Page 47

Then the noises stopped.

He had left the boat.

A reprieve?

The heat was terrible. She was sure her air was almost gone, although she kept trying to tell herself that oxygen was getting in to her somehow. The boards were wet beneath her. The whole place stank of fish.

She was going to smother or roast before she could drown, she thought.

Then a prayer rushed into her heart. No, no, I didn’t mean it. I will survive. I will. Don’t let him come back…!

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Genevieve asked, settling into the passenger seat of his car. “I mean…should we be gone right now?”

He set his hand on hers where it lay on her lap. “I know you’re worried sick about Audrey, and with all that’s been going on, you have good reason. But everyone is out looking for her. I don’t even begin to know where to start. It makes sense to take a trip to Miami. Marshall wasn’t checked into the hotel his call came from. When I met with him to set up this dive, we met in Coconut Grove. There’s public dockage there. I thought we would do some club-hopping on the beach tonight and rent a boat tomorrow. We can search the yacht clubs, marinas and waterways for his boat.”

She nodded. “That’s very logical. But by now, haven’t the local police notified their associates up there? Aren’t they on the lookout?”

“He’s probably not at a public marina,” Thor acknowledged. “But you can be certain law enforcement in Miami-Dade isn’t seeing this as a serious situation. I’m not saying anything negative about them, but they’ve got their hands full with local crime, and they’re not going to be overly concerned with a grown man who may have disappeared of his own volition.”

“You’re right,” she admitted, then looked at him. “So you have a plan. And here I was thinking you just wanted to get the hell out of Key West,” she teased.

“That, too,” he admitted. “We’ll be gone twenty-four hours. Okay?”

She nodded.

“You feel all right?” he asked.

She laughed out loud. “Do you mean, am I slipping in and out of another lifetime? Do I have a ghost on my lap?”

He grinned at her through the rearview mirror.

He also checked out his back seat.

It seemed they were alone.

He was starving, so they stopped in Plantation Key for dinner, then moved on.

There were no traffic problems on US1 that night, and by the time they reached Miami, it was well past rush hour.

They checked into the Mayfair in Coconut Grove. Thor was in a hurry to go out, but Genevieve insisted that if they were hitting the clubs on South Beach, she had to shower and change.

Thor wound up joining her in the shower. And then they wound up slick and soapy and together.

Slick, soapy, and flesh to flesh, steam rising all around them. They were alone. In a massive marbled bathroom. With a huge king-size bed just beyond.

The bed wound up damp and just a bit slick, as well. Thor found himself wondering what it was about one particular woman that could make the rest of the world fade away. Sex, yes. The rise of excitement created by something so small as a smile, a touch…

A body, slick and soapy.

And still…

It was her. Everything about her. Her eyes, her smile. The shape of her face. The way her fingers felt against his. Little things he knew she would do. The way the palm of her hand felt against his buttocks, the way her lips felt on his, the way she teased with just the tip of her tongue…

The heat that exuded from her body, the very scent of her so unique…

Later, as he lay looking at the ceiling, he knew he was in love with her. Thor would accept anything in the world if…


There seemed to be none around them that night. Her fingers played across his chest for a moment as they lay there, just breathing, hearts slowing. “It’s a good thing that prime time at the clubs is in the middle of the night,” she murmured.

He leapt up. “Shower first—don’t come in,” he warned.

She laughed. But she waited dutifully until he was out. Then she rushed in.

She really had her virtues—beyond beauty, sensuality, diving ability and her smile. She could get ready faster than any woman he had ever met.

“All right, we’re out of here,” he said.

He was amazed to discover he had fun. He was pretty sure, despite the fact that he might have been recognized a time or two, that they were admitted to every club without hesitation—despite occasionally lengthy lines—because of the way Genevieve looked and smiled.

At first, and well past midnight, it seemed they were on nothing more than a club-hopping tour. They danced. They paid exorbitant prices for drinks. He became best friends with lots of cocktail waitresses, while Genevieve flirted with bartenders, describing Marshall and asking if they’d seen him anywhere. Several knew him, but no one had seen him recently.

They found out nothing useful. Thor’s frustration must have shown, because Genevieve slipped her arm around him and said, “Hey, it was a good idea. We did find out most of the bartenders know him, so if he had been there…”

They wandered into a little place on Washington, a piano bar.

