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Spirit Bear

Written By: Rod Raglin
Published by: Devine Destinies
ISBN #: 978-1-55487-467-5
Word Count:60000
Page Count: 254
Heat Level:
Price: $5.99
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Palm DOC/iSolo, Microsoft Reader, Hiebook, HTML, Mobipocket, Rocket, Epub, Sony PDF, Sony LRF

    Getting airborne through the heavy overcast was, as her reluctant pilot promised, a harrowing experience. But once the twin engine Otter broke through the clouds, it settled down and sunlight, now low in the western sky, glistened off the snow-capped peaks that jutted above the cotton-batten blanket below.

    Though a break in the clouds Kim saw a tiny lake and thought of her father. He’d said there was great fishing up here. Perhaps she could arrange for them to stay at a place like Baker Lodge. They hadn’t spent any real time together in…she couldn’t remember. But there just wasn’t time. Not yet anyway. The drone of the engine and the long day of traveling caught up with her and she began to feel drowsy.

    A knock on the side of her head woke her up. Surrounding the tiny plane was thick shroud and the turbulence was bouncing the aircraft around like a toy. The pilot was sweating as he concentrated on his instruments. Suddenly, Kim had the feeling she was in an elevator with a broken cable.

    “Hang on, lady! We’ve hit a downdraft!”

    Her first thought was would she survive? Her second was if she did, would anyone find her? With a jolt, the plane leveled out, but before she could congratulate herself for being alive, the pontoons were trimming the tops of huge evergreens. Then there was the flat black surface of the lake rising up far too quickly.

    The next thing Kim knew, she was hanging upside down and the cockpit was filling with water. A quick glance to her left and she realized she needn’t worry about the pilot. His face was covered with blood and his head was twisted at an odd angle. The windscreen was shattered where he had made impact.

    She unhooked the harness and promptly fell into numbingly cold water that could only be described as glacier fed. Her door had sprung open on impact. Had it not, the rising inky blackness would have made it impossible to budge. Bobbing beside her was the contract- filled attaché case. Kim grabbed it and struggled out of the submerging craft.

    Treading water, she turned and watched the tail section of the plane sink out of sight. The shore was a dark silhouette in the dwindling twilight, at least a hundred yards away. If she was going to live, she’d have to swim for it.

    She struggled free of the pantsuit jacket that was weighing her down and constricting her arms. A Gucci loafer slip from her foot and she momentarily wondered if she should try to retrieve it.

    What am I thinking?

    She kicked the other shoe off and pushing the attaché case ahead of her, began to head for shore. With every stroke, she swallowed more water. Water so cold it had already left her extremities without sensation and made her head ache.

    After a minute or so, she stopped swimming and looked to see if the shore was getting any closer. It was nowhere in sight. In her confusion, she had turned around and had been swimming toward the middle of the lake. Panicking, she flailed wildly, then stopped exhausted, coughing up mouthfuls of frigid liquid.

    I’m not going to make. I’m going to die.

    Adrenalin surged through Kim’s body and she swam with renewed energy. But it was no use. She was no longer cold, just numb, and so very tired. I’m sorry I never got back to see you, Dad, she whispered to the black water and relentless wind. Hot tears ran down her freezing cheeks when she thought how devastated he would be.

    She’d been too busy. Too busy, she realized, with things that didn’t matter. I want to sleep now, but first, she wondered, will my life flash before my eyes?

    It didn’t. Instead, something grabbed her by the collar of her blouse, then clasped her beneath her arms, and pulled up and out of the deadly bath and into a canoe.

     

    Kimberley sat shivering in the bow of the tiny vessel. In the dark, she couldn’t get a good look at her rescuer and her vision kept fading out of focus. He wasn’t a big man, about five foot ten perhaps, and lean—the word sinewy came to mind. He had a mane of long fair hair that was hanging lose around his faced, further concealing his features. There was a no nonsense confidence in his movements and he handled the canoe with skill and agility. She could feel it respond to each strong stroke of his paddle as they slipped through the black water towards the shore.

    “Are you hurt?” he asked. His voice sounded rusty, like it wasn’t used much. It was quiet, but distinct.

