Last month in my April News & Things, I posted a snippet from my current work in progress, The Midnight Escape. I'm sharing that snippet here on my blog. I'm interested in hearing some feedback on it. Did you like it? Did it sound interesting? Are the characters likable? Please let me know your comments at email@example.com.
Unedited snippet from The Midnight Escape.
Suzanne didn’t think she’d ever get used to the smell. The awful smell of raw seafood, dead fish, diesel fuel, with a mix of offensive body odor filtering all through the interior of the boat. Didn’t these guys ever take showers? Talking about crab fishing and all that is involved is fine on land, but this is not going to be any picnic. Stinky men, stinky fish, motion sickness, and afraid of the water. Just how she wanted to spend a vacation. Except this was no vacation. It did provide her with an escape for two weeks. Two weeks she didn’t have to worry about Kowalski finding her. Two weeks she could just be glad to be alive. No. She’d drown. Being on this boat was going to be her death warrant.
God, she cursed the day she witnessed that murder in the hospital intensive care unit back in New York City. Her life had never been the same. After a year of testimony and in hiding, she’d been on the run.
She settled in different places, only to have Kowalski find her and then she’d managed to escape. She tried to hide in San Francisco, a small town in Montana, and a few other places. She contemplated going to Canada, but decided to try Alaska first.
She sat in one of the chairs that was bolted to the floor in the galley. She couldn’t even steady her nerves and when she looked at her hands, they shook uncontrollably. She could easily sneak off the boat. It was dark out, and there were plenty of places to hide as she made her escape. She should run, get as far away from here and from Jax and his crew as she can. Being here now gave her just enough time to make her escape from Alaska. Would Kowalski even dare to try and leave the U.S. and seek her out in Canada? Yeah, the man was crazy enough to do it. No one around her was safe, and having Jax trying to be her hero only put him at risk too.
The guys were all busy getting supplies in and packed away, and bait set up in the tubs. She heard what sounded like the engine roar to life. It’s now or never. She got up, about to take off when Jax entered the galley.
“Want to help me prepare dinner?”
“Yeah, we usually have a big meal on the boat before we leave the dock.”
Okay. So she was busted and couldn’t escape, not yet anyway. She swallowed a lump in her throat. Trying her damnedest to push feelings of panic aside.
Just before they left dock, Jax and Suzanne went to the kitchen and together, they prepared a huge meal of steak and potatoes with a large salad and dinner rolls. Everyone sat down at the dining table to eat. Jax introduced Suzanne to Randy, and Art.
“Did you guys end up pulling an initiation ritual on Will?” Jax asked.
“Oh yeah. He was sure green for a while.” Randy said and the crew laughed.
“What was the initiation ritual?” Suzanne asked.
“A greenhorn has to bite off the head of a herring.”
“A raw fish?” Suzanne asked, her eyebrows raised.
“Yeah.” The guys laughed.
“It was pretty awful. Puked my guts up for several hours after that between biting off that thing and the motion sickness.” Will picked up his fork with a piece of steak on it and put it in his mouth.
“I have a new appreciation for the process of puking after I got through that poisoning bout last week.”
“This is an…odd subject around the dinner table,” Suzanne commented.
“It falls under the category of body functions. You should know a thing or two about that.” Jax smiled.
“Yeah, I do know a few things about that, but knowing and discussing, well, it’s kind of gross, isn’t it? How do you guys stand the smell?”
“You get used to it until the last few days or so. Fish and seafood is always the same, it’s the b.o. that can get to you. Sometimes there’s not enough time in the day to shower after doing a twenty-four hour shift. All you really want to do is get two or three hours of sleep,” Matt, the engineer said.
“Yeah, you gotta stay awake and work your ass off. You might get some zzz’s on the way to the fishing spot or on the way back to port. The rest of the time you work like a zombie.” Randy smiled.
“So, Jax, what’s going on with Suzanne, here.” Matt asked.
“I hired Suzanne for this trip only, to help me. She is going to help with the cooking, and getting the dishes in the dishwasher, laundry, and help me in the wheelhouse. She will not be going out on deck at any time while we are at sea. She is not going to be helping with anything as far as crab fishing is concerned. She’s here with me, and we’re a couple.”
Suzanne’s mouth dropped open and she stared at Jax.
“Whoa…Jax, we didn’t know you had a girlfriend.” Matt said
“Ooohhh, oohh. A girlfriend who’s a personal assistant, huh?” The guys all teased.
“She’s just a bed warmer,” Rudy’s tone was…taunting.
Suzanne’s face went red. How was she going to be able to face these men day in and day out after Jax made that statement? And what was that about? We’re a couple? Not. Why would he say such a thing?
“My personal life is my business. I don’t tell you everything and don’t piss me off, or I’ll get in your face about it.”
“You guys talk as if I’m a commodity or something. I am, after all, a human being.”
“A very pretty one too.” Alan smiled.
When they finished dinner, Suzanne caught up with Jax. “Was that necessary?”
“Was what necessary?”
“Telling your crew that we were a couple?”
“Yeah. Believe me, you don’t want those horndogs hanging around you all the time. Knowing you’re mine will keep them in their place.”
“I’m capable of handling unwanted attention.”
“Well, this way you won’t have too.”
“Jax, I don’t need you to speak for me. I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself. This isn’t the Renaissance era.”
“The Renaissance era? What does that mean?”
“In the Renaissance period, men did all the talking, all the decision making, women just stayed in the home and said nothing.”
“Suzanne, I know these guys, you don’t. I was keeping you from being harass.”
“For now on, let me speak for myself.”
