He gestured out over the water. “Don’t be fooled by the Gulf of Mexico, though. A sudden storm could raise a fuss in no time, or we could have to run from a waterspout—a tornado on the water. Keep an eye out for white water out here, too; that could indicate a hidden reef, and of course, there are the sharks.” He pointed to the horizon, an unbroken line with stacks of white clouds above and the smooth sparkling water below. “No land in sight in any direction, and there are always the sharks.”
“Stop, Uncle Raymond. You’re scaring us.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, turning to the blond. “I didn’t mean to frighten you, Tami. It’s Tami, isn’t it?”
“Toni,” the blond said.
“I’m sorry, Toni. You’re a good swimmer, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t been swimming since I was a little girl.”
“Well,” Duchamp said, “it’s a shame you weren’t wearing your life jacket.”
“Wait, what?” the girl said. “A shame I wasn’t—“
Duchamp bent and locked one hand behind Toni’s right knee and grabbed her shoulder with the other. Then, he straightened, suddenly, sending the girl over the polished, brass rail. Her head thunked on the side of the boat as she cartwheeled into the water.
When he turned back, his niece was sitting on the deck, screaming.
“Come along, Sylvie,” he said. “You and I need to have a little talk.”
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