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"The Search for Atlantis" is a celebration of curiosity and courage, a testament to the idea that every legend holds a grain of truth waiting to be uncovered. It is a thrilling adventure that will captivate anyone fascinated by history, mystery, and the unyielding human spirit.
Chapter 4 – Lindsey and Donavan.

As the early morning light gently filtered through the curtains, Nick's eyes fluttered open. The soft glow illuminated the modest motel room, casting a serene ambiance over the space. For a moment, the unfamiliar setting disoriented him, but then the warmth of Julie's naked body nestled against his brought back the rush of memories from the night before. He smiled to himself, the events of the previous day replaying in his mind like a vivid dream.

Lifting his arm, he gently kissed Julie's forehead, careful not to wake her just yet. Feeling a serene sense of contentment, he slipped out of the bed and padded softly across the room to the bathroom.

Inside, Nick took a moment to tend to his morning needs before turning on the shower. He adjusted the temperature until the water cascaded down in a soothing, hot stream, then took a moment to shave, scraping away the stubble that had formed overnight. As he stepped into the shower, the warmth enveloped him, providing a moment of blissful isolation.

With the steam rising around him, Nick closed his eyes, allowing the water to run over his body and his thoughts to wander. He reflected on the whirlwind of events that had unfolded in less than forty-eight hours. The meeting with Dr. Harding had set everything in motion, followed by the unexpected and thrilling partnership with her daughter, Julie. The day had continued with the discovery of jewelry on the beach, and most astonishingly, the finding of the rare Sacagawea dollar coin, a find that had turned out to be worth a small fortune.

As he was lost in thought, he suddenly felt a pair of arms encircle him from behind. Julie’s warm embrace pulled him back to the present. “Good morning,” she whispered softly into his ear, her voice a comforting melody in the cocoon of the steam-filled bathroom.

Nick turned within her arms to face her, his hands resting on her waist. He leaned down to kiss her, tasting the sincerity of the new day on her lips. “Good morning,” he echoed, his voice low and filled with affection.

Julie looked up at him with a playful yet earnest gaze. “So, you got me?” she teased, referencing their heartfelt conversation from the night before.

Nick smiled, a genuine expression that reached his eyes. “If you really want me, yes, I got you. And for as long as you want it, I will always have you,” he declared, his words firm and filled with promise.

Julie's smile broadened at his confession, her eyes reflecting the depth of her feelings. With another tender kiss, she deepened their connection, her actions speaking as loudly as her words.

Under the cascading shower of steaming water, she knelt down on the cool, slightly dampened tile floor, feeling its gentle texture against her knees and lower legs. The warmth of the water enveloped her, washing away any lingering traces of dirt or sweat from her body. Her gaze drifted upwards, meeting his eyes as he looked down at her intently, his expression a mixture of desire and anticipation. She could feel his erection pressing against her cheek, and she took it in her hand, gently stroking it from the base to the head, relishing in the feel of its hardness against her palm.

Her tongue darted out, licking along the length of the shaft, tasting the saltiness of his skin. She took him deeper into her mouth, carefully wrapping her lips around the head, feeling the smooth, warm flesh press against the roof of her mouth. She began to bob her head up and down, slowly at first, then with increasing vigor, as she took him deeper and deeper into her throat. She could feel the veins throbbing against her tongue, could taste the sweetness of his pre-cum on her lips.

The sound of the water hitting the shower stall walls filled the air, drowning out all other noise, creating a cocoon of sensuality and desire. As she bobbed up and down, her free hand gripped the base of his shaft, guiding him deeper into her mouth, her other hand reached behind her, seeking purchase on the wall or the shower rod. Her breath came in short, hot gasps as she took him as deep as she could, feeling the head of his erection brush against the back of her throat.

He groaned, the sound vibrating against her palate, and she could feel him tensing, feel the familiar tightening in his groin as he neared orgasm. She increased the pace of her movements, her mouth working furiously, her tongue dancing around the head of his shaft. She felt his hot seed explode onto the back of her tongue, filling her mouth with its salty, bitter-sweet taste. She swallowed it eagerly, her throat working as she took every last drop of him, her hand still firmly gripping the base of his shaft, guiding it away from her mouth.

