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eBook1 - Blue Waters: A Rick Waters Novel (Caribbean Adventure Series) BOOK 1

eBook1 - Blue Waters: A Rick Waters Novel (Caribbean Adventure Series) BOOK 1

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Book One in the Rick Waters Series. Join thousands of readers who started here in over 17 countries. 

#1 Best seller by Eric Chance Stone.

This is a premium ebook. 

Prefer a different format? Paperback or Audiobook? CLICK HERE

★★★★★ "It grabs your attention and won’t let go!" - Reader Review. 

A casual outing with a metal detector ends in a surprising find: not treasure... but the shocking remains of a gruesome murder!

Rick Waters is a jack-of-all trades: treasure hunter, diver, part-time detective.

Never any good at holding down a steady job, Rick does whatever he can to make a living, from searching for stolen cars or missing persons, to catching and selling catfish from the bayou, or gambling in pool halls.

Whatever it takes to one day fulfill his dream: his very own fishing yacht and charter business!

Little does Rick know, his latest foray into the bayou with his metal detector will forever change his life.

From the bayous of southeast Texas to the seedier neighborhoods of Houston, from the sparkling beaches of the Virgin Islands to the Voodoo drug dens of Haiti, Rick’s quest to find a killer will take all of his wits and skill to stay alive and bring justice for a young woman's murder.

And if he’s lucky, he might find some treasure after all.

Buckle up, grab your copy and enjoy the ride!

"Give yourself plenty of time because you won’t put it down!"

"Excellent First Book."

"Can't wait to read the next one!"

"A great start to a new series by a new author."

"Tropical fiction at it’s best!"

"Here's hoping that there will be more of Rick."


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Enjoy an excerpt from Blue Waters.


“911. What is your emergency?”

“My name is Rick Waters. I’d like to report a dead


“What is your location?”

“I’m several miles downstream near Rodair Gully on the Hillebrandt Bayou,” replied Rick. “If you can send someone with a boat to the Steinhager boat ramp off of FM 365, I can lead them to the location.”

“Ok, please hold, Mr. Waters,” said the dispatcher.

She came on the line again a moment later. “Mr. Waters, we’re sending an ambulance and a couple of Jefferson County deputies with a boat to the Steinhager boat ramp. Please keep your phone free in case they need to speak with you.”

“I understand. I’ll head back to the ramp and wait for the deputies.”

As Rick trekked back to his jon boat and began to motor down the bayou, he mentally reviewed the odd chain of events that had led to his gruesome discovery that morning. His day had started like many others recently.

A few hours earlier he had slowly been awakened by the morning sun that had shone through the cloudy camper windows of the old Ford, catching dust particles in its beam. As the warmth from the dim light fell on his face, he remembered an aggressive mosquito had buzzed in his ear and his mouth had felt as dry as the West Texas desert. His cocka- too, Chief, was rustling in his cage as well.

Before bedding down, Rick had parked the truck by the boat launch, just below the overpass on FM 365. He’d been playing pool at the Boudain Hut into the wee hours and had won a couple of hundred bucks from some rednecks. Rick was a great pool player. Not a shark, but a well-rounded competitor.

Up until a few months ago, he’d made his living as a baggage handler for Delta Air Lines and had gotten bumped from station to station because of his lack of seniority. Most recently, he’d worked near Destin, Florida, at the Okaloosa Regional Airport. But that didn’t last long, because he was bumped, yet again, by a senior ramp rat from Detroit who wanted to semi-retire to the blue waters of Destin.

Rick had never been good at keeping a job long-term. So, he’d taken the last of his money and hopped in his red 1962 Ford F-100 with his jon boat and old two-stroke out- board in tow, and driven back to Fannett, Texas, where he was born and raised.

There was no place like home, they said, but the muddy brown waters of the Hillebrandt Bayou sure made him long for a boat ride on the emerald blue waters over Crab Island back in Destin. Crab Island had been only a few feet above water, with a smattering of palm trees and salt grass until Hurricane Eloise swallowed it up in 1974 and moved it knee-deep below the surface. It had become a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike, where they’d anchor boats of every size, stand waist-deep in the water, and drink beer all day.

