Cassidy Novak from my mystery/romantic suspense novel Sink or Swim has spent the last few months on a ship, but it's definitely not a cruise ship. She sure could use a drink from Allie's collection, though, after the grueling weeks toiling aboard the Atlantic Devil. During her time on the reality TV show Sink or Swim, Cassidy worked as a crew member on a Tall Ship, where she scrubbed toilets, chipped paint off bulkheads and climbed ratlines to furl the sail. She slept in a wire-frame airless berth stacked three tiers high, and don't even ask her about the disgusting food! Below is an excerpt depicting how Cassidy walked the plank after attaining second place during the final week. Little does she know that a stalker is watching and things are about to get even worse....
Gabriel’s sword blade brushed her back. Not only were her dreams drowning, she was about to undergo torture. The humiliating kind.
Her breath rasping, she eyed the twenty-foot drop. The end of the plank seemed miles away, though it was only ten feet. Trying not to look down, Cassidy inched forward. At the verge, she halted and willed her gaze toward the dark cold water below.
Gabriel stepped up behind her and touched the cold sharp steel to the nape of her neck. "Time to sink or swim."
Don’t show emotion. You’ve got to lose with dignity. Cassidy said a silent prayer, folded her arms across her chest and vaulted off the plank. Ice cold waves pressed around her shoulders as she thundered underwater. Cassidy gulped a mouthful and shot back up into a straight line, desperate to break the surface.
Stinging water overflowed her eyes and Cassidy pawed her eyeballs with wet hands. She squeezed her clogged ears with her fingers, swallowed to ease her raw throbbing throat.
Treading water, Cassidy hiked down the sopping shorts that rode up her legs and adjusted her soaked tee-shirt. She swam over to the rope ladder dangling against the side of the ship and craned her neck. Dozens of faces gaped down at her.
She climbed the ladder, the rungs burning her hands and bare left foot. Her right canvas shoe slipped on each notch; Cassidy’s other shoe had floated away. Teeth chattering, Cassidy extended her leg over the railing and dropped onto the deck with a bang. A production assistant tossed her a Navy blanket. Muttering her thanks, Cassidy wrapped herself in the scratchy warmth.
She had to cheer up. Even though the amount was a mystery, the runner-up won a prize. Maybe it would be a hundred grand. Even $25,000 would help to eradicate her college loans and car payments.
But, it wouldn’t finance an affordable private health club where participants could work out with personal trainers, a pilot site that could have eventually blossomed into a full-blown franchise via all the endorsement money and popularity showered on savvy winners of Top Ten reality shows.
It wouldn’t propel her into an overnight success.