S M Natale Writer & Novelist

Where Stories Begin

THE RIVER KINGS: The Hunt for Unfathomable Treasure Leads to Appalling Treachery

Written By: S. M. Natale

Written By Popular Request

I introduce a sequel,

The River Kings

  The lives go on from

‘The Shopkeeper’   

 RK SW cover 3 Sky Blue

Or Do They?

Now that The Shopkeeper exacted vengeance,

the true adventures begin, in love… and in survival in THE RIVER KINGS.

Available in EBOOK

and in

Paperback

 

THE RIVER KINGS BACK COVER

CIA Deputy Director Warren Jumper uncovers an outlandish Jihadist plot to finance their next 9/11. Their plan, find hidden Pirate Treasure along the banks of the St Johns River. The basis of the extremist’s blueprint is disquietingly similar to the native legends of his Seminole heritage. He realizes within those epic tales the validity of the danger, and defines those ancient truths in the legendary, enchanting beauty of one Seminole maiden that captures his normally stoic heart.

Knowing he must find the hidden trove first, Jumper enlists his friends from Delana Bend in the race to foil an outrageous plan to attack the very hearts of America. Yet even before the hunt can begin Craig McNair, and the love of his life Ivory Fallow, run afoul of a heroin smuggling operation on the river. Their enduring love is swept into uncharted currents of danger, illuminating mystifying passions buried within their romance and a concealed path to an even deeper and more valuable treasure. 

Now that The Shopkeeper exacted vengeance, the true adventures begin, in love… and in survival.  

Scroll down to read excerpts from The River Kings 

THE REVIEWS ARE BEGINNING TO FLOW IN

Reading The Shopkeeper kept me enthralled and unable to put down until I finished. It was that good. When I heard there would be a sequel, I was so excited, yet had reservations whether it would be as good as the first. THE RIVER KINGS did not disappoint 

The thing about the second book is that it just blew me away. It was even better than the first (which I didn’t think was possible), had numerous twists, plots that were incredibly suspenseful and still the same main characters that I adored from The Shopkeeper. In my opinion, one of the best books I’ve ever read.                                                                                                                        

B. B. White

Read The Full Article 

containing the review above of

THE RIVER KINGS

on

This & That (as I Bounce thru Life) here.

 

Wow! I just turned to the last page of the River Kings and I’m reeling, emotionally and intellectually. This book is both intoxicating and mind blowing. The Characters take the reader on a journey full of shocking, unexpected and heartwarming twists and turns. The travels across time interweave ancient and modern experiences keeping the reader in suspense as to how they will mesh. Wow, What a Tapestry!                                                                                                     

I recommend reading “The Shopkeeper” first to set the stage for all the River Kings’ actions and the effective methods they employ to stand as a fortress against evil as they see it. Be prepared to be shocked and amazed! A Must Read!                                                                                                                                                                         

Rosie B.

 

Excerpts from THE RIVER KINGS

Please Note: This is just a portion of the pre-edit manuscript draft

 THE RIVER KINGS

 September 3, 1622

Captain JAUN De LaCota swaggered with purpose and provocation on his mind into the Casa de Contratacíon in Havana. His entrance drew irritated glares of outrage from the senior officers of the Armada de Tierra Firma, all gathered for a final departure briefing. Ignoring their indignations he slapped a leather-bound roll bearing an embossed cross and shield and the Great Seal of King Phillip the Fourth of Spain resoundingly on the conference table.

“Senores contained within this dispatch casement is a Letter of Marque granting complete autonomy from His Majesty guaranteeing safe passage and cooperation. You may read it if you wish, though his seal alone should be enough for you to acquiesce my simple request. I require only to be availed the date of departure for the Tierre Firme Fleet and, though it be well late into the optimal season, inclusion in the Armada’s protections from Spain’s enemies.”

Irked that this dashing man without superior rank or breeding bore the temerity to be amongst them, the officers eyed one another waiting to see which of them meted the courage to challenge the King’s personal cavalier.

