Attacked by pirates, sucked through a vortex, rescued/captured by a shifter warrior—and that was just the first day of Halley’s memorable voyage!
Halley discovers she’s jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire—almost literally. Caught up in a strange storm at sea, attacked by Caribbean pirates, she goes overboard and wakes up floating along a river in an alien and truly bizarre land.
And the exotic , barbarian Warrior that chases her down and captures her, she soon discovers, isn’t a man at all.
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Vale of Shadows:
River of Lost Souls
Halley Mathews was awakened the second day out by the captain’s voice on the inner-com. “We have a storm blowing up. I need all hands topside to prepare the ship for rough seas. Now, people!”
Jolted from a deep sleep, the tone of the ship’s captain was all that lifted Halley from her bed and into action. Otherwise, she very likely would’ve simply turned over and gone back to sleep.
And would probably have died.
She was ‘housekeeping’ for the Vessel, which was a luxury cruiser that catered to an exclusive clientele—the moderately rich who couldn’t afford the upkeep of a yacht or just didn’t want the bother. The super rich had their own—or a fleet—if they wanted them.
So she didn’t have a lot to do on the cruises they made around the Caribbean—cleaning up after maybe a dozen, max, on any trip they took and generally fewer. And helping the kitchen/wait staff when necessary.
She hadn’t, previously, been called upon to help with storm precautions and she couldn’t decide if the captain had inadvertently included her in the call or if she really was needed.
But either way, she felt enough alarm that she rolled out of her bunk and began to dress hastily in the clothing she’d lain out for the day.
Wondering if she should take time for grooming, she finally decided to head for the deck to check out the situation and see just how dire it was. If it wasn’t an imminent problem, she could always head back down to take care of the hair and teeth brushing. If they were in trouble, brushing her hair and teeth and dabbing on makeup were the least of her worries.
She kept telling herself, though, that it was very likely not much at all or the captain would have made haste to get to a port to weather it. They were in the Caribbean, only a day out from Miami on a three day cruise, their home port—which, very likely, was too far away by now to help if the storm was moving fast, but there were islands dotting the Caribbean that should be reachable if they had need for shelter. It didn’t make sense that the captain would take the chance of losing the vessel if there was any real danger.
She discovered when she got to the deck that there was already a flurry of activity and she rushed to join the crew in removing and stowing everything on deck that was likely to become a missile. Listening to snatches of conversations here and there about the ‘weirdness of the storm’, she discovered that it had formed with uncanny speed out of a clear sky.
It was enough to get her blood pumping and lift her level of alertness without her customary cup of coffee.
When she had a moment to pause, she glanced around to see what the storm looked like and felt her heart jolt.
They were literally surrounded by a wall of clouds—as if they’d sailed into the eye of a hurricane—from the surface of the sea up as far as the eye could see.
“Creepy, huh?” one of the younger crewmembers, Jack, asked her.
“That’s a storm?” Halley asked uneasily, because, despite the fact that the clouds had surrounded them, they were fluffy and white. They didn’t have the angry color and boiling sort of affect as most of the storms she’d seen—on land or at sea.
Even as she asked, though, she saw a flicker of lightning deep inside the bank. A moment later, a boom crashed over them like cannon fire and Halley and Jack both jumped.
“That might wake up our pampered poodles. You may want to head back down and find them some noise canceling headphones,” Jack muttered under his breath and hurried off.
Halley didn’t think this was a good time to stick their heads in the sand—so to speak. Of course, he might be right. They might prefer to sleep off their party of the night before, but this was the sort of that thing that could get ugly in a big hurry and could be life threatening.
After a brief debate, she hurried back down and moved to the door of their guest suites, listening for any sound indicating they were up and stirring.
She really hated to wake them.
This wasn’t just a ‘no tip for you’ situation. If she woke them and there was nothing to get alarmed about, she would get cussed out by the guests and then the captain.
Vale of Shadows: River of Lost Souls
Published: June 2021
Word Count: 30,474
Available formats: Epub, PDF, RTF, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
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