• ISBN: 978-1-934757-90-1 • 216 Pages - 6” X 9” - Paperback •
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A woman who can’t remember A man who can’t forget And a person who desperately needs to kill them both
! The Katy Trail is a 225-mile long biking trail from Clinton to St. Charles, Missouri. Itʼs one of the most beautiful in the world—just the place for Samuel to get away from it all, to heal, and to quell some of the demons from his past. ! Into his life, however, drops Misty—a mysterious woman with amnesia, who is being chased by a shotgun-toting man intent on killing her. Samuel has no choice. His sense of honor—honed during many years as a SEAL—forces him to protect her. Thus begins one of the wildest bicycle rides in history. ! From Clinton to St. Charles, the two face floods, mud slides, motorcycle gangs, and vicious pool hustlers. They also experience the stunning Missouri countryside, a host of intriguing local characters, fine wines, great meals, and… love. ! Through it all, Samuel must get Misty to St. Charles, and help her to recall her past. But he must also solve the mystery of why the man with the shotgun is trying to kill her— and now him. ! It is an action-packed story that will leave you hanging right to the very end.
CHAPTER I Tebo Creek
I glanced over my shoulder to see flashes of lightning illuminating the open trail behind me. Ominous clouds raced across the sky as I pedaled my bike faster to outdistance the threatening thunderstorm. I wanted to reach the bridge over Tebo Creek, and wait beneath it for the storm to safely pass. The possibility of a flash flood rolling down that same creek somehow never occurred to me. The Katy Trail descended as I approached the bridge. The intervals between flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder shortened; and the cold, damp, wind intensified. A blackened Missouri horizon sent acid to my churning stomach and adrenaline to my 33-year old legs. Suddenly I heard what sounded like a galloping horse coming up behind meâ€”its hooves competed with the thunder. I heard a woman shout, neither crying nor pleading for help, but warning me of the impending danger. I searched for an opportunity to get out of the way. The banks on each side of the trail were too steep for a safe exit; and the horse ran faster than I could possibly pedal. Could she pass if I stayed to one side of the trail? My heart resonated to the horseâ€™s gallop. I heard even louder shouts from the rider so I steered my bike to the far right of the narrow trail while nervously peering over the steep edge. I still hoped to avoid a collision. Sprinkles of rain accelerated by the wind stung my face. The wind blew tears into my eyes that blurred -1-
the sight of the steep, stony slope below me. I thought I could smell the sweat of both the oncoming horse and my own fear. The trickles of rain turned to a downpour, which turned into a wall of water giving me near zero visibility. As I stepped off my bike to gain some balance, the horse hit—heavy, fast and hard— knocking me down the steep embankment. A flash of lightning illuminated a horse and rider, who were obviously soon to fall with me and, in all likelihood, crush me when we hit the bottom of the embankment. I pushed my bike one way and tried to roll the other. I attempted to grab a tree, a rock, a bush—anything to slow my descent—but gathered nothing but speed and scrapes in equal measure. One bounce off a large gnarly oak tree momentarily checked my fall; but gravity, wind, and rain forced me back down again. A high-pitched scream soared over the deep baritone rumble of the thunder. It was a female voice. I looked up to see horse and rider separate. The horse fell in the direction of my bike, and the woman tumbled toward me. We landed together at the bottom of the slope in a tangle of arms, legs, leaves, and mud. Her eyes briefly focused on mine, then she turned away, not saying a word. She moved toward her horse only a few feet away. The horse didn’t rise. His head was tilted at an unnatural, twisted angle; and I suspected a broken neck or spine from the fall. Tebo Creek was now undergoing a full-scale flash flood. The water was lapping at my knees and had reached the waist of the woman who knelt next to the horse. The rising current tugged at my legs as I placed my hand on her shoulder. My message was short, simple, and direct: “We have got to get out of here. The water’s rising.” She slapped my hand from her shoulder, and stayed next to the fallen horse. I wasn’t worried about myself. I was trained to survive on both land and water, but I didn’t know about her. I didn’t know her strength. I didn’t even know if she could swim. The two things I did know were: a) I needed this problem like I needed a hole in the head; and b) I couldn’t leave her. The first conclusion was driven by common sense, and the second by duty. It was part of a triumvirate of personal curses. Duty. Honor. Country. Three concepts that had almost gotten me killed multiple times. The horse floated away about the same time that the water reached the woman’s neck. She stood and tried to follow it, but the current swept her off her feet. I offered my hand as she started to get up; but she ignored it and kept looking for the horse. It was -2-
nowhere in sight. I was becoming frustrated by her reluctance, and concerned over the danger we were in. I grabbed her arm. I pulled her toward the embankment, and we tried to scramble up its steep slope; but only succeeded in falling back into the now rapidly rising water. I saw her briefly surface only to sink again. In three strong strokes, I reached the point where she disappeared, and dove into the silty murk. The current raised a predictable and forceful objection to my presence, and my lungs soon burned from lack of air. I continued to search below the surface. I felt something and reached for it, but the log didn’t return the favor. I was starting to lose consciousness. Another touch, this time much softer. I grabbed her and raced to the surface where my oxygen-starved lungs gasped for air—but she wasn’t breathing at all. Reaching out with one arm, I pulled her head onto a floating log. I placed my mouth over hers and breathed into her. She didn’t respond. I was breathing into a limp and apparently lifeless body. I had to find a place to compress her heart and do proper CPR; but Tebo Creek was now a torrent and the rain showed no signs of stopping. An overhanging tree appeared. I grabbed for one of the branches; but the current swept me past before I could get a hold. My legs throbbed with pain as I continued to tread water against the rushing current and, simultaneously, breathe for her; but I knew I was quickly running out of time. Through the blinding rain, I could make out a large rock partially out of the water in the middle of the creek. I knew it was our only hope. I forgot the pain and caught it with my legs, but it was no good. I started to slip. Just as I was wondering what else could possibly go wrong, a log crashed into me from behind and provided the last straw. I began a string of curses that was creative even by my high standards. I cursed the rain. I cursed the wind. I cursed Tebo Creek. I cursed this bicycle trip. I cursed the woman who was still hanging limp in my arms; and, most of all, I cursed the damn log. I shouldn’t have. It knocked us back onto the rock. I began to compress her heart along with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I could apologize to the log later for having abused it. The pain in my legs was already forgotten. Still, there was no response from her body; but I wouldn’t quit. Duty. Honor. Damn, how do I get into these messes? I continued to force air into her lungs, and blood through her arteries. And the river continued to rise. -3-
About the Author ____ Robert Shoop
Robert Shoop is a doctoral-level psychologist and adventurer, who has traveled extensively. As an avid SCUBA enthusiast he has made over 1000 dives all over the world. His hobbies include exploration and underwater photography. Robert often hikes, bikes, and swims to compensate for his love of gourmet cooking and wine tasting. While his novels are action packed, his general approach to life is never to raceâ€”unless absolutely necessary. He feels strongly that the best experiences come more from the journey than the destination. As a consultant and personnel manager Dr. Shoop developed insights into human behavior that are reflected in his novels. He takes those insights and writes about locations that he has personally visited, such as the Katy Trail. While the characters may be fictitious, the activities on the Katy Trail are based on experience, and the locales are real.
Published on Oct 22, 2010