After reluctantly rising from his slumber, Rick had put Chief in his travel cage, placed him in the jon boat and launched it. He’d slowly motored down the slow-moving waters of the bayou near La Belle, Texas, taking in the scenery with Chief. Several lazy gators basked in the warmth of the morning sun on the banks of the bayou. It had been a glorious start to the day.

He kept his cockatoo in the cage. It was far too dangerous to let him ride in the open, since he’d make a nice, tasty treat for a gator if he ever fell overboard.

Rick was a jack-of-all-trades: a commercial diver, treasure hunter, fisherman, boat captain, and part-time detective. Logging water time on the barges and tugs in the Houston ship channel had qualified him for his captain’s license, and he also did boat deliveries when the opportunities arose.

He’d also obtained his PI license online and possessed a concealed carry permit in Florida that had reciprocity in thirty-six other states. A few cases here and there intrigued him, and he’d made a little money. With his license, permit, some tiny, hidden surveillance cameras and a field recorder, he was in business.

He refused to take sleazy assignments, such as spying on spouses to see if they were cheating. That wasn’t his style. Instead, he chose more ethical jobs, like helping to find missing persons or tracking down stolen vehicles. Rick liked to help people; he believed in Karma and the old adage, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Rick had continued motoring his skiff deeper into the bayou. His little jon boat was dependable but not very luxurious—a working man’s boat. His dream was to one day own a huge charter boat. He had once been on board a few huge sport-fishing boats at a boat show in Destin and was blown away at the comfort and opulent interiors of some of them. One that really caught his eye was a used, fifty- five-foot Viking sport fisher. He was so taken by it that he’d printed a small photo of it and kept it taped to the dashboard of his old Ford with the words “One Day!” written in the corner with a red Sharpie.

Now, as he drew closer to the boat ramp where his morning had started, he could make out two deputy cruisers, an ambulance, and a pickup with a large inflatable on a trailer. He waved at the deputies and one helped him tie his jon boat off to the dock.

“I’m Rick Waters. I called 911.”

The officer stuck out his hand and shook Rick’s. “Deputy James LeBlanc. I’ll be heading up the investiga-

tion. Where’s the body you found?”

“It’s easier to show you than tell you. You’d never find

it unless y’all follow me, as I explained to the dispatch,” said Rick.

“Ok. How did you come across the body?” asked LeBlanc, as he scribbled on a small notepad.

“Well, after I caught a mess of catfish, I thought I’d do a little exploring with my metal detector. Treasure hunting is a hobby of mine. You never know what you’ll find down on the bayou. It’s way down the bayou where the Hillebrandt meets the Taylor in a place called Rodair Gully. I pulled my jon boat to the bank and started metal detecting a small open area in between some mossy live oaks and tall cypress trees, and my detector went off after several passes over an old campfire, but I assumed it was burnt beer cans. Then, after I changed the settings on my detector, it pinpointed a large object of some sort. That’s when I started digging.”

“So why did you choose this particular spot to pull up the jon boat?” asked LeBlanc.

“No real reason. I just saw an opening between the cypress trees on the bank that would be an easy place to drag the boat up.”

“And after your metal detector went off, you dug up...?”

“A barrel. A fifty-five-gallon drum, to be exact, sealed and only about a foot below the surface. I rolled it to drier ground and loosened the latch ring around the lid of the drum. I heard a small, whooshing sound when the pressure escaped.

“The body was in the barrel?” asked LeBlanc.

“Yeah, and the smell of burnt flesh was almost too much to handle. I nearly lost my breakfast,” said Rick. “Oh, and here, take this,” he continued, as he handed the deputy a gallon-sized resealable bag. It held a leather pouch filled with contents from the crime scene.

“What’s this?” asked the deputy.

“I found it inside the barrel, sitting on top of a burlap sack. It looks like a gris-gris bag, like the ones I’ve seen at voodoo shops in New Orleans.”

“You disturbed the crime scene?” asked the deputy in a sharp tone.

