Posts tagged “Fun

Chasing Truth: Chapter 32

Posted on 31/01/2020

“Are your friends usually on time?”

She glanced over her shoulder at Reese who stood in the doorway to the living room. Julia and Leilani were coming over to hear all about how her visit had gone with her father. The moment she’d texted them her father was gone, they’d arranged for the girls’ night. It was as much about seeing how she was doing as it was curiosity about the man they’d never met.

“They will be tonight. It’s been a few days.”

“Be careful about what you share tonight.”

She turned back to her laptop where she was reviewing the schedule for the next week of tours. “I don’t know enough to share anything threatening, so that should make it easy.”


He didn’t say anything else, so she reluctantly turned her head again.

“That’s for your safety as much as it is his.”

She sighed. “I hear you.”

“Good. I’ll be with your uncle. Lock the door when I leave and after they get here.”

She nodded because they’d already covered how the night was supposed to go. Setting aside the laptop, she followed him to the door and locked it behind him. She hadn’t figured out exactly how much she was going to share with her best friends, but Reese agreeing to give them some time alone gave her some freedom.

Ten minutes before they were supposed to show, she heard banging on the door. Laughing, she closed the laptop and set it on the table before answering the door. Leilani drove her back through the doorway with the force of her hug.


Mari laughed harder as Julia followed them inside with bags from Joe’s in hand.

“It’s only been a few days.”

“A few days too long!” Leilani countered immediately.

“I missed you guys too. Man, that smells delicious.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Leilani agreed with a huge grin as they moved toward the table. “Let’s hurry up and load up on food goodness. Then we’ll be ready to hit you with all of the questions.”

It took longer than the girls wanted to get the food unpacked and pile their plates because it was Joe’s. Everyone’s eyes were too big for their stomachs when it came to Joe’s. They finally moved to the living room to get settled, though. Leilani folded her legs up on the couch, balancing her plate on her leg as she leaned forward.

“Okay. Now tell us everything.”

“I don’t even know where to start,” Mari admitted.

“Umm, I don’t know. Maybe the beginning?”

Julia grinned around the bite of her food. “I have to agree with her on this one.”

Mari took her time dipping her calamari in sauce. “So. He came. Obviously.”

“Janey said she saw you on the beach with a man she’d never seen before,” Julia noted. “I assumed then that was him.”

“It was. He showed up and honestly, I had no clue what to say when he did. He knows how I feel about the beach, the water. He suggested we head out there and, somehow, that made it easier. We talked.” Mari cupped the sides of her neck and let her head drop back. “What I share with you can’t leave us. You can’t talk to your parents about it, Keon, nobody. You can’t go trying to do any research on your own.” She looked pointedly at Julia. “I’m calling for sister silence on this one.”

Julia laid her fork on her plate and Leilani lost her playful expression. They looked at each other. Only twice before had they invoked the “sister silence” they’d created when they were children. Never had it been Mari to ask for it.

“He’s been gone your whole life,” Julia said slowly. “We talked and we figured that probably meant there was a pretty serious story, so I can’t say we’re surprised.”

“I talk. A lot,” Leilani told them what they both already knew and they laughed. “Sister silence.”

They each pressed two fingers to their lips, drew x’s over their hearts, laid a hand there, and then all linked pinkies before lifting their hands together to touch.

“He wouldn’t tell me the full story, but he’s connected to something that’s dangerous. That’s why he sent my mom away when I was a kid. He wanted us safe. When Mom died, the danger hadn’t gone away and he knew how close I was to Raoul, so he let Raoul raise me. He kept his distance all these years for the same reason.”

“You have no clue what he might be involved in?” Julia asked curiously. “I know you. You would’ve pressed for more.”

She hesitated. She wanted to tell them the truth about Tyler and his suspicions. This was the perfect opportunity and they could give her another perspective. They would second-guess her though, especially her continued involvement with Tyler. She was also afraid of what would happen if Tyler or whoever he worked for found out they knew. The fear made her settle for a modified version of the truth.

“I don’t know what to think. He didn’t give me a lot to go off of, other than when it first started they seemed to think it was going to be temporary. It turned into something permanent.”

“Do you think maybe he was involved in something bad, for like quick cash or something? And then he maybe got trapped?” Leilani asked breathlessly.

Mari shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. That could fit for sure. He seems like a good guy, but isn’t that what everyone says about bad people when they find out they’re bad? ‘He was such a nice guy. He volunteered on the weekends, mowed the neighbor’s grass’? Besides, I had only had two days with him. They were good, but that’s nowhere near long enough to judge a person’s character.”

Julia’s brow wrinkled. “What are the other possibilities? He’s said whatever this is isn’t going to end, right?”

