Strangers of the Past: Chapter XIII
Posted on 14/11/2012
“He did what?!” Hapta hollered from the bathroom and stuck a head out of the door to gape incredulously at Marcus perched on the twin bed near the door. Then he glanced over at Jonathan who stood near the window, staring out listlessly. “Tell me he’s joking…”
“It’s true,” Marcus replied, a wide smile crossing his lips as he folded his arms across his burly chest. “Hannah and I dated when we were in college.” He shrugged his shoulders. “It was such a long time ago though. Long before she and John met.”
“Still!” Hapta clucked his tongue. “I wouldn’t stand for my wife being best friends with another man besides me.”
Marcus rolled his eyes. “Calm down, it’s not like that.” He glanced over at Jonathan’s back turned to them. “It was strange today…” he mused aloud.
“What was?” Hapta asked, curiously staring from Marcus to Jonathan and back to Marcus.
“Hannah. The way she talked with us, like she was her old self…” The corner of his mouth curled up.
Jonathan clenched his jaw, not moving from the window, not saying a word.
“Was that why you laughed like that earlier?”
“She still has her sharp tongue.” Marcus sighed at Jonathan’s silence and turned back to Hapta. “We need to be careful. She is already suspicious of us.”
Hapta nodded. “She seems very observant.”
“She is,” Marcus agreed, staring at Jonathan’s stiff shoulders. “She’s always been that way…”
Jonathan suddenly turned around and started for the door, without a word to the other men.
Hapta frowned after him as the man closed the door behind him. “What’s his problem?”
Marcus sighed and glanced down at his hands. He’d seen the hurt look in Jonathan’s eyes when Hannah reeled away from him, her gaze evasive as if he would harm her. It was obvious that Jonathan felt betrayed by the events of the day. But what could they do about it now?
He wanted to scream, to throw something, to punch Marcus in the face. Anything to release the pent-up frustration in his heart. Hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans, Jonathan strolled without a plan down the sidewalk that rounded the hotel, feeling the warm breeze lift his un-tucked shirttails.
The image of Hannah staring up defiantly at Marcus, as if she remembered him, stirred his heart, especially when he compared it to the blank look she gave him. His brow furrowed deeply.
What if her heart remembered Marcus and not him? He clenched his fists in his pockets and stepped away from the sidewalk, strolling away from the hotel.
Bright-yellow birds chirped lazily above the wooden terrace as she stepped out onto the porch. Gazing at the wide expanse of cerulean-blue sea and equally blue skies, she took in a deep breath. Her lips curled in appreciation at the comforting fragrance of salt mixed with sweet-smelling orchids draped over the weathered wooden beams above the porch steps. Wiggling her feet against the grains of sand, she walked to the landing of the wooden steps and braced a hand on the pole supporting the roof.
Just then, a set of warm arms curled about her waist and she felt her heart skip a beat and then another when these arms tugged her gently toward an even warmer, firm body. She felt her eyes close as the warmth from this unseen person exuded hers, the warm sea breeze caressing her cheeks. The arms pulled her even closer and she heard herself release a sigh of contentment, feeling more secure than she’d ever felt before. Without words, she knew that she was home. Glancing down, she smiled gently at the person’s tanned fingers cradling her swollen belly and she cupped her smaller, darker hands around his own, snuggling deeper into his embrace.
Ameya snapped her eyes open to stare at the darkened ceiling above her. Lips parted, she stared helplessly as warm tears trickled down her face at the strange dream. This wasn’t the first time either. Three times this week, it was the same scene of someone, maybe her, standing on a porch. Staring out into the ocean as if waiting for whoever it was to join her on the porch and wrap his comforting arms around her. Ameya wordlessly placed a hand over her flat stomach. She’d been pregnant in that dream, if indeed it was her, and whoever it was had to be the father of her child.
Suddenly compelled with an urging desire to gaze upon her Tomas, Ameya pushed herself off the bed and trudged out of the room to Tomas. She paused at the door, staring into the dimly-lit room where her son snuggled in his blanket and scruffy teddy bear.
