Seabird: A Science-Fantasy Novel
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by Jac Eddins
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: Romantic Science-Fantasy as She Follows Her Love Beneath the Sea. Gina Taylor, who scouts tropical getaways for the rich and famous, goes for a swim on a tropical island and is caught in a riptide. She fears she's lost when a powerful swimmer manages to reach her in time and save her. She discovers he is a friend of Dano's, a dark eyed admirer she has just met. On shaking hands with her savior she notes the blue of his complexion and fears he has a breathing problem. The two men try to pass it off as a genetic anomaly, and reveal they are officers on a historic sailing ship, inviting her to lunch aboard their ship. She passes out at lunch and wakens to find Dano, and others with the blue tinged skins are aliens who have been living in secret in undersea domes for centuries--along with thousands of humans they saved at sea and their descendants. Soon Gina finds herself involved in politics and revolution and romance in the amazing world beneath the sea, as she falls in love with Dano. But is the handsome alien all appears to be? Who is behind the attempts to kill her, or a plot to lead the Aquans to conquest of the surface world. When the time comes, will Gina have the courage to take the desperate chance that will save her friends among the Aquans and her world? Here is a novel that will thrill romance and fantasy lovers alike. Ayden Delacroix, writing for In the Library Reviews, hails the romances of Jac Eddins as: "Fast paced and attention-grabbing, changed my thoughts on [this type of] Romance. The characters weren't flat or predictable, they were alive, vibrant and full of surprises. "detailed descriptions and intriguing secondary characters."
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, 2004
eBookwise Release Date: August 2004
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [187 KB]
Reading time: 118-166 min.
That man was following her.
Gina Taylor first noticed the small, swarthy fellow lounging outside the showroom window of Island Tours, Inc. where he appeared to be studying the colorful posters of exotic vacation destinations. The jagged scar on his cheek reminded her of the pirate-looking, half French, half native men of Tolonga. He wore an Aloha shirt, but with a floral pattern in muddied colors. She found the swirling olives, mustards, blacks and browns an unpleasant combination, part of what caught her attention.
Just last night she had returned home from the islands, a grueling trip from half way around the world. Gina had been there for her job, checking out the potential of lesser known places where the rich and famous could stay for fun and sun with some anonymity. In the office, she turned in her expense sheet and gratefully accepted her boss' offer of a few days off until her next assignment. When she emerged again from the office that same man was still there window gazing.
The route back to the subway took her along Fifth Avenue. No New Yorker drove in Manhattan unless she absolutely had to. After walking a block, Gina paused to admire some new shoes in a store window. The reflection in the glass showed the man she had noticed at the office following a few yards behind her. Perhaps it was mere coincidence, but it caused a frisson of fear.
Don't panic, she told herself. She turned a corner, walked a short distance and paused again before a shop window. The display contained a large mirror and, under guise of smoothing her halo of wavy chestnut hair, she peered behind her to see the man still following, a short distance behind. She walked on and turned once again at the next intersection. Sure enough, she saw his reflection in the next store window when she stopped to look. Why would anyone single her out? If he knew who she was, he'd know she didn't carry much money. Many of the other women on the New York City streets in that area wore expensive jewelry and made far more lucrative targets, if robbery was his motive. What else could he want? She wasn't bad looking, but neither was she so beautiful men would risk all to meet her. What did this man want with her that he couldn't approach her, introduce himself and say what was on his mind? It gave her an uneasy shiver.
'Why' wasn't the most important question. What was she to do? That mattered. She could go to a policeman, but she really had no proof. It could be mere coincidence the man made all the same turns she had. What would her Uncle Bill tell her to do?
Bill had been a cop for years, until a shootout with an armed robber put him in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. The first thing he'd say would be to stay calm. She was better off if the little man didn't know she had spotted him. She had the advantage of knowing that part of the city.
Gina did her best not to let her pursuer know she had become aware of him. A few stores up the block she turned into a dress boutique where she had shopped several times before. As she suspected, the man didn't enter but hesitated, waiting, outside. Gina took her time browsing through the racks of colorful summer dresses, at length choosing two to try on. With those, she entered the fitting room. Once inside, behind the curtained entry, she placed the garments on the reject rack and headed for the other exit near the secluded area. Thank heavens she was familiar with the arrangement there. She emerged on the far side, adjacent to the store's exit on the side street. No one waited on that side. Rather than risk running into him again along the streets, she hailed a passing cab and headed back to the apartment building she called home.
