Something woke him out of the tail end of his lotus dreams. Not a sound, but a presence, sensed more by the primal brain stem than the mind. Despite the sweaty damp of his skin, the hairs on his neck prickled.
Andy lay still and listened. He heard the small sounds of a boat at anchor, nothing out of the ordinary. Above him, the cabin’s open hatch was an empty square of dark night.
Maybe he’d just imagined it. Morphine could do weird shit to the mind.
Still, he eased off the bed and felt under the frame for the aluminum spear-gun he kept there. He pulled one of three rubbers onto the spear and eased out of the master cabin. The galley’s clock said it was an hour before dawn. Familiar shadows were all in their proper places, with nothing that shouldn’t be there.
He padded up the companionway, stopped on the top step to listen. Tiny waves slapped rhythmically against the hull. A ruffling of water, but nothing more—a fish, or a turtle.
Andy hit the switch for the deck lights, the mast spots blazing to life. He walked around the deck for a check, and came to a dead halt.
A trail of water, like somebody or something had slithered out of the water and over the railing.
On the cabin top, by the open hatch to the master cabin, was a pair of damp footprints, just the heel and toes. High arches. Small, tidy feet, placed neatly together.
Andy circled the deck again, but nothing seemed amiss. The corvette hulked dark and silent, and the island was asleep. Not entirely, though. He could see the silhouettes of two marines patrolling the embankment with an alert and measured pace. He went below and fixed himself a cup of coffee to slough off the dregs of his morphine high, but it persisted. He stretched out on the settee, forearm over his eyes. Just a quick lay-down before dawn.
Then he’d sail out of here. Kedge out with the anchor, if he had to.
A moment later, it seemed, his eyes slammed open. He was being watched. Somebody was on the boat again. Right here in the cabin. He jerked upright, squinting against the harsh glare of morning light blazing through the port hole.
Rani perched on the couch opposite, prim and tidy, knees together, hands on her lap. Shorts and T-shirt over a swimsuit. Her unblinking black eyes held steady on him.
Andy rubbed a hand over his face. “Don’t you ever knock?”
“Everybody’s already gone to the resort. Elroy, Celeste. The surf’s good. Joe sent me to get you.”
Andy glanced out the porthole behind him. A yacht’s dinghy was tied up to the side of the Chinook, with a boatman in a yachting uniform standing patiently at the center console. A three-deck super yacht had appeared in the hour before dawn, and stood anchored beyond the corvette, its elegant bow into the steady onshore breeze. Blowing eight to ten knots.
He could still kedge, though, claw his way out using his anchor. Then a broad reach on the wind to the closest port with fuel.
Later, he would think back on this moment. Why didn’t he leave? He wouldn’t be able to recall deciding otherwise. It wasn’t like he told himself, I’ll go surfing first and then leave later.
What he would remember was stuffing a backpack and grabbing the alaia off the saloon bulkhead. Damned if he would borrow a board. He’d ride his own.