Finally, in her hotel room at a beachfront resort in Bermuda, Zoe Wilkinson stripped off her clothes. The plane had arrived late and only an hour remained until dusk. Impatient to begin her vacation and wanting a quick swim, she decided her Hidden Secrets black satin bra and boy briefs would work. It was no more revealing than the bikini she had packed and took way less time. Grabbing her mask, fins and snorkel from her carry-on bag, she was good to go.
Maybe later this evening, she’d get lucky and hook up with someone. It had been months since she’d had a satisfying sexual encounter. Girl toys got the job done, but she needed some long, slow, steamy sex without batteries—or relationship strings. Possible, since she was off duty and out of the country. Her pulse heated up, and she grinned. Hell, she knew a girl had to be careful, but the ache between her legs needed to be relieved. If she found a local hottie, she could always Google him in the ladies’ room from her smartphone to see if there were any hits on his name.
She exited her room through the patio door facing the ocean. This was her dream vacation, one she’d wanted to go on for years but never had time. Now she was here, in a luxurious room steps away from a lagoon in Bermuda, the aquamarine water perfect for diving. For now, she’d just snorkel. She could wait until tomorrow to rent gear for a dive in deeper water.
It was Saturday afternoon. She had nearly a week before she had to return to the rat race on Friday morning. Five days was the most she’d been able to schedule away. The First Family was spending a week at Camp David before Congress reconvened after Labor Day, and her sub could handle the First Lady’s protection. Always being on alert could wear you down, make you careless. There was no room for mistakes in her job. She didn’t want to end up like Danika.
Pausing a moment outside her door, she inhaled the warm air infused with the tropical fragrances, the sweet scent of the deadly oleander and the spicy aroma of mimosa blended with the tang of the ocean. She crossed the beach, marveling at the pale pink color of the sand, still warm from the heat of the day. At the water’s edge, she settled her mask over her face and slid her feet into flippers. High-stepping, she waddled through the light surf until the water was deep enough for her to float.
Silken and warm, the water flowed over her skin. Barely moving, she occasionally kicked her legs. Her face submerged, breathing through the tube, she watched the tropical fish swimming against the backdrop of the coral reef and waving sea fans. Among others, she spotted parrotfish, Bermuda angelfish and porcupine puffers. They ignored her as if she were one of them. Rays of light streamed from the surface, glinting off the fish scales, bubbles and creating elaborate patterns on the sand. Mesmerized, she floated without moving.
As if coming out of a dream, she had no idea how much time had passed. She checked the diving watch on her wrist and realized she’d been out more than half an hour. She noted the lengthening shadows. It was time to head back before it got too dark.
She’d take just a few more minutes to drift and relax in the warm water. As she turned toward shore, a glint of light on the seabed caught her attention. She inhaled deeply, spit out the mouthpiece of her breathing tube and dove below the surface. Kicking briskly, she headed down, curious.
On the bottom, she plucked a ball out of the sand. About four inches in diameter, the globe was smooth as glass but opaque and lighter than she expected, probably because the water buoyed it.
Standing in water up to her neck, Zoe held up a globe that resembled an iridescent moonstone, trying to get a better look. In the early evening sky, the pale moon floated at the edge of the horizon. With the globe in her hand, it appeared as though there were two moons.
A shiver rippled through her. She dismissed it as a chill from being in the water. She hadn’t snorkeled in months.
She slipped the odd stone into the ‘treasure’ bag secured to her waist. Mouthpiece back in place, she floated, content to watch the fish a bit longer.
Something spooked them and, in the space of a breath, they disappeared. She doubted it was a shark since they were rare around here, but just to be on the safe side, she stuck her whole head underwater. Turning from side to side, she looked around but saw no dark shadow cruising through the water.
Even so, it was probably best if she made her way back to the beach. The rainbow of fish were gone, and her stomach rumbled, reminding her she’d eaten very little, having deciding against the sketchy airline food. She kicked vigorously, propelling herself through the buoyant salt water. The sky seemed much darker than before. Lifting her head, she looked around and realized why the fish had disappeared.
Son of a… A dark, swirling column of water the size of a small tornado less than a hundred feet away was headed toward her. Shouldn’t she have seen some sort of warning? Wouldn’t there be dark clouds or dark spots on the surface? At the very least, wouldn’t there be a sudden shift in the wind? Where the hell had the waterspout come from? There had been nothing.
Heart pounding, she gulped in a huge breath of air and flipped over in an effort to dive to safety. Too late. The waterspout caught her and lifted her up.
And up. What the hell? She gasped in a terrified breath, squeezed her eyes shut. At any second, she would plummet back to earth. If the water wasn’t deep enough, she’d be slammed into the coral reefs.
Suddenly, cold and nothingness surrounded her. She couldn’t see. The cold was bone-numbing. Something was terribly wrong.