“Gentleman please, we all know I am not your favorite dinner guest, however, The King enjoys my company and may find it slightly disturbing to discover his Admiralty delayed my arrival in court.”

With the others watching, the Admiral wearing a disapproving stare scowled, “De LaCota, must you always be so impetuous, would not a cordial visit to my office tomorrow afternoon suffice?”

“Of course Admiral, spending an afternoon with you would be the highlight of any Captain’s day and as you know I love to share your wine. However the docks foretell of a departure long before we could ravage your personal stores.”

Rebuffed, the Admiral snorted, “Well if you already knew of the dawning departure why have you come?”

“As a courtesy my Admiral…that, and to seek the protection of your guns for the Dama de Marfil.”

De LaCota turned his attention to a junior officer recording the meeting minutes and ordered, “The Ivory Lady shall not be recorded for inclusion in the fleet manifest, and I was never here.”

The admiral, an expression of frustration on his face validating that he retained no control over the King’s man, looked to the young officer and spat, “Do as he says.”

“Thank you gentlemen that shall conclude my affairs with you, and good day,” De LaCota arrogantly snapped to attention spun on his heels leaving the Council of the Indies with the same air of distinction and self-importance as he entered.

That evening though he did not document the Dama de Marfil in the official fleet manifest the young officer did record the encounter with the aggrandized adventurer in his personal journal.

 Щ

This Excerpt Begins +391 years At Chapter 2

CIA Deputy Director Warren Jumper strolled through a reception area towards his departmental offices flashing a ‘Good Morning’ smile to a very attractive Latino receptionist. His bright white smile a considerable contrast to the vivid red and yellow patchwork banded across the black field that was his pressed shirt, a testament to his Black Seminole heritage. She returned his greeting with a glowing smile of her own and lifted the receiver of her desk-mounted phone, watching the tall man with the ponytail amble towards the security door. She always thought he was an exceedingly handsome man with his noble features sculpted with black skin belying his Native American birthright. As she pretended to make a phone call, she was really thinking of what it would be like to be held by his long strong arms. Entering a code that logged his arrival unlocking a security passageway that led deeper into an area his analysts called The Shop, she mused one day she might have to find out.

He passed through an ornate oak laden doorway that opened to a clean yet very Spartan hallway three feet wide and fourteen feet long. As he progressed down the hall he heard the low hum of the first door’s locking mechanism pushing two-inch titanium rods into the steel core of the door. He waved a hand, holding his fingers in a particular position that was the pass signal for the week towards a concealed video camera and without causing him to break stride the rear door of the hallway swung open to allow his exit from the second level security zone that also acted as an inescapable trap should anyone get past the first level of security. The first level, the attractive Latino receptionist, a well-trained former FBI agent with the tactical advantage of a dazzling, disarming smile, great Government Issue cleavage and a suppressed MP-5 secreted within a moment’s grasp inside the carved reception desk’s computer mounting.

He walked beyond three analysts so deeply studying their computer screens they did not notice his passing, all secure in the knowledge that no unauthorized person could obtain access to The Shop. There was no need to even look up. He glanced at the daily operational display, an eighty inch flat panel screen mounted on the side wall, and noted nothing of interest for his office’s attention so he proceeded across the “techie” workspace. Even though his branch of responsibility was primarily international, since the events of nine-eleven those separations became skewed, he was currently an arm of a joint Homeland Security task force so his office now tracked and acted on any potential threat.

He formed his hand into the Vulcan ‘live long and prosper’ position made famous by Star Trek’s, Mr. Spock and pressed his fingers to a flat glass pad that unlocked his private office. The odd positioning and spacing of his fingers combined with his fingerprints, body temperature and blood oxygen count another level of biometric security.

He rounded his desk and sorted through the morning situational updates, probing for anything that might be actionable or require his attention. Finding none, he picked up a remote on his desk and flicked on the Fox News Channel, then sat down at his desk to watch the morning news. As he did so, an aide came into his office bringing a silver coffee service and placed it on the desk.

“Good Morning Sir.”

