Page 7

And then…

She saw the woman. Hair drifting in golden streams. Head bowed, arms lifted in the easy current. White fabric drifting against the length of her body Feet tied to the weight that held her down.

Her head lifted. Her eyes opened. Her mouth worked. No sound came, but her eyes pleaded, filled with an infinite sadness.

Then, from behind her, they rose….

Skeletal forms with decaying flesh cloaking their bones. Skeletal forms brandishing knives and swords, bodies rotting, clothing streaming from them in oddly colorful tatters.

They marched. Marched across the seabed, sightless eye sockets staring at Genevieve, bony jaws locked with determination.

She was frozen at first, unable to move.

She had discovered something, she realized. Something she wasn’t meant to know.

And now…

The sound of her breathing stopped.

The army of skeletons was almost upon her. She turned to swim away, only to discover that she was surrounded. There was no escape.

A rotted arm in a tattered jacket reached out for her. Suddenly skeletal arms were rising all around her, bony fingers nearly touching her flesh.

She sensed the girl’s soundless warning. Beware…

She could almost smell the overwhelming scent of decay.

Rotting flesh. A breath away…

It was impossible, she told herself. Impossible to be smelling death and decay beneath the surface, breathing through a regulator.

She awoke, jerking bolt upright in the bed, filled with dread and panic. She forced herself to breathe deeply. It was a dream, only a dream. Inhale, exhale.

She gritted her teeth. Ridiculous. She wasn’t like this!

She felt thirsty, anxious for a glass of water, for something tangible. Tea. She could make tea. Maybe it was close enough to morning that she could just stay awake.

The television was still on. Paid programming. Some buff guy talking about his new cardio machine. She could see him past the screen dividing the room.

She let him keep talking. She liked the voice, and the light cast by the television. Actually, she needed more light. She turned on the bedside lamp.

It was only when she stood that she realized she was wet. And salty. As if she’d really been in the sea. Swallowing hard, she rushed into the bathroom, turning on the main lights on her way. She started to splash her face with cold water, then looked into the mirror of the medicine cabinet above the sink.

Her heart thudded; her breathing ceased.

There was seaweed in her hair.


T he strangest clattering noise was going on, as if someone was throwing pots and pans—or as if chains were being furiously shaken.

Marshall Miro was aware of the sound, deep in the fog of sleep. He twisted and turned. He almost awoke. The sound was unsettling. It reminded him of…



He fought the sensation and the noise. His body clock informed him it was too early to wake up.

So he didn’t.

Jack Payne was vaguely aware of a noise. It fit right in with the video game he was playing in his dreams. The game was called Kick-Ass Karena, and kick-ass it was. Gorgeous animated women battled one another and the player for supremacy. And when a guy won, it was all his: the booze, the women and the victory, hot or ruthless.

The sound just seemed to be part of the game.

Victor heard a noise and woke up with a start. For several seconds, he just sat up in bed wondering what the hell had woken him up.

He heard nothing. Nothing at all.

Groaning, he lay back down and prayed for a little more shut-eye.

Jay Gonzalez never quite made it up. The noise seemed to be coming from a distance. He wanted to get up. Wanted to stop it. But there were times when he fell asleep with the lights or the television on, then wanted them off but couldn’t quite rouse himself enough to do it.

He didn’t even open his eyes, despite the fact that the sound disturbed him deeply. It brought to mind things that were…uncomfortable. Painful. It touched memories that….

That he wished would remain lost.

Ignore it, he told himself. Sleep.

The sound would be gone by morning.

Thor bolted up. What in God’s name was going on?

He slid his legs over the side of the bed. He didn’t turn on a light, having learned it was better to cloak oneself in darkness to check whatever might be going on in the light. Barefoot, he walked softly to the door of his bungalow and looked out.

A benign moon fell over the sand, water and nearby cottages. It was a serene picture. A semitropical night in paradise, all as it should be.

So where the hell had the noise come from?

Looking at the next bungalow, he saw that it was alive with light. It was Genevieve’s bungalow, he was certain. Okay, so she liked things bright. Couldn’t hang her for that.

Not that he wanted to hang her. Just…

Why the hell couldn’t the woman be normal?

