In Rock Harbor Search and Rescue, a middle grade fiction novel based on Colleen Coble’s bestselling Rock Harbor series for adults, kids will enjoy the mixture of pets, adventure, suspense, and a mystery.
Emily O’Reilly is obsessed with all things Search and Rescue. She volunteers with the team and goes on rescue missions with her stepmom. She is even selling homemade jewelry to save up for her own Search and Rescue puppy. But when an expensive necklace is stolen from a renowned jewelry artist at Rock Harbor’s fall festival and Emily is accused of the crime, it looks like she’ll never get her puppy and be able to join the Rock Harbor Search and Rescue team.
Emily isn’t willing to give up on her Search and Rescue dreams that easily, and she sets out to find the real culprit and to restore her reputation. With a few suspects in mind, Emily is determined to uncover the truth, but she isn’t prepared for the secrets she and the Search and Rescue dogs sniff out in the process. This exciting mystery is filled with twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and have them pining after a Search and Rescue puppy of their own!
"Colleen is a master storyteller."—Karen Kingsbury
About the Author
Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series. Connect with Colleen online at colleencoble.com; Instagram: colleencoble; Facebook: colleencoblebooks; Twitter: @colleencoble.
Read an Excerpt
ROCK HARBOR SEARCH & RESCUE
By Colleen Coble Robin Caroll
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Colleen Coble
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I don't think he's got a scent." Emily O'Reilly waved away the black flies that swarmed around her face. Their search dog, Charley, had paused and was nosing a patch of leaves. The trees blocked out the sun here and made her shiver.
Her stepmother, Naomi, paused to catch her breath. "It's going to be dark soon. Mrs. McKinley will be frantic if we don't find her dog."
Emily glanced around at the dark shadows. "I hate to think of little Chloe out here." She loved her neighbor's little poodle. She cupped her hands around her mouth. "Chloe!" Only the wind answered her. Tears pricked her eyes. They'd been searching for over two hours. What if an owl had carried off the puppy? Or, even worse, an eagle?
Naomi put her hand on Emily's shoulder. "Don't look like that, Emily. We'll find her."
If she were only five instead of nearly fourteen, Emily would have buried her face against Naomi and cried. "What about predators out here?" she whispered. She could hear rustling in the woods around her. She knew it was probably squirrels or birds getting out of the way of the search-and-rescue team, but it was easy to imagine a fox or a wolf instead that may want to have a poodle-sized snack. Or could it be the Windigo? The thought of the old Ojibwa legend made her throat tighten. She'd been lost out here once when she was a kid, and the noises she'd heard in the night still came back to haunt her.
Or maybe it was her imagination. She knew the Windigo was only a legendthe Ojibwa Native American tribe's version of a bogeymanbut it was still enough to give her goose bumps. Her babysitter had told her the old story enough times that Emily could never forget it. And even though she knew better ... out here, in the dark, with the wind moving through the trees ...
"She's probably just wandered off," Naomi assured. She called Charley to her and had him sniff the bag that held one of Chloe's stuffed animals. "Search, Charley!"
The dog whined, then put his nose in the air and leaped over a fallen log. He began to bark. His tail went up, and he disappeared into the shadows. "He's got a scent!" Naomi shouted. She took off after the dog.
Emily ran hard to keep up. Please, God, let Chloe be okay. Her heart raced, and she strained to catch a glimpse of the dog. There was a yip, then she heard two dogs barking. One was clearly a small dog from the frantic yapping. "Chloe!"
The leaves rustled, and Chloe burst into view. Emily fell to her knees, and the sweet little poodle ran straight to her arms. Her little pink tongue lapped at Emily's face. "You're all right!" She didn't care if she was crying. She hugged the dog and turned her wet face up to Naomi. "I thought an owl had gotten her." She swiped at her eyes with the back of her hand and then stood up with the dog in her arms.
