See Part 1 for Disclaimer
Sam felt his stomach lurch at Steve's statement. And it wasn't the waves that caused it. Under different circumstances, the prospect of dropping anchor in deep water to avoid the brunt of the storm, or going farther out to miss it, would be benign. But Josh needed to go back.
They'd almost lost Josh to a bullet this year. The thought of him being injured on a vacation seemed wrong in the worst way. Sam stared at the crashing indigo waves for a few moments. The sails were still up, but the wind strained them. The peaceful sailing breezes were gone now. In their place he heard the storm winds, and he smelled the rain coming as it rolled across the ocean toward them.
Sam let the voice register slowly, then turned back to answer. "We'll drop the sails and get the motor going, Steve. Get Jeff to call in and get us a forecast for the safest place to weather the storm, or find out if we can get around it."
"Yes, sir. But you'll need help with the sails, and if your friend is sick who'll--"
"It's okay. I'll talk them through it. We have time before the wind hits full on."
Sam said the last over his shoulder as he bounded down the stairs again.
Sam called to Donna and CJ to join him as he closed on the corner occupied by Leo and Toby. He spoke quietly when they'd gathered. "Guys, we have some problems." His voice was firm and steady. He kept his hands behind his back to hide the faint tremors.
Sam explained the situation succinctly. He was deliberately vague about Josh in Donna's presence. It bothered him, but he'd promised Josh to downplay it.
The biggest problem was finding the hands to handle the ship under the circumstances. The Secret Service agents were in excellent physical shape, but protocol forbade them from anything that deterred them from active watch. That rule could be bent if needed. But they were both from the Midwest. They had never been on a ship before, and had no helpful skills. Both were actually sea-sick, so green in more than one way.
Leo spoke up unexpectedly, "Sam, I'll get down the port sails first then we can do the main after we turn."
Sam looked at him uncertainly, "Leo, you didn't say you could sail."
"I also didn't tell you I can play the clarinet, but if the occasion arises, I will. I was in the Navy, Sam."
"You flew jets in the Navy, Leo." Sam still looked unconvinced.
"I joined the Navy 'cause I like the water. Let's do the math later." Leo threw his phone in Toby's general direction. "Toby, call home and tell them what's going on, See if they can help with the weather reports or plans or something."
Sam and Leo headed to work on the sails. Sam called back to Toby, "Toby, see if you can get Mrs. Bartlet for me on the line."
Donna looked quizzically at Sam retreating back and then flipped her gaze to Toby. "Why does he want Mrs. Bartlet? Is she a sailing ace or something?"
CJ answered. "Josh is a little sick. She may be able to help."
Donna looked at Toby's face, then at CJ's. They'd given her bad news about Josh before. They both had the same face. Josh wasn't just sea-sick. She turned and headed down the stairs.
CJ called, "Donna! Wait." She started to follow the younger woman. Toby caught her arm.
"Let her go, CJ. She's not gonna stop until she knows what's going on. Josh will just have to live with the fussing." Toby smiled at her softly and left his hand on her arm a moment longer, his quiet version of support.
Donna flew down the steps. Josh heard her coming even in bare feet.
"Hey, Donna." His voice sounded almost normal.
She stepped up next to the couch to look down on him. "Josh, what can I do?"
"I'm fine, Donna. You can make sure Sam is okay. He already thinks this is his fault."
"Josh, there's a storm. We can't go back right away."
A flicker of pain and perhaps fear crossed Josh's face. He hadn't expected the storm. "It's fine Donna. I'm just gonna be annoying and miserable here for a while. But it's not a big deal."
"Sam said you were sick. He vagued it up. What's really wrong?"
Josh took a deep breath. "I guess having a hard head isn't always enough protection when you hit it. It's just a really bad headache. Which, you know, you give me all the time. So if you could just not--"
"--Josh." She sat in the chair next to him and smoothed an errant strand of hair of his forehead. He closed his eyes and settled into the cushions again.