“I was just following Josie’s orders,” he said, stepping onto the boards before turning around to offer Josie a hand.
She took hold of his hand, but once on the floating platform, let go. The raft had been plenty large enough when he and Dac had built it, but now, with all five of them standing on the boards, it seemed to have shrunk.
“So, what can we do to help?” Ginger asked.
“You,” Brock said, flicking the end of her nose, “and Josie can sit down on the edge by our boat and stay out of the way while Scooter, Dac and I unload the boats.”
“All right,” she said, stretching onto her toes to kiss Brock’s chin.
Scooter couldn’t say he was jealous. Envious would be a better word. Josie would never take kindly to being told to stay out of the way. She’d never, ever, readily agree to it, either.
Ginger took a hold of Josie’s arm, pulling her toward the side where Brock’s boat was tied. “Let’s sit over here. We can’t lift those heavy crates.”
Josie’s glare told Scooter how unimpressed she was with her little sister’s immediate compliance. He grinned and lifted a brow.
She squinted and spun around.
Before she’d taken more than a step, it dawned on him that she could easily jump in the other boat and start paddling away. He wouldn’t put it past her. Wouldn’t put anything past her. Stepping forward, he grasped her shoulder.
Stiff as a board, she spun around.
“Hold these again, would you?” he asked, pulling the fuses and punks from his back pocket. “I don’t want them to get wet.”
* * *
Scooter pulled off his suit coat, glad to finally be rid of the thing. The heat of Josie riding behind him on his cycle had somehow become trapped inside his coat, making all sorts of crazy ideas dance in his head. He tossed the coat into his boat before he started directing Dac and Scooter as to which crates to unload first and where to stack them. He kept one eye on the sisters sitting on the edge of the raft, with their feet resting on the bench seats of Brock’s boat. They were doing a lot of whispering, and he wanted to know what they were saying. He’d bet his last gallon of gas Ginger didn’t know anything about Josie’s Duluth trips, but he could be wrong. He had been before when it came to Josie.
“Those two barrels need to be on this edge,” he told Brock and Dac. “They have the big mortars in them. The ones we’ll use for the grand finale.” Setting down the crate he’d hoisted out of his boat, he further explained, “We’ll start with these crates. They’re full of Roman candles. I built a metal stand so we can launch four at once. That’ll give the crowd a good show. Then we’ll shoot off some sky rockets and torpedoes. I have stands for them, too.”
“You put a lot of thought into this,” Brock said.
“As always,” Dac agreed. “Which is why Josie asked him.”
Josie turned around at the sound of her name, and her eyes went directly to Scooter. He figured the sun must have been warmer than he’d noticed today because all of a sudden his cheeks felt sunburned.
“You actually had to build stands for the fireworks?” she asked. “Besides this raft?”
“Yes,” Dac said. “He’s been working on them every spare minute. Up until midnight last night.”
Scooter wanted to tell Dac to shut up. His cheeks were growing warmer due to the way Josie’s expression had softened. “They’re called fireworks because they involve fire. You can never be too careful when it comes to that.” Looking around, trying to focus on something besides the blue eyes gazing up at him, he muttered, “This thing seemed bigger when we built it.”
“The raft?” Dac asked.
“Yes, the raft,” Scooter answered. “Once I set up the stands, there won’t be room for us.”
“Where are the stands?” Brock asked.
“In these two crates,” Scooter said. “Along with the tools and hardware I need to assemble them.” Scratching his chin, for the space was awfully small, even with Josie and Ginger sitting off to the side, he added, “Let’s get them put together and we’ll figure out what to do from there.”
It didn’t take long to bolt the metal pipes he’d cut in varying lengths onto the frames he’d welded. The stands were then bolted to wide square metal bases to keep them from tipping over. The plan was to drop the mortars into the pipe. The bottom of the pipe had several holes for him to light the fuses through. The other pipes, for the sky rockets and candles, held the fireworks upright so they’d shoot skyward when the fuses were lit.