The sky had grown a deep purple above them, and a gust of wind blew through the yard with a fury. Becca picked up a chair to arrange it with some others in a semicircle under the live oak. The tree's limbs spread out like arms stretching across the backyard. A pair of jenny wrens hopped along the branches, squawking intensely at them. "They've been scolding me all day." Just as Becca said the words, the male swooped down and pecked the scarf off her head.
"They're dive-bombing you," Victor said, amused with the bird's antics.
Becca shooed the wren away. "They're building a nest." She peered up at the tree. "We're standing too close. They don't trust us."
Becca said they should head inside when a thunderbolt split the sky and lit up the backyard like a theater. Victor grabbed Becca's hand to run to the porch, but she pulled him in the other direction. "This is closer," she called above the wind and pointed toward the garden house that was just beyond the live oak. They ran around the chairs, through the yard, and burst through the open doors of the small wooden house. Once they were inside, the clouds let loose. Rain crashed down on the tin roof, pelting it with gigantic drops that had been stored in the heavens way too long. The torrents pummeled the miniature house until it shook, teetering on the blocks that held it above ground.
Victor and Becca stood panting just inside the doorway. They wiggled in deeper to shield themselves from the rain, but the garden house was stuffed with lawn mowers, weed eaters, and shelves filled with everything from jarred preserves to odd cushions and rusted paint cans. Victor sucked in his chest to give Becca more room. With her body wedged against his, he breathed in of the scent of her, a heady duo of fresh roses and sweat. Her head was bent just beneath him, but he could feel the beat of her heart in sync with his own. This melding of flesh, of muscle to muscle, bone against bone stirred an impulse, a desire buried deep within him that urged him beyond the restraints of class or race or even time. He raised a hand to Becca's chin and lifted her face to meet his. While he gazed at her and absorbed the warmth of her eyes, the heat of her breath enveloped him. He kissed her.
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The lighthouse beam flashed on, and the masked man crouched low on the deck, his limbs crawling spiderlike. The revolver had landed within a foot of him. He lunged at it, sweeping it into his hand before Victor or Kurt could stop him. In an instant, the man sprang to his feet. He held his own pistol in his right hand and stuffed Kurt's gun into the back pocket of his black jeans. "Nice boat you got here," he said, waving Evan down from the ladder. "How about I borrow it for a while."
Suddenly Victor realized Salazar had left him and Evan unprotected on the Blew Bayou. He immediately started searching the bait wells, the pockets alongside the boat, for a weapon. He'd grope around in the dark, grab hold of something, and then examine it when the lighthouse flashed on. He found a fishing gaff, some lines, a net, and a set of boning knives. When he opened the leather box, the knives were lined up by length. He pulled out the two shortest ones and handed one to Evan.
As the Lady Luck approached Egmont Key, whenever the lighthouse beam flashed across the water, Victor could see Captain Mortenson on the Bertram's fly bridge, wagging a cigarette at them. Once within earshot, Mortenson told them to throw the anchor. Evan scrambled down the ladder to follow the captain's bid. A southeasterly breeze had kicked up with enough gust to dry the sweat from Victor's T-shirt and ruffle his hair. But in spite of the wind, the water gleamed as smooth and reflective as God's own mirror.