She pulled back slowly, her lips still wrapped around him, her tongue continuing to caress his sensitive flesh. Her eyes locked with his, and she could see the satisfaction, the completion, in his gaze. She slowly released him from her mouth, her lips brushing against the head of his shaft one last time before she rose to her feet, standing tall before him.

The water streamed down her body, washing away any remaining traces of him from her skin, as she looked up at him, her chest heaving with the exertion of deep throating him. He reached out and took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply, “fuck that was amazing,” he whispered.

After their shower, Julie took the initiative to dry Nick off with the coarse towel provided by the motel. The simple gesture felt intimate and caring. Nick reciprocated, gently patting her down with another towel, their smiles and light touches filling the small bathroom with warmth. With a soft kiss, Julie broke the comfortable silence, her voice tinged with a hint of excitement. "So, what's the plan?" she asked, eager to start their day.

Nick wrapped the towel around his waist, considering their next steps. "Your mother mentioned she had a contact here, someone with expertise in underwater archaeology," he replied, recalling Dr. Harding’s words.

Julie nodded, her expression turning serious as she twisted her damp hair into a loose bun. "I know who he is. He lives at the end of the Keys," she informed Nick, pulling on her clothes with quick, efficient movements.

As they dressed, Julie leaned in for another kiss, her demeanor shifting slightly. "Just a heads up, he’s into me, and I will flirt with him, but don’t worry, he won’t touch me, and I won’t let him. He's actually quite afraid of my mother," she said with a slight chuckle, trying to keep the mood light.

Nick’s expression darkened for a moment, the complexities of their new relationship making him uneasy. "When we said partners, I meant exclusive," he said, his voice carrying a firm undertone.

Julie stepped closer, placing a reassuring hand on his cheek. "And we are," she affirmed earnestly. "I won’t allow anyone else to touch me; I am yours now," she promised, her eyes locking with his in a sincere pledge.

Nick nodded, the reassurance calming his initial unease. "Just want you to know," he added, the weight of their partnership pressing on him.

"That goes both ways," Julie replied, her voice steady and confident. Nick smiled, relieved by her words, and pulled her into a deep kiss, sealing their mutual commitment.

"That won’t be a problem," he murmured against her lips, his doubts easing.

Julie smiled brightly, her confidence in their relationship and the adventure ahead evident. "Let's get going then," she suggested, her energy infectious.

Together, they finished getting ready, their conversation shifting to the details of their upcoming meeting with the underwater archaeologist. They discussed potential diving sites, the logistics of exploring underwater ruins, and the equipment they might need. Each topic was punctuated with light touches and shared looks, their newfound intimacy coloring every interaction.

As they left the motel room, their hands found each other, fingers intertwining naturally. The morning sun greeted them with a bright promise as they headed to their car, ready to continue their search for Atlantis. With every step, their partnership strengthened, not just in their professional quest but in their personal commitment to each other.

As they cruised along the coastal road of the Keys, the endless expanse of the ocean stretched out on one side, its surface glinting under the midday sun. Nick found himself periodically glancing over at Julie, who seemed perfectly at ease as she enjoyed the scenic drive. Her relaxed demeanor and the casual way she gazed out at the rolling waves intrigued him, prompting a question that had been lingering in his mind.

"You have a question?" Julie asked, catching one of his glances. Her tone was light, yet attentive.

Nick nodded, a bit hesitant but needing to voice his thoughts. "Why me?" he finally asked, his voice mixing curiosity with a hint of vulnerability.

Julie turned to face him, her smile warm and genuine. "You are driven, you are mission-focused, and, well, you are cute," she answered with a playful tilt of her head.

Nick let out a small smirk, amused and flattered by her straightforwardness but still probing for a deeper answer. "So why?" he pressed, wanting to understand the real motivations behind her actions.

