Read Dangerous Depths Online

Authors: Kathy Brandt

Tags: #Female sleuth, #caribbean, #csi, #Hurricane, #Plane Crash, #turtles, #scuba diving, #environmentalist, #adoption adopting, #ocean ecology

Dangerous Depths

BOOK: Dangerous Depths
12.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Dangerous Depths
An Underwater Investigation


Kathy Brandt

Published by Monkshood Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents
either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely
Copyright © 2005 by Kathy Brandt
Excerpt from
Under Pressure
copyright © 2006 by Kathy
First digital edition copyright © 2011 by Kathy Brandt
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced,
transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored
in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system,
in any form or by any means without the express written permission
of the author. Your support of the author’s rights is

This one’s for the Brandt kids:
Dave, Saranne, Diddy, and Anne

Table of

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

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Author’s Note

Next in the series:
Under Pressure

Praise for
Under Pressure

Chapter 1
Under Pressure


About the Author

Books by Kathy Brandt

Chapter 1

At 12:03 the sea quivered. Then it exploded.
The cat, whom I’d graciously allowed to curl at my feet, flew
across me, claws extended, fur flying, and hit the ground running.
So much for gratitude. I wrestled with a damned tangle of sheets
that held me like a mummy. Finally they set me free, and I landed
beside the bunk on my ass as the
Sea Bird
pitched up one
side of a rolling wave and slammed down the other.

I fought my way to my feet as the boat
crashed down onto an ocean that seemed to have turned to concrete.
I wanted out of the floating horror house before the thing sank. I
clung to anything that was bolted to the floor, pulled myself out
of my cabin, into the salon, and made it up the steps to the deck.
I didn’t like what I saw. This was not what I considered a good
start to the week.

The ocean was a confusion of flaming waves.
In the middle of it all was the
, Elyse Henry’s
boat—burning. Flames shot out of the roof, pointing hellish fingers
to the sky. I jumped onto the dock and raced toward the heat.

The entire right side of the vessel was
already consumed in fire and angry waves crashed against her hull.
Where the hell was Elyse? Still inside? No one could survive long
in the inferno.

“Elyse! Elyse!” I shouted, frantic and

Sadie skirted the edge of the dock, whining,
tail between her legs. Neither one of us knew what the hell to

was a clunky flat-bottomed
boat with boxy living quarters perched on top. The fire was
concentrated in the galley. Flames flashed out the hatches.

If Elyse were still on board, she could be
back in her cabin, trapped, maybe unconscious. I had to get to her
before the gas tanks exploded.

I knew better than to spend any time thinking
it through. If I did, I might flinch, wait a second too long, and
then it would be too late.

“Stay, Sadie,” I demanded firmly. She’d be
right on my heels otherwise.

I jumped onto the aft section of the
, which was still secured to the cleat on the dock.
Just about the time my feet touched the deck, the frayed line broke
and the
began to drift out of her slip and away from
the dock. At least the
Sea Bird
and the other boats in the
marina might be spared the flames.

Then, kaboom! A whoosh of hot air pummeled my
face, and a ball of fire roared through the
. The
blast hit like a freight train, flinging me off the boat into air
and space. I hit the water and was hurled toward the sea floor,
tumbling. Finally, my momentum slowed and I fought my way up, arms
flailing, feet kicking hard.

Miraculously, I made it to the surface,
gasping for breath, but somehow still in one piece. I was
surrounded by smoke and patches of flaming oil. I choked up
diesel-filled salt water and sought out pockets of air in the
burning liquid, trying to see past the smoke though eyes that stung
and teared. I was desperate to catch sight of Elyse. I forced my
arms and legs into action. Treading water, I whipped around in a
circle, searching the darkness and smoky gloom. Nothing.

Then Sadie began barking furiously from the
edge of the dock, her fur prickled, her snout pointing at what
looked like a rag doll drifting in the water. I swam to the
floating mass, my heart pounding, flames licking my arms. I feared
what I would find. I knew it was Elsye. By the time I got to the
place she’d floated, she had disappeared under the water.

I filled my lungs with hot acrid air and
dove. What I wouldn’t do for a scuba tank, face mask, and fins now.
I went down, arms sweeping, searching, eyes shut tight against the
brine. I’d done this before, searched blind in water so mucky it
was black. But never without my gear, never in water on fire, and
never for a friend who had just gone under before my eyes.

I kicked hard, forcing my body down, hand
outstretched, praying to grasp a sleeve, hair, a foot, anything.
Nothing but empty water washed through my fingers.

