Posts tagged “Party

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 3

Posted on 04/07/2014

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Mari hadn’t laughed so much in months. Her shoes had long since been kicked off as she was swung up into countless arms and danced across the cool grass. It had truly taken a village to raise her after her mother died and many of the men who twirled her around had cherished her and treated her as their own daughter.

She squeezed Kai tight as she pulled back from the last dance.  In those rare moments between dances, she reminisced and caught up with old friends. Women she went to high school with were enthralled by her tales of college. Children that once barely reached her knees now wrapped their arms around her waist and proudly recalled their adventures in mischief. The longer she spent out in the torch lit backyard, the more settled she felt. This was home. This was family.

Food had been shoved into her hand at some point. She strongly suspected it was Keon who’d done it but she didn’t complain. She was tearing the last bit of meat from her rib bone when Mayor Iago nudged her.

“You look like you’re having a great time.”

“I am but I’m probably going to sleep for a week after this.”

He chuckled. “I expect we’ll be seeing you back on the waters tomorrow afternoon if not sooner.”

She beamed and sucked barbecue sauce from her pinky. “Keon says he’s got a group tomorrow. I figured I tag along and show him how to do it right.”

“I don’t know,” Raoul teased handing her a cup of his famous punch. “The boy’s gotten good while you were off with those books of yours.”

She snorted but eagerly took the offered cup while he took her plate. “I don’t care how good he’s gotten. Really Papa, it’s Keon.”

“Well if it weren’t for Keon we wouldn’t have the pleasure of your charming company,” Keon chimed in innocently. He grabbed her cup and took a long sip, hastily offering it back with a grin.

“Did you really just refer to yourself in third person?” She snatched the cup and elbowed him in the stomach both at the offense and his reference to the near drowning. “That’s about the only thing you’re good for and since that particular skill of yours hasn’t been needed in over a decade, why do we still keep you around?”

“You’re always so caring, Mari. I don’t know how I survived all this time without you here to keep my self-esteem up.”

“You had Jules. She’s the sweetheart.”

Julia snorted and Todd turned the full power of his grin toward Leilani who was concentrating on ignoring him.

“I do seem to remember a certain sweetheart. I don’t think it was Jules though.”

Whatever was going on between them, and it seemed there had been since her last visit, Keon wouldn’t be put off for long. Mari shook her head and decided to spare her friend. For the moment at least.

“What’s the lineup for tomorrow?”

Keon reluctantly pulled his gaze back to her. “A three hour diving expedition at eight. I figured I’d take them down to Pleasure Valley. That’s followed by a two hour hiking trip at one.”

Her eyes gleamed at the nickname she gave one of her favorite diving spots. She nodded. “I’m definitely in. For both. You can keep the lead. Just consider me part of the tour.”

“Oh no, if you’re coming I’m putting you to work.”

“And everyone knows you don’t know how to do anything but guide,” Iago added.

She laughed into her cup as she raised it for a long sip. Her eyes closed as she savored the explosion of flavors. Even though Raoul gave her the recipe when she turned 18, there was nothing quite like the way he made it. She dipped her head for another sip and paused. Her eyes locked with a man she’d never seen before talking with Leo, an old school friend.

He was partially hidden in shadow but the lit torches danced light over him. He was taller than Raoul, which gave him a good four inches on her.  His jaw was clean-shaven, highlighting the sharp angles and planes of his face. His shirt hung open to reveal a plain tank top beneath stopping just above his cargo shorts and sandals. If she hadn’t lived on the island for most of her life, she’d have mistaken him for a native. Impressive.

He continued to talk with Leo but those serious brown eyes never left her.

She knew better than to pose her question in front of the men who watched out for her since she was a child. She leaned into Julia and Leilani, casually stepping back from the men.

“Who’s the guy talking to Leo?” she asked into her cup.

Julia turned her head to find Leo and frowned. “New guy. He got here about a month ago. Name’s Tyler. Why?”

“Just curious. I recognize just about every face except for his.”

“That’s funny. The only face he seems to see is yours,” Leilani pointed out beaming.

Mari rolled her eyes but hints of red stained her cheeks. She drained the rest of her punch and tossed the cup into the trash. No sooner than it left her hand, she was swept up in yet another dance and the new resident was forgotten.

Several dances, races, toasts, and hugs later, people slowly began trickling from the Drake estate and Mari walked up to the house sandwiched between Raoul and Allison.

“Thank you for this. I didn’t realize how much I needed it.”

“Of course you did,” Raoul said with a knowing smile. “I don’t care how old you are. It’s always going to be my job to look out for you.”

“And you do the best job. Even when I’m a brat.” She grinned just thinking about the time she and the girls were busted at a party after saying they were spending the night at each other’s places. Then there was the time she and Julia were suspended for loosing snakes in the cafeteria. Her grin widened as the list grew in her mind. She hadn’t been an easy child. “I love you guys.”

“We love you too,” Allison assured.

“Now go on and get some rest. If Keon has his way, he’s going to work you to the bone tomorrow.”

She beamed. “And I can’t wait to show him how much I haven’t forgotten. Goodnight.” She kissed both of their cheeks before disappearing up the stairs, working up ways to mess with Keon on the trail the following day.

 

<< Chapter 2 || Chapter 4 >>

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