Julie considered his question for a moment, then, with a boldness that characterized much of her behavior, she countered, "Did you want to...fuck me when you first met me?"

He nodded, his response immediate and honest. "I did, but the mission came first. I've lost girlfriends before because I get lost in my research."

Julie's smile grew, her eyes sparkling with a mix of affection and understanding. "I won't leave you for that. I'll help you, and then, once we get stuck, we take a break, Fuck, and then you can concentrate again," she explained, her plan sounding both reassuring and remarkably pragmatic.

As she finished, she leaned over and kissed his cheek gently, a simple act that somehow sealed her promise, making it feel all the more real. Nick felt a weight lift off his shoulders, comforted by her understanding and support.

The road ahead curved gently with the coastline, each turn revealing stunning new vistas of the ocean and sky. Their conversation shifted back to lighter topics, but Nick felt a profound sense of partnership solidifying between them. Julie wasn’t just a romantic interest or a professional ally; she was quickly becoming an integral part of his life, someone who could truly stand by him through the highs and lows of their ambitious quest.

As they approached the well-maintained property, Julie pointed ahead. "It's right up there," she indicated, her finger directing Nick's attention toward a rather impressive house. It was comfortably sized, reminiscent of the house Nick's parents lived in, nestled comfortably in its suburban environment.

"Does he live alone?" Nick inquired, assessing the home as they drew nearer.

Julie shook her head, "No, his daughter lives with him. She's an old friend of mine; we went to college together." Her tone conveyed a familiarity and ease about the relationship with her friend, setting a casual prelude to their visit.

"And he can help us with finding this cave?" Nick asked, keen to understand more about the man they were about to meet and his relevance to their quest.

Julie nodded confidently. "He’s the best in the business. They've used him for underwater movies and research for documentaries," she explained, her respect for his professional prowess clear.

As they pulled up in front of the house, Nick parked the car neatly by the curb. Julie got out and strode up to the front door with a purposeful air. Before her hand could rap on the surface, the door swung open.

"Julie, sweetheart," greeted the older man, his eyes visibly scanning her form a bit too freely. Nick's brows furrowed slightly at the sight, uncomfortable with the old man’s overtly familiar gaze.

"Donavan, you know my mother does not like you staring at me like that," Julie retorted sharply, her voice firm yet composed, challenging the inappropriate behavior without missing a beat.

The man, Donavan, shifted his gaze to meet hers, a slight smirk playing at his lips. "Come on, Jules, you know we could have some fun together," he suggested, his tone insinuating more than a professional interaction.

Nick’s frown deepened, disliking the tone and implication. Julie, however, didn’t miss a beat. "And I am the same age as your daughter. Think about that, old man," she countered briskly, her rebuke sharp.

Donavan’s expression tightened, his demeanor slightly changing. "You’re here for a reason, so I should have a reason to help you," he stated, his hand inching closer to her, an unwelcome advance.

"No, Donavan," Julie cut him off, her eyes narrowing, broadcasting a clear no-tolerance policy. "Touch me, and you know what will happen. Your business is done. My mother has a lot of sway with the people you work for," she hissed, the threat in her voice unmistakable and fierce.

"Now, I believe you owe my boyfriend an apology," she added firmly, her stance unwavering as she introduced Nick in such a context.

Donavan’s eyes shifted to Nick, sizing him up with a skeptical look. "Your boyfriend, huh? But your mother said he was here for research," he remarked, trying to piece together the dual aspects of Nick's presence.

Julie nodded, undeterred. "He is, and he's my boyfriend too," she affirmed, a protective edge to her voice. Nick nodded in agreement, standing solidly beside Julie.

"Well, boyfriend, do you have a name?" Donavan finally asked, his tone a mix of curiosity and resignation.

"He does, but you don’t need to know it, not until I know I can trust you will help us," Julie stated decisively, drawing a line in the sand regarding their professional relationship before personal introductions could continue.

This clear setting of boundaries seemed to recalibrate their interaction, with Donavan stepping back, reevaluating his approach in the face of Julie's firm stance. The conversation that followed would determine much about how their collaboration would proceed, with respect and professionalism now firmly demanded by Julie's intervention.

