“Push you too far?” she asked. “I haven’t pushed you. You were the one pushing, the one telling me what to do—”
“Because you were too foolish to see it for yourself,” he interrupted. “You were too busy worrying about saving the world to realize how much danger you were in.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “You were my saving grace, always there to rescue me.”
Her confession broke things loose inside him. As did the way she approached him, slowly and purposefully.
“You’re my hero, Scooter,” she said. “My hero.”
He had no response to that. She was here. Standing right before him. The instant that all hit home, he caught her shoulders, pulled her forward and planted his lips against hers with all the intensity of the storm crackling and booming outside.
Scooter didn’t stop with one kiss. Nor with several. He kissed her over and over again. Especially when her lips softened and parted for their tongues to meet in a way so primitive he could almost imagine what Eve’s first kiss must have done to Adam. It was pure sweetness, heavenly and uniquely forbidden all at the same time.
It wasn’t until he realized the desire filling him was a new danger to her now that Scooter ended the kiss. He couldn’t, however, convince his arms to let her loose.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
Her arms were around his neck, her fingers playing with the ends of his hair. “You’re wet,” she said.
The blush on her cheeks told him she hadn’t been sure what to say, had just let something roll off her tongue. The desire to let his tongue play with hers again had him biting the inside of his cheek and he was having a hard time controlling all the other desires springing forth.
Tugging her hands away by grasping her elbows, he dropped her arms to her sides and spun around. Shrugging out of his wet coat, he marched forward before he changed his mind.
When he picked up the telephone earpiece, she asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m calling your father.”
“He’s not home,” she said.
“I know,” Scooter said, “I saw him at the Plantation before I left.” He gave the crank a whirl to connect to the operator.
A boom rattled the window. “Hang that up,” she insisted. “You could get struck by lightning. Everyone knows that.”
That did happen often enough, yet he turned to face her. “I’ll take my chances.”
“Ducky,” she said smartly, “water’s a conductor of electricity. Lightning is electricity and attracted to the high poles. You’re dripping on the floor with the phone in your hand.”
Scooter spun to talk into the mouthpiece, waiting for the operator. “Come on,” he muttered.
“The operator’s not going to answer,” Josie said. “They have an iota of common sense.”
A snap and crackle in the phone line sent a shiver through his body. Scooter slapped the receiver into its holder and unbuttoned his shirt, ripping off the wet material covering his tingling skin. He dropped the shirt to the floor as he backed away from the phone.
Footsteps made him whirl around. “Where are you going?”
“Home,” Josie said.
“Yes, home.” She lifted her chin. “I thought maybe we could talk, but I see the only person you ever want to talk to is my father.”
He caught her arm before she opened the door to the mechanic’s bay. “How’d you get here?”
Nose forward, not glancing his way, she said, “I walked.”
He twisted her around to face him. “Why?”
“Because I felt like going for a walk,” she snapped.
Hope was once again blooming inside him. “To here, so we could talk?”
“Yes, but I’ve changed my mind.”
Her tone was sharp, but tears glistened in her eyes. Regardless of all that had happened, or perhaps because of it, his heart was spilling out all the love he’d worked so hard to keep concealed. His fingers slipped down her arm and then folded around her hand. Pulling her closer, he wrapped his other arm around her. “Come here,” he whispered.
As the warmth of her cheek came to rest on his bare chest, she sniffled softly.
The tingle beneath his skin had nothing to do with the phone or the lightning. Ignoring it, he gently rubbed her back. “I’m glad you’re here. I’ve wanted to talk to you, too. I need to apologize.”
She sighed heavily. “For telling my father everything?”
“No.” Resting his chin on the top of her head, he added, “I had to do that, Josie, and I’m not sorry.” Increasing the intensity of his hold, he added, “Francine’s last henchman was arrested this morning. They found him under a pier near her warehouse.”