“Basically. Nothing I’ve managed to come up with has been the kind of story you want to put together about your father. That he was fun, sweet, and really seems to care for me didn’t make those thoughts any easier.”

“But the time with him was good?” Leilani asked hopefully.

“It was. I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were definitely some awkward moments, but most of the time was good. He was really interested in getting to know me. He and Raoul got along with no issues. We got to do a few things together.”

Mari’s food grew cold as she shared story after story about the times she had with Blake. Julia and Leilani clutched their stomachs in laughter and more than once Leilani tried to wipe discreetly at her eye. By the time Mari shared the stories Blake told her of her mom, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. All three of them had loved Miranda. Sharing the stories with her best friends about her was like sharing them with sisters.

      “Outside of the worry about what he’s involved in, I…I liked him. So even though it’s not likely, I’m really hoping he’s not some horrible criminal and the story is just more complicated than I can put together on my own.”

“That’s good at least. I mean obviously, it’s complicated and it would suck if he turns out to not be a great guy, but at least he’s a good dad.”

Leilani made sense in a complicated way, so Mari nodded.

“So, what happens now?” Julia asked.

“We’re going to stay in touch. Talk on the phone, plan another visit sometime in the future. I guess we’re kinda taking it day by day and slowly getting to know each other.”

“That’s a good plan.”

“Yeah, well I’m going to need help keeping a hold on one day at a time because sometimes I really want to get ahead of myself and freak myself out thinking too hard.”

“That’s what we’re here for.”

Mari stretched her legs out in front of her before she grabbed her plate and pushed out of the chair. “I let my food get cold running my mouth,” she complained.

Julia and Leilani looked down at their plates. Julia blinked in disbelief.

“You always tell a good story, no matter what it’s about. Nobody can distract me from conch fritters. Nobody.”

Mari fist pumped in triumph, making Julia shove her playfully as they returned to the kitchen to warm their food. It felt so good to kick back with her friends and get everything off of her chest over amazing food. She hadn’t realized how much she needed it until that moment.

“Hey, how did Blake like Tyler?” Leilani asked.

Mari chuckled softly. “He had the typical dad response. He put up with him because he had to, but didn’t make much or any effort to get to know him. Granted, I think getting to know me took priority. Still, I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t a big fan but I don’t think he’d be a fan of anyone.”

“Man, Tyler is really striking out,” Leilani said ruefully. “Keon is still not a fan. I kind of thought maybe he would warm to him after a while.”

“At least he’s not as openly rude anymore. He manages not to insult him when Tyler picks me up from the shop.”

 “What wonderful progress. Do you like him anymore than you used to?” Leilani asked Julia.

“I don’t dislike him.”

Leilani snorted. Julia ignored her.

“Well, I like seeing you happy,” Leilani told Mari with a smile. “I think we can all admit he helps with that.  He watches you, you know? When you guys are together and you’re talking to other people or doing something. He watches you with this little smile on his face that says he likes seeing you be you. I like it.”

A knock on the door drew their attention. Before Mari could even start for the door Leilani was striding from the kitchen.

“We finally get our first girls’ night in forever and somebody has the nerve to knock on the door? It’s probably Tyler. Don’t let my food burn!”

 “You can’t just-” She stopped midsentence after yanking the door open. “Umm…hi. Can I help you?”

“It’s not safe to open the door without knowing who’s on the other side. You should be careful. My name is Reese. I’m a friend of Mari’s.”

Mari groaned at the sound of that voice, drawing Julia’s attention.

“A friend of Mari’s?” Leilani echoed in a voice meant to carry. “Why don’t you come inside?”

Seconds later, Leilani appeared with Reese behind her. Her eyes were wide in a silent demand for answers and Julia’s grew just as big when she spotted him. They stared accusingly at Mari. She nibbled at her bottom lip.

“Oh. Yeah. I forgot to mention. Umm, a family friend is in town for a little while. Reese, this is Leilani and Julia. Call her Jules or she’ll abuse me. Lani, Jules, this is Reese.”

They stared at her a moment longer to make sure she knew she would pay for leaving Reese out of her storytelling. They turned back to face him.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Reese,” Leilani said genuinely. “Welcome to Sakina.”

“Thank you,” Reese said with a gracious smile before he focused on Mari. “I take it this isn’t quite winding down yet. Raoul warned me you three could talk all night and never run out of things to say.”

“He wasn’t wrong.”

“You’re welcome to stay,” Leilani offered and jerked to the side when Julia elbowed her.

Reese pretended not to see it although Mari was certain he hadn’t missed it.

“I wouldn’t want to intrude on girl time. I’m sure I’ll have the chance to talk with you before I leave the island.”

Mari checked the time, surprised and yet not that so much of it had passed. It was always like that when they got together.

“Another hour or so?”

“That works. Have a good night, ladies.”

“You too.”

