Disputed Rock

My newest release is the third in the Spruce Bay books.

Mines are dangerous, never more so than when greed outweighs everything else.

When a series of events leads to the death of Georgia’s fiance, she packs up and heads south. Behind her Jim and Leigh struggle with their own issues. Training cadets to be special officers in the north sounds good, but when a class gets off track, it could be deadly.

Georgia can’t escape the grief and anger the mine caused with Brad’s death, and when she find echoes of that death in Peru, she sets her sights on making things right. Dangerous men don’t want her to succeed.

Here is a section from the opening chapter.

Chapter 1 – Georgia

The black bear snuffled through the berries. Georgia had never been so close to one before. If it decided to charge her…

“Breathe easy.” Brad put his arm around her. “She’s more concerned with eating enough berries to make it through the winter. In the spring, when she has cubs to protect, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near her.

Georgia leaned back into his warmth, twisted her head so she could kiss him.

“We might want to get a little further from the bear.” Brad took her hand and led her through the woods. Berries and mushrooms filled the forest around them. Georgia took off her shirt and filled it with enough for their meal tonight.

“Good thing the shade is deep here.” Brad ran his hand up her bare back, making her shiver with delight. “You’d burn quick in the sun.”

“I should buy stock in sunscreen companies.” Georgia put her arm beside his. She loved the contrast between his brown skin and her freckled white.

They arrived back at their camp, little more than a tent and a circle of rocks. Georgia tossed a rope over a branch and hoisted her makeshift basket into the air then pulled Brad into the tent with her.

Dappled light fell on the canvas over their bodies. Georgia curled against him with her head on his chest. She ran her fingers across his strong body.

“You ever regret staying here?” Brad played with her hair.  “You had universities fighting over you.”

“No regrets.” Georgia sat up and stretched. “The ground makes for a hard bed.”

“Makes you appreciate what you have.” Brad caught her hand. “Seriously, you’re working at the airport doing odd jobs, when you could be half way to being whatever your genius self decided to become.”

“My genius self wants to be with the only guy who doesn’t see a genius, but just me.”

“Oh, I see the genius alright. But she’s not as cute as you.” He pulled her down again.

As the sun faded, Georgia dressed and got the fire started while Brad caught fish for supper. With the berries, greens and mushrooms they had a full meal. They watched the light fade, then turn white as the moon rose. When Georgia shivered, they went into the tent to sleep.

Morning light woke Georgia, but she was reluctant to move and begin their last day on this lake. Brad had been bringing her here for the last couple of years, once she’d convinced him she was serious about staying in Spruce Bay and staying with him. He’d changed a lot since then, from playing tough, to being truly strong. Joe had taken him under his wing and taught him a lot about the land. Now, Brad taught her.

“I have a couple more things to show you.” Brad rolled to a sitting position and started getting dressed. Georgia sighed and pulled her clothes over to put them on.

After breakfast of cold fish and berries, Brad led her back toward the blueberry patch where he’d shown her the bear. They walked around, skirting the clearing to where a pile of rocks sat on a larger boulder.

“This is my emergency cache. No food, the animals would eat it, but fishing line, matches, one of those emergency blankets and more. Even a bow which comes apart, but still shoots hard enough to kill a grouse or squirrel.” He carefully moved a couple of rocks and pulled out a bundle.

The bow looked more like a child’s toy than a hunting weapon. Georgia used a heavier pull in the archery club.

“It’s not meant to hunt big animals, but has plenty of power for small game. Those arrowheads make it deadly. I wouldn’t want to get hit by one, even from this bow.” Brad assembled the bow and strung it, then took it apart and made her assemble and string it. “Bring it along, we’ll probably see some grouse.”

They walked on past the cache, Georgia noting landmarks so she could find her way back. Brad must have had a built-in compass, he never got lost, but she needed to work at it.

“Careful.” Brad put his arm out in front of her. “There’s crevices here, wouldn’t want to fall into one, but the open rock makes it a good place to hunt a bit.” He pointed ahead to a tree. “Squirrel on the right side, maybe half-way up. See if you can hit it.”

Georgia put an arrow on the string and pulled the bow. She had little trouble holding it to aim at the squirrel. Think of it as the gold on a paper target. The bow twanged as she released the arrow, hitting the squirrel below its head, carrying it off the tree. Her prey bounced on the rock and rolled to a stop on a huge flat slab on the edge of a large crevice.

Brad put his hand on her shoulder to hold her back.

“Doesn’t look like it from here, but that rock is so balanced, if you walked out to get your squirrel it would tip and dump you into the crevice. It’s a deep one too, must go down forty feet. Joe said something about limestone breaking on the harder rock below. Anyway, I’ll stand on this edge, you get the squirrel, if you feel the rock shift leave it and come back.”

Brad parked himself on the edge of the slab while Georgia sidled out and used the bow to pull the squirrel and arrow back to her.

“Nice.” Brad grinned at her. “We get back to camp, I’ll teach you how to skin it for cooking. We’ll need a good meal for the start of the trip home.”

Georgia pulled the arrow out and washed it off, before disassembling the bow, wrapping it up and returning it to the cache.

“Now if you ever come out on your own, you can survive.”

“Why would I come out by myself?” Georgia grabbed his hand. Brad squeezed it.

“To escape?” He shrugged. “I come to remind myself who I am.” He led the way back to camp.


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