“Drew, what the hell was that!” Jim barked, his face a red, blotchy mask. She eyed her boss’s wet suit, which was hanging limply from his waist like a deflated tire. With the sleeves flipped inside out, slapping his legs, Jim pointed a long finger at her.
She didn’t care. Her teeth were chattering and her patience bank was on empty. She snapped at him, “That was me saving Michelle a trip to the morgue.” The air pack slipped from her cold fingers, hitting the deck. The solid thwack was muffled under the thick, angry air between them. “What was I supposed to do, watch? It saved your ungrateful behind.”
“I’m still your boss, Drew.”
“Then cover your ears ’cause I’m not done.” Gripping the warm deck’s boards, she climbed out of the boat, wet suit slung over her shoulder.
“You take that off again and you’re on suspension.”
Mother Nature gave her the tools—didn’t say how she had to use them, but it saved
their lives—case closed.
“Here, catch.” He tossed her the thick rope.
She caught it before getting hit in the face, and her slowly tensing back muscles
twitched along her spine as she secured the loop around the post. Jim’s tan,
angular face puckered. Why so edgy lately? If she didn’t love him, she’d clock
him over the head. Something was up, something more than Michelle being eight
Jim motioned for a towel off the pier’s deck. “You never—ever—take that pack off,”
“Got a faster way to get the suit off?” she barked and tossed him a towel.
“That’s your only protection down there.”
“And I was your only protection,” she said.
“Drew, you take too many risks.”
“This risk saved your life, Jim. Be grateful I wore the front zip or I’d still be
struggling to get it off.” Snatching open her duffle, she dug out a peach
t-shirt and slipped it over her head. “It distracted Bandit long enough.”
Tugging the t-shirt past the wet bikini, she kept her eyes on Jim. He was
pissed, but alive, and that’s what mattered.
Never leave your partner.
“Drew.” He set the cooler on the deck then dragged a hand down his face in frustration.
She could see it forming, the grand lecture. “You were half-naked down there,”
he told her. Peeling the seal suit down his thighs, it puddled around his feet.
“It saved your life,” she returned. “What’s the big deal anyway, we live on
the beach. You’ve seen my bikini a million times.” She wiped the face of her
watch—seven thirty. He must not have gotten enough sleep last night.
Why was he freaking out?
“Not the same.” Worry lines creased his wide forehead above deep-set, squinted eyes.
His signature pissed-off stare was aimed right at her.
“What?” She didn’t have another answer for that look. In truth she did, but he was her
boss and this wasn’t the right time.
In one long, lurid sweep, his gaze undressed her. She wanted to crawl back inside
the wet suit. “Stop looking at me like that.” She gripped her towel. “It’s, ewww, creepy.”
“That’s how Bandit watched you, Drew. A glass of vodka, flashing lights, and he was in
the club trying to get your seven digits.”
“Jim, that’s disgusting,” she argued. “You’re one to talk. It’s no different than the
little dolphin that clung to your side. Was she a science groupie?”
Dropping the towel, she grabbed her khakis. She shoved her feet through the leg holes so
fast, she caught her toes and about toppled over. Gaining her balance, she knew
he was right—knew taking off the wet suit would work, but he didn’t need to
know that. Heck, she wished she hadn’t known it would work.
Dagger’s Bite, A Brother’s of Element Series. Available 2012