Love & Sex Magazine

Guest Author: Brooke Magnanti

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

My friend Brooke Magnanti’s last book, The Turning Tide, is now available in the United States!  So I asked her to provide an excerpt so as to entice y’all to buy it…especially since her new one is coming out this summer!  If you live in the UK, buy it here instead.  And just in case you don’t remember, she did a series of video promos when the book was first published last year!

Guest Author: Brooke MagnantiOf all the things that Daniel Wallace had hoped to do on holiday, finding a dead body was not one of them.

The kayak trip from Skye to Raasay was perfect. Daniel had planned this leg of the trip carefully: a mid-February journey starting on Skye, going up the long east coast of the island of Raasay. Although the water was cold, there was little wind and the only snow was on the mountaintops. They would paddle past the steep cliffs and fossil beaches with views over to the mainland and lunch on the cobble beach below castle ruins, then continue on to a romantic bothy inaccessible to walkers and unlikely to be occupied at this time of year.

Maya teased him for being such a list maker, but as the day went on he was pleased at having planned it so well. There was a slight chop on the water and late winter light on the wavelets sparkled like sequins. It became glassy smooth as they rounded the tip of Raasay and turned north. There was a superpod of dolphins spanning the sound between the island and Applecross on the mainland, hundreds of them leaping and squealing for the sheer fun of jumping around. Maya was nervous about the large mammals at first. She clutched the shaft of her paddle tightly, but was soon laughing with the joy of it all.

They landed on the northern tip of the island. Maya pulled her kayak above the tide line onto the shingle beach while Daniel hung back. ‘Something wrong?’ she asked.

‘I think there’s something caught in my rudder,’ Daniel said, ‘bit of seaweed, maybe. You go on ahead and find the bothy, I’ll catch up.’

‘Sure,’ she smiled. Daniel watched her buttocks cased in her kayaking drysuit disappear along the path. Three years in and he still fancied this woman as if they just met. A good sign, right? That she was a keeper. The One.

So far, so good. Tonight they would watch the sunset from the beach and share a bottle of whisky. He would make them a simple meal of bacon and tuna pasta on the gas camping stove.

Then there was the ring, tucked safely away in his dry bags. He planned to pop the question after dinner: maybe on a moonlit walk, maybe sitting by the bothy fire later. With the day going so well he could afford to play that part by ear.

That was tonight sorted. Tomorrow? Tomorrow they would paddle around the smaller nearby isle of Rona before heading down the other coast of Raasay and back to Skye. He had booked a table and room at an inn that specialised in local seafood and folk music, and they could toast their engagement with a pint of ale.

He tugged hard on the deck lines. The kayak would not budge. Daniel took off his gloves and felt along under the boat to the rudder. Something was caught on it. He pulled but it wouldn’t give way. So it was not seaweed then. It felt a bit like rope. ‘What on earth…’ he murmured. Maybe a belt? Someone’s old climbing gear? The cliffs further down the island were popular with climbers and the waters were trawled by fishing vessels. You never knew what could wash up on the beaches here.

As he gave one last pull something came loose. Daniel crossed to the bow and dragged the kayak up the shore. He flipped the boat on its side and saw what looked like a holdall with one long strap that must have caught on his boat in the shallows. He sighed. Maybe the bag fell off a hiker on a hill somewhere. ‘Someone wasn’t having a great day,’ he said to no one in particular.

Probably there would be a wallet inside, or a tag perhaps, and they could get this back to its rightful owner. He didn’t relish the thought of carrying someone else’s luggage around for the next day or two, but he hoped someone else would have done the same for him.

The zip came unstuck with a little effort. Inside it looked like – well, he wasn’t sure what, exactly. Something the size of a melon poked out, round. It had a slippery, translucent quality rather like a jellyfish. But it was too early in the year for jellyfish. He poked at it with the toe of his neoprene boot. The stench hit him at the very moment he realised what it was he was looking at. The contents of Daniel’s stomach bubbled into his throat as a wave of shock ran up his body. He collapsed on the ground.

‘Maya!’ he shouted. ‘Maya!’ He tried to clamber to his knees, but his legs felt rubbery and uncertain.

Maya was only seconds away but to Daniel those moments felt like hours. She put her hand gently on his shoulder. ‘Are you OK?’ she said. Daniel did not often lose his cool, not even the time they went out for a routine paddle that turned into force eight gale conditions off the Islay. This had to be serious.
Daniel closed his eyes and shook his head. He tried to raise one arm and point back to the boat.

‘What is it?’ Maya asked.

‘You tell me,’ he said.

Maya went for a closer look. The sight and smell knocked her back for a moment, but she recovered quickly and leaned in to see what was in there. There was a body inside the bag. No doubt about that. Three years of a forensic science degree had prepared her, but only just, for something like this. She had seen plenty of specimens in the lab or in the morgue but that was different. Those were lifeless, static things that looked more like oversized dolls than anything else.
This however was… well, it was kind of great, actually. Her first cold one in situ. ‘It’s dead,’ she said. She picked up Daniel’s paddle and poked the remains with the end. ‘Human.’ There was a retching sound behind her. ‘Daniel?’

