Home > Dead in the Water (Deep Six #6)(9)

Dead in the Water (Deep Six #6)(9)
Author: Julie Ann Walker

   Too late she realized she’d stepped into thin air.

   Her right foot was planted firmly on the wooden decking, but her left foot dangled over nothing but fractious waves.

   Screwing her eyes shut, she clutched the bag of treasure close to her chest and prepared for the inevitable—a hard crash into the lagoon followed by a struggle to tread water until someone could pull her back onto the pier. But suddenly, inexplicably, her downward momentum stopped.

   When she opened her eyes, she saw Doc bent over the side of the pier. He held onto a post with one hand. The other was firmly wrapped around the front waistband of her linen camp pants. She could feel the heat of his bare knuckles pressing against the skin of her lower belly.

   Isn’t that a weird thing to notice at a time like this? she thought absently as she quickly replaced her dangling foot back onto the pier.

   Probably not as weird as noticing how his shoulder muscles flexed with the effort of keeping them both from tumbling into the water.

   But his wetsuit fits him like a second skin. How could I not get distracted by all that twisted steel and sex appeal?

   All this rumination happened in a split second, of course. Because, with a grunt and heave, Doc pulled her up and into the circle of his arms.

   The duffel was between their upper bodies. Her overnight bag hung heavy against her hip. But there was nothing separating their lower halves. Her feet slipped next to his. Their thighs interlocked. And she could feel the uncompromising strength of his legs.

   That and the bulge of what he kept between them.

   Despite the buffeting of the cool wind, every inch of her skin caught fire. Every. Single. Inch. Including her cheeks. Which was why, when she glanced up into his face—way up because she was a full foot shorter than he was—she wasn’t surprised to find one eyebrow winged up his forehead and that crooked smirk tilting his mouth.

   She hated that he knew what he did to her. Hated it more that she couldn’t help blushing like a schoolgirl around him. But what she hated most of all? His ability to render her speechless with nothing more than a look or a salacious word.

   His tone was arrogant when he leaned forward and whispered into her ear, “I’d say this is the part where you thank me for saving you from getting wet.” He shifted his leg slightly so that his muscled thigh pressed tight against the juncture of her legs. Her kneecaps nearly liquified. “Except…” His breath was hot against the side of her face. “I think it’s too late for that.”

   She gasped and stumbled out of his embrace.

   “Oh!” She snarled at him. “How has no one hit you over the head with a tire iron yet?”

   Instead of getting offended, he threw back his head and laughed.

   There for a moment, when she’d been safe in his arms, the rest of the world had disappeared. She hadn’t heard the gale. She hadn’t felt the gusts swirling around her. She hadn’t noticed the waves lapping high under the pier. All she’d heard was his deep, raspy voice. All she’d felt was his big body fitted tight against hers. All she’d seen was the seductive, cavalier, downright cocky twinkle in his eyes.

   It was infuriating how he could make her forget the world. Forget herself. Forget everything. eHH

   Lifting her voice above the chaos, she snapped, “You can spend the rest of your life being a dickhole! But since we’re about to have to ride out a hurricane in a decrepit old beach house that’ll probably blow down around us, I would appreciate it very much if you would take the day off!”

   “That beach house has weathered dozens of hurricanes!” LT assured her, tossing the second duffel to Doc, who caught it like it weighed no more than a feather. Grr. “She’ll weather this one too! Don’t you worry!”

   Cami didn’t respond. What good would it do? They were stuck on the island for the duration and there was nothing she could do or say to change that.

   Uncle John darted out of the sailboat’s pilot house to help Dana onto the pier. After the FMC employee got her land legs under her, he carefully handed her a third duffel bag.

   Olivia was next. She hopped off the catamaran in her wetsuit with the grace and reflexes of a cat. Or a ballerina. Or maybe a ninja is a better description.

   Cami wondered if the woman had been trained by the CIA to move like that, or if she’d been recruited by the CIA because she could move like that.

   “Toss one to me!” Olivia yelled to her husband, and LT didn’t hesitate to lob a fourth duffel her way. Olivia caught it easily, and all Cami could think was double grr.

   LT shouldered the remaining two duffels before stepping off the bobbing boat. Without dropping either bag, he untied the catamaran and tossed the securing line back onto the sailboat’s deck. A few moments later, Uncle John engaged the engines.

   Cami blinked. “Wait! Where’s he going?”

   “Sailin’ her around to the leeward side!” LT explained. “He’ll get her anchored and then take the dinghy to shore! Don’t worry! This ain’t his first rodeo!”

   Cami had lived in Miami for years, so Julia wasn’t her first hurricane either. But for the love of god, she’d always evacuated when the weathermen…weatherpersons…told her she should. She’d never tried, never wanted to try, to ride out a storm.

   Doc must’ve read the mounting horror on her face because he shoved a toothpick into his mouth—where it’d come from she had no idea; she’d begun to think he conjured the suckers from thin air—and winked at her. “Chin up! This’ll be a piece of cake!”

   Her scalp prickled with foreboding. “Famous last words,” she muttered.

   “What?” he yelled. Her reply had been lost on the wind.

   Before she could respond, the rain began.

   It wasn’t a slow drizzle or even a soft shower. It was an instant deluge that drenched everything it touched and made it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead.

   “Fuck my life!” she howled before securing the duffel’s strap over her shoulder and turning to run down the pier.

   Her footfalls made loud thumping noises on the unvarnished boards, and the sound of thunder followed in her wake.

   No. Not thunder.

   That was the rumble of four people hot on her heels.

   When she hit the beach, her sandals sank into the sand and made her feel like she was running in slow motion. Her overnight bag thudded hard against her hip. And there was something sharp in the duffel bag that tried to poke a hole through her ribs. She didn’t dare slow down to adjust it. Gritting her teeth, she pressed on and did her best to ignore the pain.

   The palm trees dotting the island rattled, their bushy heads waving to and fro. Soon they would be bent nearly sideways, straining desperately to keep hold of the ground. Already, torn palm fronds fluttered in the swirling air.

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