Beth Stone has been in love with Drake Alexander ever since she was twelve. This is an excerpt from my novel, The Dark Side of a Promise. You'll get an idea of what she's like.
September 29 2:45pm North of Virgin Gorda Island
The Drifter’s Dream is a Lurssen, just over 134 feet of sleek, virile yacht. Built in 1995, its owners – there have been only two – have kept it in pristine shape. It is luxuriously commodious, outfitted for eight guests with a crew of five. At fifteen million dollars, with a three hundred thousand renovation and retrofit, it is a spectacular craft. She often proves herself worthy in rough seas; well commanded, she responds like an alloyed shark. Darkened glass encircles the ship, defining the different levels. The aluminum hull is enamelled so white it is chatoyant. Seen from afar, it gleams a single ray of light.
Beth views the ship from the cockpit of an Alouette III helicopter; she and the pilot are coming at the Drifter with the sun at their back. A satisfied smile adorns her pretty face. Through the Plexiglas bubble, she surveys the ship, slipping through the waters all alone and its beam of light dazzling her. She’s anxious to join Williston to be in touch with Drake. She shivers as she thinks of him remembering his undressing her before he left, their lovemaking, the arching of her back when she erupted with unending pleasure and how it never seemed to end.
She returns her concentration to the task at hand. She has convinced Williston that she can get to his ship on her own turning down his offer to make port at her nearest request. Beth doesn’t want to take Williston’s attention away from the current events that occupy their small world. She yearns for adventure, to take advantage of her skills, to test her will and her stamina. This was her father’s doing: no sons. Beth was the youngest of a litter of girls and together they had often gone wilderness camping, where she’d learned survival skills and to how hunt using a gun and knife. When time allowed, and her father worked hard to ensure it did, they slipped on their packs with only the barest of essentials, no food. They roughed out the nights, sleeping bags only. They ate what they found, berries, greens, bugs and roots, or an animal they captured, roasted over blazing coals. Two days later they would watch the sunrise, pull out topographical maps, compasses and become oriented with their location. Zigzagging about 20 miles from where they entered the woods, two very fit people can cover a lot of territory, seriously getting themselves lost.
All in all, Beth can handle herself adroitly and is an able companion. Her skills have been reinforced by Drake’s experience and passion for the unknown, for what might lie around corners they had yet to turn. Beth challenged her days, to experience something normally mundane in a different way, do something new, like write a song or, if the opportunity arose, jump from a helicopter into a gulping sea.
Williston is leaning on the railing on the foredeck on the main level listening to the helicopter approach from the southwest. He soon sees it as it circles his ship. The sun makes his mane much paler while it gave his skin a fresher tone. Having spent much of his working years indoors, suited and cocooned, kept his skin lighter; the sea changed that. He loves his boat and the forever waters. He often reflects on his decision to pass the mantle to his loyal mangers to free himself to hunt for Rizzato. And even now as he watches Beth step out on the foothold of the helicopter’s open door, he thinks that no matter the outcome of their efforts, he is never going back to the office. He’s been thinking more and more of what would come after they catch Rizzato, there are other foul people wanted by the law. He likes the idea of spending his money to hunt them down. Before he turns his full attention to Beth’s descent, he makes a mental note to talk to his companions about that when this is over.
Standing by the cargo door, her back to the beaten air, Beth checks her harness, the locking carbineer holding her in, the rope running through the pulley and its position. Satisfied that all is as it should be, she steps away from the hovering vessel. She is in lust over helicopters. Drake’s friend and fellow soldier, Elijah, had taken her for her first helicopter ride, or as she called it her first helicopter rollercoaster ride. She had never imagined a ‘copter could be in so many odd positions and still fly. The flight had scared her, but she fell in love with the aerodynamics and pilot skills that kept her hovering over gasping waterfalls before plunging towards the earth like a mechanical dew drop before coming low to the treetops below them. Other times they had lurked between canyon walls, been dropped upon mountain tops in the whitest powder and visited the remotest areas only accessible by helicopter. With all her adventures she had never rappelled from the sky like she is doing now. She had been trained by Drake and had rappelled on dry land with him and his buddies but never from a helicopter and never into water, so Beth being Beth, she decided to rappel into the water by Williston’s boat.
She is about forty feet over the water that is being disturbed by the downdraft. The Drifter is about a nautical mile away and slowing as it approaches the swinging girl. The old guy that owns the helicopter holds it steady with an experienced hand. Beth had dropped her waterproof bag prior to leaving the aircraft and she spins slightly over it. She signals to the pilot to advance a short way. When she is clear of the bag and in the apogee of her swing, she releases herself from her harness, plummeting to the sea. She hits the water like a human nail and goes deep. Her black neoprene wetsuit offers some buoyancy as she strokes the warm water with downward thrusts, propelling herself to the surface. As she clears the bubbly depths, the Drifter approaches cautiously. Crewmen snatch her floating bag with grappling hooks after having loosened a stout rope ladder over the side. Berkeley is at the helm and keeps the ship still as Beth swims to the rope. Grabbing the bottom rung she waves to the grey-haired pilot who has been watching her descent. He returns the wave and turns the helicopter in a graceful bow before departing the scene.
By the time Beth has climbed to the lowest deck aft, Williston and Isabella are near the gunwales, waiting to welcome her aboard. She jumps to the deck, removes her mask greeting her two friends with delight, saying, “How’s that for an entrance?”
Although Williston reveres his long-time friend, he refrains from hugging his wet guest, but Isabella, her slender frame clad in a tangerine one piece bathing suit, rushes to Beth’s side and, bussing both cheeks, says, “You’re much braver than I am, Beth. I envy you terribly for your sense of adventure. We’re so glad you decided to join us no matter how you choose to arrive. Which I must add is likely the most unique I’ve witnessed and I guess what I admire about you so much is that we never know what to expect.“
As he passes her a towel Williston adds, “I agree with Isabella. Your approach is a bit unorthodox but it’s such a pleasure to see you again. We’ve prepared a cabin for you, and I expect you might like to get out of that wet suit.”
Beth has always been at ease with her body and coyly enjoys the effect she has on men. She says, “Actually, I can get rid of it right now.” She slides the oversized zipper down her front, exposing a white and blue floral bikini. Peeling the rubber getup from her supple shape she gestures to a younger man, asking him, “Would you mind putting this somewhere to dry?” The novice deckhand beams at being singled out by this beauteous arrival and nervously approaches her to take the suit away. ”Certainly, senorita,” he stutters. He blushes as his hand comes into contact with Beth’s and like a teenager full of hormones, he watches as she towels the moisture from her hair and he falls instantly in love.
Next week 4Q is back with Suzanne Bourque, Director of the Academy of Classical Ballet & Modern Dance. A very interesting lady, don't miss the interview.