With Tim’s lips still on mine, my mind went blank-except for the shear pleasure of the tingling feeling sailing throughout my body.
Slowly he pulled back and looked at me. Not as a Fed though. Nope. More like a man. A man who seemed…interested.
I thought he might apologize for the kiss, but instead he just smiled, and I think mumbled the word “nice.” I couldn’t help but sigh, and then said, “I hope that’s not the way you question all your possible witnesses.”
He chuckled. “No. It isn’t.”
I was glad he didn’t use some clich'ed line like, Only the pretty young ones. “Good. Because I was starting to have visions of you and Stella…never mind.”
He laughed and took my arm. “You really that tired, or would you like to get a coffee?”
If I admitted I wasn’t tired, he’d know I was blowing off Hunter. Then again, who cared? “Coffee sounds like too much caffeine, but decaf tea would hit the spot.”
He shook his head slightly and smiled. Then he led me toward the elevator and pressed the DOWN button.
Jagger popped into my thoughts, doing his head-shaking thing, but it wasn’t the same-at least that’s what I told myself. How could I compare the good-looking but clean-cut, shorthaired Tim with the dark, dangerous, delicious Jagger?
I couldn’t or shouldn’t, so I decided I wouldn’t.
On the elevator, Tim kept holding onto my arm and it felt nice. If I were in the habit of doing one-night stands, like some of my friends, this would be an opportune moment.
But I was Pauline Sokol, good Catholic girl whose conscience would have her mumbling incoherently if she did something so out of character.
Still, the kiss was wonderful.
Tim leaned over and kissed me on the cheek this time. When we were nearly at the bottom floor, I looked out the window and dreamily said, “Ha. There goes another Remy look-alike in one of those dumb salmon tee shirts.”
I guess an FBI agent is never really off duty. He pulled back, looked out the window, and said, “Shit!”
When the door opened, Tim was out before me in the proverbial flash and running across the lobby. I stood in shock for a few seconds and then headed after him.
It really was Remy!
Had to be.
I took in a deep breath and was glad I’d been a jogger for the last thirteen years. Before I knew it, I was running through the doors after Tim, and the clatter of footsteps on the metal stairs sounded ahead. A door opened and shut below.
Tim cursed and jumped over the railing, just making it to the staircase below before he fell to the bottom deck. Yikes! He was through the door before I made it down. When I opened it, I saw him at the end of the hallway, which led out to one of the lower decks.
“Tim!” I shouted, but when he turned to answer, I watched a lounge chair come flying through the air-and smack into the back of his head. I screamed and ran faster as I watched him fall to the ground.
He was out cold. I grabbed my linen handkerchief from my purse and put pressure on the wound. It wasn’t too big, only a small gash, but damn head injuries bled a lot worse then they were. Hopefully he didn’t have any brain trauma. “Tim. Tim!”
He opened his eyes. “What the hell?”
“Good. You’re alive.”
“Is that what you’d call this?”
I took his hand and placed it on the handkerchief. “Hold this really tightly. I’ll call for help.” I hurried to a phone on the wall, called the infirmary and told Rico where we were. “You all right?” I asked, hurrying back.
“I’ll live,” Tim mumbled.
“Good. Stay here.”
I ran ahead and around the curve of the deck-then froze when I heard a splash. I looked over the railing; Remy was in one of the lifeboats, pulling the starter on the motor and then sailing off.
Foolishly, I shouted to stop.
He looked at me and gave me a third-finger salute.
When I got back to Tim, I knelt down beside him and pressed my hand on his. “I got it now.”
He looked at me. “Where’d he go?”
As Rico and two other crewmembers came rushing over to us, I shut my eyes for a second and whispered, “You don’t want to know.”
After Tim was stitched up and told me for the hundredth time that it wasn’t my fault that I had called his name, making him turn around, I walked him to his cabin, where he promised to stay put until morning. I still think he blamed me though, but he didn’t act like it. He was that good of a liar.
The other agent was called and instructed to keep waking Tim through the night to make sure he didn’t have a concussion and remained coherent.
On the way to his cabin, I told him about the lifeboat, and we realized that Remy, being a longtime crewmember, knew how to get it down and use it.
I also thought that now I was much safer onboard, but didn’t voice that tidbit to Tim.
Probably he still thought that I never saw Remy.
Inside Tim’s cabin, which, by the way, was huge, with a balcony and two rooms (courtesy of the taxpayers?), I helped him to the couch near the windows. “Can I get you something?”
He shook his head and then said, “Damn it!”
“I don’t recommend shaking. Doc Pete will have a look at those stitches tomorrow and make sure your brain wasn’t involved.”
He looked at me.