Jumper acknowledged the aide with a nod and a glint in his eye inquiring, “Anything I need to know that’s not on the board?”

“Not much, Miami Dade is looking into the report of a small cell, possibly domestic but other than that not much.”

“Monitor that but keep our distance for the time being. Anything else?”

“There is one thing, one of our listening posts in Afghanistan picked up. We did not get the entire transmission and our guys seem to think it was generated from the Spīn Ghar Mountian Range between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

“Why didn’t we get it all?”

“It seems it was a low power radio transmission and they didn’t reach out to grab it until they heard a few of the ‘Hot Words’ near the ending of the conversation that piqued their interest.”

“What keyword?”

Sra zar, the Afghan word for gold. But that was not really the interesting part and though the intercept was considerably garbled, we distinctly heard the date 1717 used in conjunction with the St Johns River.”

Jumper raised his eyebrows, now his interest was piqued.

“Have the techies spool it up, do we have a translation yet?”

“Yes Sir,” handing a sheet of paper to his boss.

“Not much here.”

“No Sir, like I said they snatched it a bit late.”

“Okay, thank you Michael, tell me when the techs have the audio spooled up and send it to my station.”

Jumper examined the words printed on the sheet recognizing them as Pashto. He saw an icon on his computer monitor begin to blink indicating an incoming message, which was the audio recording of the intercept. He clicked on the flashing icon and the recording began to play through the surround sound system in his office as Michael re-entered. They heard;

 

“Gware Sra zar”-Static 3 seconds-

“Xoral waxt”- Static 2.5 seconds

“1717” static 1/2 second

“Samandar tchskars” – Static 4 seconds –

“Beräy alwatal Sav hadükäy” Static 6.5 seconds

“St Johns Sind” Static 9 seconds

“pese” Static 1.5 seconds

“gwal de zay yam”

 

He replayed the cut this time focusing on only the tenor, timing and timber of the voice, but also substituting the written translation in his mind.

 

“You want Gold” static

“To Eat Time” static

“1717” static

“Sea soldiers” static

“Ship to fly head bone” static

“St Johns River” Static

“Money” static

“Flowers from this place.”

 

He listened to the recording four more times and decided the analyst’s suppositional translation, as odd as it was, was indeed very close to the original conversation.

“If you want Gold that has been eaten by time since 1717 hidden by sea soldiers ships flying the skull and cross bones on the St Johns River, there is more money for our cause than all our flowers from this place.”

Jumper was flabbergasted. Of all the things he’d heard over the intercept net he never listened to something as outrageous, and almost comical, as two suspected Afghan jihadists in the mountains of Pakistan planning to find lost pirate treasure in the middle of Florida.

He picked up his telephone, punched in a number committed to memory and spoke to someone for just a minute waving Michael back into his office at the same time.

He then hung up saying to Michael as he entered, “I want two words added to the ‘Hot List’ on the scoop net.”

Michael looked at him oddly since this seemed so far-fetched, he was even unsure as to whether the intercept should even be brought to his boss’s attention. He really only did so because he was aware Jumper frequented the St John River area often in his free time and he might be amused. He never imagined his boss would take such interest, let alone action.

“What words?”

“Blackbeard, Cavern.”

“Blackbeard,” he asked with a quizzical expression. “Are you kidding?”

Jumper looked up at him with an expression of pure business and knew he didn’t need a response.

“Yes sir, it will be programmed up in a matter of minutes.”

“I knew it would, thank you Michael, I will be out of town for the next few days. You know how to reach me. Only if necessary, and if necessary means only if one of those words takes a hit or Uruguay decides to invade South Beach.”

“Uruguay? I didn’t know they were even mad at us.”