Out of air, I surfaced back into the flames,
sucked in another breath, and dove, heading for the bottom. I hit
sand and fought to stay under against the powerful ocean forces
determined to shoot me back to the surface.

Grasping desperately at the turtle grass that
grew along the sea floor, I edged along the bottom, seeking, on
automatic now. I swept my free hand back and forth, feeling my way
through the water, doing what I’d been trained to do. I brushed
against rocks, a conch, a sea cucumber.

God, where the hell was Elyse?

Once more I surfaced, took a hot desperate
breath and dove. I knew if I didn’t find her this time, I would not
find her at all—at least alive. Hell, she might already be dead. I
was frantic—panic was setting in. So was exhaustion.

Could I make it to the bottom one last

Kicking hard, I pointed my body down. Before
I’d even made it back to the sea floor, I swam right into Elyse,
suspended a few feet off the bottom. I wrapped my arms tight around
her chest. I was not about to lose her. I twisted in the water,
anchored my feet on the bottom, and drove them into the sand.
Seconds later we were on the surface.

I wrapped an arm around Elyse and
side-stroked, pulling her behind me, trying to avoid the pockets of
fire still flashing on the surface and at the same time keep
Elyse’s head above water. I knew by the smell that flames sizzled
in my hair.

Finally I made it to the dock, its underside
reeking of green algae and dead fish. The owners of the marina,
Calvin and Tilda, waited, ready to assist. Their two girls, Rebecca
and Daisy, stood back, arms wrapped around Sadie’s neck.

Calvin slid his black, muscled arms under
Elyse’s and pulled her gently out of the water and onto the dock. I
climbed wearily onto a slimy wooden rung and Tilda gave me a hand

Calvin quickly looked away, embarrassed. It
wasn’t till that moment that I realized I was topless. I hadn’t
taken the time to grab a shirt when I’d raced off my boat. Even in
a crisis, Calvin was modest. I didn’t have the time or luxury to
worry about it. Elyse wasn’t breathing.

Frantic, I bent over her and began CPR.
Calvin immediately joined me, taking over chest compressions as I
began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Over and over, I forced air into Elyse’s
depleted lungs as Calvin pushed on her sternum. Through a haze, I
could see the tension in his face, the perspiration forming at his

Time seemed to stretch out. Christ, how long
had we been going now? Was it too late to bring Elyse back?
Calvin’s face was marked with determination. Neither one of us was
about to call it.

“Come on, Elyse, breathe, breathe, breathe,”
I whispered, and then forced another breath into her.

Finally, a gasp, a shudder. Then water
gurgled out of her lungs and down the side of her face, and Elyse
took a breath. But she didn’t open her eyes.

Calvin and I sat back on our haunches for
just an instant trying to regain equilibrium; then he picked her up
and we ran toward his van. Tilda tossed me one of Calvin’s shirts
and I pulled it on as I rushed ahead to open the door and climb

Calvin gently handed Elyse in to me. I slid
across the seat, and cradled her head in my lap. Once Calvin got
behind the wheel, he was a maniac, throwing gravel as he slammed
his foot into the gas pedal and swerved the van onto the highway to
Road Town. I glanced back to see Tilda, still in her robe, her arms
around the girls, Sadie nuzzled into Rebecca’s side. Daisy sought
comfort from the thumb she was sucking on, her eyes wide. I could
see the fear and confusion on their faces.

I felt it too. An hour ago I’d been sleeping
on the
Sea Bird
, my cat keeping my feet warm. Now it was
after one in the morning and my best friend was lying in my lap,
barely breathing. What the hell had happened?


The last time I’d seen Elyse was on Wednesday
night, the night we’d encountered a sea turtle nesting on the
beach. If I hadn’t been with Elyse, I’d never have known it was
there. She’d let me in on a miracle, one that was becoming more
uncommon with each year as humans brought their hotels and beach
umbrellas to these pristine shores.

Once sea turtles had been abundant in the
Caribbean. But the story of the sea turtle is the story of the
American buffalo. Abundant and easy to catch, turtles became the
major food source for the increasing numbers of people who came to
colonize the islands. When the slaughter began, some 600 million
green turtles were estimated to inhabit the Caribbean. Now a few
hundred thousand remain. Elyse and I had gotten lucky when we
encountered the turtle nesting around the point.

We’d been over there walking along the beach
when Sadie started barking. Elyse spied the tracks, distinct in the
light of a full moon. The trail led all the way from the water’s
edge up the beach and into the bush.

BOOK: Dangerous Depths
12.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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