Lowering his binoculars, Jonathan looked once more at the image Charles was pointing to in the book, What Happened to Flight 3012? “Yeah, I think you’re right. That’s the blond guy.”
That confirmed it. These people were survivors of the TransOceanic Flight 3012 plane crash, not random castaways.
Jonathan added, “Take a good look at that older guy’s nose. It’s distinctive. I remember it from one of the photos, too.”
Charles shoved the book toward Jonathan. “Find him.” Charles vibrated with excitement as he lifted his binoculars again.
Captain Barton fiddled with the frequency control on the radio. He was still speaking with the coast guard as the crew dropped anchor and readied the dinghies to go out to the island.
“Hey,” Jonathan cocked his head at Charles. “Go grab some of our clothes for them.”
“Right.” Charles ran toward the staircase that led down to the main deck, then continued below to the cabins.
Jonathan found the image he’d just mentioned to Charles: Garrett Pinkham. Together with Devon Engels, that was two they’d tentatively identified. Devon had been seated next to the starboard wing exit door, and Garrett had been in an aisle seat one row behind and across the aisle from Devon. Close enough for it to make sense that they’d both escaped a quickly sinking plane and possibly been near each other in the water.
He took another look through the binoculars at the third man. Likely the dreadlocks he was sporting had developed since the accident. Nothing about the man stood out in Jonathan’s memory from his flip through the hundreds of photos and bios. It would be faster to look at others in the same vicinity on the seating chart and compare those specific photos to dreadlocks-guy.
Charles wore a face-splitting grin when he bounded back up to the bridge deck. Below in the water, the two motorized dinghies sped toward the island with the first mate, Dominick, at the helm of one, and a deck hand, Irvin, on the other. The recovery mission was underway.
“I grabbed some of our linen drawstring pants. Figured that was the best bet for reasonable fit. They can pick out shirts when they get aboard. Added my longest but tightest T-shirt for the kid to wear. He’s out of luck on pants.”
“Cool.” Jonathan pointed to an image in the book. “This is the guy with the nose.” He flipped to another page and pointed to a man named Henry Miller-Green. “I think this is the guy with the dreadlocks.” Turning to the seating chart he pointed again. “Here and here are where they were sitting.”
Jonathan’s pick for the guy with dreadlocks had been seated directly across the aisle from Garrett/nose-guy, in the aisle seat in the row behind Devon/blond guy. He was also one of several whose bio indicated he fell under the rainbow flag. He was married to another man. Being firmly in the closet himself, Jonathan was instantly drawn to this man who’d apparently lived his life openly and proudly.
Charles nodded. “I think you’re right. Any luck ID-ing the kid?”
“Not really. Hard to tell his age, and there were several blond toddlers and babies on board—none particularly close to that exit.”
“Okay.” Charles bounced in place.
They stood side-by-side staring at the activity onshore. The yacht had moored off the eastern side, up-current from the island. As the dinghies got close to the island, in shallower water, Dominick and Irvin cut and tilted up the motors so the blades would be safe above the coral, and allowed the boats’ momentum to carry them in the rest of the way.
Two of the men helped pull the boats ashore. Dreadlocks had his hands full of freaked-out kid.
“I never in a million years thought we’d actually rescue anyone when you talked me into going along with this,” Jonathan said. That was an understatement. He’d figured the odds at precisely zero.
“Gotta admit, I didn’t expect it either. Chalk it up to dumb luck. I didn’t honestly think there were any survivors out there, and seriously, it was a needle in a haystack, even calculating the likely path of that life jacket.”
“I know, right?” If they’d been traveling east on a path just a tiny bit farther north from where they’d been, they would have passed by the island without ever suspecting how close they’d been. So much of what was in that book he’d been reading was unknown. The location of that one outlier life jacket had been a fact, though. But the book’s theory for its presence where it had been found was considered pure speculation that veered sharply from the official conclusion.
Charles heaved a heavy sigh punctuated by a snort of laughter. “I guess I’m more mature that I thought.”
Jonathan raised a brow in his brother’s direction. “How’s that?”
“I’m refraining from live-Tweeting all this. Gotta admit, part of me wants to.”
With the top-of-the-line satellite dish their parents had installed on the yacht, they had the Wi-Fi to make that a possibility. Live-Tweeting this rescue would’ve been insensitive, though, giving false hope to the hundreds of families whose loved ones were not on the island. And it was definitely not the method of choice to deliver the happy news to the families of these four.
“Nah, you wouldn’t be that crass.”
“I did Tweet what we were doing early on, when it was just a lark, but nothing from when we spotted the island or after.”
“That’s okay. Nobody’ll take that seriously.”
On the island, the crew debarked from the dinghies, and the castaways put on the clothes Charles had sent out. They talked together in a group for a moment, then Dominick spoke into his handheld radio, probably confirming to the captain who the castaways were so the info could be relayed to the coast guard. After he put the radio away on his belt holster, all six of them trooped into the island interior.
“Huh,” Charles said.
“Maybe they have some…I don’t know…stuff to collect and bring with them?”
“Yeah. Right. Scraps of the kid’s clothes would help ID him if he was too young to know his name. They might have stuff like that.”
“Good point,” Jonathan replied.
“Hey, Captain?” Charles said.
Captain Barton turned toward them. “Charles?”
“Did they radio in the names of the people on the island.”
“Are they Devon Engels, Garrett Pinkham, and Henry Miller-Greene?”
The captain’s eyes widened. “I’m impressed.”
Charles laughed. “We haven’t figured out the kid, though.”
“They don’t know either. But, they’ve got his clothes, so that’ll help.”
