"Lindy… don’t cry, please. It’s all right. It doesn’t matter." He pulled her more completely into his embrace and held her tightly.

The memory of his look when he’d stumbled into the bathroom caused her to laugh and cry at the same time.

"Honey…please. I can’t bear the thought that I’ve made you cry. You are crying, aren’t you?"

Lindy laughed aloud, then sobbed. She reached for his hand to kiss his knuckles. "Did you burn yourself when you spilled the coffee?"

He looked at her as though they should give serious consideration to having her committed to a mental facility. "No," he said tightly.

"I’m so sorry," she told him, spreading kisses over the edge of his jaw. "Oh, Rush, I thought horrible things of you. I thought – "

"I can guess," he muttered, cutting her off.

"But you’re good and honorable and I was so wrong."

He chuckled and shook his head. "If you had a hint of what I was thinking of doing right now, you’d amend the honorable portion."

It was difficult to read his expression, but what she saw there caused her to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him with a hunger that left them both shaking.

"Shall I tell you what I’m thinking, Rush Callaghan?"

Chapter Six

"Rush, guess what?" Breathless with excitement, Lindy let herself into the apartment and stopped abruptly, swallowing the remainder of her good news. Another man was standing next to Rush, and it looked as though the two had been arguing, or at least heatedly discussing something.

For the first time in recent memory, Rush didn’t look pleased to see her. Apparently she’d arrived at the worst possible time. Her dark eyes met his and she offered a silent apology. His brief smile both reassured and warmed her.

After an awkward moment, Rush stepped forward. "Lindy, this is Jeff Dwyer. Jeff, this is Lindy Kyle, Steve Kyle’s little sister."

Jeff resembled a fat cat who had just been presented with a pitcher of rich cream. The corners of his mouth twitched with the effort to suppress a smile, and his eyes fairly danced with mischief and delight. "I can’t tell you how pleased I am to meet you, Lindy."

"Thank you." Her gaze moved from Rush to Jeff and then back to Rush, who gave her a fleeting smile that revealed his chagrin. He wasn’t overly pleased about something, but he wasn’t angry, either.

"Since Rush didn’t bother to explain, I will," Jeff went on to say. "We’re both officers aboard the Mitchell. Rush and I’ve worked together for the past four years." He hesitated and rubbed the side of his jaw. "Until recently I thought I knew everything there was about my fellow officer, but I guess I was wrong."

Rush placed his hands in his pants pockets, ignoring the comment. "Jeff and his wife Susan are visiting downtown Seattle this afternoon."

Jeff couldn’t have looked more pleased. Lindy didn’t know what was happening between the two men, but she’d apparently loused things up for Rush.

"Sue’s having the twins’ pictures taken at one of those fancy studios," Jeff continued. "She didn’t seem to need me, so I thought I’d stop off and see my good buddy Rush."

Lindy nodded, not knowing how else to respond.

"How long have you – ah, been living here?" Jeff asked.

Unsure, Lindy’s gaze sought Rush’s.

"It’s not what you’re implying, Jeff." Rush’s frown was fierce as he glared at his friend. "In case you didn’t hear me the first time, I’ll say it once more. Lindy is Steve Kyle’s little sister."

Again the edges of the other man’s mouth moved spastically. Jeff looked to be exerting a good deal of effort to hold back his amusement. The more pleased the other man’s look became, the darker Rush’s frown grew.

"I heard you," Jeff said.

"Isn’t it about time for you to pick up Susan and the kids?" Rush asked in an emotionless tone that was devoid of humor.

Jeff made a show of looking at his wristwatch. "I suppose," he admitted reluctantly. His gaze drifted to Lindy. "It was a pleasure to meet you. A real pleasure. Next time, I’ll bring Sue along."

"I’d like that."

Rush was already standing next to the front door when Jeff left her. Lindy could vaguely hear the two exchange farewells followed by a couple of heated whispers.

"What was that all about?" she asked, once Rush had returned.


"Don’t give me that, Rush Callaghan. I know better."

He lapsed into silence for a moment. "Jeff came over to investigate a suspicion."


"How did your day go?"

His effort to change the subject wasn’t subtle, but Lindy could tell pressuring him to explain what had been going on between him and Jeff Dwyer wouldn’t do her any good.

"Oh," she said, her eyes rounding with excitement. "I nearly forgot." Her hands eagerly started digging through her purse, tossing aside her compact and eel-skin wallet in her rush. Triumphantly she held up two tickets. "I got box seats for the Mariners’ game tonight." When Rush just stood there staring at her, she blinked back her disappointment. She’d hoped he’d be as enthusiastic about attending the game as she was. "You do like baseball, don’t you?"

His nod was decidedly absent. "Box seats?"

"On the one-hundred level. A girl I work with got them through the office. She can’t go tonight, and asked if I could use them." Lindy had been so eager she could hardly make it back to the apartment fast enough, convinced Rush would want to see the Mariners play as much as she did. But looking at him now, she wasn’t sure what to think. "Why are you looking at me like that?" she demanded, a little piqued.

