Page 8

“I know. I read the letters written by Antoine D’Mas, the pirate who watched the Marie Josephine go down. It all makes sense to me, too.”

“There you go. We agree on something,” he murmured.

They both heard the sound of footsteps pounding on the sand and the knock at the door. “Hey, you up in there?” Bethany called.

Genevieve stood and opened the door. Bethany was ready for the day, it appeared. She was wearing cutoffs over her one-piece Speedo. Her hair was tied back, out of the way.

“Good, you’re up early!” she announced. “I didn’t want to sit around alone any longer. There’s nothing on the TV—hey!” she said suddenly, seeing Thor on the futon.

“Hey yourself,” he greeted her, standing politely.

Bethany suddenly stared at Genevieve, as if really seeing her for the first time. “You’re soaked. And there’s seaweed in your hair. What the hell…?”

Genevieve looked meaningfully at her friend, her back to Thor Thompson. “You know me. I woke up early and just couldn’t resist the lure of the water.”

“By the dock?” Bethany said incredulously.

Genevieve made her stare fiercer. “On the beach side,” she snapped. “I can’t resist the water sometimes, and you know it.”

“Oh. Um. Right,” Bethany murmured.

“Do you want coffee?” Genevieve asked quickly, changing the subject.

“Sure, thanks.”

Bethany plopped down on the futon, where Thor joined her. “You still on for tonight?” she asked.

Genevieve nearly spilled the coffee.

“Yeah, why not?” he asked.

“Barhopping,” Bethany told Genevieve. “We’re all going.”

“Should we be barhopping?” Genevieve asked.

“We don’t have to drink at every bar. But Thor, Lizzie and Zach haven’t spent much time here. We’re going to show them the must-do tourist places and then our own favorites. Hey, we’re always in by four o’clock. We can shower, eat somewhere cool, show them a few spots and be back by eleven-thirty. Marshall’s coming, and Thor’s the boss of his team, so…” She shrugged. “It’ll be great.”

“I’m not so sure,” Genevieve murmured.

“When did you suddenly turn into such a stick?” Bethany demanded.

“Here. Take your coffee. Entertain yourselves. I’m going to shower,” Genevieve said.

“You’re going to shower—to go diving?” Bethany asked.

“Yeah. I want fresh seaweed in my hair,” she said, and left the two of them together on her futon. She walked into the bathroom and closed and locked the door. She stared at her reflection in the mirror again. She realized she was deeply irritated and didn’t know why.

She also didn’t want them to leave.

Determined not to dwell on the situation, she hopped into the shower, washed her hair, then hopped out. Her suit from the day before was on the rack, and she slipped back into it, then found shorts and a denim shirt, and slipped them on over the suit. When she emerged, the two were still talking.

“It was weird. I thought it was coming from here, too,” Bethany was saying.

“What are you talking about?” Genevieve asked sharply.

“Weird noises.” Bethany laughed. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d have said you were cooking!”

“You heard noises, too?” Genevieve demanded.

“Yeah, a real racket. I don’t usually get up way before I need to—especially when I’m hoping to have some energy left at night,” Bethany told her. “What were you doing?”

“Nothing. I was swimming, remember?” Genevieve said curtly. It was enough to make her nuts. She saw a body, no one else did. Thor heard noises, so did everyone else.

She felt a disturbing, creeping sensation along her spine. How much did that matter when she had awakened wet with seawater? And she didn’t remember a thing about leaving her cottage.

“They’ve probably got the tiki bar open by now. I’m hungry,” she said.

Thor and Bethany rose at her obvious suggestion that they all leave. He headed off to the cottage next door, waving a hand behind him. “See you in a few minutes.”

Bethany stared after him. “Cool,” she murmured.

“Yeah, he’s just great.”

Bethany looked at her in surprise. “What’s the matter? He’s got a great reputation.” She giggled. “And damned good buns, too. And pecs. And biceps. And those eyes…”



“Go for it.”

“Oh, no. I’m not flirting with him or anything. He never fools around on a job.”

“Who the hell told you that?”

“I read it. There was a magazine article on him not long ago. He’s the kind who’s married to his work. He grew up on the wrong side of town. Father walked out on his mother, she wound up dying of a heart attack at forty, trying to raise the kids on her own. He just doesn’t want a family, I guess.”