He smiled and let himself back out.

Leilani held her silence for all of three seconds after the door closed. “Who is Mr. Delicious?” she asked in a stage whisper.

“He’s a friend of Blake’s.”

“A same age friend? Because he looks closer to our age. And in case you somehow missed it, he is one fine man. Really fine. Super fine.”

“I’m dating someone, remember?”

She deflated. “Oh. Yeah.” She perked back up immediately. “Wait. You asked for more time. Is he staying here? Mari, Tyler is going to lose his mind!”

“He already did. He got over it.”

“He might have let you think he got over it. It needs repeating. The man is fine. No way is Tyler okay with him staying here.”

“Tell us about him.”

Julia’s prompting shifted the focus away from Tyler.

“He and Blake are really close. He pays attention. To everything and I mean everything. You could probably tell looking at him, but he’s in great shape. He’s got a good sense of humor.”

Mari shrugged and met Julia’s focused stare. She didn’t disappoint, cutting straight to the heart of the matter.

“Your dad is worried. That’s why he’s here.”

“He’s…being cautious. I don’t think he’s truly worried.”

Leilani’s mouth twisted up as she let go of Reese’s looks and the implications of his presence hit her.

“I’ll be telling everyone the same thing I told you guys. He’s a friend of the family visiting for a while. It’s not a lie. There’s just a reason for the visit.”

Leilani sank back into the couch and rubbed at her temple. “Your life has literally turned into a movie. This is crazy.”

“You’ll be careful,” Julia said pointedly. “We all will.”

Mari nodded. It was important for her to tell her friends as much of the truth as she felt was safe, but she didn’t want them to worry either.

“Reese will be around, sticking close. Just try not to embarrass me, please.”

“Hey, I’m never an embarrassment,” Leilani protested.

Julia burst into laughter and dodged Leilani’s swat. The night quickly devolved into amusing stories and endless teases. It was perfect.

<< Chapter 31     Chapter 33 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 9

Posted on 15/08/2014


Weeks passed, marked by tours during the day and nights with Tyler. The more time she spent with him, the more she liked what she saw. He kept her charmed and laughing, effortlessly wiping away the stress and strain of packed days. They went swimming, biking, and hiking. They lied out and watched the stars. He cooked for her. Amid the sandcastle competitions, movie choosing ceremonies, and the hilariously competitive game nights, spending time with him became the highlight of her day and she was looking forward to their night together.

Unfortunately she was currently stuck cleaning up from a late diving tour with Keon. She peeked into the boat to see how much equipment there was and glanced down at her watch.

“Got another date with the resident wannabe?”

“Actually, yeah. Are you going to be a brat about him forever?”

Keon hadn’t softened his stance about Tyler since their first time out together. The times Tyler stopped by the shop he alternated between ignoring him and watching him like a suspected thief. Then there were the snarky comments. She chalked it up as the protectiveness of a man who was like a brother to her and ignored him most of the time. Tonight his attitude bothered her.

“He’s a good guy, Keon. Really. He hasn’t even tried to kiss me, let alone make any type of move. You can relax.”

Tyler was the perfect gentleman. He never pushed or went beyond holding her hand , a hug, or a playful wrestle. She hadn’t dated since her freshman year of college and hadn’t missed it. She didn’t want to get into another relationship, but with Tyler she found herself not only willing to, but also wanting to.

Every outing with him was fun. It was more than that though. He made her feel cherished. He was always caring and considerate. He was an amazing listener and whenever she brought something to him he knew when to help her work through it and when to just let her vent. He was honest, some might even say to a fault, but she liked that about him. He never left her wondering what he was thinking. A smile curved her lips.

She glanced at her watch again.

“I just don’t like the vibe I get from him.” Keon passed her two tanks before grabbing two of his own. “He’s a stranger.”

“Have you tried actually getting to know him?” It wasn’t like Keon to act like this. Sure he was always a little overprotective but she expected the animosity to have faded by now. She frowned back at him as she unlocked the shop and preceded him inside.

“Just be careful, alright? We don’t know a ton about him.”

“You know me. I’m always careful.”

The sound of Tyler’s truck pulling up cut off whatever else he planned to say. They went through the required equipment checks before returning them to their proper place. Mari took one last look around the shop to make sure everything was in place.

“Go ahead. I’ll lock up.”

She raised a brow.

“Go ahead before I change my mind. Just remember what I said.”

She smiled and kissed his cheek. It was more than him letting her leave a little early. This was his way of trying to show his support of whatever made her happy and they both knew it.

“Thanks, Keon.”

The passenger door was already open when she walked out. She hopped in and leaned over to give Tyler a hug. He knew her schedule almost as well as she did and had taken to picking her up and helping her wind down after full days of work. Tonight he drove her down to the beach to enjoy the stars over her favorite order from Joe’s Shack.

