All Micah could think about was Holly. When she stepped off the boat, tall and elegant and more beautiful than ever, he’d wanted nothing more than to sweep her into his arms and carry her off, as if they were in some goofy romantic movie. Of course, what he’d wanted to do to her next was considerably more X-rated, so playing it cool had taken some doing.
He had to admit though that she’d looked a little worn out, which was hardly surprising given the circumstances. Her deep brown eyes had lacked their usual sparkle, and that made him even more determined to find something he could do to help both her and her aunts. He knew how much Holly had appreciated the things he’d done for her last summer, and the pleasure of her company had made it more than worth it to him. Helping her out was no chore.
Not that he hadn’t been frustrated on more than one occasion, having to throttle back his lust to manageable levels. But the last thing he wanted to do was screw up their friendship, so he’d done what he had to do.
Before he could call it a day, Micah still had work to do, retrieving an Easter Island statue that Daisy Whipple had lifted from Peggy Fogg’s front yard. Daisy, the island’s seventy-year-old kleptomaniac, remained the object of bemused tolerance and even grudging affection, at least from the old-timers. Micah had long ago lost count of the number of times he’d had to recover some item she’d stolen. Not that she was a break-in artist. No, she simply plucked whatever she fancied from people’s yards when they weren’t around, or sometimes even when they were. That was always good for a laugh, although some of the newer residents weren’t really down with the joke.
Micah spotted the statue as soon as he stepped out of his Chevy Tahoe. The two-and-a-half-foot-high gray resin sculpture now occupied pride of place in one of Daisy’s raised garden plots, butted up next to her tomato vines. She probably put it in that strategic spot in the vain hope that it might frighten marauding deer away from her vegetables. It was sure ugly enough, but in his experience, nothing deterred the deer short of an electrified fence.
Micah picked up the little statue, brushed some dirt and a curled-up worm off the bottom, and deposited it in the trunk of the cruiser.
“Do you think it’s right to just up and take whatever you want, Micah Lancaster?” Daisy shouted from her half-open screen door. Short and round with steel-gray hair tied back in a ponytail, Daisy wore a cardigan over her dress in spite of the warm day. “How many times have I told you that you can’t just waltz right in and steal my property?”
“Actually, ma’am, it’s Peggy Fogg’s property,” Micah said politely. “She paid good money for it.”
“Her property? Well, so she says,” Daisy grumbled.
“I’ll ask Peggy to show me a bill of sale before I let her have it,” Micah said. Sure I will.
Daisy made a loud sniffing noise. “Well, you’d best see that you do.”
Micah and Daisy had gone through this routine so many times that they didn’t need a script. He tipped his hat to her and went to get back in the cruiser.
“Are you in such an all-fired hurry that you can’t take time for a glass of lemonade, Deputy?” she called after him.
Micah smiled as he turned to face her. “Well, you do make the best lemonade in Maine, Daisy.”
She nodded and then trundled into the house, returning moments later with a tall, iced glass of lemonade. They sat together on her creaky porch swing and talked about the weather and the deer problem for ten minutes before Micah decided he’d better get moving.
After thanking Daisy for her hospitality, he got into his car and headed back down the semi-overgrown path to Island Road, braking when he heard a rattling roar approach from his right. About a second later, a familiar golf cart buzzed by on the main road.
Rocket Roy Mayo—at it again.
Micah heaved a sigh and bumped up onto the road, turning on the cruiser’s light bar. He flipped the siren on too, since Roy never bothered to look in his rearview mirror. Then again, he knew the siren might have no effect, since the old guy tended to shun his hearing aids, and the straining cart motor made as much noise as the average jetliner. Fortunately, about a hundred yards down the road, Roy figured it out and stomped on the brakes. The cart screeched to a stop and ended up with two wheels on the sloped grass verge.
Micah put on his hat and pulled his sunglasses down. He strolled up to the cart and bent down a little to look at Roy. “Hell, Roy, is Miss Annie dying? Because that’s the only good excuse I can think of for driving this thing like some idiot teenager.”
Miss Annie was Roy’s live-in girlfriend and the widowed matriarch of the Doyle clan. She and Roy seemed to have found a crotchety sort of happiness in each other’s company.
Roy peered up with startling blue eyes that made Micah think of the North Atlantic in winter. Tall and wiry, he looked at least ten years younger than his chronological age. “Well, there’s no excuse for harassing a ninety-year-old man either, Lancaster. Not when the only thing I could hit on this goat track is a deer, and the island would be a damn sight better off without both me and the varmint if I did.”
“Roy, I have it on good authority that you’re ninety-two. But never mind, because you could definitely pass for ninety.”
The old dude bared his teeth or, more accurately, his dentures. “Ha, ha. I’ve always said you’d make a better comedian than a cop, and you’re not even funny.”
Micah laughed. “Be that as it may, here’s the deal, Rocket Man. No more free rides. One more speeding offense and I’ll have to finally confiscate your keys.”
Roy gave him a pretty credible sneer. “Just try it, sonny, because I’ll sue your ass off. And you know what else? I’ll file an age discrimination complaint with the government too. Just watch me.”
Both of them knew the exchange was mostly in fun. Despite some locals griping about Roy’s driving habits, the old guy wasn’t much of a threat to life and limb. While Roy often drove the cart too fast, he remained an efficient driver who slowed to a crawl whenever he neared the school or the busy areas around the ferry dock.
“Nothing like a litigious old codger to ruin my day,” Micah said with an exaggerated sigh.
“There you go again. Ageism, plain and simple,” Roy retorted.