I raised my hands in the air. “No comment. I’m certainly not going to tease you after you’ve been injured with some low-blow brain joke.” I sat next to him and asked, “You think Remy is headed for Bermuda?”
“We’re set to dock there by morning. So, I’m sure he is. My partner sent word ahead to the authorities to be on the lookout for him.” He leaned back and sighed. “We’ll get him.”
I was dying-no pun intended-to find out if Tim was convinced that Remy was the killer. But he looked rather worn and even a bit pale. I took his pulse, out of habit, despite his protests and led him to his bed. He slipped out of his suit jacket, shirt and slacks while I turned around, and I tucked him in.
When I noticed his reflection in the mirror opposite the bed, I couldn’t help but bite my lip to keep from swooning. The guy was built like a brick wall and had tattoos on both upper arms. From here I couldn’t see what they said, but one was clearly a sun design. Neat. They really looked neat and sexy. Who would have thought Pauline Sokol would go for a guy with tattoos?
Come to think of it, Jagger had to have one or two somewhere on his body-I’d just bet he did.
And promised myself that some day, I’d have my answer.
Once back in my cabin, I sat on the edge of my bed and thought about tonight. Betty had the night shift, so the place was all mine-and that meant no snoring with a British accent. I did feel horrible about Tim getting injured though. Not to mention the fact that Remy got away.
The only positive thing was, he was running like a guilty man, which made all our work and Tim’s head injury all worth it.
I got up, headed to the bathroom to change and was soon snuggled in my bed. When morning came, we’d be docking in Bermuda-and I’d never been out of the United States.
I couldn’t wait!
Warmth touched my face, causing my eyelids to flutter. I rolled over, grabbed my pillow and said, “I’m not going to school today, Mom.”
Had I said that out loud? Ha! After a few seconds, I started to chuckle. Then I felt around my empty bed with my hand and suddenly missed my darling Spanky. He was always good for a hug or a laugh-what a canine sense of humor he had-and I could talk to him about anything.
Not that he gave a damn about what I said, but that unconditional-love thing always kicked in.
With thoughts of Spanky stuck back in my mind, I realized there was no movement. Not that I’d felt the ship much-thank goodness. But we must have stopped.
I flung myself up on my knees and looked out the porthole.
Across the street, and I do mean the ship had pulled into the dock like a car parking along the sidewalk, was row upon row of shops. Colorful, typical Bermuda-from the tourist brochures I’d read-shops. Bright pinks, beiges, yellows and even blue buildings. The Harborfront Restaurant. A perfume shop. A jewelry store. Several clothing boutiques and even an Irish linen shop. How neat!
I couldn’t contain my excitement as I jumped up and pushed the porthole open more. With just about sticking my head out, I could see gigantic ropes holding the ship in place. Reminded me of a doggie chain holding the monster of the sea from escaping. And the small cars were driving on the wrong side of the road! Well, I told myself, for Bermudans it was the correct side, but it sure looked odd to a New Englander.
With a laugh, I got up, danced around my cabin and then pulled clothing out of my drawers and closet. Thank goodness Kris had let me have the first day in port off and took my shift.
After all, the rest of the medical crew had been here a gazillion times. Feeling very much the newbie, I donned my white shorts-Bermuda length-and a dark pink sleeveless top, and grabbed my Steelers visor and sunglasses. First I lathered my face, arms, legs and neck with heavy-duty sunblock. As much as I’d love a nice tan, I wasn’t a fool. My European ancestors had blessed me with skin as fair as ivory and hair as light as sunshine-without added chemicals.
Soon I was on my way to breakfast with the crew. I hoped I’d see my parents sometime today. I figured I’d more than likely run into them and Goldie and Miles, since Bermuda was not a gigantic island-and besides, passengers had to stay on the part of the island where the ships docked.
Rico was eating near the doorway with a few of the other guys. All wore the stupid salmon shirts.
“Hey, amore, how’s it hanging?” he asked, then laughed.
I rolled my eyes and chuckled. “Let me get my food and I’ll join you.”
He pushed an empty chair forward. “No problem, but I think your buddy would rather you joined him.” He pointed a finger toward the other side of the room.
Tim Harwinton sat there sipping coffee and reading something.
I wanted to shout that he wasn’t my buddy, but I actually felt some kind of attachment to him. You know, in a friendship kind of way. After all, we were both investigators of sorts. “Let me go see if he’s all right.”
“Doc Pete checked him out this morning. One hundred percent cured. No problems.”
“Great news, Rico.”
He nodded and took a bite of his toast. One of the crewmembers at the table gave me a dirty look, as if I should leave Rico alone. Glad that Rico had someone interested in him, I smiled inside. Despite my earlier little talk with myself that I didn’t need a man, maybe I did want one.
