Sample: The High Tide Deception
The High Tide Deception
By Patti Larsen
Copyright © 2022 Patti Larsen
Who knew life at the beach could be so competitive—and deadly?
You know how fun it is to go to the beach, get some sun, swim in the ocean, lounge back with a good book and a cold drink, and really settle into a hot, beautiful summer escape?
Not how my day was going.
When I’d taken the job as an infiltrate for a new sand sculpture competition, I have to admit, I jumped on it without looking into the actual position I’d accepted. See, I’d been working hard lately, doing what I’d only come to discover I did best—pretending to be someone else and spying on other people to make sure they toed the line for whoever paid me to rat on them.
Okay, I know how that sounds, but I honestly loved being a deception expert and aside from the few (yes, more than a few) bodies I’d stumbled over, the jobs I’d taken up until now had been relatively simple and an easy paycheck.
I swiped at the sweat making it through the bandana I’d wrapped around my head, scowling at the reminiscence of my second job working in a greenhouse. I’d sworn I never take another assignment like that one. Certainly hadn’t come here to Fairmile, Virginia, to lug, lift, heft and hurl mounds of sand into a giant pile for three days.
Which, I’m sure you’re now realizing from my rambling and unhappy mental state, was exactly what I ended up doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t opposed to physical labor or sunshine or sand or the ocean or anything to do with summer. It was the unique combination of those elements that had me knee-deep in a shifting pile, blisters long formed on my hands despite the gloves I wore, sweating out my weight in water as the late August sunshine had its way with me.
“No, no. I said more sand here.” I scowled sideways at the tall, silver-haired man who snapped orders like a career general, the target at least not me this time, but one of the other team members helping unload the last of the specially imported sand that would form the base of the giant creation he planned to erect before the end of competition on Sunday. He’d already assembled the wooden frames we now filled with—and then compacted—with sand. The sound of someone using a hand tamper nearby only added to my headache. Though it was more him than anything driving me toward a migraine. Since I was the newbie—grunt slave, in other words—I’d borne the brunt of his dissatisfaction since I showed up this morning. While Martin Littlefield might have been a world-renowned artist and sand sculptor, the man had an attitude like a beat-up old truck—loud and nasty.
I was this close, I have to admit, to dumping my shovel, forfeiting the payout and getting my fine behind back to Marigold before I did something I’d regret. Only the tenacious drive instilled by my Very Sparkly and Super Fantastic Special Agent dad, Andrew Walker, kept my stubborn self from telling Mr. High and Fighty Littlefield where he could shove his tons of precious sand. Instead, I grit my teeth and dug in while the sound of screaming, laughing children, the faintest breeze carrying scents of ice cream and pretzels and suntan lotion mixed with the matching sounds of exertion from the three others shifting piles of sand into various wooden shapes for our lord and master had me firmly deciding from now on, no matter how good the job sounded?
Research, Petal Morgan. Lots and lots of research.