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Excerpt of Unforgettable by Meryl Sawyer

Purchase


Zebra
February 2002
Featuring: Greg Braxton; Lucky
416 pages
ISBN: 0821772333
Paperback (reprint)
$6.99
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Romance Contemporary, Romance Suspense

Also by Meryl Sawyer:

Play Dead, May 2010
Paperback
Death's Door, May 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Kiss of Death, January 2007
Paperback
Half Past Dead, January 2006
Paperback
Better Off Dead, January 2005
Paperback
Lady Killer, April 2004
Paperback
Tempting Fate, November 2003
Paperback (reprint)
Every Waking Moment, November 2002
Paperback
Unforgettable, February 2002
Paperback (reprint)
Closer than She Thinks, November 2001
Paperback
Trust No One, September 2000
Paperback
Valentines Delights, January 1997
Paperback

Excerpt of Unforgettable by Meryl Sawyer

The bleached-white skull of a moon shot out from between the clouds, lancing the night sky with a single beam of light. The sudden brightness revealed a man squatting on his haunches, a dog at his side. They had been on the rocky ledge overlooking the ocean for more than two hours.

The rain lashed the wind-sculpted bluffs as it had all evening, a storm with blinding bolts of lightning followed by earthshaking thunder. Neither man nor dog even flinched. They possessed the gift of supreme concentration, the ability to focus on their task regardless of the conditions. The man came by it naturally, calling on some inner source of strength that had always been a mystery to others.

He had trained the dog to home in on his objective and ignore everything around him. Now they were out for the ultimate test.

Thunder boomed an ominous warning, and with a final flash of light on the turbulent sea and its scudding whitecaps, the moon disappeared behind a bank of churning clouds. The wind rose, howling along the volcanic cliffs and valleys. Chain lightning arced across the sky and seared the tops of the wind-whipped palms.

"There for a second, I thought it was going to clear," Greg Braxton said to the greyhound at his side. "That would have ruined all our fun."

Dodger gazed at his master through the pelting rain. His fawn-colored coat was soaked to a deep mahogany. Rivulets of water cascaded off his ears and sluiced down his sleek back to pool around his haunches.

"It's not going to get much rougher," Greg told the dog.

"We might as well go for it."

Though his legs ached from being in one position for so long, Greg instructed his mind to ignore the pain. With a flick of his wrist, he signaled for Dodger to rise. The greyhound shifted to his feet, steadier on all four than Greg was on two. Still, it had to be hard on the dog. This was by far the most difficult exercise he'd put him through, but it was necessary. Soon they would fly to the mainland for certification. Before Dodger could qualify as a disaster dog, he'd have to pass a grueling test that even the most highly trained dogs often failed.

"Search," Greg commanded, turning up his palm.

Like an eagle, Dodger soared off the cornice and landed on the boulder below. He pivoted, whirling to the right, then bounded effortlessly over jagged rocks and loose slag. One misstep and Dodger would plummet to the base of the cliff, where the savage riptide would drag him out to sea.

Greg followed, lightning--nature's flashlight--guiding him. Scrambling to keep up with the dog, he hobbled over the rough boulders, scythes of wind-driven rain slashing at him. Despite the rocky terrain, leafy ferns had taken root, making the rocks dangerously slippery.

"Dodger! Where are you going?"

The dog veered sharply to the left, not to the right where Greg had planted the vial. It was hidden so carefully in a lava rock crevice that he doubted he could find it again. The vial of scent had been distilled from a cadaver and was used to train disaster dogs.

Pseudo-corpse was expensive as hell. So what does Dodger do? Runs away from the "body in a bottle." Greg took a second to catch his breath. Okay, this is what happens when you let a dog's mournful eyes get to you. Dodger had been born to race--and trained like a robot to chase a mechanical rabbit. Maybe the greyhound couldn't be retrained.

Greg turned to go back to the camp. Three sharp barks pierced the air, all but lost to the wind and the rain.

"What in hell was that? Couldn't be a signal!" Above the drumbeat of the rain and the wind scouring the volcanic ridges, three sharp barks rang out again. "Christ! It is a signal."

Greg sprinted across the jumbled remnants of the age-old lava flow. The rain flew sideways in the wind, blasting his face like bullets and funneling down his chin into his slicker. He finally found Dodger. "What do you see, boy?"

