Would you like a free trip to Maui? Of course you would.
I'm talking in your imagination, of course. Books are like that. They take you away when you have to stay put. I read that today on twitter.
My latest novel is set on Maui and I've been told by many readers that it's like going to the Valley Isle.
So, here's a little gift to the reader who enjoys travel, romance, suspense and can handle a little hocus pocus in the form of psychic ability and dream visiting with their fiction. It's not too outlandish, just highly compelling. (something else I've been told!)
Girl of his Dream is perma free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and most etailers online. Today I decided to offer the first few chapters on my blog. Why not?
The book is a 4-Hour Read and promises palm trees, trade winds, mangoes and scuba diving. If you're never been diving, this might show you how it feels at an expert level. It also promises a very delicious romance between two interesting people who can't stay out of trouble.
|Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach|
If you like what you read below, just head on over to one of the above book stores to keep reading. For Free! I assure you, the book will make you feel like you're on Maui.
And, I assure you that it's somewhat romantic and sexy so don't start reading if you can't skim love scenes if you don't like all that kissing and getting naked stuff. Maui is for Lovers, don't you know?
And now, Girl of his Dream...
James Dunn watched the small girl follow a group of boys behind the hotel pool’s waterfall, her chin just above the water’s surface. A feeling of dread overtook the thought that he needed to buy sunscreen if he was going to sit in the Hawaiian sun any longer. James’s skin prickled.
For two reasons.
Seconds later, when the boys emerged from the other side of the falls, the girl wasn’t with them. Was she waiting for the older boys to get far enough ahead so she could remain hidden? His intuition said no and his intuition was always right.
As he rushed to the pool’s edge, someone spoke. “I just saw her a few seconds ago!”
James didn’t turn.
A dive into the pool took him half way to the falls and a swift front crawl took him the rest of the way. He dove under the crashing water, arms spread wide. Keeping his eyes open he felt around the pool’s bottom. Through the aerated water, he saw colors, then felt a foot—a small foot that fit in his hand. Yanking it towards him, there was no resistance from the other end. A bad sign. She’d been under maybe only twenty seconds.
James pushed off the bottom and broke through the surface with the girl in his arms, the water pummeling his head and back. He walked clear with the girl’s lifeless body. “Wake up, Honey,” he said as he checked for a pulse.
Someone yelled “Help!” and “There she is!” Several bodies hit the water with a splash.
“I’m a cop,” James said to the approaching people before he blew four small breaths into the child’s mouth. Christ, she was so young she didn’t even have permanent front teeth. He blew again, his heightened intuition forgotten for now. Clairvoyance couldn’t help him.
People yelled for the lifeguard and someone said an ambulance was on the way.
Blowing rhythmically into the child’s mouth then turning to listen, James took her to the pool’s edge where the lifeguard looked ready to take over.
“She’s got a pulse,” James said, between breaths. “I’m a cop.”
“Keep going.” The young woman helped to set the girl on the deck’s surface.
A body moved in next to him. “Mara, don’t leave us.” Her hands caressed the girl’s hair, smoothing it away from her still face.
“She’s got a pulse,” the lifeguard said to the woman who let out an anguished sob.
“Mara, stay with me.”
The child’s small nose in James’ pinch felt easily breakable. He eased up. Two more breaths and James sensed she was reviving before anything changed physically.
Mara coughed and her eyes fluttered open. The lifeguard helped to drain water from the girl’s lungs by turning her head to let her cough up the pool water.
“Oh, thank God!” The woman kissed the child’s wet hair. “You’re okay, Sweetie. Mommy’s here.”
Mara continued coughing, looking disoriented. James moved away to let the mother shift into the child’s line of vision. A man was beside her, tears flooding his face which was a grim mask of fear and relief.
The lifeguard helped Mara sit up as she began to cry.
“Doctor coming through,” someone called, as a woman rushed forward.
“She’s conscious,” another person said.
James stood back to let the doctor in, watching the parents touch their daughter like they couldn’t believe she’d survived. Guilt emanated from the father. Guilt and regret. James wished he couldn’t feel this man’s private emotions. But he could. And the mother’s and the lifeguard’s and the girl’s. He was cursed with this supposed gift.
The crowd that had gathered by the hotel pool emanated a collective sigh of relief and gratitude. James picked up on shit like this, whether he wanted to or not. Someone behind him was furious, several people were moved to tears at the close call that might have resulted in death. One person was mostly glad his family vacation wasn’t ruined by witnessing this child’s death. Selfish prick.