Jumper got up from behind his desk and sauntered towards a large glass display case, examining the prized ancestral possessions within. His mind wandered back to his grandfather’s stories as his eyes floated over the pieces. The broken antler of a deer, the weapon used in an epic battle fought with a huge panther that once terrorized his ancestors’ village. A bone knife that was the revered hunting dagger of his forefathers, carved from the foreleg of that powerful predatory spirit.  His ancestral-grandmother’s three bridal gifts, a hand painted comb and a hair clip fashioned from the sharp toothy jawbones of a garfish. The third gift, woven of palmetto leaf around an odd lead colored, rectangular stone, was an amulet of protection guarding family, the stone showing the wear from being rubbed in prayer over the decades and centuries. There was one piece that seemed out of place with the native artifacts, a leather scroll bearing an ornate crest.

He spun on the heel of the high western styled boots he always wore and said, “I’m headed to the Seminole Reservation in Brighton, have my plane ready for Daytona by seven in the morning.”

Щ

Craig McNair was enjoying a perfect Florida Chamber of Commerce morning bass fishing on the western shore of the St Johns River a few miles south of Lake George. His companion and love of his life Ivory Fallow was stretched out on the rear deck of his Gambler bass boat reading a book and enjoying the sun baking her deeply tanned and oiled skin.

Lifting his rod from the water he stepped back towards her, admiring the curve of her recline thinking of the phrase he said to himself the very first day he met her, “How can that much beauty fit into that small a package.”

At thirty four she possessed the complexion of a fresh faced teenager and the type of figure other women would try to pay for and never achieve. Ivory was every beautiful woman Craig ever imagined rolled into a perfect combination of grace and loveliness a man reveres in his mind. His eyes enjoyed tracing a path the entire length of Ivory’s five feet four inches, from her red painted toes and tender ankles, up shapely tapered legs dancing over gently curving hips and a flat almost concaved stomach leading way to firm a delightfully rounded bosom framed by angularly sculptured shoulders and truly the face of a goddess with sparkling green eyes that forced him to smile and always expressed her love for him.

Unable to take his eyes from her, he asked, “Do you want to take a little run?”

“Yeah, I’m getting a little hot back here it’s time to grab some air.”

They quickly stowed items scattered around the deck, preparing for flight. Settling into the plush cushioned seats Craig started the two hundred and fifty horsepower engine and mashed the foot throttle to the floor. The propeller ripped the water into a froth as the sleek hull of the Gambler bass boat tore downriver attaining a speed of seventy five miles per hour.

Ivory reached over tapping Craig on the thigh giving him the thumbs down gesture indicating she wanted him to slow the boat, then pointing to her chest showing him the speed from the boat blew her bikini top off again.

An interesting, and more than likely non-intended design feature of a bass boat is to the delight of most bass fisherman. As air flows over the hull at speeds beyond fifty five to sixty miles per hour women’s clothing tends to come off. Bikini tops are especially prone, and oddly enough when fisherman take into account bikinis are usually only worn by the type of women men really like to look at, bassboat sales increase over other types of power boats. The only issue after a fisherman figures out if they can make the payments, is can they get one of those fabulous bikini wearers onboard.

One of the reasons she wanted the boat slowed was to readjust the two small triangles of her top which the wind had driven under her arm pits exposing her. The second, Ivory’s shining hair was flying out behind her, imitating a dark almost black airport windsock. Beautifully flowing on the currents of air, but her long hair was also twisting and tangling in the wind generated by the boat’s ascent.

As Craig slowed he was smilingly thinking, “God I love bassboats.”

She admitted to him, “I forgot to put my hair up. And either this boat’s too fast or this top’s too big for me.”

“Yeah I noticed that, but you can’t really have a bassboat that’s too fast, that’s kinda like saying a girl like you is too pretty… Must be your boobs are too small,” he laughed… and she hit him.

But inside her heart was beaming, this man was the only man in her life that ever treated her with the respect a woman deserves. Craig literally rescued her from a lifetime of horrific, brutal abuse and an obscure nonexistence. If not for his love and nurturing support she would not have blossomed into the woman she is now.

