~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
Mariah stared in blank horror as the plane’s shattered nose sank beneath the choppy storm-darkened waves, leaving behind only a trail of shimmering bubbles. “Mac!”
Someone was holding her back, pleading with her, clutching her arms in a fierce paralyzing grip. “Let me go!” she yelled, wrenching free despite the blazing pain in her shoulder. “He’s my partner!”
Saltwater stung her lacerated forehead as she plunged headfirst into the churning waves. She barely even noticed. “Mac, where are you?” she shouted, awkwardly treading water. “Mac!”
The bubbles were slowly fading away. She had to act now, or it would be too late!
She dove, kicking hard, following the plane’s lazy descent. Icy darkness enveloped her. Her lungs began to ache and fiery spots danced before her eyes, yet still she struggled deeper. She couldn’t give up, she just couldn’t!
More rising air bubbles suddenly exploded in her face, blinding her. Then her groping fingers brushed against something slippery. Mac’s leather jacket!
One last frantic surge of energy moved her weakening legs, propelling her upward again, dragging his heavy weight behind her.
She couldn’t give up, she couldn’t…
Please, Mac, don’t die!
Cold rain suddenly lashed against her upturned face. Sputtering, she sucked in deep breaths of precious air. Lightning flared overhead, painfully bright against her dilated eyes. The iron bands constricting her chest slowly eased as she fought to keep Mac’s sagging head above the waves.
“Over here!” Reuben’s lilting voice cut through the howling wind, and she caught a brief glimpse of his pale face through the churning spray. “We’re over here! Hurry!”
Thunder rumbled in her ears as the heavy waves knocked her back and forth. Frigid water cascaded over her head, and she resurfaced with a strangled cough. Fresh pain lanced through her shoulder as she clumsily splashed toward the heaving orange raft. Her legs were going numb from the bitter cold, and she was so tired—but she had to keep trying! Mac’s life depended on her!
Something hard stung her flailing hand. A rope? She wrapped stiffening fingers around it, and felt the waves tug harder in protest as the raft suddenly jolted closer.
New energy surged through her aching frame when Reuben’s fingers locked around Mac’s limp arm, and pulled hard. “Hurry!” she shouted. “He’s not breathing!”
Esther leaned out perilously far to help, and slowly they hauled his long body into the raft. Then it was Conners’ turn, and she wanted to sob with relief as the ocean reluctantly loosened its death-grip on her thrashing legs.
Mac was sprawled face-down in the sloshing raft. “Help me roll him over!” she gasped, clutching her throbbing arm with bleeding fingers. Oh God, his lips were blue, and his open eyes were glazed. “He can’t die, not yet!”
Esther braced herself against the rolling waves, and pressed shaking fingers against his cold throat. “He still has a pulse!” she shouted. “It’s slow, but he’s still alive!”
Both teenagers looked shell-shocked, too dazed to react. Conners ignored them, and focused on her partner’s deathly pale face. “Come on, Mac, come on!” she chanted, thrusting hard against his inert diaphragm. “Breathe!”
Helpful hands steadied her as she bent to force air down his windpipe. Again. And again!
Breathe, thrust… Breathe, thrust… Breathe, thrust…
Suddenly his limp body convulsed, and a gush of salty water erupted from his open mouth. Conners tilted his head to one side and let the water drain. “Breathe, Mac!” she ordered, pushing hard against his ribs one last time. “Come on, damn it! Breathe!”
He jerked again, and this time she heard the sweet rush of air filling his lungs. His chest began to rise and fall in a slow, rhythmic cadence as his taut muscles relaxed.
Slowly his eyes flickered open, and he focused on her tear-streaked face. “Hey!” His pale lips twitched into a faint teasing grin as they formed soundless words. “You weren’t worried about me, were you?”
For one crazy moment, she didn’t know whether to hit him or kiss him.
Regulations be damned, this was a moment when she needed to touch him, just to reassure herself that he was still alive! “Jesus, Mac, I thought I’d lost you! Don’t you ever do that to me again!”
Lightning flashed overhead. He tried to push himself up on one elbow, but she laid a restraining hand on his chest. “Lie still! You need rest!”
Another huge wave crashed into the raft, drenching them with icy spray. Reuben wrapped his fingers tighter around the support rope, and leaned close enough to shout in her ear. “How long will this storm last?” His aging face was drawn with fear. “The raft is filling up with water fast!”
“Emergency rafts are built to handle a lot of water!” she yelled back. “Just hang on!”
Suddenly the black clouds and shrieking winds vanished. For one ageless, nauseating moment, the entire world seemed to whirl in dizzying spirals. Then a soft, warm rain began to patter down around them.
“Mac!” She bolted upright and stared wildly around. “What the hell…”
“I don’t know!”
It was impossible. Fierce squalls didn’t just appear and then disappear in the blink of an eye.
But the violent electrical storm was gone.
The gigantic crashing waves were gone.
And as they watched in stunned disbelief, the hazy gray clouds overhead simply melted away, and the golden sun began to shine down from a perfectly clear blue sky.
The ocean around them was calm, gentle…and empty. The other life raft was nowhere to be seen.
Jo Grant, a native of Indiana, currently lives in Florida with her husband and a veritable zoo of rescue animals.
In addition to modern-day and medieval romances such as Secrets of the Heart, Caerlon, Stormy Bay, One of a Kind, and Mara My Love, she has also published several childrens’ books and full-length fictional novels, including Obsession and Alter Ego, the first two books of her popular The Bureau series.
If you enjoy this book, please visit her website, www.jogrant.com, to see what other books she has published.
The second of two exciting new novelisations based on a story from The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen and airing on BBC One this Autumn - featuring some very special guest stars!
Perfect for reluctant readers.