Against the Tide
The Brodies of Alaska #3
By: Kat Martin
Releasing May 26, 2015
Secrets—and safety—melt under a midnight sun…
Liv Chandler is running for her life, and the cops haven’t been able to do a thing to help. But there’s one man who makes her feel safe, no matter what…rugged charter boat captain Rafe Brodie.
To Rafe, Liv is a beautiful mystery, one he can’t ignore. He means to unearth her secrets, and in the process, if luck is on his side, maybe the spark between them will ignite.
But Liv’s past is more dangerous than Rafe could guess, and when his first mate turns up dead, she fears that she’s next. That there’s something else coming she can’t see. That even Rafe and the remote village of Valdez, Alaska can’t protect her forever…
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The piercing ring of the cell phone lying on his nightstand didn’t bode well. There was no such thing as good news at three o’clock in the morning.
With a sigh, Rafe rolled over and grabbed the phone, scrubbed a hand over his face as he pressed it against his ear. “Brodie.”
“Police Chief Rosen here. We’ve got a problem, Rafe, and it’s a bad one. I need you to meet me down at the harbor. How soon can you get here?”
Rafe swung his long legs to the side of the bed and sat up. “Ten minutes. What’s this about, Chief?”
“It’s Scotty Ferris, Rafe. I’m afraid he’s dead. I’ll fill you in when you get here. I’ll be waiting on the dock next to the Scorpion.” The police chief hung up the phone.
For several long moments, Rafe just sat there. His chest felt tight. Scotty Ferris was twenty-four years old, a handsome, hardworking kid who was engaged to be married. His June wedding to Cassie Webster, one of the local girls, was only three weeks away. Cassie was going to be crushed.
Rafe swore softly. What the hell could have happened?
But in this rugged country where the climate, wild animals, or just bad judgment could get you killed, accidents happened all the time.
Shoving himself up from the bed, Rafe grabbed a pair of worn jeans off the chair and jerked them on, drew a sweatshirt over his head, pulled on his heavy socks, and shoved his size-thirteen feet into a pair of high-topped, rubber-soled boots. Since the temperature at night even in late May was still in the thirties and it had rained during the night, he grabbed his jacket as he headed for the steps down to the garage.
The boat harbor wasn’t far from his house, a brown bilevel with an oversized two-car garage that sat a few blocks north on Mendeltna, a street off Hazelet Avenue there in Valdez. Sea Scorpion was his flagship charter fishing boat, a thirty-eight-foot Mac, his pride and joy. It was the boat he usually captained himself, one of three that made up his fleet. Scotty Ferris was part of Scorpion’s crew.
Rafe thought of the young man as he parked his dark green Ford Expedition in a spot in front of the harbor, climbed out, and closed the door. Puddles from last night’s rain sloshed against his boots as he made his way toward the dock. The occasional streetlight burned into the darkness, but quiet surrounded him, along with the familiar salty tang of the sea.
Ringed by the snowcapped Chugach Mountains, gleaming white glaciers, and the turquoise waters of Prince William Sound, Valdez was considered one of the most beautiful places on earth.
But the climate was a major drawback for most people, being wet, cold, and snowy much of the year. Rafe couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
Which brought his thoughts full circle to Scotty. With year-round residents numbering less than forty-five hundred, everyone knew everyone who lived there. And everyone knew and liked Scotty. The kid had been born in Valdez. He thrived on the rugged lifestyle, planned to marry and raise kids here, probably never would have left.
What the hell had happened? Rafe thought again as he walked toward his boat.
And why did Chief Rosen want to meet him at the Scorpion?
A few spaces down from where he’d parked, Rafe spotted a black-and-silver Ford police SUV. In the distance, the familiar antenna above the wheelhouse of the Scorpion marked where the boat bobbed near the middle of the dock.
Rafe started down the long wooden walkway, his gaze on the group of people gathered next to where the Scorpion was moored. The area was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, the boat clearly off-limits until the police were finished collecting evidence.
Police Chief Clifford Rosen, a stout man in his fifties, bald head ringed by thinning gray hair, stood next to a figure lying on the dock, covered by a long, white cloth. Knowing Scotty Ferris lay under the cloth made Rafe’s stomach burn.
Two other officers quietly conversed while a doctor he recognized as Karen Ward, a woman who worked at the local clinic and served as medical examiner, knelt next to the sheet-draped body.
