Authors: Teresa Reasor
Sensing movement behind her, she turned to find Quinn standing in the doorway. “You’ll catch a chill walking about in that getup,” he said by way of greeting
Striding close, he draped a man’s cardigan sweater over her shoulders. The garment felt warm, as though he had been wearing it. A melting sensation of need settled low in her belly. Her voice sounded husky as she murmured a word of thanks.
“What is he doing?” She pointed toward the dam then shrugged into the sweater, juggling the apple from hand to hand. She pushed the sleeves back to her elbows to keep it from falling over her hands.
“That’s one of the engineers. There was a great deal of lightning last night and this morning. He’s checking the soundness of the dam.”
“I don’t believe I’d want that job.”
“Aye, me either.” The heavy curls that rested against his forehead flipped back as a breeze whipped over the deck. In the morning sun his green eyes appeared more hazel than green. His thick brows slashed along the brow ridge above them. She had felt the bold shape of his chin within her hands and felt his whiskers, rough as sandpaper against her skin. Regan closed her eyes—It wasn’t him, she reminded herself.
Suddenly aware of the silence her eyes snapped open. “The pumps have been turned off.”
“Aye,” Quinn said frowning, but made no comment. “There’ll be scones and porridge for breakfast.”
Regan took a bite of the apple. His attention focused on her mouth as her tongue whipped out to capture the drops of juice that threatened to run down her chin. Self-conscious of the way she looked with her unruly hair, his sweater, baggy thermal underwear, and now a sticky chin, she wiped her mouth with the cuff of her shirt.
He ran a discerning eye over her, his gaze lingering on the scooped neckline of the thermal shirt that gaped over her breasts.
For a moment, she remembered the touch of his alter ego’s hand cupping her breast. Her nipples hardened beneath the fabric in response.
It had been a dream. She didn’t need to confuse this man with the other. She didn’t need to be attracted to this bossy, chauvinist Scotsman. Didn’t want to be. She would be asking for trouble.
“What did it feel like?” he asked.
Her face heated with equal parts surprise and embarrassment.
“When you were trapped at the stones, what did it feel like?”
For once she didn’t have to lie. “Like being frozen in a dream.”
“We lost our da and mum on just such a dive. You came very close.”
His sudden openness surprised her. “I know.”
“You might want to think about how your mum and da would feel should something happen to you.”
Resentment tightened her jaw but his serious expression kept her from snapping at him. “I already did—the whole way up.”
He nodded and his expression softened somewhat. “Where in the states are you from?”
“I’m originally from Kentucky, but I’m studying for my degree at Florida State University.”
He brushed a hand down her bare forearm, and the physical touch had her skin tingling. “I imagine you’re fair hollow by now, since you missed dinner last night. Come in out of the cold and eat a bite. When the others wake, I’ll take you ashore.”
“This will tide me over until I return to my bungalow,” she said, holding up the apple.
“Suit yourself. Tea’s brewing,” he said.
She studied his broad back as he walked away. One moment he was eyeing her as if he’d like to take a bite. The next dismissing her. If he fancied himself a bull-headed Scotsman like those written about in fiction or played in the movies, he was doing a good impersonation.
As they entered the passageway just outside the galley, a beeping sound erupted at the same time the buzzing of a timer went off in the kitchen. “Get the scones out of the oven, will you?” Quinn strode further down the corridor and disappeared into a cabin. Shaking her head at his bossiness, Regan continued on into the galley.
“Jesus Christ—” Quinn murmured as he entered the radio room of the ship. He drew a deep breath in an attempt to ease the heavy beat of his heart. His skin felt tight, his face flushed, and his cock painfully stiff. What the sodding hell was he going to do about this Regan woman? The beeping alarm offered him a distraction from his response to her.
Six computer monitors were mounted on the wall above a counter cluttered with electronic devices. The dark screens reflected his image as he flipped the alarm off and reached to depress the radio mic button to identify himself.
Site foreman Fergus Fraser’s voice came over the unit. “There have been several lightning strikes on the site, Quinn. We need a quick look at the cofferdam to make sure ‘tis still sound. And the pumps are down. Could you check them and see what the problem is?”
