I open the door for Ren, help her down, then fold her seat forward and grab my hiking gear from the back. I’ve got a couple GPS devices, bottles of water, bug spray, power bars, first-aid kit, flashlight, batteries, multipurpose tool, and matches. I went for the smaller backpack knowing we wouldn’t be doing any major hiking today. I’ll go easy on her, I want there to be a second date.
Before shouldering the pack, I unzip it and pull out a can of bug spray. Remembering the subtle wafts of Ren’s tropical perfume and baby powder scent back at her apartment, I toss her the can. “You’re going to need this. Being this close to the river, the area is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
Ren catches the can and pops the lid off. “Thanks.” She sighs and extends her left arm, making several passes. A heavy mist coats her skin and she repeats the process over her other arm, her long, slender legs, neck, and then turns the can and showers her clothes and hair.
I chuckle at her excessiveness. “Hopefully it’s just the bugs you’re trying to keep away.”
A sheepish smile tugs at the corner of her bow-shaped mouth. She wrinkles her nose and my heart skips a beat. “I hate to admit this, but I’m terrified of bugs. And…” She hesitates. “I’m not really the outdoorsy type.”
I step closer and wrap my hands around her fingers that are still clinging to the can of Off! like it’s a cross, warding away vampires. “Stay close, I’ll keep you safe,” I say, slowly lifting the can free from her grip.
She no longer smells of citrus, but like she bathed in DEET. She may repel every six- and eight-legged critter in a hundred-mile radius, but I’m more attracted to her than ever. Off!, bug repellant and aphrodisiac. I know it’s too soon to kiss her, but damn if I don’t want to.
She lets out a breath. “Lucky for me.”
“Mind if I use this?” I hold up the can between us.
I don’t take my eyes off her, while I give my arms and legs a quick spray. “Glad you saved me some.” I wink and stuff the can back in my bag.
“Oh, I bet you have another can in there somewhere, Boy Scout.”
She isn’t wrong, I do have more, but I can’t help but tease her.
“Boy Scout? Try Marine.”
“You’re a Marine and a cop?”