As Donavan reluctantly stepped aside, allowing Julie and Nick to enter the spacious foyer of his home, a cheerful voice echoed from the depths of the house. "Daddy, who is at the door?" the voice called out. Moments later, a young woman with striking features, clearly around Julie's age, appeared around the corner. Her expression brightened upon seeing Julie, and her steps quickened.

Julie’s face lit up with a wide smile, and she quickly closed the distance between them, enveloping her friend in a warm, enthusiastic hug. "Lindsey," she exclaimed with genuine affection.

Lindsey’s response was equally exuberant as she hugged Julie back. "Oh my god," she squealed, a mixture of surprise and delight coloring her tone. "Why are you here?" she asked as they finally pulled apart, her curiosity piqued.

"We need your father’s help," Julie explained, her tone shifting to a more serious note.

"We?" Lindsey echoed, her brow arching slightly as she glanced curiously at the man standing quietly beside Julie.

"Yes, we," Julie affirmed, smiling again as she reached for Nick’s hand to formally include him in the conversation. Lindsey’s eyes followed the gesture, her gaze settling on Nick with a blend of surprise and intrigue.

"The girl of the steel heart has a boyfriend?" Lindsey asked, her voice laced with awe and a hint of teasing. Julie playfully smacked her on the shoulder, a mock frown forming on her face. "I do not have a steel heart," she protested lightly.

Lindsey laughed, her tone light and teasing as she began recounting past anecdotes. "Bill Holland in our junior year, you told him you'd rather be a lesbian than go to the dance with him. Martin Rein..." she continued, a smirk playing on her lips.

"Okay, okay, stop," Julie interjected, laughing along despite herself. "I get the picture," she conceded. Her expression softened as she added, "But I don’t have a steel heart. I was just waiting for the right guy," she said, turning to look at Nick with evident affection.

Nick smiled back at her, the warmth in his eyes reflecting his feelings. "You must be special to catch her," Lindsey remarked, addressing Nick directly for the first time.

Nick shrugged modestly, a slight blush coloring his cheeks. "I'm not special, just lucky," he replied humbly, his tone sincere, which made Julie smile even wider.

The exchange filled the room with a light, jovial atmosphere, setting a positive tone for their visit. As Lindsey led them through the house to where they could sit and discuss the details of their need for Donavan’s expertise.

The room had grown tense as Donavan scrutinized Nick and Julie's request. “So you need to find this cave underwater somewhere off the coast of the Keys, and all you have is a story from a book that’s over three-hundred years old?” he queried, skepticism coloring his tone.

Nick nodded, understanding the skepticism but undeterred. “Yes, and what’s in that cave is crucial, though I can’t disclose the details. Just know it’s important that we find it,” he said earnestly, trying to convey the significance without revealing too much.

Lindsey, feeling the weight of their mission, chimed in, her voice steady. “Daddy, I’ll go with you when you go out. If it’s important to Julie, then I want to help,” she declared, hoping to bridge the gap between her father’s concerns and their needs.

Donavan’s frown deepened, his protective instincts kicking in. “No, pumpkin, you stay home. It’s not that I don’t trust you will be safe; it’s that there are some people I don’t trust,” he said, his gaze shifting pointedly towards Nick.

Julie’s frustration flared, and she confronted her father directly. “And what has he done to earn your distrust?” she demanded, her voice tinged with irritation.

“You won’t tell me his name, you won’t disclose what you’re looking for, and somehow, he has turned you around. You don’t see what’s important anymore,” Donavan accused, his disappointment evident.

Julie smirked, her response cutting through the tension. “You mean because I again told you no, and because I won’t sleep with you?” she hissed, her words sharp and revealing.

“Daddy?” Lindsey interjected, her voice shaky, questioning the truth of the exchange.

“It’s not true,” Donavan defensively retorted, his authority waning under the scrutiny of his daughter’s gaze.

