by Kate Morgenroth

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061097751
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/27/2003
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Kate Morgenroth is the author of Kill Me First. Saved is her second novel. She lives in New York City. For more information check out her website at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"If you want to hear a story about someone who really pulled some crazy shit, I should tell you about this fishing boat captain my father knew," Andy said. He dabbed at the trim of the long liner, the Sea Smoke, with a paintbrush. The water inside Crescent Harbor was calm, the wind ruffling the reflections of the boats. The air smelled of gas and oil and the fresh sharp scent of brine.

While Andy painted, his fellow crewman, Bill, sat on the side of the boat, smoking. Bill was staring out through the tangle of masts toward the twelve-foot breaker of moss-covered rocks and the fogbound peaks of Sugarloaf and Bear.

The buzz of a float plane cut through the quiet evening. Bill lifted his head to follow its invisible progress through the low clouds. "You want to talk crazy, we should be talking about those bush Pilots," he said. "Who flies in this stuff? Can't see a damn thing."

"This skipper gives the bush pilots a run for their money," Andy said. "He'd sail through anything, this guy. It could be blowing forty, fifty knots, and it wouldn't faze him. And this was a while ago, back in the sixties, when you didn't have all this fancy equipment, and you couldn't call in the Coast Guard to pull your sorry ass out of the water if you were going down." He gestured with the paintbrush across the water to where the Coast Guard station was housed on the tip of Japonski Island.

"When he wasn't fishing, this skipper ran fresh fruit and vegetables to the towns up along the Inside Passage to make some money in the off-season. One trip, not long out of Vancouver, the weather turned funny. It was the kindof afternoon you just know a bad one's coming -- kind of like today. Anyway, the skipper could have pulled into a cove and sheltered through the bad weather, but he decided to keep going. He didn't want his produce to go bad, and he was loaded down with stuff. He had potatoes, onions, squash, apples, everything you can think of, crammed into every square inch of space. So he sailed right into that storm. Turned out it was a doozy."

The float plane had landed, and it was quiet but for the strange, high-pitched squeak of the roosting eagles and the slap of a fish jumping and falling back into the water.

"The wind started gusting pretty strong, blowing the tops off the swells, and then the water started breaking over the bow. Well, that just happened to be where they had stored the squash, so with every wave a few dozen squash got washed out into the sound until the waves were filled with these squash. The crew is worried about making it through because the boat is near to rolling the rails, but this skipper, you know what he's doing? He's yelling at the crew to pick up the goddamn squashes. It's blowing near seventy, and they're chasing squashes leaning out over the rails with fishnets, scooping them up and dumping them below. And you know what? They got every goddamned squash and got through the storm too. What do you think of that?"

"I think you missed a spot." Bill pointed to a place on the boat's trim with the end of his cigarette. Then he flicked the dangling ash into the water.

Andy went over the spot with his brush. "You don't think that's the craziest thing you ever heard?"

"I guess I heard crazier." Bill shrugged. "Seems like most guys around here have some story. Bound to happen if you spend enough time on the water -- or enough time in Alaska."

The boats in Crescent Harbor bore names like Stormy Sea, Lady Luck, Safe Harbor, Home Shore, Endurance, By the Grace of God, suggesting that the men who sailed on those boats were aware of the edge of uncertainty on which they lived.

"Hey, Walt, you almost done messing with that engine?" Bill called out.

Andy paused, brush in the air, waiting for the reply, but Walt either didn't hear or didn't answer.

"It's time to go, " Bill said.

"No argument here."

The harbor was deserted. Earlier in the day there had been several commercial fishing boat crews working to get ready for the season. They were easily recognizable in rubber boots, thick workingman's pants, and battered baseball caps. But half an hour ago, the last crew had turned off their Allman Brothers tape and headed to the P Bar for a beer.

The pleasure boaters, dressed in khakis and old sweaters, had left hours earlier. They had stowed their poles and tossed the unused bait -- the tiny herring lying shoulder to shoulder in their Styrofoam beds -- and had gone home early, shaking their heads over the chop out in the gulf. Even the traffic on Lincoln Street had fallen off, with the hum of a passing car infrequently breaking the silence.

Walt emerged from the cabin, his hands dark with grease from the engine. He was attempting to clean them with a gray rag.

"So you guys ready to go?" Walt said.

Bill and Andy were silent.

"Okay, I get the message. Just let me pack up." Walt disappeared back into the cabin. Andy bent to close the paint can and started cleaning the brush. Bill emptied his mug of coffee into the water and set it back inside the boat. The sound of footsteps made him glance up, and he watched idly as a man dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt walked down the dock.

As the man passed by, he said a friendly hello. Bill nodded and stubbed his cigarette out on the planks of the dock. When he looked up again, at first he couldn't see where the man had gone. Then he spotted him jumping into a thirty-foot Bayliner a few slips down.

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