Read Hurricane Watch - DK2 Online

Authors: Melissa Good

Tags: #Lesbian, #Romance

Hurricane Watch - DK2 (10 page)

BOOK: Hurricane Watch - DK2
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There was really no excuse to squeeze in, so Dar reluctantly went past the row Kerry had settled in, and slid into the next row, pushing the arm between the two seats up and stretching out. If she leaned against the window, she could see Kerry’s head doing the same and as she watched, the blonde woman turned and peeked back through the opening at her.

Kerry stuck her tongue out and made Dar smile, but she quickly stopped as Steven settled in the seat across from her, his dark eyes regarding her coolly. Duks took the seat behind her, and Mariana took the one behind Steven, and she briefly kicked herself for not arranging to do the same with Kerry.

Great. Now she was stuck looking at Steven’s obnoxious puss for
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three hours.
With an aggrieved sigh, Dar propped one knee up, and rested her arm against it as the bus pulled out of the parking lot into the fading twilight.

“HERE YOU GO,” Skippy smiled at Kerry as she handed her a clipboard with a sheaf of papers on it. ”Just fill everything out, and feel free to ask me if you have any questions.”

Kerry took the papers. ”Okay. What’s this all for?” She asked, glancing at the forms.

Skippy put a hand on the seat back next to her. ”Well, it’s so we know you better and can tailor the seminar more closely to your needs.”

”Ah, wouldn’t it have been more efficient to give us these earlier?”

Kerry asked curiously. ”I mean it’s not like you’ll have much time to do any tinkering.”

Skippy’s perky smile became a little fixed. ”Why, we’ll stay up all night if we have to, don’t you worry. Just fill out that information for us.” Kerry pulled the cap off her pen and studied the papers. ”If I didn't know better I’d say this was just to keep us busy on the trip,” she murmured with a shake of her head. ”Because I don’t know how much tailoring you’re going to get done with a list of my favorite library books.”

”Now, now, you just let us do our jobs. That information tells our analysts a lot about you,” Skippy informed her as she escaped down the row, handing Dar her clipboard and leaning over to give Steven his.

”There you go—any questions?”

”Yeah, do you have an assigned seat, or can you help me fill mine out?” Steven asked her, giving the young blonde a smile.

Skippy beamed at him ”Well, let me pass out the rest of these, and I’ll come back to give you a hand, okay?” She scuttled down the isle, making sure everyone had a clipboard. ”Yes sir?” She leaned over where Duks was seated. ”Did you need something? A pen?”

Duks held up one of his never-ending supply of mechanical pencils.

”No, thank you.”

”You must be an accountant.” She smiled at him. ”They always have those things.”

Duks nodded gravely at her. ”When you graduate from college with a financial degree, they give you a dozen cases of them,” he assured her. ”With your name on them.” He held his up. ”See?”

”Oh, yes.” Skippy edged away from him, and turned a bright smile on Dar, who was neatly printing in her name. ”And what are you?”

”Trouble,” Dar replied, peering at her from under dark lashes, and leaving a faint smile on her lips.

”Ah.” Skippy backed off. ”Well, how about some pop, huh? We’ve got cola, orange, and lime.”

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”Milk,” Dar replied, intent on sucking as much enjoyment out of the weekend as she could. That included tormenting little blonde girls who were far too perky for their own good.

”Milk, okay, I think we have some of that. Let me go look.” She escaped down the row towards the front of the bus, where Eleanor and her assistant were installed in regal splendor.

The Marketing VP, a colorful, warm woven throw tucked around her knees, and her assistant, a tall, thin man with nervously blinking eyes and thick glasses were hunched over their forms. Just about everyone else had chosen to wear jeans, except for José, who was in a pair of neatly pressed chinos and a guyabera.

Dar tucked her knees up and rested her clipboard against them, chewing on her pen top as she studied the forms. They were a collection of questions meant to probe her innermost psyche, she reasoned.

Otherwise, why ask if she liked chicken instead of fish, or if she picked an aisle seat or a window in an airplane?

She half believed Kerry was right. This stuff was just to keep them occupied for a while until they got there or until the boredom of the trip set in and they fell asleep.

Skippy came back and handed Dar a small carton of milk, then sat down next to Steven and started going over the questions with him.

”Psst.” A soft whisper caught her attention, and she glanced over at the back of the next seat. Kerry’s green eyes were peering at her.

”Yeah?” she asked softly.