“Drop it, Daddy. You know I can tell when you’re lying, and you are doing that now,” Lindsey countered sharply, her disappointment in her father palpable.

“Pumpkin, she has been flirting with me for years, and since I lost your mother, I have been weak,” Donavan attempted to justify, his voice breaking slightly.

Julie shook her head, her disgust clear. “Donavan, you started over a year before she died. I was fifteen,” she revealed, her voice cold and factual, exposing the uncomfortable truth.

Lindsey’s frown deepened, her respect for her father crumbling. “Get out,” Donavan suddenly barked, standing abruptly and pointing towards the door. His voice rose to a yell. “Get out, and don’t ever come back here!”

Nick, who had remained quiet, shook his head softly. “Such loyalty,” he muttered under his breath, the irony not lost on him.

Donavan heard him and, in a burst of rage, struck Nick squarely in the face. Nick stumbled backward, crashing against the door. Julie immediately rushed to his side, helping him up. She tore off part of her T-shirt and pressed the fabric to his bleeding nose.

“Donavan, I hope you have a savings account because you just lost your business,” she hissed venomously, her voice steady despite the chaos.

Helping Nick to his feet, Julie supported him as they walked out the door, leaving behind the shattered remnants of familial bonds and a business relationship that had soured beyond repair. As they stepped outside, the air felt fresher, free from the tension and betrayal that had filled Donavan’s living room. Now more than ever, they realized their journey, to uncover the secrets of the cave and perhaps more about themselves, was only just beginning.

As Julie and Nick moved towards the car, ready to leave the uncomfortable scene behind, they heard Lindsey calling out from the doorway. "Julie, wait!" Her voice carried a mix of urgency and defiance.

"Don't you dare, Lindsey! Get back here!" Donavan's voice boomed from the porch, his command echoing with authority. Lindsey, however, shook her head resolutely and walked towards them, her expression determined. "Fuck him," she muttered dismissively as she approached.

She glanced at Nick with a resolve that mirrored her earlier defiance. "I want to help," she stated simply, her eyes scanning his for a reaction. Julie looked at Nick, her expression suggesting she was open to the idea, and gave a slight nod in approval.

Nick exhaled deeply, the weight of their predicament momentarily pressing down on him. "We're kind of stuck now. Without your father's equipment and resources..." he started to explain, his voice trailing off.

Lindsey interrupted with a smile, a spark of mischief in her eyes. "Daddy transferred the entire company into my name two years ago, something about tax issues," she revealed, her smirk widening. Nick and Julie exchanged a look of surprise and tentative hope.

"What are you suggesting?" Julie asked, her tone mixing curiosity with cautious optimism.

Lindsey held up a set of keys, jingling them slightly. "I'm saying I can take you out there," she declared, her voice confident. Julie let out a laugh, relief and excitement mingling in her reaction.

"We'd better go before he realizes I have the keys to the equipment," Lindsey said, urgency creeping into her voice as the reality of their new plan set in. With that, Nick quickly slid into the driver's seat, his movements swift. Lindsey and Julie followed, Julie claiming the front passenger seat and Lindsey hopping into the back.

As they settled in, Lindsey looked around the cluttered interior of the car with a mix of amusement and curiosity. "Holy hell, who's been living in here?" she asked, her tone light yet incredulous.

Julie turned to look back at her, a smile playing on her lips. "Nick. He drove all the way from Washington State to pursue this mission. He's been living out of this car," she explained, her voice tinged with admiration for Nick's dedication.

Lindsey's gaze shifted to Nick as he maneuvered the car away from the house. "And he found you," she remarked softly, a gentle tease in her tone.

Julie nodded, her eyes on Nick with undisguised affection. "Nick will change the world, just you wait. He will make a difference," she asserted confidently, her belief in him unwavering.

Lindsey chuckled softly, her smile affectionate as she observed the dynamics between Julie and Nick. "You've got it bad, girl," she teased, her voice warm.

