Excerpt from Island Secrets

     
     Zoe's mother turned to him now, shoulders, face, and eyes. "Find her, Dane."
     "I don't know where she is." What would he say if he did find her? Where would he look?
     "She's a woman, Dane. She loves you. Go find her."
     And then, he knew. Butterflies burst in his gut. He knew where she would be. But what if he was wrong? What if the timing was off? He kissed her mother on the forehead, then ran out the door waving backward before jumping into his Jeep.
     * * *
     Zoe sat with her eyes closed and her legs crossed. She heard the quick rush of water between hundreds of fins as a school of fish darted in circles behind her. It mixed like a melody with the steady bubbles that released from her facemask serving as the harmony. It was almost July and the water was warmer, so she'd chosen her diving skins over her wet suit. A boat sped by somewhere above. She tried not to focus on anything up there.
     She wouldn't put herself at risk as she had done with her brother. Carefully, she had used the charts and guidelines of underwater diving to ensure she wasn't coming down too often or too long. The last thing she wanted was to give herself decompression sickness or be the cause of her parents losing another child.
     He was with her here, Seth was. She could feel him. The memories were crisp. Ones of him carrying her on his shoulders when she was a little girl, all the way to the last dive they did together. This was the location of that last dive, not fifty yards away from where she found his skull. They'd spotted a grouper and took a zillion shots of it.
     Sensing something was watching her, she opened her eyes but didn't move. Slowly, she glanced to the left, then right, keeping her breathing in controlled rhythm. It could be anything. Hiding in the seaweed. In a cavern. Behind a rock.
     Of course something was watching her, she grinned. She was in the Gulf of Mexico.
     Rotating, she started kicking lazily the fifty yards to the spot she found his skull. The water was choppy. Choppy was normal. The day she found him it had been unusually calm. Staring at the spot, she realized she would have never noticed the cavern under normal conditions. It was a mirage. No dark blue tint giving hint to the protruding opening.
     She came to within five feet of it and waited. They had an agreement, her and the moray eel that made this its home. It poked its head out and tried to scare the hell out of her. Then, it bolted out of its hole, darting quickly in an effort to, once more, scare her before escaping the cavern and into the crevasse below.
     Here, she'd found the skull with a knife through the eye. Her brother. Not much had been disturbed by the police. No yellow crime scene tape, she thought, sarcastically. Each of the last few days she'd come down here, she expected to find some sort of disturbance. Maybe rocks that had been chipped to release her brother from the wall. Or samples taken from around. Other than a small, jagged hole about the size of … of a knife, there was nothing.
     She placed her hands on either side of the small opening, letting her legs dangle to the open water below. She felt something brush across her calf and assumed it was her friend the moray eel. She would buy a new camera. A good one. Her brother would want that. She would take out a loan and buy a Seth-approved camera and come down here to take pictures of her friend. He brushed her leg again. It made her smile, and she slowly inched herself from the crevasse. Friend or no friend, it was probably not a good idea to piss off a moray eel.
     She came face-to-face with him. He wasn't the eel, and fear was nowhere to be found. Her body reacted regardless. Not with fear but an overwhelming warmth.
     He came for her. The words repeated in her mind. He came for her. His beautiful, amazing blue eyes, although blood shot, searched her face. She saw tenderness there and hoped she returned the same. If there was one thing she could have asked for at that moment, it would be to gaze into the eyes of Dane Corbin. He looked sad. She reached out and put her hand on his cheek. It was warmer than the warm water. 
 
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