Authors: Rick Murcer
|Manny Williams |
AMAZON KINDLE EDITION
Murcer Press, LLC
Caribbean Rain © 2012 Rick Murcer
All rights reserved
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This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. The ebook contained herein constitutes a copyrighted work and may not be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, or stored in or introduced into an information storage and retrieval system in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This ebook is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
To Carrie, Buzzy, and Josh. You’re God’s greatest gifts to me.
For JC, who loves me and keeps me on the path, eternally.
“I bet you never thought you’d get bopped in a rainforest, did you?” rasped a perspiring Amanda Griggs as she rolled off of her new husband, Dan, trying to recapture air that love and lust had momentarily stolen from her.
The air mattress gave way as her naked, glowing frame plopped down beside him, jostling the small electric lamp at the foot of the bed.
“No, I . . . didn’t,” he gasped, “but if I’d known how this worked . . .” He took a deep breath, turned on his side, and focused his large, brown eyes on her face. “But I’m glad you, we, whatever, did. That surpasses incredible, even better than last night in that fancy-ass hotel with the big bed.”
“Really? Do you think so?” She gently grasped his hand and kissed it several times. “I was a little worried that you wouldn’t like the whole communing-with-nature bit.”
He drew her hand to him and returned her affection. “I won’t lie. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but getting this tent and camping gear from my buddy as a wedding gift made it easier to say yes. Besides, you can’t do this in Michigan in January. Talk about frostbite on your ass.”
Amanda grinned. “Literally.”
Dan gathered her close, and she nuzzled his neck. Outside of the domed tent, the tiny Coqui frogs crooned their distinguished song, as if made just for the newlyweds. She didn’t think there would ever be a better moment for her. She pulled him even closer. For one of the first times in her life, she felt wanted, loved, and especially needed.
They’d both overcome a rough start to life. Dan’s mom had divorced four times, and their family had moved eleven times in nine years. Their last move, just Dan and his mother, was to Tampa, Florida, from Ithaca, Michigan, and it was there they had settled.
Amanda’s mom had been killed in a head-on collision when she was ten, so she and her dad, if you could call him a dad, “toughed” it out for about three months until poor, grieving daddy decided he had to marry again. Three years later, number two died in a mysterious boating accident. The next time, he’d waited a whole four months before wife number three stepped into her life. The woman was a bitch of the highest rating, and near the end, Amanda saw her only once a month or so—another advantage to living in a ten-thousand-square-foot mansion.
She was secretly glad when number three came up missing four years after. She was found in a parking lot in Vegas, full of heroin and void of life.
Her father had exercised amazing control by waiting two whole years before drawing in number four, who was just four years older than Amanda herself. Talk about old shit hitting the new fan.
After that wedding, Amanda had considered everything from suicide to stealing money from daddy’s obscenely huge bank account and hitting the road, becoming an unknown. That all changed, of course, when she laid eyes on Daniel Griggs the first day of school, senior year. He was so handsome with a quiet but strong demeanor. It took all of about three seconds to fall head over heels, and eventually, to start thinking that maybe life wasn’t such a shithole after all.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Dan asked, putting his hand on her hip.
“Oh, I was just thinking about how we met.”
Rubbing her buttocks, he smiled. “I still can’t believe the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known fell for me. Those green eyes and blond hair put me under such a spell; I would have done anything for you.”
“Would have?” she cooed.
would do anything for you.”
“Good to know,” she grinned. “Well, after I stand you up straight again, I’m going to want to see the rainforest in the moonlight, and I’ll need some big, strong man to go with me in case an iguana, or some horny boa snake, tries to take advantage of me.”
Dan reached behind his head and pulled his backpack to him. He withdrew an eight-inch hunting knife. “That’s why I bought this yesterday.”
“Dan, you know I hate knives like that . . . but I’m sort of glad you did.”
Thinking about what good old dad did for a living, she was even more glad.
Nodding, he slid the knife back into the pack and cupped her breast, then kissed her gently. “That’s why you’re the perfect woman for me.”
The rain began to prattle against the leaves and the aroma of lush vegetation served to heighten the romantic ambience. It captured Amanda’s senses and, for the next hour, she was lost in it, and him.
After they’d shaken the tent a second time, Amanda sat up, pulled on gym shorts and a tank top, and stood as tall as the tent would allow.
“Come on, Romeo, time to pay up. Plus, I gotta pee.”
“I’m there; just give the big guy a chance to settle down.”
“But I have to go, now.”
Dan sat up, grabbed his denim shorts, and slid them on, almost. “Okay, but if I snag him on something, it could be a boring rest of the wee
“I’ll take my chances,” she laughed.
Grabbing the lantern, Dan unzipped the tent, started to stoop through the opening, and stopped. A scowl highlighted his brow.