Swallowing the hardened lump in her throat, Ameya stepped quietly into the room and walked over to Tomas’ bed. Her heart skipped a beat at the innocent face of her son, his thumb stuck in his mouth. Lowering herself to perch on the side of his bed, Ameya slowly reached up to smooth back his soft, curly hair. The image of those strong tanned fingers wrapped around her swollen belly crossed her mind and Ameya paused from stroking her boy’s face.
Her brow furrowed deeply as she stared at her son’s lighter skin, thinking about his striking gray eyes and pert nose. He looked nothing like her, except his pointed chin and heart-shaped face. But his hair, his eyes, his mouth, they resembled none of hers.
For the third time that week, Ameya regretted waking up before she could see the faceless man in her dream. With a sigh, she gently shifted Tomas’ little body and slid beside him, wrapping her arms about her son before she too drifted off to sleep.
Jonathan was a ball of nerves the next day. He kept strolling back and forth on the balcony, pausing to stare out onto the street for the familiar Sunrise Tours van. His heart skipped a few beats and he shook his head incredulously. Even now, he felt like a foolish young man meeting Hannah for the first time.
Marcus smirked from inside the room, watching his brother-in-law pace back and forth. Hapta strolled past, pausing to stare at the balcony with a smirk of his own. “You’d think he’s getting ready for a blind date or something…” he shook his head and walked back to the bathroom.
“In a way, I guess he is,” Marcus replied. He’d waited all night for Jonathan to return to the hotel room, not saying a word as the solemn man trudged quietly to his side of the bed to sleep. He’d stayed up a little longer, to say a prayer for both Jonathan and Hannah. That just as they’d met by chance almost ten years ago and had grown to love each other, that there would be a miracle this time around to restore their marriage.
“She’s here,” Jonathan said quietly over Marcus’ thoughts and stepped into the room. Without a glance in his brother-in-law’s direction, he started for the door.
Marcus stood quickly and grabbed Jonathan’s arm. “Hey…”
Jonathan merely stared a head, his jaw clenched tightly.
Marcus released a sigh. “We’ll get her back. I promise you.”
Jonathan swallowed hard visibly. “I hope you’re right…” he said in a dead-pan voice and gently shook off Marcus’ hand before strolling toward the door.
Marcus watched helplessly as Jonathan stepped out of the room, leaving the door ajar. “Hapta, let’s go,” he called over his shoulder before following Jonathan out to meet Hannah.
Ameya dusted off her pants as she stood in front of the tour van. Telling herself to forget about the dream, she stared ahead to the entrance of the hotel. It wasn’t long before she noticed two of the three men strolling to the parking lot and she watched openly at the stark difference between the two.
One was tanned in complexion, tall and lanky, his wavy light hair swaying in the warm breeze. The other, was more burly and a head shorter than his friend, his skin as dark as hers. The way the brothers-in-law walked in companionable silence hinted at their closeness and Ameya found herself wondering about their relations.
Straightening her shoulders as they approached her, Ameya smirked once they stood in front of her van. “You’re on time…” She glanced over the shorter one’s shoulder, watching the redhead scurry to catch up with them. “Well, at least two of you are.”
“Sorry!” Hapta said breathlessly as he stumbled to stand beside his friends. “You’re earlier than I expected.”
Swallowing a grunt, Ameya turned back to the other men, gaze skimming quickly over the taller one to the burlier man. “Are you sure you want to do this?
Marcus smiled kindly. “Of course. Are you?”
Ameya scoffed. “I’d be a fool to pass up this opportunity,” she played back Warren’s words of wisdom. Suddenly she felt her cheeks warm and frowned lightly, noticing that the taller one stood quietly, staring openly at her. Clenching her jaw, she cleared her throat and trained her gaze on the man named Marcus. “Any suggestions on where you’d like to go first?”
He shook his head. “Not at all… Maybe John has some ideas where he’d like to go?” He gestured at his quiet friend.
Ameya found herself turning her head against her will to look up at the man named Jonathan, and immediately regretted it. She bit back a soft gasp at his gray-eyed stare focused on her face. This was going to be a long day.