“You’re getting really good at this.” She popped a piece of shrimp into her mouth.

“We’ve been doing this for a while now. I’d like to think so.”

She nudged him and stole one of his fries, drawing laughter from him.

“And no matter how well I think I ordered, you always find something of mine you want.”

“The fact that it’s yours adds a different flavor to it.”

She said it with a straight face, but couldn’t maintain it when he stared at her in amused disbelief.

“Finish your food, woman.”

When she finished her dinner he took her hand for a stroll down the beach. A soft smile touched her face and she inhaled the rich ocean scent. Tyler and the beach. It didn’t get much better than this. It would be very easy for a woman to get used to being the center of his focus.

“What are you smiling about?”

She cocked her head to the side and her smile widened. “You.”

“Ah sweetheart, you don’t look at a man and tell him something like that.”

“You asked a question. I’m just being honest.”

He gently tugged her to a stop, water lapping over their feet. “A man could really like the look of you,” he murmured as he trailed his fingers down the side of her face. “And I’m only being honest.”

“Oh yeah?” she challenged with a smile.

“Yeah,” he breathed seconds before he leaned in. “If you don’t want this, now’s a good time to stop me.”

He was so close the words were practically said against her lips. Without realizing it, she brought her hands up to grip his arms when he cupped her face.

“I don’t see anyone stopping you.”

No sooner than she said the words, he took her lips in a strong kiss. It was a shock to her system. He never did anything in half measures and this kiss was no different. She was on the tips of her toes, meeting him in the hungry kiss. He drew her in tighter until she was flush against him and her arms locked around his neck.

It was every bit as intense as the man holding her. She didn’t want it to end.

“I was afraid of that,” he murmured when he finally pulled back.

She rested her forehead against his shoulder and felt his fingers comb through the loosened strands of hair.

“Afraid of what?”

“You. Wanting more if I had a taste.”

She lifted her head to look into his eyes. He smiled that crooked smile she was coming to love.

“Just being honest.”

She smacked his chest lightly and then smoothed her hand over the fabric there. “Yeah, well if it makes you feel any better…I want more too.”

He groaned softly. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, her nose, and finally her lips. She melted into his hold with her lips clinging to his. Kissing with Tyler was more than it ever was with anyone else. She wanted to sink in and never come back up.

“Easy.” He was breathing hard when he ripped his mouth from hers. “You could kill a man.”

“Same goes.”

He pressed his forehead to her and laughed breathlessly. “Yeah, we’re going to do this. You’re mine, sweetheart.”

“You weren’t sure up until now?”

He laughed again. “Don’t be cute right now.”

“Sorry, I’ll see what I can do about turning that off.”

She barely got the last word out before he kissed her again.

“I’m trying to find some control,” he murmured against her lips. “Help me out.”


He stole one more kiss before he pulled back, grabbing her hands and squeezing.

“Let me get you home.”


“Out of my mind.”

She laughed and let him turn her back toward the truck. When his arms wrapped around her waist she nestled into him. They walked back up the beach like that, laughing and teasing each other as they went.

He helped her into the truck and stilled, his eyes on something in the distance. She settled into the seat and frowned up at him. All signs of amusement left his face. His eyes were hard and his jaw set as he scanned the night.

“What is it?” she asked, trying to find whatever held his attention.


He gently swung her legs into the truck and closed the door with a smile. With more look out at the road, he climbed in and drove off.

By the time he pulled up to the house, she was exhausted but still reluctant to leave him. He surprised her when he opened his car door. Usually he pulled up to the guesthouse, waited for her to get inside, and then left. He was helping her down from the truck when she found her tongue.

“What are you doing?”

“Walking you to your door.”

She studied him, but he seemed as easygoing as he was earlier. Whatever bothered him before, he was over it now. She searched through her pack for her keys and came up with them just as they reached the door.

“Get inside, sweetheart.”

“I’m going. Thank you for tonight. I needed that. Somehow you always seemed to know.”

He kissed her temple. Then her cheek. “You’re welcome. Go.”

She grinned up at him. “You really like me,” she teased.

“I don’t know why. You’re a brat.”

“You like my mean streak.” She stroked a hand over his cheek. “Goodnight Tyler.”

He turned his head to kiss her palm. “Goodnight sweetheart.”

She reluctantly pulled away and unlocked the door. He was already backpedaling toward the stairs.

She couldn’t resist one last tease. “Still scared?”

“Shaking in my boots, baby. Lock up.”

She nodded and shut the door, waiting. A knock sounded against door and she burst into laughter. She turned the lock.

“Better?” she asked the door.

“Brat.” And then all she heard were his footsteps and the truck starting back up.


<< Chapter 8 || Chapter 10 >>

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