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Authors: Heather Heyford

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BOOK: A Taste of Sauvignon
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Esteban could cut another slash in his bedpost. Wasn't that all guys cared about?
His parents could quit busting their hind ends and start enjoying their golden years.
There's a word for women who use their bodies to get ahead.
Was Savvy really so bad, though? In the end, it was a win-win for everyone.
Case closed.
Chapter 13
A
t eleven-fifteen on Sunday, Esteban texted Savvy:
Y
OU LEFT YOUR SCARF HERE
.
A few minutes later, his phone rang.
“Esteban! Hi! I'm so glad you found my scarf. Listen, I have an idea that you might like. At least, I like it, which is why I thought you would. Have you ever heard of a place called Smells Like Napa?”
For a lawyer, she sounded awfully nervous. Hyper, even.
“No.”
“It's a retail outlet for local herb growers. They sell all kinds of products, from the herbs themselves to essential oils and anything else you could imagine. Yeah. So, anyway, I was wondering if you might want to go there together sometime, poke around, see what they're about, what they have? I mean, if you have time. I know you have an awful lot of work to do.”
“Sure.”
“Really?”
“When?”
“I'm going to be super busy with a case for the next week and a half. Is the Wednesday after next okay? And then I can get my scarf from you at the same time.”
“Wednesday's good for the store. But I'm on my way to give you your scarf now.”
“Now?”
“You only live a few hundred yards from here.”
“Great! Okay then. Why not? You could come over now. I just got home from church and I'm not doing anything. Important, that is. It's Sunday. Day of rest and all that.”
“Great. See you in a few.”
“See you!”
Women
. Why did they have to make everything so complicated?
A text from one of his diving buddies had come in while he was talking.
 
Conditions primo at SP winds below 10, seas under 6 & > 10 apart
 
NorCal divers waited for the first day of abalone season like kids waiting for Christmas. Esteban considered the data: clear and sunny with calm seas, excellent for hunting abalone. This time of year, though, the water was bound to be freezing. He shivered, imagining about how it would feel with the Pacific Ocean seeping into his wet suit.
Still, soon the farmers' market would open and most of his weekends would be tied up until October. Besides, when wasn't it cold at Salt Point? He calculated the drive time. Thirty minutes to load up the Chevy and drop off Savvy's scarf, then another thirty to get to Shane's. He texted back:
 
Pick u up at 12:15
 
Since he'd gotten into diving, Esteban had met divers from towns miles apart, up and down the coast. A few were even from Napa. Like Hector, who'd been a couple of years ahead of Esteban at Vintage High. Hector wasn't his best bud—he had already been out working before Esteban graduated—but he was cool. Last year they'd run into Hector's cousin, Shane, when they were up at Salt Point. Shane lived right off Route 1, on the way to the coast. After that, Esteban had given Shane a ride a couple of times.
He dug his wet suit and dive gear from out of the back of his closet and tossed them into the truck bed, along with some old beach towels, water bottles, and a couple of ice chests.
Esteban slowed his pickup as it crunched down the white gravel driveway of Domaine St. Pierre. When he got close to the sprawling mansion, he peered up through the windshield at it. Though he could see the estate through the trees from his backyard, the Moraleses' homestead might as well be on the other side of the world. Here, he was surrounded by professionally manicured gardens tended by
braceros
. No secret, Mexicans made up more than half the work force of the valley. A tower of water tumbled down from a fountain that formed a traffic circle in the middle of the St. Pierre drive. He wondered if Savvy had felt as out of place at his house as he did at hers.
Savvy met him at the front door.
“Hi! Want to come in?” She stood aside and swept her arm toward a terrazzo foyer that covered more square footage than his whole house. Sunlight on crystal drew his eye upward to where a massive chandelier hung near a second-floor balustrade. A uniformed housekeeper went back to her dusting after he caught her checking him out.
“No thanks. I'm on my way to the coast. Here's your scarf.”
“Thanks.” She stared at the vicinity of his neck, where his face mask dangled. “Are you going swimming?”
“Diving.”
Her eyebrows shot up, remembering.
“Want to come?”
