Gotcha! by Ann ♥♪HB♪♥

Gotcha! header by Ann Chvq

Synopsis:

Frank and Joe enjoy a relaxing day surfing, hanging out, and thinking about their girlfriends. Plus, they might even put another bad person out of business while they’re at it.

Dedication:

As always, to my family and the Creator. In the story is mentioned about true love. My Daddy and Mama’s love for one another is so beautiful and a wonderful example of blessed true love. They are soul mates – a truly amazing and cool gift from the ultimate Matchmaker. Really, really awesome. Thank you.

 

GOTCHA!

By Ann ♥♪HB♪♥

   Clouds floated by calmly as the sun shone down on the two brothers floating on surfboards, enjoying the relaxing summer day. The waters of the ocean sparkled around them.

   “This. Is. Awesome.” Joe had his eyes closed behind the dark shades covering his baby blues. From nearby a flash of white showed as Frank grinned, his head resting comfortably against his board.

   “Agreed.” Frank thought the warmth of the sun felt great, but even more so was the satisfaction of having stopped jerks who’d been stealing from a number of families. Cars in a coastal city had been burglarized during the last couple of months. The trend of expensive items being stolen was continuing without fail despite precautions. So one of the families had called for help and the Hardys had responded immediately.

   The thieves had given the brothers a difficult time, but justice had prevailed. Frank and Joe had been resilient in their sleuthing, despite several setbacks. They had known not to give up. They found the high-tech gadget that had neutralized the vehicles’ security measures. It had been developed by an individual who’d had it stolen by the gang of thieves.

   “I thought that one guy was going to cry when you told him that we’d uncovered their little scheme,” Joe chuckled, tucking a tan arm under his head while dipping one foot off the board and into the water.

   Frank gave a laugh. “He did, didn’t he?”

   “They were so sure they had a perfect setup.”

   “Don’t they all?” Frank smiled.

   “How about when one of them asked if we were sure they were the thieves?”

   “And you said, ‘pretty sure’. Especially with the loot in storage and them discussing when they could sell it and where. Not to mention the little handy-dandy gadget.”

   “They all had jobs, too. They just wanted more at the expense of others.” Joe shook his head. “It’s so ignorant when people are willing to do hurtful things to others – for any reason.”

   Hearing Joe’s tone change to somber, Frank opened his eyes and glanced over at his brother. He totally agreed with Joe’s thinking. “Yep. And they don’t appreciate us stopping them, but we’re still going to do what we need to. We’re doing what we can.”

   Frank and Joe had worked hard to stop the thieves, even ending up in a fight that could have landed them in the ER. They’d caught up with four thugs who were hiding the stolen items in a storage container. Turns out, the thieves had no intention of giving the stuff back and going to jail. So, they’d come at Frank and Joe with everything they had when it was discovered the brothers were investigating. The evidence had been gathered, but the thugs didn’t plan on the Hardys living to get that info to the right people.

   Frank and Joe had survived. There was plenty of time for seriousness, but right now….

   “HEY!” Joe spluttered as his board tilted and he took an unexpected dip in the water. He surfaced quickly and immediately looked over at his smiling big brother, who was leaning up on one arm, watching.

   “You look kinda surprised,” Frank noted. “What happened? It’s pretty calm out here.”

   “You dumped me off my board!” Joe stated, trying to look indignant while holding back his laughter of surprise.

   Frank put on an innocent look. “Me?”

   “See anyone else out here?” retorted Joe, gracefully getting back up on his board.

   “No, but maybe you just fell in. All by yourself.” Frank shrugged his broad shoulders.

   Joe pretended to scowl at his brother, but he was clearly fighting a grin. “Really? You think I’m going to believe that?”

   “Can you prove otherwise?” Frank looked very unconcerned and raised his eyebrows.

   “I guess it would just be my word against yours,” Joe said speculatively. His brain was forming a plan of attack even as he seemed to be resigned to his brother getting away with it. Not hardly!

   “Yep,” agreed Frank, as he leaned back on his board, lifting his head to glance over at his brother before settling against his arms acting as a muscled pillow.

   The two floated silently for several minutes, each pretending like they weren’t keeping an eye on the other behind their shades. Frank knew the attack could come at any moment. He was sure of it. Sneaking a glance over, he could see that Joe was sprawled on his board, appearing like he was asleep. Resisting the smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth, Frank waited, not giving anything away with his expression.

