She relaxed. Cal Dugan, Phil's first mate. No threat here. She had known and liked Cal since she was sixteen. He must have moored his boat at the pier on the other side of the house, where she couldn't see it. She swam toward the lanai. "Why didn't you call me? And why the devil didn't you put the net back up? If a shark had gotten to Pete or Susie, I'd have strangled you."
"I was going to go back and do it," he said defensively. "Nah, I was going to persuade you to do it. I'd have to know Braille to be able to hook it up in the dark."
"That's not good enough. It only takes a minute to pose a threat to the dolphins. You're just lucky it didn't happen."
"How do you know a shark didn't get in?"
"Pete would have told me."
"Oh, yeah. Pete." He dropped a bath towel on the lanai and turned his back. "Tell me when I can turn around. I guess you haven't taken to wearing a swimsuit?"
"Why should I? There's no one to see me but Pete and Susie." She hoisted herself onto the tiles and wrapped the large towel around her. "And uninvited guests."
"Don't be rude. Phil invited me."
"Turn around. When's he coming? Tomorrow?"
He turned around. "Not likely."
"He's not in Tobago?"
"He was setting sail for Athens when he sent me here."
"He told me to hop on a plane out of Genoa and come and give you this." He handed her a large manila envelope. "And to wait here for him."
"Wait for him? He'll need you there. He can't do without you, Cal."
"That's what I told him." He shrugged. "He told me to come to you."
She glanced down at the envelope. "I can't see out here. Let's go inside where there's light." She tightened the towel around her. "Make yourself some coffee while I take a look at this."
He flinched. "Will you tell those dolphins I'm not going to hurt you and to stop screeching?"
She'd barely been aware they were still beside the lanai. "Go away, guys. It's okay."
Pete and Susie disappeared beneath the water.
"I'll be damned," Cal said. "They do understand you."
"Yes." Her tone was abstracted as she went into the cottage. "Genoa? What's Phil been up to?"
"Search me. A few months ago he dropped me and the rest of the crew off in Las Palmas and told us we were on vacation for three months. He hired some temporary help to sail the Last Home and took off."
He shrugged. "He wouldn't say. Big secret. It wasn't like Phil at all. It was like that time he went off with you. But this was different. He was on edge and he wouldn't say anything when he came back and picked us up." He grimaced. "It's not as if we haven't been with him for the last fifteen years. We have shared a hell of a lot together. I was there when he brought up the Spanish galleon, and Terry and Gary signed on a year later. It kind of . . . hurt."
"You know when he becomes focused on something he can't see anything else." But she had seldom known him to close out his crew. They were as close to family as Phil would permit near him. Closer than he would let her come.
But that was probably her fault. She found it difficult to be openly affectionate with Phil. She had always been the protector in a relationship that had sometimes been both volatile and stormy. She was often impatient and frustrated with his almost childlike single-mindedness. But they were a team, they fulfilled each other's needs, and she did like him.
She glanced at Cal to find him gazing awkwardly at her. "Would you mind putting on some clothes? You're one gorgeous woman, and even though I may be old enough to be your father, it doesn't mean I don't have the usual responses."
Excerpted from Fatal Tide by Iris Johansen Copyright© 2003 by Iris Johansen. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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