Indian Summer – In the spring of 1739, Gabriella Deza stands poised on the verge of womanhood. A product of her guarded upbringing, she is naive in the ways of love until dashing Manuel Enriques declares his love for her. By accident, Gabriella uncovers the plot of British spy. Manuel embarks on a dangerous mission save the town from being overthrown by the British. Gabriella herself is caught in trap.
Excerpt from Indian Summer
The ship swerved hard to starboard, hitting the corner of the pier not far away, shuddering to a halt. The water rushed around the ship, up the beach, over my brother and the man. I couldn’t see what happened next, for I had to retreat out of the wave’s reach. The greedy fingers of water clutched my dress, determined to drag me into the fray. Were it not for the aid of the men on shore, who held me fast, I would have been spirited away and surely drowned.
I babbled every prayer I knew, calling on God to help them. Little by little the waves receded and I could move closer, looking for them. I saw the rope tied to the pier, taut with weight, and began to pull. Men from the shore saw me and raced to my side. Together we hauled them in. I feared both were surely drowned. Finally, their sodden forms broke the surface of the waves. I rushed forward, but the men held me back, for the currents were wild and treacherous.
I couldn’t yet see the man’s face, as his back was to me. He clung to Marcos who was very white and still. I felt strong hands grasping me from behind. If it was a scene of death, then it was no fit place for a young lady. A man detached himself from the crowd, pushing his way up to them. I heard James’ clear baritone bite through the wind. “Clear off, you lot! Let me through!”
Wrenching away from the hands holding me, I followed James through the press of men. James got there as the men were lifting them to higher ground, cutting the rope around the man’s waist. His hair hung in black snake like tendrils across his face. I could see little of him or Marcos, but both were pale as death. I couldn’t tell whether or not they breathed. My prayers continued, ceaseless, intense.
“Turn them on their stomachs,” James ordered. “Quickly now, we may still have time! You there!” He yelled at some nearby men. “Get a couple barrels.”
They worked without questioning his orders. The authority in James’ voice was unmistakable. Marcos and the man were laid over the sides of barrels. James took their heads, turning them gently to the side.
“Now look,” he said to one of the men. “Do as I do. You take him.” He pointed to the man. “I’ll take the boy.”
He placed his hands on Marcos back and pushed gradually, rolling him up over the side of the barrel as he went. He started slowly and then worked a little faster, but always in the same rhythm. The man copied his movements exactly.
We waited perhaps a minute, but it seemed like a lifetime. First the man and then Marcos gasped, choked and began to vomit up water; gallons of it! They were alive! I ran to James, thanking him, thanking God, and anyone else who would listen. I wanted to grab Marcos into my arms and hold him forever, but James held me gently back.
“Not yet, Miss Gabriella. He must expel the water or he’ll choke to death. Let him be until the retching stops and then you may gently roll him over.” He smiled proudly as I hugged him, kissed his wet cheek and thanked him again.
Our eyes on the two still figures before us, none of us noticed the wind had lessened, the rain and hail ceasing completely. All we could do was watch the scene before us play itself out. As the man stopped retching, strong hands slowly rolled him over. I was too busy helping my brother to notice right away. As I turned to see who it was had saved Marcos’ life, I looked into the dark, smoldering eyes of Manuel!
“You?” I gasped. “Thanks is not enough! Oh, bless you!”
I fell on his chest weeping with joy. He hadn’t the strength to speak but touched my shoulder before he lost consciousness. Marcos groaned, then he too passed into oblivion.
© 2008 Dellani Oakes