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About the author:
I was born in Belleville, Canada, lived in Vancouver, Maui, Whistler, Taipei and now Seattle. Travel is at the heart of who I am and my favorite place to go right now is Nicaragua, where the next Dream Jumper book is set.
What inspired you to write your book?
I set out to write a suspense novel with a twist at the end that would surprise the reader. Having lived on Maui for ten years in the eighties, I chose to set the location in the islands and bring the reader to the exoticism of Maui. I was a scuba instructor when I lived in Lahaina so I know that lifestyle and wanted to use it in the book because most women will never know what it feels like to be a scuba instructor on Maui. Or know someone who can visit dreams!
Here is a short sample from the book:
Sample from Book:
A shadow moved past the front window of Tina and Hank’s Dive Shop. The door opened, the overhead bell jingled, and a Maui Cop entered the store. The uniform, gun at the hip, even his downcast eyes were all familiar sights. In the last ten months, Tina had seen more than she wanted of Maui’s finest, and they hadn’t come through when she most needed them.
“The sharks will get the body,” they’d said.
Everyone believed Hank was dead, but she wasn’t convinced. Not yet, even though the search had been abandoned after only one hundred and sixty-eight hours—ten thousand and eighty excruciatingly long minutes of hoping.
Her dog, Obi, trotted over to the policeman, as if the man wasn’t seconds away from pounding another nail in Hank’s empty coffin.
“We found your husband’s wallet.” The leather in the cop’s outstretched hand was a small but powerful reminder of Hank. Memories meteored towards her—his gypsy-black hair and twinkling eyes. At the beach, driving his truck, smiling from their bed.
She cupped the wallet in her small hand and closed her fingers around its edges. For all that remained of a dynamic man, it was surprisingly light.
“Where?” She tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.
“Off the path, above Honolua.”
No one takes a wallet surfing. “Thanks.” It would hold his credit cards, medical insurance card, driver’s license, dive instructor card, all part of Hank’s life on Maui. A life he’d cherished. Married only sixteen months, would a man simply abandon his wife and a charmed life in Hawaii without a word?
The faint chugging of the air compressor in the shop’s back alley broke through her thoughts. Katie, her shop girl, was in the back alley filling scuba tanks. Tina looked around to see the policeman had gone. She pulled the driver’s license from its slot and grains of sand fell, sand that Hank might have touched before he went into the water that day.
“Did I hear you talking to someone?” Katie popped in from the back room, her blond hair swinging.
“Police.” Tina held up the wallet. “Hank’s.”
Someone barely of drinking age would know little of consoling a thirty-four-year-old widow. “Katie, can you do the coffee run now? I’ll finish filling the tanks if you’ll get me a double.” Tina needed something and she hoped it was just coffee.
She walked through to the back alley and lowered herself to sit on an overturned milk crate, waiting for the group of submerged scuba tanks in a metal trough to fill to 3000 psi. Leaning against the wall, her gaze drifted towards the sky. The gray clouds held in the humidity like a wool blanket, and sweat trickled down the small of her back into the waistband of her board shorts.
This new turn of events didn’t completely eliminate the possibility that Hank might have faked his own death. He was smart enough to know credit cards were useless to someone who wanted to disappear. Still. The wallet felt cool in her hand. She’d have to tell Noble it turned up. Open that bag of snakes. Poor Noble.
She extracted a picture tucked into a fold of the wallet and a stab of loneliness shot through her. In it she and Hank were smiling from a sun-drenched, black-sand beach in Hana. She fit perfectly into the curve of his long, lean body. Like phantom pain in an amputated leg, the memory of how it felt to tuck in under his shoulder lingered. They’d driven to the sleepy town of Hana, that day, with their best friend Noble and a girlfriend, hoping to take a break from the craziness of the Lahaina scene. Back when she knew he loved her, beyond any doubt.
But now there was doubt. Especially when days before his death, he’d said, “No matter what, always remember how much I love you.” She’d thought he was worried about how their relationship would change when she got pregnant, a plan they were working on with feverish diligence. “Silly man,” she said, kissing him.
Tina tucked the photo back in the wallet. Memories would drive her crazy if she didn’t get a grip soon. A deep breath revealed the scent of plumeria flowers from the tree across the laneway at Mr. Takeshimi’s house.
