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“Darn, it’s getting cold.” Jordan shivered and zipped her sweat shirt. Storms scared her, especially thunder and lightning. A movement caught the corner of her eye as she swiped at some papers flying across the deck. Something just washed up on the shore. Something big.
Dark clouds hovered across the lake while lighting streaked across the sky, as she jumped off the deck and raced toward the craggy shoreline. Cold water splashed against her as waves crashed against the rocks like angry arms hurling water at an invisible enemy. The muffled sounds of thunder echoed in the distance. The air crackled with electricity. Probably just a bunch of old clothes washed up. Still, she had to see for herself.
Surely, no one in their right mind would be in the water this time of year? Everyone knew how quickly storms stirred up on Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Dangerous enough in the summer, this time of year, most boats had been dry docked. Not to mention, storm warnings had been broadcast on the radio and TV all morning. No one would be stupid enough to ignore the forecast. Would they?
Heavy rain and strong winds turning to snow with a drastic drop in temperature, and blizzard like conditions weren’t anything to ignore, especially on the lake. Jordan winced as lightning flashed again, back-lighting the dark clouds. Looked more like sunset than the middle of the day. Darn it, she wanted to be inside cuddling by the fire not out here in a storm. For two cents, she’d turn around and go back, but something stopped her. Something drew her forward.
A man’s body against the rocks.
Oh, Lord, please don’t let him be dead, she sent up a silent prayer. Sure didn’t look like the quiet weekend she planned writing. So much for looking forward to the first weekend without all the fall tourists. A weekend with a corpse wasn’t on her list of quiet. But she couldn’t leave him out here, either.
Jordan stooped down, lifted his head out of the water, above the crashing waves, and felt for a pulse. Thank God, he was alive. Now, how was she going to get him out of here? She grabbed his arm, turned him over, and tried to pull him from the fury of the lake. Wave after wave pounced on him, their foamy peaks reaching out to reclaim him.
“Damn it!” Jordan slipped and joined him in the surf. Wet, cold, and angry, she struggled to pull him to higher ground, lost her breath, and fell again. This wasn’t going to work. His long, muscular frame outweighed her slender five foot two body and felt like dead weight.
“You’re going to have to help me.” She grunted and gasped for breath, when the full force of icy waves pulled her down and washed over both of them.
“Damn it. I can’t do this alone.”
Still no response.
“I hate to do this, but I see no alternative.” Jordan took a deep breath and pushed him over, rolling him like a barrel while trying to avoid cutting him on the sharp rocks. It wasn’t easy, but at least she managed to move him.
“Come on!” She tried to encourage some life from his limp body. Far enough away from the waves, she leaned down to give him mouth to mouth, hoping to bring him around. His long straight nose, eyes set wide with bushy eyebrows, and the grin on his lips, even in his unconscious state, sent a ripple of excitement through her.
Not a handsome man, but something about him stirred deep inside. Resisting the urge to run her fingers through his curly black hair, she leaned down to his mouth. When her lips touched his and opened them slightly, something familiar tugged on her heart. She hadn’t touched a man's mouth in, what, three years. This wasn’t exactly the way she imagined touching them again. Not that she ever imagined it. Never even thought about it. She’d had enough of men to last her a lifetime.
“Good grief, Jordan, you’re supposed to save him, not make out with him. What’s the matter with you?” The sound of her voice startled her. She hadn’t meant to speak out loud. Fortunately, the man didn’t hear her. She blew in his mouth again.
His chest heaved. He coughed, spluttered, spit water, and opened his eyes.
His gray blue eyes sparked something in her, bringing out emotions she hadn’t felt since long before Derek. Her stomach lurched. She moved away, avoided his touch. He pushed himself up on his elbows. Looked around.
“Daisy,” he moaned. “Daisy?”
Jordan jumped up, stood on tiptoe and scanned the shoreline. “Who’s Daisy?” She continued to search, looking for a body, a dog, she didn’t know what. The rain threatened to start any minute. She smelled it. They needed to get to shelter and quick.
The temperature had already dropped, making the chilly October air downright cold. Being wet didn’t help. Not seeing anyone or anything and receiving no answer from the stranger, she turned back toward him.
“Come on.” She grabbed his hand and tried to pull him to his feet. He fell back and passed out again. “Damn it, I don’t need this.” What had she done to deserve this? All she wanted was to curl up in front of her fire and read or write.
“Get up, let’s go!” Lifting his head, she tried to bring him around, slapping his face lightly. Raindrops fell and quickly turned into a torrential downpour. She flinched again as lightning streaked across the sky. Thunder boomed. God, she hated storms.
“Come on, wake up. Damn it, why me? Why’d you wash up on my shoreline? The hell with it.” Having no choice, she pushed his limp form over and over, stopping often to catch her breath. Unsure where the strength came from, she rolled his large body across the sand toward her house.
“Okay now.” Jordan leaned down, put her hands under his arms, and taking a deep breath, pulled with all her might. Somehow, she managed to drag him up the step onto the deck. She wiped her face with the back of her hand as the wind whipped long strands of wet hair into her face. Freezing rain pellets pounded her, stinging her arms even through her sweatshirt. “Just a little more.” Fighting the wind and gasping for breath, she dragged him through the door into the great room and fell into a heap on top of him.
After catching her breath, she rolled him across the floor toward the fireplace.
“That’s as far as you go, Bud.” Exhausted, cold, and soaked, Jordan couldn’t believe she had moved this large hunk all the way from the rocks into her house. Sitting down next to him, she shivered and brushed the water from his face. Where had he come from? How long had he been in the cold water? She hadn’t seen a boat, but the familiar brown vest and boots told her he’d been on a fishing trip. Pretty dumb if you asked her.
Probably a tourist. Shivering from the cold, she stood, and hurried to get towels and blankets. After drying him off, she removed his clothes, trying to avoid the sight of his naked body. For a moment, she stared at his long muscular legs and tanned burly chest. She swallowed hard. Heat flared, deep within and stirred a yearning in her.
Pushing aside her feelings, she managed to get him into a robe left over from Derek, pushing, rolling, and pulling his body to get his arms into the sleeves. She smiled at the too short robe. Derek was only five foot-ten, this guy was well over six feet. After covering him with blankets and putting a pillow under his head, she hurried to change into dry clothes of her own.