About the Author

Joel Scott

Books by this Author
Arrow’s Fall
Excerpt

“As you have curtailed our evening's entertainment perhaps you would care to engage Mr. Summers in a little demonstration for the guests,” he went on unfazed. “I am sure he is quite keen. I understand he was under a slight disadvantage last time you met. Something about a dog bite if I remember correctly.”

Summers remained in front of me, his face impassive, his eyes burning.

Laura's nails dug into my hand.

“I don't think so,” I said.

My head was spinning from the drink and the smoke, and the girl had released demons into the room. I needed clean air, and space to breathe.

Summer's lips drew back in a mocking grin and he leaned towards me.

“Perhaps we could compete for the tart,” he murmured in a voice only the three of us could hear. “I see you're fucking her now. Not that she was all that great, mind you. Except for the last time of course. That was outstanding.”

I looked at the sneering face and the world shrank and there were only the two of us, and I was lying by the dugout dazed and bleeding and then the stifling smell of hay in the barn and the oppressive dust filled heat and the stillness of the other prisoners around us in a circle as the rage built and consumed me like a prairie fire.

“This time I'll kill you outright, Wakosky,” I murmured, and his face grew puzzled and a hand was pulling at my shoulder and I pushed away and there was a crash and Danny yelled and then I was up and had Summers by the throat and hurled him across the table and he slid across in a crashing of dishes and fell.

He rolled and came up smiling, much quicker than I remembered and he kicked me twice before I spun and took the leg and jack-knifed him down but he rose again as if on springs, so light for a heavy man, the dust from the hay clouding the air around him, but Wakosky was much thicker and I pondered this and he hit me again and I fell heavily and he danced away, changing shape and I rose and crouched and caught him in the throat as he came in, and he buckled and fell and I grabbed a fallen knife and leaned down and stared at his face and his eyes changed into the blue of my Grandfather's and I screamed in rage and terror and brought the knife towards him but Danny was there holding me and Summers rolled away.

“The demonstration is over,” Danny said.

Waverly looked at us and I saw him calculating, but there were guests, important people, and he was no fool, and he smiled and the tension left his body.

“Perhaps we can do this again another time,” he said. “I hate to leave things unfinished and I am sure Captain Summers feels the same.”

We turned and walked away, Padraic, Molly and Laura in a tight group, her father's arm around her, and Danny and I bringing up the rear. We went outside and there were two uniformed men waiting in the launch and they took us back to Arrow without a word from anybody. Molly left and the others went down below and then Danny came back out with a bottle and glasses and we sat in the cockpit drinking in silence.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked me once.

“No.”

He nodded and poured another drink and we sat there for the longest time.

I put the evening away and pulled the covers over it and buried it back down deep and held it there until the alcohol and the tiredness dulled it down and then I closed my eyes and slept. I woke once and Danny was still there, talking to someone in a low voice, and it was just breaking dawn. I squinted my eyes and it was Elinor, dripping wet in the cockpit, and this struck me as strange but I fell asleep again before I could make any sense out of it.

When I woke again I was alone and hoped I had dreamed it all.

~

“I thought you were going to sleep forever.”

I took the cup of coffee and grunted my thanks. I noted a slight bruising on Laura's left cheek. I felt like shit.

“Sorry about last night,” I muttered.

“My fault. I should have stayed out of the way. I suppose you were sort of defending my honor.”

I fumbled around the cockpit for my sunglasses. The cloud cover was thin, and it was exceedingly bright.

“Or don't you remember?”

“I remember.”

“Do you always drink so much?”

Jesus Christ. “Look, I said I was sorry.”

“Do you want some rum in your coffee?”

“No.”

“How about a Caesar then?”

“Look, I'm not an alcoholic. I just like to enjoy myself once in a while. Summers last night, that had nothing to do with drink. We don't like each other very much.”

“What did you call him?”

“Summers.”

“No. Last night. Something else.”

“I don't know. Asshole maybe. What does it matter? He was out of line and I lost my cool. Forget it.”

She stared at me, her face thoughtful.

“What time is it?”

“Ten o'clock. Everybody else has been up for ages.”

“I think I'll go for a shower.”

I stood up and looked out over the harbor. The Golden Dragon was gone.

“They left an hour ago. Dropped all their guests ashore before they pulled out,” Laura said.

“Good riddance.”

I'd drop over to Port Control, see if I could find out where they had cleared out to.

I went down below to grab some clean clothes and a towel and halted in surprise. Danny and Elinor were sitting at the table drinking coffee.

“What's she doing here?”

“She swam over early this morning. You said Hi to her.”

“I thought I was dreaming. But what's she doing here?”

“Hi again,” Elinor said. “I decided I didn't want to stay aboard that boat any longer. I don't know why I didn't leave when my friend Susan did a month ago. I don't particularly like any of them and Waverly gives me the creeps. And that girl he keeps. Ugh.” She shivered. “After you all left last night he told his guests there'd been a change of plans, they would have to leave.”

“And that included you?”

“No. I was crew. But he was angry with me about last night, as if some of it was my fault because I was with your lot. I don't trust him.”

“I'm not sure I trust you,” I said.

“C'mon Jared. Relax. She's all right.” Danny glared at me.

“Waverly selected you to be our hostess?”

“Yes.”

“Why was that?”

“I don't know. The others were taken, I guess.”

“Taken?”

“You know. They were with the other guests.”

“And you weren't with anybody.”

“That's right. Not right then. But I have been some other times. I don't have to make excuses to anybody,” she said, standing up. “I just needed to get away from the Dragon, and I didn't have anywhere else to go right away. I’m leaving now.”

“No. I apologize. If Danny wants you to stay, you stay. It's his call,” I said

“What would you like to do?” Danny asked her.

“I'd like to stay aboard Arrow and help you beat that arrogant manipulative bastard,” she said.

With her makeup washed off and her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she bore little resemblance to the sophisticated woman of the previous night.

“Beat him at what?” Laura asked.

“Recovering the treasure. I heard them talking about it.”

“Welcome aboard, Elinor,” I said, “now please tell us everything you know.”

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