Posts tagged “Beach

Chasing Truth: Chapter 34

Posted on 14/02/2020

Mari kicked back in her chair with her punch, taking in the scene around her. The beach was filled with islanders. A bonfire was going in the middle of the crowd. Music, laughter, and chatter mingled with the sounds of the waves crashing along the shore. They never needed an excuse to get together, but they’d done all of this because she called Reese friend. They wanted him to feel welcome. She loved these people and the way they so freely gave love.

Reese had been drawn into far too many conversations to count since they made their way down the sand. She’d left him to his admirers. He entertained them all good-naturedly, but he was never too far from her. He’d just helped Leo toss more wood onto the fire a few minutes ago and now he was striding toward her.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” she asked as she tipped her head back to look up at him.

“I am. You guys know how to throw a party.”

“One of our many, many talents,” she assured, brandishing her coconut drink.

No sooner had he settled in the chair beside her, Keon walked over to them.

“Reese! My man! Here,” Keon offered a coconut drink.

“No. No,” Paul protested joining them. “He’s got to get the authentic experience. Let him carve out his own.”

“Coconut or pineapple?” Raoul asked holding both.

“It’s gotta be a pineapple,” someone else chimed in.

“Pineapple it is,” Reese agreed accepting the pineapple and the knife.

He cut off the top and handed it off. Mari watched the concentration on Reese’s face as he pressed the knife to the inside of the pineapple.

“Is this a good place to start?”

“Don’t cut too far down or too far in,” she corrected gently. “Like this.”

She set her drink down and leaned in closer. Laying her hands over his, she drew the knifepoint closer to the edge of the pineapple. It didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. She grinned as she let go.

“You’ll be a pro before you leave the island.”

He smiled over at her. “There are some pretty good teachers around.”

“Hold it up,” someone encouraged once the pineapple was hollowed out.

“No alcohol, please.”

She knew that request was for her. She started to counter him, encourage him to enjoy the night, but she knew it wouldn’t change his mind. He might be personable, but he was here for a reason. Everything she’d seen from him indicated he wouldn’t take that lightly.

An arm landed around her shoulder. Mari tilted her head back and Tyler filled her vision.

“Hey,” he greeted with a sound kiss on her lips. “It looks like the party is in full swing.”

“They’re in rare form tonight.”

He nodded his head toward the drink she’d picked back up. “It looks like you are too.”

She giggled as he lowered his head to playfully nibble her ear. “Go away, you brute.”

He kissed her ear before he straightened. “How are you enjoying our hospitality, Reese?”

“I’ve never had better,” he said raising his drink with a smile.

“It’s good you got to experience a real party before you leave.”

“Leave?” Paul echoed. “When are you leavin’? I thought I heard you were stickin’ around for a while?”

“No date yet. Mari’s got a good couch and I’m enjoying it here far too much to leave any time soon. I’ve got more pineapple drinks to make,” he assured Paul with a warm smile.

He didn’t even look at Tyler, whose arm squeezed Mari for a moment.

“Tyler! Come help me out, man!” Obi called.

Tyler glanced over his shoulder before looking down at Mari. “Be right back, sweetheart.”

She nodded and sank deeper into her chair. Her eyes closed as she took a long sip from her straw.

“This is the life.”

The music stopped suddenly. Moments later, the sound of soft drumming reached her ears. Chills raced over her skin as the drumming increased. Her eyes shot open as Leilani squeezed through the men and tugged on her arm to get her out of her seat. She hastily passed her drink off to Reese and jumped up.

Julia came up on her other side and the three of them gathered with the rest of the women. She could do the dances in her sleep. It felt like she’d known them since she could first walk. It didn’t matter how many times she did them though. They still filled her with joy and a sense of unity. Her feet moved with ease over the sand as she danced with the women of the island she loved.

Every time she looked for Tyler, he was nearby but in conversation. Reese was never too far away either. More than once, she heard his rich laughter mingle with the beat of the drums. As the women gave way to the men dancing, she looked on in surprised delight while Keon and Kojo’s son drew Reese with them and taught him the dances. It didn’t surprise her to find Reese was a fast learner. He didn’t get every step right, but he seemed completely engaged in the moment. His eyes found her in the crowd. She smiled and raised her drink toward him.

