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Unlawful Chase

A Chase Hawkins Novel (#3)

C.J. Schnier

The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and no not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.

Pursuing Chase (A Chase Hawkins Novel)

All Rights Reserved

Copyrightยฉ 2021 CJ Schnier

V1.0

CJ Schnier

S/V Spirit

1110 3rd St S

St Petersburg, FL 33701

www.cjschnier.com

Cover Design by Corey Barker ยฉ 2021

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted,or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Most locations herin are also fictional, or are used fictitiously. However, I have made efforts to depict the location and description of many well-known islands, locales, beaches, reefs, bars, restaurants, and marinas in the boating world to the best of my ability. I've tried to convey the cruising attitude in this work.

Dedication

For my father, who always ecouraged my talents and endeavors, no matter how they differed from his own.

Contents

Title Page

Dedication

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

EPILOGUE

BOCA CIEGA CHASE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHAPTER ONE

The combination of sunlight and the god-awful crowing of a rooster dragged me, protesting, from my sleep. I attempted to open my eyes, but my eyelids protested as I squinted against the light. I worked my jaw, feeling the familiar cottonmouth and numb tongue. The curse of a night of heavy drinking.

Ignoring my impending hangover, I rolled over to my side and looked at the body of a woman laying next to me. Fire-red hair lay splayed across her naked back, spilling over onto the sheets in knotted clumps. Her chest rose and fell in a constant cycle of rhythmic deep breaths. I reached out for her, but paused, searching my mind for a name, and came up empty.

Who was this person sleeping beside me? And how did she get here, of all places? A wave of pain settled behind my forehead, and I decided I no longer cared. She was just another body to keep myself warm, a brief escape from the tragedy of life. She meant nothing to me, but not knowing her name bothered me. These blackouts were getting worse.

Letting her sleep, I slid myself out of the bed, smirking at my nakedness. At least I had gotten lucky last night. Tiptoeing out of the room, I made my way to the galley of my boat, Paramour, careful to avoid any creaky floorboards. Hazy thoughts, little more than fragments of memories, drifted through my mind. I grasped at them, but they stalled and evaporated into nothingness. The mystery of the woman in my bed would have to wait.

The floor of the main cabin looked like a modern art masterpiece. Beer cans and trash littered every surface of the salon. An unbroken trail of rubbish led all the way out into the cockpit. Our discarded clothes added splashes of color anywhere they had landed. On the table, an empty bottle of scotch rolled back and forth, keeping time with the gentle movements of the boat. I couldn't remember drinking any of it, but the pounding in my head was proof enough I had.

"Way to go, Chase," I thought to myself, "it looks like a frat party exploded in here."

I tossed a few cans into the trash and made enough room on the counter to prepare a pot of coffee. I put my battered and dented kettle on the stove, and dumped coffee grounds into an equally battered French press. While waiting for the water to boil, I searched my memory, trying to remember anything. Occasional flashes would come back to me, as if the neural pathways in my brain were reconnecting one by one. But the memories became jumbled and disjointed.

I plucked one memory out of the darkness and recalled going to shore in the afternoon. I was already several drinks deep at that point. There had been a bit of trouble getting out of the dinghy. I had slipped but saved myself from falling between the boat and the dock. That had happened earlier in the day, long before I would have met the woman in my bed. Straining harder, I struggled to remember more, but I couldn't.

Emptiness. Utter emptiness. The feeling of loss, of nothingness, was harrowing at first. But, over the last few months, I had gotten used to it.

The kettle whistled, and I snatched it off the stove. Coffee would help. Coffee helped everything.

I poured the steaming water into the press and waited. While the brew steeped, I looked around the small, disheveled cabin. Something here had to help jog my memory. It took two passes of looking through the mess, but I found my shorts draped over the back of one of the twin settees. A search of my pockets revealed twenty-seven dollars, and a handful of receipts.

Uncrumpling the first receipt, I discovered I had amassed a sixty-dollar bar tab at the Overseas Pub and Grill. That made sense. The bar was located a short walk from the dinghy dock, and I was well known there. I checked the time-stamp on the receipt. 5:23. It may have been a contributing factor, but a sixty-dollar bar tab was not what had gotten me blackout drunk.

The second receipt cleared up the issue. Bold letters across the top read "The Brass Monkey", and the time-stamp was 03:55. My eyes scanned the crumpled piece of paper, but I had to force myself to

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