Lily gasp for air as she broke though the surface of her nightmare.
She sat bolt upright in bed, dripping sweat and clutching her necklace. She’d dreamt of drowning again. Only this time sharks weren’t circling her father’s lifeless body. There was just the one shark and that creature turned on her and then into a scarred frogman with cold eyes.
“I’ve been knocking.” Shannon peered around the door.
“How long have I been out?” Lily asked as her sister stepped into the room.
“Noon!” Six hours that could have been spent getting them to the dive site. She had the sneaking suspicion the Lily Pad had been relocated while she slept. But how far off course? She swung her legs over the side of the bunk. She vaguely remembered the lieutenant putting her to bed, but couldn’t remember anything after that. “Did I dream him or is he real?”
“If you’re referring to Lieutenant Prince, he’s no dream,” Shannon said. “What’s going on, Lil? Why are these men here?”
“Hand me the book on Maritime Law. Top shelf, second from the left,” Lily needed a quick refresher before taking the naval officer at his word.
Shannon searched for the book while Lily got out of bed on unsteady feet. Even at anchor there was always some movement aboard ship. But the ship had a steady keel and her body was used to the balancing act. She could only assume the disorientation was the aftermath of being drugged.
She unbuttoned her sweater and shrugged it off one shoulder before realizing the last button had been sewn back on. Neat little telltale stitches in a mismatched color fastened it securely in place.
She checked and double-checked her pockets in disbelief.
Goosebumps raised on her arms as she removed the sweater and tossed it to a heap on the floor. What else had the man done to her while she’d slept?
Lily grabbed a cotton T-shirt from the dresser and tugged it on over her head. The Toad needed a lesson in keeping his hands to himself.
“Here.” Shannon handed her the requested tome.
Lily settled back onto the edge of the mattress. She scanned the index, and then flipped through several pages until she found what she was looking for. She needed to round up some muscle. “Where’s the crew? And Rick, is he still seasick?”
“The crew is around, I guess.” Shannon said. “Rick’s been locked in with Lieutenant Prince for awhile now.”
Lily heard the concern in her sister’s voice and looked up to see the worry etched across Shannon’s face. “It’s probably nothing.”
“I didn’t think anything of it at first.” Shannon began to pace the small compartment they’d shared as children. “Lieutenant Prince had his corpsman check my blood pressure. Can you imagine? He can’t even be out of his teens.”
“Are you kidding? He’s got to be in his thirties.”
“I’m talking about Bud. I don’t think that’s his real name, but that’s what they call him. And I thought my OB/GYN was young. The kids and I left after Bud pronounced me fit. Anyway, Rick stayed behind to get something for his seasickness.” Shannon stopped pacing to hover over her. “Bud came out a few minutes later. Said Lieutenant Prince put him in charge of the kids and he’s been with us ever since. He’s playing board games with them now. I wasn’t sure I should leave them–” Her voice faltered.
“I’m sure they’re fine.” Lily said what Shannon needed to hear and what she needed to believe. She’d check out this Bud character later, but if he was the same kid who’d treated her like his maiden aunt, they had nothing to worry about. “Did the lieutenant say anything to the crew while you were in the galley?”
“He didn’t come down until later. After the ship stopped. His men had already checked passports and sent the crew about their duties. We were just finishing up a late breakfast, brunch really. Cookie was not happy the SEALs confiscated his glaucoma medicine.” Shannon sat beside her on the bed. “I tried to reason with the Lieutenant. That’s when he ordered the corpsman to check my blood pressure. I told him what he could do with his corpsman and he ordered me to relax!”
That sounded like him.
Lily reread the paragraph she’d been searching for and slammed the book shut. He could twist the regulations to suit his purpose all he wanted. That didn’t mean she trusted him. “How many frogmen are there?”
“A half a dozen. I don’t know, maybe more. They move around a lot.” Shannon shrugged. “I never really notice them. Except there’s always one around when I’m climbing up and down ladders. Like I’m in need of a boy scout!”
“What about the two in the outer compartment?” Lily nodded toward the door.
Shannon shook her head. “No one’s out there.”
Then she wasn’t being held hostage?
A plan began to form as she scrambled from the bunk and kicked into her sneakers, one of which had been lost earlier, but was now right there lined up neatly next to the other. Even if her crew out numbered the frogmen two to one there wouldn’t be enough muscle on board to take on half a dozen or more Navy SEALs.
Getting down on her hands and knees, she recovered the bookend from underneath the bed. “You said he moved the ship. Do you have any idea where we are now?”
“None whatsoever. I haven’t been allowed on the bridge.” Shannon picked up something from on top of the footlocker. “Are these sitting out for a reason?”
Lily stared at the three “D” batteries in her sister’s hand.
Her body clenched almost as tight as her jaw.
Batteries. Vibrator. Pirate.
“Argh, that–that, Toad!” She snagged the batteries from her sister and threw them across the room. “You had to get me a personal massager.”
Shannon pulled back. “I got one for myself too.”
Lily shook her head and returned her attention to the footlocker. She struck the lock several times with the Frog King bookend until the catch popped. She pulled out the submachine gun and stroked the barrel with a satisfied sigh. Just the phallic symbol she needed to put her and the lieutenant on equal ground.
She prided herself on being a quick study, and thanks to the demonstration the frogman had given her nephew, she felt she could operate an HK if necessary. While she hoped it wouldn’t be necessary, a part of her wanted to shoot the pirate right between his battery pack.
She pushed to her feet. “Come on!”
“Lillian Meredith Chapel, what are you doing?”
“Going to get my ship back.”Return to Main Page