To make matters worse, the water was freaking cold. Apparently, the hurricane had stirred the ocean, pulling shallow, warm water out to sea and cold, deep water up to the surface. Her teeth were chattering like a high-speed typewriter by the time she climbed the rickety ladder into the back of the boat.
The driver’s gaze raked down her nearly naked body once and then, blessedly, the man turned away to face the wheel. The boat engine started with a cough. She took the scrap of terry cloth Alex passed her.
Swear to God, the towel was covered with grease stains. But it was that or freeze to death before she got dry. She threw Alex a long-suffering look and used the disgusting towel. He was doing this on purpose, punishing her for not staying at home like he’d wanted her to.
Tough. She might not like the whole idea of him going to Cuba one bit, but if he did insist on going, no way was she letting him go alone. He was her man, and she was protective.
After a few minutes of letting the brisk breeze finish drying her skin, she shivered and shook her way back into her jeans and T-shirt. She added a sweatshirt from her bag and gradually began to feel her fingers and toes once more.
The boat bumped along over waist-high waves that Pedro assured them were wonderfully calm seas after the recent storm. She failed to convince her stomach of that, however, and ended up barfing ignominiously off the back of the boat. She felt better afterward, but the whole experience sucked.
Alex suggested she try to sleep and made her a nest in some piled fishing net, which stunk of raw fish. She was so miserable, though, that she curled up in it and managed to pass out for a couple of hours.
Pedro said something about it being about seventy miles from Inagua to Baracoa, and Alex said something about the trip taking about four or five hours. She didn’t think she was ever going to get off that bobbing little boat and see solid land again. Clearly she was not Navy material like her brother, Mike.
Finally, as a spectacular sunset stained the western sky in a dizzying display of color, a black hump took shape on the horizon below the sunset.
“There it is,” Alex said. “Cuba.”
“How come there aren’t any lights—” She broke off. Because of the hurricane. She supposed coming ashore right after the storm like this would make it a lot easier to sneak onto the island. At least, that was probably the idea.
But as the shore drew near, she saw there would be nothing easy about this at all. Giant waves pounded the rocky crags and cliffs that formed the coastline, sending up massive geysers of white spray in the twilight. If she and Alex tried to swim ashore in that they’d be torn to pieces on the rocks.
“How on earth are we getting from here to there?” she asked him.
“Wind blew us off course. The landing point’s a little farther north along the coast. Pedro says there’s a beach at our rendezvous point.”
She sensed another swim in her near future. Fantabulous.
The good news was they did, indeed, motor up the coast to a stretch of shoreline without the intimidating cliffs. The bad news was Pedro refused to pull in close to the shore. Apparently, the storm surge was still way up the shoreline and the man didn’t want to risk running aground on the remains of some sort of dock that had stood at this spot a few days ago.