James said a silent thank you to whoever, or whatever was out there that prevented the death of this little girl.
“Who pulled her out?” a young man in a Hyatt uniform asked.
People nodded towards James.
He knew the drill. There’d be statements, paperwork, and explanations of how he knew the child was in trouble. As usual, he’d explain it was just a cop’s intuition, a lucky hunch, the last words being a phrase he’d been using for years to explain a gift that had no explanation.
A gift that both dictated and threatened to ruin his life.
Kristina pulled her beat-up Toyota pickup truck into a curbside parking space in the housing development of Napili Hau and stared at Kimo’s house beyond the hedge. It was just past nine a.m. and her boyfriend would be sleeping.
In a few days, she’d turn twenty-five-years old and life was about to change. Including her relationship with the local surfer, Kimo, who wasn’t someone she wanted to keep around when changes started happening. She hadn’t told Kimo what turning twenty-five meant and now never would.
Sliding from the driver’s seat to the hot pavement, Kristina took a deep breath. This wouldn’t be as easy as she’d originally thought. The sun beat down on the housing development of concrete and red sand-stained boxy houses, jam-packed together with no yards. Kristina walked up the three cement steps to the house Kimo shared with four other surfers and stepped into the unlocked house.
When she’d first arrived on Maui, the idea of hanging out with local surfers was an intoxicating novelty. After years of dating business majors at Stanford, being wooed by someone who slept in the nude and lived for waves fit in with the frivolous year she’d promised herself. Kimo was handsome in a Hawaiian surfer way, drove an old Honda Civic, had no immediate plans for his life beyond surfing, and her parents vehemently disapproved of the relationship without ever having met him. Kimo had served many purposes. And she supposed she’d been a good ride for him too.
The house was humid and stuffy as she walked through the TV room and down the hall. Kimo’s door was open and there were hushed voices speaking inside the room. Looking in, Kristina couldn’t process what she was seeing at first. Her brain told her that inside Kimo’s small bedroom were two men--her boyfriend and one of his roommates, Petey, standing over the bed. With their backs to her, they were occupied with the third person in the room. A woman. A young, naked woman who lay deathly still across Kimo’s bed, her eyes open, her face still. The men wore latex gloves and were leaning over what looked like a dead body.
“What the hell?” Kristina whispered.
Kimo looked over, Petey too, and two sets of eyes widened to see her standing in the doorway. “Shit, Babe. Get in here and close the door,” Kimo said.
Judging by the young woman’s gray pallor, Kristina guessed she’d been dead for a few hours. Closing the door, she watched the men turn back to the body on the bed. “What’s going on?” She wasn’t sure she wanted an answer.
Petey shot a warning glance to Kimo who held a pair of panties in his gloved hands. “Put those on her,” he said.
“She must’ve OD’ed last night.” Kimo’s expression had panic written all over it.
“Don’t touch her, for God’s sake,” Kristina said. “Call the cops. Are you crazy?” She looked between Petey and Kimo.
Again, the men exchanged a look she couldn’t read. Kimo spoke. “I think she got into some X, but I don’t know for sure. I passed out. I was drunk and never knew she died ‘til just now.”
“We’re moving her,” Petey said defiantly.
If they had nothing to hide, why were they moving her? “You need to call the police, not touch her. She’s a dead body, there’ll be an investigation.”
Petey ignored her. “Come on, Man. Let’s get her to my room.”
When Kimo bent to grab the woman’s legs, Kristina spoke. “This is insane. Don’t move her.”
The men exchanged another look.
“If you’re doing that Kimo, you and I are done. Don’t contact me after this.”
“Come on, Dude,” Petey said.
Kristina used her T-shirt to cover her hand and opened and closed the door. In the hall she wiped her prints from the door handle. Turning, she saw something that stopped her in her tracks. Her heart sank.
Kimo’s pet, a sweet little beagle named Pele, had seen her and was wagging her way down the hall. “Oh, Baby. I forgot about you.” She bent to pick up the dog and kissed Pele behind her ear, the softest place on her. “I’ll miss you like crazy.” She gave Pele a quick hug, set her on the rug and left the house careful to walk like there wasn’t an emergency behind her. The sidewalk was clear and no one watched her get in her truck and pull away from Kimo’s house. No one she could see.
