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“Yeah. Sure.”

He didn’t really want to, of course. He wanted to eavesdrop on whatever was being shared between Audrey, good old Uncle Adam and Genevieve.

Hell, he had to get a grip.

He went outside with Jack. Genevieve had a nice setup for cleaning and preparing fish. The knife Jack handed him was sharp, and he was able to gut and fillet the fish as if it were butter.

“Where do you think Marshall has gone off to?” Jack asked.


“Marshall, remember? Your co-worker. Co-boss of our operation. This isn’t like him. He loves a barbecue, and he loves Gen’s place,” Jack said.

“I don’t know. But we’ve got a cop right inside. Maybe it’s time to report him missing,” Thor said.

“Yeah, and maybe he’ll have us all by the balls if we do,” Jack said dryly. “Maybe he’s off getting hot and heavy with some woman.” He grinned. “Could be why he’s not answering his cell. I mean, who wants to be interrupted in the middle of something, if you know what I mean?”

Thor didn’t reply. He was anxious to finish with the fish.

Victor, cradling a cold bottle of beer, walked out to join them. “Need any help out here?” he asked.

Jack indicated the pile of fillets they had just cut. “You’re too late.”


“It’s all right,” Jack said. “I think I could cut up a fish in my sleep.”

Victor looked distracted as Jack pulled out a box of aluminum foil. “Trust me, these fillets are going to be great. Loosely wrap them in the foil, add a pat of butter, a squirt of lime, dash of salt and pepper, and one clove of garlic…can’t get any fresher. They’re going to be great.”

“Yeah, great,” Victor murmured.

“What’s wrong?” Thor asked him.

Victor stared at him, startled. “Uh, nothing.”

Thor shrugged and started wrapping the fish according to Jack’s instructions.

“It’s that guy,” Victor blurted.

“What guy?” Jack asked. “Audrey’s uncle?”

“What’s wrong with him?” Thor asked casually.

“He’s…creepy,” Victor said.

“He need a bath or something?” Jack asked.

“No. He’s just…creepy. Those eyes of his…kind of pale. And his skin is almost white.”

“He’s just not from the land of sun and fun, I guess,” Thor murmured, though he felt uncomfortable, too. But the guy himself wasn’t creepy. Rather, the guy gave him the creeps. Strange. Who the hell was he?

Then again, a lot of things were making him uneasy these days. And he didn’t believe in feeling uneasy. Not like this. The world was full of known dangers. It was okay to be uneasy about going out in heavy seas. It was all right to have a sinking heart when you were going into a swamp after a plane crash.

But this…

“Here you go, Victor. You want to be useful? Give Jack a hand. I’ll go check up on Uncle Creepy, how’s that?” Thor said.

He didn’t wait for an answer but headed on into the kitchen to wash his hands. Genevieve came up beside him. Her eyes were sparkling; she seemed more alive, easier, happier, than he had yet seen her. She glowed. His stomach seemed to pitch and toss. She hadn’t said anything about last night to him, and he hadn’t had a chance to say anything to her. When he’d gotten downstairs, guests had already been arriving.

She smiled at him, wrinkled her nose. “Tastes much better than it smells after cleaning, huh?” she teased.

He slipped an arm around her, and brushed her lips with a kiss, heedless of anyone else who might be nearby. She didn’t seem to mind. She hugged him back enthusiastically.

“What’s that all about?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just feel as if a weight has been lifted.”

She started to walk away.

He pulled her back.

“Who the hell is Uncle Adam?” he asked.

She pulled back and looked him in the eye. “A very nice man, that’s all.”

He dried his hands and walked into the living room. The stereo was playing. Adam was sitting on the sofa, next to Audrey. Bethany and Alex were trying some kind of a dance step. Lizzie was laughing at the two of them, and Zach was warning her that he would make her learn if she wasn’t careful. Jay was just watching, nursing a beer.

Thor sat down next to Adam.

“So, Adam, where are you down from?” he asked politely.

“Virginia. You?”

The man had a smooth, cultured accent that seemed reminiscent of mint juleps, Southern breezes and total refinement.

“Jacksonville,” Thor answered. “What brings you down this way? Or have you come just to spend some time with Audrey?” he asked. On his other side, Audrey flushed. He hoped she was a better actress when doing readings for her clients. She couldn’t have looked more guilt stricken.

“Key West is a great place to visit,” Adam said.

