|Publisher:||Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Growing up in a small, cowboy town in Eastern Washington, Gayle, after numerous visits to Seattle during her college years, fell in love with the ocean. Trading her spurs for a sea kayak, she left her Rodeo Queen roots behind (yes, she really was a Rodeo Queen) and moved to the “rainy” country. For a time she lived on a sailboat and to this day she thinks sailing throughout the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands as one of the best experiences of her life.
Gayle loves espresso, the ocean, espresso, fishing, espresso, reading, espresso, writing, espresso, her friends and family, and well, of course poker. And, she did say espresso, right?
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By Gayle Ann Williams
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2010 Gayle Ann Williams
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe San Juan Islands, Washington State December 26, 2023
"And so, my friends, the moon is full, the sea calm, and the wave?" I dropped my voice to a whisper and clutched the microphone, pressing the cold steel to my forehead. I took a moment, shook my head, and pushed on. "The wave"-I fought hard to keep my voice steady-"the wave, my friends, sleeps tonight. And so can you."
I hung my head and let the mic dangle between my fingers. A few moments passed, maybe minutes even. Then I pulled the mic up to my lips and forced my voice to become much more than just a whisper in the dark. "This is Tsunami Blue, signing off on another waveless night, somewhere in paradise." I paused, took a breath, and then added a tag: "Hang on out there, guys. Just ... hang on."
My shortwave equipment went to dead air as I snapped the dial off and let the mic slip all the way through my fingertips to fall with a soft thud on the floor.
"Shit." I scrubbed my hands across my face. "What the hell was that about, Blue? When did you become a fucking cheerleader?" But I knew what it was all about. It was about the day, the date, and the ghosts that lived on in my memories.
My dog, Max, jumped up and thumped his tail on the cedar floor. "I know, Max,I know. Language."
I walked over to a small, beat-up cupboard and pulled a crisp twenty from a thick stack of bills and waved it in front of him. Max, excited almost to the point of frenzy, barked, and started to chase his tail.
"You know what's coming, don't ya, boy. Oh yeah, you love this part." I walked over to his bowl where an old Costco pickle jar sat stuffed with twenty-dollar bills. It was near to overflowing. I shoved the bill in. Max went crazy. He knew the drill.
I swear. I pay. He gets a treat.
I was trying to reform, trying to get a grip on my language before it bled into the airwaves. It wasn't easy. I had been surrounded by these words and the familiar smacks and punches that followed them since I was five. But I was older now, wiser. Independent. The bruises had long healed. But learned behavior? Well, old habits and all; they die hard.
However, I knew there was a handful of children out there who could hear me. I had hoped-prayed even-that there were more than a few. In my dreams there were thousands. I would never become anything like the long-defunct Disney Channel or Nick at Nite, but I could be a voice of hope, a voice that could save their young lives.
But, of course, it wasn't working well.
I mean, when you have only a dog to answer to, albeit a big dog, well, you get the idea. It's not like he can ground me or send me to time-out. Besides, the money didn't mean a thing, hadn't for at least twelve years. Or was it fifteen? I shrugged. Who cares? When the infrastructure went down, so did our currency. Now all that money is good for is kindling, paper airplanes, and swear jars.
So now we deal in trade. And theft. And murder.
But in the meantime, Max and I had our little game. I liked it. He loved it. I grabbed an extra-large strip of dried smoked salmon and tossed it in the air. Max went airborne, catching it halfway from the ground. I smiled. Someday that dog was gonna take flight.
Moonlight streamed through the window of the tiny one-room cabin, my "beach bungalow." Yeah. Right. But the moon was full, and it beckoned me to the beach and to the inky waters beyond.
It didn't matter that it was past midnight. It didn't matter what the calendar said. It didn't matter what demons I fought in my head. I walk on the beach when the moon is full. I never miss.
And it sure as hell didn't matter that tonight was the anniversary of the end of my life as I had once known it. The life I could barely remember. But what's an anniversary with no one to share it with? After all, this was the anniversary when everyone who had ever mattered to me had died, swept away in the arms of a rogue killer wave. A wave I watched for. Waited for. Daring it to return, claim me, and just finish the damn job.
