For Ages
12 to 99

Fishing. This is it, the big time. Mikey's 13, a deckhand working on a charter boat in Hawaii. Working for the best skipper anywhere, his stepdad, Bill. Before Bill came along, it was just Mikey and his mom. Now they're a real family, and Mikey has a little brother. He can't believe how lucky he is. And now he's learning from the best, even though he's only 13. Because Bill believes in him. And Mikey won't let him down. He loves fishing and being out on the boat. But some seas, some fish, and some charter clients are a lot tougher to handle than Mikey ever imagined. Take Ernie and Cal-they chartered Bill's boat for three days and they're out for the adventure of their lives. Now it's up to Mikey and Bill to deliver it.

An Excerpt fromLord of the Deep

The island slept.

Goats, pigs, dogs, chickens, mongooses.

Even the roaches and lizards.

Everything and everyone except Mikey Donovan, who was antsy as a rat to get up and get on down to the boat. He was thirteen years old and the youngest full-time deckhand ever to fish the deep waters of Hawaii's Kona coast. But Bill believed he could do the job. Mikey'd been working for three weeks now. And he couldn't get enough of it.

He lay with his eyes open.

His sheet was a twisted mass around his feet. The air inside his room was stuffy and humid, even in the high country where they lived. Nothing moved but a single tendril of sweat, creeping from his hairline to his ear.

He swiped it away with the palm of his hand.

This is crazy, he thought.

He picked up his clock.

Almost five.

Just get up. Bill would thump on his door to wake him soon, anyway. He rubbed his eyes and stood and peered out the window. The moon was bright white and low in the sky. A silver sheen illuminated the black sea beneath it.

In the bathroom he turned on the light and stood squinting at himself in the filmy, toothpaste-speckled mirror. Yeah, he thought, studying his practiced squint and darkening skin. Finally starting to look like a fisherman.


Mikey jumped at the sound. Bill, waking him.

He brushed his teeth quickly and ran a wet comb through his hair, then dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a T-shirt that read crystal-c in a blue arc across the front, with a picture of a leaping marlin under it and deep-sea charter fishing under that. And below, in smaller print, bill monks, skipper.

Mikey turned off the light and went out to the kitchen. The light was on, but no one was there.

He peeked out the screen door. Bill was over in the carport pouring oil into the outboard engine. Mikey eased the door back quietly.

He got a glass of orange juice and a bowl of Shredded Wheat and sat at the kitchen table, wondering where his mom was. She was almost always awake by now.

The screen door squeaked open.

Mikey glanced up.

"Morning," Bill said. He closed the door gently so it wouldn't slap shut. "Sleep well?"

"Yes sir."

Bill nodded and went over and got the coffeemaker going, then poured himself a glass of juice and sat across from Mikey. He broke three Shredded Wheat biscuits into a bowl. Before Bill, Mikey'd eaten nothing but sugary cereal. His mom didn't like it, but she'd never said no. Bill wouldn't touch the stuff. Rot your teeth, he said. Weaken your body. So Mikey stopped eating it.

They ate in silence, both studying separate spots on the tabletop.

"Where's Mom?" Mikey said.

Bill gulped his orange juice, his Adam's apple bobbing. He set the glass on the table. "Billy-Jay had a bad night. She was up with him."

"Is he all right?"

Bill hesitated. Mikey could tell he was concerned. "I think so. Your mom's taking him to the doctor today, just to be safe."

Bill got up and took his bowl and glass to the sink. He rinsed them and wiped his hands on his shorts. "Want to peek in on him?"


Mikey pushed his chair back and followed Bill through the dark house. Billy-Jay was Mikey's three-year-old brother. Half brother, really, but Mikey didn't like to think of him that way.

The bedroom door was ajar. Bill put a finger to his lips and eased it open.

Billy-Jay really was a miracle, Mikey thought. You'd have to be if you were only three pounds when you were born. He could fit into Mikey's hand like a mango--if Billy-Jay had been strong enough to be held, anyway. At first he lived in a warm, clear plastic box, wired up with needles stuck into veins the size of a hair. Bill about wore himself out, sitting there for hours and hours in the hospital next to that box. Mikey could still remember him leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and his fingers laced together, worry lines carved deep into his forehead. Mikey'd seen those lines a lot in the past three years.

Moonlight brushed the walls of Billy-Jay's room. He slept with his blue blanket crumpled in his arms. It looked gray in the dim light. He's all Bill, Mikey thought. They looked so much alike it was weird.

Billy-Jay twitched once, but didn't wake. His breathing sounded a little raspy, but not too bad.

Bill tapped Mikey's shoulder and they left.

Back in the kitchen, Bill filled his dented silver Thermos with coffee for the boat and took it to the jeep.

Mikey followed him out, matching Bill's stride.

The air was crisp and smelled of mint, which grew wild along the edges of the yard. The sharp call of a distant rooster sliced the dark, jungled landscape.

Mikey glanced at the sky behind the mountain. Black turning purple. This was a time of day he liked, this dark stillness before dawn, when it was peaceful.

But Billy-Jay was still on his mind.

His breathing had been raspy when he was born. And he'd coughed a lot. Mom said he'd be fine, in time. But now he needed a lot of care. Mom had to quit her job. And though Bill could hardly work the boat alone, he finally had to let Frenchy, his deckhand, go because their health insurance didn't cover all the medical bills. That was what Mom said.

It was Mikey's idea to help on the boat. He'd been working up to it, anyway, learning things here and there from Bill, especially on the days Bill had no charter. "I'm thirteen now," Mikey said after Bill lost Frenchy. "I'm big enough and I already know the boat. And you don't have to pay me. I'll do it for tips. I can do the work, you know I can."

Bill said, "Think so?"

"Yes sir, I do."

Bill thought a moment, rubbing a hand over his mouth. Then he grinned and ruffled Mikey's hair. "Maybe you can, big guy, maybe you can. But it's hard work, you know. It's not just a boat ride."

"Yes sir, I know that."

"All right, then. Let's give it a shot."

Today was day fourteen.

Under the Cover