All the way back to Lahaina, Kristina thought about what just happened. Could she be charged for withholding evidence if Kimo came under investigation? If someone overdosed in your bed, did the police suspect you? It wasn’t until Kristina pulled onto the main highway, that she even wondered why Kimo had a naked woman in his bed.
She stopped at the turnoff to Airport Beach, parked and went over the facts as she knew them. Kimo had a dead woman in his bed, who supposedly died of an overdose of ecstasy, an illegal substance. Up to that point the only illegal act was doing ecstasy, and even though Kristina was shocked to think that Kimo might have also put that poison in his body, he could’ve been simply entertaining, not participating, like he said.
The dead woman was a new waitress from the hotel where Kimo tended bar. Maybe she’d done the drug before coming over. Had they been intimate? Kimo said he was drunk but that didn’t always stop him from trying. The biggest issue here was the woman’s death, not Kimo cheating on her. And now, her knowledge of this death. She’d seen the body being moved. Or had she? All she’d seen was the intent to move it. And she’d heard they were going to move it. Although Kristina had once thought of studying law, she hadn’t, and now had no idea if she was now legally liable for turning around and walking away. Morally she felt responsible, but Kristina wasn’t even sure of the circumstances in Kimo’s bedroom this morning and had to remind herself of this.
Why had they wanted to move the body to Petey’s room?
After twenty minutes of processing the facts and wondering if she was responsible to report this, she tried not to wonder what was happening at Kimo’s house right now. Staying out of it was her best course of action. That and pretending she hadn’t even gone to Napili Hau this morning. Or if she had, it was only to break up with Kimo, which could have happened in the hall.
Back at the Aloha Apartments in Lahaina, Kristina parked the rusty pickup in the designated spot for her shared apartment with her friend Pepper. She couldn’t tell Pepper what she’d just seen and risk implicating her best friend, especially not knowing if moving a dead body was a crime. Her heart rate had died down enough to fake normalcy, and she reached for the door handle. When her cell phone rang she startled. Worried it was Kimo or the police, she saw the call was from her mother. She let it go to message, not interested in talking to her high-maintenance mother right now. Shit. If her parents ever found out about this…
It was going to be hard keeping this from Pepper. The whole next week would have to be spent keeping her mouth shut and pretending she wasn’t freaking out about seeing a dead body in her ex-boyfriend’s bed. A dead, naked, female body. She’d simply broken up with her surfer boyfriend, the one her mother said more than once, was a “no-good drifter of questionable heritage.”
Entering the ground-floor apartment, Kristina took off her flip flops at the door and saw Pepper stumbling from her bedroom, her hair a mess of strawberry blonde curls, her eyes trying to open. It was still early for a singer in the clubs of Lahaina.
“No work?” Pepper shuffled to the kitchen and grabbed the Kona coffee bag from the freezer. “No diving today?”
“The dive was cancelled because the boat’s engine broke.” Kristina planted herself on one of two rattan bar stools at the kitchen counter. “And, speaking of broke, I broke up with Kimo.”
Pepper knew this was the plan. “How’d it go?”
“Weird. Short and strange,” Kristina said.
Pepper put water in the coffee carafe, emptied it in to the coffee maker and pushed the on button. “I’m sorry, Fins.” Pepper had given Kristina the nickname in a drunken display of friendship the night they decided to become roommates. “I know you weren’t totally invested in the relationship, but still.” Pepper got their coffee mugs from the cupboard, the only two cups they owned. Kristina’s said I’m too Sexy for my Job, and Pepper’s said Diva.
They watched the coffee drip into the carafe. Kristina thinking, Pepper waking up.
“Your mother called twenty minutes ago.” Pepper finally said. “Maybe she’s psychic and knows you ditched the ‘no-good loafer’.”
“Psychic wouldn’t be bad but in her case it’s more like a witch.” Kristina remembered their last phone fight. “I’ll call her later. She probably just wants to stage plan B of getting me back to Seattle.” If Kristina’s parents ever found out what she’d just done at Kimo’s house, they’d be justified in thinking their daughter wasn’t old enough to make her own decisions and live anywhere without them.
Pepper looked over. “You look kind of shook up.” She smiled sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Fins. But remember, you wanted to end things.”
