Stormy Waters: Book 10 in The Dar & Kerry Series

Stormy Waters

by

 

Melissa Good

Yellow Rose Books

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by Melissa Good

 

 

ALSO BY MELISSA GOOD
Dar and Kerry Series
Tropical Storm
Hurricane Watch
Eye of the Storm
Red Sky At Morning
Thicker Than Water
Terrors of the High Seas
Tropical Convergence
Storm Surge: Book One
Storm Surge: Book Two

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The characters, incidents and dialogue herein are fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

ISBN 978-1-61929-083-9 (eBook)

 

 

eBook Conversion December 2012

 

 

Cover design by Donna Pawlowski

 

 

Published by:

 

Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC

3520 Avenue H

Port Arthur, Texas 77627

 

 

Find us on the World Wide Web at http://www.regalcrest.biz

 

 

Published in the United
States of America

From Melissa Good:

 

Sometimes my real life and my stories accidentally converge and so I would like to in this case acknowledge both my previous employer, EDS, and my current one, Norwegian Cruise Line for bits and pieces found inside these pages and note that it would have been a very different story had certain events not taken place.

~ Melissa Good

 

 

Stormy Waters
 

by

 

Melissa Good

 

Yellow Rose Books

 

Chapter One

DAR POURED HERSELF a glass of juice, then returned to her desk and settled back into her leather chair. A thick, white printout was already in her inbox. She lifted it out and plopped it down in front of her as her computer hummed in the background, collecting her email.

Security reports. Dar winced slightly as she started reading. "Damn, what a mucking little troublemaker I am." She shook her head ruefully. "Aye, yi yi yi yah...Mark I owe you dinner, at least for this one." Her fingertip traced one intrusion attempt that had come perilously close to finding a crack, being turned aside at the very last second by the random roaming parser that dipped continually into the data stream and examined the traffic it found there. "Wow."

The parser had been around since a twenty something year old bored Operations Manager had put it in place years ago and recently had to defend keeping it. Dar hadn't really expected to have her stubborn insistence in leaving her code in place vindicated so explicitly, but she was never one to look a gift goat in the ass either.

She opened a new mail window and typed rapidly.
Next time someone tells me we don't need any of my old programs, they're fired.
She reviewed it, then sent it on its way to Mark's inbox. Satisfied she went back to reviewing the report.

A soft knock interrupted her a few minutes later. Dar put the page down and leaned on her elbows. "C'mon in."

The door opened and Maria poked her head in. "Good morning, Dar."

Dar leaned back in her chair and studied her assistant. "Morning." She lifted a hand and curled a finger, beckoning Maria inside the office. "Siddown."

Looking slightly apprehensive, Maria did so, taking a seat across from Dar in one of her comfortable visitors chairs. "Si?"

Dar steepled her fingers. "I have a meeting with Mariana in about an hour over your little incident at that restaurant last week."

Maria sighed. "Dar, I am so sorry."

"Shh." Dar waved her off. "Don't apologize. I only wish you'd gotten some pictures. The two of them were up to no good, and I'm happy Kerry didn't end up there with them."

"They were very nasty women, Jefa."

"I know." Dar said. "The problem is, they're also a huge honking pain in the ass, and it's to their advantage to make us look as bad as possible."

Maria sighed. "We should not have gone to that place. It was a wrong thing to do, Dar. Even if you do not say so."

Dar shrugged. "And at that tech conference, I shouldn't have challenged every hacker on the planet to break into our systems. But I did, and here we are." She nudged the stack of papers. "So, what I want you to do is just let me handle it okay?"

"Jefa?" Maria looked confused.

Dar got up and walked around to the front of the desk, perching on the corner of it. "I'll meet with Mariana and take care of whatever bullshit she got handed. Kerry's up to her ears in this damn bid, and I don't want her bothered with it."

"Okay, Dar, if you say so." Maria still looked unsure. "But the policeman came to us on Friday, and I spoke with him. I think it is fine. He said to me that what they were was some nuisance?"

Nuisance. Dar chuckled inwardly. "All right. Listen, I'm going to need to schedule a security meeting after lunch. Book the big conference room, and get all the operations department heads in there."

"One o'clock?"

"That's fine." Dar nodded.

Maria started to get up, but paused. "Dar, I did not get to ask you-- did this thing you were in New York for go all right?"

"It did."

"Was Kerrisita a good help for you?"

Dar's blue eyes twinkled warmly. "Couldn't have done it without her."

Satisfied, Maria stood up and headed for the door. "Is good. Mayte will be very glad as well. She was very concerned that everything would go nicely."