“What happened?” Rafe asked the chief.
“Looks like he was robbed,” Rosen answered. “Wallet’s missing, jewelry’s gone. Car keys. Cell phone’s missing. Single blow to the back of the head. Blunt instrument. Baseball bat seems the most likely, something that size that would be easy to handle.”
“I asked you to come down because I need someone to identify the body. With his parents both dead, I figured better you than his fiancée. Soon as you do that, I’ll break the news to the Webster girl.”
Rafe just nodded. Cassie was going to be devastated. She and Scotty were crazy in love, the kind Rafe figured had a good chance of lasting. Sometimes fate could be a real bastard.
“Who found him?”
“Young couple wandered out this way from the Fisherman’s Catch Saloon. Found him lying right there. Shook ’em up pretty bad.”
“Two a.m. The M.E. makes preliminary time of death between eleven and two.”
One of the officers, a red-haired young cop Rafe recognized as Rusty Donovan, leaned down and lifted the edge of the sheet. As the cover rolled back, Rafe’s gaze fixed on Scotty. The boy’s brown eyes were open, staring sightlessly into the black night sky. His handsome face was frozen in a look of surprise.
He was wearing a jacket but it was unzipped, revealing a long-sleeved blue T-shirt that read FISHERMEN DO IT DEEPER. Rafe could almost see the grin on the kid’s face when he’d put it on.
“It’s him,” he said darkly. “Scott Ferris.”
“You know what he was doing down here?”
“No.” But once he got his head wrapped around Scotty’s death, he intended to find out.
“As soon as we check for any forensic evidence on the boat, I’ll want you to take a look inside, see if anything’s missing. At first glance, there’s no sign of a break-in. Probably took him out before he went aboard.”
Rafe just nodded.
“That’s it then,” the police chief said. “We’ll wrap things up here and I’ll talk to Cassie Webster.”
Rafe looked down at Scotty and clenched his jaw. “You’re going to catch the sonofabitch, right? You’re going to find the guy who killed him?”
“If he’s in town, we’ll catch him. If he’s some loser just passing through, might be a whole lot harder.”
Rafe frowned. “You don’t think he was killed by a local?”
“Wouldn’t be my first guess. Hell, we haven’t had a murder here in years. But violent crime’s been creeping up lately—assaults, thefts, burglaries. These days anything’s possible.”
“Either way, you’re going to get him,” Rafe repeated, making it clear there had better not be any doubt.
Rosen just nodded. “Thanks for coming down.”
“Keep me posted, will you?” When the chief made no reply, Rafe shoved his hands into his jacket pockets, turned, and started back the way he’d come.
It was almost dawn. If he had a fishing charter today, he’d be at the dock by five, getting ready to take the boat out at six. He did half-day cruises; nine hour; or full-day, twelve-hour charters that lasted till six p.m.
He wasn’t taking a group out today, which meant he wouldn’t be seeing Jaimie Graham, the nineteen-year-old girl who crewed for him along with Scotty. She dressed like a man, worked like a man, but under her determination to prove herself in the world of men, Jaimie had a bad crush on Scotty. She was going to take the news damned hard.
Rafe got into the Ford and started driving toward the house Jaimie lived in with her parents. He needed to speak to her, break the news before she found out from someone else. He hated to wake up her folks, but he didn’t have any choice.
Rafe sighed into the darkness. He wished he could just go back to bed, get some badly needed sleep, but there was no chance of that.
Not with his mind circling around, going over what had happened, trying to make sense of the senseless murder of Scotty Ferris. Trying to think why Scotty might have been down at the Scorpion in the middle of the night. Wishing he knew who had killed him.
Thinking how much he’d like to wrap his hands around the bastard’s neck and squeeze till he paid for what he had done.
Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty books across multiple genres. Sixteen million copies are in print and she has been published in twenty-one foreign countries, including Japan, France, Argentina, Greece, China, and Spain. Her books have been nominated for the prestigious RITA award and won both the Lifetime Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews.
A resident of Missoula, Montana, Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She and her author husband, L.J. Martin, spend their winters in Ventura, California. She is currently writing her next Romantic Suspense. Visit Kat at www.katmartin.com
(Three Paperback Copies of AGAINST THE TIDE)