Война за проливы. Операция прикрытия. Александр Михайловский

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Война за проливы. Операция прикрытия - Александр Михайловский

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      Tandem jumping with Eddie?

      The thought sent shivers down her back, but not entirely uncomfortable shivers for once. Her brain stopped calculating impact against the ground and started plotting impact of a totally different type, and the first thought—very improper and probably physically impossible—was potent enough to turn her knees weak. She had to sit down.

      She hadn’t counted on Eddie sitting down next to her, tenderly putting his arm around her and saying reassuring things.

      He was assuming she was scared out of her wits right now, not overcome with lustful thoughts, but, whatever the reason, she was quite enjoying her present predicament.

      Hannah Bernard always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up—a psychologist. After spending an eternity in university studying toward that goal, she took one look at her hard-earned diploma and thought, “Nah. I’d rather be a writer.” She has no kids to brag about, no pets to complain about, and only one husband, who any day now will break down and agree to adopt a kitten.

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      THE river roared past, hissing and foaming.

      Maria sat on a rock and tossed pebbles into the stream, an endless collection of smooth gray stones that had seen an eon of wear and tear. They sank without a trace.

      When she’d exhausted all the stones within reach, she started pulling up straws, weaving them together in a vague semblance of a kayak. As she tossed them in, they were quickly engulfed and vanished, even in the relative calmness of the water flowing next to the riverbank. This was one angry river. Why did her parents have to insist that riding these monsters was fun?

      In a few hours she might be the one engulfed, vanishing forever under the dark turbulent waters where there was no air to breathe, where up and down lost meaning.

      She shuddered. There were still two weeks until she’d start high school. Two long weeks of adventure after terrifying adventure.


      Maria twisted around and squinted against the sun. Eddie was a tall shadow, hands in his pockets and his head tilted to the side as he looked down at her. She looked at him carefully, hoping she wasn’t wearing her crush on her face.

      Eddie was cute.

      But he was much too old for her. And by the time she got to his age, he’d be twenty-four. Ancient.

      She’d never catch up with him.

      It was a shame because he’d make a really cool boyfriend. “Oh. Hi.”

      “Your mom and dad are looking for you.”

      “Oh.” Maria looked down and rubbed her hands against the grass to clean them. She hadn’t brought her watch and had lost track of time. Now her nervous stomach reminded her she needed something to eat. On the other hand, eating something just before the nauseating trip down the river might not be a good idea.

      Which was better, to eat and get some energy, or stay hungry and avoid embarrassing herself by throwing up out there? “Right. Thanks. I’ll get back.”

      She stood up, and looked out over the river once more. Wild water, dark and deep. Again fear tightened in her chest. She swallowed and turned around to follow Eddie back to the cottage. The paralyzing fear followed her. But there was no choice. She had to do it. She had to climb into that stupid kayak and practice being an adventurer.

      What was wrong with her? This was supposed to be fun. Everybody else thought it was fun.

      They’d walked in silence for several minutes when she noticed Eddie glancing at her. She turned her face away, because a couple of tears had escaped, and slowed her steps, hoping to fall behind, but he just slowed down, too, matching her speed. Then finally he stopped altogether and crossed his arms on his chest, staring at her. “What’s wrong?”

      “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.”

      Eddie shifted his weight from foot to foot. She was looking down and saw only his sneakers, but he still looked uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable enough to let her off the hook, though. “Bull. You’re crying. Should I run ahead and get your mom?”

      Maria wiped the back of her hand over her eyes and shook her head hard. “No. Don’t tell them I was crying. You can’t tell them.”

      “Oh, damn. Are you in some sort of trouble?”

      “No! I’m okay. It’s nothing.”

      “Nothing?” He sounded skeptical, and then bored. “Oh. You’re crying over a boy.”


      “Hey, no offence, but that’s what girls your age do.”

      “I’m not crying. Not really. It’s just minor…leakage.”

      Eddie grinned. And then he scowled. “Well, stop leaking, kid.”


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