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Dead Reckoning (Silhouette Bombshell Series #100)

Dead Reckoning (Silhouette Bombshell Series #100)

5.0 6
by Sandra K. Moore

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Notes from the Captain's Log

My destination: An island not marked on any map.

My mission: To rescue my sister from her drug lord husband, come hell or high water.

But first, I need to figure out which of the undercover DEA agents aboard my ship — men sworn to protect Natalie and me — is a


Notes from the Captain's Log

My destination: An island not marked on any map.

My mission: To rescue my sister from her drug lord husband, come hell or high water.

But first, I need to figure out which of the undercover DEA agents aboard my ship — men sworn to protect Natalie and me — is a traitor.

I'd been poisoned by exhaust fumes and nearly sucked into propeller blades — and these were no accidents. Unfortunately, the agent I took into my confidence — and into my bed — has been lying to me all along. Suddenly, navigating the good guys from the bad is a lot harder. But I'm one mistress and commander no one wants to cross....

 — Captain Christina Hampton, the Obsession

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Silhouette Bombshell
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Silhouette Bombshell Series
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Read an Excerpt

"Fifty bucks says I finish first!"

Chris Hampton squinted against her racing sailboat's bow spray to eye her nearest competitor.

A few yards away and slightly astern, Dave Mitchell's identical Laser sailboat clipped through the bay waves, gaining. Sitting sideways, he leaned backward to keep the sail upright and full of wind. He grinned over his broad shoulder at her, his brown ponytail flying like a banner. "You don't stand a chance!"

A gust of wind snatched her laugh. She adjusted the tiller. "Put your money where your mouth is!"

"Make it a hundred and you're on!"

Chris loosened the main sheet to put more curve in the sail. Her Laser had the wind behind her and wallowed a little in the light chop of the inlet feeding into Galveston Bay. Another spray of water leaped up onto her back, soaking her black-and-royal-blue wet suit, chilling her. She blew water droplets from her nose and settled down to her sailing. Dave had beaten her twice this season. Let him win this last race of the series and lose a Ben Franklin? No way.

Just a hundred yards to the final buoy and then the sprint for the finish. Dave was the closest sailor, but a few yards behind him lurked the kid called Ferret. Ferret not only had his namesake's sharp features and close-set eyes, he had a habit of weaseling between boats. The kid was a born tactician and Chris didn't underestimate him. Behind them, the rest of the racers jockeyed for better wind. At the buoy she'd just cornered, the committee boat, a twenty-five-foot cabin cruiser, signaled the race course's ending point.

Chris ducked her head to look under the Laser's boom at the big orange buoy marking the final leg. Fair running, but she'd have her hands full once she rounded the marker. She'd take the wind almost directly on the nose in a close beat to the finish.

She glanced over at Dave. His Laser skimmed easily beside hers and she was beginning to see more of his back than his side as he drew even. Come on, she goaded him. I'm going to bury you right here in this race.

One boat length. That's all she needed. Heart pounding, she nudged her boat a little further to starboard, closer to Dave. A fresh wind gust cooled the side of her neck. She tightened the main just a touch as the wind strengthened. Her little sailboat leaped ahead as Dave fell back. He was slowing to tack, but she'd chance a spill to gain some distance in the turn.

The buoy sped toward her. As her boat came even with it, she pulled on the tiller and ducked while switching sides of the boat. The sail's boom swung over her head into position on the port side. She yanked the mainsheet taut as the Laser pivoted, stalled and lifted its starboard side —  where Chris now perched — out of the water. Chris leaned backward, fighting not to fall forward as the boat tipped her into a standing position.

"Come on, baby!" she coaxed.

The light sailboat hovered on edge, perfectly balanced. Chris braced her feet on the gunwale and leaned farther back. The boat couldn't take another inch. For a split second, Chris felt the boat tip past the sweet spot.

The wind eased. The Laser paused, then dropped back onto her bottom. Chris scrambled to adjust her weight. The sail snapped twice, then caught the breeze. The Laser shot away from the buoy.