    “I don’t think so,” she replied, her teeth chattering. Her mind felt anesthetized, her limbs sluggish and there was a ringing in her ears that distorted sound. Something wet ran down her face and into her mouth. It tasted salty.

    The canoe nudged the shore and he sprang from the stern, pushing it up onto the beach. When Kim got out, her legs were unresponsive and she collapsed. He picked her up without effort and carried her up the beach. She wrapped her arms around his neck and despite herself, began to sob uncontrollably against his chest.

    “Frank, the pilot?” she muttered.

    “I’m afraid he didn’t make it.”

    “I made him fly today,” she moaned. “He didn’t want to, but I was behind schedule and I had all the documents for the signing,” Kim continued, her voice filled with anguish and tinged with hysteria. “The Coliseum Mountain Ski Development will make my career. There’s millions of dollars on the table. I had to be there. But now I won’t and a man is dead and it’s my fault,” she said, convulsing again into choking sobs.

    “It’s not your fault. He knew the risks. You’re lucky to be alive.” His tone was soothing as he carried her toward a lean-to, beneath a huge evergreen at the edge of the forest. Carefully, he laid her down in the shelter on a bed of soft moss, covered her with a sleeping bag and knelt beside her. “You’ve got a nasty bump on your head,” he said, parting the strands of her wet hair and examining the cut. His hands were warm as they wiped the blood from her face with a bandanna. “I’m going to find something to put on it to take the swelling down.” He began to rise, but she clutched onto his arm.

    “Please, don’t go.” Suddenly Kim was terrified of being alone. “I’m…I’m afraid.”

    He clasped her hand in both of his and settled down beside her. “Sure,” he said, and his voice calmed her. “I’ll stay right here.” As the adrenaline wore off and the shock set in, Kim found it impossible to keep her eyes open. The last thing she remembered was her rescuer stroking her hand and crooning, “You’re alright. Everything is going to be okay.”

    Later that night, she awoke screaming from a nightmare of sinking into infinite darkness. The blackness disoriented her, but again he was there, stroking her hair and telling her everything was all right. She tried to make out his features, but his face was backlit by the flickering campfire. Again, her mind took refuge in a deep sleep brought on by shock and despair.

    In that semi-conscious state before becoming fully awake, Kim fleetingly thought the plane crash had been a bad dream. But when she poked her head out of the sleeping bag and surveyed her surroundings in the weak morning light, it all came rushing back.

    She wiped her eyes with the edge of the sleeping bag, summoned up her resolve, and sat up. The sudden movement sent spears of pain through her temples and she felt nauseous. Ever so slowly, she lay back down and the queasiness subsided.

    She took a physical inventory beginning with the tips of her toes. Except for her right shoulder, which was extremely tender, and some pain when she breathed deeply, all parts seemed operational and, miraculously, undamaged.

    Gingerly she touched the crown of her head. There was not much of a lump considering how much it hurt, but what was this green slime on her fingers?

    She heard the crunch of footsteps approaching across the rocky beach. It could only be the man who rescued her and she was eager to express her gratitude to this stranger, who not only saved her life, but who was taking such loving care of her? But as the tarp flap was lifted, she was struck dumb by what she saw. Gazing down at her, with a look of compassion was…

    “Jonah Baker!” She winced at the pain the noise of her own voice made reverberating in her skull.

    Kimberley James is hoping her new assignment will jumpstart her stalled career with a New York corporate relations firm. Her client wants to develop a mega ski resort in northern Canada. Her job is to convince the current owners of the land to sell. With millions of dollars to be made, it seems like a done deal. Until she runs up against Jonah Baker. Baker is part owner of a lodge on the land and an ardent environmentalist. He’s not about to permit a development that threatens ancient rainforests and the habitat of the rare and endangered Spirit Bear for any price. Kim begrudgingly respects his principles before profit, but cannot allow a tree-hugging, bear-loving zealot to derail her fast track to success. Jonah admires her determination and worldliness, but will fight to the end to stop a materialistic corporate climber from destroying something rare and unique. Will their mutual attraction to one another be a catalyst that helps develop an understanding? Will the mythical, white Spirit Bear survive, and what role will it play in resolving what appears to be irreconcilable differences?

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