The comment he had made to Regan had come back to bite him. He pushed the button down. “All of them?”
“Aye, all of them. It must have been an interesting storm this morning.”
“Aye, it was.” He paused. “I’ll be sending Rob and Logan to check the dam while I see to the pumps. One of your archeology students decided to dive to the stones yesterday and had a wee spot of trouble. I had to retrieve her and it hasn’t been twenty-four hours since my dive.”
“Is she all right?” Quinn heard tension in Fraser’s tone.
“Aye. She’s fine. Just a bit tired and sore from the way she’s moving this morning.”
“Perhaps that will be lesson enough, eh?”
Quinn gave a wry grimace. He doubted it. “We can hope.”
“I don’t know how wise it was to bring these students here. They’re the cream of the crop and thus extremely competitive. I suppose we may have more than this one incident before the whole thing is over,” Fraser commented.
“I’ve told her that all dives are approved through me. If they have to slip around to take a dip, maybe ‘twill act as a deterrent,” Quinn said.
“If you truly believed that, there’d be more conviction in your tone.” Fraser attempted a bit of levity. “Make it ASAP, Quinn. We’ve got a couple of geese trapped in the mud here as well. We’ll attempt to rescue them before we have any local officials breathing down our neck charging us with animal cruelty or defiling the environment.”
From the stress in the foreman’s tone, Quinn could tell the problems were mounting. “You can hurry things along by calling Logan and the others at the bungalows. They stayed ashore last night. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
“Aye, I’ll do it,” Fraser said and signed off.
Thirty minutes later, Quinn and Rob checked the harnesses and regulators of the eight sets of double tanks.
“No problems here,” Rob said and wandered over to stand with Regan and Henry as they leaned back against the starboard railing side-by-side. Even dressed in her dry suit, the lass looked fragile between the two tall men. Once again, Quinn experienced a protective urge. He had gotten up several times in the night to check on her, each time contending with a deep sense of anxiety and curiosity. He didn’t believe in second sight or premonitions, but the thought of her diving again had worry clenching like a fist beneath his ribs. It was none of his business, but he couldn’t seem to shake it.
Rob rubbed his beard-stubbled jaw as he listened to something Regan was saying. He laughed and made a reply pointing at the picture of the rock band on the front of his t-shirt. He pulled the upper part of his dry suit up and slid his arms into the sleeves.
Quinn had never known his brother to be conversational in the mornings. In fact, he had a reputation for being taciturn as hell when first awakened. He seemed content enough to spend time with Regan, though. Irritation worked tension up between Quinn’s shoulder blades. Rob should be doing the pre-dive check of his equipment, not jawing. He approached the three of them.
“’Twould do no harm to check the rest of your equipment before Logan gets here,” Quinn suggested.
“Aye, I’ll do it,” Rob said. He glanced downstream as the sound of boat motors cut across the loch.
Two silver and red skiffs curved parallel to the shoreline. One boat broke off and headed for the dock, the other turned toward
His brother, Logan, flashed them a smile as he cut back power on the motor and guided the boat up against the side of the ship. “You missed out on a boss card game last night, Quinn. I won a start on that motorbike I fancy.”
Rob caught the line Logan tossed him and tied off the smaller vessel.
“You’ve lost enough to buy two motorbikes since we’ve been here. ‘Twould seem smarter to put your money in the bank and save it.” Quinn lifted up and swung open a section of the bulkhead and fitted a lightweight aluminum ladder into the slots in the deck.
“But it wouldn’t be near as much fun,” Logan said.
Henry, Regan, and Rob brought him the tanks to load. Logan’s attention homed in on Regan and he offered her a smile.
Quinn quashed the twinge of irritation he felt at the look of interest on his brother’s face. His tone brusque, he introduced Logan to first Regan, then Henry. With the five of them working together, the boat was loaded quickly.
Quinn turned to find Regan gathering her gear and the empty tanks. “Leave the tanks and I’ll refill them.”
Ink black brows drew together in a frown over her pale blue eyes. Her heart-shaped face had an exotic look enhanced by high cheekbones and wing like brows. The generous curve of her bottom lip thinned as her expression grew stubborn.
