Brad shoved back his chair and raced upstairs, taking the steep steps two at a time. Broken wallboard dangled from the ceiling and chunks were scattered on the bed and floor. Rain leaked in around a tree trunk blocking a yawning hole. "I should have had that tree taken down last year. Bloody hell."
"Papa. You said a bad word."
He turned around to see two sets of frightened eyes, peering at him from just above floor level. The two of them climbed three more steps, Taylor's arm snug around Faith's shoulder.
He scrubbed a hand over his face. "I know, sweet pea. I forgot. Remember. You shouldn't."
"Is the camp going to be okay?" Her voice wobbled.
He hustled over to his daughter, his little girl, scooped her up into his arms and hugged her. "Of course it is. Grampa built it nice and strong." At least he hoped it would withstand this tropical storm.
She wrapped an arm around his neck and took a deep breath. "Okay."
Taylor stepped up and looked around. "We need something to catch this water. Do you have a cooler of some kind?"
"In the shed." He made a move to put Faith down.
"No. Stay here. I'll grab it." Taylor turned and ran down the stairs.
In a few minutes she reappeared, lugging an antique metal ice chest.
He let Faith slide down until her feet were on the floor and took the bulky cooler from Taylor. After some adjustment, he'd placed the chest where it would catch most of the rain.
"I think a few towels will catch the rest of the water." Taylor headed back downstairs, returned with a pile of towels and spread them over the floor. "You might want to spread some plastic over your living room furniture, too."
"Good idea. There's some in the shed. I'll get a tarp over the hole when the storm's over."
* * *
Taylor looked at the plastic-draped furniture and electronics. She shook her head. "How about you and Faith come to my place? I think there's a broken window, but not in the camp."
"Can I bring some of my toys?" Faith jumped up and down, clearly viewing this as another stage in the adventure.
Taylor smiled at her. "Of course. You have that nice tote. Pack 'em up and we'll take them over."
Faith clapped her hands. "This is sooooo exciting." She tossed her toys into the container.
Brad rolled his eyes.
Taylor shot him a look. "It is, isn't it? An exciting adventure?" She didn't want Faith to start worrying again.
A smile tugged at Brad's mouth. Taylor could tell he was worried about his roof. The last thing they all needed was an adventure with property damage. He nodded and hefted the tote containing Faith's toys.
"I'll get the food out of the fridge." Taylor bent down to meet the girl's eyes. "Faith, can you do me a favor?"
"Can you carry Misty for me? I don't have her leash."
Faith scooped up the little dog, gently wrapping both arms around her.
"She won't like the rain. So, if you hook one finger under her collar, she can't get away. We don't want to chase her again." Taylor winked.
Faith nodded, a serious expression on her face. “I'll keep Misty safe."
Taylor smiled. "I know you will. You and Daddy go on ahead."
She braced herself and held the door open against the wind. "Oh no. The tree took out your pole. She flicked the switch by the door. Power's off."
"Yours, too, I'd guess. And everyone else on Campfire Circle."
Clutching plastic bags full of provisions, Taylor squished through puddles in the mud-filled road. Running Brook was living up to its name. Water foamed over rocks, nearly overflowing the bank.
Relief at being inside was short-lived. In the rush to chase Misty, she'd left the kitchen door wide open. Rainwater drenched the floor. "Cripes! The floor is soaked. Good thing there's no carpet." Stepping carefully so as not to slip, she set the groceries on the counter. She grabbed a mop, pushed the water outside and slammed the door.
In the living room, Brad deposited the box of toys. Faith put Misty down and the dog vigorously shook herself before rolling over and scrubbing along the braided rug. Taylor grabbed three towels, handed one each to Brad and Faith. Everyone was quiet for a moment while they dried off.
Did her camp shrink in size with Brad here? Seemed a lot smaller. She really needed to get a grip, especially since he'd be here for a while.
He gathered up the towels, hung them in the bathroom and returned to the living room. "You said there was a window broken?"
"I heard one break, but it's not inside. Must be in the shed."
"I'll check it out."
"No. Stay here. You're not totally soaked. I have clothes here, but none that will fit you."
"Probably not." He eyed her up and down.
Was that a gleam of appreciation in his gaze? Since that long-ago flirting disaster, he'd never hinted he found her attractive. She tilted her head to one side and tapped a finger on her lips. "Might be fun to see you in the equivalent of a rolled-down top and high-water sweats."
He laughed. "And let's not forget the shrink-wrapped cut-off tee."
She could picture him. Broad shoulders stretching the t-shirt, ripped abs, lean waist. She licked her suddenly dry lips.