The Forgotten Daughter - Page 22

“I told you this was dangerous,” she said, unable to think of anything else.

“But you want to ride it,” he said, grinning. “I know you do.”

Josie wouldn’t admit that if her life depended on it. Which it almost did. He could still tell her father about her activities at the docks anytime. Life certainly would be much easier if she was more like her sisters—in love with fashion or money or men.

Gritting her teeth, Josie hitched up her skirt and swung one leg over the seat behind Scooter.

“Put your feet on top of mine,” he said, “to keep them out of the way.”

Closing her eyes against the shocking sensations zipping up her thighs, Josie did as she was told, tucked her skirt under her legs and held her breath. This was outrageous.

“Hold on,” Scooter said over his shoulder, still shouting above the noise.

“To what?” she shouted in return.

He grabbed one of her arms and pulled it around his waist. “To me.”

The cycle shot forward. With a squeal, Josie grabbed his waist with her other hand, as well. She slid closer to his back, too, despite the way her inner thighs stung from the contact.

After the initial shock of the tires moving, and of riding on two wheels, she settled in, let out the air she’d been holding in her lungs and realized she was smiling. It was fun. The wind in her hair. The way Scooter leaned slightly left or right while maneuvering the curves along the road leading past the cabins toward the lake. It was all exciting in a daring sort of way. She wasn’t surprised, either. For as long as she could remember, she got a thrill out of things her sisters always found a bit frightening. Of course, back then, it had been frogs and snakes or salamanders and mice. It was what had made her become involved with Gloria’s crusade.

She’d also always secretly coveted Scooter’s motorcycle. Slipping in and out of the dock area in Duluth would be so much easier than in a car. There wouldn’t be any place to store her goods, though, and that would be a problem. She also needed a backseat for someone to hide in. She’d considered that issue when Twyla had been trying to persuade their father to buy a convertible. Thankfully, convincing him how dangerous a car with no top could be had been a simple feat.

The motorcycle slowed and Scooter placed his feet on the ground as it came to a stop. “Careful of the muffler,” he reminded her as the engine went silent.

Josie had been in the process of dropping her feet to the ground, and she stopped. Holding her legs out to the sides, she asked, “How am I supposed to get off, then?”

He chuckled. “You don’t have to be that careful, just mindful,” he said. “The muffler is tucked under the frame, but it still gets hot.” He leaned to the left, angling the motorcycle slightly. “There, step off.”

Josie slid off with almost no problems, other than her ugly pea-green skirt getting caught on the saddlebag. She managed to get it loose without doing damage to the material, which would not have broken her heart. Stepping back, she waited while Scooter kicked down a metal stance bar and pushed the cycle backward to balance upright on the stand.

“Is it heavy?” Josie asked.

“Is what heavy?” Scooter asked, climbing off.

“Your motorcycle,” she said as he spun around to search in the saddlebag. “Is it heavy? Hard to lift onto its stand?”

* * *

“No,” Scooter answered, seconds before an eerie sensation tickled his spine. Turning slowly, he spied the thoughtful expression covering Josie’s face. Sometimes her thoughts were as easy to read as a billboard. “For me,” he clarified. “For you, it would be way too heavy.”

“I’m stronger than I look.”

He pulled out the rest of the fuses and punks he’d assembled to light the crates of Roman candles, sky rockets, mortars and flying torpedoes Josie had requested that he order for the evening’s enjoyment and shoved them in his back pocket. At first he’d questioned the amount of money she’d given him to place the order, but upon learning about the rest of the day’s events, he’d spent every dime. Nightingale would want the night to end with a bang, and it was his job to make sure it would.

Right now, though, it was his job to get whatever idea Josie had brewing out of her pretty little head. He took her by the arm and steered her toward the boathouse down the hill. “You could never handle a motorcycle, so quit thinking you could.”

Her attempt to wrench her arm out of his hold failed.

“You have no idea what I can and can’t handle,” she said.

“Oh, yes, I do.” He marched her down the hill and onto the dock. There he handed over the things from his pocket so they’d be kept dry. “Hold these and wait here.”