“True. And I stand by that. It’s the emotion of it all and then my mother calling. What I think she’s going to say,” Kristina tried to explain her mood. She hadn’t spoken to her parents since a fateful conversation two weeks earlier, but today she had to make contact. In two days she’d turn twenty-five. She’d either inherit a shit-load of money or it would be tied up until her parents deemed her ready.
As Kristina added the usual three sugars to her coffee, Pepper took her cup to their little patio lanai and slid into the lounger leaving Kristina the Papasan chair. “Do you think your Dad will block your inheritance?” she asked.
Kristina sat crisscross in the basket chair and stared out at the street, sipping her sugary coffee. “Not sure.” She wasn’t even sure it could be done, but her father was a clever attorney and well-respected by the judges in King County. If anyone could ruin her chances of inheriting over two million dollars and living in Hawaii it would be her mother for the intent and her father for the execution. “I need to prepare for that call.”
Pepper smiled sympathetically. “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I guess.”
Kristina turned off her cell phone and set it on the table between them. “Or hope for the improbable and prepare for the probable.”
Kristina watched Pepper head out the door to go dress shopping on Maui’s other side, an activity that was fun for only one of them. She’d begged off on the shopping trip, saying she would probably spend a quiet day searching for condos online. Little did Pepper know that her friend was waiting for the police to call. Or Kimo. Hoping they wouldn’t, but anticipating the worst-case scenario.
She laid on her bed for an hour after Pepper left, trying to convince herself that any one of Kimo’s roommates could have looked in the door, seen the body and walked away. Seeing didn’t make a person an accessory. Petey was an accessory to moving the body. She thought about looking online for news of a death on Maui but if the worst happened and the police stormed the apartment, taking her laptop, they could use it as evidence against her.
By mid-afternoon, when the phone still hadn’t rung, Kristina wondered if she’d over reacted. She wanted to phone Kimo to ask what was happening but needed to break ties with him. After microwaving a frozen burrito and only eating half, she was ready to listen to her mother’s phone message from earlier.
“Your father and I would like to touch base with you today to talk about your inheritance. Your birthday is coming up and we’d like to discuss what that means. We’d originally thought that on the day you turned twenty-five you’d be here in Seattle with us, but seeing you’re not, you’re having a Hawaiian post-college fling, we feel that a dialogue is imperative to discuss the possibility of …” The machine cut her off. Kristina imagined her mother would be upset at the rudeness of being interrupted.
The notion that her parents didn’t approve of her “wasted year off” was getting old and instead of wearing her down, they were pushing her away by all the nagging. When Kristina had originally planned to take this year after college to do something adventurous, she’d imagined herself taking time to think about her direction in life, then returning to Seattle before Christmas. But she was barely halfway through her year and things had changed. Drastically. Which was allowable because the plan to spend eleven months on Maui and return to Seattle had been made before Kristina had fallen in love.
In the first few days of looking for a job and finding a place to live, Kristina had fallen head over heels in love with the island and everything it had to offer. She loved the smell, the flowers, the Hawaiian music, the culture, the ocean, the scuba diving, the green mountains, the food, the air, the town of Lahaina, everything. She’d had no idea this place would be so perfect, or that it would feel so completely like home—and not the mansion she was raised in, but a place in her heart that felt like returning to her roots. In those first few days in February, Kristina felt like she had a new lover who made her giddy with excitement; made her forget about her brilliant future at a law firm where her father would sign her pay check.
Working at her father’s law firm now sounded like someone else’s idea of a brilliant future. It hadn’t taken long to figure that one out. Only a month into her Maui year, she’d rewritten her plan to include something that made her so excited she could barely sleep at night. Her new plan didn’t necessarily involve returning to Seattle and living in the rain nine months out of the year.
Two weeks earlier, she’d mentioned this possibility to her father and waited for the argument.
“That’s an interesting thought, Kristina. What about joining the firm?” he’d asked.
“I’m not sure, Dad. That’s something I’m thinking long and hard about. You know I don’t want to go into law now. That all changed the first year of college.” Not wanting to crush her parent’s dreams for their only child, they still needed to know she had doubts.
That day, her mother called immediately after hearing the news from her husband. “What’s this I hear about not joining the firm,” she’d said in place of the opening niceties of a phone call. “If that’s the case, I’m going to have to suggest Kristina, that you hold off on taking ownership of your inheritance this year. I don’t want the idea of two million dollars clouding your judgement and I’m not sure you’re thinking rationally right now. Inheriting that kind of money is a huge responsibility and I believe you are not ready to take on the responsibility if you’re not sure of your future.”
