This is an unedited scene that was deleted from Out Of The Ashes, a result of needing to change some logistics and timing throughout the story's timeline. This was a fun scene to write, given the dynamic between Jake and Sanchez, and introduces some characters that we decided to remove from the book entirely. Enjoy!
Jake in Monterey
After nearly three weeks of sailing and docking, docking and sailing from cove to cove and harbor to harbor along the coast, Jake had nearly given up hope that they would find the missing vessel, the Calypso, and the trade envoy she’d been carrying. Jake and the rest of the search party had been looking for them since leaving New Bodega. Seventeen days aboard a cramped sailboat with a seasick Sanchez was just about all he could handle.
“It’s been over two weeks, and we’ve found nothing,” Jake said, disappointment evident in his voice. He sat on the ledge of the bottom bunk across from where Sanchez was laying in the mid-cabin of the boat. The Clipper had accommodations enough for their small group, but after being stuck inside and bedridden for most the trip, Sanchez was completely miserable.
“Well, the Monterey settlement said they hadn’t seen the envoy at all,” Sanchez grumbled, the crook of her arm covering her eyes. “And we’ve checked every port, every beach…I doubt they even made it this far.”
Jake leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees as he fiddled with a piece of leather he’d been knotting and unknotting. “Gabe’s up top, trying to talk some sense into Phil and Scarlett. Last I heard, Scarlett thinks they could’ve gone as far south as Santa Barbara.”
“That’s another week at this rate.” Sanchez moaned. “What does Captain Phil think we should do?” she asked wryly. She and the old man had done nothing but tease one another since day one; he teased Sanchez because she was sick, making her completely useless, and she teased him because he was a tired, old fisherman heading a rescue mission even though he was a self-proclaimed pacifist who admitted he wouldn’t hurt a pirate if it came down to it. Phil also made his own brand of whiskey, so he was generally at least a little drunk, providing little reassurance that he would be much use anyway.
“He doesn't have the heart to tell her it’s time. He knows she’ll be devastated.” Jake leaned closer and peered down at Sanchez. “Do you need some water or something?”
“No,” she breathed. “I’m fine. It’s better if I lay down.” Lifting her arm from her face, she blinked to focus on Jake. “What does the first mate think we should do?” Sanchez asked, referring to Phil’s grandson, Henry. Henry was also a fisherman, but he was only fourteen years old. Although Jake was concerned about having a kid on the crew, Henry had quickly proven himself useful, his knowledge of sailing matching that of his forgetful grandfather.
Thinking of the kid brought a smile to Jake’s face. “Henry’s worried that if anything happens to us and this boat, the town’s out two of its best vessels. Plus, I think he’s worried his mom’ll think something happened if we’re gone much longer.”
“That’s why we have Gabe…to let everyone know we’re A-okay,” Sanchez said dryly. “And that’s the least of our worries. What about sanity, provisions, and—”
“Try explaining that to a stubborn fourteen-year-old kid who’s lost his dad, his sisters, and is trying to fill his old man’s shoes. His mom’s his priority.”
“We compromise then. We give Scarlett one more day, and then we turn back.” Sanchez let out a deep breath.
The sound of throat clearing emanated from the doorway of the cabin, and Jake glanced over to find Scarlett filling it with her narrow frame. The hood of her sweatshirt was off for the first time all day, her blonde hair pulled back into a long ponytail that reminded Jake a little bit of Zoe before she’d cut her hair.
God, he missed her. He’d tried to distract himself, but there was only so much he could do on a 50-foot sailboat. He wondered if, now that she was finally back to her old self, she was giving Sam and Tavis a run for their money during archery practice on the shooting range. Did they even have a shooting range set up wherever they were settled?
“I’ve already spoken with Phil and Gabe,” Scarlett said. Her expression was blank as her gaze shifted from him to Sanchez. “We’ve agreed to turn back in San Luis Obispo, at Whaler’s Island…if we find no sign of the Calypso before then.”
Sanchez sat up slowly, her dark, mussed hair falling down around her shoulders. Although she was a beautiful woman by nature, Sanchez looked pitiful. “I’m sorry, Scarlett,” she said with a thick swallow as she closed her eyes and let out a slow, whirling breath. She swallowed again, her face looking a bit green. “You never know…we might still find them.”
Scarlett shook her head. “If there really are pirates like are rumored to be, and if, for whatever reason, the Calypso sailed past Monterey, I’m not so sure…”
“How far between here and Whaler’s Island?” Jake asked.
Scarlett shrugged. “Thirty miles, give or take.”
“Then there’s still hope,” he offered, trying not to crush all her hope in finding her mother.
“I’m not so naïve,” Scarlett said coolly. “I’ve wanted to keep going because I hoped that they were out here somewhere.” Her eyes glazed over and her voice became distant. “Mom’s type of mutation is important…if they ran into any trouble.” Scarlett glanced up at them and smiled weakly. “Even hope only lasts so long before it runs out.”
“We might still find a sign,” Jake said, uncertain what else to say to a depressed woman who might never learn what happened to the last person she had left in the world.
Scarlett’s eyes lingered on his.
From his periphery, Jake saw Sanchez’s hand fly to her mouth. As he turned, she scrambled to her feet and ran the two steps into the head, slamming the door shut just as she started gagging and spitting.
“I’m glad we’re upwind,” Scarlett teased weakly. When Jake met her green eyes, he recognized a glint of sympathy. “To be honest, I can’t watch Sanchez suffer any more than I can take being on this godforsaken boat for another week.” She leaned against the door jam.
“I’m not sure Sanchez can handle it either,” Jake said, shaking his head as he recalled the long days and even longer nights of Sanchez either being sick in the bathroom or sick in bed. “I’ve never seen her so pathetic, the rest of our group back home won’t believe it.” He rose to his feet, and rapped his knuckles on the back of the door. “You need anything?” he asked, knowing what her answer would be despite her misery.
“No,” she said, and a muffled groan carried through the door.
Shaking his head in amusement and sympathy, Jake glanced at Scarlett and stepped toward the hatch, expecting her to move out of his way. But she stood there, staring up at him.
“I haven’t thanked you,” she said, her heated gaze pinning him in place.
Something about the way she was looking at him was unsettling. “For what?”
Scarlett heaved a deep sigh. “For coming on this trip, for offering to help my mom and our quiet little town when you didn’t have to.” She gave him a measuring look. “But you volunteered to help us…”
Jake didn’t bother trying to explain his reasons. “I’m sort of indispensable when it comes to dangerous situations,” he said only half joking. “I don’t mind helping when I can.”
“Because of your mutation? Or because you’re just a generous man, and—” The boat keeled to the side, and with a squeak, Scarlett stumbled forward. Jake put his arms out to catch her, steadying them both against the narrow hatch as the boat swayed and bobbed with more vigor.
Scarlett smiled up at him, her hazel eyes searching his. “You know, we’ve all been cramped on this old sailboat for days, and I feel like I barely know you,” she said, her eyes still searching…