A Star Tribune serialized novel by Jane Fredericksen 

Chapter 8

The story so far: Ronnie sets sail with her crew on True Wind.

Kacie staggered up the marina dock. Her arms were crammed with more bags of junk food, and she teetered under the weight of an overstuffed backpack.

The Pirate, hands in pockets, ambled along behind.

“The first-aid kit was your responsibility,” Kacie fumed. “What kind of Pirate are you, anyway?”

“Resourceful,” grinned The Pirate. He pulled a small bottle of rum from his pocket. “I got me first-aid. Lifted from the Dog Watch.”

“That’s not what I meant,” snapped Kacie. “Why do I trust you with anything?”

“Beats me,” he shrugged. “I’m a pirate, ain’t I?”

“Fine, Captain … Ahab.”

“Not me name, Lass.”

Kacie stopped abruptly, and the Pirate bumped into her. She inclined her head toward the moored Redemption.

The Pirate brightened. “Yonder be our quarry. Should we scout ‘er out?”

“We don’t know if anyone’s on board,” whispered Kacie. “Let’s dump our gear first and watch.”

They tiptoed to the Stowaway, keeping a close lookout.

* * *

A car rolled to a stop in the marina parking lot. Four doors opened and four passengers climbed out, two men and two women. One woman’s shrill voice rose above the rest.

Kacie, on board the Stowaway, motioned for the Pirate to be silent. She pulled a blanket over them both and peeked out.

The woman looked to be in her late 50s, with extravagantly coiffed hair and scarlet lipstick. She wore a scary flowered muumuu and high-heeled sandals. She appeared to be complaining to a meek-faced, balding man, also in his late 50s. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, but probably shouldn’t have, Kacie thought.

“No shower, Leo,” the woman protested. “How can I bathe?”

“Leo” glanced at the lake and Kacie guessed he’d like to suggest something, but thought better of it.

Instead, he scurried off to join the other man, an older white-haired gentleman who was dressed in a polo shirt, khakis and deck shoes. They corralled four plastic luggage carts and trundled them up to the car.

A sturdy, gray-haired woman, also dressed in polo shirt and sailing slacks, was pulling luggage from the trunk. The high-heeled woman stormed up to her. “He never listens to me, Hattie,” she whined.

“Hattie” stacked luggage on one of the carts. In a gravelly voice, she growled, “I’m sure he heard you, Petunia. The whole darn marina did.” She grabbed the cart handle and hauled it toward the dock. The two men quickly followed, towing the other carts. Leo struggled to maneuver two at once.

“Pet” was left standing speechless, but Kacie suspected it was not her natural state. The woman appeared to recover and stalked toward the others, fuming.

Kacie tucked out of sight. She could hear the woman’s heels clacking on the dock. After she passed, Kacie and the Pirate peeked out again.

The two men had reached Redemption, just as Jack McKinney climbed from the cabin. Kinney’s face was clean-shaven and his hair combed. He was barefoot, wearing tan sailing shorts, and the same fisherman’s sweater Kacie had always seen him wear. She was beginning to suspect it was the only one he owned.

He gripped a mug of coffee as if it were a lifeline to sanity, and attempted a smile. Kacie heard him address the older man. “Are you Dr. Sykes?”

The older man gave an easy grin. “Not on vacation, Captain. Then, I’m just Adler Sykes.” He waved a hand toward the man in the Hawaiian shirt. “My brother-in-law, Leo Wallace.”

The men moved to shake hands, but stopped when they noticed Kinney’s bandaged palm.

“I could look at that, if you like,” offered Dr. Sykes.

Kinney shook his head, momentarily flustered. “Not on vacation, sir. Trust me, it’s nothing. A small cut.”

They gingerly shook hands as the gray-haired woman arrived. Dr. Sykes nodded. “My wife, Hattie. Hattie, this is our skipper, Jack McKinney.”

Hattie nodded brusquely and thrust out her hand. Kinney took it and she gave him a pump that nearly disarmed him. “Captain McKinney.”

“Please,” said Kinney, recovering his balance. “Call me Kinney.”

“And this,” said Hattie, “Is my sister, Petunia.”

Pet flounced up, crossing her arms.

Kinney offered a half-smile. “Hello.”

Pet did not extend her hand.


Tomorrow: Chapter 8 continues.