Madeleine knew the people of Highbourne Cay were excited about the maiden voyage. Caribbe allowed them to see the islands in a new way. She imagined cruising on foils that lifted the ferry’s hull completely out of the water.
Odd, even though it was dead calm, a rustle of wind swept across her shoulder, and she heard a faint sound like the brushing of humming bird wings. With her fingers secure in Rollo’s massive hand, she treaded the plank and boarded the ferry. She got only a glimpse of a man on the main deck, but it was enough. He didn’t look like an islander or a deckhand.
Tall, dressed in crew whites and as stiff as one of her toy wooden soldiers, he stood behind the open bow doors. Like oil, the man’s eyes slid from one passenger to another until he frowned in her direction. She glanced away, avoided his stare, looking down at the deck, studying his cowboy boots. The crew was supposed to wear boat shoes, not cowboy boots. Usually she had difficulty accepting rules she didn’t make; suddenly following rules was important.
For a fleeting second, she wished she were home with her parents. That’s when the pain hit her in the middle of her forehead. “Rollo, I changed my mind. Let’s go some other time with Mom and Dad.”
“What’s wrong, Maddy?” he asked gently.
“My head hurts.”
“The fresh air will do you good.” He patted her shoulder reassuringly.
She didn’t respond. Her hand tightened on the railing, as she and Rollo continued climbing the stairs to the top deck.
Madeleine leaned into the railing and watched the seascape glide past makeshift docks, beyond the reach of roads into a vast area of coral reefs. Islands appeared to rise from the sound, then reappeared time and again in the form of small cays, creating a continuing landscape. Thirty minutes later she rested in a deck chair, oblivious of the time.
A sickening jolt spilled her onto the floor. She heard an awful crunch, then a loud crash. Water gushed through the doors onto the lower deck. She didn’t understand how the best ferry in the entire world could take on water. Nothing was supposed to happen to the best, but she wasn’t so sure.
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