The ocean wind smelt salty as it hit Nathan square in the face. He breathed deep, savoring it. It was midday in the end of summer and the sun hung high in the sky. Nathan was sure the breeze would be a cooling relief if he could feel the heat.
His annoyance turned to frustration as he scanned the horizon again. Duke’s truck was in the driveway, but he wasn’t at The Gull or on his boat. Nathan thought of calling him again, but the last three attempts had gone straight to voicemail. Audrey wanted Duke's help with a new trouble, but Nathan was about ready to pack it in. The trouble didn’t sound that dangerous, not yet. An old woman called in saying her dog was part cat. The dispatcher had dismissed it as general rambling and gone on to another call. Vince and Dave had to send in a picture of the dog/cat before anyone starting taking it seriously. The dog appeared to be a normal Yorkie in the front and an orange tabby cat an his rear. It was if someone had cut it in half and stuck the second animal on. It was more comical than disturbing, but troubles were never that mundane.
The wood of the Cape Rouge’s deck creaked under his feet as he went to leave. He could almost hear his father’s voice saying ‘Watch your damn feet, boy. We can’t afford another hospital bill.’ As Nathan started to climb off the boat he was too busy watching his feet to see who was approaching him. He heard the padding of bare feet on the dock before he saw the figure that made his jaw drop.
A stunning woman with sharp features and dark hazel eyes walked towards him wearing only a pair of men's swimming trunks and nothing else. The trunks hung low on her hips as if two sizes too big. A hand covered each breast, cupping them while she covered her nipples. Her wet brown hair clung to her face as she tried to put on a brave face. Unfortunately the drowned rat look wasn’t cooperating with her confidence. The sixteen year old boy in Nathan wanted those hands to accidentally drop, but the cop had more practical ideas. He'd seen spring breakers going too far and pranks gone wrong before. This had more the signs of the former. Most girls that were victims of pranks tended to cower and panic more.
"Ma'am," Nathan said going towards her, "This isn't a topless beach. I'm going to have to ask you to cover up."
"Sorry, officer friendly, I didn't plan on needing a bikini today." the woman said smirking in a oddly familiar way. She didn't sound foreign or intoxicated. Still, any woman wandering around like this was looking for either trouble or attention.
She tried to get passed him and onto the boat. Nathan used his body to blocked her. Even though it was Duke’s boat he felt oddly protective of the Cape Rouge. So much had happened on it. Some of the best and worsts events of his life had happened in it's shadow. He wasn’t about to let a possibly crazy lady climb aboard. Did she know Duke?
"I'm not sure what you're playing at, but I know this isn't your boat,” he said in his best chief of police voice. It still felt like he was mimicking his father, but it got results, “Let's get you covered up and then we can get you back to your hotel."
"Really?. Get some pretty, half naked girl in your truck and take her to a hotel. Didn't know you had that kind of game, Nathan," the stranger taunted.
Nathan took a step back, his hand instinctively going to his gun. He didn’t pull it on her yet, but he was ready to.
"How did you know my name?" he demanded the wheels in his head turning. Another body switching curse? Changeling? Mind reading? He missed the days when his first assumption was he’d forgotten someone’s face. Simple just didn't work in Haven.
"Can you really not tell?" the woman asked sounding frustrated, "It's Duke. Now, move, I want on my boat."
"Duke?" he asked bewildered.
"In the flesh," the woman said her face settling into Duke's best annoyed expression. She was familiar in an odd way. He couldn't put his finger on it, not yet.
"Prove it," Nathan demanded, still suspicious.
"Your troubles means you can't feel anything. I save your ass on a nearly daily basis. Good enough? Now, move," the woman, Duke, said pushing past him. Nathan didn’t budge. She took one hand off of her chest to push him, leaving only one arm to cover both breasts. Her arm wasn't doing that great of a job and one of her nipples peeked over the top. It drew Nathan’s eye despite himself. As well as the pretty pink areola he saw a familiar tattoo. That was one of Duke’s tattoo.
Nathan stumbled back in surprise and Duke passed him. It started to sink in that this was Duke. Duke was a woman. HIs eyebrows drew together in confusion and he followed Duke up the ramp.
"What happened?" Nathan asked.
"No idea. I was free diving and I came up with some new editions,” Duke said in his musical female voice.
They both walked into the darker haul of the ship. Once inside Duke dropped his arms with a exasperated sigh. Nathan stopped by the stairs, frozen in place. Duke’s brand new breasts were small, but perky, plump and bounced as he moved. Nathan turned his head away quickly, staring at the wooden wall.
“Duke,” Nathan snapped, staying angry instead of embarrassed. It drove him crazy that Duke could still shock him with ease.
“Come on, you’ve seen my nipples a million times. This isn’t that different.”
“I’m going to call Audrey. Want me to ask her to bring you anything? Shirt, pants...bra,” he asked over his shoulder.
“No, I’ll make do. Don’t worry, officer, I’ll cover up. It’s a family friendly harbor after all,” the angelic voice said in Duke's most irritating tone.
Nathan rolled his eyes. He walked back up the stairs to the deck. His heart was pounding so hard he could hear it in his ears. It should not be beating this fast over Duke Crooker. Still, he was a straight man and that was the body of a good looking woman. It was normal to react. Wait, react? He held down his pants and tried to smooth them out. He couldn't tell if he was reacting, which if he was lucky, meant Duke couldn't either.
He took his phone from his pocket and called Audrey.