My first “teaser” excerpt. This is a snippet of a new beginning I’m contemplating for my fantasy romance. Let me know if you think this works as a beginning or not! Any other comments are appreciated! [Updated 5/1/09]
Ice-cold seawater sprayed Ryan’s face, jerking him awake, dampening the natural fire within him. He felt fuzzyheaded and disconnected from his body as if he’d been portal hopping, hunting a demon. Or chasing another senseless dream. His bleary-eyed gaze landed on an endless cauldron of seething whitecaps. Ryan bolted upright on the lounge chair. A shower of spark erupted from his fingers and fizzled onto the soaked deck. Fire magic flared weakly inside him when it should be all guns blazing. Raising his palm face up, he invoked a fireball, but it quickly sputtered and died. A cold shiver raced up Ryan’s back, prickled across his scalp.
The sailboat bucked and dipped into swells that now dominated the Pacific. Thick clouds had rolled in, completely painting over the blue sky in brushstrokes of gunmetal gray and wet cement.
“What the hell happened to the sun and calm sea,” he muttered, shaking his head out of a nightmare, into reality. Moving his head only served to shoot a throbbing bolt through his skull, as nothing else changed around him.
He jumped up, banged his thigh on the tiller, barely missing his groin. “Shit.” Dull pain shot down his leg. He massaged the spot with one hand while checking his coordinates. He’d never fallen asleep sailing alone, and according to his watch, he’d passed out for an hour.
The compass arms spun wildly as if in a magnetic field. Ryan knocked his finger against the glass. The GPS spit an array of snow across the screen. He flicked it off, then on again to a black screen. “What the hell?”
The sails flapped madly, rigging snapped in the wind. Choppy water smacked against the hull, and the creaking of the boat sounded as if it was splintering apart. The sloop heaved up, slammed down hard on another surge, knocking Ryan to his knees. As he staggered to his feet, a rope of fear tightened around his chest. Slowly, he spun in a circle, taking in the rapidly increasing storm. Not another vessel or land in sight. A fast moving fog rolled in from his left, a solid mass of rain headed toward him from the right, and straight ahead was a mishmash of wind, rain, and lightning.
Something wasn’t right. He’d never seen a squall like this, and he’d sailed through plenty of them. Where was he? An hour wasn’t enough time to sail into stormy weather at least a week off the radar.
On rubbery legs, Ryan jumped below deck and flicked on the radio. Static grated on his jagged nerves. He checked all the channels, gave his identification on each one, waited for a response, and then flipped to the next. In the end, the only answer he received was a dead radio, dead engine, dead generator. Dead fucking everything.
Ryan slicked his wet hair back and rummaged for his satellite phone in his backpack, hoping for one last stroke of luck. The screen was blank, battery shot. He slammed the phone on the bunk, catching his balance against the desk as the boat canted toward port side. The Bermuda triangle’s looking tame compared to this BS. He gained fragile footing on the steps, grabbed his slicker, and shrugged it on over his T-shirt and shorts. For some gut-wrenching reason, he felt compelled to strap on his backpack even though the load hampered his movements.
Holding the handrails, he took the three steps to the deck in one leap. Gale force wind whipped his long hair about his face, rain slashed down in torrents. Sputtering, he spat out a mouthful of water. Shock jerked on his heart. Now he couldn’t see anything beyond an eerie blanket of fog settling in despite the whipping wind and driving rain. Mist so thick he could hack through it with a machete turned morning into midnight. Ryan stumbled across the deck and lowered the two sails before the wind shredded them. The masts and lines swayed with every lurch of the boat. As quickly as he could maneuver on the slick deck, he tied down what he could to wait out the storm.
Watching the world spin around him, Ryan wondered if fate hadn’t tossed him a life preserver. Last night, he’d dutifully kissed his equally apathetic fiancée goodbye following their wedding rehearsal dinner, then hit the lowest point of his life. But when he’d awoken that morning, adrenaline pumped through his veins, and he couldn’t wait to get out on the water. A single puffy cloud scuttled across clear sky as far as the Doppler could predict. While the sun rose over Los Angeles, Ryan sailed out of the bay, wishing the price of freedom were as cheap as cruising into the sunset. Steering course for the wide-open sheet of aquamarine, he’d saluted the pier and didn’t look back. His last trip of freedom before his life spun into a living hell.