Already she was picking a fight with Jax. Should she apologize for being short with him? Any other time, she’d might just have blown the whole thing off.
She looked around for an opportunity to make a run for it. She watched out one of the windows as the crew went along the side of the boat and untied the ropes.
Now! She ran out the door of the galley and on to the deck and came to a screeching halt. Damn, she was too late. They took the ramp off and the boat was already moving away from the dock. She couldn’t jump it even if she tried.
Ugh, the nightmare begins. She’ll never understand why she just didn’t get off the dang boat and run.
Suzanne made a pot of coffee. She poured Jax a cup and went to climb the stairs when a wave hit the side of the boat, Suzanne slammed against the wall and the coffee splashed over her hand. “Ouch!”
“Are you okay?” Jax hollered.
“Yeah. Just burnt my hand.” Suzanne turned and went back down to refilled the cup. She made it up to the wheelhouse and handed Jax the cup.
“Thanks.” He put the cup in a cup holder next to the gear shift.
“I’m sorry I was short with you earlier. I’m really nervous being here.”
“Jax smiled, “No problem.”
“Do you steer the boat all night?”
“No. I move the boat away from the dock at midnight, and steer for two hours, then Alan will be here about two in the morning to relieve me so I can sleep a few hours. There’s not a whole lot for the guys to do from the time we leave the dock until we get to the location except to make sure the deck is cleaned and no ice build up.” Jax reached his coffee and took a sip.
“It sure is a starry night out.” Suzanne said as she gazed up at the clear, black sky.
“Yeah, on a clear night like this, you can even see falling stars as they cross over.”
If it wasn’t for the boat swaying back and forth and the front dipping into the waves, it could almost be romantic to snuggle up together and watch the stars. Feeling his hard, muscular body against hers. Her body held memories of her arousal a few days ago while she listened to him exercise. Sex. Pure sex. She felt her cheeks grow warm. She needed to get her mind off him and sex.
“There goes one.” Suzanne pointed to the sky. “Did you get a chance to talk to Brad?”
“Yes. I told him what happened. He’s glad I got you on my boat. He doesn’t have to worry about you getting kidnapped again. I asked him to check my house out too. I didn’t want to come home and find it blown to smithereens, or broken into and have wildlife living in it. Said he’d send an officer out to it. He’s got his undercover officer posing as you, and he’s got the FBI involved.”
“I hope it all works out. But I know not to get my hopes up too high. I’ve been disappointed so many times, and really disappointed with the FBI.”
“I guess Brad is good friends with a few federal agents, so maybe this will work out better for you.”
Each hour of the trip, the water was getting rougher, and the boat rocked seriously from side to side. Waves crashed the deck and rolled off the other side of the boat, and Suzanne could feel her head move in circles. “I think I’ll go and lay down. I’m not feeling too good right now.”
“Okay. In my desk drawer are some motion sickness pills if it gets too bad.”
“Okay. Thanks, have a good evening.”
“You too, Suzanne.” Jax smiled at her. She turned around to walked down the stairs. The boat’s movement caused her to sway against one wall and then the other. She moved through the galley and into the captain’s quarters. Occasionally, she’d stiffen her legs to keep from toppling over. She sat down on the bed and put her hands on her temples to stop the movement. “Oh, let’s hope this doesn’t get any worse,” she mumbled as she laid down on the bed. Six hours later, she sprang up from the bed and headed to the bathroom. She lifted the toilet seat and began gagging. The boat was oscillating, and she was being tossed like a ragdoll. Her head was spinning, and the world was going around. She grabbed her temples with her hands. “Oh my God, stop.” She cried out. How can anyone stand to be on this boat with it wigwaging like this? How was she going to survive this? This sucks. She got down on her knees again with her head over the toilet and lost the contents from her stomach. When she felt a little stability, she grabbed the sink and pulled herself up. She yanked a Dixie cup from the suspensor and turned the water faucet on, filled it with water, and took a sip. She walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom, and the boat took a dive to the right and she landed on the bed. She got back up, and scrambled unsteadily to the desk and pulled out the drawers until she found a prescription for Meclizine. She had to beat this, otherwise, she was in for two weeks of hell. It was bad enough she was scared to death.
The only thing that separated her from the big wall of Bering Sea water was steel. What kept her from going overboard was that she was in a cabin, and when she looked out the window, all she could see was black. Black walls of water. She gasped for air. She was suffocating, couldn’t breathe, the water rose up to her nose and then covered her face. Her lungs were full. Oh. My. God. She was in the throes of a panic attack. She hadn’t had one in years. She never could learn how to swim, and she hated the swimming pool her parents had and rarely got in it. It took her years to confess she was scared of water. Here she was out on the high seas, and no way to escape. Oh, hell. What was she going to do? She had to get out to Jax. That’s what she needed. To be with someone, she needed to be with Jax. She yanked the door opened and stumbled into the galley.
Jax had been sitting at the table and shot up. “Suzanne, are you okay?”
“No. No. I’m not. I…I can’t breathe, I can’t swim, I can’t…I can’t survive this.”
“Suzanne, sit down here.” Jax grabbed her and moved her to the chair. He crouched down on his haunches in front of her, and held both of her hands.
“Oh, my God. I’m so scared. The boat started moving really rough. I…I lost my dinner, and the room was spinning around, and my head. My head wouldn’t stop moving. I managed to take a Meclizine, and went to sit down on the bed and I looked out the window and saw nothing but…but black. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was drowning, the…the water was rising up and filling…filling my lungs.”
Hope you enjoyed reading a snippet from my current work in progress. Rest assured there will be more exciting 'events' for Suzanne and her adventure in the Bering Sea! Let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org