by LaNora Mangano
It should have been a normal drive home from work for Maggie Connors. However, a freak rain storm had other plans for her when the bridge she crossed, in her car, collapsed plunging her into the river below.
Para Rescue man, Jake Madison wasn't looking for a life changing event, but he got just that when he saved Maggie's life. He couldn't get the red hair beauty out of his mind but was determined to give her back the courage she lost in the traumatic event.
Jake Madison hopped aboard the helicopter with his crew, Cal and Scott Hartford and pilot Ben Davidson, who worked at getting them off the ground. Jake’s blood pumped fast throughout his body. He loved the rush and excitement that this job gave him. For him, it was not just a job but a calling to his very soul. He envisioned and prepared his mind for what the rescue would entail by praying that it would be a search and rescue call and not a search and recovery call.
What would they discover once they got to the first extraction point? Would they even find the woman in the torrential downpour that was still strong enough to push their helicopter sideways? His stomach flipped, like it always did when the bird hit a pocket of air and seemed to drop one thousand feet before Ben recovered control. Jake blew out a breath, trying to calm his roiling stomach. How he kept his food down when that happened amazed him.
As the helicopter dipped and weaved, Jake focused on releasing his pent-up tension.
“It’s going to be tough to keep this baby still once we get to the extraction point, so you’ll need to do the best that you can to get those people out of danger as fast as you can,” Ben shouted over the roar of the rain and the helicopter blades. Scott squinted. “Whoa, look at that!” He pointed at the trees where bicycles raced down the river like some amusement park ride as the water crashed into and over the embankment while picking up more debris in its path. “Last week, that was nothing more than a creek.” He shook his head in disbelief.
“Wait, I think I see her over there!” Jake noticed the water pattern swirling around what appeared to be a bright yellow raincoat caught in a tree. When a woman’s pale face turned and looked up at them, Jake checked his harness one last time and put his helmet and mic on his head. “That’s her! Ben, can you get me closer to the right crest over there? I’ll lower down just over her and then try to get this vest and harness around her.”
Cal began working the mechanical winch that lowered Jake out of the helicopter. Jake held the vest and harness in his arms, while the extra harness was latched to the spare line he was also pulling along with him. As he got lower, he could see the woman.
She looked up at him and then quickly down at the rapid waters as if she was searching for something. Or someone. Jake’s breath caught in his throat. Even though he only saw her clinging to the tree limb, what if there’d been someone else with her when the bridge collapsed?
Jake pushed a button on the device leading to his mic.
"Any confirmation of another person in the water, Ben?”
“Negative, Jake.” The pilot responded.
“Copy that. Better make sure the medics are ready.”
Even from this distance, Jake could see blood flowing from an ugly gash on her forehead.
Jake was just about to toss the vest and harness to her, when he was unexpectedly swooped up and away causing him to swing violently in the air. Jake looked up and saw that the helicopter was fighting a strong gust of wind.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Jake. Let’s try it again.” Ben’s calm and steady voice came through the mic and piped into his helmet.
Jake turned his attention back to the woman in the water and prepared to toss her the vest as soon as he was closer. “Almost there,” he shouted down to her. “I’m going to throw you this life vest. It just goes around your body! It will keep you from going under! Do you understand me?”
She looked up at him with terrified eyes and nodded . . .
Jake took a big swing and threw the vest her way. The pull of the updraft caused his aim to go wild. All he caught was water. “Come on.” He reeled in the vest, swung it again. This time it landed a couple feet from her grasp. The woman clung to the low-hanging branch for dear life as she eyed the vest.
Jake could see the hesitation on her face. but all she needed to do was just grab on to the vest.
“Can you get me closer, Ben?” Jake spoke into his mic
“Negative. Too many trees,” came the immediate response.
Jake watched as the water thrashed against her preventing her from wrapping her lower body more firmly around the tree.
“You’ll have to let go of the tree to get the vest!” Jake yelled down. “Once you hook the vest around you, I can pull you out. I can then help you into this harness! But you have to reach for it! Can you do that?”
The woman clutched the tree branch. She let go of one arm and reached outward. Floating debris knocked into her and she gripped the tree again. He could tell she was scared and he wasn’t sure of how long that tree would stand up against the powerful surging undertow. It had already eaten away most of the bank and left the tree roots exposed. More erosion, and the entire tree would fall into the river and most likely directly on top of the woman if he couldn’t get her to act faster.
Jake, we just got an ID on the woman from SWPD dispatch. Someone caught her license plate number before the car submerged. Her name is Maggie Connors.” Ben’s voice sounded in the mic again.
Jake didn’t waste any time. “Maggie! Reach for the vest!”
She angled her head up at him and their eyes connected. He willed her to trust him to get her out of the water. He didn’t say anything else, just pleaded with his eyes.
She reached out with both hands and grabbed the vest.
“Yes,” he yelled as she struggled to get her arms through the arm straps and secure the other around her waist knowing that the vest would keep her afloat. Now that she was loosely latched to the harness in Jake’s possession, he was able to keep her from floating down river. All he needed to do was drag her out from under the tree so that he could get to her and put on the second harness for the scoop part of the plan.
“Hang on, Maggie, just hang on and—”
The loud snap had him whipping his head to the right in time to see the branch that Maggie had been clinging to snap and fall into the river. Right on top of the line holding Maggie above water.
“Maggie!” He swiped the hair and water from his eyes and strained to see through the branches in hope of finding her still above water. Nothing but swirling river.
Then he saw her! And his heart sank. The massive branch was making her into a human bobber. As she dipped below the surface, she’d kick her way back to the surface. She was fighting to stay afloat but with her vest connected to the line that was attached to an unsteady helicopter, she was in danger of drowning. No time to come up with a new plan. Jake did the only thing he could think of. He reached up, released his harness, and fell.
I started reading romance novels in high school when a friend introduced me to a Harlequin book. I thought it was so refreshing that I bought another one, then another one and read them every spare moment I had. This was also around the time I developed a passion to write my own stories and I've been writing ever since.
I write romantic suspense. Half of my novels are part of a 3-5 book series. I've written a couple of contemporaries and I wrote my first paranormal that was contracted in 2013 and will be published in Summer 2014.
I have way too much fun creating people and building situations for them that has lead me to accomplishing my true goal. Publishing.
If you have aspirations of publishing a book, I encourage you to take steps towards making that happen. A great start is to look up your local Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter and attend a couple of meetings to see if it's for you. This organization has helped me to learn not only the business of writing but the craft as well.
For more information about my upcoming books, please visit:
Please pick up a copy of Love Over Troubled Waters at Amazon.com Beginning March 22 2014