* * * *
Once inside, Gina threw the deadbolt, then leaned back heavily against the door with a deep sigh of relief. Her unrest didn't leave her. Something more was wrong. Things seemed slightly out of place, as if moved and replaced, but not exactly as they had been. Could someone have been in her rooms since she left that morning? The door had been locked and she hadn't seen any sign of forced entry. Calling the police wouldn't do any good. Nothing was missing. What could she say? 'I think someone broke in without any sign of it and moved my things?' That would earn her a quiet room at Belleview.
Gina fixed herself a tuna salad sandwich and opened a can of cola. Although she hadn't eaten yet that day--just a quick cup of coffee that morning--she had to force herself to finish. Just as she lifted the phone to call Bill someone knocked on her door. Nervous and a little jumpy, she peered through the peephole. "Who is it?" she called.
An older man stood there. "I'm from the airline, ma'am. I have your suitcase."
She'd almost forgotten. One of her bags had become separated from the rest and the airline promised to forward it as soon as it arrived. That wasn't an unusual circumstance considering the many connecting flights she'd had to make. She opened the door and signed for the suitcase. Gina set it on her bed, hoping that unpacking would take her mind off the events of the morning.
* * * *
The bright noon sun streaming in through the window did little to ease the shiver along Gina's spine. She removed the plastic bag containing a few worn garments from her suitcase, things she hadn't had a chance to rinse out before leaving the island. Beneath it, to her amazement, lay a neatly wrapped brown paper package with her name written across it.
Curious, she undid the covering, then stared in mounting horror at the contents spread on the desk before her. Had she gone through customs with that last night? Her bags must have been one of those lucky ones given no more than a cursory glance. If an official had ever seen this she'd have a small cell to live in for a long time.
The painfully handwritten letter contained several pages, but it was the first that gave her a chill when she read it. Why her?
Dear Miss Taylor,
In the short time I had the privilege of working with you I learned a great deal of your honesty and character. You are the one person I've found who may be able to get this off the island and to where it must go. Believe me when I say the fate of the world may literally be at stake. I do not exaggerate. The fact that you are reading this letter means you may assume I am dead. The instructions for delivering the small book follow; the remainder is yours to cover any expenses you may incur. Please, do not fail me.
Thomas J. Mason
Strange symbols filled the pages of a small notebook, likely a code of sorts. Neatly bundled with it lay a stack of money, $100,000 if the designations on the packets were accurate. Beside that lay a small clear plastic pouch containing a score or more of glittering gemstones. Of course, they could be fakes, but Gina had the eerie feeling they were all just as real as the money. One other piece remained; an unusual gold pendant on a sturdy chain, the abstract image of a seagull within a circle.
Gina remembered Mr. Mason well, a small, distinguished looking man in his early fifties, quiet, with a pleasant smile. He was, or had been, an importer on the island. As part of her job she had to be sure of a steady supply of necessary goods for running any luxury resort her company might decide to build on the island. In the few meetings she'd had with him he had shown no particular friendship or interest in her beyond the courtesies of working together.
The thought he could be dead made her cold inside. Gina recalled hearing the clerk at the hotel talking with another friend while she was checking out. She hadn't thought much of it at the time, just happenings of the islanders, people she really didn't know. The clerk mentioned someone had been killed the evening before down near the docks. Whatever would a man of Mason's stature have been doing in a seedy area such as that? It had never occurred to her it could have been anyone she knew.
How had he managed to get this package into her luggage? So many questions and so few answers. The second page of his letter gave details of the island where she was to take the notebook. Several snapshots of a scenic tropical harbor had been clipped to the paper. Mason had considered carefully: Gina could visit that island in the guise of checking its potential for a resort development. Over and again, in the note, he warned her to let no one see it or know of it except the man it was destined for, another importer on the destination island. Trust no one other than that one man, Mason warned.
Should she do as Mason asked? If Mason had been killed over it, she could be walking into real danger, too. She had the money and gems with no one to return them to, but keeping them without doing as he asked went against her deeply ingrained ideas of right and wrong. Well, she had at least a week to decide. Mason's letter told her to take at least that much time before she continued on. She could show her boss the island pictures and convince him to assign her to go there. Beautiful, little known places where the rich and famous could vacation in style weren't all that easy to find, one reason her company paid her very well. Gina walked to the window and let the warm sunlight ease away some of the cold fear gripping her heart.