“I had no idea it was a crime scene. I always wear mechanics’ gloves while detecting and had them on when I opened the barrel,” said Rick.

“What else can you tell me?”

“Once I opened the barrel and saw the body, I knew something purely evil had happened here, though not recently. The soil above the barrel wasn’t freshly disturbed, and clovers and salt grass were thick where I first dug.”

“Were there any footprints other than your own you could see?” asked LeBlanc.

“I wasn’t paying that much attention to that, but the grass and weeds were tall, and it didn’t look like anyone had been in the area for some time. After I removed the leather pouch, I resealed the barrel and covered it all up with saw palmettos.”

“Did you disturb the body?”

“Not at all. I just closed up the barrel and called 911.” “Thanks, Mr. Waters. I’ll round up the boys and we can

follow you to the body.”

Rick nodded and waited for the deputies to get their inflatable launched.

As he waited, he tidied up the mess he had created while fishing, and put his metal detector and digging bag back in his truck.

It was a comedy of errors watching the deputies get their boat ready. Testosterone mixed with narcissism made a mighty strong cocktail. Rick sat in his boat, patiently waiting while they finally got in the water and cranked up the huge outboards. Every bird within a mile jumped, including Chief. Those outboards were loud—even for four- stroke engines.

It took twenty-five minutes to get to the low part of the bank where Rick had pulled his jon boat up earlier.

The deputy driving the inflatable followed, then throttled the outboards slowly and nudged up to the bank, keeping just enough pressure on the throttle to keep the boat steady against the bank, and one by one, each man stepped onto dry land. They tied their flat boat to a large chinaberry tree, and the second-to-last man handed over a soft stretcher, a body bag, and a few leather cases of what was probably forensic gear. The driver stayed on board.

Rick opened his phone to the saved GPS location, and they all began the trek through the tall saltgrass. There was idle chatter about gators and snakes, and Chief, seeming to understand, clung tightly to the inside of Rick’s jacket, peeking his head out every now and again.

When they reached the site, Rick removed the palmetto branches he had used to cover the barrel before he had contacted the deputies.

The forensics team set up camp next to the rusty old barrel. Then a deputy wearing latex gloves reopened the seal.

A sweet, sickening smell combined with a burnt char odor filled the air. The deputy slowly pulled back the burlap sack and then stumbled backward. The dead body, skull and bones, were curled up in a fetal position. Rick turned away and held onto a nearby tree for stability from his lightheadedness. When he regained his composure, he moved closer. The smell was unmistakable: the smell of death.

The bones were black with soot, but he could see the skull; it had three bullet holes in it from a small-caliber gun. The lower jaw was missing. The forensics guy snapped many close-up photos as another deputy rooted around the edge of the barrel with a stainless-steel grabbing tool, until he came across something shiny. He tugged at the object, and a badly burned, sequin-studded belt appeared. He gently grabbed the belt with the tool and slowly pulled it out. On the end was a belt buckle, charred but clearly crafted out of silver and tarnished brass.

The deputy in charge of forensics took several more photos of the evidence, tagged each piece, and then stuffed them inside a plastic baggy.

Deputy LeBlanc gasped when he got a better view of the belt.

“It says ‘CJ’ on the belt buckle,” the deputy murmured, seeming to pull himself together after a moment. Then he shook his head in disgust. “I think I know who this girl is.” He pulled out his smartphone and began to key in something.

LeBlanc must have pulled up a missing persons website, scrolled for a while, then stopped. The look on his face told the story, and he showed Rick and the other deputies what he’d discovered.

Name: Cara Johnson Sex: Female

Race: Caucasian Age: 23

Eyes: Green

Hair: Blonde

Height: 5’6”

Weight: 109 lbs

Description: Wearing Wrangler jeans with a sequin belt buckle with the initials CJ and a black Cowgirl Legend embroidered snap western shirt.

Last Seen: March 25th at Casa Olé, 5898 Eastex Frwy, Beaumont, TX, around 7:40 pm.

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Cara Johnson, please contact your local Jefferson County Police Department.




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