   Joe was waiting, too. He didn’t have any doubt that Frank could and would outwait him. He knew he needed to utilize surprise, speed, and agility. Timing would also be essential for success.

   His muscles tensed. This was it. Perfect!

   “Don’t do it,” Frank’s voice stopped Joe in his tracks.

   “Darn it!”

   Frank chuckled.

   Joe gave a dramatic, loud, exasperated, resigned sigh. And then sprang into action. Frank had won with his surprise comment, seemingly messing up Joe’s tactic, but the younger brother decided to use that in his favor. Jumping into the water with a flying leap off his own board, Joe caught hold of Frank’s board in a strong grasp and flipped his brother into the ocean.

   Frank recovered fast and returned to the surface. Both brothers were chuckling. As they each retrieved their boards that had floated a little bit away because of the splashes, Frank glanced over at Joe. “You know what? I think that counts as you getting yourself, too.”

   “Huh uh!” Joe exclaimed, getting back on his board. His sunglasses had slipped off from his plunge into the ocean, but he had caught them as they tried to float away. Slipping them back on his face after trying to wipe them off without much success, he glanced over at his brother. “Nice try, but no. That was just the necessary means to soak you.”

   As Frank flipped his board back over and returned to stretching out on it, he shook his head. “I don’t know. I think it should count. Considering all the effort you put into it.”

   “Funny!”

   “My thoughts exactly.” Frank smiled innocently, tucking his arms once again behind his head and closing his eyes.

   Before long though, a comfortable silence mixed well with the sound of the water moving in the light breeze and the call of sea gulls. The brothers’ thoughts drifted from their good-natured joking to their previous case then to their girlfriends and the beach party that was planned for when they returned. Food, music, volleyball and Frisbee all were inviting, but especially the prospect of enjoying those things with their girls.  

   Frank smiled, thinking about how excited Callie was when he talked with her earlier on the phone. She’d promised to text him with updates. The brothers would take a flight home that night and had decided that enjoying the day surfing, since they’d captured the thieves, would be great. Frank had to admit that seeing Callie and kissing her would trump even a picture-perfect day of surfing. A day of surfing and kissing Callie soon – that just flat-out rocked. After all the brothers had been through, with danger from risking their lives for others’ sakes, it somehow made all of the happy times even sweeter.

   While Frank thought of Callie, Joe’s mind was on his Iola and their forever love. Like Frank and Callie and like their parents. Joe smiled as he thought of his mom and dad. They were one of the main reasons he believed in true love. He witnessed that fact every time he saw his father and mother look lovingly at one another. Along with the thoughtfulness seen by many examples, putting the other person first – some might call those little things, but the level of importance they are in reality shows them to be essential. Being there in good and bad times makes an already strong love grow stronger every day.

   If it weren’t for their thoughts, the warm sun and gentle movement of the water would have put the brothers to sleep. Plus, there was the added incentive not to lower their guards or they’d end up in the water again.

   Resting and reflecting changed to recharged energy. Joe opened his eyes and glanced over at his brother. A bright grin appeared on the younger Hardy’s tanned face. Everything seemed to yell now! So far they were tied at one a piece, regardless of Frank’s smart-mouth argument earlier. That was going to change.

   With just a little leg movement, stretching it quietly over the water, not daring to make a sound, Joe was going to make sure his brother didn’t get bored floating in the sun. Closer. Still not moving too fast to give his plan away, Joe flicked his eyes over to Frank’s face. An identical expression of calm still there, just like moments ago, with his shades still over his dark eyes. Joe could see from his vantage point that Frank’s eyes were closed.

   Now, just a little nudge with his foot and his brother would soon be splashing once again in the blue waters of the Pacific.

   Except….that was going to be delayed. Momentarily anyway.

   Quick as lightning, Frank’s hand reached out and grabbed Joe’s ankle. A startled gasp came from Joe’s lips as he tried to compensate and regain his balance. With a strong tug, Frank pulled his little brother right off the board and into the ocean.

   Even while being pulled off his own board, Joe was still determined to accomplish what he’d planned. With a powerful yank while Frank held onto his ankle as Joe hit the water, he wasn’t sure whether he had succeeded or not. Bursting back to the surface, spluttering, he grinned when he saw his brother also doing that as well.

   “Gotcha!” Joe shouted.