As the car pulled away from the turmoil of Donavan's home and headed toward their next adventure, the atmosphere inside was one of renewed purpose and camaraderie. Together, with Lindsey now joining their quest, their chances seemed brighter, fueled not just by necessity but by a shared commitment to see their mission through.

As they drove, the atmosphere inside the car was thick with anticipation and curiosity. Lindsey's intrigue about the nature of their mission reached its peak. She turned in her seat, looking between Julie and Nick with genuine interest. "So, what are you guys actually looking for?" she inquired, her tone earnest.

Julie exchanged a quick glance with Nick, seeking silent confirmation. Noticing his slight hesitation, she offered reassurance. "I trust her," Julie said quietly, answering Nick's unspoken concerns. Nick exhaled, a subtle nod conveying his agreement.

Turning back to Lindsey, Julie lowered her voice, adding a layer of gravity to the conversation. "Between us, and only us?" she asked, ensuring the confidentiality of what she was about to disclose.

Lindsey nodded eagerly, leaning closer. "Yeah, of course," she affirmed, her curiosity piqued.

"Atlantis," Julie revealed, her voice barely above a whisper.

Lindsey's initial reaction was disbelief, and she let out a laugh. "Right, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay. Just be honest about it," she said, half-joking, still not taking the claim seriously.

Julie reached into Nick’s pocket and pulled out the coin they had found. She handed it to Lindsey, whose skepticism was evident. As Lindsey took the coin and examined it, her expression transformed from amused skepticism to astonishment. Her eyes widened dramatically as she looked at the distinctive markings. "What the fuck," she gasped, her earlier laughter fading into shock.

Julie smiled, a look of vindication on her face. "That’s proof that it exists. Nick has discovered more, but we have to keep some details under wraps until we’re ready," she explained, her voice filled with a mix of pride and secrecy.

Lindsey turned her gaze towards Nick, her earlier laughter completely dissolved into a mix of respect and disbelief. "Fuck, you are serious," she stated, the reality of their quest finally sinking in.

Nick nodded solemnly, his face serious. "Yes," he affirmed, his voice steady. "We believe there are artifacts and possibly ruins that could redefine history as we know it, linked directly to the legend of Atlantis."

The car fell silent for a moment as Lindsey absorbed the gravity of their mission. Her initial disbelief gradually gave way to a burgeoning excitement about the possibilities. The thought of being involved in such a groundbreaking discovery, coupled with the tangible proof in her hand, ignited a spark of adventurous zeal in her.

"So, what's our first step?" Lindsey asked, now fully onboard and eager to contribute. Her tone had changed from skeptical to genuinely interested, ready to dive into the logistics of such an unprecedented undertaking.

Nick and Julie exchanged a knowing look, pleased with Lindsey's quick turnaround and readiness to join their quest. "We need to pinpoint the exact location referenced in the old texts and maps," Nick explained. "With your father's equipment and your help, we can start looking for that cave."

Lindsey’s question about the cave lingered in the air as they approached the dock where the supposed boat was moored. Julie’s eyes lit up with excitement as she addressed Lindsey's curiosity. “It’s just a theory at this point, but we believe the cave might be linked to Atlantis. We think there might be significant proof hidden within it,” she explained, her voice tinged with both excitement and caution.

Nick nodded in agreement, reinforcing the significance of their venture. But as they neared their destination, his practical side took over. “So, before your dad finds out you have the keys, where exactly is the boat?” he asked, scanning the marina for their vessel.

Lindsey pointed enthusiastically towards a massive structure in the water. The 'boat' turned out to be a formidable sight. Far from a simple watercraft, it resembled a rebuilt navy destroyer, striking in its size and the boldness of its orange and white paint. The bow of the craft boasted a crane, from which a small submarine was suspended, and alongside it, what appeared to be two high-tech underwater drones.

“There she is, the Dive Dutchess,” Lindsey announced with a mixture of pride and awe.

Nick let out a low whistle, impressed by the scale and capabilities of the vessel. “Damn, and you can pilot her?” he asked, his expression one of incredulity mixed with respect.