Ivory could hardly believe that her life could change so drastically in the just the time they’d been together. To find a man that really loved her and one that was so much more handsome and rugged than any of the heroes her novels described was beyond her dreams. Craig was a foot taller than she at six-three, with wide muscular shoulders and arms built from years of construction work, buttressed on a powerful triangular frame racked over a tight waist. His blue eyes always held a special glint just for her and the smile in his chiseled features was infectious. Even the slight touch of grey that invaded his dark hair at the temples made him more attractive. God she loved him.

Turning slightly towards him as the boat was slowing, “I thought you liked these?” placing her hands at the sides of her breasts and pushing them together and towards him.

Letting up the rest of the way on the throttle he replied to her question and her slap, “Nah honey they’re perfect for a pretty girl like you, you’re right it must be the top….take it off,” offering her a big sophomoric grin.

She whacked him on the shoulder again and then kissed him on the cheek whispering, “I will, and the bottoms too when we get somewhere away from these houses.”

Craig negotiated the boat into a steady idle speed as Ivory rummaged around in the deck compartment looking for her hair band. He sat watching her deftly combing out her luxurious hair, his eyes wandering to her figure and the tiny bikini she readjusted back into place, the bright yellow of the material a stark contrast to her deeply tanned skin. Just beyond her he noticed a small boat up along the western shore. His gaze was focused on her attributes, outlining her curves, but something was nagging at his senses.

Then he realized the oddity invading this pleasurable sight was the realization there was no one in the little boat. Not unlike the first day he met Ivory, laying naked and concealed in her skiff reading a book and fishing. Yet he sensed something about this scene was completely different, and completely wrong.

He steered the boat from the center of the channel towards the small vessel and Ivory turned to him questioningly after recovering her shifted balance sitting on her hip on the deck. He nodded in the direction he’d turned the bow and she followed his gaze.

Craig was focused on the boat when Ivory exclaimed, “Oh my God,” in a rather panicked voice.

He looked to where she was excitedly pointing, shocked at the sight. A large alligator was holding what seemed to be an arm in its mouth. But not just the arm, the arm was being used by the gator as a handle to drag a person.

Craig yelled to her, “Get my gun.”

Ivory rolled to her belly and pulled a .44 caliber stainless steel Ruger Redhawk from its storage space in the floor tackle compartment. She handed it to Craig as they switched positions, Ivory operating the boat and Craig now standing on the large forward fishing platform. He dropped one hand to his side indicating to her to put the vessel in neutral, taking aim, he fired one shot exploding a log floating next to the gator. The gator reacted to the disintegration of the log with a blast of water thrown into the air, spinning away from the log diving to the river bottom leaving the person floating on the surface. Craig dropping to one knee motioned to Ivory and she accelerated the Gambler directly towards what Craig could now see was a man.

As the boat pulled up to the man in the water, Craig handed Ivory the gun and said, “Watch out for that gator, it will be back.”

He reached down into the water and grabbed the man by the life vest pulling him to the side of the boat, “Oh God, its Harry.”

He pulled Harry on the foredeck of the boat, with a sullen expression checking his vital signs he announced gravely, “He’s dead.”

Ivory began to cry. Harry was a very good customer of Craig’s outdoors shop, The Ridgetop, and she knew him quite well. She really liked the old man; he was always so sweet, constantly complementing her by saying “If I was only sixty again.”

Craig covered the man with a large beach towel and pulled his VHF radio out of the glove box. Tuning the radio to channel sixteen he transmitted a 911 call to the Coast Guard Auxiliary monitoring the emergency channel. Upon their response he informed them of their discovery and position, confirming it via GPS location.

CHAPTER THREE

Jumper drove onto the reservation at Brighton turning towards the cottage he built for his eighty-seven year old grandmother after his grandfather passed. It was a small two bedroom house painted a bright yellow with white trim and a broad front porch to accommodate her rocking chair and the children that were typically gathered around her as she told stories.

As he pulled in the drive he was compelled to make a wide turn to avoid any nails that may have fallen from a roofing company truck that was parked on her street. As he knocked on her door the pounding of nails at the house next door was so loud he began to wonder if his grandmother heard the knock until she opened the door.