"Woohoo!" she heard Ferret yell. "Bitchin' corner!" Chris grinned, adrenaline surging. The fastest turn she'd ever tried. And the luckiest. She glanced back. Dave's hull rocked bottom-up. He was out of their little match race. Easy hundred bucks for her. Ferret's Laser shot past Dave's bobbing head and executed a picture-perfect tack.

Now it was just her against Ferret for the finish. She tightened the main, trying to get a little more speed out of the Laser. The boat had her shoulder in, really cranking, nipping through the little wave tops. The finish mark was only a couple hundred yards away.

The high whine of a small powerboat's outboard engine, like a giant mosquito, cut through the rushing wind. Chris glanced around but saw nothing. It wasn't the committee boat, which had a gutsier inboard. Just somebody out on the inlet for a joy ride. The next moment, Ferret shouted something incomprehensible. She'd gotten too far ahead to hear him. She licked the salt from her lips and glanced again. Nothing but the committee boat, horn blowing. She ducked to look under the sail and froze.

A power runabout, maybe twice her boat's length and much, much heavier, sped toward her. A hundred yards away but closing fast on an intercept course.

Her heart lurched. If she dropped the sail, she'd stop but couldn't maneuver. The runabout, a flash of red-and-white fiberglass against blue sky and water, bore down, engine screaming. The driver frantically waved his arms, yelling. Chris caught the word "steering," but nothing else.

"Kill the motor!" Ferret shouted. "Hit the kill switch!" Chris had to change direction. A tack wouldn't do it. It'd have to be a dangerous jibe, letting the wind completely control the boom's movement and position. She turned the Laser away from the wind. The little boat pivoted its nose toward the runabout, then back toward Ferret.

"Come on!" she shouted at the wind. A gust caught the mainsail. Chris ducked. The boom snapped from port to starboard with killing speed. The Laser lurched, then heeled over. Pointed back toward the other racers, it slowly started moving.

A flash of red. The driver's voice, high-pitched, shouted. She glanced over. The runabout had been headed toward her forward position. Now it veered toward her again. Its bow grew quickly as it bore down on her. The driver's thin face stretched wide in a grimace of fear. Her fingers fumbled for her life jacket's straps. She yanked the vest off. A sickening gust of gasoline-scented air rushed over her. Her gut clenched. He was going to hit her. She didn't stand a chance.

She dove.

Cool water shocked her skin, tore her breath away. She stroked hard for the bottom. Water filled her ears, blunted her hearing, but overhead, fiberglass thudded and cracked on fiberglass. Instinctively, she ducked. The runabout's sharp-bladed propeller churned and roared over the little sailboat, chewing it up.

She turned and opened her eyes to stinging salt and murky, silty water. Torn pieces of her Laser drifted down. The sail eased and billowed like a giant jellyfish, tugged toward the bottom by the wrenched mast. The runabout's roar faded, lowered an octave, then quit. Her life jacket floated idly on the surface, its stuffing protruding from the blade-sliced neoprene.

Chris stroked upward. Surfacing, she sucked in air and shook the water from her stinging eyes. Her body trembled, hungry for air and warmth.

"Chris!" someone shouted. "Chris!"

She raised her arm, kept it up like a beacon. "I'm okay!" The committee boat moved cautiously toward her. Its pilot killed his engine as he drew near and pivoted the boat. When the swim ladder came into view, she side-stroked over and climbed onto the platform.

"Not hurt?" Gus Perkins asked, giving her a hand into the open cockpit. He held her shoulders for a moment in his gnarled hands as his gaze swept her head to toe.

"Nah. Scared. But that's it." She shrugged him off, then shoved aside a boat hook and a stack of flags so she could collapse on the vinyl bench and concentrate on breathing. Her eyes watered when she sniffed and salt water shot up her nose. She cleared her throat. "Where'd that guy come from?"

Gus's weather-beaten face screwed itself into even more wrinkles as he hoisted the blue-and-white checkedAbandon Race flag. "Hell if I know. Guys like him shouldn't have a boat. Didn't know how to kill the engine. Dangerous bastard."