Dar went back to her seat and dropped into it, pulling her report back over. A motion on her screen caught her attention, and she looked over studying the security alert flashing.

Damn. "I think I'm going to end up embarrassing the hell out of myself with that damn challenge." She exhaled, resting her head on her fist. "What an idiot I am."

KERRY CAME AROUND the corner of her office entrance and plowed into her administrative assistant. "Whoa!" She hauled up short and put a hand out to steady Mayte, who had bounced off her. "Hey, Mayte."

Mayte's eyes widened. "Oh, Ms...Kerry. Hello. Good morning." Her expression was a cross between apprehension and concern. "You are here so early."

"C'mon inside. I want to hear all about our rock 'em sock 'em admins." Kerry grinned indicating her office door. "I've got a staff briefing at ten, but we've got some time to talk."

Mayte followed her inside and closed the door, and stood a little awkwardly beside Kerry's desk. "Kerry, my mother is very upset with us. She said for me to come to you and to apologize."

Kerry put her tea mug down on her desk and came over to face her assistant. "Why?"

"Because we should not have confronted those ladies."

"Ah." Kerry folded her arms. "Well...I'd agree with you, except that...remember the story Dar said for you to ask me about, when you told us what happened?"

"Yes." Mayte fastened her eyes on Kerry's face.

"Once upon a time, back when Dar and I first started seeing each other..." Kerry turned and wandered over to the window, peering out. "And we were still keeping it secret from everyone..."

"Except my mama."

Kerry chuckled. "Uh...er...yeah, except for her. From everyone else, though," she amended. "Mariana and Duks asked us out to dinner. We knew Mariana suspected what was going on, so we were trying really hard to pretend we were just friends while at the restaurant."

Mayte merely watched her, fascinated.

"Now that I look back, I doubt we were fooling anyone, but we were trying hard, and we thought we were doing pretty good." Kerry turned and leaned against the glass. "Until one of Dar's old girlfriends showed up and started needling her in front of all of us."

"Oh, that is terrible!"

"Uh huh. It was," Kerry agreed dryly. "Until I got up and pushed her in front of a tray full of Thai food and she ended up with eel guts up her nose while she swam on the floor in a puddle of peanut sauce."

"Oh." Mayte covered her mouth with one hand and tried not to laugh.

Kerry came back over to her. "So, they're probably pretty lucky," she admitted. "Because if I'd have been there, and they'd have started talking trash about Dar, I would have done a lot worse than dump chili down their shirts."

"Really?"

Kerry's face turned suddenly serious. "Yes." She drew in a breath. "Dar means everything to me. If I wasn't there to watch her back, I'm glad you two were."

Mayte looked a touch overwhelmed at that. "Then, no matter what my mama says, I am glad too," she replied softly. "It did not feel like a bad thing to me." She paused. "Until the policemen arrived."

"It wasn't." Kerry stepped closer, then impulsively held her arms out. "C'mere." She enfolded Mayte in a hug, giving her a gentle pat on the back. "Don't worry about anything. If they make more trouble, Dar will take care of them." She released the girl, but clasped her shoulders. "You guys have nothing to worry about."

Mayte was blushing. "T...thank you."

"Okay." Kerry gave her a pat on the arm, then let her go and perched on the edge of her desk. "Now, we've got a lot of work to do to get ready for this ship bid. I'm going to need some rush orders on equipment, and I'll need you to get hold of Elaine and see what we can do to pressure the vendors."

"I will call her right away," Mayte replied softly. "Did...did Jefa's thing in New York come out...did you fix the problem there?"

Kerry smiled inwardly at the half nervous stutter. "Oh yeah," she reassured Mayte. "Dar had it pretty much resolved before I even got there. I just added some moral support for a couple hours and then we spent some time out in the city."

Mayte's brow puckered a little. "You left so quickly I thought?"

"That I was going to save the day?" Kerry went to her chair and sat down, giving her trackball a roll. "Nah. I just went to be with Dar. Sappily romantic, but true." She propped her chin on her fist and gazed at her assistant. "Occupational hazard with us."

Mayte recovered her composure and smiled. "I hope to be finding that out someday also," she said, as she escaped toward the door. "I will set up the meeting with accounting for this afternoon."

"Thanks." Kerry watched as her assistant disappeared, then she shook her head and took a sip of her tea. She turned to her computer and checked her email. "Ah."

She clicked on the one from the Port of Miami's agent and leaned on her elbow, studying the schematics that had been provided. There were four possible places for the four ships to dock, and she had no idea which spot would be filled with the ship they'd be assigned.