It would be nice to have someone to share a laugh with, a stroll along the beach-and maybe a few other things.
“Hey. How do you feel today?” I pulled the chair out and started to sit across from Tim and then stopped. “Oh. Do you mind? Am I interrupting?”
He looked up. “No, and no.” He motioned for me to sit. “And my head is fine. The doc checked me out.”
“So Rico said.” For a few seconds, I felt foolish sitting there with not even a drink while he kept his nose in his paper. I lifted my head enough to see it was a map.
I guessed of Bermuda.
Obviously Tim was never off duty when on a case like this. “That Bermuda?”
He nodded. “Ouch.”
“You can’t shake your head after being injured like that. So, you are looking at a map of Bermuda to find your way around?”
Tim looked up.
Duh. I felt so stupid. “What I meant was-”
He leaned forward. “I know what you meant, Pauline.” He touched my hand.
Yikes! He knew I meant to make small talk since I was a bit nervous around him? Of course, Pauline, he’s the damn FBI! They know everything-or at least give the impression that they do.
“Don’t let last night interfere,” he said.
Last night? Did he mean the injury? Chasing Remy? Or…the kiss?
“I…do you want some more coffee?” I got up way too fast and knocked his cup over and what little he had left. “Sorry!” I grabbed several napkins and started to wipe the table, his hand, and the damn map, now a soggy mess. “Oh, shit. Look at your map.”
He looked at it, looked at me and pointed to his head. “It’s all in here. Don’t worry.” He got up. “I’ll take a rain check on that coffee. I’m meeting someone and can’t be late.” He leaned over and took my hand.
Geez. I felt some kind of heat in his skin. Wow.
“You be careful. I don’t want you walking around alone.” He gave me the once-over.
I was glad I had chosen an outfit that didn’t make me look frumpy.
“By the looks of you, you’re heading off the ship. Do not go alone. Stay with some friends, Pauline. Remy is out there, and we’ll be picking him up.”
Did I say frumpy? I felt like Joe Tourist. When I looked at my arm, a streak of sunblock hadn’t soaked in yet.
Now I was glad that Tim had to hurry off.
I gathered up my tan woven shopping bag, my sunglasses and my hat, and then started toward the elevator that went down to the main lobby where the passengers disembarked. I got into the elevator and went to push number three, but stopped.
Damn Tim’s words were so loud in my head that I actually looked around the elevator to answer him back. Instead, I poked the DOWN button to go back to my room. I’d see if Betty wanted to walk around with me. We only had half the day here in Bermuda, and I hated to waste time.
Our room was empty when I got there, so I called Goldie and Miles’s room, certain they’d taken off as soon as we’d docked. I mean duty-free shopping! No answer. I flopped on the bed and tried to talk myself out of calling my parents. For a while, nothing convinced me-other than not wanting to ruin my first trip out of the country-but then I realized I didn’t want to put them in harm’s way. Yes! That was thoughtful, logical and gave me the creeps thinking that Remy was out there and maybe after Pauline Sokol.
I wondered if he would recognize me and if he knew I’d been following him around with Tim. He had to have guessed Tim was FBI by now. Maybe Remy thought I was too.
I grabbed my bag, looked out the porthole and sighed. I had to get out into the swing of things fast. Staying in public places would keep me safe. After all, I had my pepper-spray necklace and a few tricks up my sleeve that involved the self-defense moves Jagger’d taught me on another case.
I was set for the day.
As I made my way up to the main lobby to get off the ship, I looked around at the opulent golds, purples and whites. The place looked like a ghost ship. I figured everyone was out shopping or sightseeing.
I headed to the corridor that led to the gangplank. Smiling at a crewmember stationed there, I asked, “Any recommendations for a good meal?”
“The Harborfront has fresh seafood, a sushi and tempura bar too. Very good.” She then introduced herself as Judy Mik.
She had the same British accent as Betty. I looked out the door to see that at the end of the gangplank there was a pink-and-white balcony of sorts. I figured I’d have to pass through the Customs building to get cleared to enter Bermuda.
In the parking lot below were tiny cars (compared to the SUVs that I was used to seeing in New England) and rows of mopeds. Little motorcycles. Maybe I’d rent one and ride around the island.
“Have a wonderful day,” Judy said.
I waved to her, walked down the plank and stopped to look around. The air temperature was perfect. Somewhere in the seventies with a sea breeze, I guessed. A faint salty scent filled the air, horns honked on Front Street below and people chatted while sitting on the pink walls of the balcony ahead.
I turned to see how the mighty Golden Dolphin looked from this angle-and gasped.
Directly above my head hung the red-and-white lifeboats, all lined up in a nautical row-with one gaping hole.
From the one Remy had stolen to come to this island.