Where last Friday's moonlit scene ended up tangled in the sand, this one ends with the characters tangled in a murder... I felt I had to edit it a bit to keep it PG, but really it's not more than PG-13 in the actual book. Not this scene, at least...
After dinner, they descended the stairs next to the wharf and walked along the sandy stretch of low-tide beach running parallel to the commercial strip. The full moon reflected off the Atlantic, sending rhythmic ripples of silver and gold washing onto the shore. The dark pilings of the wharf loomed behind them, the low sounds of laughter and voices drifting from the shadows.
“I hope you don’t mind if we skip going to the club to meet your assistant. So many people crammed into too small a space. This is nicer.” She smiled up at him and his heart skipped a beat.
“Totally fine with me.” He managed to control his voice, sounding normal even if his erratic heartbeat wouldn’t listen to him. “I’m not much for the club scene anyway. Makes me feel old.”
She snorted. “You’re not old, Dr. Anderson. Merely intense.” Emma reached for his hand, twining her fingers through his, giving them a squeeze. “I love to walk on the beach after dinner, don’t you? Especially at low tide, like this, when the beach stretches on and on and the sky is filled with a multitude of stars shining down, little pinpricks in the blackness where the gods and angels can watch over us. Or spy on us. Whichever. The possibilities seem endless on nights like tonight.”
Several of those possibilities raced through his mind, each scenario steamier than the last. He clamped his mouth shut, stifling a groan. This wasn’t like him. He was usually calm, cool, and collected. Since when did his daydreams all turn pornographic?
Since you met Emma, the voice in his head reminded him.
She stared up at the night sky long enough to count each and every star. “When I was born, my dad was out at sea, fishing. He promised he’d be home to take Mom to the hospital in Hyannis, but couldn’t make it back to shore because of a storm.”
“So what did she do?” Chase snaked his hand under the arm of her sweater, her skin like silk sliding under his fingertips as he drew nonsensical lines along her forearm.
“You need to realize, the nearest hospital is an hour and a half from Provincetown. It was fall, but still the end of tourist season, so things were busy. My mom had to make promises to the woman who drove her there.”
“Promises? Like pledging your firstborn?”
She shook her head. “Almost worse. She let her choose my middle name.”
He chuckled and slid his other arm around her waist, pulling her closer. “What did she choose?” Despite the darkness, he saw her roll her eyes. “Come on, it can’t be that bad.”
“My mom was at her shop when her water broke. It was the tarot card reader next door who drove her to Hyannis.”
“And your middle name is…”
“Andromeda.” She said it so softly he barely heard.
“Like the constellation? Or the daughter of Cassiopeia?”
Emma blew out a long breath. “I guess she meant the constellation, because she told my mom the stars would bring Dad home. Sure enough, he showed up at the hospital the very next morning. But I was already saddled with one heck of a middle name.”
“I like it.”
Her voice came out as a whisper. “You do?”
He nodded slowly. “I like you, too.” He bent his head to capture her mouth. She leaned into him slightly, brushing his lips with her tongue, inviting him to explore further. The kiss quickly deepened, her body pressed tight, urging him to take more. Primal need seared through his body. He found the bottom edge of her tank top and slipped underneath to caress the silky heat of the bare skin at her waist. She shuddered and pulled away from the kiss, nipping his bottom lip.
“Wow,” she whispered, catching her breath. “Is this still part of that science experiment of yours?” Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight, filled with wanting but also uncertainty.
He touched his forehead to hers and waited for his breathing to even out. “I think we’ve officially ruled out any scientific anomaly. But there’s still plenty of room for exploration.” He kissed her again, tasting the salt of the night air on her lips, satisfying his hunger better than any seafood. She opened to him, leaning into his kiss.
His world spun out of control as she clutched his shoulders and held on until he needed to come up for air to stop the world from reeling. He tucked her head under his chin and held her body against his, breathing in her honey lemon scent with each panting breath, trying to steady himself. Hot breath puffed against his chest, another small tremor running through her. “I never planned for this,” he said.
“Do you always have a plan?”
“Kiss me again.”
He cradled her face with his hands and kissed her softly, running his tongue over her lips, down her neck, kissing the soft spot at the base of her throat. She trembled at his touch, moving her hands over the muscles in his back.
“You’re driving me crazy,” she said in a breathless voice that sent even more blood pounding to his groin. “But we should probably stop. I mean, we’re, um, still kind of in public.”
His lips brushed over her ear. “There’s no one near,” he whispered, unable to think clearly.
“Chase, please.” Her breathy whisper sent another jolt to his groin. “Let’s leave the beach. Now.” He nodded, his logical brain kicking into gear to estimate the quickest route back to his motel room. He captured her mouth for one more kiss, tamping down on his haze of need while he wondered whether to flag a taxi or one of those pedicabs.
A scream from somewhere nearby pierced the night air. He tore his mouth from hers, looking toward the source of the noise. Shouts followed, along with the sounds of feet pounding on the wooden staircase and along the boardwalk. Streams of shadows swirled above and below the pier, bodies scurrying through the darkness while the screams went on and on.
“What’s happening?” Emma pulled away, shoving her shirt down, moving toward the sound.
Chase tried to hold her back. “Where are you going?”
“Didn’t you hear that? A woman’s screaming!”
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to run toward danger?”
She cocked her head. “Someone needs help. Either come with me, or let me go.”
Reluctantly he followed her lead, unwilling to release his grasp on her hand. The evening’s “endless possibilities” quickly dissolved from fantasy into nightmare. Drawing closer to the shadowy pillars of the wharf, Chase saw the dark shape sprawled on the sand before Emma did. The screams subsided, but a handful of people remained near the body, phones snapping away at the scene, flashes of light punctuating the grim darkness. At his side, Emma gasped. “Oh. My. God. Is that…?”
Police sirens blared from street level, cutting off her words. Red and white lights flashed, uniformed officers swarmed onto the beach, illuminating the shadows with searchlights and stopping anyone from leaving the scene. One of the beacons caught Emma and Chase in its glare along with several other onlookers.
“All of you over there,” shouted a gruff voice over a bullhorn. “Stay where you are.”
Find out what happens next (and what I deleted...) by grabbing a copy on AMAZON.