Blake Atherton is on his way to south Florida to take pictures of the beach, and other sights, for book covers. He and his friend own a business making covers, which they also pose for. He witnesses an accident and accompanies one of the victims, a young woman, to the hospital, where he meets Dr. Grace Healey. Taking a shine to Grace, he asks her to show him around. Their first stop is the national park on the island.
There was a canoe ride, taking people through the channel islands, and we decided that looked like fun. We got into one canoe with a pretty blonde woman paddling. She was dressed in a ranger uniform with a silver pin that said: Q. Bazan.
"I'm Quinn," she said, grinning.
"I'm Blake. This is Grace." I held my lady's elbow as she got in the canoe. She was a little unsteady.
"I never lived up to my name," she said as she awkwardly took her seat on the bench. "In fact, I've managed to go completely the other direction."
"Maybe I shouldn't have suggested this," I replied. "If I'm gonna lose you in the river. That'd suck, cause I'd get all wet jumping in after you. I'll mess up my hair."
That earned me an elbow to the gut and a poke with a paddle from behind.
"Hey, I said I'd jump in," I pretended to pout. "I'm a very good swimmer," I muttered. "A very, very good swimmer."
"Okay, Rain Man," Quinn giggled.
"Maybe I should hold onto you so you won't fall." I put my arms around Grace from behind. "Who needs a seat belt when you've got me."
"Sexiest seat belt I've ever had," she agreed.
I felt her relax against me. I'd read it right, she had been a little nervous on the water. That she did this for me, I appreciated more than I could tell her. I stayed close, but I did get a lot of pictures as we glided across the water.
Quinn pulled up at one of the islands and let us walk around for awhile, taking more pictures. There were primitive camp sites there, though they did have bathrooms. Thankfully, no pooping in a hole out here. I appreciate the finer points of camping, even if I don't enjoy it much.
"If you're campers, we do rent these sites out," Quinn told me when we got back in the canoe.
Grace drew back, slightly appalled.
"I'm gonna say no to that, but thanks. Not much of a camper myself. I'm guessing Grace isn't at all."
"My idea of camping is sharing a cozy cabin in the woods. With electricity, air conditioning and hot water," Grace said.
Quinn chuckled, nodding. "My husband isn't a real fan of it, either. I love it. I lived in a tent for a couple months one summer. It was great. Got the best tan of my life."
"You one of the—nature people?" I asked, not entirely sure if they liked being called nudists or not.
"No, but funny you should mention it. My husband's folks manage the site here. Wonderful bunch of people, but they are nice enough to put on wraps when Dmitri and I visit. I've seen more ski-slope titties and sagging scrotums than I'd ever care to see again."
Grace blushed, pressing her lips together. I snorted loudly.
"Not my favorite sight either," I managed to say. "There were some guys at the gym I used to go to, who would strike up conversations when stark naked. And there's always this one guy who has to put his leg up on the bench—right by your face." I shuddered slightly. "Don't want another man's sack that close to me."
The women thought that was extraordinarily funny and laughed all the way back to the landing.
"You'd get along great with Dmitri," Quinn said. "We'll be visiting tomorrow. When you get done with Burt and Maribeth, come by the manager's office."
"I'll sure do that."
"I wish I could come with you," Grace said. "Unfortunately, I'm not on vacation until next week. I can't wait. I love my job, but it's stressful. I need a chance to unwind."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes