Chapter One


Although neither one wanted to admit it, the trip was a last ditch effort. Boots and Julie decided that maybe a mini-vacation might help to reverse their apparent swan dive.

The trouble was of course, New York. A perfectly good place, millions of people thought so. Problem was, Boots couldn’t stand to be there, and Julie wanted to live nowhere else.

As a private detective in the Big Apple and having an outstanding reputation for finding things most others could not, Boots Beaumont lived a good life. For years, he had more than enough clients, more than enough women, and plenty of money. He was one happy guy until a sniper’s bullet found him by mistake. Shot in a random and bizarre event which had far less to do with his line of work than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Boots was left with a permanent steel souvenir. The doctors said there was simply too much risk in removing it. Boots knew he was lucky to be alive, so he tried to learn to live with it, which didn’t prove to be so easy. The cold winter weather was not only a nagging reminder of his constant companion, but also just how dangerous a place New York could be. It didn’t take him long to make the leap of faith from being self-employed to retiree quicker than you could say “Mai Tai.”

He moved to the island paradise of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, bought a boat, proudly named it the Lost & Found, and almost died of boredom. He decided to chronicle some of his former life, and it was then he discovered a previously unknown talent for putting words together. He wrote mystery novels based on his life as a PI and made a mint.

The island life pleased him no end, and before long he met Julie, the most beautiful, if not the most unusual, woman he’d ever known. Passionate, violent, mysterious, and blessed with a voice destined to be heard and appreciated by a large audience.

Their island life was happy until Julie intercepted an email cry for help, and urged Boots to help a man reunite with his mother who’d put him up for adoption more than forty years prior. As irony would have it, the man and his first mother were from New York, and to celebrate, there was a fabulous party at which Boots and Julie were guests of honor. Floating on the buoyancy of happiness and success, a marriage proposal was made, accepted, and then almost immediately tabled while Julie auditioned for a record contract. They’d been fighting ever since.

Boots couldn’t understand why Julie couldn’t record in Eleuthera. Julie couldn’t fathom why Boots couldn’t write in New York. What difference does it make where you live? They railed at one another. To have such a gift, you could use it anywhere, right? Wrong. Things are never that simple. After living on an island her whole life, the city was ambrosia, and Julie wanted to experience everything. Beaumont may have loved the city earlier in his life, but once he left it, he never looked back. Sure, it was a hoot to see some pals and visit some old haunts, but after a few days with his head constantly itching, twitching, and reminding, his only thought was to flee.

At first, the couple tried to make it work. Julie found a tiny studio that was outrageously expensive, Boots was more than happy to pay for it as long as he could fly back to his beloved motor sailor. It did work for a little while, but as time passed, and as Julie became more accustomed to the vibrancy of the city and Boots fell back into his comfortable, quiet island life, the personal gap grew as large as the physical distance between them. Eventually, they had even stopped fighting, and that worried Boots more than anything else. Julie was a hellcat, and he proudly wore the scars to prove it. She’d always made him insane with her temper, but she was the most vibrant, exciting, complex woman he’d ever met and their chemistry was amazing. The last few times they’d been together though, they’d been overly polite to one another, a bad sign. She hadn’t thrown anything at him for months, that was a really bad sign.

So, after a few failed attempts at trying to keep it going, living two separate and opposite lives, yet still heavily entwined and fiercely in love, this was it. And they both knew it.

They decided to take the Lost & Found for a cruise to Great Abaco. They planned to moor on one of the little no-name islands east of Cherokee Sound. Julie picked the spot because it was where her parents spent a private vacation many, many years before, and had always talked to the children fondly about it. Julie’s cousin Shay-Shay always teased her that she was conceived there, but Julie came from a large family, so no one really kept track of which child was conceived where and when.

Julie believed strongly in Bahamian folklore, intuition, and “seeing.” She, and some of her sisters, had an internal radar which was rarely ever wrong. On this trip, Julie’s intuition was as black as a mood ring. She didn’t want to think it was because of the turmoil she and Boots were having, she just refused to believe it. She thought there might be something else, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“We’re almost there,” Boots shouted.

Julie jumped a bit and quickly became angry at herself for being distracted. She shouted back. “I can see it, damn you.”

They dropped anchor. It was late afternoon, the sun was strong and the sky was clear. Julie was relieved they’d arrived. She looked at the island and felt calm, she closed her eyes and smelled the air. It was the scent of her upbringing, something she missed deeply, but her career was on fast track at the moment, and she was determined not to miss it.

“Jules,” Boots came up behind her and nuzzled her neck.

“I’ve missed you so much,” Julie turned to him. They kissed long and deep. Suddenly, Julie violently pushed him away.

“Jesus, woman! What is the matter . . . ”

“Something’s wrong. I can tell. Something’s going to happen. Boots, I know it. Something bad is going to happen.”

Julie’s face clouded over despite the abundant sunshine. She stood stock still, her body shackled in tension. Her eyes became dull and glassy, as if she were in a trance. Boots knew he’d have to wait it out. It had happened before, plenty of times. The woman had premonitions. And they almost always came true.

Boots used to laugh at the very idea of such an ability. In his life, “seeing” was what you politely called sleeping with somebody. “ESP” was total bullshit, mere theatrics that lead people to believe a person had special powers and therefore could predict the future or contact a departed loved one. He’d seen plenty of scammers throughout his career, plenty of people who lied and cheated and stole from those who desperately wanted visions and dreams and readings to be true.

Then he met Julie, and Julie’s family. Not all the siblings and cousins had the same level of sensitivity, Julie’s seemed to be by far the strongest. At first he thought maybe she was faking or playing around, but when he realized she really did have a sixth sense and could predict some things with fairly good accuracy, he became a believer. In her anyway.

He watched her closely, waiting for the episode to pass. Usually, it didn’t take long, mostly she’d blink her eyes and shake her head to clear it out, and then could tell him what she’d seen. Sometimes, if it was something really bad, she’d burst out crying. Not this time though. This time she fainted and Boots caught her just before she hit the deck. He gently cradled her head and held her close. This had never happened before. She’d never fainted before. This was bad. He didn’t have to be a physic to know that.