Read an Excerpt
One Amy Candler opened her bedroom window and gazed out at the early morning with satisfaction. It was going to be a perfect day.
First of all, it was a Saturday—no school and no schedule, no special chores or errands to run. The sun was shining, the sky was blue. There wasn’t a cloud in sight; there wasn’t even a slim chance of an unexpected shower. The air was warm but not uncomfortably hot, and there was barely a trace of humidity.
Amy took a deep breath. For a second, she thought she caught a whiff of salt water.
Of course, that was just her imagination. Even with her highly acute sense of smell, and despite the fact that the Pacific Ocean wasn’t very far away, there was no way the scent of the ocean could penetrate this far inside the metropolis of Los Angeles.
But it wouldn’t be long before she’d really be breathing in that lovely salty aroma. Just an hour or so from now. With that in mind, she left the window and went to her closet for her backpack. She stuffed a towel inside, tossed in suntan lotion, a hairbrush, a bathing cap, and her camera. She was in the process of choosing between three swimsuits when she heard her mother call from downstairs.
“Amy, I’m leaving.”
“Okay, Mom,” she called back.
Then came the question she dreaded. “What are you up to today?” Nancy Candler wanted to know.
Amy hesitated, debated, and finally replied, “Just hanging out with Chris.”
She heaved a sigh of relief when there was no further interrogation. Her mother merely responded with, “have fun,” to which Amy echoed, “you too.”
As she heard the car backing out of the driveway, she assured herself that she hadn’t really lied to her mother. She was planning to spend the day with Chris Skinner, her new boyfriend. What she had neglected to mention was their destination, and the fact that they would be traveling there on a boat.
Actually, she herself didn’t know the destination—that was part of the surprise.
The note had been sticking out of her locker door at school yesterday, after her last class. Mr. Christopher Skinner cordially invites Miss Amy Candler on a mystery cruise, it began. This was followed by a date and a time, and directions to the wharf where the boat was docked.
Amy had no idea where, how, or why Chris had managed to get his hands on a boat. He didn’t usually ask her to do things by way of a formal invitation. But even though she hadn’t known Chris all that long, the one thing she did know about him was that he was full of surprises.
She imagined that they would be going to some secluded, remote beach for a picnic, a swim, and a long, lazy day in the sun. It would be a nice change from the popular, crowded beaches where she normally went with friends. And even if Nancy Candler knew what she was up to, Amy doubted that her mother would mind. She liked Chris. He was the responsible type. Amy had no doubt that he’d make sure their adventure would be a safe one, and that she’d be back home at a reasonable hour.
She checked her watch. It was time to take off.
Almost an hour later, and after three bus changes, she was finally walking along the wharf. There were no beaches along this stretch of shore—it was more like one big, wet, parking lot for boats. Crafts of all types, shapes, and sizes bobbed in the water alongside the piers that stretched out from the shore. She wasn’t sure what kind of boat she was looking for, but she had a name—Master of the Waves. She supposed she would just have to look at every boat until she found the one with those words painted on its side.
It turned out to be one of the medium-sized boats, not a yacht or anything luxurious, but a big enough craft to have sleeping quarters under the deck. She’d been on one like it once before, with her mother and some friends of hers. She wondered who it belonged to, and who would be in charge of the trip. She didn’t see anyone around.
Carefully, Amy stepped onto the deck. “Chris?” she called. There was no response.
He was probably waiting for her below deck, she decided. She located the stairs and started down. “Chris?” she called again. “Are you there?” Hearing nothing, Amy steeled herself for the possibility that he would jump out from behind something to surprise her.
Cautiously, she explored the sleeping quarters, but no one was in them. The little kitchenette was deserted too. She rapped on the door of the bathroom, but got no response.
There didn’t seem to be any other place where Chris could be hiding. Apparently, she was the first to arrive.
Taking another look around, she marveled at how so much could be stuffed into such a small area. It was truly an ingenious design. A person could really live on this boat. The kitchenette had a tiny stove, a miniature refrigerator, cabinets, and a sink. A little table could be pulled down from the wall, and two stools rested under it. Every inch of space was utilized. In the bathroom, a skinny shower was neatly crammed into the corner, and the toilet was squeezed next to the sink.
She was in the process of checking out the drawers under the beds when she became aware of an odd sensation. At first, she thought the slight dizziness was the result of not eating breakfast. Then she realized that the feeling wasn’t coming from inside her at all.
The boat was moving!