“Thanks Mother, but I’m sure Grandmother trusted me with the money when she left it to me in her will.”
“At the time, she wrote that will, I may remind you, Kristina, she still thought you’d be joining your father’s law firm.”
“I don’t think she cared what I did with my life, or the money, as long as I was happy, to tell you the truth, Mother.” Kristina’s heart was pounding, her face hot.
“I disagree. I think until you get a firm plan and don’t sway from that plan for at least a year, you should just leave the money to collect interest. Not touch it, not for another few years,” her mother had said, her icy tone evidence of what she was really saying. “Not until you know where you’re going.”
Kristina took a deep breath, something she’d learned to do with her mother during these talks. “That disrespect for my good judgement is very disappointing. Especially because it sounds like you and Father would withhold the money to get me to return to a life I might not want.”
“That’s ridiculous. You are turning my words around to make it sound like I’m some blackmailer, Kristina.”
She hadn’t spoken to them in two weeks, something that had to be torture for her mother, a doting parent who liked to keep close tabs on her only child. In phoning, she’d have to stay focused, not let the old buttons get pushed. Even though it had been a hellish day with the scene at Kimo’s, she needed to know if her parents planned to use the money to blackmail her into coming home.
If that were true, Kristina would make a new plan, one to double cross her parents and end up with her inheritance. That’s how she felt today.
The Hyatt Hotel in Kaanapali had comped James a two-week stay for his bravery and offered to pick up his tab for the last few nights. As soon as James got the news, he called his father in Carnation, Washington. It just so happened that Pops was at his brother Don’s place having a cup of coffee and “chewing the fat,” as Pops said.
“The Hyatt gave me two free weeks, including paying for the nights I’ve been here,” James said.
“You lucky bugger,” Pops didn’t sound surprised and James had a feeling something was up. “Just a second, Son.”
James could hear the two men talking. Pops’ hand must’ve been over the receiver because James couldn’t make out the words. “What’s the big discussion, you two?” James asked.
“Donny had a premonition,” Pops came back on the line. “Something we didn’t tell you about.” The men spoke again. “I’m putting this on speaker now so Don can chime in.” Pops clicked the speaker feature. “A few weeks ago, Don had a dream where you were saving a little girl’s life. He told me and we agreed to help make it happen but keep it a secret from you.”
James knew that Don, his mentor in all this clairvoyance mumbo jumbo had premonitions in dreams. And that Don was a firm believer in not messing with the future, no matter what you saw in dreams. Don had learned to be careful after a lifetime of fuzzy premonitions, an ability that James had not inherited.
“So that’s why you gave me three nights on Maui?” Now it all made sense. He’d assumed Pops was worried about Jamey’s take on the breakup with Carrie and sent him away for clarity.
“Donny chipped in plane fare money too,” Pops said. “How’s the little girl?”
“She’s alive and well. Her name is Mara and she’s a sweet little seven-year-old but I’m guessing Uncle Don knows that. She recovered fully according to my last report from the Hyatt General Manager. “Did you know it would happen yesterday, Uncle Don?”
“I had a good idea it was yesterday,” his uncle said. “Or today.”
James had learned not to be surprised at anything with this gift. “Thanks for helping me save her.”
“Good on you, Slugger. Saved her life.”
“We did,” James said. But it wasn’t him who saved her life. It was Don and his gift of seeing. “Did you see me dive in?”
“Sure did.” Don sounded like he was taking a drag on a cigarette. James wanted to ask him if he also saw himself dying of cancer but held off. Both men were probably sitting in a smoke-filled kitchen in Redmond, talking. “You probably thought I’d run out of money here and come home but they gave me free nights.”
“Knowing your damn conscience,” Pops added, “I’m thinking you feel guilty for taking a room gratis at an expensive hotel for something you can’t even control.”
“Try to consider it a perk for all the trouble this gift has given you, Son.” Pops always knew the right thing to say at the right time.
“Actually, I’m just fine accepting two weeks on them, but I’m thinking I owe Uncle Don a big thank you. It’s his free vacation I’m taking.”
“Don is shaking his head no, but seeing you’re staying longer, he wants to talk to you about something work related.”
James was between jobs with the Seattle Police Department, on his way to working with the Homicide Division with his uncle. He had a month before training started.
