The Forgotten Daughter - Page 23

“What are these?” she asked, taking the items.

“Fuses and punks to light the fireworks,” he said, stepping off the dock toward the boathouse built into the sloping hill. “Don’t let them get wet.”

Each cabin had its own dock and boathouse, which were small sheds built of rocks and thick logs to store the boats and other items guests might find enjoyable to use. Lawn chairs and such. The cabins were old, having been constructed years before, when the resort had originally been built, but they’d been refurbished, or at least some had. Others were still being worked on. The two where he’d chosen to store the fireworks had just recently been fixed up. He’d chosen them for the new locks on the sturdy doors. He’d known kids would be all over the resort today and he hadn’t wanted a couple of sneaky young ones to play with things they shouldn’t.

Dac was already in the second house when Scooter unlocked the door and entered the other dimly lit shed. He quickly checked the boat, making sure the barrels and crates hadn’t been disturbed before he stepped around the boat to unlatch the heavy double doors facing the lake.

The boat slid down the sandy slope into the water next to the dock. After closing the double doors, he jogged along the sand and jumped onto the wooden planks of the dock, catching the boat as it floated close. “Go ahead and climb in,” he told Josie, holding the boat steady with a rope.

She did so without mishap, and sat down on the farthest of the three plank seats that stretched from side to side. “Don’t you want one of the boats with motors?” she asked.

Nightingale’s had several boats with motors that they rented out to guests, and he’d purposely chosen ones with only paddles. “No,” he said, stepping down into the boat.

“Why?”

Settled on the center seat, he held out a hand for her to pass him the equipment. “Because of these. Fire and gas don’t mix.”

She nodded and looked away.

After stuffing the fuses and punks in his pocket again, he grasped both oar handles.

Dac waved from his boat nearby. “All set?”

“All set,” Scooter answered. Dusk hung on for hours during the summer. It would be some time before it was dark enough to set off the fireworks, but getting them all set up would take time.

Josie was facing him, and as if that bothered her, she kicked up her feet and, without standing up, she spun around to face the other way. The beads on her green headdress clicked together. He laughed. “You can take that silly thing off your head.”

One hand rose and she patted her head, then the other one rose and she pulled the headdress off. Setting it on the bench beside her, she fluffed up her hair with both hands. “This is all fireworks?” she asked, referring to the cargo filling the bow in front of her.

Her hair was the color of sunshine and bobbed near her shoulders. Why she’d wanted to cover it up with those pond-green beads was beyond Scooter. Then again, why she did most things was beyond him. “Yes,” he answered. “It’s all fireworks.”

“What’s in Dac’s boat?”

“More of the same.”

She turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Isn’t that a lot?”

“It’s what you ordered.”

Nodding, she turned back around. “Twyla wanted it to be a day no one will forget.”

“Twyla wants every day to be one no one will forget,” he said.

She twirled back around, her knees folded so her feet didn’t skim the bench as she spun. The action caused a bit of her thigh to show and Scooter averted his gaze. Momentarily. A strong force had his eyes going right back.

Josie was facing him now, so he focused on keeping his eyes on her face. Which was almost as disturbing. She was so pretty. Always had been. Every part of her was eye-catching and more than a bit appealing.

“Why do you say that?”

“Say what?” He honestly didn’t know. Another glimpse of her shapely thigh had burned a hole in his brain.

“That Twyla wants every day to be one no one will forget,” she said. “What’s wrong with that? It is her wedding day.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “And it will end with a bang.”

Crossing her arms, Josie lifted her chin. “You could have said no.”

Momentarily confused, he asked, “To what?”

“Setting off the fireworks,” she said. “I could have found someone else.”

That galled Scooter. She could have asked someone else, and they’d readily have agreed. Saying no to her ranked up there with saying no to her father. Very few men did that, and those who did faced the penalty. Just ask Jeb Smith, who was rotting in the hoosegow and would be for years. Although Jeb had had it coming. He’d attempted to double-cross Roger. Smitty, as Jeb was known, had run shine for years for Roger, until he’d decided to start skimming bottles off the top and reselling them himself. He’d boasted about refusing to tell Roger who he was selling the “extras” to when Scooter had filled his tank one night, mere hours before he got arrested in St. Paul.

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