On the porch the night was steamy, heavy with the scent of confederate jasmine that hung thick form the trellis next to the porch. Natalie swept a piece of hair from her forehead. Not a breath of air blew in off the bay. She thought to fetch a couple of electric fans from the pantry when Victor's Camaro shot into the driveway like a silver bullet. He jumped from the car and bounded up the stairs carrying a bottle of wine.
"A gift from my uncle," he said, handing the bottle to Natalie. It's a dry Riesling, wonderful with dessert."
"Hardly a replacement for his company," Natalie said. The disappointment in her voice startled her. "But thank you," she added.
"He sends his regrets," Victor said. "He's with the chief." Then Victor turned to face them all. "The search begins tomorrow!"
A small gasp escaped Becca's lips. She covered her mouth.
Victor rushed on to explain that the Sea Booty had left Jamaica at noon and was expected to hit Egmont Key around midnight tomorrow.
Natalie felt the wine bottle go heavy in her hands. She'd never expected the search to take place. She figured Daniel would turn up dead or alive before it was launched.
Becca gripped Victor's forearm. "My grandfather—is he on the boat?"
Victor covered Becca's hand with his own. "We can't be sure." He gazed down at her, cool in his seersucker jacket and navy pants. The heat hadn't hit him—yet. What had hit him was the sight of Becca, her braided hair, the glittering bodice, and the dewy moisture between her breasts. He took a half step back as if to regain his balance. Natalie sighed. She wasn't the only one who had recognized the change in Becca.
In the pantry, Natalie scanned the shelves for Daniel's black leather ice bucket. She wanted to chill the wine. Instead, she spotted two small fans. She pulled them down and dusted them off with an apron that hung over the stepstool. Then she sat on the stool to collect her thoughts. Her heart had been racing for days. With so much trouble running amok in her brain, the sight of Becca in her sparkly dress thrilled her. She was certain Victor had seen it, too. His eyes drank Becca in, and his yearning for her was clear. Natalie clutched her hands in her lap. She needed to tell him to hurry, but to what? To kiss her? Yes! Before Adam had a chance to call her and beg her to join him in Canada.