Suddenly, Naomi's cell phone softly began playing the theme song from The Princess Bride inside her jacket, and she answered it. From this side of the conversation, Emily realized there was another problem. Her gut tightened when Naomi hung up and called Charley to her.
"A couple at a nearby camper reported their ten-year-old son hasn't come back from a short hike along a well-marked trail," Naomi said. "I'd rather not pull you into this, but we're closer than anyone else."
"I want to help!" The dog wiggled in Emily's arms. "What about Chloe?"
"The sheriff is heading this way with a scent article. We'll give Chloe to him."
"We just wait here?"
Naomi nodded. "Sheriff Kaleva is on a four-wheeler. He'll be here any minute."
Emily tipped her head at a distant noise. "I think I hear him now."
Darkness was falling quickly, and moments later headlamps pierced the dimness of the forest. A burly form dismounted from the machine and came their way with a paper bag in his hand.
The sheriff held out the bag. "The little boy's sweater is in here. His name is Xander."
"How long has he been gone?" Emily asked.
"A couple of hours. The parents looked for him first before they called me."
Naomi took the bag. "We'll start right away."
Emily handed Chloe over to the sheriff. "She's tired and hungry, I think."
The sheriff tucked the small dog under one arm and turned back toward the four-wheeler. "I'll have Mrs. McKinley meet me at the campground."
When the roar of the engine faded, Naomi knelt beside Charley and opened the paper bag so her dog could sniff it. Charley thrust his nose into the bag, then ran around the clearing with his nose in the air. The search dogs were all air scenters. They followed as he ran off into the woods.
Darkness had completely enveloped the deep woods. Emily got a flashlight out of her ready-pack. While she had paused to grab it, the beam from Naomi's light had vanished. "Naomi, where are you?"
When silence answered her, Emily's gut tightened. She hadn't counted on being alone in the dark. Not after remembering the Windigo legends. When something rustled off to her left, she broke into a panicked run. Her breath tore in and out of her throat, and her lungs burned. She had to get out of here!
She stumbled over something and sprawled into a mat of leaves and spruce needles. The sharp scent of pine cleared her head. She sat up and felt around for her flashlight. Her hand touched on the metal, and she flicked it on. No reassuring light beamed out. She shook the casing and tried again. Nothing. She was out here in the dark by herself. With the Windigo.
Something howled in the distance. She hoped it was Charley, but what if it wasn't? What if the Windigo was coming for her? She scrambled to her feet and shrieked Naomi's name. The fear in her voice ratcheted up the panic in her chest.
"God's here with me," she whispered. "Nothing can hurt me." She'd always been told not to move around if she got lost, but everything in her wanted to rush away from the night sounds echoing around her. She backed up until her rump was against a tree. A little boy was lost out there. She needed to be strong and let Naomi find the kid. Then Charley would come for her.
It seemed forever that Emily stood there trying to identify every sound in the dark. The strength in her knees gave out, and she sank to the ground. She'd never been so terrified. How long had it been? Half an hour? Two hours? She had no way of knowing.
Something rustled in the bushes again, and she lifted her head. A cold nose touched her hand.
She threw her arms around his neck as Naomi stepped into view.
"Emily, why didn't you follow me?" Naomi asked.
"I stopped to get my flashlight, then couldn't find you."
Sheesh, Emily thought. I sound like a baby instead of thirteen.
"I mean, I knew you'd come back for me. Did you find Xander?" Emily struggled to her feet.
"I did," said Naomi. "I texted the coordinates to the sheriff, and he picked him up. He's probably back with his parents by now. I told Charley to find you, and he led me straight back here."
Emily didn't want to admit she'd been terrified, so she brushed the leaves from her jeans. "I was pretty lame, wasn't I?"
Naomi smiled. "You did exactly what I've always told you to dostay put. You've got a knack for search and rescue, Emily. I think it's about time we thought about getting you your own search dog."
"Really? My birthday is in a few weeks," Emily said hopefully.
Naomi's blue eyes were warm. "Your dad and I think you should earn half the money to buy it. Bree has some puppies she'll be selling soon."