“I’m going to get you in on my case,” Don said. “I need your expertise. I want to know if together we can hone in on the perp.” Don was working a serial killer case and although James would love to help, he never thought he’d get to work a real case this early. He intended to start at the bottom and work his way up, even though Don’s plan was for them to eventually work together.
“That’d be great.” It wasn’t common knowledge to anyone that Don had the gift of clairvoyance or that he could enter dreams. He’d managed to keep that secret from the Seattle Police for decades, where he was a successful, decorated detective. Don suspected his superior officer knew he had unusual intuition but had never asked Don about his ability.
“I’m not supposed to save anyone else over here, am I?” James asked.
Don chuckled. “Just your reputation as a heart throb.”
James laughed at that one seeing he was anything but a player on the single scene.
Within the hour, Sergeant Baumgartner, head of the homicide division at SPD, gave Don the green light to bring in James as a consultant and Don sent off a research assignment after a lengthy discussion with James on the phone about the particulars of the case. Already James had some ideas and hunches that hadn’t occurred to Don.
When he closed the laptop for the night and took a beer out to the lanai, James couldn’t believe his good luck. He was on Maui working on a serial killer case with the man he admired the most in the world. His mentor, Uncle Don.
Life had taken a turn for the better.
Mara’s family had spent the night at Maui Memorial Hospital and were on their way in from the car park when they ran into James in the lobby. He was headed out for a bite to eat and as he smiled at the little girl who now had color in her cheeks and life in her body, he noted her toothless smile.
“She’s not interested in going in the pool anymore,” the mother whispered.
He smiled at Mara. “Maybe the kiddie pool, instead.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
The Dad told James that he’d given the front desk his credit card to pick up James’ tab on meals at the hotel. “It’s the least we can do,” he said. He shook his head and whispered, “One minute I was watching her, and the next minute, you were pulling her from the bottom.”
The parents exchanged a look and James knew the father had been distracted instead of watching his daughter. It wasn’t normal intuition that revealed that personal family nugget.
Mara held out a bag she’d been hiding behind her back.
“Is this for me?” James was touched by the little girl’s sweetness.
She nodded shyly.
“She bought it at the hospital gift shop,” the mother said.
He opened the bag to see that inside was a shark tooth necklace. “Look at this cool tooth! Was it one of yours?” he joked.
The brother offered the information that it used to belong to a shark and James sensed annoyance from the boy over all the attention his sister got. He winked at the boy. “Cool.”
James made a suitable fuss over having such a beautiful keepsake. “This is too much. Now all the police officers back in Seattle are going to want one of these,” he said. “Can you help me put it on?” James knelt on the tile and held the necklace in place as Mara and her mother helped him fasten the closure. “I’ll wear it for good luck.” He stood. “How do I look?”
“Good,” Mara said. A smile spread across her face in a shy unveiling of happiness.
After they parted, James walked out of the hotel to get his car from the valet, another free service the Hyatt had comped him. He was thankful Mara’s time on the bottom of the swimming pool hadn’t turned into a tragedy. His hyper-intuition had served him well that day. When he first saw her hopping through the water, he’d had a sense of something about to happen, like a wave of tragedy that washed over his thoughts. It was usually this way. A fleeting impression, nothing he could tell anyone--only Pops and Uncle Don who were his encyclopedia and sounding board to both his hyper-intuition and dream sharing, which happened infrequently especially because he rarely slept with anyone these days.
After grabbing a beer and nachos at a bar in Lahaina, James headed back to his new and improved room and settled into a lounge chair on the lanai. Below him was the kiddie area with a sand beach, squirting floor game, and children’s slides. It was quiet below. He watched a couple holding hands, walk across the suspension bridge over the turquoise water and James wondered if they were on their honeymoon. Maui would be a paradise for anyone in love. If he ever found someone who could accept him and all the craziness that came with him, something that didn’t seem very likely the older he got, he’d bring her to Maui for their honeymoon.
He took a sip of the beer, feeling grateful to have two more weeks in this tropical paradise. He was a lucky guy. Wondering how he’d fill up his newfound vacation days, James fleetingly wished he had a girlfriend to share this sudden windfall with.