Watching the elderly neighbor sweeping the porch of his pristine cottage, his broom swishing a gentle rhythm, she called out. “Hey, Mr. T.”. He was a fighter, still holding onto his real estate despite million-dollar offers. Hank’s plan had been to buy the house and open an art gallery. But now she was in debt and that plan was long forgotten. Someone would come along eventually and make it a tacky T-shirt shop. Or a competing dive shop.
When Mr. T. straightened, Tina increased her volume. “Big storm coming in.”
He nodded. “Doesn’t scare me.”
No, it wouldn’t. He’d endured World War II as a Japanese American in Hawaii. Sixty-one years after the Pearl Harbor attack, he was sweeping his porch. He stared at her, his face a question in waiting.
“Me neither.” She tried to believe in her own words.
Mr. Takeshimi nodded, as if this explained something. “Fall seven times and stand up eight, Tina.” Japanese proverbs lived on the tip of his tongue. He’d once said, “Good things come to those who wait,” and then Hank came into her life.
She stood. “I’m up. Thanks, Mr. T.” She smiled his way, knowing he’d worry without it.
Back in the shop, Tina met the gaze of a fist-sized octopus in one of the aquariums. Staring directly into the cephalopod’s eyes, she tried to convey an apology. Five days in an aquarium was too long for an intelligent creature. “I’ll see you get released today. I’m sorry it’s been so long, Mr. Oc.”
It was eight a.m. Time to open the store for the day. Flipping the wall switch, she illuminated all six fish tanks to create the underwater look to her Lahaina Towne shop. Over two years before, Hank had installed the wall of sixty-gallon aquariums to stylize the store and lure customers in. Even during the recent shutdown, the tanks had been maintained and viewed through the windows, still colorful, the fish vibrant, even though Hank was dead.
Walking around the room, she noticed the octopus watching her. Its scrutiny made her feel like she was not only being watched, but judged. A ridiculous thought. She tilted her head and contemplated what it must be thinking. “Being caged sucks,” she said, not necessarily to the octopus.
The pit mix, Obi Wan, bared his teeth in a smile, his usual reaction to any word ending in ‘uck.’ “It’s okay. Mommy’s having a good day.” She scratched behind her dog’s ears, his favorite spot, and then moved to the back room. Tucking the wallet in the top drawer of her messy desk, her palm lingered on the metal front in silent apology to Hank for shutting him away.
“Here, Boss.” Katie entered the back room and then set the double espresso with extra sugar on the desk. Ever since her boyfriend, Ned confessed that her constant talking drove him crazy, Katie had been trying to use fewer words.
Katie hovered over Tina, her smile hinting at all the unspoken sentences rattling around inside her mouth.
Tina arched her brows in question. “Just say it Katie. I won’t tell Ned.”
“Uncle Jamey’s coming today.” The words shot from Katie’s lips like dice thrown on a table.
“Your uncle from Seattle?” She nodded. “My offer stands. Tell him he can dive free on slow days.” A soldier on leave from Afghanistan could dive on her nickel any day there was space. “He might have to wait until this Kona storm blows through.” Bad conditions would put a halt on diving for the next few days. Katie beamed and skipped into the next room, a sunny influence to have around.
Tina took a sip of the steaming coffee and wondered which problem to tackle first. The desk was littered with bills and phone messages from creditors but before she could open another letter from the bank, Katie’s scream made her fly out of her chair and run into the next room. She rounded the doorway to see a man grab Katie roughly and lift her off her feet. The scream turned to a squeal that ended in a giggle. This was not Ned, who was lean and scruffy and always looked like he just woke up. This was an adult–tall, with sandy-colored hair on the long side of a crew cut and muscular arms. His crisp white T-shirt reading Maui Parasail stretched across a broad back.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” Katie pulled away from the hug. “I miss everyone, you know? How is everybody? I mean really. How’s Dad and Grandpops?” She stopped to take a breath as her resolve to use fewer words went flying out the window.
Katie did a little happy dance, her smile stretching from ear to ear. “I hoped you’d call this morning. I was just telling my boss that you’d come today. The diving isn’t looking good. I’m sorry about the storm coming in and Tina said it’s not likely we’ll dive tomorrow but the weather here can change in a few hours, just like Seattle.”
