“Are you even listening to me?” he demanded.
Nope. She wasn’t. She didn’t have to; she had a sheet of paper saying that they were consciously uncoupled, thank you very much. And to prove it, she disconnected the call and then let out a long breath, hoping to die before he called again.
“Hey, what are you doing?” a male voice called out from the direction of the dock.
From flat on her back, Sophie froze. Maybe if she didn’t move he’d assume she was dead and move on.
“You can’t moor here, ma’am.”
Right, moor, not park. She’d known that. But ma’am? What the heck was that? Her mom was a ma’am. Her grandma was a ma’am. Ma’am was for old people, not for twenty-five-year-old women who were desperately trying to get their lives together. Very carefully, Sophie sat up and narrowed her eyes at the guy standing on the dock staring at her.
He was tall, broad, and had the benefit of standing in front of the sun, which meant she could see his outline and little else. But his stance seemed aggressive enough that she felt herself wanting to shrink a little.
Which, for the record, she hated.
But there was a bigger problem. The motion of the boat bobbing up and down, compared to the guy standing on the end of the dock not moving up and down, made her want to toss her cookies. In defense, she lay down and closed her eyes again. “Did you really just call me ‘ma’am’? Because I’m not even close to a damn ‘ma’am.’”
Nope, ask anyone. They’d tell you Sophie Marren was fun and chill, though she didn’t tend to stay the course. She was a starter, not a finisher, as her mom would say, and she was absolutely not grown-up enough to be a ma’am. As proof, she was living on a damn boat, illegally parked while she was at it—oh wait, excuse her, moored.
“Fine,” the guy said. “You can’t moor here…Red.”
At the recognition of her long, wavy, deep auburn—okay, fine, red—hair, she choked out a laugh. He got a point for having a sense of humor. And ah, finally the wind seemed to be settling down. Around her the morning fell silent again. Even the birds shut up. Had the guy left too? Did it matter? Apparently it did, because she sat up—slowly—to look, and then groaned.
He hadn’t left.
He’d shifted, though, coming closer, allowing her a good look at him. Military-short, sun-streaked light brown hair. Square jaw at least two days past needing a razor. Wide shoulders stretching an army T-shirt to its limits. Flat belly. Lean hips encased in camo cargoes. As she watched, he pulled off his reflective sunglasses, revealing eyes the color of one of her favorite things when she wasn’t seasick—chocolate.
But if he felt any insta-attraction for her, he was really good at hiding it, because he looked at his watch like maybe he was in a hurry.
The story of her life, men being in a hurry to get away from her, and she decided right then and there she didn’t like him, hot or not. “This is a public lake,” she said.
“Yes, but you’re tied up to a private dock that belongs to that cabin.” He jerked his chin to the side, indicating the home just behind him.
The lake was multiuse. The west and east shores were owned by the state and were national forest land. There were public campgrounds on the northeast side, with houses on the north shore only.
The cabin that he pointed to was indeed privately owned, but she knew for a fact it was deserted because it’d been up for sale for months. Although—troublesome—the FOR SALE sign had been taken down. Even more troublesome, the shades were raised and the front door was open.
Huh. Her bad.
“I was just taking a short nap,” she said.
One of his eyebrows took a hike nearly to his hairline. “At seven in the morning?”
Yes, well, that’s what happened when one had to keep moving one’s boat so as not to get cited for illegal overnight mooring. Not that she was about to admit that. “Didn’t sleep last night,” she said. The utter truth. “The winds were crazy and the boat never stopped rocking.”
“Using two tie-downs instead of one would help stabilize the boat quite a bit,” he said. “At the bow and at the stern.”
Something that Lucas hadn’t bothered to tell her, of course. “Thanks,” she said, slightly mollified.
“You can moor overnight. You just have to buy a permit for one of the public docks at the campgrounds, or tie up at a private dock—with permission of the owner.”
He was lake patrol, she realized. And a stickler for the rules. Not that she was surprised. The entire male population was on her shit list. Sometimes higher on the list than other times, but that was another story. “I’ll move the boat,” she promised, hoping to appease him enough to make him vanish.