Reluctant Date

Free Reluctant Date by Sheila Claydon

Book: Reluctant Date by Sheila Claydon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sheila Claydon
with vegetation;
a beach protected on one side by a small rock-strewn promontory, and on the
other by the ramshackle order of a fishing pier that was already showing signs
of early morning activity.
    She watched as a lone fisherman busied himself with lines
and bait, and a man wearing a green fleece and a black baseball cap tied an
inflatable dinghy to one of the supporting pillars. Suddenly she wanted to be
there too.   She wanted to see Dolphin Key
and her new home from a different perspective. She wanted to know what the
fisherman hoped to catch.   She wanted to
get up close to the cluster of pelicans squabbling over a mess of spilt bait.
    Reclaiming her orange juice she gulped it down, left the
empty glass on the table, and took the stairs to her bedroom two at a
time.   In moments she had pulled on her
jeans, run cursory fingers through her hair, unearthed a cotton sweater and a
pair of trainers from the bottom of one of her suitcases, and was ready to
go.   For a moment her hands hovered above
her camera but then she turned away. Now was not the time. She needed to get a
feel for the place first, learn all about it. There would be plenty of time for
photos later.

 
    * * *

 
    The beach was deserted except for several sandpipers bobbing
about at the tide line. Claire watched them for a moment before she scattered
them by walking across the white sand to investigate the clumps of seaweed and
shingle that had been washed in by the tide.  
    Twenty minutes later, having trawled every inch of the tiny
beach, and poked at every piece of flotsam, she climbed up onto the road and
made her way across to the pier. It was busier now. A truck, with a trailer
attached, was unloading a motorboat onto the slipway, and a few more fishermen
had arrived and were standing in a group. Without pausing in their discussion,
they nodded as she walked past them. Claire gave a shy smile. She wasn’t used
to being acknowledged by complete strangers because in recent years she had
chosen to be a city girl, not someone living somewhere as small as Dolphin Key.  
    Less than a thousand inhabitants, Daniel had told her when
he was filling in the details about the job. What else had he said? That its
main income came from tourism; that it took ecology seriously; that it was an
ideal place to get away from the pressures of life.   And something else too! She paused in her
stroll along the pier. Something about everybody knowing everybody else’s
business. Something about it not just being the summer heat that was stifling.
Then he had laughed and changed the subject, telling her to take no notice of
him; saying it would be different for her because she hadn’t been brought up
there.
    She leaned on the railing and stared across the bay to her
new home, keen to see it from a new perspective. She noticed she had left the
door to the balcony wide open and quickly dismissed it. At four stories up her
apartment was hardly going to be a major attraction for any would be intruder.
With a shrug she turned her attention to the building as a whole and
immediately her face creased into a delighted smile.   She was living in a wooden clapboard house,
ON STILTS, for goodness sake!   She
guessed it was to protect it from flooding but it still felt as if she was
living in a storybook…apart from the bit about being rescued by a handsome
prince of course because, unfortunately, her particular handsome prince had
made it very clear that other, far more important things, occupied him.   She sighed.   Whatever had got into her? This was the twenty-first century, and
damsels, distressed or otherwise, had been looking out for themselves for a
very long time.

 
    * * *

 
    “Good morning. Did you sleep well?” The voice and the
question came from somewhere below her.
    Peering over the railing she saw Daniel smiling up at her
from the stern of the dinghy she had noticed from her balcony.   He was the man in the baseball cap, except
that now he had

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