Emily gasped. "One of Samson's puppies?" Samson was one of the best search dogs in the country. She hadn't dreamed she could own one of his pups. "It would take me years to earn enough."
"I've already talked to her, and she's saving one for you at a very discounted price."
Bree and Samson were one of the most famous canine search-and-rescue teams in the world. Search and rescue was just about the coolest job Emily could think of.
Emily flung her arms around Naomi. "Thank you, thank you! You're the best! How much will the dog cost?"
Emily's elation faded. How could she earn a hundred and fifty dollars? Babysitting didn't pay that well.
My necklaces. Good thing the Rock Harbor Annual Fall Festival was coming up. Emily had a booth reserved to sell some of the jewelry she'd made. If she sold enough pieces, she could totally earn that hundred and fifty dollars. She vowed right then to make as many pieces as possible before the festival.
* * *
People from the surrounding counties and states crowded the downtown streets for the annual Fall Festival in Rock Harbor. The town had been settled by Finns back in the copper mining days, and it still held the flavor of its residents. This September morning, the booths and tables lining the sidewalks and streets held many Finnish wares. Rugs, pottery, furniture, thimbleberry jam, and copper items decorated both sides of Houghton Street. The aroma of beef pasties and Finnish rye bread filled the air, making Emily's stomach growl.
Bree Matthews walked toward her, and Emily's gaze immediately went to the puppy in her arms. She could hardly breathe when Bree stopped and smiled. "Like him?"
"He's sooo cute! Is this one going to be mine?" Emily held the puppy up to her face, and the tan fur ball nipped at her chin. "You won't sell him to anyone else, right?" She put every bit of appeal she could muster into her expression as she looked at Bree.
Bree nodded her head. "I'm holding him for you. I brought him to the festival so he wouldn't be lonely. His siblings are for sale at my booth. All but one has already sold."
"I love you, Bree," Emily said fervently.
Bree's green eyes twinkled. "I hope you loved me before I saved you a puppy."
"I need to get back to my booth," Bree said. "Kade will be wondering what's keeping me."
Emily sighed, pressed a kiss on the top of the puppy's head, and then handed him back to her. Bree walked away with the dog peeking over her shoulder. It was all Emily could do not to chase after her. She turned away and glanced around the downtown area.
People dressed in Finnish clothing milled around as they prepared for the parade. Emily was really impressed with the outfit Olivia Webster, her best friend, wore. An orange wool vest covered Olivia's blouse with its full sleeves. The orange-and-black skirt had a herringbone pattern, and her headband matched the skirt. The color looked good against Olivia's pale skin and brown hair. Olivia had made it herself, spending as much time on it as Emily did on her jewelry making. She admired Olivia's talent. When Emily tried to sew, the results were a mess.
"I bet your parents are sorry they didn't get to see you wear your costume," Emily said.
"Mom was really disappointed. But they made the plans for the cruise before the town changed the date of the festival. And besides, I get to stay with you." Olivia slumped beside Emily as they sat behind the jewelry booth. "What are you going to name your puppy?"
"I haven't decided yet. I'll need to find the perfect name for him." She nudged her friend. "Did you see Mary Dancer's jewelry? I think I did pretty well copying her Sapphire Beauty necklace, the one to ward off the Windigo." Saying the word made Emily shiver and glance around.
Olivia picked up the fused glass necklace from the table next to Emily's booth and examined it. "I think you did too. It's a little smaller than hers, but the color is similar." She set it back on the velvet display. "I don't know why you like her stuff so much. It's a little plain. I like more sparkle." She batted her eyes at Emily, and the two girls burst into giggles.
Mary Dancer approached Emily from the other end of her booth. She was way old, at least fifty. She wore a long red skirt, a leather vest, and several of her own necklaces.
"Hi, Mrs. Dancer," Emily said. "You've had a lot of customers."
"It's been a good morning." She pressed her hand to her stomach. "I-I'm not feeling very well. Would you girls look after my booth until I get back?"