Lindsey smiled, her eyes sparkling with a hint of pride. “Daddy may have been an ass, but he taught me everything about this ship since I was five,” she declared, her tone a mix of fondness for her maritime skills and disdain for her father's personal failings.

Nick nodded appreciatively, his gaze sweeping over the Dive Dutchess once more. “Impressive,” he murmured as he parked the car, his mind already racing through the potential of such a vessel in their quest. The Dive Dutchess wasn’t just a boat; it was a fully equipped exploration vessel capable of deep-sea diving and remote underwater operations. The presence of a submarine and drones suggested that they could not only reach the cave but also explore it extensively.

As they exited the car and made their way towards the imposing vessel, the weight of their undertaking settled on Nick’s shoulders. The Dive Dutchess was more than just a means to an end; it was a gateway to uncharted territories and possibly, to one of the greatest archaeological finds of their time. Lindsey’s ability to pilot the ship and operate its complex systems made her an invaluable part of the team, and her readiness to defy her father’s wishes underscored her commitment to their cause.

Together, the trio walked down the dock, each step bringing them closer to the reality of their adventure. The early morning sun cast long shadows on the boardwalk, and the salty air filled their lungs as they approached the Dive Dutchess. With a mixture of excitement and determination, they prepared to embark on a journey that might just change their lives forever.

As Lindsey finalized preparations aboard the Dive Dutchess, Nick and Julie unloaded the car, transferring essential research materials, maps, and equipment onto the vessel. The air was tinged with a palpable sense of urgency as they organized everything they would need for their expedition into the unknown.

As they ascended to the wheelhouse, the tense tones of Lindsey’s voice filtered through the air, her words laced with frustration. "I don’t care, Dad," she spat into the phone, her frustration palpable. "Sure, call the cops. Let’s just see what they think about trying to Fuck my best friend when she was fifteen, or maybe some of your other activities," she hissed, revealing the deeper layers of conflict between them.

Nick glanced over at Julie, who responded to the tension with a comforting kiss on his cheek. Their brief moment of connection was a silent affirmation of support amidst the brewing storm.

"Dad, you can’t report this stolen. It isn’t yours, remember? You signed it over to me two years ago. I own the Dive Dutchess; I own the company," Lindsey asserted with authority, her voice echoing through the wheelhouse as Nick and Julie stepped inside. The response from the other end of the line was a mix of muffled yells and protests, barely discernible but clearly agitated.

Lindsey caught sight of Nick and Julie entering and briefly paused her heated exchange. "Dad, I have to go," she continued, her tone suggesting a finality to their conversation. "Here’s what I suggest: you relax, and when we’re done with our mission, I might come home, or I might decide to move out. I haven’t made up my mind yet," she declared, her voice firm despite the rising tension.

The yelling from her father intensified, a desperate attempt to regain control. Lindsey, undeterred, cut in, "Gotta go, Dad. I need to get ready. You know, work and all—some of us still value honor." She then turned off the phone with a decisive click, a wry smile crossing her face as she turned to address her now crew of two.

"Nick, can you get us ready? We need to untie the dock lines and pull in the fenders," Lindsey instructed, her tone switching seamlessly from familial dispute to professional command. Nick nodded, his actions swift as he exited the wheelhouse to tend to his tasks.

Julie was given her own instructions, "Julie, you’re on the back. Keep your eyes out to make sure we’re clear," Lindsey directed, pointing toward the rear window that offered a clear view of the ship’s stern.

As Julie moved to her post, she kept a vigilant watch over the area, ensuring that their departure would be unobstructed. Meanwhile, Nick worked efficiently on the deck, untying the robust dock lines and securing the fenders, his movements almost practiced yet precise. The Dive Dutchess hummed with readiness, they each contributed to the smooth orchestration of their departure.

The air around them was charged with a mixture of excitement for the journey ahead and the residual tension from Lindsey’s confrontation. Yet, amidst these swirling emotions, the focus remained sharp on the task at hand: setting off into the vast, open waters in search of the mysteries that awaited them beneath the waves.
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