Leilani sighed in appreciation. “He looks like he’s been doing it for half of his life.”

“Are you looking at Reese? Or Keon?” Julia teased as she brought them fresh drinks.

The furious blush that stole over Leilani’s cheeks made Julia and Mari burst into laughter.

“You are far too easy, my friend.”

“Whatever,” Leilani mumbled into her drink. “We were talking about Reese.”

“Were we?” Mari asked.

“Yes! People seem to be taking to him.”

Mari shrugged. “He’s a likable guy.”

“Tyler doesn’t seem to like him half as much,” Julia noted.

“Tyler’s not a fan of any man I haven’t known since I was a kid.”

The girls laughed. The drumming slowed and the music from the speakers began once again. Everyone mingled together and danced then, enjoying the drinks and each other.

Mari and Julia stumbled around the side of the bonfire much later, laughing and holding onto each other as they separated themselves from the crowd where Keon and Leilani were still dancing. 

“Did you get a picture?” Mari demanded through her laughter.

“Of course I did! What kind of friend do you think I am?”

Tyler caught them. “Steady there, party girls.”

Mari laughed as she leaned into his chest. “Hey there, Handsome. Where’ve you been?”

“Watching my girl enjoy her evening.”

Julia kissed Mari’s cheek before gently untangling herself and slipping away. Mari sighed and nestled deeper into Tyler’s embrace.

“It’s been a good night.”

“I’m glad you’ve been having a good time.”

“Ready to head home?” Reese asked as he approached from the other side of the fire.

Mari lifted her head.

“I’ve got her.” Tyler protectively tucked Mari into his side. “I don’t want her driving. Why don’t you drive her truck and you can follow us back?”

“I should ride with him. I can’t just leave him,” Mari murmured in protest.

“We’ll be right in front of him. He’ll be fine. Give him your keys.”

Reese wordlessly pulled them from his own pocket, making Tyler frown. “That settles it then. I’m parked up by Laney’s.”

He started in that direction with Mari in tow without waiting for a response.

<< Chapter 33

Chasing Truth: Chapter 19

Posted on 24/10/2014

overhang-karst_zps7084a4b9

The rising sun cast only the slightest of lights across the rocky trail as Mari climbed. Even as ingrained as the trek was, she took her time. She knew how quickly the familiar rocks could turn treacherous. She had enough scratches and bruises to remind her. Reaching the end, she extended her arms to get a solid grip on the rocks and pulled herself up the rocky face of the overhang.

She drew her legs up and crawled to the back of the wall. Resting her back there, she settled. She closed her eyes and deeply inhaled the scent of the ocean. It was her secret place, combining her favorite things: the ocean, hiking, and nature. Up here she could clear her head enough to sort through her own thoughts.

Gage and Raoul’s words repeated themselves over and over in her head. She wanted to rage, to cry, and a small part of her wanted to pretend like Tyler had never told her anything. Whatever she chose to do now though, that reflected on her. Not Tyler. Not Raoul. Not Gage. Her.

Miranda Drake had loved Sakina. Even as a child, Mari knew that. Yet Blake Mason had been able to draw her away for years and she had died a woman still in love with him. It spoke volumes.

Still, if Tyler was to be believed there was a strong possibility he was tied up in a myriad of illegal activities. It could very well be the reason why everyone was convinced he loved her but chose to send her and her mother here. For their safety.

There was no guarantee he was the same man her mother once loved. Both Gage and Raoul had made it clear if she wanted the story, she’d have to hear it from Blake. She tugged the hair at the nape of her neck. She’d wanted the answers for years, but to come face to face with a man who had only ever been a figment of her imagination…

Feet slipping on rocks and whispered curses reached her ears. She didn’t open her eyes. No one came up here or knew how to find the place but her. And Julia and Rylee. They only intruded when they were worried.

“How’d you know I was here?” she asked when Leilani grabbed hold of the bottom of the overhang and dragged herself inside.

“I got a call from Tyler,” Julia said coming up right behind her. Mari stiffened but Julia pressed on. “He said you headed out pretty early and could use a friend.”