"Come on, Max," I said as he danced around my legs, "let's see what the water brings us tonight. Let's see if it has anything to say."
I slipped on a too-small Gore-Tex waterproof jacket. Warm and well used, the coat had a ragged hole the size of a small island on the sleeve. But I treasured it. I had only one other spare now. And I just couldn't think about what it would take to get another one. It's not like I could go to the mall.
I pulled on black rubber boots over wool socks; it was December, after all, and everything in my world was soggy. Wet, damp, soggy. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, or at least what's left of it.
Max ran over, dropped to the floor, and, with his massive head between his front paws, he started to bark at my boots.
"Cut the crap, Max. You've seen these boots for what? Two years? They're skulls, Max. Painted skulls. And you know what I went through to get them. You were there, remember? The wet suit? The dive? The near drowning? Besides"-I stood and patted his golden head-"I like them. They're old-school Goth, they're cool, and they're badass. So as much as I love ya, shut up about the boots, okay?" He shut up.
We pushed through the door together, jockeying for position. Taking turns or bringing up the rear were foreign concepts to both of us, so we did it the hard way every time. Max, through sheer bulk, won, and as always he ran out in front, scouting, smelling, protecting. I smiled. A girl and her dog. Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. Who says you need a man?
I walked the half mile to the beach, letting my head clear in the cold winter night. Moonlight lit my passage better than any flashlight, which was good, because on one hand, who had batteries anymore? And yet on the other hand, the moonlight lit the beach like Broadway, which left us exposed, vulnerable, an easy target. Danger was everywhere.
But a full moon did enhance my broadcast to levels I couldn't otherwise achieve. They called it moon bounce, a concept that sounds sci-fi, but has actually been around since the 1940s. For one night each month, during the full-moon phase, I could bounce a signal off the moon's surface. My voice echoed in countries and cities and homes that I prayed were still alive with people to hear me.
Mist from the sea floated inland, wrapping around me, leaving the taste of salt upon my lips. I heard the sea in the distance, a pounding rhythm that I'd learned to pay close attention to. Pausing, I wondered if tonight the sea and I would have a conversation.
Max barked in the distance, and I quickened my step. Even though wild dogs populated these islands, it was still unwise to let him bark too long.
The black sky, like a jeweled blanket, shone with thousands of stars, stars that were familiar, comforting. I smiled up into the breathtaking night as if I were greeting an old friend, and I guess in a way I was. Our landscape may have changed forever, but not the sky. I paused and reached up to trace the Big Dipper with my finger.
Max pierced the night with barking that escalated into a chorus of growls and yelps and howls.
"Max?" I shouted. I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled again. "Max!" I started to run. What had he found? Or worse, what had found him?
I ran full-out. My cardio was great-I had Max to thank for that, lots of midnight runs. But the boots? Well, not made for speed. I broke through the cedars, tripped on a madrona root, and crashed headfirst into scrub brush that tangled and tore at my cargo pants. I checked for my knife. Yep, still there, lodged safely at the small of my back. I jumped up, and with only my pride stinging, I continued to sprint onto the sand. Yeah, I know, like it's even possible to sprint in rubber boots. But damned if I didn't try.
I could see Max about a hundred feet ahead, his golden coat glowing white in the stark moonlight. He barked and growled and tugged on something long and lifeless. What the hell?
On nights like this the sea often gave us gifts. A flopping sockeye with delicate pink flesh, dinner for the next night. Or Japanese floats, beautiful, handblown glass in green and amber. The hardy glass balls, some ancient and rare, had started to reappear after the last wave, and the sea, as if knowing how much I loved them, made sure I had my share. And sometimes it was a wire trap full of Dungeness crab, lines snapped in the surf or more likely cut by Runners. The traps, brimming with fresh crab, would wash up on the beach, sometimes right at my feet.
But sometimes, just sometimes, the sea would give me the greatest gift of all. It would tell me when to grab Max and run for high ground. Sometimes it even gave me time to broadcast it.
Yes, the sea would tell me when the next wave would come, and in nineteen years, I'd never once heard it wrong.
The problem, in the early years, was getting someone, anyone, to believe me. But Tsunami Blue? Well, people believed her: that solitary voice that floated on the airwaves, the voice that warned and begged and pleaded to please, please believe. Most did. And those who didn't died.
As I ran, I strained to see the telltale glow of a Runner pirate ship on the horizon. I needed to know that Max and I were alone out here with only the sea and surf for company. This island was remote, uninhabited, and wild. We should be alone. But still. They had come once. The bastards would come again.
I needed to know that tonight was not the night we would lose our lives to the light of a full moon.
The horizon was dark, black bleeding into black. No torches glowed, no sirens sounded, no arrows flew. We were very much alone. Thank you, God.
Lungs burning and legs screaming, I slid to a stop beside Max. I grabbed his thick rope collar and pulled him away from the form on the beach. Max didn't want any part of giving up his discovery and he tugged back. This was a problem when you had a dog that outweighed you by more than twenty pounds.
"Back, Max, back." I tugged hard. The dog tugged harder still, the hackles on his back raised, his teeth bared. The target of his interest didn't move. I could now see long matted hair, outstretched arms, a trench coat of sorts, legs, boots ... a man.
Max had found a man.
He looked at least six feet tall. Max had found a very large man.
His left fist gripped a long blade, a wicked-looking fillet knife. I had gutted a lot of fish in my time, and I knew a fillet knife when I saw one. I knew what it could do to a dog, or a woman. Moonbeams danced off the metal, taunting and gleaming.
Scared, I grabbed Max's collar with both hands and yanked. "Down, boy, stand down." Max whined, but did as he was told. He didn't get "stand down" often. And if nothing else, Max was well trained. After all, my life depended on it.
I kicked the knife from the man's unmoving hand, and it landed far enough away for some comfort. Funny, I didn't feel any safer.
I couldn't see that he was breathing. I couldn't see that he wasn't. I'd have to get closer. Great.
I pulled Max to my side. "If he makes a move, boy, tear his throat out. I didn't name you Mad Max for nothing." Max whined. I knelt in the sand next to ... what? A Runner? A murderer? A thief? A body?
And the sea gives up its dead.
The words rang in my head. Where had that come from?
I looked to the water and I knew, just as I had always known. The words came from the sea. So he really was dead. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Safer, certainly. But who was he? Where had he come from? Had he been a good man? A bad one? Did he deserve a decent burial? Or did he deserve to be fed, like a bucket of chum, to the sharks?
During these dark years, wave after deadly wave had blurred the lines of human behavior just as certainly as they had blurred the lines of our coast. Good versus evil? No longer black or white. I had once thought I was good. That was before I took a human life.
I sighed and willed the churning in my stomach to calm down.
I would turn the body over and check for ID, although it was highly unlikely there would be any. Most of us lived in the shadows now, obscure, invisible. ID? Who in this new, wet world would have the balls to check it? And for what purpose? Still, some carried a long-expired driver's license or a tattered and torn passport. Some still clung to the remnants of the old life. Hell, I'd read every single book or magazine I could get my hands on from the old days. My education was steeped in pop culture images that I would never see in person. But most of us knew the truth of it. There was nothing left of the old life. Right now we were all in survival-of-the-fittest mode. And it wasn't pretty.
"Max, come." He'd moved around the body, sniffing and probing like dogs do. But I needed him beside me now. I was going to move the body. And even though I knew the body wouldn't sit up and bite me-death is death, after all-I just felt better with Max, the monster dog, close.
"On three, Max." I frowned at him and he cocked his head as if to say, What the fu-heck? Max did not swear; he was good, at least in my mind. "Ready?"
He looked confused.
"Okay, so don't help. Supervise." I took a deep breath. "One." I braced myself in the sand. "Two." I slid my hands and forearms underneath the body. "And three."
