With that bit of encouragement, Gray tightened his fingers on the wheel. The jet boat screamed across the last of the water, skimming along the surface at over sixty miles an hour.
Ahead, the building fell faster, the path below it pinching closed.
But Gray was already committed.
“Down!” he yelled.
Seichan’s fingers dug hard as she ducked, keeping Kane pinned under her arm.
The jet boat reached the gap and shot under the toppling tower, shattering through a rain of falling glass. For several seconds, the world filled with the scream of tortured steel and the thundering grind of concrete.
It felt like a derailed freight train tumbled past overhead.
Then they burst clear—
—as the tower crashed into the sea behind them, casting up a huge wave that shoved them, along with a flotilla of debris, farther out into the dark waters.
But those waters weren’t entirely dark.
A cordon of lights blocked the seas three hundred yards out, including a yacht-sized cutter.
The island’s security fleet had set up a blockade.
Gray slowed their flight.
“Maybe they didn’t see us,” Seichan said.
Gray glanced doubtfully back. As he turned his attention forward, his fears were confirmed.
A trio of those lights broke away, coming toward them.
He spun the jet boat and raced in the opposite direction. More lights hovered out there, too, other vessels in the blockade. But that wasn’t his goal. Once he gained some distance, he swung behind a floating pallet of construction lumber.
“Don’t think hiding here is going to work,” Kowalski said.
Gray stood and pointed overboard. “Everybody out.”
Seichan grabbed his arm. “What are you thinking? We can outrun them.”
“Not weighted down like this,” Gray said, speaking fast. He pointed to the fuel gauge. “Almost out of fuel. Don’t have enough to make it to the mainland.”
“Then what are you going—?” Seichan looked harder at him. “You’re going to lead them off.”
“It’s the best chance for Amanda. I dump you here, run off, and get them to chase me for as long as possible.” He pointed to Kowalski. “You’ve got Jack Kirkland’s homing device. Maybe he survived and can reach you. If not—”
Kowalski eyed the stack of lumber. “I’ll build a boat.”
“Do your best,” he said.
The others quickly shed boots and outerwear. Tucker stripped the vest off of Kane, so his partner was not weighted down.
They left Amanda in her hospital gown. She had begun to shake off the anesthesia, but she remained in a dull haze. Gray feared she was edging toward shock. He hated to leave her floating in the sea, but what other recourse did he have?
He helped Tucker and Kowalski get her overboard. At least the surface waters were temperate, as compared with down deep.
“Keep her head elevated,” Gray warned.
Kane splashed in next to them.
He turned to Seichan. She remained fully clothed, with her arms crossed.
“You’re not coming with me,” he said, guessing her intent.
“We’re not both going to sacrifice ourselves.”
She frowned and looked him over as if he were crazy. “Who said anything about sacrificing myself? You want a distraction, something to keep those boats from poking their noses over here.” She pointed beyond the lumber pile. “See that big boat? That patrol cutter?”
“Time to turn the tables.” She lifted an eyebrow. “It’s high time we played pirate.”
Tucker could no longer hear the whine of the jet boat. He had watched the initial chase, saw them tear off to the side, leading the trio in a wild pursuit, running along the edge of the blockade.
He hoped their plan worked, but he had his own mission to address: to keep Amanda safe. After pulling her off that surgical table, he felt extra responsible for her—especially as he’d abandoned her newborn in the rush to escape.
I should have been more thorough in examining her.
But there was nothing to be done to correct that mistake, except keep Amanda protected.
To that end, he swam out toward where a plastic trash barrel floated on its side. He grabbed the handle. The plan was to build a nest around their hiding spot, to do their best to camouflage themselves amid the debris field.
Off to the east, the skies were already growing pale with the coming sunrise. He wanted better cover before then.
He didn’t expect they would have to remain in hiding for long. Maybe two hours. A disaster of this scope—the sinking of an entire island—would draw a global media circus: scores of television helicopters, curiosity seekers, and news reporters. Only then would it be safe to move Amanda out of hiding and search for a rescue, something to be caught on film.
That exposure should keep Amanda safe.
Such a story would attract a large audience.
Nothing like blood in the water to draw attention.
As he turned and dragged the barrel, a fin rose out of the water ahead of him. Then another. And another.
He forgot that blood drew more than just attention.
He pictured the hammerheads he’d seen earlier.
Something bumped his leg.
He let go of the barrel and yanked out his dagger. He’d left his pistol tucked in the stack of lumber.
He searched, twisting all around, but the waters were pitch-dark. Even the fins had vanished.
Then something touched his ankle. He kicked, striking something hard. It rose up under him, shoving him high. Seconds later, black water sluiced off the glass deck of the Ghost.
The hatch popped open, and Jack Kirkland poked his head out. He eyed the dagger still in Tucker’s fist. “You planning on attacking my boat with that knife? After all I went through to save your sorry asses?”
Tucker sheathed his blade, wanting to hug the man.
“You try swimming through a crumbling forest of concrete with an island falling on top of your head.” Jack wore a huge smile. “Was the time of my life! Now let’s see about getting you all on board.”
By the time that was accomplished, Jack had turned more somber. Especially seeing Amanda’s condition. She was shivering, blue-lipped, and pale, on the edge of shock.
Kowalski wrapped a dry blanket around her, from the stores aboard the Ghost. He was surprisingly gentle for such a lumbering fellow. But a blanket was far from enough.
“She needs immediate medical help,” Tucker said as he settled her into one of the seats.