Watching the sun set behind the island of Lanai, James wondered if Carrie was happier now that he was out of her life. She wouldn’t have any more crazy-ass psychic bullshit to obsess over, and no more worrying her boyfriend might come home with a bullet hole in him. Their last few months together had been tense. Joining the police force a year ago, had gone against what Carrie wanted and once she knew about his psychic ability, everything went downhill fast. Every argument started with “I know you know what I’m going to say next but…” The truth was, he didn’t.
It wasn’t like that at all.
He tried to tell her that he only got passing impressions, not a play by play of what was going to happen and that he could ignore those thoughts if he wanted to. The last part was mostly true. Nothing he said to her made it easier for Carrie to accept that her boyfriend had freakishly accurate intuition.
James finished his beer and examined the scene below his room. Everyone had packed up for the day, employees were arranging the loungers in a line for tomorrow’s customers and the pool water was still. No kids on the bottom. Only Hyatt staff moved around below, and couples dressed to go out for dinner, walking the beachside flagstone path. Everyone here had people to do stuff with. Families, couples, friends.
Maybe tonight he’d go out to the Hyatt dance club, get some girl-watching in, or even ask someone to dance. See what Maui had to offer. Short term.
That’s all he could handle now.
Tina was livid. And crushed. But mostly so angry at her father and mother that she wanted to spit. Or punch a wall. Her parents had taken legal action to tie up her inheritance so that tomorrow she would not be the recipient of her grandmother’s money. She’d still be dirt poor and groveling for rent money tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
Living on Maui was expensive but she could manage without gross amounts of money. The anger didn’t come from that but from the fact that her parents would feel so strongly about her lack of good judgement to do this.
Months before, Kristina had arrived in Lahaina with only a few hundred dollars, knowing her parents wouldn’t fund this venture or contribute in any way. They wanted her in Seattle. That was fine. She’d known it was time she stopped living off her parents, anyhow, now that she’d graduated from college. Never having completely supported herself before, her financial independence was overdue.
Although the last few months on Maui were trying, the feeling of accomplishment had been satisfying. In spite of her parent’s disapproval, she was living her own life. A life across the ocean, on her own, not using her business degree, something they’d funded. Even scuba diving, a sport she’d taken up when her parents opposed her interest, had now become her job.
Tomorrow was her birthday, a day she’d eagerly anticipated for months, years even. She’d spent the last few weeks thinking about what would change when she had enough money to live differently on Maui. She’d even explained to her parents that she didn’t plan to buy a Lamborghini and snort coke when the money came through, she only wanted to invest in a condo so she didn’t have to pour money into rent every month. “Nothing fancy,” she’d said. Just something simple, maybe with a view of the ocean and two bedrooms so if you come to visit, you will have a nice place to stay.” She’d even found the perfect condo that morning. It was a good price and wouldn’t be available long. But then her parents dropped the bomb about not releasing the money.
Kristina had hoped to move in the next two months to a new place that wasn’t nearly so small and dirty. With Pepper. “You can still pay rent, if you like,” she said to Pepper when they’d discussed her inheritance, “but I’ll charge you something more fair.” Pepper had protested the rent drop, but Kristina insisted. “My parents will never stay with me if they come to visit. Guaranteed.” She also planned to give Pepper the beat-up truck they’d named Myrtle, and buy herself another one. Not a brand new expensive truck, but something reliable. She’d always planned to be careful with the money. And now that money was packed away like Kristina’s dream to join her high school swim team had been years ago. “Too distracting for your studies,” her mother had said about swimming.
On the good side of things, Kristina had not heard anything from the police, Kimo, Petey, or anyone who might be invested in the woman’s death in Napili Hau. A rumor had gone around town that day that some waitress who’d just arrived on Maui last month, had a heart attack in her boyfriend’s bed up north. Kristina was relieved to hear the sketchy details when it could have been so much worse, having written the tabloid headline in her mind to include the words Naked, Drug Orgy and Attorney’s Daughter Witnesses Tampering.
In the last few days, Pepper had put together a birthday party for Kristina with a group of their new friends and although Kristina had originally hoped to pay for the whole thing, Pepper changed the plan to exclude dinner. “We’ll go for drinks and dancing, instead,” she told Kristina as they got ready to go out on the town.
“I’ll just get more scuba students this month to pay for tonight,” Kristina said. She wasn’t sure how, but hoped to be able to pay her bills somehow this month, even if it meant stringing jewelry at her friend Julia’s store for some extra cash on her days off.