Tina stepped forward, knowing an interruption would be necessary. “You’re Katie’s uncle, I presume.” She extended her hand.
As the man turned to face her, Tina froze. It had been a while, but she knew this person well enough to know that when he slept on his back, he snored. And that he had a small birthmark shaped like South America below his belly button. Far below. She’d once pointed to Tierra del Fuego, and then inched southward, with her tongue.
His slightly lopsided smile was achingly familiar and once so dear to her, her breath now caught in her throat and produced a tiny warble that she hoped was inaudible. Even though she’d changed in ten years, he must recognize her too. As their palms made contact, Tina felt a powerful surge pass between them, almost like an electric shock. Her eyes widened as a curtain of darkness moved in front of her vision and blackness invaded.
“Kristina?” The familiar timbre of James’ voice sounded far away, muffled, as she fought for consciousness. Sinking to the floor, the last thing she felt was his arm moving behind her back.
“Katie, get some water.” Jamey sensed Kristina was going to black out before her eyes took on that blank expression of nothingness. He grabbed her small frame in a loose hug and lowered her to the carpeted floor. Shit, what’s going on? He’d sensed something horribly melancholy about her when he turned around. Tragedy, sadness. Damn this clairvoyance. Pinching the inside of her thigh made her flinch and those gorgeous chocolate-colored eyes fluttered open. “Kristina?” She smelled like gardenia flowers. He couldn’t help notice, this close.
“What?” Her voice was paper thin. She reached for the dog that had moved in to lick her face. “How long?”
“Ten seconds.” Jamey watched her scan the room. Her carotid pulse was strong.
“I felt something weird.” She turned her head to look at him and he leaned back to put a few more inches between them.
“Faint or hungry or…overjoyed to see me?” He attempted a smile but she didn’t notice. Already she was struggling to sit up. “Just lay there for a bit.”
“I’m okay now.”
He remembered how stubborn she was and helped her up, his arm under her elbow. Unsteadily, she reached for the counter. Her face had more color but hell, she still looked terrible. Deathly.
Katie ran into the room with a bottle of water. “Oh, my God, Tina. What happened? Should I phone 911?” She stopped short of hugging her boss.
Kristina grabbed the counter’s edge for support while he took the water bottle from Katie. “Thanks, sweetie,” Jamey said, “but I think she has low blood sugar. Can you find fruit or a carb?”
“We have juice in the back fridge.”
“That’ll do.” Jamey nodded, not taking his eyes from Kristina. He cracked the water bottle’s seal and handed it over.
Tina took a swig and set it down on the glass counter.
“Deep breaths,” he advised.
She exhaled and then looked into his face. “James Dunn.” It was a statement.
He remembered when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. “Kristina Greene.” Her cap logo said ‘Tina and Hank’s Dive Shop.’ Ah yes, the husband.
“I go by Tina now.”
She backed away and he didn’t blame her. The way he’d left things, he deserved a slap. Or a punch. “I’m surprised you’re still on the island.” She’d said she wouldn’t last long on Maui if her parents didn’t get off her back.
They shared a smile. Hers looked forced. His felt the same way.
She stepped behind the counter, putting distance between them. “I thought I’d seen the last of you.”
“That’s not why you fainted?” He needed her to say it wasn’t his fault.
“Here’s POG.” Katie rounded the corner, balancing an overfilled Dixie cup. She stood and watched Tina gulp the sugary pink juice.
“That did the trick, thanks, Katie.”
Her eyes had lost the foggy look. “Maybe you need food,” Jamey said. He’d take her for breakfast if she’d let him.
“No thanks.” She pulled her hat further down her forehead.
His heart still raced at the sight of her again, his palms still clammy. Kristina. Wow. Definitely recognizable as the spunky dive instructor he’d fallen for ten years ago, she still had that turned-up nose, big brown eyes and a face that said ‘naughty girl next door.’ He realized that he was staring at her like she was a textbook and he had a test coming up. “You should see a doctor, just in case,” he said.
A smile didn’t accompany her chuckle. “Believe me, I will. Excuse me.” She turned and disappeared into the back room with the striped dog on her heels.