Someone coming toward her.
It was going to happen again.
Helpless. Helpless. Helpless.
The scream that tore from Melis's throat jarred her awake.
She jerked upright in bed. She was shaking, her T-shirt soaked with sweat.
Sometimes she wasn't sure. . . . It didn't matter.
Only a dream.
She wasn't helpless. She'd never be helpless again. She was strong now.
Except when she had the dreams. They robbed her of power and she was forced to remember. But she had the dreams less often now. It had been over a month since the last one. Still, she might feel better if she had someone to talk to. Maybe she should call Carolyn and--
No, deal with it. She knew what to do after the dreams to rid herself of these trembling fits and get back to blessed normalcy. She tore off her nightshirt as she left the bedroom and headed toward the lanai.
A moment later she was diving off the lanai into the sea.
It was the middle of the night, but the water was only cool, not cold, and felt like liquid silk on her body. Clean and caressing and soothing...
No threat. No submission. Nothing but the night and the sea. God, it was good to be alone.
But she wasn't alone.
Something sleek and cool brushed against her leg.
"Susie?" It had to be Susie. The female dolphin was much more physically affectionate than Pete. The male touched her only rarely, and it was something special when he did.
But Pete was beside her in the water. She saw him out of the corner of her eye as she stroked toward the nets that barricaded the inlet. "Hi, Pete. How are you doing?"
He gave a subdued series of clicks and then dove beneath the surface. A moment later Susie and Pete came to the surface together and swam ahead of her toward the nets. It was strange how they always knew when she was upset. Ordinarily their behavior was playful, almost giddily exuberant. It was only when they sensed she was disturbed that they became this docile. She was supposed to be the one teaching the dolphins, but she was learning from them every day she spent in their company. They enriched her life and she was grateful that--
Something was wrong.
Susie and Pete were both squeaking and clicking frantically as they approached the net. A shark on the other side?
The net was down.
What the hell . . . No one could unfasten the net unless they knew where it was connected. "I'll take care of it. Go back home, guys."
The dolphins ignored her, swimming around her protectively while she examined the net. No cuts, no tears in the strong wire. It took her only a few minutes to fasten the net again. She set off back to the cottage, her strokes strong, purposeful--and wary.
It didn't have to be a problem. It could be Phil back from his latest journey. Her foster father had been gone for nearly seven months this time, with only an occasional phone call or postcard to tell her if he was alive or dead.
But it could be trouble. Phil had been forced to go on the run almost two years ago and the threat was only partially eliminated. There could still be people out there who wanted to get their hands on him. Phil wasn't the most discreet person in the world, and his judgment wasn't as keen as his intellect. He was a dreamer who took more chances than--
She became still, paddling in place, her gaze on the lanai a short distance away. She could see a man's silhouette outlined against the lights of the living room. It wasn't Phil's small, wiry frame. This man was big, muscular, and vaguely familiar.
"Melis, I didn't mean to scare you. It's me, Cal."
Excerpted from Fatal Tide by Iris Johansen Copyright© 2003 by Iris Johansen. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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