When she opened the door she began to scold him, “Warren Abiaka Jumper, you did finally remember you had a Pu-se, I was thinking I was with your grandfather and our ancestors.”

“Oh Pu-se of course I remember you,” teasing her back, “every time I sit down I am reminded of your lessons and your hand.”

She laughed and said “Oh Warren you were never that bad, and it was always your grandfather that got you into trouble…now he remembers my hand,” and she gave him a large welcoming hug pulling him to her rocking chair.

Pu-se do you remember the story of Lakota and Sawni?”

“Yes my son it is very old, it was very old when my grandmother’s sister-in-law taught it to me when I was a young girl. It is the four hundred year old story of a maiden’s never ending love and the prophecy that formed us into the Unconquered People.”

Pu-se was there not also Lakota’s Treasure?’

“My son Lakota’s treasure was Sawni.”

“Yes Pu-se I know, and I know every Seminole girl dreams to have a warrior like Lakota, but wasn’t there something else in the story?”

“There was Lakota’s mettle, earned from killing a panther saving Sawni’s life. His power was the aspiration of every warrior. Even the invaders heard of it and wanted it. But Lakota only gave it to the Mikkos, willing it to each king to follow.”

Pu-se what was Lakota’s full clan name?”

“He was not of any clan that he would ever say, though he was adopted by the Chukotalgi , the long gone Panther people, though it is said he came from the lost Salt Clan. He was known by the lost clans in the North as Lakota-Hachi – Stranger from the stream, and the clans of the grassy water called him Cota Ocachobi, Man from beyond the big water.”

“Why do you ask my son, have you found your Sawni?”

“No Pu-se, my work keeps me from searching for her.”

“Perhaps my son you should turn around. She may be there.”

“Maybe Pu-se, but as I recall from the story, Sawni is very rare.”

“No my son… turn around,” and she pushed his shoulder.

Jumper did as she instructed and peered through the railings of the porch into the yard next door. There he saw the most beautiful Seminole maiden he had ever seen reclined in a fold up lounge chair reading a book.

“My son, she is the daughter of Joe Tiger and though she will not say, she is looking for her Lakota and he does not live here. I have watched you and you have Lakota’s mettle, I have seen it. You must show it to her Warren.”

Pu-se, I am twice her age.”

“As Lakota was to Sawni,” placing her loving hand to his face, “and she made him young again. Show her and you will see every word of the story is true.”

Щ

Bump Soloman was sitting on the fence surrounding the pasture protecting his horses after his daily run when he heard a radio call through the open windows of his truck.  He didn’t think much of it knowing his deputies were quite adept in handling their duties, until he heard the name of his friend Craig McNair mentioned as the contact person on the scene.

Bump thought, “Oh man what is he into now?”

Bump and Craig became very close friends over the past year or so. More than friends really, they were almost like brothers. Bump hopped from the fence to his truck, pulling his tee shirt back on and snatched up the radio.

“One to RP5.”

“Go ahead Sheriff.”

“Where are ya Tommy?”

“About one mile south of the Ridgetop.”

“10-4 Tommy wait for me there, I want to respond to the last call.”

“10-4 boss, I’ll be there.”

The sheriff’s patrol boat, its blue emergency lights flashing, cruised up to a gathering of boats on the western shoreline of the river. As the deputy tied his craft to Craig McNair’s Gambler, Bump crossed the slight gap between them to the rear deck extending a hand to his friend then giving a teary eyed Ivory a hug enveloping her with his bulk.

She whispered in his ear, “This is terrible.”

“What happened?” He asked.

Craig answered, “I don’t know Bump, we came up river and found him in the jaws of an alligator. I drove the gator off with a shot, but I didn’t hit him. You know how those FWC guys can be when it comes to protecting those damn lizards.” Referring to the laws protecting alligators and the heavy penalties associated with them, pointing at one the other river patrol deputies standing guard holding a rifle in case the gator returned.

They all knew that once a gator found food it didn’t abandon it easily. Two other men were examining Harry Gwaltney’s body while a forth was inspecting his small skiff.

