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Authors: Linda Castillo

Uncharted Waters

BOOK: Uncharted Waters
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A reader-favorite romantic suspense from
New York Times
bestselling author Linda Castillo, author of the popular Kate Burkholder series.

IN THE NEWS: Ex-navy search and rescue pilot Drew Evans

FAMILY HISTORY: His adopted brother is one of the genetically engineered Extraordinary Five

DEEPEST SECRET: Haunted by the only mission he failed

Hardened hero Drew Evans had thought his tragic past was behind him, until the woman he'd secretly loved—his best friend's widow—stepped back into his solitary life. But single mom Alison Myers was in need of his help to save her ailing son—and quench her own hidden longings. Alison had never expected to see devastatingly handsome Drew again, the one man who made her feel the forbidden stirrings of passion. But could she trust him with the two most precious things in her life...her son and her heart?

Originally published in 2003.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

In Emerald Cove, blood is thicker than water.

Drew Evans—
The ex-navy pilot bears the burden of his best friend's death, but when his friend's widow enters Drew's life again, will he be able to save her…and himself?

Alison Myers—
Day-to-day life is a constant struggle for this single mom. Now that she's back in Florida to bring her ailing son to a specialist, will she find the help—and love—she needs?

General Bruno DeBruzkya—
Has the crazy dictator of Rebelia hired spies to infiltrate Evans Yachts and steal their plans for a top-secret navy submarine?

Laura Evans—
Preferring to make her own living rather than rely on the family fortune, she's been kept in the dark about the dangers around her….

About the Author

LINDA CASTILLO

knew at a very young age that she wanted to be a writer—and penned her first novel at the age of thirteen. She is the winner of numerous writing awards, including a nomination for the prestigious RITA® Award, the Holt Medallion and Golden Heart.

She loves putting her characters into dangerous situations where the stakes are high and their hearts are on the line. She was thrilled when her editor asked her to participate in the FAMILY SECRETS continuity.


Uncharted Waters
was a tremendous experience professionally and very satisfying on a personal level,” Linda says. “It is an emotional story about two ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Alison Myers is a widow and young mother trying to rebuild her life after the loss of her husband. Drew Evans, a former navy search-and-rescue pilot, was her late husband's best friend. Drew was there the night Alison's husband died—and blames himself. These two people were meant to be together, but must first overcome the grief of losing a mutual loved one.”

Linda lives in Texas with her husband and four lovable dogs. Check out her Web site at
www.lindacastillo.com
. She loves hearing from readers! E-mail her at
[email protected]
or contact her at P.O. Box 670501, Dallas, Texas 75367-0501.

Books by Linda Castillo

Operation: Midnight Tango

Operation: Midnight Escape

Operation: Midnight Guardian

Operation: Midnight Rendezvous

Operation: Midnight Cowboy

A Cry in the Night

Uncharted Waters

Uncharted Waters

Linda Castillo

This book is dedicated to my little sister, Kim.

Thanks for all those carefree summer days way back when. You were the best playmate a girl could have.

CONTENTS

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

PROLOGUE

N
avy search-and-rescue pilot Drew Evans stood ready at the hatch of the Sikorsky CH 60 Seahawk chopper and gazed down at the inferno blazing on a black sea fifty feet below. Next to him his best friend, Rick “Mako” Myers, a para jumper or “PJ” as they were known within the military search-and-rescue establishment, prepared to disembark.

“Hell of a drop zone,” Drew muttered into his headset communication gear.

“Kind of like dropping into hell.” Rick shot him a cocky grin. “Guess they don't call us the shake-and-bake commandos for nothing.”

Slapping him on the back, Drew looked for signs of nerves on his friend's face and was relieved when he didn't find any. “Don't stay too long,” he said.

“Hey, it's the Super Bowl tomorrow. I've got to be around to relieve you of your twenty bucks.”

“I hate to break it to you, but the Titans are going to stomp St. Louis.”

“Twenty more says you're dreaming.”

“You're on.” Drew wasn't much of a betting man, but he wanted to keep Rick's spirits high. As hard as he'd been trying to ignore the prickle at the back of his neck, he had a feeling about this mission.

