Excerpt from Sea Lords

Roby halfway paid attention to the short spiel given by one of the crew, at which time they were shown where the life jackets were “just in case.” She was more interested in sitting near the bow and watching the waves roll by. It was fine by her that Vianda milked her “I’ve been injured” story to everyone. After all, this was the bride’s moment. It was her time to be the center of attention these next couple of days. As if she doesn’t do that already, Roby mused with a smile.

Other than her long friendship with the woman, the only reason she’d accepted Vianda’s request to be the Maid of Honor was because of the chance to go to Hawaii. She’d never been to the state, and she jumped at the chance to finally get to go there.

But the best perk of all was that everything was free. Her airfare, hotel, and all her meals were being paid for by Vianda’s stepfather. Frankly, Roby felt the man had made the better deal. Vianda had originally wanted a huge wedding with nearly six hundred guests, but the woman had been bribed with this exotic location for a smaller, more intimate ceremony and an all-expenses paid honeymoon to the Azores.

By this time tomorrow night, Vee and Bee would be leaving one chain of islands for another, and Roby wouldn’t have to worry about catching her own flight back to the states until the following afternoon. Not enough time to do a whole lot of sight-seeing, but it’ll be interesting to see how much I can cram into that morning.

The sailboat made its way out into open water before turning to start its journey around the island. A tropical breeze stiffened the sails to where the onboard engine wasn’t needed. The sound of music and laughter floated over to her, but for the moment she was content to remain where she was, lazing in a deck chair underneath a billowing canopy. She’d never been a party girl. She was more of a homebody. Someone who was content with a quiet evening after work, a glass of wine, and a good book or movie to occupy her thoughts. At the moment, she was unattached, and that was okay by her. Of course, Vianda and her other friends felt her solo status was totally unacceptable, and were constantly trying to hook her up with some guy or another. Or inviting her over to a party or dinner get-together with a potential blind date in tow.

Thank you, but no thanks. I’m fine right now. I’m not looking for anyone. I’m not needing anyone. Just let me chill. When I’m ready to start looking for a That Certain Someone, it’ll be on my own terms and at my own time.

She took a sip of wine. The sailboat jiggled slightly as they entered slightly choppy waters. The resulting bump knocked her glass against her teeth, and some of her drink splashed on her blouse. Alarmed, Roby sat up and began to dab at the reddish stain with her napkin.

“This isn’t going to do,” she mumbled to herself. She needed to get to a lavatory ASAP before it set.

She got to her feet. At the same time, the sailboat lurched again. Waves crashed over the bow, sending water across the wooden planking, and Roby felt her feet go out from under her. The glass of wine went flying into the air as she tried to grab for a handhold or anything that would stop her from being accidentally swept overboard as the ship lurched again. She managed to snag one of the poles that made up part of an overhanging canopy. Wrapping her arms around it, she stared out at the sight of more waves rolling toward them. Big waves. Huge waves. Waves that champion surfers went after.

This wasn’t the Pacific Ocean she knew. This was as if they’d suddenly been swept up in the middle of a storm, except… She glanced upward. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. So what was causing the water to churn like this?

The sound of music continued to blare from the stern, but this time the laughter was replaced with screams. She didn’t dare release her hold on the pole for fear of losing her footing.

More waves, even bigger waves, thrust against the sailboat, and she started to feel the vessel beginning to tip sideways. With cold dread, she realized they were going to capsize, and there was nothing she or anybody could do about it.

The boat continued its slow, inexorable roll, its port side rising high into the air, to where Roby could see the ocean almost directly below her. For several seconds she wondered if she’d have a better chance of survival by holding on, or if she should let go and jump clear of the boat. Cold water poured over her, soaking her to the skin and burning her eyes with its saltiness. Gasping, she wiped her face with a hand, when her eyes caught sight of one of the boat’s life preservers. The ring kind, hanging on the side of the cabin. The one with the name of the ship on it: Maidenly Voyager II – Honolulu, HI.

Without thinking about it, Roby let go of the pole and launched herself at the life ring. She barely managed to slip an arm through its center and clutch it against her when the biggest wave she’d ever seen umbrellaed over the sailboat, engulfing and swallowing it and everyone on board.

Taking a deep breath, she held onto the life ring with every ounce of strength she had and prayed.