Believing herself responsible for her father's fatal diving accident, Rachel Lyons has withdrawn from the world and assumed a safe position at a foundation office. When called upon by a museum director to assist Trident Ventures with the recovery of a priceless relic from a sunken Chinese merchant ship, she has no intention of cooperating - especially after discovering her former love interest is involved.
But Rachel soon realizes she has no choice when a drug-dealing gangster kidnaps her brother and demands two million dollars for his safe return. In order to rescue him and gain control over her life, she must not only overcome her greatest fears, but also steal the Heart of the Dragon out from under Chase Cohen - the same cursed relic that is holding the museum director's life in peril.
With three lives now on the line, including her own, Rachel must relive the circumstances that lead to her father's death. Will she gain Chase's trust and recover the Mai Le treasure in time or will they both die trying?
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/severed-threads-kaylin-mcfarren/1112271916
Author's Website: www.kaylinmcfarren.com
Fifteen feet under the ocean, Chase struggled to keep his calm. He seized the lifeline and secured Sam to it. He removed his weight belt and inflated his BC. With one huge push, Chase shoved Sam upward. Go! Then remaining in place, he hovered – decompressing himself for the longest five minutes of his life. All the while, his memories filled with Sam. The only man in his life he had allowed himself to trust. The only father figure he’d ever known. Without hesitation, Sam had offered him a job. He opened his home and welcomed him like a member of his family. How could Chase have been so careless? So completely self-absorbed?
His reeling thoughts centered on Sam's daughter. The moment Rachel had stepped into his life, all the bad that ever was had vanished. Of all the women he’d allowed himself to become involved with, she was the one who had found her way into his heart. How could he possibly explain this fiasco to her? What words could he use to excuse his actions? Sam and Rachel were the most important people in his life and now in a matter of minutes, that could all change.
Be all right, Sam. Please, be all right. Chase tucked away his anxieties and headed for the surface. With each determined stroke and kick, he prayed that his partner would survive. By the time he boarded Stargazer, the crew had already hoisted Sam onto the dive platform. They had radioed the San Palo Coast Guard station, only fifteen minutes away, and one of his crew members had taken over the helm. As they blazed a path toward shore, Chase breathed in oxygen to help purge the excess nitrogen from his system. His gut wrenched as he watched the bulky helmsman aggressively work over Sam’s body. Exhaled breaths, rhythmic chest compressions. Ian's relentless attempts continued for an eternity with no visible response from Sam. Then Ian checked Sam's vitals. He closed his eyes and shook his downcast head.
Chase could hear voices all around them asking questions, but his fear muted them. He shoved Ian out of the way. "No!" He took over breathing into Sam’s gaping mouth, hammering his chest with his fist. "Breathe, Sam, goddamn it! Breathe!" he yelled. Chase knew people could be revived after as much as an hour in cold water without brain damage. He couldn't give up. Not when it meant losing his closest friend.
They finally reached the dock and someone had the courage to pull Chase off. Hold him at a distance as a team of professionals took over.
"Looks like cardiac arrest," a Coast Guard officer announced.
The words reverberated in Chase’s ears. He grasped the ship’s gun-rail to keep from collapsing. He watched as they transferred Sam’s spent body into a waiting ambulance. Then he forced himself to follow closely behind, his rubbery legs barely cooperating. He begged to come along, but the same officer assured him nothing more could be done.
Chase stood barefooted in the graveled lot of the marina, watching the white emergency vehicle drive away. As soon as it disappeared from view, he fell back against a parked car. All sound had been siphoned from the air. The only thing registering was his throbbing brain and the radiating pain in his chest.
Why Sam? He was a healthy fifty-five year old man. He had over twenty years of diving under his belt and knew the ocean better than anyone. With no threatening divers or reported sharks in the area, Chase couldn’t imagine what had caused his heart to stop cold.
What did I miss? Chase racked his brain for answers. He’d personally checked Sam’s tank and regulator after picking it up at the dive shop. At the time, everything was in working order. He was sure of it. And yet if the cause of Sam’s death was ruled equipment failure, he would be held accountable. Even if the court let him off, he would always believe himself responsible.
Chase’s eyes dropped to a white plastic bag, bouncing and rolling across the ground – a discarded and insignificant piece of life.
A man's voice turned him around. The Coast Guard officer had been making inquiries, taking statements. Checking their dive equipment. The crew members were now huddled at the far end of the dock, casing weary looks in Chase’s direction.
"Would you like to come with me…to explain all of this to Miss Lyons?" he asked.
God, Rachel. The worst was yet to come. He glanced at the ship’s fantail, now vacant except for Ian. The mountainous man stood hunched over, face in his hands, sobbing.
"I'll tell her," Chase said. He waited until the officer turned and walked away. Until he was completely alone. Why had he agreed to do such a thing? Knock on Rachel's door. Tell her he was responsible for taking away the only parent she had left.
Watch the love in her eyes turn to hate.
Although he loathed his decision, he chose the coward's way out. He flipped open his phone and auto-dialed her number.
Rachel’s voice came on the line. Confident. Captivating. Unaware. "So, don’t tell me. Another fool's errand, right? I swear my father will never grow up."
Chase remained silent for an eternal moment. And in that moment, he wished for the strength of Goliath – to rein in his quaking nerves, to give him the courage to spill the words that refused to form.
"Chase?" Concern edged her tone. "Chase, are you there?"
He forced another swallow. "Rachel, listen," he began, a rasp of a voice. Rusted from panic, from guilt. From disbelief. "Something happened. It…it’s your dad."