“I’m not jumping,” Emma declared.
Finn couldn’t help but laugh. “I can’t believe you’re scared.”
Not one cloud danced in the bright blue sky, and the golden sun reflected the magnificent jade colored water below.
“I’m not scared.” She placed her hands on her hips. “I just don’t want to get my hair wet,” she stuttered through the lie.
Finn’s eyes danced over her five foot six toned, tanned body. Perfect from head to toe. Her shoulder-length blonde hair bobbed at her shoulders with every move she made.
“Face it, you’re terrified.” Finn continued mocking her.
From way below in the water came a voice. “Come on Em. Jump.”
It was Finn’s sister Samantha, beckoning from the swirling pool.
“I’m going to kill her for this,” Emma seethed. “Just wait till I get my hands on her.” She stomped closer to the edge.
Finn followed. “You know you want to.” He smirked at her angry glare.
She turned and stared at him. “All right,” she responded. “I’ll go if you go.”
He lost his smile. “I don’t have my trunks on.”
“You don’t need trunks. Just wear your briefs,” she said with a conniving smile.
“I’ve done this a hundred times. I live here, remember?”
“Maybe you’re the one who’s scared,” she countered.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not scared,” Finn ground out.
“Prove it. Drop ’em and jump.”
“You really are a vixen, you know that?” He unbuttoned his jeans, kicked off his shoes and approached the edge. “I’m too old for this.”
“You’re not too old. I’ll follow if you go first.”
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Finn stood looking over the edge down at the mighty Yukon River. “You better keep your end of this bargain, Emma Taggart.”
“I will.” She nodded while Finn watched her eyes travel over his body.
Finn turned and jumped from the ledge. His body hit the water and plummeted into the cool depths of the river, never hitting bottom. Slowly, he began the ascent toward the surface, happy for air he gulped into his lungs.
His sister Sam squealed with excitement while she treaded water. “I can’t believe you jumped.” She smiled at him.
“She goaded me into it.” He pointed up at Emma.
He spied her up above chewing on her finger. “Come on scaredy cat,” he shouted, knowing she’d be angry.
From over on the shore just a bit downstream stood another man watching them. “How’d he get out of this?” Finn glared at Sam.
“If Hunter jumped off the ledge Savage would follow.” She shook her head.
“Yes, really. He’s a tough wolf, but he’s still recovering from his injuries.”
“Thank heavens for Savage.” Finn smiled at her.
On the ledge Finn watched Emma turn and walk away. “I’m going to kill her if she doesn’t get that body of hers in this water.”
“I don’t know if she will.” Sam shook her head.
To their surprise Emma returned to the ledge holding something in her hands.
“What? She wouldn’t.” Finn stared up at her in disbelief as she dropped what was in her hands over the edge, then plugged her nose and jumped.
“That little…” Finn watched his pants and shirt fall to the water. “Damn her!”
Emma screamed the whole way down until her body plunged under the surface.
Samantha laughed while Finn managed to rescue his pants and shirt before they sank.
Emma broke the surface sputtering and coughing. “Ouch!” she yelled. “You didn’t tell me to hold my arms in,” she ground out. “It feels like a belly flop but worse.”
Finn swam toward her with his wet clothes in hand. “If you think that hurts wait until I get my hands on you. Your butt will have my finger imprints all over it,” he shouted back.
“Oh shit!” Emma glanced at Sam. “See you by the fire.”
Finn watched her gracefully break into a front crawl and pull away from them. “Get back here you little brat.”
“Fun times.” Sam laughed, making her way toward the shore.
Emma waded out of the cold water greeted by the large black wolf named Savage. Since the accident, the animal had to be kept under the watchful eyes of Hunter Gray and Samantha. The animal had gained huge respect from all of them, considering he’d taken a bullet that saved Hunter’s life and most likely Sam’s as well. Hunter had told her the story about how he’d come across Savage as a pup after the mother had died. Savage seemed to adopt Hunter as a parental figure from that time on. Now, only weeks after the incident, Hunter and Sam needed to ensure the furry critter didn’t get overexcited.
The tall large man handed her a towel. “By the shouting I heard I’d say Finn’s a bit unhappy with you.”
“He’ll get over it,” Emma said nonchalantly and made her way over the rocks toward the fire.
Hunter laughed. “He doesn’t look so happy.”
The sun warmed her back as she held out her hands over the fire. “Thanks for this.” She nodded at the flames.
“I’m starving and we couldn’t very well eat cold hot dogs,” he responded.
“I love hot dogs, hot or cold.” She squeezed the water from her hair.
Finn and Samantha started their way out of the river with Savage jumping like a puppy up and down waiting for Sam.
“I think he loves you more than I do,” Hunter said to Sam, wrapping the towel around her and picking her up off her feet.
“Put me down.” She swatted at him playfully.
“No, because then he’ll have you and I won’t.” Hunter glared at the jealous wolf.
“Don’t be silly.”
Finn emerged on the shore, and from a distance Emma threw a towel at him. She could see the glint of anger boiling in his dark brown eyes as he dropped his wet clothing, caught the towel and wrapped it around his waist.
“Payback’s gonna be a bitch Ms. Taggart.” He strode toward the fire.
“I look forward to it Mr. Avery.” She reached over and popped a marshmallow in her mouth.
At the early age of sixteen and wearing braces and pigtails, Emma had set her sights on Finn Avery. Eight years apart didn’t mean anything. Of course Finn hadn’t noticed a thing about her back then, but now at the age of twenty-four, she could see from his stare that he noticed a lot about her, and Emma intended to take full advantage of that. Let the games begin, she thought and smiled.