Pepper had given up her singing gig at Moose McGillicuddy’s Bar in Lahaina, to another singer and the ladies planned to start there. Depending on how the night shaped up, they’d go dancing after Moose’s. Kristina loved to dance and The Hyatt had a late-night club called Spats, where she’d passed many an hour since arriving on Maui.
Dressed in colorful mini dresses and high heels, Kristina’s shoes borrowed from Pepper, the two women arrived at Moose’s just as the sun was dipping behind the Pineapple Island of Lanai. The other ladies had scored a table overlooking the old whaling town’s boardwalk below and were one drink ahead when Pepper and Kristina sat down. Beyond the boardwalk on the other side of the street was the Pacific Ocean, the island of Lanai, and a sky that was turning deeper shades of peach and lavender as the minutes ticked on. Kristina sat between her friends Lynn, a cocktail waitress with a degree in botany, and Rebecca who flipped condos. Kristina took several deep breaths to shake off the disappointment of the day and ordered Mai Tai’s for everyone while Pepper got up on the bandstand to do a rousing version of “They Say It’s Your Birthday.” Everyone cheered enthusiastically for both Pepper, who had an awesome singing voice and Kristina who was finally getting into the swing of the party, thanks to the Mai Tai’s.
Weaving up the path to Spats later, Kristina grabbed her friend, Julia’s arm. “Heels and booze just don’t mix,” she said, and everyone laughed.
“I had more to drink than you.” Julia slurred. “I’ll probably hit the dirt first.”
Pepper flung open the club door and they headed towards the pounding beat of the bass. At eleven o’clock, the place was just beginning to fill up and Kristina wondered how people could start their evening so late. She was an early to bed gal herself. Usually. They ordered champagne and when the chilled bottle arrived everyone toasted to their new friend.
“To the girl who makes us want to get the most out of life,” Lynn said. “While still encouraging us to count our tips and save our money to invest.”
“Who makes us want to go diving to become one with the ocean,” Julia said.
Rebecca held her glass to Kristina’s. “Who deserves a really nice guy to treat her special.”
Pepper must’ve told them about Kimo.
This group of women had known each other before Kristina arrived on Maui, but eagerly accepted a new friend into the fold when Pepper first brought her along. They clinked glasses and took a drink of the cheapest champagne on the Spats menu.
“Happy Birthday, Fins,” Pepper hugged her. “You’re twenty-five. Or almost.”
“Thanks Heels.” Kristina smiled even though a week ago, turning twenty-five had meant the beginning of her business plan. Regardless, her business degree wasn’t going to collect dust if she could help it. Plans had formed, ideas were solidifying. Plans that had been postponed. Not ruined, just delayed, she had to remember.
After draining a glass of champagne, Kristina grabbed Pepper’s hand and headed to the dance floor, empty at this early hour. She didn’t care if they were the only people dancing. It was her birthday. The fake tiara that read Birthday Girl was too tight for comfort, squeezing her head. She’d leave it on for another few minutes seeing her friends had just anchored the thing to her long hair.
Soon, all her friends were gyrating and swaying to the pounding disco beat on the lit dance floor. The alcohol she’d downed over the evening fueled Kristina’s need to dance off some steam and after depositing her uncomfortable strappy heels back at the table, she walked back to the dance floor barefoot. The beat drove into her body from the floor. Although Kristina was more steady on her feet without the heels, she weaved into a table, stumbled into someone’s legs and said excuse me to some dude in a black collared shirt who looked like a narc. She danced her way back to her friends, grabbed their hands and sang along to the music. Tonight, Kristina was happy.
By the time she fell into bed after three a.m. she knew her hangover would be one colossal buzz kill tomorrow. Tonight, it didn’t seem important. They’d had so much fun. As she snuggled her way between the sheets, she hoped tomorrow’s hangover wouldn’t completely ruin her birthday. “I’m going to be sorry I drank so much,” Kristina huffed, her eyes closing.
Pepper gave her two aspirin and a tall glass of water, covered her, and turned out the bedroom light. “G’night, Fins” she said. “You can still make this year your best one yet.”
“Thanks Heels,” Kristina whispered. Then she remembered a worrisome phone message earlier from Kimo to say he had stuff on her he could tell someone.
“I know you don’t want that,” he’d said.
Trying to forget that she’d witnessed a dead body in her boyfriend’s bed, she closed her eyes and fell into a drunken slumber.
To Be Continued...