USA Today Bestselling Author
Running away can often lead to the same thing
you were trying to leave behind …
Vince is not on board with the wave of romance happening at Legendary Security and so is happy to escape all that, but he soon finds himself aboard a research vessel off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, dealing with his own tide of emotions.
Vanessa loves her research trips. This latest one is finally coming to a successful conclusion, as she completes their data collection, when their vessel is boarded by pirates. She’s knocked unconscious and moved to an old sinking tub and left adrift in the ocean. She wakes to find the only other female member of the team is missing …
Worried, the team returns to shore, trying to sort out what happened. Vanessa insists on tracking her missing team member, even as the others vote to return home. Vanessa refuses. She’ll help or die trying. Vince can stay with her or go with the others—his choice—but no way is Vanessa’s lost researcher being left behind.
And, one by one,
the other members of the team
go missing too …
I’m still behind on this series, but I couldn’t resist the latest.
Vince is really are having a hard time with all the couples forming around him. Of course this just amuses the rest of the team, to the point that Levi says his match will be going to be ‘Vince’s Vixen’ and he won’t really have a choice when that eventuality happens.
When a scientist working in the Artic calls concerned about his daughter doing research in the Galápagos Islands, he’s spoken to her almost daily but now she hasn’t answered he phone in twenty-four hours. His biggest worry is pirates, since her team spends much of their time on the research boat. Ice requests all the necessary information to start the investigation including George’s daughter’s name, she then decides Vince would take lead on this assignment. Did I mention her name is Vanessa and she was named for her vixen of a grandmother? I’m still giggling over that.
Vince is not comfortable with all the couples forming, he doesn’t think he’s ready for that kind of relationship. Levi however has pointed out that when you meet the right person, you know and nothing will stop it from happening and was the first to say ‘Vince’s Vixen’.
Vince’s partner on this journey is from Bullard’s team, Levi and Bullard are doing kind of an exchange program in order to spread out expertise. Johan can tap Bullard’s connections and he has some understanding of the Galápagos Islands as well as sailing experience.
They have to skirt a storm to reach where they believe the research boat is, but what they find is an unpiloted boat with Vanessa, part of her team and an injured kidnapper. Now that they are safe Vanessa focuses her concern on her missing team member Dr. Laura Sanchez.
This is a favorite scene.
“They could just be keeping an eye on us,” Tony said, turning to Vince, a question in his eyes.
Vince shook his head. “We saw nobody else on the ocean. Granted, the first part we spent in the storm, so there was no seeing much of anything. But, after the storm passed, we’ve had no sightings of other ships or boats in this area.”
“Well,” Tony continued, “you know we wouldn’t have survived for too long. Not much fresh water was down there. Give us a week, ten days. The kidnappers could come back then, open up the hatch, find us all dead, toss our bodies in the sea and retake the ship. It’s not like they didn’t know where we were.”
Vanessa shook her head, seemingly in deep thought again. “This boat was not anchored, not the way it was tossed about in the storm, going for long stretches in one way until it twisted in another direction. And, given the storm, this boat is probably nowhere near where the kidnappers left us.”
“But the kidnappers must have had some purpose for taking you in the first place,” Johan said. “Do you have any idea what it is?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“But why didn’t they just kill us when they first boarded the research ship?” Vanessa asked, not reallyexpecting an answer, just formulating her thoughts while staring at the floor. “They were armed. They were brutal enough.” Then her head popped up to focus on her rescuers. “I presume you guys think the research ship is still in this area, right? And that there have been no ransom demands for the ship or for any of our team members either, correct?” At their nods, she continued, “If the kidnappers weren’t taking the research ship to resell or for their own purposes, and they weren’t ransoming us or the ship off for money, why go to the trouble to move us at all? Again, I ask, why didn’t they just kill us immediately?”
Vince studied them. “Because they didn’t want to stir up an international event and wanted only the other doctor?”
Vanessa looked at him. “That’s two scary thoughts.” She frowned. “But, even so, why not kill us on this boat and leave our dead bodies here for the storm and the sea to finish off? We’d never be found again. International crisis could never be proven and thus would be averted.” J
ohan said, “Because they wanted to hide you, still alive, for a while? Or hide your bodies permanently at sea, with no bullet wounds to lead back to them and their guns.”
That caused Vanessa to shudder. “Regardless of these questions that just won’t leave me alone, one thing seems certain. Considering Dr. Sanchez is the only one of my team not here, it’s very possible the gunmen only wanted her.”
“What was she like?”
“She is a sweetheart,” Vanessa snapped. “I refuse to talk about her as if she’s already dead.”
“I didn’t mean that,” Vince said defensively, holding up his hand. “Just calm down. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on here.”
“Well, I personally would like to get onto your boat,” Dr. Walker said, “and go home.”
“We can’t leave her,” Vanessa said in outrage. “She wouldn’t leave you alone.”
Dr. Walker shoved his hands in his pockets. “Maybe,” he said with fatigue in his voice. “But we have no idea where she is or who’s taken her or why. So how the hell do you expect to find her?”
“The same way these guys found us.” She turned to Vince. “How did you find us?”