Chris tried to comb her fingers through her tangled hair. "I agree completely. Let's go have a chat with him."

"Wait just a minute. Let's make sure you're all right."

"I am."

"Well, you might think so, but you nearly got killed, so let's just take a minute here." Gus disappeared into the cruiser's tiny cabin and came back with a massive towel.

"Dry off some. Take it easy."

Chris took the towel. "I'm really — "

"Let's make sure you're all right." He grabbed his navy Houston Astros cap off his head, ran his hand over his bald head and replaced the cap. "Let's wait for the police."

The cruiser bobbed soothingly. The runabout, now dead in the water, its bow gouged and scraped, drifted aimlessly. Its driver clutched his face with his hands. The Lasers, race abandoned, rushed back to the clubhouse like a flock of scared seabirds. Dave and Ferret were tacking their way over to the cruiser.

Chris scrubbed her face with the surprisingly soft towel. Gus was right. Relax. She breathed deep, the towel covering her face. Her heart, she realized now, still raced. Her arms and legs still tingled. Adrenaline. Reaction. Reflex. The sailboat would be settling into the inlet's mud bottom, shattered.

As she would be, had she not jumped.

Her chest abruptly warmed. Not now, she told herself. No crying. It was all over and she was safe. What would be the point in crying? It was bad enough her hands were shaking. Why did she suddenly feel so weak? She took another deep breath from the towel.

Only then did she recognize the scent. Peaches. Like the sachets her mother had used. Her parents' house had smelled like peaches until Chris had turned eleven, when she and her sister had gone to live with Granddad.

Chris dragged the towel from her face and mopped the back of her neck. No wonder she felt weak. She didn't need another reminder of that loss. She'd had a reminder every day growing up, every day she'd gone downstairs to have breakfast with Granddad and Natalie — his beloved "real" granddaughter — and confronted his resentment. His message was clear: You're not flesh and blood. You're not welcome here.

At least Natalie had always treated Chris like a real sister. Chris was ten when Natalie surprised their parents by being carried to term. Natalie, though impressionable, had never picked up their grandfather's disdain for Chris.

Chris tossed the towel on the seat. Screw self-pity, she thought. Her adoptive parents' love, when they were alive, had more than made up for the old man's attitude when they were gone. And she'd become stronger, more focused, from constantly battling to live the life she wanted. Her life with her grandfather was just the luck of the draw. She wiped a rivulet of salt water from her temple. Chris believed in making her own luck. Like she had ten minutes ago.

"Galveston's here," Gus said from his captain's chair. Chris watched the green-and-white Galveston Bay police boat glide up to the dead runabout. One cop eased the boat near the red-striped runabout and the other rigged lines to lash the two boats together.

The driver looked up then. Even at fifty yards' distance, she saw how thin he was. How shaken up. His white face a mask frozen with that same grimace of fear. Dread oozed through her stomach and lifted bile into her throat.

"You still want to go over and give that guy a piece of your mind?" Gus asked.

The thought of listening to the man's stammering apology sent a shiver down her spine. What good would it do to hear him say he was sorry? It wouldn't erase what had happened. Chris shook her head. "I just want to go home."

She couldn't, though. She had to give her statement to the police first, then watch a salvage crew pluck her destroyed boat from the inlet's waters while she stood hugging herself against a delayed onset of the shakes. The runabout driver, the police told her, would be severely fined for operator neglect. Because neither competency tests nor licenses were required for powerboat use, as Chris well knew, the driver would be free to take his runabout onto the bay again whenever he wanted, after he took the U.S. Coast Guard's Power Squadron course. Like defensive driving, but with a better chance of actually teaching the violator something he didn't know.

After finishing up with the authorities, she walked outside the racing club, where Dave sat on the porch step, waiting for his ride home. "Stick a fork in me," she told him.

He stood as she joined him. "Think he'll pay for the Laser?"

Meet the Author

Sandra K. Moore grew up in genteel Chattanooga, Tennessee, though weekend trips to the family farms in Henagar, Alabama, were a staple of her childhood. In Chattanooga she attended an all-girls preparatory school and so entered college with little experience in the subject of men, other than through the dozens of romances borrowed from her best friend.