“How noble,” Genevieve muttered.

“What is the matter with you? I’d think you’d want to work with someone who wasn’t hitting on you all the time. Everything with him is all business. Though I guess he’s been a little hard on you over the…what you thought you saw in the water.”

“A little hard? He thinks I’m certifiable.”

Bethany giggled, sobered quickly and apologized. “Genevieve…we’ve all seen what we haven’t really seen in the water at some time.”

Yes, but have we all awoken soaked in seawater, with seaweed in our beds? she nearly asked aloud.

“Let’s get something to eat. We have to make the first discovery. And we have to make it today,” she said, catching her friend’s arm and urging her toward the tiki bar.

Thor knew the history; he never went into anything without studying every shred of information about the project. Still, for some reason—perhaps to enforce the part about avoiding destruction of the reef in any way—they were seated on and around the picnic tables and benches by the docks, listening to what they knew already.

If ever a man had looked like he should be a professor of history, it was Henry Sheridan. He wore the kind of glasses that had Coke-bottle lenses, black frames, and, sure enough, he must have broken them, because they were held together between the eyes by a Band-Aid. His hair—a combination of mousy-brown and gray—stuck up in tufts from his head, without benefit of mousse. His face was very thin, ascetic, and his form was equally meager. Thor had the feeling the man seldom thought about eating, so lost was he on some intellectual plane.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Larry Preston was the antithesis of Sheridan. He was big, tall and hardy. He could swim and dive with the best of them, and though his job was to see that they followed the dictates of the state, Thor was pretty sure that history itself bored him. Preston liked action. He was wearing sunglasses and a uniform hat, along with his white shorts and shirt, and beneath those glasses, Thor had a feeling the man was keeping his eyes closed.

To the credit of the divers from both boats, they were at least putting on the pretense of rapt attention.

“As you all know, I’m certain, we estimate that there are at least two thousand undiscovered wrecks in the waters around the state. But the sea is harsh. Ships don’t usually sink intact. Winds and rains crack masts, and timbers split. On the way down, ships are at the mercy of tides and currents and their own weight and construction. Sometimes small vessels fare better, but huge ships—even broken up—can be an easier find. A ship such as the Marie Josephine might have left a field of discovery a mile long. She was brutalized by pirates in the midst of a storm. It’s more than likely her remains are in far more than two or three pieces. Despite that, and as you’re aware, we’re not going in with any vacuuming devices. Especially since we’re working on nothing more than speculation right now. It’s likely that, should you succeed in finding the ship’s resting place, you’ll begin to find small relics. Coins, of course. Pottery, porcelain. Last year, as Thor can tell you, we unearthed a Civil War barge in the St. Johns river because an 1860s razor was found. By Thor.” Sheridan nodded his way in acknowledgment. Lizzie applauded, and Alex Mathews let out an appreciative whistle.

“Cool,” Bethany murmured, offering him her generous smile.

Thor felt restless, anxious to be out on the water. He found himself studying Genevieve Wallace, who was staring straight ahead at Sheridan, her face betraying not so much as a flicker of emotion. The woman was fucking weird. She walked out in a nightshirt and jumped into the water?

While all kinds of noises were coming from her cottage?

“Raccoons,” he heard someone whisper.

Victor Damon was leaning casually against the edge of the next table over. He wasn’t listening at the moment; he was grinning as he looked at Bethany.

“Excuse me?” Lieutenant Preston snapped.

“Sorry, sir,” Victor said. “Bethany heard some kind of commotion last night. She forgets just how many cats and raccoons we have around here.”

“Well, they won’t be under the water!” Preston reminded him.

“Right, sir, absolutely not,” Victor agreed.

Sheridan cleared his throat. “I think it’s important that you all understand the full history of this wreck. The Spanish settled Florida in the early 1500s—St. Augustine is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the United States. The English got nervous about the Spanish being so close, and the French were trying to get a piece of the action, too. In 1763, Britain gained control of Florida in exchange for Cuba. Then came the Revolutionary War, and Florida remained loyal to the mother country. In 1784, the Spanish gained control again as part of the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution, but in 1821 they ceded Florida to the United States.”