BY James Patterson & Howard Roughan

A perfect family vacation turns into a life-or-death nightmare.

Only an hour out of port, the Dunne family's summer getaway to paradise is already turning into the trip from hell. Carrie, the eldest, has thrown herself off the side of the boat in a bid for attention. Sixteen-year-old Mark is getting high belowdecks. And Ernie, their ten-year-old brother, is nearly catatonic. It's shaping up to be the worst vacation ever.

Katherine Dunne had hoped this trip would bring back the togetherness they'd lost when her husband died four years earlier. Maybe if her new husband, a high-powered Manhattan attorney, had been able to postpone his trial and join them it would all have been okay....

Suddenly, a disaster hits–and it's perfect. Faced with real danger, the Dunnes rediscover the meaning of family and pull together in a way they haven't in a long time. But this catastrophe is just a tiny taste of the danger that lurks ahead: someone wants to make sure that the Dunne family never makes it out of paradise alive.

With whiplash plot twists, speedboat pacing, and an eye for the evil that can lie behind even the most gorgeous setting, James Patterson delivers Sail–the wettest, most explosive ocean adventure since Jaws.


Chapter 3

AFTER A LIGHT DRIZZLE that persisted all through Friday morning, a noontime fog settled over the Goat Island Marina in exclusive and very tony Newport, Rhode Island.


How fitting, thought Jake Dunne, stretching his lean sixfoot- one frame as he stood on the teakwood deck of his late brother's boat. Maybe that was because he still wasn't clear about this trip–what to expect, how it would play out. Would he live to regret it?

All he knew was how his former sister-in-law, Katherine, sounded on the phone when she called him a few weeks back. Desperate. Compelling. The way she talked about wanting–no, needing–to take this trip with the kids, you'd think it was her last hope in the world.

So how could he say no to her when she asked if he would be their captain? He couldn't, of course. He always said yes to Katherine.

Jake was about to resume his final inspection of the boat, admiring all the new lines and canvas, when he heard a familiar voice call out to him.

"How ya doin' there, J.D.? Good to see you." Steve turned to see Darcy Hammerman, the launch skipper for the marina. Darcy was standing directly below him on the dock. She was dressed in the same blue polo shirt with the Goat Island logo that everyone on the staff was required to wear. Only Darcy's shirt was a lot more faded, a subtle sign of her seniority. And why not? She and her brother Robert owned the place.

"Hey, Darcy, what's happening?" said Jake in his usual laid-back tone.

"Not too much," Darcy answered, flashing an easy grin. She was in her late thirties, slender, attractive, and always very tan. "Just another day of shuttling rich people to boats that cost more than my house."

Jake chuckled, watching as Darcy turned her attention to The Family Dunne.

"So how's she looking to you?" Darcy asked. "Is she ready to set sail?"

"She's a little rusty, maybe, but definitely seaworthy," said Jake, who would know as well as anybody.

Growing up in Newport as the youngest in a family of devout sailors, Jake found boating a lot like breathing–it just came naturally. In fact, of all the Dunnes, Jake had become the most accomplished sailor. Twice he won the Cruising Division of the prestigious–and extremely arduous–Newport Bermuda sailing race.

Still, Darcy didn't look entirely convinced by his breezy appraisal. As she continued to eye the boat, she actually seemed a little concerned.

"What is it?" asked Jake. "You see something I didn't? Something come up in your overhaul?"

"Nothing–nothing at all."

"How long have I known you–about ten years? It's obviously something. So tell me."

Darcy's eyes narrowed into a squint. "No, it's just a stupid superstition, that's all."

Jake nodded and didn't press her on it. He didn't need to. He knew exactly what Darcy was talking about. Among sailors worth spit, the superstition was widely known. What's more, Jake believed in it. Sort of, anyway. It had been weighing on his mind as well. Like a two-ton anchor. A boat that loses its captain at sea is forever a ghost ship.

Stuart had died while scuba diving off The Family Dunne. His tank had malfunctioned, cutting off his air. Stuart went down and never came up–that is, until his body was recovered. So to Jake, superstition or not, his older brother's boat was a haunting reminder of a tragedy he'd just as soon forget. If only he could. Had it been up to him, he would've sold the damn thing before the dirt even settled on Stuart's grave.

But Katherine absolutely insisted on keeping it, presumably for sentimental reasons. Christ! A wedding band or a watch–those made for good keepsakes. Not a sixty-twofoot luxury Morris yacht!

Worse, the boat had done nothing but sit in some warehouse for the past four years. Katherine and the kids hadn't sailed it once. She hadn't even laid eyes on it.

Darcy grimaced. "I'm sorry, Jake. Stupid of me. I didn't mean to spook you with my typical bullshit. I'll shut my big mouth now. Better late than never."

"No worries, Darcy. Everything's going to be fine."

"Course it is. You're going to have an outstanding trip," said Darcy, smiling as best she could. "Do you need my help with anything before you head off?"

"I'm good. Give my best to Robert," said Jake, glancing at the Tag Heuer strapped to his wrist. The Manhattan Dunnes were late. Of course. "The only thing I need now is for my crew to show up."

Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson

Read by Dylan Baker & Jennifer Van Dyck

Dylan Baker is an actor and director who has been nominated for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Obie. Some of his feature film credits include Happiness, Kinsey, Road to Perdition, Along Came a Spider, and Random Hearts. On television he has appeared in From the Earth to the Moon, Murder One, and The Laramie Project, among many others. Baker resides in New York.

Jennifer Van Dyck has appeared on Broadway in Hedda Gabler and Dancing at Lughnasa. Her film and television credits include Michael Clayton, Across the Universe, Bullets Over Broadway, Law & Order, Ed, and Spin City.

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