Jules Kipling—asked Leslie and Dev for their account of events. They were just

starting the interview when Natalie, wearing khaki pants that were six inches too

long and a faded blue cable-knit sweater, joined them.

“I’m Sergeant Natalie Evans, Park Service,” Natalie said to the sheriff.

“Sergeant.” The sheriff nodded a greeting as Natalie sat down on the couch next

to Dev. “I suspect when things are all sorted out this will fall under Park

jurisdiction because it happened on the lake. Just the same, I think we better

consider it a joint investigation for now.”

“Fine,” Natalie said, studying the blonde. “I didn’t get your name.”

“It’s Kipling.” The sheriff smiled as her eyes held Natalie’s just a beat longer

than absolutely necessary. “But you can call me Kip.”

Natalie ß ashed a weary grin. “Thanks. So shall we nail down the facts before

we’re too tired to remember the details?”

Jules Kipling took careful notes, as did Natalie, who wrote on a borrowed

tablet of paper that Leslie provided her from Eileen Harris’s ofÞ ce. All three

witnesses’ accounts were substantially similar. Forty minutes later everyone

agreed that further statements could be taken the next day.

“How many didn’t survive?” Leslie asked quietly. When Dev reached for her

hand, she cradled it between hers, happy to feel the warmth in her Þ ngers.

“Just one, thanks to all of you,” Jules said, “and the medics think that might have

been a heart attack.”

Eileen brought a second carafe of coffee into the living room and set it down on

the low table in front of the sofa and chairs where everyone sat. “I should have

food ready in just a few minutes.” She glanced from Natalie to Jules. “You’re

both welcome to stay. Something warm would be good for you right about


Natalie stood. “I appreciate it, but I need to get back to the ofÞ ce and follow

up with the paramedics and the hospital. Try to get the identiÞ cation started

and…notiÞ cation of families.”

“Mind if I tag along?” Jules Kipling said. “If I give you a hand it will save us from

duplicating efforts.”

“No, that would be great.” Natalie turned to Eileen. “Thanks for the clothes. I’ll

get them back as soon as I can.”

“There’s no rush. And don’t be a stranger here just because the summer’s


Natalie smiled. “Thanks. I’ll remember.”

As Natalie and Jules left, Leslie curled up next to Dev on the large sofa, pulling a

nearby throw over their legs, even though the room was warm. “I’m still so cold.

How are you?”

“Beat,” Dev admitted. “What I really want is to get in bed and just hold you.”

“Are you hungry?”

Dev shook her head. “We can come back later. Right now, I just need you.”

Leslie pushed the blanket aside and stood, extending her hand to Dev. “Then

that’s what you shall have.”

“Did I fall asleep in the middle of a sentence?” Dev asked when she awoke in

Leslie’s arms a few hours later. The bedroom in her cabin was aglow with

orange shadows cast from the Þ re burning in the Þ replace in the living room.

She remembered reaching the cabin, Leslie starting a Þ re, the two of them

crawling into bed after removing their borrowed clothes. She remembered

Leslie holding her as if she were a precious treasure about to disappear and

stroking Leslie’s cheek in reassurance, telling her that nothing would come

between them again. Or maybe she just thought she’d said that as she’d fallen

into exhausted sleep.

“No, you Þ nished the sentence,” Leslie said, softly caressing Dev’s shoulder.

“You mumbled you loved me.”

Dev smiled. “That would be the truth.” She propped herself up until she could

see Leslie’s face. “And in case I didn’t mention it, that would also be my longterm

plan. I’m going to take the job at the Freshwater Institute.”

“I’ve been thinking about things too,” Leslie said. After Dev had dropped off, as

tired as she was, Leslie hadn’t been able to sleep. Maybe that was because she

hadn’t actually wanted to do anything except hold Dev. To be certain Dev was

safe, and hers. “I want to be with you.

Really with you. I could relocate to the ofÞ ce in Albany or just Þ nd another

job up here.”

“I kind of got the feeling that you’re a high-power type of attorney,” Dev said,

her brows drawing together as she studied Leslie intently. “The big-city kind of

attorney. Seems like things would be a little too tame for you up here.”

Leslie laughed softly. “Well, there are people who refer to where I am now as a

jungle, but—”

“I don’t think you should do it.”

“Dev,” Leslie said, sitting up, “I love you, and I want us to be together. That

matters more to me than where I work or what I do.”

“And that’s all I need to know.” Dev took Leslie’s hand in both of hers, running

her thumbs over Leslie’s Þ ngers slowly as she spoke. “I don’t want you to

change your life because you love me.”

“You’re willing to,” Leslie pointed out.

“I’m just changing my base of operations—I’m still doing the same work.”

“You’re splitting hairs.”

Smiling, Dev shook her head. “No, I’m not. I probably won’t be spending quite

as much time in the Þ eld, but I’ll still be away a fair amount. When I’m not, I’ll

be closer to you.”

“We’ve already missed so much. I don’t want to lose any more time with you.”

“I’ll buy a house here on the lake. You can come up when you’re free, or I’ll go

down to Manhattan.” Dev stroked Leslie’s cheek as she frowned. “Lots of

couples have jobs that require them to live separately part of the time. We’ll


“Say that’s so. What about what I do, not where I do it?” Leslie leaned close

and kissed the corner of Dev’s mouth. “How are you going to feel about

consorting with the enemy?”

“I’ve decided that you’re a necessary evil. Figuratively speaking, of course.”

Leslie straightened. “I beg your pardon?”

“Big corporations and even the government hire computer crackers to test their

security systems, to look for ß aws so they can build a tighter and more fail-safe


“And this relates to me how?”

“Well, you’re like a cracker trying to break the system. If the laws are ß awed

or aren’t properly designed to do what we need them to do, you’re going to win

cases. And that just tells us which laws to make better.”

“There is a twisted sort of logic to that argument,” Leslie said, struggling to hide

a smile. “I think I ought to be insulted on some level, but I’m not sure I want to

point out your errors in thinking.” She kissed Dev again. “Not if you can live

with things the way they are.”

“What I can’t live with,” Dev said, framing Leslie’s face, “is being without you.

I’ve tried that for half my life. I don’t want to anymore.”

“It’s a plan, for now. But,” Leslie murmured, nuzzling Dev’s neck as she

caressed her, “if I can’t stand being away from you so much, I reserve the right

to change my mind.”

Dev pulled Leslie down and slid on top of her. “I forgot to mention a few


“What?” Leslie asked, distracted by the sudden pressure of Dev’s leg between

her thighs.

“You work more reasonable hours and take better care of yourself.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Leslie arched her back and settled more Þ rmly into Dev’s

crotch, smiling when Dev gasped.

“I’m serious,” Dev muttered, skimming her mouth up the column of Leslie’s


“That’s good, because I am too.” Leslie buried her Þ ngers in Dev’s hair, her

body coming alive beneath Dev’s in the way only Dev could excite her. “You’re

all the reason I need.”

“I’ve dreamed of being with you all my life.” Dev kissed her softly. “Now I want

the real thing.”

“Are you into long engagements?” Leslie whispered against Dev’s ear.

“Isn’t Þ fteen years long enough?”

Leslie laughed. “More than enough.”

“Good thing.”

And then she kissed her.