It was much quieter than the places they had been. The pianist was good, the audience sedate.

He and Genevieve took seats at a small table toward the back. They ordered coffee, despite the fact that they would be heading back to the hotel soon to sleep. Hell, he needed to stay awake enough to find their way back.

“There has to be an explanation for his disappearance. He’s not a prostitute—hell, he’s not even an attractive woman,” he said, trying to lighten the mood.

“Do you think he really called the police?” Genevieve asked worriedly. “You don’t think that he was…I don’t know, abducted for a different reason, and someone faked the call?”

“I don’t know what to think,” he admitted.

She was folding and unfolding her napkin. “I’m worried about Marshall, but…I’m even more worried about Audrey. She is an attractive young woman.”

She stared straight at him then. “I’m worried, too,” he admitted.

She smiled wanly, placing her hand on his. “Still worried about me?” she asked, and he knew she was referring to her sanity.

He didn’t have a chance to reply. A soft female voice broke in on them.

“Gen? Genevieve Wallace?”

He turned as Genevieve looked up. They had been approached by a couple who had apparently been leaving but stopped at the sight of Genevieve, who frowned, before her face lit up in a smile.

“Kathy!” She grinned at Thor, who rose quickly as Genevieve introduced her friend. “Kathleen O’Malley, Thor Thompson. Thor, Kathy and I went to school together. She’s an escaped Conch. And George.” She rose, too, kissing the man on the cheek. “George Ryder,” she said in a rush, remembering she was doing the introductions. “George also went to school with me.”

Kathy laughed. She was tiny, with blond ringlets. George was taller, and very lean. He shook Thor’s hand. “You’re the diver, right? I’ve seen you in magazines.”

Thor nodded. “Can you stay a minute? I’ll draw up a few chairs.”

“Yes, thanks,” Kathy said. “Oh, we’re both Ryders now. George and I got married four years ago.”

“I had no idea,” Genevieve said warmly, taking her seat again. “Congratulations. Weren’t you voted ‘Couple Most Likely to Stay Together’?”

George arched a brow. “Oh, stop,” Kathy said, laughing. “Gen, you look wonderful. But I thought I read that you were on some dive now? Did you two escape or something? The prostitute murders down there have made the news up here. They just found a second girl, right?”

Genevieve nodded.

“Be careful down there. No wonder you guys wanted to come up here for a break,” Kathy said.

“Hey,” Genevieve said. “You know Marshall—my boss?”

Again, Kathy smiled. She seemed unfailingly cheerful, Thor thought. “Sure. He used to humor us all the time when we were kids. I still love boats and diving because of him. We came up here because George was going to law school at the University of Miami, and then he got a job up here…but I still miss the Keys. Anyway, yes, I remember Marshall.”

“You haven’t run into him anywhere up here recently, have you?” Thor asked.

Kathy shook her head. She was obviously the speaker. George was the quiet one.

“No, no, sorry. He isn’t down there with you? Hard to believe Marshall would play hooky. I remember him telling us he’d have his own company one day, just like the big-time salvage guys. He managed it, too.”

“Yes, he did,” Genevieve murmured.

“Wow, imagine, running into you,” Kathy said. “Of course, the distance isn’t all that great, but I haven’t been all the way down to Key West in years. We escape to Key Largo a lot, but that’s just an hour away. Much easier when you only have a weekend here and there.”

“I know. I almost never get up here,” Genevieve said.

“Actually,” George said, breaking in suddenly, “it’s strange to run into you tonight. I’ve been thinking about you and Bethany and Victor. I thought you might be affected by what was going on.”

“The murders, you mean?” Thor asked, frowning.

“Yes,” George agreed, nodding gravely. “Do you remember back when we were in school? We were seniors, I think, when the paper had a spread on that woman who was on her way to being a supermodel. Remember?”

“Yes, she just up and disappeared,” Genevieve said.

“It’s been bugging me,” George said.

“Wasn’t there something in the paper last year about another woman who disappeared? Did they ever find her?” Kathy asked, wide-eyed.

“Not that I know of,” Genevieve said. “I should ask Jay.”