If Matt had to choose a time and a place to go scuba diving, Maine in the middle of winter would not have been his first choice. The icy wind whipped at his face as he followed the Turners across the sound. If he thought this was cold, he shuddered to think what that water was going to feel like. What the hell were the Turners thinking? Diving in dangerous conditions such as these…it was practically a suicide mission. Which left Matt wondering why the hell he was chasing after them.
Part of him wondered what it really mattered if they wanted to dig up some treasure from century’s old shipwrecks. But another part of him—the Chadwick part of him—felt a sudden and strong need to defend his land. His home. The home his ancestors had built so long ago and that Uncle Dan had left to him. If for no other reason, he had to take care of it for the uncle who had taught him so much about life, about being a man. Where would he be now if not for that summer he’d spent here at seventeen? Probably dead in a ditch somewhere, if he was being honest.
The Turner’s boat disappeared for a moment as they rounded the far side of the island. He shoved the throttle forward, kicking the little speedboat into high gear so as not to lose his prey. But when he rounded the bend, he nearly collided with the Turners and was forced to cut the engine and give the wheel a hard yank to avoid any damage. Dammit. So much for being inconspicuous.
John Turner whirled around, his eyes wide with surprise. “Matt?” His brows knitted together in a frown. “What are you doing out here, buddy?”
“I could ask you the same,” Matt called back across the howling wind.
“Just doing a little research, like I told you about. Can’t take tourists diving somewhere we’ve never been.”
It made sense, but Matt wasn’t convinced. He looked to Heather. Her eyes were fixed on him, like a deer in headlights. Something wasn’t right. Was she asking him for help?
“You going in, too?” he asked her.
Heather turned to look at John who gave an infinitesimal nod, then she turned back to Matt. “Yes,” she replied, her voice shaky. “But I don’t want to!”
She blurted the last out rapid-fire, as if she was going to get in trouble for saying it too slowly. This put Matt on red alert, though. There was something fishy going on here, for sure.
“A, B, C, D, E, F, G…” Anne sang along with the kids, trying her best to focus on their joyful, innocent little faces. But her stomach was in a million knots, wondering what was going on out there. What was Matt up to? What were the Turners up to? She wasn’t sure she could handle it if they turned out to be con artists. These poor kids—they deserved parents who were upstanding and kind and--
A knock at the door startled her from the third round of the ABC song, and she leapt from her criss-cross position on the floor as if she had springs under her toosh.
“I’ve got it!” she yelled to keep Grams from rushing to the door. She’d already had to reprimand the woman several times today for doing more than she ought to after her fall last night.
She was at the door in seconds, and flung it open with a loud and familiar creek.
“Samuel?” He was the last person she’d expected to see here.
“Sorry to bother you, Miss Anne, but…”
Emma and Ethan came trailing after her, shouting their hellos to Samuel as they did.
“Hiya, kids!” he said, tipping his hat to them and smiling wide, like a true gentleman.
“Is that Sam?” Grams bustled in behind the kids, a glimmer in her eye that Anne hadn’t noticed before.
She looked back at Sam, who seemed pretty fixed on Grams himself.
“Libby,” he said, tipping his hat to her, too, but with a much more serious tone.
Anne, however, wasn’t really interested in the December-December romance going on before her eyes. Samuel was here for a reason, and she wanted to find out sooner than later.
“Grams, I think Samuel has something to talk to me about. Mind taking the kids to the kitchen for a snack?”
“Don’t mind at all,” Grams said, ushering the kids from the room. “I’ll see you later, Sam!”
“Looking forward to it.” Sam watched her go, practically in a trance until Anne cleared her throat. “Oh, sorry,” he said. “I, um…I’ve got a hunch about something, and I could really use your help.”
“I don’t suppose it’s the same hunch Matt has about the Turners?”
“He told you?”
“He mentioned it.”
“I saw the Turners headed around the island just a bit ago, and imagine my surprise when I saw Matt chasing after them. I don’t know what he’s up to—or what they’re up to—but…you still have your scuba gear?”
“How do you know they’re scuba diving?” Anne wondered, her heart racing at the thought of diving into that icy water. Even in the summers, the northern waters were chilly. Could she even survive their current temps?
“Just a hunch. But it wouldn’t hurt to have it with us.”
Anne’s adrenaline was pumping through her veins, and she was about to run out the door to join Samuel on his rescue mission—or whatever he was calling it—when she heard the giggles of her charges from the kitchen. Dammit.
“Listen, I want to help,” she told Samuel. “But I can’t leave. I’ve got Emma and Ethan, and—”
“I can watch them,” Grams practically shouted from the threshold.
Anne shook her head. “I don’t think that’s the best idea.”
Grams gave her a stern look that told Anne not to say a word about her fall last night. Stubborn old woman.
“We’ll be fine. I’ll plop ‘em in front of the TV if I need to. Lord knows they’d love me forever if I did.”
Anne hesitated. “Are you sure?”
“Time’s a-waisting, Anne. Now get out of here.”