For him to know that he’d have to be close and watching. So much for space. She guessed she should be glad he sent them instead of coming after her himself.

“We tried to wait for you to come to us,” Leilani added softly. “We were worried about you climbing up here if your head was cluttered. Things with Tyler-”

Mari blew out a harsh breath. “Tyler is the least of my concerns right now.” That was only partly true but still.

“Talk to us,” Julia encouraged, sitting down next to her with Leilani doing the same on the other side.

She was silent for several minutes, trying to figure out how much to share. It sucked being evasive with the women who were family to her, but she needed to be careful until she had a better handle on what was going on. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, Tyler’s warning to silence stuck with her.

“I told you a while back Raoul was worried about me wanting to find my father. Turns out he was worried because he knows who he is.”

Leilani’s brow wrinkled in confusion. “But I thought only your mom knew?”

“Turns out that wasn’t true.”

“So you know who he is,” Julia prompted.

“Yeah.”

“What are you thinking?”

Mari leaned her head back against the rocks again and pressed the palms of her hands to her eyes. “That’s why I’m up here. I don’t know.”

“Why isn’t he here?” Julia wanted to know and Mari smiled weakly at the anger on her behalf. This was where things got tricky.

“I haven’t gotten the full story yet, but it’s been implied it was for safety. If I want the story, I have to get it from him.”

Leilani squeaked in sympathy. “That’s…I get why you’ve been so quiet. That’s a lot to process and all of a sudden too.”

She leaned over and covered one of Mari’s hands with her own, squeezing gently. Mari turned her head and smiled in her direction.

“Do you want to meet him?” she asked.

Mari shrugged. “Yes. No. I don’t know. What’s the point after all these years?”

“You’ve always had questions. If nothing else, you could get some answers. Maybe some closure? And I’m sure he has things about your mom he could tell you.”

“He does want to meet you, right?” Julia prompted when she didn’t speak.

“That’s the way Raoul makes it sound.”

“He’s always been protective of you,” Julia said thoughtfully. “If he’s willing to put you in contact he has to believe that beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

No one said anything for several moments. Mari leaned forward and braced her elbows on her knees, her hands sliding through her hair.

“I can’t really say no. Not without looking like a childish brat. My mom loved him. Till the day she died, she loved him. Never gave another man a chance. There had to be something there worth that commitment, right? If for no other reason I feel like I should do it for her.”

“What about for you? Your mom isn’t here anymore. What do you want?”

Mari’s groan followed that question. She dropped her head and breathed in. Julia’s firm hand rested on her back.

“Later, when it’s not so fresh, it would kill me not to know,” Mari admitted to her knees. “I’d be mad at myself for not finding out the truth or at least hearing his version of it.”

“That’s a better answer. You’ve got this, Mari. Hands down, you’re one of the bravest and strongest women I know. You can handle this. And you know if you want us there all you have to do is give the word.”

“I know.” She whispered the words and they weren’t just a platitude. Even before Miranda’s death the three girls were inseparable. Her death only drew them closer. They were her sisters in every way that mattered.

Julia patted her back and then she felt Leilani’s arms wrap tightly around her.

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

“Don’t think too hard. Call if you need us.”

Mari laughed softly. “I’ll do my best. Thanks guys.”

“Always,” they returned simultaneously.

Moments later she heard their footsteps fade as they started back down. A smile touched her lips although she didn’t lift her head. They knew her too well. She gave herself another half hour, enjoying the sea breeze and letting her mind settle on the decision she made.

When she started back down the beach she was far calmer than she was heading up. She still bypassed the main house. She made the decision but they could wait a little longer to hear it. Instead she crossed to the estate from the side and went straight for her place.

She saw them the moment it came into view. The yard was filled with multi-colored pinwheels. She tried to fight the smile even though no one was there to see it. Apparently Tyler decided her time was up.

She bent down and drew her fingers along a few of the pinwheels. There, with her heart aching and her mind torn, she made a decision. Tyler wanted Blake Mason. She wanted answers. If Tyler found something…well, Blake had made his own bed.

 

<< Chapter 18 || Chapter 20 >> 

%d bloggers like this: