Flipper sets hearts aflutter when he dons a wet suit and interacts with his finned friends at the aquarium’s Dolphin Inlet habitat. But Tara isn’t happy that Flipper sets her pulse to pounding, too. After all, the group she cofounded, Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering, SWADS for short, is against keeping dolphins in captivity.
Flipper and Tara are a classic case of fire and gasoline. Why, then, are they both itching to strike a match?
I sat down with Flipper and Tara for separate interviews recently. I’m combining them here so you can compare their answers.
Q. I have to tell you, Flipper, that I’m puzzled you’re even considering spending private time with Tara. What could you two possibly have in common?
Flipper: Well, we both love dolphins, for starters. Yes, we disagree on a very controversial issue, and it’s obviously a huge stumbling block because of what I do for a living. But she has a right to express her opinion, as long as she continues to do it in a respectful way.
Tara: I’m not sure we have anything in common. Well, OK, I have no doubt he loves those dolphins and wants the best for them. But we differ so drastically on what that best thing is. I don’t see how we could possibly meet in the middle.
Q. Are you saying there’s no attraction there?
Flipper: (Big sigh) Tara’s gorgeous, obviously, and I’d have asked her out already if I sold insurance for a living or she wasn’t the head of SWADS. My boss will kill me if he finds out I said this, but I can’t get the woman out of my head. She stirs something in me that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Not since...well, that’s in the past, and I’d rather not talk about it.
Tara: Against my better judgment, I do find Flipper very appealing, and I suppose that surfer-boy scruffiness could grow on me if I let it. I usually prefer a more buttoned-down look, but exteriors can be quite deceiving. My ex-boyfriend, Steven Christianson, is proof of that. I’ve come to realize there wasn’t much substance beneath his pretty packaging. Flipper’s quite charismatic and much more intelligent and hard-working than I first suspected.
Q. So there’s no chance you two could get together romantically?
Flipper: That would be like a vegetarian dating a butcher. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Tara: That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. I’ve endured one failed romance already this year. Why would I set myself up for such heartache again?
Q. There are other organizations and individuals opposed to keeping dolphins and whales in artificial pools. I know Gulf Shore Aquarium is no danger to such criticism. What’s the deal with the threatening letters the aquarium’s been getting?
Flipper: The anti-captivity contingent has had us in its sights for a while, especially since the controversy over SeaWorld and its killer whales. But lately some anonymous notes have been arriving in the mail, and the language has been increasingly nasty. And then I came home from work to find a message nailed to the door of my cottage. Taking issue with us keeping dolphins is one thing. But threatening bodily harm to me and other aquarium staff unless we release those animals... Some people are really sick, that’s all I can say about that. Detective Jo Tompkins of the Gulf Shore Police Department has been working very hard to track down the source of these threats. She hasn’t made any arrests, but I’m confident she’ll find the guilty party before someone gets hurt.
Tara: I cannot say it vehemently enough: There’s never any justification for violence. The police and the aquarium have been suspicious of me and SWADS, but I don’t tolerate threats and intimidation. I hope Flipper doesn’t think I’d ever endorse anything like that.
BlurbTara Langley thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools.
If Tara had her way, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley would lose the job he loves. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer, and the aquarium’s dolphins are his babies. While he’s open to having a real family one day, the last person he would choose to be his wife and the mother of his children would be Tara.
These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man.
But in the age-old way of opposites attracting, Tara and Flipper find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. There’s no possible way a relationship between them could work, right?
As the two try to find common ground amid all the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care. Will Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins catch the culprit before it’s too late?
ExcerptPaul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.
The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.
But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.
With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.
“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”
“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”
Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.
“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.
“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”
Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”
“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”
“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.
“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”
“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”
“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”
“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”
“Did you call me for help or not?”
“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.
Flipper surveyed his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.
Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?
Buy linksLiquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/shore-to-please-p1026.php
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shore-to-please-annette-mardis/1121964097?ean=9781622102297
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