In college she tried a number of majors before finally settling on poetry as an ongoing interest. A very fine poet directed her to the University of Houston Creative Writing Program where she started her graduate school career by winning an Inprint Fellowship.

She switched to writing fiction midway through her master's degree and was privileged to work with some of the great American novelists writing today, one of whom demonstrated her considerable insight by signing a copy of one of her books with: "For Sandra, with high hopes that you'll get it all together and write the beautiful book you've got in you."

Though Sandra's rural southern upbringing might have qualified her to write in the great tradition of Eudora Welty and William Faulkner, she ultimately became a technical writer for a computer software company, where she met and fell in love with a handsome co-worker.

After a 10-year detour into the software industry--and moving from technical writing to project management to marketing--Sandra has finally "got it all together" and now spends her time either writing action-adventure novels or varnishing, preparing to varnish, or thinking about varnishing the motor yacht she shares with her partner and a small gray cat.

The beautiful book is forthcoming.

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Dead Reckoning (Silhouette Bombshell Series #100) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this tale of a woman trying to save her sister from her abusive drug lord husband a very enjoyable read, with gripping suspense, excellent characters, and a neat twist of an ending. Well-written and absorbing - I'll look for more from Ms. Moore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Reckoning is one smart story. Sandra K. Moore blends danger, romance, and mystery together in this gripping read. Chris Hampton is one smart heroine, too. Committed to rescuing her baby sister from her drug-lord husband as they bask on an uncharted island off the Florida keys, Chris is aided by a pair of hunky DEA agents who board her aging yacht. Even before they launch, an attempt is made on Chris¿s life, and once they¿re on the high seas, the attempts escalate. Afraid one of the agents is a mole, Christ can¿t trust anyone, especially the DEA agent who¿s snared her heart ¿ and shared her bed. Moore skillfully pens another can¿t-put-down tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sandra K. Moore follows her debut novel with Dead Reckoning, a face paced, edge-of-your-seat Bombshell that hurls her heroine into a race against time. Set in Galveston, Moore¿s talent shines bringing salt air to your every inhale, sea gulls¿ cries to your ears and lapping Gulf waves to your toes. Chris Hampton finds herself in the middle of a DEA sting operation trying to rescue her recently married younger sister. But is it really a DEA operation? And why does Chris keep coming to her sister¿s rescue? Chris battles her long standing insecurities, born of being adopted and never measuring up to her granddad¿s standards even after he¿s passed away. In his will, thinking to insult her one last time, he leaves her a rattle- trap, seventy foot yacht that hasn¿t seen water in twenty years. But the mechanical engineer in Chris loves the challenge and she quits her prestigious offshore rig mechanical engineering job to work full time on restoring the Obsession. Before long, Chris knows every inch of the boat from bow to stern and has high hopes to captain day, weekend and vacation cruises, once the restoration is complete. Her plans are interrupted when during a sailboat race she¿s just about to win, along with a $100 side bet, she¿s almost killed by a powerboat coming out of nowhere and heading straight for her. Only her last minute dive off her boat saves her life as the powerboat completely destroys her sailboat. Natalie, Chris¿ sister, begins a series of obscure phone calls describing her drug smuggling husband¿s increasingly controlling behavior that has escalated to physical abuse. Natalie is guarded 24/7 by her husband¿s bodyguard and has no opportunities to escape from his constant changes of locations. Chris¿ protective complex kicks in and she and Natalie make plans for her rescue. Natalie will try to obtain the location of an island that she and her husband will be staying at in three weeks and Chris vows to have the Obesssion sea worthy enough to come and get her. Chris turns to a trusted friend and former Houston Police Department officer for help. Natalie¿s husband has eluded DEA agents for some time. Through contacts, DEA agents are brought in on the plan and turn it into a sting operation to capture the drug lord as well as help Natalie escape. Special Agent Smith, a former Coast Guard, comes aboard and immediately provides much needed manual labor, helping Chris and working side by side with