Craig continued, “From what I can tell it looks like poor Harry was fishing along the bank and his was struck by another boat. The Bastards just left him,” deep anger flushing his expression.

“That’s what I think too,” added Bob Wheeler, the County Medical Examiner from the front of the Gambler, “looks like an airboat to me or something with a very high prow but I doubt its anything different. Harry was anchored in or near the pads when he got hit. Had to be an airboat see; there is no impact point from an out drive and no propeller track though the lily pads. And Craig is right the bastards just left him, but I think he was killed on impact.”

Another investigator chimed in from a second patrol boat tied alongside, “That’s right boss, from the fresh scrapes on the paint of the gunnels looks an airboat just ran right over the top of him.”

Bump looked around at the scene, the anger firing up inside him, fueled by what he had been told.  “You think this is the same asshole we keep getting noise complaints about?”

The investigator responded, “Could be, we got a call last night up river a little ways, but with the overtime cut backs we didn’t have anyone on the river to respond.”

“Frickin’ County Commission,” Bump cursed.

As the first Negro Sheriff in Lake County he was at odds with two Afro-American Commissioners that wanted him to use his office for their liberal agenda and they were trying to use his budget as leverage, attempting to extort his influence and popularity.

He ordered, “I want this S.O.B. found. Stop every airboat in our jurisdiction along this part of the river for safety checks make sure our water dogs check the bows for marks. And have them advise the Marion and Seminole County guys too. They find one I want to know about it!”

Finished with his orders he asked, “You good here Bob? Kenny do you need Craig and Ivory anymore?

They both replied, “No Boss we’re good.”

Bump eyed the body on the deck and then his deputies, issuing a silent order for them to move the body to the sheriff’s boat. They waited a moment while he moved towards the stern of the Gambler and shrouded Ivory again in a hug. Knowing their boss was purposely obscuring the pretty lady’s view they quickly and silently followed his order. When Bump felt the boat recover from the shifting of the body and was assured the body was covered by the fluttering sound of a tarp, he opened his hug in a slight side step while still keeping a huge arm around Ivory’s shoulders he said, “Tommy you finish up here,” and then looking to Craig for the permission he knew was there finished, “I’m gonna ride back with these folks.”

Craig looked at Ivory, appearing so tiny in Bump’s embrace; wiping her tears away she nodded her head up and down along Bump’s chest indicating her assent.

Craig asked as the deputies untied the boats and pushed them off, “Do you remember how to drive this thing?”

“Yeah I think so,” he replied releasing Ivory, “if I can fit behind the wheel.”

Bump’s driving the sleek bassboat was a necessity to keep the fishing rig balanced since he was so big. As a former lineman at Florida State University he was six feet seven inches tall and over three hundred fifty pounds, just about all of it muscle. A little bit more than Ivory’s weight heavier than Craig.

“Great, now I lose my seat and have to sit on his lap to balance out all the extra weight ya big palooka,” Ivory mockingly complained.

Bump retorted sarcastically, “Yeah he’s gonna mind, with your sweet little ass on his lap.”

Good naturedly punching Bump in the shoulder she fired back, “Well I might mind ole octopus hands over there.”

“Yeah right, when was that ever the case?” he laughed and she punched him again then shaking the sting from her hand because he was so solid.

Bump idled the Gambler away from the other boats and at a safe distance throttled up just fast enough to get the Gambler up on plane and get the feel of the vessel. He glanced at his watch and saw it was only midafternoon and leaned over into Ivory’s ear and asked her over the whine of the engine, “Do you want to stop at your cove?”

She smiled at him answering, “Yes if you have time.”

He said, “For you guys I have all day,” and he guided the bassboat off plane to the entrance of a small protected cove that they had come to call, Ivory’s Cove.

Щ

Ivory’s Cove was a small backwater ponding of the river that was completely surrounded by the Ocala National Forest. The cove was formed by a thickly treed hook of land cutting into the river and encircling a pool of slowly spiraling river current. The narrow entrance was camouflaged by low hanging limbs that needed to be pushed up to gain entrance. Once inside, the cove was an almost flawless circle of tranquil water gently lapping up to a small sandy beach open to the midday sun.

