Deep in thought, he hadn’t noticed Joey inching her way toward the garage until it was too late. She stood in front of him holding the hose nozzle like she was about to shoot a pistol, with a shit-eating grin.
“Don’t you fucking dare.” His helmet muffled his warning, but the cocked eyebrow indicated she’d heard him just fine.
He flipped off his helmet and tossed it away from the ATV so the inevitable water fight didn’t ruin it. He turned off the four-wheeler and stashed the key in his pocket. “Do you really want to find out?”
“Maybe I do,” she sassed him, and he chuckled. He liked this playful, ballsy side of her. He’d had a glimpse of it a few times over the months, but she always tried to keep it in check. Today—however, she was balls to the wall.
“Then go for it. I dare you. I triple dog fucking dare you.” He stood with a foot on each platform straddling the ATV with his hands resting on the handlebars. She pushed the trigger. Hot water pelted him in the chest as the hose cleared the water that had been sitting in the line all day. Two seconds later, cold water showered him, hitting him in the face, the chest, and she even had the audacity to aim for his groin.
Hurdling over the ATV, his feet splashed in the mud created by her water escapade. Screaming, she dropped the hose and ran through his back yard. He followed. She had some speed. He’d give her that. All the running she did at the beach paid off, but he was faster.
In ten strides, he wrapped an arm around her middle. Her legs dangled in the air as he swung her around and walked her back to the garage area.
“Stop, Talon! Stop!” She kicked and wriggled attempting to escape, but he tightened his hold.
“I warned you, didn’t I?” Still holding her with one arm, he bent and swiped the hose off the ground.
“Talon Manness! You wouldn’t,” she shrieked.
“You don’t know me too well then, Sweetness.” He held the nozzle as far as his arm could stretch so as not to hurt her from the force of the water. Squeezing the trigger, he sprayed her hair until not a single strand remained dry, and brown rivulets streaked her face and arms from the mud. Then, he targeted her tank top, before releasing his hold on her and aiming the nozzle at her lower body. She dashed in the direction of a tree, but wasn’t quick enough to avoid getting the back of her pants drenched.
“Truce,” she yelled from behind the tree. She peeked around. Her hair hung in matted clumps. Black smudged under her eyes from her mascara. He snickered, and sprayed in her direction again. Her head ducked behind.
“Come on out, Joey. This hose can stretch pretty far. I don’t want to come out and get you, but I will.”
“I’m already soaking wet.” Her voice sounded shrill.
“Then getting wetter should be no big deal.”
“I can’t get any wetter. It’s a waste of your time.” She peeked around the other side of the tree, and he blasted her again. “Arrggh!”