”Do we get points if we can answer more than ten percent of the questions with ‘none of the above’?” Kerry inquired. ”I hate all those animals in question six.”

”Hey!” José’s voice rose. ”What do you mean here, relations with animals? What kind of people do you think we are?”

”Sir. That means pets.” Skippy smiled perkily at him. ”You know, like doggies and kitties. Do you have any loved pets?” Her smiled faded. ”Not do you, uh, love pets, not in that way...um, we really don’t...care to know about that.”

”What about my python?” Duks commented dryly from his dark corner. ”Do you consider the rats I feed her pets too?”

Dar covered her eyes and bit back a laugh.

”Um, well, no, because they’re kind of, um, transient, right? We mean permanent pets,” Skippy replied. ”Like those that are there all the time.”

”Like my Sweetie Pie,” Mariana mused, from her seat across from Dar. ”She’s the prettiest parrot.”

Skippy smiled at her. ”See? Yes, that’s what I meant.”

”Mm. I loved her so much. I had her stuffed when she died,” the Personnel VP added. ”Now she’s the most permanent thing in the house.”

Dar clamped her jaw muscles tightly.

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”You people are so disrespectful,” Steven said sharply. ”This woman is here to do a job, and you all think it’s a joke.” He glared at them, and Skippy beamed gratefully at him. ”The company takes this seriously, and you should too.” He sat down, smiling at the guide as she eased into the seat next to him.

Dar sighed, and went back to scribbling.

The droning of the bus’s tires finally changed, and Dar shifted, blinking her eyes and glancing out the window. It was pitch dark outside, only the very occasional lamp flicking by along with the rare, desultory billboard. She glanced to her left, between the seats, and spotted the gentle curve of Kerry’s cheek as the blonde woman dozed, her head resting against the chilly window.

Across from her, Steven and Skippy were conversing in low tones, and everyone else seemed to have fallen asleep. Dar straightened, and checked her watch, then stood and stretched the kink out of her back from the semi comfortable seat. ”Almost there?” she inquired quietly.

Skippy turned her head. ”Yes. We just turned off the expressway.

We’ve got a little bit to go yet.” She replied cheerfully. ”It’s way, way out there. We wanted to get to where you couldn’t hear the traffic at all.” Dar leaned against her seat back and peered out the window. A billboard went by. ”Aardvark Bail Bonds,” she commented, ”next right.” Her head turned. ”Guess you’re not the only ones who wanted some privacy.”

Skippy blinked at her. ”What do you mean?”

Dar peered out again. ”Bill’s Bail Haven,” she enunciated. ”No waiting, six lines.” Her blue eyes regarded her wryly. ”We’re out near Stark.”

”Stark?” Steven asked, obviously disgruntled at having his discussion interrupted. ”What are you talking about, Dar?”

”The federal penitentiary,” came the droll response. ”There’s also a state jail out near here if I’m not mistaken. No wonder it’s empty.”

”Oh, well, we’re not going there,” Skippy assured her. ”It’s a camp just west of here, really. We wouldn’t take you to a prison.”

”Oh, I don’t know,” Steven sniped. ”I’d like to see that, myself.”

Dar gazed at him. ”Steven, you’d have a lot more to worry about than I would,” she replied silkily.

He leaned back. ”Oh, I don’t think so. I think those women would knock that tough attitude of yours right off.”

Dar put her hands on her hips, and smiled at him. “They might try.

Idiots have been known to.”

Skippy had been watching them, her head bobbing between them like an errant, blonde ping-pong ball. ”Oh, do you two know each other well?” she asked brightly.

Steven studied Dar’s tall form speculatively. ”C’mon, Dar. Those days are long behind you. Cut the crap.” He laughed. ”When was the
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last time you even hit the mat?”

”Mat?” Skippy seemed to sense a fight, and dove into an attempt to divert it. ”What kind of mats are those? Are you into aerobics? I am.”

Dar decided to ignore them, and instead strolled off down the aisle, ending up in the back of the bus where there was a toilet and a small refrigerator. Dar opened the fridge, finding a can of Yoo-hoo to her muted delight. She also picked up a bag of pretzels and held on as the bus took a right turn and slowed drastically.

”Oh, we’re almost there.” Skippy stood up and went to her seat at the front, gathering up her stack of paper and peering out the front window. ”Okay, folks. You’d better wake up, because the road gets a little bumpy up here and I don’t want anyone to get scared.” Her perky voice stirred the rest of the group, who struggled awake, peering around.

