Since we got such a rush of excerpts at the end of last week, I extended it for another one, but now it’s gone quiet again. You know what THAT means, doncha? You’ll be getting more of MINE, again. 😀 Starting with this one from Swamp Ghosts, which hasn’t been feeling the love around around here, and demanded that I give it equal time. Maggie Devlin and Gunnar Wolfe have just met, when Gunn hired Maggie to canoe him into some remote waterways to photograph rare birds. Turns out, Gunn knows nothing about canoes or boats at all. Hence, the early morning lesson before their first foray into the black waters of the St. Johns. And did I mention, prickly Maggie doesn’t much care for the big guy. So far. 🙂 Enjoy!
SUNDAY MORNING ARRIVED looking like a picture out of a travel brochure. A buttery yellow sun beamed down from a cloudless swath of blue sky, and the trees along the river were that jewel-like shade of green you only see in early summer. I watched Gunn as he surveyed the boat launch. “You sure you don’t want to do a dry run on land first?”
“Maggie, I’d feel silly standing over there under a tree, getting in and out of the canoe, instead of just launching it here, like anyone else. I’m sure I can do this.”
“Okay, Thor. Your funeral,” I muttered.
Gunn’s eyes widened. “Excuse me? Thor? Did you just call me Thor?”
I looked up from the cooler I was arranging in the stern of the canoe in order to offset his weight in the front. “Oh, please don’t tell me I’m the only one to ever call you that.”
He was put out. More so than I expected, though to be honest, I had been trying to get a rise out of him. His perpetual good humor was getting on my nerves this early in the morning.
“Actually, you are.” Now he had a definite scowl on his face.
“You’re kidding, right? I mean, look at you.”
He was growing redder, and his smile was ancient history, now. Hmmm. This was a different, and unexpected, side to Gunnar Wolfe.
“I beg your pardon? Look at me? What are you talking about?”
“Gunn, for Pete’s sake. You look just like the guy. You know? The guy from the Avenger movies?”
His mouth dropped open in astonishment, as though such a thought had never crossed his mind. “I don’t look like that guy!”
“Yes, you do. Exactly.”
“I do not!”
“Oh my God, Maggie. Just because we are both blond . . .”
“And … big … doesn’t mean we look alike!”
He stomped back to the truck to get our floating seat cushions and paddles, muttering to himself every step of the way. Damn. I may have been trying to needle him a bit, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so successful.
We carried the canoe down to the area designated for launching smaller craft, and I pushed it nose first into the water, leaving the stern on the sand. I could tell he was still annoyed with me, but I figured it would be best to just ignore it.
“Watch how I do this.” I stepped into the canoe. “You have to be sure your feet are in the dead center, one right behind the other. You want to bend at the waist and hold onto the gunwaling—this aluminum edge around the top of the canoe—with each hand. Then you carefully walk forward bent like this, but remember to keep holding on for balance. Step over each thwart—these braces here—then step over the bow seat, and sit down. Once you’re sitting, I’ll push the canoe out, and we’ll talk about paddling. Remember, don’t let go of the gunwaling while you’re walking. Oh, and be careful to keep your feet centered directly over the keel. That’s this indentation right here that runs down the middle of the canoe.”
I straightened up, turning to get out and realized Gunn had that look on his face. You know … the one guys get when they are staring at your butt and don’t think you will catch them? But then you do, and they get this stupid, wide-eyed look of fake innocence that makes you want to smack them with a two by four? Yeah. That look. Continue reading