her. There¿s no other choice if they¿re to get the Obsession ready to launch. Smith¿s easy going charm, cut off shorts and no shirt, aren¿t too bad either. Smith¿s boss, Special Agent McLellan will join them in a couple days and when the Obsession sails to New Orleans, they will be joined by 2 other agents to complete the sting operation. When the boss, Special Agent McLellan arrives, with no boating experience, Chris¿ hopes of another worthy crew member like Smith are shattered. Landlubber McLellan looks like an advertisement for International Yatchsman in his crisp pleated white linen trousers and Brooks Brothers Navy blazer. Although McLellan seems to pull his weight when it comes to work on the boat, Chris¿ irritation rises as he tells her what she should do for her engine repair and hull refinishing, information and tidbits he¿s learned from reading a variety of boating and yachting literature. Yet the man cooks like a European chef. Several terrifying attempts on Chris¿ life occur while sporadic phone calls from Natalie continue with clues to the rendezvous island¿s location. Once underway, the attraction between Chris and McLellan grows, and her annoyance fades. The attraction grows to passion, and can¿t be denied. When there¿s no turning back, Chris learns the operation is not DEA sanctioned, it¿s a personal one for McLellan. Chris also lea
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though she detested her late grandfather, Chris Hampton appreciates that he left her his luxurious yacht Obsession though that needed repair. She diligently works on the vessel, but is short cash until the DEA offers her a deal she cannot refuse. They will provide her with the capital needed to fix the boat, if she helps them catch her nasty brother-in-law, drug kingpin Jerome. Chris has a greater incentive to agree this might be the opportunity to save her sister Natalie, who has just informed her that she is scared of her abusive husband.------------------------ DEA Agent Connor McClellan is assigned to protect Chris. However, his being there does not prevent attacks on her by most likely the thugs of either Jerome or a business associate. She concludes that someone inside the DEA is working for the enemy and though she is half way in love with Connor, he is the most likely culprit as few besides him has the insider information that was handed over to the enemy.----------------------- Courageous Chris, needing to rescue her sibling, has reached a point of DEAD RECKONING as she must choose whether to trust in love or no one when she confronts Jerome she makes the fast-paced thriller work as she wonders if the man who has stolen her heart is just another Jerome clone, a hunk seducing a dumb broad. Romantic suspense fans will join Chris and Connor on the aptly named Obsession as they speed to a final confrontation of the heart and with a dangerous felon willing to kill his wife, his sister-in-law, and a DEA agent.---------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sandra K. Moore has a knack for continually upping the level of suspense, and with Dead Reckoning, she delivers more than promised. I highly recommend Dead Reckoning. Chris Hampton was used to bailing her younger sister out of tight spots, but discovering Natalie needed rescuing from her abusive, drug-smuggling husband, was definitely new territory. Reluctantly, Chris accepts help from DEA Special Agents ¿Smitty¿ and Connor. They set out on her 70-foot motor yacht, Obsession, to take advantage of a two-day window of opportunity before Natalie leaves her husband¿s private, highly guarded, island. Chris has no room for navigational error. The stakes go even higher when she finds strange equipment concealed onboard Obsession, and discovers that someone is stalking her, believing she¿s hiding a stolen fortune. Despite her best efforts to stay focused, Chris finds herself responding to the advances of both agents. But after an ¿accident¿ in the engine room nearly costs Chris her life and the discovery of a dead body in the salon, Chris realizes that someone on her boat will do anything to stop her. Torn, Chris doesn¿t know who to trust. She¿s drawn to Connor, but fears he is trying to seduce her merely to distract her from her purpose. And is Smitty really suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, as he claims, or is he pretending in order to further his own deadly agenda? I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Reckoning. The flow was fast paced, and I was drawn in from page one. I was there with Chris, sharing her love of boating as she risks all to go after her sister. I suffered through her upheavals, doubts, and fears. And, I was there with her in the end when she is heart-wrenchingly forced to choose between the two things she loves most in the world. Will Chris be able to survive and save her sister?