“We came in the direction of your last-known location,” he said calmly. “We were looking for your research ship and happened to find this boat first.”
“So by accident.” Dr. Walker sneered. “That’s helpful.”
“Hardly an accident,” Johan said, directing an insolent glare at Dr. Walker. “We did come to the right area. Now, if we can find your original vessel, that would tell us if she’s on board with the kidnappers.”
“It’s possible,” Vanessa said. “Our research vessel is worth millions of dollars. It’s a hell of a lot better than this one.”
“And, of course, on the black market, it’s worth a lot more money too,” Vince said with a nod. “We’ll take you to our rig, and we’ll contact our boss to find out what they might see from current satellite data, now that the storm has cleared this area. There must be a way to track your boat. I’m sure you have some tracking system on it.”
“We ran into a storm,” Tony said. “Some of our systems were disabled.”
“Or were disabled for us,” Vanessa said, her voice hardened. “Maybe we were targeted right from the beginning. I don’t know. It just makes me very angry that poor Laura isn’t here too.”
“Whether she’s here or not,” Dr. Walker said, “the least we can do is save ourselves.”
Vanessa turned to glare at him. Her disgust was evident.
Vince already didn’t like Dr. Walker. Neither did Vanessa, but she remained so passionate and still had so much anger even after two days of captivity. He wondered where she had gotten so much spirit. Certainly not from George, who seemed very calm and placid. Vanessa was the opposite. She used her hands when she spoke; her facial expressions twisted and changed with everything she said. She was so animated that it was a joy to watch.
She turned to Jasper. “You have any ideas?”
He looked at her in surprise. “No, why would I?”
“Because you’ve been working under her for the last year. Do you have any idea why she would be targeted?”
He shook his head, a frown pulling his eyebrows together in the center of his forehead. “No,” he said, “I don’t. She isn’t from America though. Would that make any difference?”
Vanessa said, “She’s Columbian, although I’m not sure that makes a difference.”
Jasper added, “She worked at the university, but she was from Colombia originally.”
At the name of her birth country, Vince felt a sock to his stomach. “That can bring another whole twist into this event. What’s her full name? We’ll run a search on her, see if somebody in the family has contacted them asking for ransom money.”
“When anybody thinks of Columbia,” Dr. Walker said, “their mind immediately goes to drugs and drug cartels. Chances are, this has absolutely nothing to do with that.”
“Maybe,” Johan said. “But this is a missing person, one Dr. Sanchez. If you were the one missing, we’d be looking for you. So, until we know she’s not alive, we’ll go on the assumption that she is.” His phone rang, and he stepped away from the group to answer it.
“What does that mean?” Dr. Walker barked to one and all. “Take us back to the mainland. We can take flights home and get our lives back together again. You can mount a rescue mission for Dr. Sanchez, if you want,” Dr. Walker said in exasperation, “but the rest of us would like to go home where we belong.”
Vanessa bounced forward. “Speak for yourself. Not me. I’m not leaving her alone.”
“Good for you. Doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me. You can stay here and die if you want, but I want to go home,” Dr. Walker shouted. “This is not my world. It’s not how I want to live. It’s nothing I’m comfortable with. I just want to go home to my family.”
Vince understood how this wasn’t everybody’s kind of life. And, if Vince had a wife and kids, it would make it that much harder to stay away from them. “I hope as soon as we get the message out that we found you four, we’ll get more information. If your vessel is somewhere close by, we’ll find it. There is, indeed, a lot of money involved, a lot of research data involved, and a lot of people want to see that all is retrieved and back in the hands of its rightful owners.”
Dr. Walker seemed to collapse in on himself. “Fine. But could we get to your boat please? This one has a ton of bad memories.”
Vince nodded. “Absolutely. Come on. Let’s get you guys over there. If anybody needs medical supplies, we have some with us.”
Johan rejoined them. “We found your vessel. It’s only a few nautical miles from here. Satellite isn’t picking up anyone on board at this time, but that doesn’t mean it’s empty.”
“Then we’ll go see,” Vince said. “It’s close, and, if several of you are okay to pilot it back to port, then we should try to reclaim it.”
On that note, Vince carefully moved them all from one boat to the other. They also had an injured man to carry over. That was tricky, but Vince and Johan managed it. And when that was done, hating too, but knowing they to, they cut the rope and let the old research vessel go. He’d snagged the GPS coordinates to send to the local government officials to track— if they cared.
Otherwise, she would bounce around in the waves for another ten years before somebody put her to good use. He was kind of sorry it wouldn’t be him. She had the looks of a boat that had survived a long time and had lived through a lot of assholes.
Dale Mayer. Vince’s Vixen (Kindle Locations 608-679). Valley Publishing Ltd.
A complex group of personalities, as things get stranger and suspicious.
Vanessa definitely isn’t letting anything go and is determined to find Laura and makes sure she gets home. One way or another.
I love the slow build relationship between Vince and Vanessa, it has not only heat but also irritation. Vince really has to stay on his toes.
Laughter, tears, suspense, danger and that simmer to sizzle relationship make this a book you can’t put down.
I can’t wait to read the next book, I loved the lead in to Ice’s Icing.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.