“True,” Thor agreed. Like hell. This guy didn’t look like a boater or a fisherman. Definitely not a diver. He didn’t even look as if he was particularly fond of heat. And he was too old for the more ribald shenanigans Key West was known for.

“I’d love a chance to talk with you alone, under quieter circumstances,” Adam said. Again Thor had the feeling he was being read. Being read? Hell, no. This guy had taken one look at him and it was as if he had finished the final chapter. Creepy.

Thor shrugged. “We’re diving again as of tomorrow. No lunch breaks on land, I’m afraid.”

“Are you fond of breakfast?” the older man queried, a slight twist to his smile.

“You bet.”

“Shall we meet early, then?”

He hadn’t realized he had hesitated until Audrey looked at him. Her eyes were wide, sincere. “You should. You two should get to know each other,” she said. Her tone had a hint of a tremor.

He decided grimly that he would definitely meet with the man. Alone. They needed to have a discussion before the man tried to convince Genevieve she merely needed to commune with the dead or something equally ridiculous to banish her nightmares.

Seawater. There had been seawater beside the bed.

No. She had showered, then dripped on the rug, and the seawater smell was coincidence. The air of the Keys smelled like seawater in general, a good smell, one that was everywhere.

This was ridiculous. They were sucking him into some bizarre fantasy world. He wasn’t going to let it happen. “I’ll see you early then. I have to be on the dock by seven-thirty, so let’s say 6:00 a.m.”

“Works for me. I’m staying at La Concha. Let’s eat there.”

Thor nodded and rose, wondering if he looked as grim as he was feeling.

He went to find Genevieve, who was in the kitchen, setting raw vegetables on a tray. She arched a brow as he caught her hand. “The carrots can wait a second,” he told her. She smiled back, bemused and still curious as he pulled her into his arms for a kiss.

They were interrupted when Victor announced that the fish was ready, and suggested everyone grab a plate and step out back, where the burgers and chicken were already waiting.

“I’ll be out in a second. Let me throw out some of this garbage first,” Genevieve said, heading for the living room to clean up the empties. Thor followed to help.

Victor had left his empty beer bottle sitting on the coffee table. Thor picked it up, then froze and stared at it in shock.

The label had been viciously shredded, almost as if torn apart by the talons of an enraged bird.

Beyond a doubt, it was an interesting day. Genevieve wasn’t sure why. Nothing had changed, but just meeting Adam Harrison had somehow made things better.

She wondered if she would still see the ghosts in her dreams.

The pirates, clothes tattered, bones sticking out of their rags, faces grim, weapons in hand, marching silently through what seemed like the deepest regions of the sea, stalking her…

The beautiful woman, white gown flowing, hair wafting on an invisible current, standing protectively between her and the decaying pirates, whispering her warning…


Haunting her mind, her soul.

Fighting the dream each time, waking.

And then, for terrible seconds, the fear gripping her like a vise. Hard and torturous, squeezing her heart. Each time, she fought to breathe. To believe again in the light of day. She dared to say nothing, questioning her own sanity even when the visions faded and she knew she was alone. She thought gratefully of the solidly real man who had been at her side this morning. His being there gave her strength, made her long to describe each second of the strange, terrifyingly real dream, but she didn’t dare.

She knew she would lose if he questioned her sanity much longer.

Somehow, she believed, Adam Harrison would change…everything. And so, during the course of the barbecue, she felt as if she were on cloud nine.

Except for one thing. She thought she was the only one worrying about it until Bethany’s Key lime pie and coffee were served.

“Hey, Jay,” Victor said. “I’m kind of worried. Marshall didn’t show up today.”

Jay looked at him, forkful of Key lime pie halfway to his mouth. “You’re worried about Marshall?”

“None of us has seen him in a couple of days,” Jack explained.

Jay didn’t look particularly worried. “Marshall is…Marshall. He has a private life. I know you guys share a lot, but I’m sure he doesn’t feel he has to tell you if…”

“If he’s getting some?” Alex finished dryly.

Jay shrugged.

“I think we need to file a missing persons report,” Genevieve said.

“I think,” Bethany said, “that we’ve waited this long. But if Marshall doesn’t show for work tomorrow, it’s definitely time to worry.”

There were murmurs of agreement all around. Gen tried to convince them otherwise, but by then everyone was too busy with dessert to listen.