And yet, waiting for that information before she ordered a working circuit was just idiotic. Kerry gazed at the scattered buildings, and pondered her choices. Four docks, four dock buildings, four choices of places to drop a line. The agent did not know which dock would be assigned to which ship.

Well, poo. Kerry sent a note off to Quest, asking him which ship they'd be working on. If she had that maybe she could gently nudge the port agent into assigning it a pier, and if that worked, then she could call Bellsouth and drop the circuit.

And they'd need a satellite. Kerry sent a note off to Mark. They had a regular provider, but she didn't think they knew anything about marine satellites. However, they might know someone who did.

At least it was a start. They had their work cut out for them, though.

Something chittered at her elbow, making her jerk and look up to see Gopher Dar peeking out from behind her mail window. "Hey!" She chased it with her pointer, and caught it by the tail. "Aha! Gotcha!"

"Ooooooo." The Gopher Dar flopped on its back and squiggled causing her to release the mouse button as she started laughing. Immediately, the creature bounced to its feet and scurried away, wagging its finger at her. "Oh, you are so damn twisted." She leaned closer, peering at the thing. "Hey! What t-shirt is that?"

Gopher Dar sashayed across the screen now that he wasn't being molested. He had a tiny white t-shirt on that bore the words "Hackerz suck!" Kerry sighed, and watched as he pulled out a magnifying glass from his non-existent shorts and started peering around her desktop.

Apparently Dar had her work cut out for her, too.

KERRY REMOVED HER sunglasses as she came to stand near the pier wall, gazing thoughtfully at the concrete structures around her. It was so hot the pavement was giving off heat waves, and the place was pretty much deserted here in the noon time sun.

She walked to the edge of the fence and peered through it spotting a couple of maintenance men walking slowly down the empty docks. One was kneeling beside an iron tie cleat painting something on the concrete surface, and another drove a forklift toward a stack of pallets.

"Hmm." Kerry turned and walked to the front of the pier building that consisted of a few glass doors, and a series of garage type roll entrances. She checked her watch, then blew her already sweaty bangs off her head with a long breath and leaned against the wall to wait.

The humidity was almost overpowering. Kerry debated waiting in the Lexus, then spotted a Miami Dade truck trundling slowly her way and decided to give it a chance that her port agent was inside.

The truck creaked to a halt and the door opened, and a tall, gray haired woman with a clipboard exited. She came around the end of the truck and approached Kerry. "Ms. Stuart?"

"That's me," Kerry agreed. "Are you Agnes?"

"Yes. Thanks for coming over." The woman gestured toward the glass doors. "Let's go inside." They went from the muggy heat to a frigid interior as she closed the doors behind them, locking the locks again before she went on. "Sorry. We get so many vagrants out here I've got to keep the doors closed or we'd find them under the floorboards."

"Ah." Kerry murmured, as they crossed a large open space, and went through two sliding glass doors into a larger room in the back.

"Okay, this is pretty typical of all four piers," Agnes said. "These are four older buildings we've decided to renovate for the next cruise season, so no one's using them. It'll be better than using the cargo piers anyway. There's no space back there and we'd be moving you every other day."

"Okay." Kerry nodded agreeably. "So this is where they normally put the cruise liners? Where the passengers get on? Because one of the things we're supposed to do is make it so they can check the passengers onboard while they're in the waiting area."

Agnes brightened. "Well, that'll work great then. Yeah." She led the way over to one side of the room. "Over here is where we usually put the boarding agents, and in here is a small office I guess you guys could use. Otherwise, it's pretty open."

Kerry peered into the tiny room, which bore the scars of many years of administrative use. It was grungy, but it had a lockable door, and--she peered under an overturned table--wall jacks. "Okay." She sighed. "Is there a telecommunication closet?"

"Around the back here." Agnes led her through two sliding doors, and they entered a stifling hot interior garage. "This is where they put the luggage," she explained, "so customs can get to it."

"Ah." Kerry grunted.

Agnes opened a closet at the back of the garage and they peered in. On the back wall was a punch down block, and the rest of the room was ringed with power panels. There was one black case on the wall near the door, however, that looked a little familiar. Kerry unlatched it and folded the door open, spotting the mounting hardware inside for a network switch. "Ah."

"That's for the wiring in the building, but you'd have to put your own equipment in there," Agnes said. "Now, the problem is, as I told you, we won't know which ship is going into which pier until they get here."

Kerry closed the switch case. "Why? I mean, you know they're coming, why not just assign them?"

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