Italy’s haunted caves spell danger for an American golfer and a NATO geologist
Sophie Maxwell is a late-blooming, unorthodox golfer, and mother of a precocious thirteen year-old. Determined to put divorce, bankruptcy, and a penchant for gambling in her past, Sophie goes to Italy for a qualifying golf tournament.
Jack Walker turned his back on a pro golfing career to become a geologist. As a favor to his ailing father he’ll caddy for Sophie; off hours, he’ll find caves on the Mediterranean coast, suitable for NATO listening posts for terrorist activity.
Someone is determined to stop Jack’s underground hunt and ruin Sophie’s chances to win her tournament.
On a Rome golf course and in the Amalfi coast’s haunted caves, all the odds are stacked against Sophie and Jack. In their gamble of a lifetime, who wins?
A wave of sadness about the chasm separating Jack from his father hit him hard. He covered his discomfort by picking up his water glass.
Sophie lost her smile. “You didn’t know your dad was coaching me, did you?”
“I told you, we don’t talk about golf.”
“Yet now you have to because you’re my caddy.”
He gave her a shrug. “He’s never asked me to do something for him, not since I quit golf. My mother’s been trying to get him to offer an olive branch for fifteen years. Seemed cruel not to accept one when he’s sick.”
“I get all that,” she said. Her expression morphed to calculating. “You wondered how I could afford your father, didn’t you? He told you I’m not paying for coaching lessons and—”
Raising his hand to stop her, he said, “Not my business.”
“I knew it. I could tell you were mad about something.”
Irritated she presumed to read his thoughts, he said, “I repeat—”
“You can’t figure out why he’d work free for a nut like me, but you won’t ask him. And you’re mad at me because you think I’m taking advantage of your dad.”
The sun and Sophie had him pinned down. He’d rather explore a dank cave.
“You won’t ask him and you won’t ask me. Do I see a pattern?”
Jack widened his eyes at her comment. When he saw her teasing smile, he exhaled. “Every time I talk to him on the phone, his motives get muddier. This isn’t about his heart problems or the operation. He’s using something about you or getting back to golf, or both, as catalysts for repairing my relationship with him.”
Sophie gulped. “Yikes.”
Jack nodded. “Like dropping the bomb about you not paying. He keeps upping the ante.” He huffed. “My inclination is to resist his manipulation.”
“So is mine,” she blurted. In the next moment, she looked down, appearing confused.
Her eyes met his. “Your father’s a good coach.”
“I’ve learned what he says works, if I apply it. Like the new Vision 18 concepts.”
“I want to win this tournament.”
“Of course you do.”
“I don’t blame you for feeling set up. But for this one week, could you erect a temporary bridge between you and your dad? Could we do exactly what he wants?”
Once again, Jack felt trapped. In the airplane, perpetually facing Sophie, on a dreaded golf course, all engineered by a father he hardly knew. He examined his hands, which hadn’t held a golf club or embraced a father in fifteen years. The tremor in his fingers spoke volumes.
When he raised his eyes to look at Sophie, he read genuine fear in her expression. She thinks if I balk at Dad’s bidding, she’ll fail.
Time stopped for a moment, underlining their separate fears, so strangely entwined. I thought I could do this without really getting involved. Now I’ve got her and my dad to worry about. Give me a cave to spelunk any day; rocks I understand.
Brows knit, she said, “Only five days of staying with your dad’s program.”
“Believe me, I know his philosophy.”
She gave him a not-that-well look.
“I’ll help you in every way I can.”
Sophie added narrowed eyes.
Feeling panic, he let out a breath. “Okay, I’ll talk to him. Later.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “You, too. I’ll ask you later,” he said, his gut twisting as he made both promises.
Scandinavian, Army Brat, Wife, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author. She delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges. Her hope: You’ll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.