The stench of burning crude oil filled the air as the chopper approached the drop zone. Visibility was
diminished because of the rain and smoke, but the spotlight mounted on the underside of the chopper made the situation all too clear. A tanker full of crude oil had collided with a passenger ship eighty miles off the Virginia coast in a winter storm. The passenger ship had caught fire, putting the crew and several dozen passengers into fifty-degree water—and imminent danger. The situation could turn out to be one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history if they didn't get the people out of the water quickly. The Coast Guard had taken the initial call out, but they'd been so overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, they'd called in the Navy to assist.

Drew couldn't think of a better team than the Navy's search-and-rescue Squadron Eight Sea Rays to get in there quickly and get the job done, so he shook off the uneasiness scraping up his back and concentrated on the task at hand.

“Okay, boys and girls, hold on to your panties, we're going to show the Coast Guard how it's done in the Navy,” came Captain Joe Saratoga's voice through the comm gear. “Ground zero coming up quick.”

Hanging on to the grip next to the portal, Drew looked over at Rick. “Try not to show them up too bad,” he said, referring to their Coast Guard counterparts. “I hear they take it real personal when they have to call in the Navy to save their sorry asses.”

Rick shot him another cocky grin as he jerked the safety vest tight around his wet suit. “You just get me back on board this flying heap and leave the showing up to us professionals.”

Drew laughed outright. “I'd have been flying this heap if it hadn't been for an earache.”

“That was real convenient.”

“Screw you, Mako.”

Laughing, Rick moved his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx. “I'm saving that for later.”

Drew thought of Rick's wife, Alison, and smiled. “Don't go there, partner, or I might just leave you out here and take her for myself.”

“She's too smart for the likes of you.”

Drew laughed because he knew it was true and gave the pilot a thumbs-up to signal that Rick was “RTG” or ready to go.

“PJ, prepare to disembark,” the captain said.

Drew shoved the hatch the rest of the way open and locked it in place. Rain and wind and smoke rushed into the cabin like an angry sea. Forty feet down, the tanker rocked in heavy surf, the fire burning uncontrolled on the fore deck. The spotlight illuminated a dozen people in the frigid water. Others stood on the deck of the passenger ship, which was listing severely to the port side. Drew figured neither vessel would be above water in another hour.

“What a mess,” he muttered and glanced over at Rick.

Their eyes met for an instant. Drew read all the things he'd felt himself in the eight years he'd been a Navy search-and-rescue pilot. Taut nerves. The heady zing of adrenaline. A thin layer of well-disguised fear. But every negative emotion was tempered with hard-earned experience and the unshakable knowledge that he was the best of the best.

“Two in the basket first go-round,” Drew shouted to be heard above the engines. “No more than that. You load 'em. I'll crank 'em up, and we're out of here.”

Rick gave him a thumbs-up. Then, lowering his
mask and snorkel, he slipped over the edge of the hatch and into the raging sea below. Drew watched him drop into the water, knew from experience that the landing was good.

“He's in,” he said into his headset. “Drop looks good.”

“Roger that.”

Engaging the winch's electric motor that would lower the steel and mesh rescue cage with which they would bring the passengers on board, he shoved back the uneasiness that had been nagging at him since they'd received the call out just over an hour ago. Damn it, he didn't have time to worry about some dumb premonition. He didn't even
believe
in them.

He lowered the cage toward the water's surface while the copilot operated the spotlight, keeping Rick in sight. In the distance, Drew could hear the
whop-whop-whop
of a second chopper. Coast Guard, more than likely. Hovering a safe distance away, ready to evacuate the next load of passengers. Everything was running as planned. This was a routine mission. Piece of cake, as Rick liked to say.

In the next instant, an orange fireball belched upward from directly below the chopper. Drew stared for a moment, shock slamming through him.

“Holy hell!” came the copilot's voice through his comm gear. “What the—”

A split second later the concussion hit the chopper like a punch from hell. Drew felt the burn of air so hot, he swore the hairs inside his nose singed. The chopper shuddered, but the pilot held her steady. Drew looked down to locate Rick. He stared, numb, as flames rushed over the water, churning like hot lava. Yards away from where Rick had gone into the water, the
tanker began to break apart, and the full horror of what was happening struck him.

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