He started, suddenly certain he had heard a scream.

Or not.

It almost seemed as if the sound had come from inside his own head. He studied the cottage next to his own. If anything was wrong…

Swearing, he strode toward her lighted window.

Genevieve stared at her reflection in the mirror, all but paralyzed.

Okay, this was frightening. A dream was one thing. Hopping out of bed to plunge into the water in the middle of the night was another. What the hell was happening to her?

She nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a hurried knocking at her door. She glanced at her watch. Five-thirty-five. Not as late as she had wanted to sleep, but early enough to get up for the day. Early enough for someone to be knocking at her door?

Then she heard her name called, softly but urgently. “Genevieve?”

She froze, recognizing the voice.

“Are you all right in there?”

She strode to the door, opening it to see Thor Thompson, as expected.

But for once he wasn’t laughing at her; he actually looked concerned.

“Uh, good morning,” she murmured, holding tightly to the door. “Of course I’m all right. Why are you asking?”

He stared at her as if she were suffering from something contagious. She realized she still had seaweed in her hair. Self-consciously, she reached for it.

“You didn’t hear a…racket?” he asked her.


He sighed, pointing to the neighboring cottage. “That’s me, next door. It sounded as if something was…clanking over here, and then it sounded like a scream.”

“Clanking?” she repeated blankly.

He shrugged, looking ill at ease. With her—or himself? “Yeah, clanking, clanging…like chains. You can’t mean to tell me you didn’t hear anything?”

“I’m sorry. I must have been sleeping,” she murmured.

“Or swimming.”


“Swimming. You’re all wet, and you’re wearing…seaweed.”

“Oh. Well, I like a morning dip now and then.”

“Right,” he murmured, staring at her flatly. “You just wake up, feel the urge and plunge right in? In the dark?”

“Now and then,” she said lightly. I am losing my mind, she thought. But he was the last person in the world with whom she would ever share that information.

“Interesting,” he said. “Well, if you’re sure you’re all right, I’m going back to bed.”

She wasn’t all right at all. But there was no way in hell she was going to tell him so. “I’m fine.” She smiled. “Are you all right? It sounds as if you’re hearing things. You know. I see them, you hear them.”

“Something was making a racket,” he told her flatly.

She shrugged. “Well, it wasn’t me.”

“Couldn’t have been. You were swimming.”

“I was about to make coffee. If you’d like some…?” she added, praying her words were perfectly casual. Indifferent.

Hands on his hips, he looked at her as if she’d just made another entirely insane suggestion, but then he shrugged. “Hell, I guess I’m up for the day.”

He followed her in. She went straight for the coffeemaker and then the sink, filling the pot with water, then setting the premeasured bag into place to brew. He’d taken a seat on the futon that served as the sofa—or guest bed. She realized he was studying her, and she was pretty sure she made an absurd picture, dressed in the long, soaked T-shirt, seaweed still in her hair.

Act like it’s perfectly normal, she warned herself.

“How do you like your coffee?”


“Macho, huh?” she murmured.

“Nope. Best way to learn to drink it when you might be out for a while with milk that goes sour and a crew member who forgot to buy sugar or creamer.”

“Right. Perfectly sensible.”

She sensed his shrug.

“We crazy people like it light,” she murmured.

“Hey, it’s a new day,” he said politely.

The coffeemaker chimed. She poured two cups, handed him one, fixed hers the way she liked it and sat across from him on one of the two wicker chairs that faced the futon.

“I saw something down there,” she said flatly. “Today I’ll figure out for myself what it was—while discovering the first relic.”

“You’re not just going to find it, you’re going to find it today?”

She shrugged nonchalantly.

“And you think I’m arrogant,” he murmured.

She lifted a hand. “When the shoe fits…”

He looked as if he was going to rise. To her deep annoyance, she realized she didn’t want to be alone. “What are they going to talk to us about this morning?” she demanded quickly.

“The usual, I imagine. Stuff we’ve already heard about preserving the reef while we excavate.”

“We’re working as carefully as we can,” she said.

He grinned. “They just want to keep putting in their two cents, that’s all. And I have to hand it to Preston—his research was top-notch, and his logic appears to be the same.”