I was awakened before my alarm by being thrown out of the bunk and onto the floor. The boat was sloshing from side to side, and I felt like we were suddenly out in the open ocean instead of an inland lake. The radio hissed a Coast Guard warning. "...expected 70 mile per hour winds, tornado warnings... high wind advisories in effect..." the pre-recorded voice droned as interference crackled through the speakers. This was not a good time to be out on the water. I picked up the radio, ready to call in our position, but we were too far out. The lake surrounded us like an ocean, and with the storm, we couldn't call out. We were on our own. I stumbled to my feet, feeling the boat roll beneath me as I worked my way up the hatch and out onto the deck. Robbie stood tall at the helm, the wind whipping his hair as he kept our course straight. He smiled as he saw me. The sky was dark, but lightning was beginning to flash along the horizon, silhouetting him against the black sky. Where the sai
The room was dark, and I could hear rain on the window. Something had awakened me, but I wasn't sure what, so I sat up slowly in the unfamiliar room. There was a dull pressure behind my left eye; I wondered if going back to sleep would make it go away. I knew it wouldn't, but getting up and finding some medicine seemed like a worse choice than just staying in bed and dealing with the pain. Every muscle of my body ached, and any movement sent tendrils of fire into my limbs. To say that I had overdone it yesterday was an understatement. I had never pushed my body as hard or as fast as I had in that storm. I knew I needed at least a glass of water and a potty break if I was going to go back to sleep. I coaxed my weak body to sit on the edge of the bed, letting my feet dangle just above the cold, hardwood floor. The room was decorated with a cheerful maritime theme, and I could hear activity in the rooms below. Dark curtains kept whatever sunshine was outside at bay and gave me no concep
I slipped on a comfy pair of sweats and headed down the stairs. The little bed and breakfast was cozy and warm with a maritime theme. Paintings of ocean scenes and ships decorated the walls, with soft yellow and navy blue accents. I could hear laughter coming from the kitchen so I made my way there. Avery and Robbie sat drinking tea out of doll-sized tea-cups at the cozy wooden table. Grace wasn't in the kitchen, but I figured she must be nearby. I leaned against the doorway, watching Robbie play at tea with Avery. "Would you like some sugar, sir?" Avery asked him, batting her eyelashes as she poured more imaginary tea into his cup. "Why yes, good miss. I'd love some more," he answered her solemnly. His arm was nestled against his chest in a dark blue sling. Sandy hair brushed the tops of his eyebrows; his green eyes were bright despite his pale skin. My heart ached with happiness to see him sitting there alive and well. I had been terrified that I might lose him. "Hi, Aunt Sam!"
The Gala was spectacular. It was like something out of a movie and more elegant than I could have imagined. I had taken the plastic crown from my hair in the car, but there were several women wearing actual diamond tiaras in their hair. This was not only the award ceremony for the Champion of Champions Invitational, but also one of the biggest social events of the year. Everyone was dressed to the nines. A string quartet played in a corner, and the dance floor was already beginning to fill with women in beautiful dresses and men in tuxes. I watched the dancers as they waltzed around on the black and white checkered floor, the heavy red, velvet curtains not even moving as skirts swished past. I recognized the back of Robbie's head, even though his sandy hair was cut short. I stepped forward, working my way toward him when I noticed his dance partner. She was beautiful. Not model beautiful, but real-life, girl-next-door beautiful with long dark hair and curves that seemed to stretch i
I finally broke away from the throng of well-wishers, darting off into a hallway and ducking around the corner. The hallway was cool and open after the warmth of the ballroom, and it felt good to have some space around me that wasn't full of satin gowns and suits. At the end of a darkened hallway, peering out a window overlooking the lake, was Robbie. His good arm was up against the window, and he cast a fine silhouette with his dark suit and strong lines. Even with the sling on his arm, he looked handsome. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked out the window, following his gaze. Boats bobbed peacefully in the harbor, a sliver of moon casting silver light across the waves. It was beautiful and serene. He turned and smiled at me, the soft light from an open door catching the green of his eyes. "Enjoying your moment in the spotlight?" he asked, straightening from the window. "Yes, but I'd like to have you with me. You won this race just as much as I did." Robbie turned to face m
The October sun was warm on my skin, complimented by a cool breeze coming in off the lake. It felt good to be on Avery's Hope, even if I was still docked. The gulls cried overhead and the boat bumped occasionally against the dock, creating a strange harmony that I loved. I checked my watch again, wondering when Robbie was going to get here. He was already ten minutes late, but I figured he had just gotten stuck talking business with Jack. I frowned, going over the sails once again just for something to do. Robbie had hired a local to clean up the boat after the storm since neither one of us had been in any condition to do it. The entire cabin had been strewn with food, clothing, charts, and gear; the local had cleaned the inside and put the sails and sheets back in order on deck. The cabin still smelled slightly damp, but it had mostly dried out after the storm. Robbie and I had wanted to take the Hope out one last time before shipping it back to Winchester, just to make sure that ev