“Darn it,” Doc grumbled. “He’s heading this way.”
Taking her cue from the older man who’d already started toward the shore, she trailed behind him. Doc was right. The crazy boat driver appeared to be checking out the fifty-some small docks belonging to private cabin owners. At least he’d slowed to trolling speed. At the rate he was going, he’d reach her dock in a couple of minutes so she planted herself as close to the listing structure as she dared. She didn’t care what he thought of her dock. She just wanted to give him a piece of her mind about his disregard for what this high mountain lake stood for. As she waited, she studied Mount Steens across the lake. The top was still buried under snow and thus intimidating to her. By late summer the sharp edges would show. She'd never climbed it, but when she was growing up, she used to tell herself she could tackle it no problem. She just wasn't sure whether she'd have to carry a sleeping bag and plan on having to stay the night.
Night alone near the top of the area's most imposing mountain. Away from all responsibility.
The motor’s high growl triggered something inside that she didn’t want to examine. She’d been under a lot of tension lately and didn’t need this idiot adding to it. She wanted him gone and the quiet back. Not just quiet. She needed to smell what was left of the snow, the water, pine and dirt. To be renewed.
Now that he was close, she realized this wasn’t one of the nearly-derelict boats she remembered the resort renting out. At least twenty-feet long, it had both a trolling motor and an outboard she figured was least ninety horsepower. Judging by the shiny sides and immaculate pedestal fishing seat, the craft was new. Envy nibbled at her. Being in control of the craft would be a ball.
As it eased around partly-submerged trees and closed in on her dock, she forced herself to stop imagining she was putting it through its paces and concentrated on the man with his hand on the steering wheel. It was hard to be certain, but she guessed him to be in his early thirties. The wind had been having its way with his longish dark brown hair while his slightly canted nose and cheeks were wind-chapped. He had a square jaw, deep-set eyes shielded by shaggy brows, and a serious slant to his mouth that made her wonder if there might be more to him than a hell-raiser after all.
Over a blue T-shirt sporting a motorcycle logo he wore an unsnapped grey windbreaker that speed had pushed away from a chest made for physical labor. This was no indulged teenager, not this man with his broad shoulders and big, strong, tanned hands. Because he was sitting low in the boat, she couldn’t see his lower half.
“Where’s your life vest?” Doc called out.
When the man didn’t immediately respond, she wondered if he was debating answering. If he gave Doc a hard time, she’d give him a piece of her mind.
He shifted into neutral and indicated behind him.
“Crazy as you’ve been driving, I’m surprised you thought of safety,” Doc grumbled. “There’s a speed limit here.”
The man shrugged. She wanted to examine his expression, but now that the wind was in charge, the boat had started to turn away from the shore. It swayed with the waves it had created. She imagined him a drifter, a lost soul without any idea how to put his life on course. He spent one week here, another week there, never planning beyond following impulse.
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