¡Tonto del culo!
What was he thinking, inviting her along?
“Me?” Her hand pressed between her breasts, emphasizing their modest size and shape. She was wearing a black (of course) dress, but not a fancy one today. More like a long T-shirt with a V-neck.
“I-I couldn't. I can't. I have—” She floundered with her hands, seemingly at a loss.
His face must have revealed his disappointment.
“Actually, yes! I have nothing better to do. I mean, that didn't come out right. I don't know. . . . Were you serious?”
“If I didn't mean it, I wouldn't have asked. C'mon.” He took a step toward the truck. “Let's go.”
“I can't simply run out the door and go diving with you, without a plan! I don't know where it is, or how long we'll be gone, or what to wear or anything. . . .”
“Suit yourself.” He threw up his hands and started across the porch. “Later . . .”
“Wait!” She bit her lip anxiously. “What do I need?”
“I have everything.”
“When will we be back?”
He shrugged. “Depends.”
“On what?”
¡Mierda!
“How fast I catch my limit.” He took another step toward the truck and waved her off. “You don't want to. It's okay. I'll see you next Wednes—”
“Wait right here! I'm coming. Let me grab my bag.”
Esteban paced the broad porch. What had he got himself into? It was a two-hour drive to the coast. He'd be stuck with her for four hours in the Chevy, plus however much time they spent at the park.
At the same time, a jagged thrill tore through him. Four hours of staring at her legs on his truck seat. After they picked up Shane, she'd have to slide over next to him, almost touching his thigh with hers. He'd be able to smell her sweet scent. Feel the warmth coming off her body.
She reappeared with her purse and they were off.
“Where are we going?” she asked, clicking on her seat belt.
“Salt Point State Park.”
“How long does it take to get there?”
“About two hours.”
“What are we going to do, once we get there?”
“Park the truck, sit on the sand, and hopefully, find some abs.”
Her eyes flew open as her hand pressed her chest again. “Me, get in the water?”
He grinned. “You bring your wet suit?”
“You said I didn't need anything,” she frowned.

You
aren't getting in. That ocean water's about fifty-five degrees. Without a wet suit, you'd freeze to death. You don't know what do to, and besides, you need a license.”
“So what am I going to do, then? Watch you from the beach?”
“That, and talk, apparently.”
She swatted him.
“You want me to turn around?”
“No.”
“There's a little strip of white sand in a protected cove.”
A mile or so on, she finally relaxed enough to look around the truck's interior. “Where's all your stuff?”
He tossed his head toward the rear window. “Under the tarp.”
“I should've brought a couple bottles of water for us. What about food? Two hours is a long time. There might not be many choices at the park and—”
“Do you always worry so much? Ask so many questions?”
She looked chagrinned, but the incessant questioning ceased, at least for the time being. It probably came with being a lawyer—having to know every detail of everything that was happening, before it happened. Must be hell. He felt a twinge of pity for her and her buttoned-up life.
“You're right about food. We'll stop before we get there.”
“When?”
“Pretty soon.”
“Where?”
He sighed and propped a wrist on the steering wheel, resigned. “Dry Creek General.”
She smiled. “I like that store.”
Gracias a Dios.
“The smell of curing meat and pepper from all those sausages hanging from the ceiling is a bit overwhelming, but it's a good smell.”
She had that right. His mouth began to water just thinking about it.
He pulled off 101 into an unpaved lot. Inside, the old wood-paneled building was packed to the rafters with high-quality wine country merchandise, from knee-high baskets of gourmet chips, to glass jars of jerky, to tin vases stuffed with dogwood and morning glories. They got in line for sandwiches behind some pickers in work boots and a tourist lady with a brown handbag stamped in gold.
After Savvy ordered, Esteban put in his order for two sandwiches.
“A guy as big as you must have an appetite to match.”
“The other one's for Shane.”
“Shane?”
“We're picking him up along the way.”
“We're taking someone else along?”
“Can't go ab diving alone.”
“You didn't
tell
me that we'd have company.”
He shrugged. “You didn't ask.”