I tensed my muscles, shoulders hunched, and did a lift-and-push Sort of action. I had a lot of upper-body strength-that I knew-but I still lacked bulk. At five-three and one hundred eight pounds dripping wet (which I was most of the time), I knew some things were just too much for me. My mother had called me petite. Seamus, the uncle I'd been sent to live with, had called me scrawny. Or scrawny bitch. Whatever. My response: "You have no idea what comes in this small package, asshole."
My feet started to skid backward in the sand. I braced myself with one knee, jamming my shoulder into his. My long ponytail fell forward and caught between us. I yanked at it and flipped my hair over my shoulder in frustration. I tried again, shoulder-to-shoulder, giving it all my strength.
The body rolled.
Hair as black as mine fell back, revealing his face. He looked still, ashen, dead. My breath caught, and a sudden unexpected sadness washed over me.
He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen.
Excerpted from Tsunami Blue by Gayle Ann Williams Copyright © 2010 by Gayle Ann Williams. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Right off the back, I loved the voice—slightly insane, but fully aware. I’m not surprised Dorchester scooped Ms. Williams up. It was also youthful, repetitious at times (you know how young folks are), but done in a way which added flavor to Blue. I totally loved having the inside track to Blue’s mind. Her humor rocked! Blue was cocky beyond reason. I kept expecting her overconfidence to get her into trouble; it did. On the other hand, Blue was also very resourceful, almost to the point that even impossible situations were a breeze for her to escape. At times I wondered how anyone could be so lucky or capable. Blue reminded me of RPG (role playing games) with my ex-husband. During one particular episode, he was the GM and wanted my character to give up her life which was ripped from her. I didn’t want to, and refused to follow the path he’d laid out for me. Eventually, he just killed off my character and that was the end of that. Game Over. The way Blue handled the situation, I thought it should have been Game Over so many times for her. But then, that would have been the end of the book. So I skimmed through my notes on Tsunami Blue, and one question kept reappearing: Who was Gabriel Black? He was sexy and romantic in his own special way. And though Gabe was a huge mystery, I still trusted him. His sincerity and loyalty to Blue oozed off the pages, even if she didn’t recognize it. Other times, he seemed like a lovesick stalker who’s come up with the perfect dream life for his unwilling victim. Only thing, Blue seemed to be on board with playing opposite the lovesick stalker, at least through her actions. Gabe was also realistic. He reminds me of Bill Compton from the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris—tough when he needed to be, willing to fold his cards when in a no-win situation. The story kept me going, the buildup was great! As much as I loved it, I have to admit the ending fell short. The villains offered little challenge—all bark and no bite. Still, the question “Who Was Gabriel Black?” continued to intrigue me. At one point Ms. Williams had me banging my fists. TELL ME! What is the secret? Spit it out dammit. When it was revealed, I couldn’t wait to learn more. In the end, even that was anticlimactic. Though the ending was less than I had hoped, the book kept me glued throughout. My summary? Tsunami Blue was an epic love story of hope.
A thoroughly enjoyable read with interesting characters and a fresh concept. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
By 2003 undersea nuclear testing has caused a series of tsunamis that has devastated coast lines and islands. Only one person seems to uncannily predict when a horrific wave is coming and where including the one that killed her parents and twin brother in Thailand over fifteen years ago. Tsunami Blue lives on a remote rock in the San Juan Islands of Washington State with her dog Mad Max and a shortwave radio. From her outpost, she sends out warnings. An unconscious Gabriel Black washes up on her beach. Though he is the most beautiful man she has ever seen, she fears he is one of her enemy; the runner pirates who want her dead as she interferes with their looting; he has their membership 666 tattoo on him. He awakens to her mixed feelings; as Tsunami is appalled by her attraction to the newcomer, but refuses to trust Gabriel. He hides who he is from her as he has loved her for years and has worked undercover keeping the pirates away from her. However, he knows the runners are coming for her and would die to keep her safe. This is a great post apocalyptic high seas adventure romance that grips the audience from the moment Tsunami meets Gabriel on her beach. Fast-paced, the story line is refreshed by the unique heroine and the man who has loved her from afar, but forced to break cover to insure no harm comes to the woman he cherishes and admires. Gayle Anne Williams provides a terrific unique romantic suspense thriller. Harriet Klausner