He was sitting upright, head between his knees. ‘Are you sure?’

‘Sure it’s dead, or sure it’s human?’ No reply; only the sound of more heaving. ‘Yeah, I’m sure,’ she said.

Maya frowned at the remains. A head, bald. A shoulder and arm pulled back, maybe tied? A slender elbow joint poked through the grey, gelatinous scraps of flesh and connective tissue. If the body hadn’t been in the bag, odds were the rest of its extremities would have fallen away from the trunk by now. This had been in the water some time – weeks, at least.

Daniel’s chest rose and fell heavily. ‘What now? Do we radio this in? Pull the GPS beacon?’ Of all the emergency situations he had prepped for over the years, this was not one of them.

Maya inspected the outside of the bag for clues. It was covered in black algae. There was no sign of ID.

‘Pulling the beacon might be too far,’ she said. ‘Whoever it is, he’s already dead.’ If someone was dead it was a collection job, not an emergency.

Was it an offense to leave a dead body unattended? She couldn’t remember. Maya surveyed the horizon in all directions. There was the tiny island of Rona to the north and six miles of heather bog to the south; Skye on one side, mainland Scottish Highlands on the other. No place within walking distance of where they were unless she fancied a four-hour yomp to Raasay’s only village in wet boots. Plus Daniel didn’t look in any shape to do it. She popped the covers open on his kayak and rifled through his dry bags for a phone. ‘Do you have reception? We could call the police station in Portree.’

‘No reception here.’

‘I’ll get on the VHF and radio the coastguard,’ Maya said. ‘They can pass it on to police. Looks like we might not be staying here the night after all.’

Daniel’s five-star instructor’s course had offered no guidance on what to do if you ended up having to haul a sack of decomposing human remains on a sea kayak. ‘Please tell me we’re not paddling this – this thing – to shore.’

‘No,’ Maya said. ‘Best not to move it more than necessary – in case there’s any evidence to be found at the site.’ She sat down next to her boyfriend. ‘We’ll see if we can get a lift off the coastguard and grab a B&B on Skye tonight,’ she said. ‘It’s not the end of the world.’

Daniel nodded weakly. Maya repacked his bags. She spotted a tiny jewelry box among his things and her heart skipped a beat. ‘Oh my God! Daniel… is this what I think it is?’ She tugged off her gloves to slide the half-carat sparkler on her left ring finger. ‘And it’s a perfect fit!’

Her fiancé rolled to one side and chucked a mouthful of foamy spittle on the grass.Guest Author: Brooke Magnanti


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • How Different Kinds of Bread Affect Blood Sugar Levels, Compared to Teaspoons...

    Different Kinds Bread Affect Blood Sugar Levels, Compared Teaspoons

    Think whole-grain bread is a good choice? Could it help you control your blood sugar? Not necessarily. If you look at the graph above (made by the eminent Dr.... Read more

    3 hours, 54 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Monday Musings.

    Monday Musings.

    Ugh, someone give me an IV of coffee, would ya?! This weekend was super busy but thankfully, it was well spent with my people. Since we’re moving (did you... Read more

    5 hours, 1 minute ago by   Thesamanthashow
    LIFESTYLE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Summer Summertime Essentials

    Summer Summertime Essentials

    Summer is here, and boy did it slam us here in DC. Less than a week ago I was shivering in a coat and today it's 85 degrees. While I transitioned my wardrobe... Read more

    5 hours, 13 minutes ago by   Wardrobeoxygen
    FASHION, SELF EXPRESSION, SHOPPING
  • Auronya College Aims To Answer The Unknown Future With Education 4.0

    Auronya College Aims Answer Unknown Future With Education

    ,Auronya College aims to break the barriers to imbibe revolutionary means of providing global standard education to the youth. It is an amalgamation of modern... Read more

    6 hours, 4 minutes ago by   Jaideep Khanduja
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Oriflame The ONE Lip Sensation Vinyl Gel Lipstick Review, Swatches & Price India

    Oriflame Sensation Vinyl Lipstick Review, Swatches Price India

    Oriflame has recently launched some luscious and beautiful lipstick gels under ‘The ONE’ range. Yes, it’s a perfect combo of lips gloss+lipstick! Read more

    6 hours, 13 minutes ago by   Jayshreebhagat
    HAIR & BEAUTY
  • Brand24 – The Social Listening Tool You Need Today

    Brand24 Social Listening Tool Need Today

    Brand24 -A Social Listening Tool Brand24 is a social listening tool I learned about over on the Quora network. Not only does Brand24 monitor your social mention... Read more

    6 hours, 15 minutes ago by   Lisa
    SELF EXPRESSION, SOCIAL MEDIA, TECH
  • Easy Protein Noodle Lasagna

    Easy Protein Noodle Lasagna

    Meal plansGet lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial).... Read more

    6 hours, 47 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE

Magazines