“I didn't know I had to ask that particular question! I might not have come if I'd known. . . .” Esteban let his eyes travel over the myriad sights of the store, grateful for something to look at while she prattled on.
Chapter 14
S
avvy steamed. How dare Esteban haul her a hundred miles from her home without mentioning someone else was coming along! She never did anything unless it had been planned out to the nth degree. Flying by the seat of your pants wasn't what got you into Boston University School of Law, and it sure wasn't how you kept up your average, once you got there. Hopping blithely into his truck on the spur of the moment had been a big mistake.
While they waited in the long line of people to pay, Savvy tried to decide who was the best candidate to ask for a lift back to Napa.
That's when she noticed that every woman in the place—and some of the men—had their eyes peeled on Esteban, every chance they got. What was it about him, apart from his size and his obvious good looks? Something solid and authentic. Like Dry Creek General itself, there was nothing phony about him.
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
“You just did.”
“Which side of the family did you get your height from?”
He lit up. She must have finally hit on something he liked talking about.
“My grandfather Morales. There's an old family legend. Ever hear of the Patagonian Indian tribe, from South America? Magellan called them giants. They were the first people he saw when his ship landed there, five hundred years ago. He claimed he and his men only came up to the Patagonian's waists.”
“You're a Patagonian?”
He shrugged. “That's what my grandfather told me, when I asked him if I'd grow up to be as tall as he was.” He grinned. “I'm still playing catchup to him and Uncle Esteban. They were both six-six.”
They packed the cooler with ice and food and took off again, breeze blowing across them through the open windows.
When Esteban pulled up to a house in a neighborhood off Route 1, there was already a guy standing outside, waiting. Esteban got out to help him load his equipment into the truck bed.
The stranger opened the passenger-side door. “Shimmy over, sweet lips.”
Before Savvy could take offense, he was jamming a soft-sided cooler into the space behind the seat.
Esteban slid in and made the introductions.
If anyone had told her she'd be spending her Sunday squeezed between two men on her way to who-knows-where, she'd have said he was crazy. Yet here she was, yanking down on the hem of her dress, each of her shoulders mere inches from one of theirs.
Grinning salaciously, Shane bent forward to address Esteban, as if she were deaf. “Where ya been hidin' her?”
She felt Esteban's shoulder stiffen. When he ignored the question, Shane turned his attention to her.
“You like abs?”
Savvy forced a tight smile. She was stuck here, and they still had miles to go. Maybe she should overlook Shane's comment, give him the benefit of the doubt. He might just be simple-minded. Ignorant, yet nothing to be afraid of. After all, he was Esteban's friend, wasn't he? Esteban wouldn't put her in danger. Somehow, she knew that.
“I've only tasted them once. Yes. They're good.”
Shane's eyes flicked to her bare knees, and she squeezed them together involuntarily.
The men talked fishing while Savvy focused on staring straight out the windshield and not letting any of her body parts touch theirs. Before long, the road curved to the right to hug the Sonoma Coast, and watching for the sporadic views of the cliffs and the Pacific far below Route 1 absorbed everyone's attention.
“Almost there,” said Esteban.
Shane slid his arm around her. She flinched until she realized he was only digging in his cooler behind the seat. When he pulled out a beer and popped the top, she said, “You can't drink that in here.”
Shane took a swig. “Watch me.” He grinned defiantly.
“I can't be in a car with an open container. I'm a lawyer. If we get pulled over, I could be disbarred.”
“Why're
you
gonna get disbarred, when I'm the one drinking?”
“It's the law. Everyone in the car is liable for arrest.”
“Ah, quit worrying. Esteban's a good driver, aren't you, E? We're not gonna get stopped.”
“I'm serious. Can't you just wait till we get there?”
“Can't you just relax?”
Savvy looked to Esteban. His eyes stayed glued to the road, his mouth a thin line. Eyes forward again, she assessed her situation, tamping down her rising hysteria. She hated being at the mercy of other people. Trapped next to an idiot in a speeding vehicle, not knowing precisely where she was, where she was going, she might as well be hurtling off a cliff.
