Perfect Bait by Michael Fowlkes
suspense thriller*Paperback and e-book 392 pages*Published May 18th 2012 by Thunderbird Press
A spellbinding thriller, as suspenseful as it is sensual.
The richly-textured settings of Seattle’s commercial waterfront, San Diego’s topless beaches, and the breathtaking waters off Cabo San Lucas create the backdrop for a riveting story of romance, adventure, kidnapping and murder.
Born and raised in Seattle, Corey Phillips takes off down the coast to Southern California - heading toward sunshine and beaches after his wife and high school sweetheart breaks his heart and their marriage. Once in San Diego, Corey falls for a surfer - the devoted and beautiful Jennifer. With Jennifer by his side and a new boat called “Vintage”, Corey becomes one of the top charter boat operators in the area.
However, not all those seeking trips offshore are looking for fish. Young girls are disappearing. Local authorities hope the FBI can put the pieces together, but nothing fits—until Corey and Jennifer become the perfect bait and find themselves in a fight for their lives.
An excerpt from Perfect Bait
It felt like the fish was beginning to tire. But then he made another long run after I’d gotten most of the line back, again burning my hands. “Even pressure this time,” Augie coached me. “Steady even pressure. You got him coming your way. No need to piss him off any more than he already is.”
The fish circled under the boat a few times. Each time he came out from under the boat, I was able to gain a full arm’s length of line.
“That’s it,” Augie said as I gained on the fish. “Slow and easy. Keep his head up, and just guide him toward the surface.”
“Holy shit!” I screamed as the big flattie broke the surface, shaking his head violently and rocking me to my bones. Holding on with both hands as tightly as I could, he wasn’t able to pull out any line, but he about jerked my arms out of their sockets.
“He’s a beauty,” Augie said, reaching over the rail, grabbing the line.
Immediately my body quit shaking. My arms were numb and my hands were on fire, but none of that mattered. This was the biggest fish I’d ever caught.
Augie started talking out loud, not taking his eyes off the fish. “Now take it easy, big guy, everything’s going to be all right.”
He was talking to the fish as if it were a person, and the weirdest thing was, I swear to God that damn fish was listening. It immediately quit thrashing around and let Augie pull him right up next to the boat.
“That a boy,” he said softly, reaching down and pulling the barbless hook out of his mouth in one easy motion. The fish hesitated for a split second before diving for the bottom, leaving a huge boil in his wake.
I was speechless.
“Nice job,” Augie said, leaning back up and extending his hand.
Taking it, I shook my head in shock, “Why did you let him go?”
Augie pushed the shift level forward, putting the barge back in gear, before asking, “How are your hands?”
“Fine!” I snapped back, slowly turning my palms up and looking down at them. I was pissed. My hands were bleeding and starting to really hurt. “That was my fish. Why did you let him go?”
“Look around you,” Augie instructed calmly.
“At what?” You crazy old coot.
“What do you see?”
“Nothing. We’re in the middle of the bay surrounded by water.”
“Not exactly. Look closer.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. He waited, watching me.
When he saw me look down at the load of fish carcasses and guts we were hulling, his eyes flashed.
“What are you talking about? You want me look at the guts?”
“I don’t get it.”
Then he asked me, “Are you hungry?”
“Hungry? Are you hungry?”
“No. I’m pissed off you let my fish go.”
“Your fish?” he asked.
“Yeah. I caught him.”
“You certainly did. And you did a damn fine job,” he added. “I thought he was about going tear your hands off on that first run.”
Looking down at my throbbing hands again, I nodded, shrugging my shoulders. “He just about did.”
“I know.” Augie said. “You showed a lot of heart hanging on the way
I lowered my head, my anger draining with the fading adrenalin rush. “Thanks.” He didn’t say anything else for a while until I asked, “Why’d you want to know if I was hungry?”
“Because that’s the only reason to ever kill anything. If you’re going to eat it, take it. If not, let it go.”
His eyes bore into my young soul, holding me there until he saw that I understood what he was saying. I nodded. The corners of his eyes creased into the beginnings of a smile as he slowly nodded back. We understood each other. “Chances are,” he added, “we might even fool him into doing battle with us again one of these fine days.”
About the author:
Michael Fowlkes is an award-winning executive producer, writer and director of Fox Sports’ Inside Sportfishing – the longest running, highest rated fishing TV show in Fox Sports history.
Fowlkes has also received three national Cable ACE Awards for his productions with Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures and Showtime. Perfect Bait is his first novel. Michael lives with his wife Kimberly, and their golden retriever, Shammie, on a secluded, wooded hillside along Laguna Canyon.