"That’s my boat anchored there. Would you like to go out for a look, Valerie? I can carry youthat short distance. The water is as calm as you’ll ever see it. You won’t get one drop of water on you."She saw him glance at her feet. He’d be sure to notice how her toes had curled into the sand,prepared to propel into flight. Jittery, and fearing it showed, she was unsure whether toattempt leaving in a trail of smoke. "I don’t like boats or being away from land."Her head down, Val started walking, picking up her pace, but he remained at her elbow.
Why did I come here alone?
Her eyes focused on the beach ahead.
Keep yourself together. Don’t let him know you’re frightened.
house on the bluff, haven’t you... the onethat’s an old winery?" Her steps increased, almost to a run."Yes. Its panoramic view of the ocean is magnificent.""Are the vats in the cellar still in use?""You’re familiar with the place?" His eyes gleamed with more interest than she thought thequestion warranted. What was going on behind his raised brow?"I don’t know it well," she replied, then consciously forced her breath to a more regular flow. "Iwas in there once as a child. It’s spooky!"He smiled. The tension drained from his face.~ * ~Slightly ahead of her, Calum stopped, pleased she stopped as well and didn’t try to go aroundhim. He hadn’t intended for her to get this far from the yacht, but he’d lost himself in thepretended warmth of her conversation. He wished she were more relaxed in his company, butshe didn’t know his plans so he couldn’t expect her to accept his suggestions with commonsense. Calum didn’t want to get physical on the beach in case anyone chose to walk downhere. He could follow plan B; it would be just as effective.Calum pointed to his home. "Those wide-arched doors allow trucks to deliver the grapesinside for fermenting. Would you like to come in and sniff the aroma? You’ve got your camera; maybe you’d like to take pictures for an assignment.""No. It’s getting late. I’m sure Butch will want to leave... how’d you know about my nextassignment? I haven’t told Dad yet.""I
know you had another one. It was just a supposition, a coincidence, I guess." Hewatched her eyes become slits; her lips tightened. He knew she wasn’t buying his excuse,but she didn’t try to rush away, either. His brain numbed, stupefied at yet another blunder. Hewasn’t accustomed to making mistakes. His biggest mistake was that he had miscalculatedher wariness.He had researched his scheme carefully and thought he could predict her actions, but shehadn’t taken the yacht or the winery bait.
What was wrong with her?
Dammit, she’s making shambles of my plans sending my time and effort down the tubes
.At a loss, he scanned the beach. They were still alone and near where she had parked her footwear. He walked over and snatched her shoes, one in each hand, rethinking his strategy."Come over to that large rock and I’ll help you put these on." He carried them closer to thewinery, then stretching out both arms offered them as if tempting a skittery animal into acage.