back before the weather turns bad. If you need my help here, we can wait and go tomorrow.”

Henry gave her an appreciative smile and shook his head. “If you can go today, it would be better. I’m not that wild about shopping, if you remember. At least if you go, I know we’ll have something worth eating,” he said.

Makayla nodded her head in agreement. They had been living on turkey and cheese sandwiches for the past two days. She had quickly discovered that was all Henry had in his refrigerator. At least he had also purchased some bread.

“If you’re sure you’ve got this, I’ll handle the food,” Makayla promised, stepping up onto the back of the sailboat before jumping down onto the dock.

“Coffee!” Henry called out behind her. “Don’t forget the coffee.”

“I won’t,” Makayla responded, placing the canvas bags in one of the baskets attached to the bike Henry had placed on the dock. “Anything else?”

“Just whatever you want,” Henry said, already focusing back on the wiring. “Don’t talk to strangers.”

Makayla didn’t even reply to Henry’s last comment. Instead, she adjusted the small purse she had draped across her chest and slid the straps of her empty backpack on. Grabbing the handlebars of the bike, she turned it and pushed it up the dock. Once at the end, she slid her leg over and kicked off.

She enjoyed the exercise of riding the bike. She followed the road around to the front entrance. Raising her hand in greeting to the security guard, she rode down the short drive before turning right onto the bicycle path.

“What did you discover?” The man standing in the elegant office overlooking the bay asked.

Sun Yung-Wing poured himself a cup of tea from the small, antique silver teapot. The steam rose from the delicate white china teacup. He lifted the fragrant brew to his nose and inhaled with appreciation. The tall, slender, elegantly dressed man that had entered the room politely waited until his employer turned before he answered.

“Mr. Harrington is still in a coma,” the man stated.

Yung turned to look at the new man in charge of his security. The last one was now at the bottom of the ocean. He carefully studied Ren Lu. The man’s slender frame, perfectly cut black hair, and calm face were very deceptive. There was an air of something dark and barely controlled under his polished exterior. Ren Lu had dispatched with his previous boss without hesitation when Yung gave the order after the man screwed up with dealing with Harrington.

“He is still alive?” Yung asked with mild surprise.

“Yes, Mr. Sun. Until we can locate the information that was stolen, I thought it best not to kill him. There is no guarantee that he will survive. If he wakes, I have personnel in position to extract the information before eliminating Mr. Harrington,” Ren Lu explained in a quiet tone.

“And what are you doing about locating the information that was stolen from me?” Yung asked in a deceptively pleasant voice before he took a sip of his tea.

Ren Lu stared back at his employer with a cool confidence. “I have accessed the security cameras situated around the marketplace. I was able to narrow in on an encounter Mr. Harrington had with another individual shortly before he was struck by the van. The video was inconclusive, but I believe Mr. Harrington may have given the information to the man. There is a section of the video where it looks like he pulled something out of his pocket. It is unclear if the American was a contact of his or not.”

Yung walked silently over to his desk and placed the teacup down on it before he pulled out the chair behind the desk and sat down. Sitting back, he once again studied the man in front of him. The recent discovery of Harrington’s double cross had stung. He had prided himself on his ability to recognize someone who was being deceptive.

“Have you located this individual?” Yung asked.

“Yes, sir. The American has a vessel berthed at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht club,” Ren Lu replied.

“Bring him to me,” Yung ordered. “I have business offshore. I want no mistakes this time. I want the information that was stolen returned to me and anyone involved eliminated.”

“Yes, sir,” Ren Lu replied with a slight bow.

“Mr. Lu,” Yung said, stopping Ren Lu when he started to turn.

“Yes, sir?” Ren Lu responded.

“Remember what happens to those who fail,” Yung stated in a cold voice.

“Yes, Mr. Sun,” Ren Lu replied, bowing his head once again.

Yung watched his new security chief exit his office. He sat in silence for several long minutes before he reached for his cell phone. Pushing his chair back, he rose and walked over to the floor-to-ceiling, tinted glass windows and stared across the bay. In the distance, he could see the marina in question.

“Send for the helicopter,” he ordered his assistant on the other end.

With a press of the button, he disconnected the call. This was one situation where he would need to be personally involved. There was too much at risk. If his clients were to discover that their identities and locations had been compromised because of him, the United States and British governments would be the least of his concerns.

Chapter 4

Henry grumbled a curse under his breath before it changed to a grunt of satisfaction when he finally threaded the wire through the narrow opening. The blasted wire that had taken almost an hour to run only took two minutes to hook up to the back of the last light. Of course, it had been the last one, which made it even more frustrating.

He quickly sealed the end of the wires in shrink wrap to prevent corrosion from the salt water and sealed the area around the light before tightening the stainless steel screws. With a quiet groan, he straightened and tilted his head to listen when he heard the sound of footsteps on the ceiling above him. A sigh of relief escaped him that Makayla had made it back safely and before the rain started.

A grimace crossed his face when he realized that he would need to clean up the galley before they could stow the groceries. He bent to pick up the Philips screwdriver and extra wire. A rueful grin curved his lips and he started to turn around when he saw a shadow pass between him and the entrance to the companionway. Turning, he froze in confusion when instead of Makayla, a tall, slender man wearing black stood in the opening.

“Hey, what are you doing on my boat?” Henry demanded in a gruff tone. “This is a private vessel.”

The man’s face remained eerily immobile. Henry could feel his gut twist in warning. His hand automatically tightened on the screwdriver he was holding. The marina was guarded with security personnel and cameras, but that didn’t mean that crime couldn’t still happen.

