An excerpt deleted from my novel DUBROVNIK:
The icy-cold water kept my eyes open. The steep river bank drifted fifty-feet to my right. Ibiza, the seventy-foot yawl ten-feet above me, was unreachable safety.
When your mind goes blank, your eyes sheen over, and your body becomes unresponsive while your lungs fill with water, death is the result.
“What the hell happened, Alexander,” Celestine yelled. Her familiar deep, throaty Russian accent drifted in my ears. Her beautiful cobalt blues a few inches from my browns.
The sizzling morning sun was quickly drying my khaki shorts and blue t-Shirt with a large face of John K. Kennedy printed on the front. I lay stretched out on the wooden dock beside the seventy-foot racing yacht, Ibiza. Celestine’s four younger brothers stood over me while she knelt beside me, her lips almost touching mine.
Her brothers held their M16 rifles as if in combat. Three of the brothers were dripping wet. They had pulled me off the bottom of the Rijeka Dubrovačka River near Gruž, Croatia. How I came to be floating thirty feet deep in the icy-river was a question to be answered.
I cleared my throat, still cold and scratchy from the near drowning. My unfocused eyes gazed on the beauty above me. “You tell me what happened?”
“Don’t accuse me of drowning you,” she yelled. My brothers saved your life by my command. Otherwise they would have let you drown.”
“You have a torturous way of showing fondness,” I said, and touched my tender cheeks. “If you didn’t love me you would have let me drown.”
“I don’t love you, Alexander. If you were Serbian I’d have let you drown. I think the Serbs dropped you into the river. They think you will help us defeat them.”
She helped me stand up by pulling on my arms, steadied me on my feet then stepped away to stand between her brothers. The twenty-year-old Croatian strawberry-blond beauty in fighting fatigues would lift the sales of Cosmopolitan magazine with her posed on the cover.
“I don’t know if I should thank you or condemn you for saving me,” I said.
Her brothers turned and ran to their car parked down the dirt road.
Celestine struggled to come forward. Like a sensitive school girl she attempted to smile, brought her dirty fingertips to her lips and advanced. She stood on her tiptoes, putting her lips to my ear. I expected her scream to puncture my ear drum but she whispered. “If you don’t stop being so fucking adorable, I might grow to love you, Alexander. Until that happens, I hate you.”
She planted a wet one on both my cheeks then ran the path and joined her brothers.
In the car they drove down the dirt road spewing dust and gravel everywhere. At least I knew Celestine’s hatred for me could turn to love. But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t kill me like a black widow spider.