Honeybone is accompanying extradited child killer Richard Stance to Australia when their plane crashes off the northeast coast of the island continent. The only survivors of the packed flight are Honeybone and four-year-old Kaia Pendleton, whom Dean rescues during the crash. As Dean and Kaia recuperate in a Queensland hospital, questions swirl about what caused the accident...and what happened to Stance’s body, the only one not recovered from the wreckage.
Unable to return to work due to his injuries and plagued by raging headaches and violent nightmares, Honeybone must rest. Convinced that Stance survived and is free to kill again, he’s reluctant to take the gift of a week-long dream vacation at Wilson Island, a remote, luxury resort where only ten guests at a time are allowed to visit. Honeybone gives in, pondering the prospect of rekindling his relationship with Rongo Davis, an Australian Security Intelligence operative. But then he meets Jean-Luc Sebastien, a French chef, and discovers the possibility of a different sort of life.
Yet all the while, death and danger are as close as the next barrier reef…
THIS BOOK IS A PREVIOUS RELEASE
My head pounded as I opened my eyes and smelled the odd, antiseptic odor. Something beeped. My heart? No. A heart monitor. It made me think of a hospital. I heard the persistent sound of the machine and for a second my mind froze. The sound sped up. What am I doing in the hospital? The woman sitting next to me smiled and I stared at her. Who was she?
“Ah, you’re awake.” She clicked a ballpoint pen and scribbled something on a clipboard. I couldn’t move. My arms ached and my head throbbed even more. My lips were dry. Beyond dry. They were cracked. My tongue felt puffy and furry when I tried to lick.
“Here.” The woman leaned closer and I realized she was a nurse. “I can’t give you water, but you can suck a little of this crushed ice.” She held it to my lips. The cold thrill of the jagged edge stung, then soothed my rough lips and parched tongue.
I read her nametag. Namoi. I was surprised but pleased when my mouth worked. A tooth felt loose like a pebble in the back of my mouth.
“Your tag says ‘Namoi.’ Somebody misspell your name? It should be Naomi, right?”
“No.” She smiled again. “My name is Namoi. It’s a river in New South Wales.”
New South Wales? I closed my eyes for a moment.
“Where am I?”
“You’re in Nambour.”
“Is that in New South Wales?” What the hell am I doing in New South Wales?
“No. You’re in Queensland. You’re in the town of Nambour on the Sunshine Coast and you’re in hospital.”
“I’m in Australia.” The shock blew over me like a north wind.
I bolted upright in the bed, remembering now. I started to scream as the rush of terror, the sounds, the pain…the explosion greeted me. I couldn’t stop the tide of images. My heavy arms flailed, unable to stop the force of the crashing waves…Richard Stance pulling away from me.
“Jackson, his heart’s racing!” Namoi shouted, pressing a button by the bed. Her panic made me panic.
I remembered everything. I remembered the plane going down. I couldn’t block the sounds of screaming, the water…man, it happened so fast.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Namoi screamed, her voice reflecting my fear, my anguish, as the heart monitor went nuts.
“Dean…Dean, please. You must calm down.”
“My plane crashed.” I collapsed against the bed. My chest heaved, my hand shaking in the effort to move toward it.
“Jesus…he’s going into full cardiac arrest,” another voice said from far away. I looked up into bright sunlight…under the sky, people standing over me.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Namoi soothed, but tears flowed down her cheeks.
The pain in my chest was unimaginable. “Did they…did…how many?” I ground out the words. I could still see the rushing, swarming bodies. I could hear the screaming.
Mommy, mommy, mommy.
The heart monitor pinged faster and faster.
She shook her head.
“You gotta tell me Namoi…how many of us made it?” Before she could respond I asked, “What about the guy I had with me. Richard Stance?”
“Just you,” she said, her tears falling on his chin.
“What about the little girl I pulled from the seat? The little girl in One A?”
Namoi ran the back of her cool hand along my feverish brow. I didn’t want to be calmed. I needed to know.
“You saved her life. We found her in your arms. She’s anxious to see you.”
Head Nurse Jeff Jackson hurried into the room as the heart monitor registered a slower signal.
“Tell me,” I urged.
Namoi sobbed. “They all died,” she said, her voice haunted. “It’s just you and Kaia Pendleton. Thanks to you, that little girl is lucky to be alive.”
* * * *
I don’t suppose they get many big plane crashes in Maroochydore, Queensland. That’s where we crashed. Namoi had to point out the town on a map of the eastern portion of eastern Australia. I’d been taken to Nambour, the main hospital just half an hour away from Maroochydore.
I was high up the northeast coast in a cluster of pretty but odd-sounding beach towns on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. At least I’d crash-landed somewhere picturesque.
“Basically,” Naomi said, a cheerful tone in her voice, “You’re in the middle of bloody nowhere, darl.”
I thought she was saying “doll” but realized she was saying “darl,” short for “darling.” I got to know her peculiar form of English very well since she seemed to have undertaken round-the-clock care for me.
It was hard to read the newspapers so they let me watch TV until they saw I became agitated. News of my rescue off the remote coast quickly replaced the other hot-button topics of the day. A kangaroo being exploited by some idiot circus guy in the US was the big one. He admitted to forcing the creature into a boxing match with a human by hitting and poking him. Nice. This vied for byte-time with the story of a young drug addicted twenty-four-year old Australian woman flying to Singapore for her second liver transplant surgery.
Two days I’d been in the hospital. I still felt weird, disconnected. Strange laughter woke me and I had no idea what it was or where it came from.
Namoi, who still seemed to be at my side constantly, told me it was kookaburras.
“They’re our native birds. There’s a couple right outside the windows, darl.”
“Tell them they’ve got a strange sense of humor, will ya?”
She would smile and nod. She had no idea about the nightmares I had. How I thought it was Richard Stance laughing at me. I fretted about my gun and badge. I’d never been separated from them for this long. Namoi said they, along with a lot of stuff from the plane, hadn’t been recovered.