72 The Boat Is Sinking
Rickie dove for the deck as bullets buzzed over his head and ricocheted into the side of the boat.
The barrage continued until he heard an audible [click], indicating the magazine was empty. He braved standing up and looking over at the cigarette boat, which looked worse for the collisions it had endured.
Ani was slumped over the wheel; his wild shooting had managed to find a target. Actually two, as the engines changed pitch and lost its smooth roar.
"This isn't over yet!" The woman snarled over the sound.
Smoke was beginning to pour out of the inboard engine compartment; she looked over, cursed, and looked back at Rickie. She strode over to the wheel and pulled the dead weight of Ani off the captain's seat onto the deck.
Rickie could do nothing but watch as she threw the throttle forward and powered the boat away from them. He did not want to jeopardize Meaghan any further. Indeed, his beloved was shakily climbing out of the cabin, and, to Rickie, there wasn't a more welcome sight.
He pulled her up the rest of way and began running his hands over her arms and body, ignoring her protests. He lingered over the bruises already formed underneath the restraints, then traveled upwards until he gently touched the imprint on her cheek, and rubbed his thumb on her broken lip.
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Finding no severe injuries, he pulled her into his arms and held her tight, thankful she was alive.
"Sayang," he breathed into her hair. She ceased her struggles at the whisper, and her hands hesitantly came around and held onto his arms, the jingle of the chains an obscene reminder of her ordeal. He gentled his arms, but still kept her tucked against his heart.
After a moment, she pulled back and looked at her man. She gasped at the blood on his shirt; the exertions must have caused the sutures to tear.
"Rickie!" He looked down where she was staring and realized what happened.
"They've pulled a little, but it's fine. We need to try and get someplace safe."
"There's a problem." Meaghan tried to keep a calm tone. "Water is pouring in from underneath the boat."
Rickie jumped down into the cabin and saw the body of the mercenary, facedown and unmoving.
Once he was sure she was dead, he looked around and was shocked to see the damage. Above the waterline, the slanted rays of the lowering sun shone through several long cracks in the hull, and below it he could see the water seeping in and starting to cover the low-pile carpet. Since the engine was slightly lower than the living quarters, it was going to flood first.
He made his way aft to the engine compartment.
The housing around the bilge pump was damaged from one of the impacts and inoperable.
There was a manual pump with a hand crank, but would not be able to keep up with the amount of water pouring into the stricken vessel.
He searched the dead mercenary until he found the cuff keys, then climbed out of the cabin, and immediately unlocked the leg- and wrist shackles, kissing the inside of her wrists by way of an apology.
"Meggie, do you think you could try and manually pump as long as you can? It may be the only way I can get us somewhere safe."
She bit her bruised bottom lip and nodded. He showed her the mechanism, gave her shoulder a squeeze in encouragement, and climbed back up.
Looking at the GPS viewfinder, he detected a small island several kilometers away. It was the closest land he could find, so he set the heading due west and accelerated to full throttle, praying the boat would stay afloat long enough to make it there.