I am pleased to host an extract from Cold Breath by Quentin Bates as part of the #ColdBreath blog tour
The boat bucked and juddered. Spray cascaded over the windows of the wheelhouse that was just big enough for Gunna to perch on the stool, its steel stalk bolted to the floor, with a hand on the wheel as she peered into the darkness while Osman’s face became progressively paler.
‘The weather,’ he said. ‘Is this safe?’
‘I’ve slowed down so it’ll be more comfortable. But it’s still going to be bumpy,’ she told him, looking at the radar screen. ‘We have the wind going one way and the tide the other, so that’s always going to whip the waves up.’
‘How long will this go on?’
‘Like I said, we’re fighting the tide, so we’re only making five knots. It’s another eighteen miles, so let’s say a bit less than four hours. Do you want to lie down?’
‘No. I’m fine,’ Osman said and she could see he was making a huge effort to control himself.
Gunna slid from the stool and stepped down into the little cabin, clicked on the light and hunted for the five-litre container she knew was there. She slopped water into a kettle, lit the gas on the camping stove that was built into the bench and put the water on to boil before going back up to the wheelhouse.
Osman’s face was ashen. She wondered whether to o er him a bucket, just in case, but decided not to dent his pride.
‘There’s no coffee on board, but there are a few teabags down there, so you can have a hot drink in a few minutes.’
Osman nodded and sat in unhappy silence while she checked the radar and adjusted the autopilot a couple of degrees.
‘Gunnhildur, this is your boat?’
‘Not exactly,’ she said. ‘Well, sort of.’
‘I don’t understand what you mean.’
‘On paper it’s half my boat. My son bought it last year, but for all sorts of reasons it’s in both our names. He’s been fixing it up, which is why it doesn’t look much. But everything under the engine hatch is as good as new.’
With a glance at the radar, Gunna swung herself back down the steps into the cabin, turned off the kettle, poured water into a couple of mugs, dropped a teabag in each and stirred with an almost black teaspoon. She handed one mug out of the cabin’s opening. Osman opened his eyes and took it, cradling it in both hands to warm his fingers.
‘Sorry, there wasn’t time to get any stores,’ she told him cheerfully. ‘If you’re hungry you’ll have to wait until we tie up.’
Quentin Bates is the author of Cold Breath, published by Constable 11th October.
Gunnhildur reluctantly allows herself to be taken off police duties to act as bodyguard to a man with a price on his head . . . Hidden away in a secure house outside Reykjavik, Gunna and the high-profile stranger, a guest of the interiors minister, are thrown together - too close for comfort. They soon find they are neither as safe nor as carefully hidden as Gunna and her boss had thought. Conflicting glimpses of the man's past start to emerge as the press begin to sniff him out, as does another group with their own reasons for locating him. Gunna struggles to come to terms with protecting the life of a man who may have the lives of many on his conscience - or indeed may be the philanthropist he claims to be. Isolated together, the friction grows between Gunna and the foreign visitor, and she realises they are out of their depth as the trails lead from the house outside Reykjavik to Brussels, Russia and the Middle East.