Stories that shatter the myths of stereotypical islands of paradise. An eBook rewrite and expansion of the novel, “The Tropics,” with a new surprising ending. Two women fall prey to nature's wrath during inclement tropical weather, face death at sea, and are tested to the limits of survival.
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In “Promises,” during the late 1960s, the ketch, Mercy, sinks during a sea storm off Culebra near the Virgin Islands. Ciara Malloy assumes custody of her drowned fiancé’s son and learns a devastating secret about the boy that changes her life forever. In “Adrift,” in the late 1990s, underwater photographer Lillian Avery gets caught in a rip current and swept out to sea off Kauai in Hawaii. In facing death, she finds a way to leave a message behind. Years later, in “Reunion,” the two former neighbors from Puerto Rico reunite on Kauai. A hurricane wreaks island-wide havoc. Ciara is missing, presumed dead. Among the rubble, Lillian finds Ciara’s memoirs; a life history that threatens to expose secrets tightly held since the sinking of the Mercy.
Ciara had to do something. If this were not a poisonous snake, it would be easier to manage. Once it got to the floor, they might be able to shoo it outside or direct it with the stick. But could she wait to find out? People always teased about poisonous snakes in the Caribbean. Yet, she had never heard about anyone suffering from a bite, let alone having died. Supposedly, no poisonous snakes lived in Puerto Rico. But this was a remote island. After a bite from the most poisonous of Caribbean snakes, the fer-de-lance, the one bitten may begin to bleed from the eyes, gums, tongue, ears and even skin as blood vessels exploded. The venom was both hemotoxic and neurotoxic. She remembered the deadly serpent as having brown and grayish markings and that was exactly what this snake had! But she had no idea what a fer-de-lance might look like. Yet, what if this snake got spooked and promptly sank its fangs into Domingo? This certainly was not the time to wait it out. Regardless of his bad deed, Domingo certainly did not deserve a prolonged fate worse than death. She had to act.
“Here, Mama,” Pablo whispered from behind. Without looking away from the snake that took its time, she slowly extended her hand backwards expecting to receive the walking stick. Instead, Pablo placed the handle of a machete into her grip. She squeezed it firmly and a wave of thankfulness washed over her. Then Pablo eased to the side out of harm’s way. With imperceptibly slow movements, Ciara positioned herself facing Domingo straight on. She lowered to a crouch and brought the machete up to striking posture.
The snake slithered over Domingo’s shoulder and down his bare chest. How might it react if one of those droplets of Domingo’s sweat fell in the wrong place? It slithered to the outside of his outstretched legs on the floor. Domingo fearfully opened his eye and watched the snake slide along the length of his leg as the rest of the body and tail slithered down his torso. The snake drew the rest of its body over Domingo’s outstretched leg. Its probing tongue darted incessantly. The snake paused where it was. Domingo tried to move his other leg ever so slightly away and that set the snake in motion again.
Moving cautiously, the snake drew itself up over the leg and pulled the rest of its body between Domingo’s flattened knees. It remained still momentarily, sensing and sensing, facing Domingo as droplets of sweat matted the hair on his chest. Then Ciara noticed it had pulled back on itself like a piece of ribbon Christmas candy. But there could be nothing sweet about that serpent. It looked ready to strike.
She would have only one chance to hit the snake behind its head as it swayed slightly, side to side. She hoped the long blade of the machete would not also cut into either of Domingo’s legs. Ciara heard herself give out a blood-curdling scream as she lunged and brought the machete down.