Mentally, she tried to talk herself down. Maybe she
was
overly anxious. Esteban wasn't drinking. That was the important thing. Besides, he'd said they were almost there.
Shane chugged his beer, tossed it onto the floor of the cab, and reached around her again.
She shot him an incredulous look. “Another one?” Quick as a wink, she bent down, picked up the empty and tossed it out the window on Esteban's side.
“Hey! Who's worse, me for drinking a beer or you for trashing the countryside?”
“Better to trash the environment than my career, or have Esteban suspected of DUI. Don't you know anything? If we get stopped with that can on the floor, it's probable cause to investigate the driver for drinking. It's one thing to put yourself in jeopardy, and you don't know me from Adam, but you ought to give a care about your friend.”
“We're here,” said Esteban coolly, pulling off the freeway onto an unpaved road.
Beer wedged between his knees, Shane reached inside his jacket, pulled out a blunt, and lit it.
“That's it! Stop the damn car!” yelled Savvy.
“E, control your bitch,” said Shane mildly.
Esteban braked hard. Savvy's hand flew to the dashboard. Shane's beer sloshed out the hole in the top of the can.
“Get out,” Esteban growled.
Wagging his head, Shane stuck the joint between his smiling lips, freeing up his beer-wet hands to gather his gear.
With the truck idling in the middle of the park's entrance, Esteban hopped out to turn back the tarp. Savvy heard shuffling and saw something fly by in the rearview mirror—probably part of Shane's stuff.
“Find your own way back,” Savvy heard Esteban say above the engine.
“Fuck you,” Shane replied, blowing smoke in the window at Savvy. He raised his middle finger high as he sauntered off toward the Pacific.
Esteban got back in and shifted into drive.
“And fuck your tight-ass girlfriend, too,” Shane hollered as they passed him in a cloud of dust.
With a glance out the rear window, she said, “That jerk's your
friend
?”
“Was.”
“How do you know him?”
“I went to school with his cousin, Hector. He brought him along to dive a couple of times. Hector's actually pretty cool. Shane must be the dick in the family. Every family has one. You know how it is.”
How true.
“Think I heard Hector's in the wine business now.”
Savvy rolled her eyes. “Who isn't?”
“Distribution or something.”
She looked back again. “How's he going to get home?”
“Not my problem. There'll be others here. After last winter, today's conditions'll bring out the divers from all over.”
The dirt road ended before a sandy cove. Sure enough, a half dozen other vehicles sat askew in the clearing. Off the coast, waves broke over hundreds of rugged rocks.
Savvy followed Esteban around to the truck bed. He handed her what looked like an inflated red canvas pillow.
“Here. I'll carry the cooler, and you can carry my dive float.”
“You're still going to dive—without a buddy?” Her anxiety returned. “Is that safe? What happens if you get in troub—”
“There's an inner tube inside the float. Gives me something to hang on to when I come up for air. I'm not going out as deep as I'd planned. Should be some good abs in the shallow areas. Today's opening day. They're not picked over yet.”
They set out on a narrow trail leading to the north side of the cove, Esteban with the bulkier gear draped across his body, Savvy following with his float, through some tall bushes to a fork, where he turned down a ravine. Good thing she was behind him; once they got out of the trees, the wind whipped her dress up again and again until finally, she tied a knot in the hem, even though that shortened it to mid-thigh. Better that than swirling around her waist. Near the water's edge, Esteban stopped at a small patch of sheltered white sand and spread two thin beach towels side by side.
Savvy peered around, shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight. She probably should've brought a sweatshirt. The sky was cloudless, but sixty-eight degrees felt different on the exposed coast from how it did in the valley. Behind them was a steep sea cliff. Though you couldn't see it from down here, she knew the freeway ran along its rim. Rocks in an infinite variety of forms and shapes dotted the spectacular sea vista. Farther north, the grassy hills were dotted with stunted cypress trees, tortured into weird shapes by the ceaseless winds.
He would be all right, she told herself. He had common sense. His size and strength made him seem invincible.
So he was going to dive alone. Not entirely, though. Savvy would be there, watching him from afar.
BOOK: A Taste of Sauvignon
14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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