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An Unexpected Catch

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"Come on, beautiful. You know you want me to catch you," Dan crooned.

But instead of letting him bring her in, the fish on his line just fought harder, nearly yanking the rod out of his hands in her desperation to get away.

Dan chuckled. "Nice try. But you'll have to do better than that." He pulled her back, gradually reeling the line in as he tugged. Then came the magic moment. The one charmed instant when all the fight left his prey, leaving her vulnerable to his attack.

"That's it," he murmured, working as fast as he could to reel her in.

So of course his phone chose that moment to ring. And of course he could tell by the ring tone that it was his mother. Should he answer it? It was Saturday morning, turnover day for their family's vacation rental business. She might need him. But then, he had six freaking brothers and sisters. Surely one of them could do it? Whatever it was? After all, it wasn't every day, or even every decade when a man got a grouper of this size on his line...

But that short moment of hesitation was all it took for the fish to get her might back. Without warning, his pole went flying out of the boat and plunged under the angry gray sea, still attached to the grouper that would have earned him a front page story in the island newspaper had he landed her.

"Shit!"

That rod and reel hadn't been his best, but they had been his favorite. All thanks to his damned mother.

As if on cue, the phone started to ring. He growled silently. If that woman had any sense she'd hang up now...

But he answered anyway. "What?"

"Daniel Clarence McGowan. Is that any way to speak to your mother?"

The ice in her voice was enough to make him blanche, even at the ripe old age of 31.

"Sorry, mom. But you just cost me the catch of the century."

"Well, we might just have the intruder of the century over at the Clam Bake."

"The old Johnson place? What do you mean?"

"Marlene says there are lights on and music blaring... and no one's supposed to be there for another three weeks."

Of course Marlena regularly sounded the alarm about non-existent intruders at all six of the Island Time rentals she could see from her front porch, but he knew better than to mention it.

Instead, he sighed. Loudly. "Alright, I'm on my way."

"Thank you, honey. And you won't forget Anna's birthday party on Wednesday, will you?"

As if he could. His mother had been reminding him about his sister's 40th birthday celebration for weeks.

"I'll be there," was all he said.

"Good." And on that unceremonious note, his mother hung up.

Dan turned the boat toward the Johnson place. The sooner he confirmed the only intruders there were of the phantom variety, the better. Maybe he could still catch up with that grouper if he hurried.

***

Lily look warily at the old hammock swaying gently back and forth on the dock. She was pretty sure it had stood in the same spot since she was born. She'd spent many an hour snuggled up next to her grandmother in its depths when she was small. And then, later, making out with Dan...

She cut that thought off before it could go any further. She did not want to think about Dan. It was bad enough that his name could still make her blush all these years later.

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