The people on the island emerged from the trees. They had more than a few scraps of clothing with them. The group trooped out with each of the four castaways carrying a basket they’d apparently made on the island. The crew members would know the customs rules against bringing back any plants, plant seeds, fruits, or vegetables, so presumably there wouldn’t be anything like that inside the baskets.
They piled into the dinghies and set off.
“Come on.” Charles nudged Jonathan with an elbow. “Let’s go down and meet them.”
The emotions Jonathan read on the castaways’ faces as the dinghies pulled into dock in the yacht was an interesting mix. The kid was terrified. Jonathan couldn’t see his expression since his face was burrowed into Henry’s neck, but together with his tense body language, that told the tale. The kid’s fear wasn’t really a surprise once Jonathan thought about it. The little guy was young enough that that tiny island and those three men were probably all he knew.
Devon’s face reflected unrestrained glee. His smile was wide and echoed in his eyes. He’d just finished his freshman year at college, and although he obviously couldn’t waltz back into his old life as a linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he hadn’t been married, or even in a relationship—at least the bio hadn’t mentioned any— so he had no worries in that direction. He was young enough that starting anew wasn’t a huge concern.
Garrett and Henry, however, were both married. Obviously, their spouses thought they’d died, and may or may not have entered into new relationships, or even remarried. The two men’s tight expressions reflected their guarded happiness and relief with a hint of hope.
“Welcome,” Jonathan said as he hauled in the dinghy with Dominick, Henry, and the kid. Charles did the same with the other one.
Henry met his gaze. “Thank you,” His voice wavered with just those two words.
“I’m Jonathan, by the way.” Gesturing with an arm, he added, “And that’s my brother, Charles. You’re Henry, right?”
“Right. You have no idea how happy I am to meet you.” The words were accompanied by a wobbly chuckle. “We call this little guy, Buddy.”
When the boats were stabilized, he helped Henry and Buddy out. Behind him, Charles had the other two men already aboard. The rest of the introductions were quickly facilitated, then Charles, the younger but more dominant personality between the two brothers, took charge.
“This way,” he said, leading them toward the stairway.
“Be sure to take them to see the captain, first,” Dominick said. “He needs to take some pictures and send them to the coast guard.”
“Of course,” Charles replied.
Even though Captain Barton was well-respected, no doubt images would go a long way toward confirming this wasn’t some kind of hoax. The families might want that reassurance, even if the coast guard officers didn’t.
They trooped up to the bridge deck, and the captain greeted them. “Welcome aboard the Sea-e-oh. I’m Captain Felix Barton. I see you’ve met the owner’s sons, Jonathan and Charles Fitch. They’ll act as your hosts, and rest assured, these two will see to it that you’re very comfortable for this first leg of your journey back to home sweet home.”
He went on to explain that they would rendezvous with a coast guard long-range cutter tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, since they had that kick-ass satellite dish, the captain could snap a handful of pictures and send it to the coast guard’s base using the yacht’s Wi-Fi.
Henry requested the captain relay that he wanted to adopt the kid, and wanted to make sure steps were undertaken to ensure Buddy wouldn’t be wrenched away from him the moment they hit land.
Lights came on throughout the yacht as the sun began its vertical dive into the ocean. The first quarter half-moon was high in the sky, and soon would be joined by more stars than seemed possible.
Although Buddy continued to keep his face mostly buried in Henry’s neck, he was now taking surreptitious glances at his surroundings. Jonathan smiled and winked at the kid when their gazes met.
The kid made a false start to rebury his face, but stopped himself from completing the maneuver. Instead he remained peeking at him from over Henry’s shoulder. Buddy was cute, and Jonathan’s grin widened as he admired the kid’s show of spunk in the face of his fear. Buddy was already beginning to worm his way into Jonathan’s heart.
Captain Barton seemed to be finished, so Jonathan asked, “Are you guys hungry? We’re still a couple hours away from our usual dinner time, but, if you’re hungry we can raid the galley.”
Devon said, “Actually, we just ate, but I’m sure we can do justice to another light meal in a couple hours.”
“Is chicken all right?” Charles asked. “I think that’s what’s on the menu tonight.”
“Chicken sounds wonderful. Thank you,” Garrett said. “And no need to do anything special before then.”
Henry merely nodded his agreement.
“Great.” Charles clapped his hands together. “How about we go down to our cabins and get you guys some shirts, and we can see which cabins are being set up for you. Get you situated.”
“Captain?” Jonathan asked.
“Do you know how long before their families will be notified? Could the coast guard maybe alert you when that’s been done? These guys could make Skype calls to their families while they’re here with us, but I’m sure they don’t want to freak anyone out by doing that before the families have been alerted.”
The captain nodded. “I’ll check on that and let you know. I’m sure they’re moving quickly since our radio communication wasn’t private. I’ll get those photos sent immediately so that won’t slow them down.”
“Thank you,” Jonathan replied.
Charles led the way, and he, Jonathan, and the castaways paraded down the stairway.
Yeah, I’m ending it there #sorrynotsorry 😁. I’ll be happy enough to continue it next week, though.
Henry and Sam Miller-Greene are living the dream. They love their careers — which afford each of them opportunities to travel to exotic locations — they love their home, Sam’s caring family, and each other. They disagree on the subject of adoption, but are fully committed to each other in marriage … ’Til Death Do Us Part.
The dream is shattered when Henry’s plane crashes, and he’s presumed dead. But four people — Henry, two other men, and a child — survive undetected on a remote, small, and insignificant island. Will Sam and Henry’s love be able to survive as well?
Henry fights to endure in harsh conditions, never knowing when disaster will strike. Sam struggles with his loss, but with help moves on with his life. Will Sam be able to put aside his new love when he reunites with Henry?