Thursday, February 11, 7:02 A.M. CST
Every moment counts, and I’m running out of time.
Eva woke up late, the hazy sunlight streaming through her window. It had stormed the night before, and she hadn’t slept well. She’d have to hurry to get to work with her dolphins. The deadline for her grant approached, and she still needed more data.
Rising, she put on shorts and a T-shirt over a bikini, strapped on her Tevas, and grabbed her backpack, which held her waterproof laptop. Then she headed for the kitchen, where a water bottle and sack lunch—PBJ, her favorite—waited on the counter.
Her mother sat at the table enjoying a relaxed breakfast of beans, cheese, and eggs. Sitting beside her, Soledad engrossed herself in her life science textbook. The girl wanted to be a pediatrician one day. Luis Junior sat with them, stacking Legos and chattering away, with an empty plate pushed to the side. The boy stayed with them when his widowed father, who was Eva’s mother’s estable, left on fishing trips.
Luis Junior looked up at Eva’s mother with a smile. “Mina, papi is going to teach me to fish soon.” Both children called Romina by the nickname Mina.
Eva looked at her watch. “Is Luis not back yet for Junior?”
Eva’s mother shook her head. “No, but I’m trying not to worry. Hopefully, he got a good catch to take to market. But you concern me, hija. You need a nutritious breakfast. It’ll help you focus on your work.”
Eva’s cat, Angel, weaved between her legs, begging for attention. “I don’t have time, mamá.”
“You wouldn’t make your dolphins work before feeding them breakfast, would you?” Her mother sighed and shook her head. “Well, don’t be late for dinner. You need some proper food. Luis promised us a big fish. Oh, and you need to call Miguel back. He keeps leaving messages. He says he hasn’t seen you in a week. You work too much, hija.”
Eva merely waved and took off; she didn’t have time right now to discuss her commitment issues or her grant deadline with her mother.
She rode her Vespa on the busy two lane to RIMS—the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. The air, thick with post-storm humidity, had her sweating by the time she arrived. Rascal the cattle dog greeted her, and both she and the dog jumped into the boat taxi with Gilberto, the head dolphin trainer, who shuttled them to Bailey’s Key, a tiny island just offshore from the main island of Roatan. Lined with palm trees and surrounded by a series of walkways and docks, the dolphin enclosures were located there. There were two enclosures, which were actually several acres of ocean partitioned off, one for Eva’s research dolphins and the other for the educational encounter dolphins.
Eva stepped off onto the dock with Rascal at her heels. Axel and Jose—her intern and her assistant, respectively—were already there, with all the research gear set up. Jose, an organization whiz, always connected everything properly, but Eva ran her hands over the maze of wires, checking the connections to be sure, and Axel was a sound genius, but that didn’t stop Eva from running her own sound test.
Now ready to start a data run, she opened the Delphi Imago program—software she had developed herself, to process, store, and play back dolphin communication—on her laptop, a rugged waterproof Panasonic Toughbook. Then she handed her laptop to Jose, tossed her shorts and T-shirt onto a beach boulder to stay warm, and grabbed the red ball she would put in the dolphin view-box.
Today I’m going to make a breakthrough, she told herself.