A few steps from the French doors he heard the high whine of a motor. Zack whipped around and searched the ocean beyond. There were no lights, but the motor sound was unmistakable. What kind of an idiot would be out on the water with no lights on and in what sounded like a small boat?
Zack raced past his pool and gardens, and took the steps to the beach two at a time. He could just make out a small boat, hurtling through the water. He didn’t even have time to be angry someone was invading his sanctuary as he saw the angle they were coming at. “No, not that way!” he yelled, though they couldn’t possibly hear him.
Zack sprinted through the sand and onto his dock. He kept one eye on the boat as he ran the length of the dock, waving his arms and yelling, “Turn! Turn!” Large boulders and a former shipwreck resided just under the water, exactly where that boat was heading. Any other angle into the harbor was deep and safe to take even in his yacht, but this idiot was coming straight for the shallow waters of the dock instead. Why weren’t they slowing even though they were within a hundred feet of the dock?
“Stop!” he screamed. “Turn!”
The sickening crunch was louder than the howling wind and rain. The rear of the boat flung into the air, and the lone passenger flew forward then disappeared into the water. Zack dove off the dock, surfacing quickly, and using strong strokes to cross the distance. Water from the uneven waves splashed into his face, making it hard to see. The person bobbed up out of the water and started swimming his direction. That was a relief. From the hair streaming around her, he assumed it was a woman.
They came within a few feet of each other and Zack slowed and treaded water. “Are you okay?”
“I-I think so.”
“Can you make it to the dock?” His lights reflecting from the beach showed a mop of dark hair and a beautiful face.
In answer, she started slowly swimming that direction, but she hadn’t gone four strokes before she swayed and rolled over onto her back. That’s when Zack noticed the cut on her head. The water turned the blood a watery pink. She’d definitely hit her head on one of the rocks or maybe the old shipwreck.
“You’re not okay.”
“I can make it.” She started to kick. A wave rolled over her face and she jerked up, coughing and spluttering, but bravely kept trying to stay afloat, beating at the water with her arms and legs.
She was tough and not a complainer. Nice.
“I’ve got you.” Zack looped his arm under her armpit and over her chest and tugged her back to the dock. She had a small build, but her clothes must’ve been waterlogged because she seemed to weigh a ton. Zack was in shape, but he tired quickly. Finally, they made it to the dock and the woman clung to the edge. Zack grabbed hold and heaved himself out of the water then helped lift her up. She collapsed onto her back and released a loud breath. “Oh, thank you, I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with Saint Peter.”
“Saint Peter?” She’d hit her head hard or she was crazy. He looked over her fancy, waterlogged dress and the diamonds sparkling at her throat. She’d been out in the ocean like that, without a lifejacket? Crazy it might be, or with quite a good story to tell.
“You know—the angel at the pearly gates.”
Zack let out a surprised laugh. “Glad you put that off for a little while.”
“Me too.” She sat up and touched the small gash in her head. Blood trickled between her fingertips. “Ouch.”
“I bet.” Zack pushed his way to his feet and offered her a hand. The wind whipped his wet t-shirt around him. He was glad he shaved his head and didn’t have hair whipping in his face like she did. “Let’s get you up to the house and cleaned up.”
She placed her hand in his, but wavered as he helped her up. Zack wrapped his other arm around her waist and lifted her onto her feet. She swayed.
“Can you walk?”
Her eyes filled with stubborn pride. “Of course I can walk.”
She pulled away from him, took one step, teetered off the dock, and splashed back into the water.
“Oh, boy.” Zack shook his head. He hadn’t smelled alcohol on her breath, but that had to be the explanation. Fancy dress, alone on a boat in the ocean at night. He’d have to help her tonight then load her onto his yacht tomorrow and get her to Belize. If she had any money it was probably sunk with her little boat. He’d get her to where she needed to go and be done with this mess. Oddly enough, he didn’t mind the excitement. It was a good contrast to his normally sedate lifestyle.
She came up to the surface sputtering and flailing. Zack knelt down, put his hands under her armpits, and hefted her back onto the dock. He stood slowly, supporting both of them then swung her off her feet and into his arms. Despite himself, he noticed how nicely she fit against him. It had been a long while since he’d been around an attractive, unrelated woman. “Shall we try this again?”
“Good plan.” Her voice rumbled against his chest and he kind of liked it. “I must’ve thumped my head harder than I thought.”
“Or something,” he muttered.
Her head whipped up. Brown eyes full of fire. “I’m not drunk, if that’s what you’re thinking, I’m…” She quickly looked down again, not meeting his gaze.
“You’re…” he encouraged. He’d like to hear her story and he did believe her that she wasn’t drunk. Her speech was too lucid and her breath smelled too clean.
“I can’t. I don’t know who to trust.” She grabbed onto his arm. “Oh, holy monkey balls!”
Zack jerked in surprise and almost dropped her as she squirmed in his arms. “What are you doing now? You want to fall in the water again?” They’d reached the end of the dock, but she could still fall in the shallow water.
“I’ve got to find something. Please. Can you help me look in the water? Back where my boat is?” Her eyes were wide and frantic.
“Right now?” Zack gestured to the waves building as the storm increased in intensity. “No! You’re hurt. It’s dark. And there’s a storm.” His four-year-old niece had more common sense than this woman, and Chalise hadn’t spoken a word in two years.
The woman deflated and burrowed herself into his arms. Zack liked this quite a bit better than her struggling. He tightened his hold on her. Hmm, her shape was really… shapely.