Home > Dead in the Water (Deep Six #6)(5)

Dead in the Water (Deep Six #6)(5)
Author: Julie Ann Walker

   “How much time do we have?” Bran’s arm tightened around his wife’s shoulders when he asked the question.

   “We’ll probably start feelin’ the winds off her leading edges around noon tomorrow,” LT said.

   “Which gives us tomorrow morning to finish bringing up what’s left of the loot.” Bran’s concerned expression cleared. “Bada bing, bada boom. Easy peasy.”

   Bran was a New Jerseyan and couldn’t help sounding like an extra off The Sopranos.

   LT’s jaw muscles worked hard against the gum in his mouth. “There’s no way we’ll be able to outrun the storm in Wayfarer II if we wait to leave until the hurricane is almost on top of us. The ship’s not fast enough. We’ll hafta anchor her on the leeward side of the island and cross our fingers she can ride it out.”

   “Um.” Alex raised her hand, her freckled nose wrinkling. “Is that really the best idea? I mean, what if she sinks? The treasure will go down with her.” She frowned. “Not that we couldn’t salvage it again. But for the love of all that’s holy, what a pain in the ass.”

   “Which is why I say we sail her to Key West tonight.” LT’s drawl always grew more pronounced when he was working through a problem.

   “And leave what’s left of the treasure behind?” One pitch-black eyebrow winged up Wolf’s tan forehead. “I know we were thinkin’ we got up all but about one, maybe two percent of it today. But two percent of half a billion dollars is still ten million. Are we really okay lettin’ the storm come in and scatter ten million benjis across the ocean floor?”

   Whereas LT had grown up in New Orleans and spoke with the elongated vowels of the South, Wolf had a twang that was right out of an old Western. He’d spent his formative years on a reservation in northeast Oklahoma.

   LT pinned a look on Mia. “You got everything cataloged and recorded at the site for the state, yeah? Everything you need to finish the paperwork?”

   The little marine archeologist nodded. “All that’s left is to photograph the final pieces once you’ve brought them up.”

   LT ran a finger under his chin. “Then I volunteer to stay behind and salvage what’s left tomorrow mornin’ once the sun’s up and I can see what the hell I’m doin’ down there. I’ll load the loot into Uncle John’s catamaran and head west. The sailboat is faster than Wayfarer II. I’ll sail out of the path of the storm and hang out in calm water until Julia passes. Then we can all meet back here in what? Two days? Three tops?”

   Doc opened his mouth to say there was no way in hell he was letting LT stay back to finish salvaging the treasure alone, but Dana interrupted him by asking, “Will the tide still be covering the reef tomorrow morning?”

   “Accordin’ to the charts it will be,” LT assured her. “Plus, Julia will be pushin’ the ocean ahead of her. So we should be good to go.”

   “I’ll need to stay to make sure of that, of course,” Dana said with a resolute dip of her chin.

   “I’m stayin’ too,” Uncle John piped up. He was dressed in his standard getup of baggy cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt that was bright enough to blind a person. “I’m better at sailin’ the cat than you are anyway.”

   When LT opened his mouth to argue, Uncle John—who was technically only LT’s biological uncle, but who held the honorary title when it came to the rest of them—lifted a wide, callused hand. “My mind’s made up, boy. You know better than to argue with me once that’s done.”

   LT snapped his mouth shut, but a muscle ticked in his jaw.

   “I’m staying too,” Doc told LT, making sure his tone brooked no argument at the same time he shoved the toothpick back into his mouth. “It’ll go faster tomorrow with both of us working.”

   “And as your lawyer,” Cami added, “I’m duty-bound to stay until the very last coin is recovered.”

   “I’m staying if you’re staying,” Olivia told LT.

   “No.” LT shook his head, staring down at his dark-haired wife. “I want you safe in Key West.”

   Olivia arched an eyebrow. “Safe? The way you tell it, there’s no danger. We’ll be long gone before Julia hits, right?”

   “It’s settled then,” Doc declared with a decisive nod before LT could throw out any more objections. “The six of us will stay here and finish the job while everyone else makes sure the salvaged ship and the rest of the treasure is hell and gone out of Julia’s path.”

   “Please say we have time to eat before heading to Key West.” Alex’s Kewpie doll mouth was pursed into a bow. “I’m starving.”

   “I swear you must have a hollow leg,” Chrissy harrumphed.

   “Jealous?” Alex wiggled her eyebrows.

   “Yes,” Chrissy declared. But the heat in her voice didn’t match the twinkle in her eyes. Chrissy and Alex had become fast friends in the months they’d been working with the Deep Six crew. Probably because they were cut from the same cloth. Both strong-willed. Both independent. Both crazy in love with former fighting men. “Because if I ate half of what you do, I’d weigh six hundred pounds.”

   Alex shook her head. “Not necessarily. I recently read this interesting article about metabolism that said—”

   A font of information. That was Alexandra Merriweather. She chattered on about the article as everyone shuffled out of the computer room, headed to the galley where Bran’s famous lasagnas awaited them.

   Doc was the last one through the door, but his flip-flops skidded to a halt on the metal decking when he saw Cami standing in the passageway, her head cocked as she stared at him.

   “What?” he demanded, ignoring how his heart thudded against his rib cage the instant he realized they were alone.

   “I’m wondering why you didn’t try to talk me out of staying. You and me, stuck on a sailboat for two, maybe three days? I figured you’d consider that only slightly more appealing than a long walk through the seventh circle of hell.”

   “Normally that would be true,” he admitted. “But I reckon I can pass the time by telling you the latest batch of lawyer jokes I found on the internet. And you’ll be too seasick to stop me.” He wiggled his eyebrows and the end of the toothpick at the same time.

   He expected her to snap and snarl. So he was a little surprised when her wide mouth stretched into a toothy grin. Apprehension had his chin jerking back. “What are you smiling about?”

   “Oh, I’m just plotting all the ways I could end you while we’re out on that little sailboat in the middle of nowhere.”

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