The woman did look a little green. "We'd be glad to." Emily crossed the grass between the two displays. "We'll try to snag you some more customers too!"
Mrs. Dancer's smile was more of a grimace. "I'll be right back." She darted across the street toward the bathrooms.
Emily wandered along the display. "I love her stuff." If only she could make jewelry as good as Mrs. Dancer's. She'd have the money to buy her puppy sooner rather than later.
"We know how you love it. Trust me, we all know," Olivia said.
A few customers stopped by both booths, and Emily sold a red hawk necklace and a pair of earrings from Mrs. Dancer's stock. She carefully tucked the money into the metal box, then moved to her table to sell a black onyx necklace.
A tall young woman approached, several people following her. Emily gasped as she recognized her. "That's Malia Spencer," she whispered to Olivia.
"Wow, I heard she was coming for the big surfing championship in a few weekends." Olivia squinted toward the group of people passing. "I thought all surfers were younger."
"Well, she won the women's world championship this year. It probably takes time to get that good."
The famous surfer stopped to talk to three boys who were in the surfing club. Emily was so busy watching them that she didn't notice two customers at Mrs. Dancer's table until the man cleared his throat. She hurried to assist them and sold them a necklace. By the time she had completed the sale and stored the money, Malia had moved on.
She stared after the surfer. "I wonder if Josh knows she's here." Though she'd watched for him, she hadn't seen Josh yet. Surely he would be here if the women's world champion was making an appearance.
"Emily has a cruuu-ush," Olivia said in a singsong voice. "You might at least talk to him sometime."
Emily flopped onto a folding chair, her cheeks burning, and sighed. "What's the use? Dad won't let me even look at a boy until I'm sixteen. That's two years away. He'd lock me in my room if he thought I liked a boy." But Josh Thorensen was way cute.
"Two years and a month," Olivia corrected.
"But my puppy will be mine in a month." Emily sat up and grabbed her bag. She checked her money. "I've made almost one hundred and twenty-five dollars so far."
"How much do you have to make?"
"Dad and Naomi are paying half of the cost for my birthday. So I need to earn a hundred and fifty." She was a little annoyed that her dad thought she needed to prove she was responsible enough to own a pet. As if she hadn't proven it over and over already. Her little brother, Timmy, had diabetes, and when their mother left them when Emily was only eight, she had managed to take care of him and the house, hadn't she?
That was before Dad married Naomi. Three years ago they'd had Emily's second little brother, Matthew. Didn't she help with babysitting him? How much more responsible did she need to be?
"The festival is going on all weekend. I bet you'll make all the money you need." Olivia smiled and nodded to her left. "Look who's here."
Emily's chest tightened at the sight of a familiar shock of blond hair. Josh even looked like a surfer with his thick hair, blue eyes, and lean build. But her stomach plunged when she saw who stood beside him.
Though she and Rachel were both in the eighth grade, Rachel was the kind of girl who was born knowing how to talk to boys. She had the classic look: straight and silky blond hair, big blue eyes, and a short and petite build. School had just started, and already she was the head cheerleader of the junior varsity team and the president of the eighth-grade class. Not to mention her incredibly wealthy father sat on the city council and owned the fishing resort. Emily always felt invisible when Rachel was around.
They used to be friends, and Emily still wasn't sure what had happened.
For the millionth time, Emily wished her hair wasn't so curly and that she didn't stand so tall. She seemed to tower over all the other girls in her grade. But even more, she especially wished the curves she'd already gotten weren't so obvious. It was embarrassing.
She shrank behind her table and let Olivia talk to them as they looked at the pieces of Mrs. Dancer's jewelry. But Rachel didn't miss Emily. She smiled, put her arm through Josh's, and hollered out, "Oh, hi, Emily." Her smile did nothing to hide her smugness.
Excerpted from ROCK HARBOR SEARCH & RESCUE by Colleen Coble Robin Caroll Copyright © 2013 by Colleen Coble. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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