"Like what?"

"Like that…. Just now."

He shrugged. "I was just thinking about something Jeff said. I’m sorry. Did you say something I missed?"

Slowly Lindy shook her head. He hadn’t told her any part of his conversation with his friend, and Lindy knew it would be useless to even try to get him to discuss the details with her.

"Do you want to go to the game or would you rather skip the whole thing?" She tried to sound nonchalant, but she was really hoping Rush would want to attend the game.

"The game, of course. Don’t you think you’d better change clothes? Starting time is in another forty-five minutes."

"Right." Still confused, Lindy moved down the hallway to her bedroom. She didn’t know what to make of Rush today. They’d been getting along so well lately, spending as much time together as possible, cramming all they could into the days and nights before the Mitchell left.

In three days they’d done something together every night. Tuesday he’d taken her to the Woodland Park Zoo, and they’d fed peanuts to the elephants and been splashed while watching the playful antics of the seals. Wednesday they’d gone on a picnic on the shores of Lake Washington, where Rush had lain on the sweet-scented lawn, resting his head on her thigh while he nibbled on a long blade of grass. Thursday they’d eaten fish and chips on the waterfront and strolled hand in hand in and out of the tourist shops that dotted the wharf. Each night they’d laughed and joked and talked freely. And each night Rush had kissed her. Once. And only once. As though anything more would be too much temptation for him to handle. Rush treated her with kid gloves, touching her as if he were handling live ammunition. His kiss was always gentle, always controlled – too controlled to suit Lindy. If she hadn’t felt the soul-wrenching reluctance and regret in every part of him when he gently left her arms, she would have been deeply discouraged.

Lindy knew that Rush was having problems dealing with the emotions she aroused in him. He didn’t trust their attraction. Didn’t trust her, believing she couldn’t possibly know her own heart so soon after Paul. And perhaps, Lindy realized, Rush didn’t trust himself. He’d certainly gone out of his way to behave like an endearing older brother – except when he lowered his guard just a little each night to kiss her. He wanted her. He’d told her as much, and she wanted him. But the time for them wasn’t right.

As fast as she could Lindy changed out of her work clothes and rejoined Rush in the kitchen, prepared to hurry to the baseball game. He took one look at her and burst out laughing.

"What’s so funny?"

"You. I thought you said we were going to watch the game. You look like you plan to participate in it."

She’d chosen faded jeans, a Mariner T-shirt and Steve’s old baseball cap. "Have you got a problem with this, fellow?" she asked him, her eyes sparkling with fun and laughter.

Still grinning, Rush shook his head. "Come on, Babe Ruth, we’ve got a game to see."

They were settled in their box seats with foot-long hot dogs, a bag of peanuts and cold drinks by the time the first pitch was tossed. Rush had never been much into baseball. Football was his game, but he couldn’t have refused Lindy anything. Her energy and enthusiasm for life were like a breath of fresh tangy air after a storm at sea. Being with her stirred his senses to vibrant life and made him glad for who and what he was. There were odd moments, now and then, when he resisted the magnetic pull he felt toward her and recounted the arguments – that she was too young, too vulnerable and his best friend’s sister. But each day the echoes from his conscience came back weaker and his arguments sounded flatter. He was losing the battle, convinced he was being swept away in the whirlpool with little control over what was happening to either of them. For the most part Rush had given up the struggle and was living one day at a time, spending time with Lindy, savoring the moments they were together. But he couldn’t, wouldn’t allow the fickle Fates to carry him where they would, knowing full well they’d place him with Lindy, warm and willing, in his bed.

Jeff Dwyer knew him well enough to have guessed something had changed Rush’s life. The day before Jeff had confronted Rush and suggested that he revealed all the symptoms of a man in love. Rush had denied that, probably a lot more forcefully than he should have, because Jeff had gone on to enumerate the changes he’d seen in Rush since the Mitchells arrival back in Bremerton.

Not willing to drop the matter, Jeff had shown up at the apartment. He seemed to take delight in informing Rush that he’d been watching him closely of late. Jeff had noticed how quickly Rush left work the minute his shift was over, as if he couldn’t wait to get back to his apartment. It used to be that Rush hung around awhile to shoot the bull with the other guys. No more. Rush was out of the shipyard like greased lightning. And furthermore, Jeff had claimed, Rush walked around with a cocky half smile, as though he found something highly amusing. As far as Jeff was concerned, these telltale symptoms added up to one thing: a woman.

Rush hadn’t argued with his friend. He’d simply refused to discuss the subject. A lot of good it had done him. Just when he’d thought he was making headway and Jeff was about to drop the entire matter, Lindy had come bursting in the front door. Her eyes had glowed and sparkled as they sought him, confirming everything Jeff had been saying ten times over.

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