His gaze swept over the man silently watching him. There was something off about him. This wasn’t some ordinary punk looking for a few dollars. Hell, the man’s shoes alone would probably pay for his dock rental for a month. No, this man exuded power – danger – and he was here for a different reason. Henry would bet the Defiance on that.

He drew in a deep breath and slowly raised his gaze back to the man’s face. Henry’s fingers flexed on the items he was holding. If he was going to make it out of this situation alive, he needed to be smart about it.

“I don’t have much money if that is what you are after. Kidnapping me wouldn’t even buy you another pair of those fancy shoes you’ve got on,” Henry said with a nod. “If that’s not what you’re here for, state your business.”

“You were given an item the other day, Mr. Summerlin. It belongs to my employer. He has requested that it be returned,” the man stated, taking a step closer.

“An item…? How the hell do you know my name? Who’s your employer?” Henry demanded in confusion before he drew in another deep breath. “Listen, I don’t know what in the hell you are talking about. I’m an American. I’m sailing around the world – period. I don’t have any item that I haven’t brought or purchased. If you’re with the police, show me your credentials, otherwise get the hell off my boat.”

Henry’s eyes widened when he saw the shadows of two more men through the opening. He backed up, but knew he was trapped. There wasn’t much room below deck and definitely nowhere to hide, except maybe the head. The idea of locking himself in it was beginning to look very appealing.

“I am not with the police, Mr. Summerlin,” the man stated in a cold, steely tone. “The other day in the marketplace, a man bumped into you. He gave you a package. Where is it?”

Henry took another step backwards when the man advanced while he spoke. A confused frown creased his brow. What the hell was going on?

“You mean the guy who got hit by the van?” Henry muttered, shaking his head. “He didn’t give me anything.”

“He slipped something into one of the bags you were carrying. I want it back,” the man continued, taking another step closer until he was within arm’s reach of Henry. “My employer has requested your presence, Mr. Summerlin. It would go much easier for you if I were to present both you and the item that was stolen from him.”

Henry knew it would be futile to deny that he had whatever in the hell the man was talking about. It was clear that the man planned on taking him whether he had the item or not. Swallowing, Henry could feel the fight or flight adrenaline surge through him. Since he couldn’t flee, that left fighting.

Henry threw the wire he was holding in his left hand at the man’s face and swung out with the screwdriver in his right. The man countered and Henry grunted, a shaft of pain sucking the breath out of his lungs.

As if in slow motion, Henry saw the man dodge the wire, bring his left hand up, and grab his wrist. He felt the bones in it snap when the man savagely twisted it at an odd angle. The pain sent him to his knees. He gasped, holding his arm against his chest and blinked back the tears of pain clouding his vision. Henry lifted his head and stared back into the man’s eyes when his attacker knelt down in front of him.

“I am prepared to break every bone in your body if it becomes necessary, Mr. Summerlin,” the man said in a cold, calm voice. “Make no mistake, my employer is more than willing to do much worse to retrieve the information that was taken from him. If you resist again, I will break your other wrist. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Henry hissed out between clenched teeth. “But, for the record, I don’t know what the hell you are talking about, and if I had been thirty years younger, I’d be the one calling the shots.”

The man tilted his head and studied Henry for several long seconds before a hint of a smile curved his lips. It wasn’t a pleasant smile, but it was at least a reflection of emotion which his face had been devoid of up until now. Unfortunately, it didn’t make Henry feel any better.

“Perhaps, but you will never be thirty again,” the man finally remarked in a quiet tone before he rose to his feet and spoke in a dialect unfamiliar to Henry. “Transfer him to the boat.”

That was the last thing Henry heard. He had started to struggle to his feet, but the man had swung back around and struck him on the side of the head with what felt like the butt of a gun. He could feel his body falling over.

Instinctively, he cradled his broken wrist against his chest to prevent it from hitting the floor. His body rolled to the side and Henry foggily registered the trickle of warmth sliding down past his ear. He could add a head wound to his broken bone.

Before darkness washed over him, the fleeting image of Makayla’s smiling face flashed through his mind. If there was one shining light to all of this, it was the thought that at least she wasn’t here. He could only hope that she was safe.

Chapter 5

Makayla bent and wrapped the bike lock around the metal bars of the bike rack in the small area reserved for bikes near the market. She grabbed the canvas bags that she had brought to carry her purchases out of the front basket, pausing when she felt something in the bottom of the outside bag when she ran her hand over them to flatten them out. Reaching in, she pulled out a small, narrow box. She blinked in surprise before she deduced that Henry must have forgotten it in the bag the last time he had gone shopping.

She slid the box into her pocketbook at her waist. After a quick check to make sure there was nothing else in any of the other bags, she gripped the handles and started across the street toward the market. Her eyes lit up with delight at the wide assortment of stands and shops.

An hour and a half later, the delight had faded and she was grimacing as she adjusted the weight of all the bags in her hands. Still, she couldn’t resist stopping to look at the beautiful assortment of straw hats. She already had several but justified her interest because on a sailboat you could never have too many hats.

“Makayla?” A voice asked in shock behind her.

Makayla turned in surprise, her eyes widening in astonishment. The faint image in her mind from the other night was now standing in front of her. Her lips parted and she drew in a startled gasp before her expression clouded with confusion.

“Brian?” Makayla whispered in disbelief.

“It is you! I thought I was dreaming,” Brian said, stepping closer.

“I’m surprised you recognized me,” Makayla answered without thinking.