It broke free with enough momentum to take her down to her butt. She scrambled back up and wasted another precious few seconds trying to figure out how to use the extinguisher. All while the flames grew around her. Finally she pulled the pin and squeezed the lever.
And nothing happened.
Jacob tossed Hud his truck keys. “She’s all yours for now.”
Hud looked down at them, swore, and then tossed them back.
“That’s the second damn time today my keys have been rejected,” Jacob noted far more casually than he felt.
“Maybe because the people doing the rejecting don’t want you to leave,” Hud said.
Jacob shook his head. He was having a hard time controlling his emotions here. Very hard. He was on a short leash and needed to get the hell out before he broke.
The two of them were standing in his driveway, next to Jacob’s truck. The cabin was locked up, and he was packed and ready to go. Hud had shown up and he’d immediately gone straight to pissed off without passing go, and had spent the past five minutes telling—yelling—about what a bad idea it was for Jacob to leave early.
“I was always going to have to go,” Jacob managed to say evenly.
“But you moved it up.”
Not by much, but yeah, he had. The fight with Sophie had reminded him that he wasn’t fit for society. He screwed things up and was clueless on how to make them better, so leaving felt like the obvious solution.
Hud was watching him. “Some of us aren’t ready.”
“Was I supposed to know that?” Jacob blew out a breath. “You’ve spoken more to me in the past five minutes than in the whole time I’ve been here.”
They stared at each other for an interminably long beat, and finally Jacob closed his eyes. “You’re making this harder than it has to be. We’ve done this before.”
“Say good-bye? Fuck no, we haven’t,” Hud said. “You left without a good-bye last time, remember?”
“How can I forget? You keep throwing it in my face.”
This time it was Hud’s turn to close his eyes. “Fine. That was a shitty thing to say, and I take it back. But you’re evading. Why leave before you have to?”
“You fucked up with Sophie when she came to apologize,” Hud said.
“I fucked up with more than Sophie.”
Hud looked at him, long and hard. “If you’re talking about me,” he said, “or the others, you’re wrong. You didn’t fuck up at all. You came home. That was all we ever wanted.”
The words took a surprising load off Jacob’s shoulders.
“At least look me in the eyes and tell me you’re coming back,” Hud said.
Jacob turned his head to meet Hud’s gaze and saw the smoke and flames licking out from Sophie’s boat. His heart about stopped. Dropping the duffel bags, he hit the beach at a dead run. “Call nine-one-one!” he yelled back at Hud.
“On it,” Hud said right on his heels.
They hit the dock in tandem. At the boat, Hud tried to pull Jacob back from jumping on board. “It’s not safe!” he yelled.
“Sophie’s in there!” Jacob leapt to the deck, calling out for her.
Someone landed right next to him.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jacob yelled at him.
Hud was tugging up the vinyl seating, and Jacob knew why. He was looking for the fire extinguisher that was hopefully on board.
“Sophie!” Jacob yelled, turning to go belowdecks. The door was open, and black smoke was pouring out. “Sophie!”
She appeared in the opening holding a fire extinguisher. Hud immediately took it from her while Jacob pulled her up and off the boat to the dock.
“Are you okay?” he demanded, running his hands over her, looking for injuries. It was hard to tell. She was sooty from head to toe.
“I’m”—she stopped to cough—“fine.”
He didn’t stop touching her, couldn’t.
“Jacob.” She cupped his face and brought it to hers. “I’m fine. I just couldn’t get the extinguisher to start and the flames were quicker than me.”
Still holding on to her, he turned to see that Hud had abandoned the extinguisher as well and had jumped lithely to the dock beside them. He immediately turned to Sophie and looked her over as Jacob had.
Sirens sounded in the distance, and in the next minute, the fire service had arrived, along with a sea of other first responders, including Aidan.