There was no sense in beating about the brambles. “You can’t use empty tanks, and there’s nowhere else to get them filled within a hundred miles.”
“I suppose you’ve reported my dive to someone.”
“Aye, I have.”
Her jaw tightened. “You know as well as I do that narcosis can happen to anyone, even you. Should you use this as an excuse to keep me from doing what I came here to do, there’s going to be trouble.”
Quinn raised one thick dark brow and studied the set line of her jaw. Aye, he’d had experience with her kind before. Putting their career before anything else. Resentment flashed through him with the intensity of a welding torch. “You dive without my permission, and I’ll drive you to Inverness m’self and put you on the plane for home.”
“If you try to penalize me for this
I’ll go around, over, or through you.” Regan took a step toward him and shoved the air tanks at him so he had no choice but to grasp them. “I won’t stand by while you screw up this opportunity for me.”
Anger sent a surge of heat into Quinn’s face. He’d managed to find another one. Another driven woman. She’d slice and dice her way to the top just as—She just didn’t get it. “Should you do anything as sodding irresponsible as dive to the stones again, ’twill be your own stupidity to blame, not me.”
Rob stepped between them. “Now you both know where the other stands, you can argue about this later. We have a job to do.”
Quinn bit back the urge to tell his brother to sod off and struggled to rein in his anger. She’d almost died yesterday, and she was still ready to go right back over the side. And for what? Her career. “There’ll not be any more arguing about the matter. ‘Tis settled.”
Henry dropped his tanks onto the deck, drawing Quinn’s attention. The lanky student threw up one hand in a signal of surrender, the other holding his weight belt, buoyancy vest, flippers, and facemask. “Whatever you say, man. I’ll drive the boat Regan and I used yesterday to shore.” Giving Quinn a wide berth, he went out on the diving platform to draw the tethered aluminum boat close enough to climb in.
Rob flashed his brother a questioning frown and Quinn shook his head. Hell, he didn’t know what was going on. Every time he looked at the lass, he felt twisted up inside. He wanted to shake her, kiss her, shout at her, shag her—and everything in between. Why was he experiencing this overwhelming sense of familiarity mixed up with the anger she was so quick to trigger? And how the hell had he dreamed about her and never once set eyes on her?
For the first time in his life, he felt out of control, off balance, and he damn sure didn’t like it. Somehow she had gotten closer than he liked, and they hadn’t even had a complete conversation. It would be a relief to drop her ashore and be about his business.
As they neared the dock, Fergus Fraser wove through the small group of divers waiting for them. His thin face, with its wide generous mouth and aquiline nose, wore an expression of worry. He shoved his glasses up against the bridge of his nose in a nervous gesture. “The generator that runs the flood lights has been hit as well,” he said by way of greeting, as two of the divers tied off the boat. “Every piece of petrol driven machinery save the truck has been struck.”
Shocked, Quinn stared at him. “All of them?”
“Aye, all of them.”
Regan padded up the path, the boots of her dry suit providing only a thin barrier against the gravel beneath her feet. She stepped off the walkway onto the grass. Glancing down at the site, she paused as Quinn and Fergus Fraser climbed the ladder to the top of the cofferdam. The watertight structure, constructed of two parallel walls of blue steel piles hammered into the ground and filled with concrete, dirt, and sand, towered over the site.
Quinn had told her he didn’t want to check the structure, but there he was atop it. Anxiety knotted her stomach as the two men walked across the bed of sand that insulated the dam.
“Have you ever thought about taking a course in winning friends and influencing people, Regan?” Henry asked from beside her.
“No.” She didn’t need him giving her a hard time about her argument with Quinn. She looked up to find Henry’s eyes narrowed and his lips turned down in a pout. His permanent case of bed-hair made it difficult for her to take anything he said seriously, but something in his expression made her defensive. “I didn’t mess up, Henry.”
“I believe you. But if you’re not careful, you could screw things up for the rest of us. Sometimes that hard-assed, take no prisoners drive you’ve got can be more a hindrance than a help. If you make too many waves, we may all find ourselves on a plane bound for home.”