Dar made her way back to her seat and dropped into it, opening her soda and sucking at it in silence. A blonde head appeared over the seat in front of her and she glanced up, only just barely keeping herself from giving Kerry a friendly smile. The green eyes, amber in the bus’s low light, twinkled a little in acknowledgment. She offered Kerry some pretzels.

”Thanks,” Kerry replied politely, selecting one and munching on it.

The bus turned to the right again and now it felt like they were going over a thousand bumps, the vibration rattling through them unpleasantly.

”Jesu Christo,” José blurted. ”What kind of place is this we’re going to?” They all peered out the windows, but could only see darkness and trees, whose leaves slapped against the bus’s tall sides. After ten minutes of rattling, the bus slowed and pulled in under some kind of portal, now rocking unevenly as the road turned to soft dirt.

Finally, the bus stopped and the interior lights came on. ”Okay.”

Skippy faced them. ”We’re in front of the main hall. We’re going to get off the bus and I’ll walk you over to your cabin.” She checked a list. ”We have some hot coffee in the hall and some sandwiches if you’re hungry, but this camp is not a luxury hotel, okay?”

”Does that mean we have only mustard or catsup but not both?”

Duks commented dryly as he hefted his bag to his shoulder.

Skippy smiled. ”You’ll see. We try to make it so you don’t concentrate on your surroundings, but on each other instead.” She led the way. ”Well, let’s get started!”

They got off the bus and were assaulted by cold air full of the smell of pine and sand. In front of them was a wooden building with a porch that circled most of it, and they followed Skippy up the stairs and through the swinging door.

It was a drab place and Dar was forcibly reminded of a few Navy camps she’d been in during her younger years. There were trestle tables arranged in neat rows, with long, narrow benches next to them, and 54

Melissa Good

faded banners on the walls. The place had been swept, but it was chilled inside, and only three lights were on, lending a dank, almost dingy quality to it. ”Nice,” she stated with a shake of her head. ”What is this place?”

Skippy looked up from her papers. ”It’s a YMCA camp,” she replied, with a slightly smug smile.

Eleanor had been looking around and now she stared at the woman, aghast. ”You can’t expect us to stay in this disgusting place.”

She tugged her jacket around her. ”This is ludicrous.”

José stepped up next to her. ”I must agree. This is not a place for people like us.” He waved a hand at her. ”There must be a hotel around here.”

Duks perched on the edge of a table. ”I could protest this on religious grounds,” he stated, mildly, glancing at Mariana. ”Do I have a case?”

The Personnel VP blew out a breath. ”I have to admit, this is not what I expected from your company,” she addressed Skippy. ”I know this is not the kind of facility they used in Houston.”

Steven had been roaming around, studying the walls. ”Oh, I don’t know. It’s not so bad.” He turned a smile on them. ”Kinda reminds me of when I was a Boy Scout.” He spread his arms out. ”C'mon, it’s only for two nights. Lots of fresh air would probably do us all some good.”

He took in a deep breath.

As though by common accord they all turned to Dar, who was leaning against the wall. The tall Operations VP shrugged. ”I’ve been in worse,” she commented. ”My guess is there’s no other place around here, right?” Her eyes went to Skippy.

”No.” The perky blonde looked disturbed. ”They assured us you wouldn’t have any problem with this place. We were very explicit in describing it.”

José snorted. ”They must be laughing their asses off at us.” He spat disgustedly. ”Big joke, big joke, wait until I get back there. I’m going to call up those bastards and give them a piece of my mind.” He pointed at Dar. ”See what you got us into?”

”Yes, I hold you responsible for this, Dar.” Eleanor agreed. ”What were you thinking of?”

Mariana got between them. ”Wait a minute. This has nothing to do with Dar.”

”Of course it does,” Steven interrupted smoothly. ”Her lack of cooperation is what landed us here, Mariana, but now that we’re here, we might as well make the best of it.” He smiled at Skippy, who still appeared very upset. ”I’m sure we’ll carry on, despite what old Dar’s gotten us into.”

”That’s a very good attitude St...I mean, Mr. Fabricini,” Skippy asserted.

Dar gave them all a dour look, realizing Steven had won a point.

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”Arguing about this right now is pointless,” she stated evenly. ”We can discuss it when we get back to Miami, or better yet, we can all take a flight over to Houston and talk about it with Alastair directly.”

BOOK: Hurricane Watch - DK2
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