“Do you hear that?”
Amanda cocked her ear, and then shook her head. “I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s my point. Those frogs have been mouthing off all night, and now there’s nothing.”
“Maybe you scared them when you . . . ah . . . were yelling ‘don’t stop,’” she panned.
“Real funny. Just the same, I’ll scope the area and come back to get you.”
“You better hurry, Ranger Rick, or this place is going to be very wet and will smell bad too.”
Even though there was partial light from the full moon, the darkness swallowed him. A second later, the beam of the lantern swept from one side of the campsite to the other. It swung up, back to the right, and then vanished. She heard a muffled thump, then heard nothing. Amanda let out the breath she’d been hoarding. The man loved a practical joke, but she didn’t think she could hold her bladder another second.
“Dan? What was that?”
She waited. Silence. Amanda moved closer to the tent’s door and spoke louder. “Dan? Where are you? This isn’t funny. If you’re screwing around, you’re not gettin’ any for a month.” More silence. She ran her hand over her arm. This was over the line, even for him.
“Last chance, buddy. Speak up or be lonely.” Her voice carried a confidence she didn’t feel. Not even close. More uneasiness reached out and stroked Amanda’s shoulder.
Another minute crawled past, and she found herself becoming angry. Her shorts were about to become very wet, and he thought this was a great time to screw around? She bent over, grabbed the backup flashlight, hit the on switch, and bent through the doorway.
Panning the area, she saw Dan’s footprints in the moist grass moving away from the tent. About twenty feet further, her beam caught something shiny. She stepped closer and recognized their lantern. The lens was broken, and there was something smeared on the handle.
“Dan? Come on, baby, this is starting to scare me.” Standing still, all she heard was the breeze filtering through the trees. Dan was right—not one peep out of the Coqui frogs.
Amanda stepped cautiously in the direction of the broken light and jerked her hand to her mouth. The handle of the lantern was covered in . . . blood?
In the next instant, a strong hand covered her mouth; another lifted her off the ground and carried her into the thick dwarf trees and ferns just off the path.
Her scream was muffled, but it didn’t stop her from struggling. She kicked and flailed her arms, dropping the flashlight in the process. The man held tight, dragging her deeper into the rainforest. She kicked again and tried to bite his hand, but he held fast with the strength of a madman. Ten steps later, he stopped and spun her around, clamping his hand over her mouth, again. She recognized her husband immediately, and in the full-moon’s light, saw he was bleeding from a long cut on his forehead. But that wasn’t the most startling thing she saw in her husband’s face. Fear reigned in his eyes. Her heart went cold.
“Shhh,” he whispered, his eyes darting from side to side. He gripped both of her shoulders in his hands and brought her close. “Someone hit me from behind and then tried to drag me into the trees. He slipped, I managed to push him, then I ran like hell.”
“This is crazy. Who—?”
Dan shook his head vigorously, blood flying from the wound on his forehead. “Don’t talk. He’s still out here.”
“What should we do?”she rasped, her own fear rising to a level strange to her.
At that moment, she heard it. An obscure rustling from the brush, then the most sickening sound she’d ever heard as a glint of long metal protruded through the meaty part of her husband’s shoulder. Staring at the metal, she felt her spirit leave her body. She was frozen in place.
This can’t be real.
Looking at his shoulder, Dan’s disbelief turned to agony. His hand fell from her mouth as she watched the sword leave with an obscene sucking sound. She wrestled her gag reflex and won as strength returned to her legs.
Dan dropped to his knees, and she bent down, trying to get him off the damp ground, but he only slumped further.
“Get up, damn you,” she cried. “We’ve got to move.”
The next instance, she heard more than saw the blade rip through the air and watched in horror as Dan’s arm bounced on the ground.
Her tears clouded her vision, as she slumped down to reach for Dan’s face. “No, No, No! This can’t be—”
“Oh, but it can and is,” answered the voice from the dark.
A sticky hand gripped her left arm. She jumped up, heart raging in her chest, and tore herself from the grasp, then realized it had been Dan’s hand.
“Ru—run, Amanda. Run.”
She hesitated, not sure whether to leave Dan or listen to his plea. Then she heard a
and her husband’s handsome head rose into the air and flipped twice, landing at her feet. She screamed, then screamed again, unable to do what her husband had commanded.
“Scream all you’d like, Amanda Griggs. The only people within two miles of you are, well, unable to help.”
Then the killer laughed.
Sometimes fear is a paralyzing agent that works for the predator and makes an easy meal; sometimes it prompts the fight or flight response that can save one’s life. Amanda wanted to live.
Her indecision now gone, Amanda turned and sprinted away from the insane man armed with the blade, realizing somewhere in her muddled thoughts, that, if she didn’t, she would join her husband.