Sometimes life's most precious treasure lies at Dangerous Depths.
Leia ditched a promising medical career to settle on a secluded island of Hawaii. She ditched Bane, too, and he's come to the island to find out why. He's also in search of a fortune rumored to lie offshore. But an act of sabotage that pushes Bane closer to Leia plunges them both into a tangle of emotion--just as a series of threatening events grip the island.
Theft, a friend's death, a bizarre intruder, hints of a second treasure...and even murder--how can they sort it all out when everyone on the island has something to hide?
The novels in Colleen Coble's popular Aloha Reef Series combine mystery and suspense with tender romance in an irresistible island setting.
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May 28, 2006
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Excerpt from Dangerous Depths by Colleen Coble
Chapter One Leia Kahale rubbed an aromatic salve of crushed ginger, aloe, and other natural ingredients gently into the deformed hand of the old woman seated in front of her. Hansen's disease was manageable these days, but the scars were not so easily erased. The sight of her grandmother's missing fingers and toes had ceased to make Leia flinch long ago. To her, Ipo Kahale was the most beautiful woman to ever grace Moloka'i's shores. "That feels much better, Leia," her grandmother said in a hoarse voice. Leprosy had taken her vocal cords as well as her lips and nose, and her words had a flat, toneless quality. "You should have been a doctor." "My mother agrees with you, Tutu. I thought you had a pact to always take up different sides of the fence." Leia put the salve down and stood. She was nearly a head taller than her grandmother's five feet, and Tutu was practically skin and bones. Leia stepped out from under the shade of the coconut tree to test the pulp of the mulberry bark she was fermenting in wooden tubs of seawater. The odor of fermentation had been the most distasteful part of learning the ancient art of making bark cloth, but now she barely noticed the sour tang. She stirred the mess, then eyed the strips of tapa , or kapa as the Hawaiian version was called, she'd laid out for the sun's rays to bleach. They could stand some more time in the strong sunshine. " Kapa obsesses you," her grandmother observed when Leia joined her on the garden bench again. "I was never so driven." "I wish I had your talent for the painting of it." "Already, you're better than I was, keiki , but you try too hard." She nodded toward the pots of fermenting bark. "You're like the unformed cloth, Leia. There is much beauty and power hidden inside you. I grow tired of seeing you shrink back when you should be taking your place in the world. Look forward, keiki , not backward." Ipo put her deformed right hand over Leia's smooth brown one. "I'm finding my way, Tutu. I'm finally doing something I love. No more inhaling antiseptic for me." Leia gave her grandmother a coaxing smile. "I love it here--the quiet that's so profound it's almost a sound, the scent of the sea, the strobe of the lighthouse on the point." Kalaupapa, a small peninsula that jutted off the northern coast of Moloka'i, could be reached only by plane, mule, boat, or a long, strenuous hike down the mountain, but Leia liked it that way. She wasn't hiding here at all, not really. "Besides, I'm needed here. The residents are eager to try my natural remedies." "It's a good place for those of us who don't want to face the stares of curious strangers. But you deserve more than a dying town filled with aging lepers." Her grandmother caressed Leia's hand with gnarled fingers. "Like what--breathing smog in San Francisco? Besides, you're wise, not old. Old is just a state of mind. When I watch you, I see the young girl inside," Leia said. Today was going to be a good day. There was no sign of the dementia that often rolled in and took her grandmother away from her. Leia touched the tiny scar on her own lip. "I just want to learn more about making kapa from you. I like feeling an important part of this little community." She turned and looked toward the sea. Her nose twitched as the aroma of the ocean blew in to shore. Smells ministered to her soul--the scent of brine, the rich perfume of the mass of ginger and plumeria outside her clinic, the sharp bite of the ink for the kapa she made. Sometimes she wished she could guide herself through life by scent alone. Her garden had been taken over by her hobby. Lengths of kapa covered the rocks and tree stumps in the yard, and the wooden shelves attached to the back of the building bowed under the weight of supplies. She stood and stretched. Usua