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By Janet Evanovich
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2005 Janet Evanovich
All right reserved.
Michael Casey strolled along the Juneau waterfront, enjoying the briny smell of the early morning mist and the screeching Keee of seabirds overhead. He rubbed his thumb across the dark stubble of beard on his chin, ruffled his unkempt sandy-colored hair, and admitted that he was a bum at heart. In an hour his cargo plane would be loaded with salmon, and he would be off to San Francisco, but for now, he was at leisure to do as he pleased.
He watched the Alaskan state ferry dock and swing its boarding ramps into place. Cars and campers began to trickle from the lower deck, and a few passengers hustled down the gangplank to stretch their legs while the ship went through the loading and unloading process. A young woman struggled along the ramp, dragging a mountain of a dog behind her. She was tall, maybe five-foot-eight, Casey guessed, and had the bones and slim angular beauty of a high-paid fashion model. She paused for a second to shove a mass of glossy red-brown hair behind her ears and to push the sleeves of her fuzzy cream-colored sweater above her elbows. Casey smiled unconsciously as he watched her, wondering about her destination, enjoying the spectacle she was creating as she tried to drag her reluctant dog down the gangplank.
Alex didn't notice the man watching her from the dock. She had more pressing places to direct her energy. Bruno was being a pain. She took a firm grip on his leash and silently cursed her grandfather for willing her a rottweiler. Why couldn't she have inherited a small, polite animal? A hamster, or a guppie, or a hermit crab.
"Listen up, Bruno," Alex said, gritting her teeth, "I've dragged you all the way from the cargo deck so we could take a walk while the boat is being loaded, and I'm not going to give up now. Either you haul yourself down that ramp, or I'll cancel your subscription to Dog World."
In all honesty, she couldn't blame him for throwing a temper tantrum. She'd carted the animal three thousand miles across the country in a two-seater sports car, and for the past four days he'd been kept in a kennel cage belowdecks.
The big black dog, obviously not impressed with the threat, settled in an uncooperative heap at her feet.
Alex narrowed her eyes and reached for the gold-chained Chanel purse slung over her shoulder. "Okay, I guess I'll have to use my secret weapon." She took a foil-wrapped package from her handbag and waved it under Bruno's nose. "A doughnut!"
The dog's ear pricked up. His eyes opened wide.
Alex unwrapped the doughnut, and Bruno heaved himself to his feet. He swayed side to side for a minute, contemplating the treat his mistress held high above his head, his stump of a tail wagging vigorously, his tongue lolling at the side of his mouth in slobbering anticipation.
Alex smiled in smug satisfaction at her cleverness. "Be a good doggie and follow me down the ramp, and we'll have a picnic."
"Woof," Bruno said, planting two massive front paws on Alex's chest as he lunged for the doughnut, knocking her against the guardrail. The doughnut sailed off into space, and without a moment's hesitation Bruno jumped the rail in pursuit. He vaulted seven feet straight out, then dropped like a stone into the narrow space between the ship and the wooden slip. He hit the water with a loud splash and instantly sank below the surface.
Alex clung to the railing, unable to move, unable to feel anything but a numb astonishment. The air had disappeared from her lungs, and her stomach felt oddly suspended in space.
Suddenly the dog's black head reappeared, and he paddled around in confusion, searching for land and finding none. Alex could hear the labored breathing of the overweight animal. She closed her eyes for a split second, trying to pull herself together.
"Dear Lord," she whispered, "someone help him." She frantically looked around, but no one seemed to be moving toward Bruno. He was going to drown in the oil-slicked water.
Michael Casey couldn't believe his eyes. That crazy broad just deep-sixed her dog! She sent him sailing off to fetch The Big One. He saw the rottweiler bob to the surface next to the ship, and from the corner of his eye caught a flash of bare thigh as the woman hiked her skirt up and straddled the railing.
"Oh, man," Casey said, "what is she doing now?"
She was going to jump in after the dog! He broke into a run, reaching the dock's edge just as she went under. He kicked his boots off, uttered an expletive, and plunged in after her.
Alex gasped for air as she floundered in the freezing water and knew she was in deep trouble. This water was cold. She was going to be a Popsicle in twenty seconds, and her wet clothes felt as if they weighed four hundred pounds. She was going to die, no doubt about it. And she'd never get to wear her new raspberry cashmere sweater. Three hundred dollars, and she hadn't even worn it once.
A life preserver was forcefully thrust into her chest. "Paddle this to the ladder at the end of the slip," a masculine voice shouted in her ear.
"My dog -- "
"I'll take care of your dog!"
Alex turned to face him, squinting into the sun just in time to see another life preserver drop out of the sky. There was a sickening thud as it hit her rescuer square in the face. He went slack beside her, and a dark red slick appeared on the surface of the water as blood poured from his smashed nose. Alex clawed at his shirt, pulling him toward her, dragging him partially over the preserver. She clenched her chattering teeth and kicked out with rubbery legs, praying she could make it to . . .
Excerpted from Manhunt by Janet Evanovich Copyright © 2005 by Janet Evanovich. Excerpted by permission.
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