The Forgotten Daughter - Page 24

“I could have, you know,” Josie said. “You’re not the only one who knows how to light fireworks.”

“I know,” Scooter answered. He also knew the consequences of not being on the up-and-up when it came to her father. Roger took pride knowing what was going on in all aspects of his business, and Scooter imagined that when it came to someone claiming his actions had put one of his daughters in danger, Roger would be furious. “But you didn’t,” he said, almost with remorse. He should have told Roger what he’d discovered right after talking to that trucker, whether the man would have wanted to hear it or not. Now, after this length of time, Roger could claim that Scooter withholding the information was just as bad as attempting to double-cross him.

Josie fidgeted, but kept her arms crossed. “Only because Twyla suggested I ask you.”

“Back to Twyla again, are we?” That was fine with Scooter. It was a safer subject than the one rolling around in his head. “The life of the party. The center of attention. That’s Twyla.” Leaning closer, while still rowing with both arms, he continued, “While you, Miss Josie Nightingale, love being the mouse in the corner. You don’t want anyone to see you, but you certainly don’t want to miss anything, either.”

“I do not.” Shaking her head, she insisted, “I don’t care what I miss, and I do not hide in the corner.”

“Yes, you do,” he said. “You hide and you listen. Your only saving grace is that you rarely repeat what you’ve heard.”

Her lips pinched together as she glared at him.

He chuckled. “Cat got your tongue?”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Did you know the British proclaimed the Germans had cats and dogs spying on them during the war?” he asked.

She unfolded her arms and fluffed out her skirt around her knees. “You’re making that up.”

Scooter had no idea why that bit of trivia had entered his mind, but figured it was because he was desperately trying to sidetrack his other thoughts. “I’m not making it up. Ask your uncle Dave.”

“I will,” she said snootily. “And next time we need fireworks, I’ll ask someone else to organize them.”

“That’ll be fine by me,” he said.

“Me, too.”

Scooter’s fists tightened around the oar handles as he rowed with more vigor. “Call me nuts for saying yes this time,” he muttered.

“That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

“Just the truth,” he said. “A man has to be nuts to get tangled up with any of you girls.”

“Ducky, Scooter,” she sneered.

“It’s the truth,” he snapped. “Ginger hiding under Brock’s tarp, Twyla and her kissing booth—” He snapped his lips closed. Those were nothing compared to Josie’s escapade. But the way her lips were puckered made him think of kissing her. If Josie had a kissing booth, he’d pay more than a dime. He would have even years ago, when he couldn’t have afforded it. That inner confession didn’t settle well, and he turned his focus back to rowing the boat.

They were nearing the raft he and Dac had anchored in the center of the lake earlier. Two other boats were already there. Dac’s on one side, and Brock and Ginger’s on the opposite side.

Josie flashed him a playful smile, before she spun around. “Hey, Brock,” she shouted, “do you know Scooter thinks you’re nuts?”

“Yep,” Brock shouted in return. “He’s told me that more than once.”

Scooter leaned forward again. “Satisfied?” he asked, although he was a bit surprised she’d said that to Brock. Josie normally kept her mouth shut. Normally they would have a hard time getting something out of her.

His brain, which for whatever reason wasn’t functioning as smartly as usual, kicked back into gear. She was mad at him. Had been all day. His attempts to put a stop to her shenanigans must have her seeing red. She’d been trying to start a fight with him, probably so she could finagle a way to make her getaway.

Glad to once again be thinking straight, Scooter said, “I’m not letting you out of my sight. So get over it.”

She didn’t comment, but did stand up and grasp the edge of the raft, to keep the boat stable as it glided to a stop. Brock and Dac had tied the fronts and backs of their boats to the corner posts, keeping the rowboats flush with the floating platform. Scooter did the same to his and Josie’s boat.

“Applesauce,” Ginger squealed as she climbed onto the raft with Brock’s help. “You have enough fireworks for the entire state, Scooter.”