   Frank laughed. “Right back atcha!”

   “Hey look, we have some friends watching our antics!” Joe noted, shifting his gaze over to some dolphins cutting through the water, smiling and enjoying the show the brothers had been giving.

   The dolphins got closer to them, obviously wanting to play also. Joe laughed in surprise when one jumped out of the water and through the air right over top of him! He felt the spray from the splash as the dolphin hit the water. Joe wiped a hand over his face.

   “Must have thought you needed another soaking!” Frank laughed. Then he got splashed by the same dolphin who clearly didn’t want Joe’s brother to feel left out. Frank looked over and couldn’t decide which one was grinning bigger – the dolphin or Joe. About even.

   The dolphins and brothers enjoyed fun antics and frolicking for a while before it was time to head to shore. Swimming alongside Frank and Joe until they got closer to the sandy beach ahead of them, the dolphins gave excited calls then parted ways to go find fun elsewhere.

   Joe and Frank each gave a wave before continuing to paddle toward shore. The breeze had picked up just a little, and the waves rolled them swiftly to the beach.

   Their plans had already been figured out earlier. After stopping by the hotel and picking up their gear, they’d eat a leisurely, delicious dinner before heading for the airport. They already knew definitely what restaurant they’d be eating at. Once they’d found it days ago, they’d been pretty regular customers. And at some point, Joe planned on getting chat time with Iola.

   All of a sudden, as they were walking up toward the wooden steps leading to the road, Joe stopped. Frank looked over curiously as he paused also. He didn’t say anything because he knew Joe would tell him what he was thinking intently about. And from the look on Joe’s face, it wasn’t a joke.

   “Remember when that TV news reporter talked to us while we were investigating the thefts?” Joe asked.

   “Yep. Pretty pushy.” Frank remembered the strong sense of irritation he had felt. “What about it?”

   Joe’s temper flared just thinking about it. “He was a real jerk and wouldn’t get out of our faces, kept asking us stupid questions.”

   “That’s annoying, but not exactly surprising.” Frank tried to figure out where Joe was going with his comments.

   “No, the surprising part was the tablet.” Joe nodded as he pictured it. “I don’t think we were supposed to see it, but then again, maybe he was being arrogant and blatant.”

   “What tablet? I didn’t see it.”

   “I only saw it for a second and I was so focused on trying to get away from the annoying dude, I forgot about it. It was in his car when he pulled over to harass, I mean, ‘talk’ to us.” Joe looked over at Frank. “That tablet had a custom skin. One that he probably would have taken off. It had a cartoon character on it – something a little girl would choose, but not a guy. Iola had a T-shirt with that on it when she was younger.”

   “So you think the tablet was one of the items stolen from a family?” Frank asked.

   “Yeah. Had to be. Probably belongs to the little one from the family that had been most recently robbed.” Joe shook his head. “And remember how irritated that one thug got when I asked him if he was sure that he was the mastermind? He seemed particularly offended – like maybe he wasn’t the mastermind?”

   “I think you’re right. Something’s been nagging me about the case. Like the timing and who was hit. The news reporter kept claiming ‘exclusive scoop’ and ‘inside sources’. Yeah, really inside – like from inside the gang.” Frank rolled his eyes. “I thought it was just that the guy was a clueless jerk masquerading as an intellectual. He is that, but maybe also the ‘brains’ behind the gang.”

   Joe grinned. “Let’s go bust the ‘genius’.”

************

   A short time later, after checking up on a few things themselves and postponing dinner, Frank called the detective in charge of the case and told about their suspicions. When it was checked out as soon as possible, they found that the brothers were exactly right in their deductions. Someone who thought for sure he would get away with it found out that in reality he was wrong about the expected outcome. He was pretty shocked that anyone had figured it out.

   After a moment, Joe laughed. “You know what?”

   “What?”

   “Remember those paperbacks Mom bought at the library sale? The Agatha Christies? They talked about armchair detectives in them. Instead of armchair detectives – we’re surfboard detectives!” Joe grinned.

   “True,” Frank agreed with a chuckle of his own.

   “Hey, Frank?”

   “Yeah?”

   Joe summed it up with two words. “Cool day.”

   “I hear you.  And I definitely agree.” Frank grinned. It had been awesome – surfing, dolphins, finishing up the case. And best of all that was hanging out with his brother.

~Never the end!~

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