They slipped the boat near shore and the men hopped out into the water pushing the bow a bit further on land. Before the water from their splash had fallen back to the pond Ivory’s bikini was lying on the deck and she was handing them both a beer from the cooler. Bump looked at her and even though she was standing on the deck of the boat and he in the water they were almost eye to eye, he said, “I’ve never seen anyone but you do that so fast.”

“What, get you a beer or strip?”

“No,” he replied lifting her lithesome one hundred and seventeen pounds effortlessly from the boat and setting her gently in the ankle deep water nodding his head towards a doe peeking out at their arrival, “That.”

Craig and Bump quietly watched her walk up to the animal offering a very gentle greeting, her voice soft and melodic. The doe leaned out to her hand allowing her touch then nuzzled Ivory’s thighs and belly, tickling her with its wet nose. As Ivory set her hand on the side of its head petting the deer along the jaw line, the doe lifted its head to cuddle her breasts, neck and face, accepting Ivory’s touch in until ushering the doe’s head away, Ivory murmuring, “That’s enough now you tickle, go back into the woods.”

Craig lounging back in the sand smiled and commented, “I have no idea how Ivory does it, but that doe is always here. They talk for a few minutes and the doe goes back into the woods.”

Almost as if on cue the doe turned away as Ivory’s hand floated across its back.

Bump laid down in the water after the doe wandered off saying “That is amazing to me, I know I’ve seen her do it a dozen times, but it is awe inspiring. I can’t think of anything I have ever seen more uplifting.”

Keeping his eye on Ivory watching her splash off to dive under the green surface he asked, “Craig do you have your security cameras facing the river at night?”

“Just the one for the fuel dock, but it does not take much of a view of the river.”

“If I got you a couple more do you have the capacity to expand and add two cameras on the rear deck to monitor the river north and south?”

“Yeah Bump I can do that, I just upgraded the system to my computer so it’s all digital, that’s no problem. Why what’s up?”

Bump replied with a bit of concern in his tone but lowered his voice as he saw Ivory break the surface and begin swimming towards them, “Something about Harry’s death really bothers me. This is more than an accident. We have a murderer on the river.”

He stopped the conversation when Ivory was within just a few steps appreciating how the water was clinging to the curves and swells of her figure remarking, “Girl you get more beautiful every time I see you.”

She bent down and kissed him on the top of his shaved head and playfully sat astride his back wiggling into a comfortable position as if he were a horse. Suddenly she burst into tears remembering the sight of Harry clamped in the jaws of a gator.

She slipped off Bump’s broad back into the water and peering at them both through her tears cried, “Those were the very same words that sweet old man said to me last night after he fueled up to go out on the river. I must have been the last one to see him alive.”

An unusual fire then flashed across her face slightly marring her beauty and she swore, “Catch those murderin’ bastards… No….No….Kill them.”

 

 

APPRECIATION

 

The River Kings was written for the readers of my first novel, THE SHOPKEEPER.

 

The continuation of the story would not have come to life without your ardent requests for more.

 

I am flattered and humbled by your response to my first work. Thank you is not enough.

 

SMN

 

Special Message from the Author

 

Thank you for dedicating your time to read, I sincerely hope you enjoy The River Kings. For those new to my works, I offer one piece of advice concerning your reading experience. While this Novel can stand alone, if you have not read The Shopkeeper before opening the River Kings, certain aspects and nuances within may escape your perception, altering the impact as this story unfolds.

 

 

The River Kings is available at many of your favorite EBook retailers

or you can get it directly from the distributor, just click here.

THE PAPERBACK is Now Available click here to order

TO READ THE SHOPKEEPER Before THE RIVER KINGS You can order both just Click Here

THE RIVER KINGS IS A FULL LENGTH NOVEL  OF 478 pages of 110,400 words

 

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