The dog peered down the sheer drop, one foot raised, pointing like a retriever. Good, Greg thought, at least he had learned to point out targets even if he couldn't locate the vial of pseudo-corpse. Lightning flashed, momentarily flooding the area with an eerie violet-white glow.

"No way!" Greg muttered, spotting the car at the base of the cliff.

His mind must be playing a trick on him. It was too much like another night when he'd looked down from a road and had seen a car at the bottom of an embankment. Of course, it hadn't been raining that night, and he hadn't been alone. The Mani Search and Rescue Team had been with him. But they'd been too late.

Greg mentally gave himself a hard shake. That was then and this is now. He yanked out the flashlight fastened to his belt and concentrated the beam on the rocky beach below. The tunnel of light stabbed through the darkness and hit a white Toyota.

"Where'n hell did it come from?"

Greg had chosen this remote spot because the road ended a mile behind him. The Hana side of Maui was rain forest, and what passed for a road washed out whenever the Pineapple Express blew in and drenched the Hawaiian Islands. The road had been impassable for the better part of the day, but some fool had ventured out. Was the fool still alive?

He put his finger in the air and twirled it as if starting the Indy. Dodger responded to the signal and sprinted down the steep ravine. As the dog vaulted over the rocks, Greg calculated his chances of bringing anyone up the embankment. He had some gear back at the camp, but not nearly enough.

Summoning help was out of the question. The crack rescue team in Kihei would need a helicopter to get to this remote site. Sure as hell, the chopper would be grounded by the weather. There was a police substation back in Hana, but the road had been closed by the storm.

Dodger was almost near enough now to determine if the person inside was alive or dead. Greg couldn't help thinking this was a good test. Part of the canine certification exam would be to find a body underwater. Body gases lifted off the water at the spot where a person went down. One whiff and a trained dog could pinpoint the location and determine if the victim was dead or alive.

Tonight there's more than enough water to call this an aquatic test. He shielded his brow from the rain and squinted into the tunnel of light. Dodger barked once, then waited exactly five heartbeats before barking again.

"How could anyone have survived that fall?"

Greg charged over the rocks, leaping across several small boulders until he reached the pup tent where he'd set up camp earlier. Inside was a small emergency kit, a length of rope, and heavy-duty gloves. The bare essentials were all he'd been able to bring on his motorcycle. He brought them out of habit, never expecting to need them.

"Let's hope this rope is long enough," he mumbled to him self as he dashed back to the bluff. "Or else you're a dead man."

He secured the rope around the largest boulder he could find. He yanked on his gloves and repelled down the treacherous embankment much faster than was safe. His boots slammed down on the boulder at the base of the steep ravine. Waves that usually rolled onto the peaceful shore now pummeled the beach, blasting the rocks with blinding clouds of spray and flinging chains of seaweed into the air.

"Good work, boy," he yelled to Dodger over the thunderous roar.

As he opened the door, he saw the interior of the car was dry and dark, but a flare of lightning revealed a woman slumped sideways from the driver's seat to the passenger side of the car. She was slight with a wild mane of blonde corkscrew curls that hung to her shoulders. He reached for her wrist and immediately found a strong pulse.

Greg pulled out his flashlight to determine the extent of her injuries and didn't see anything more serious than a few bruises. She'd collapsed facedown, and in the clusters of wild curls he saw a little blood seeping from the back of her head.

"A head injury," he said over his shoulder to Dodger.

"Doesn't look bad, though."

He stood there a moment, the rain drumming across his back and splashing into the car. The storm was moving inland; he imagined the thunderheads stacked like pyramids against the buttress of Haleakala. The dormant volcano blocked tropical storms, making this side of the island a rain forest.

Great. He could count on this ravine being under water when the runoff from Haleakala became a flash flood. How long did he have? Not more than a few minutes, half an hour at most.

"We don't have any choice," he said to himself, but Dodger answered with a sympathetic whine. "We have to move her."

He gently turned the woman to face him, then checked again to see if she had any serious injuries. She might have internal injuries, but he doubted it. How lucky could someone get?

Excerpt from Unforgettable by Meryl Sawyer
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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