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Before she’d taken three steps, the thing in the boat moved again. And this time there could be no question. It was real. Unquestionably solid, undeniably human, it moved toward her, a fast-moving and barely seen blur.
Kathy’s first instinct was to raise her arm to protect her face. Her second, delayed by a precious second or two, was to run screaming, back toward the office. But as another ear-shattering rumble of thunder rolled across the sky, she knew she wasn’t going to have that chance.
He felt like a bully. A big, ignorant, overbearing, cowardly jackass of a bully.
"Coffee?" he asked, and didn’t wait for her to answer. He poured two cups, and carried them back to the counter.
His bare forearm touched hers when he shoved one of them in front of her. It was just a brush of skin against skin, just for a fraction of a second. But it crackled like wildfire. Throbbing all the way through him, it electrified every muscle and jolted every fiber of his nervous system before instinct kicked in, and he jerked his arm away.
The touch--the wildfire--had reminded him of so many things.
Of that afternoon. The one he’d never been able to put out of his mind, even on the rare occasions when he’d tried. The afternoon in Vanessa VanDiver’s boathouse.
It also reminded him of everything that had happened as a result of that afternoon--the way he’d felt when Kathy had been taken away from him in almost the same instant that he’d found her, of how much he’d realized he loved her only after he’d lost her, of the way he’d vowed never--ever--to let himself suffer love or loss like that again.
"I’m sorry I upset you." Folding his arms on the counter, he leaned forward and tried to see her face. "I don’t know why I say the things I say. Because I’m a... I just don’t know, Kathy."
She kept her face turned away. But her feelings were visible in the way she held her head and her shoulders, the way she stared out the window, looking at nothing, and in the way, obviously trying to look careless, that she shrugged.
"I’m not upset. I’m just confused."
"I know." He touched her arm again.
This time he’d been ready for it, and the wildfire didn’t seem so terrifying. Now it felt warm. Almost right, almost good, almost perfect.
Catching her chin with unsteady fingers, he turned her head so that she could no longer avoid looking into his eyes.
Deep and liquid, soft brown touched with flecks of pure and shining gold, her eyes seemed to see all the way into his soul. To know things. All kinds of things.
To know that?
A cold chill slithered through him, cooling the throbbing warmth and leaving in its place a black and crawling dread.
Did she know about the police?
It was all he could do to hold back a shudder.
If God had any mercy at all--a possibility he’d seriously begun to doubt--He wouldn’t let Kathy know what had happened on Recluse Island after she’d left. Wouldn’t let her know what her father really was. Not for him, because he didn’t deserve that kind of mercy. But for her, because she did. Because she deserved better.
Blushing furiously, Kathy jerked her chin free and ducked her head, hiding her face again. "I’ve had a... strange... reception around town."
Alex almost laughed. His belief in God, and mercy, and things working out right once in a while had been redeemed. Just like that. And he really would have laughed and been giddy with relief, if Kathy hadn’t looked so sick, and scared.
"Oh." He kept his voice calm and even. Kept it free of even the tiniest hint of laughter. "You heard that. About... you know."
Kathy didn’t lift her head. Didn’t look at him. She didn’t do anything but sit there with wave after wave of the brightest red he’d ever seen, staining the tips of her ears and the little sliver of cheek he could see.
Born and raised in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, Kay LeGrand always felt she belonged somewhere else. Following a family vacation to Colorado at the age of ten, she knew that place was the American west. Today, she and her husband live in a condo overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, from which she draws her inspiration.
A writer from the age when she was first able to hold a pen, Kay wrote for newspapers in high school and college, and ultimately received a degree in journalism and communications. Among the many jobs she’s held, Kay has enjoyed working as a late-night radio disk jockey, a waitress at an amusement park cafeteria, an airborne traffic reporter, and a telephone operator. A second-generation pilot, she worked as a commercial pilot and flight instructor for several years, and is now happily making hotel reservations for several national parks.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 258
Paper Weight (lb): 10.9
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