Disclaimers - Nope, none. My characters, my hometown, my pseudo company. This is an Uber Fiction - featuring two characters from a previous story called Tropical Storm. Dar Roberts is the vice president of operations for an internationally known Information Services corporation. Kerry Stuart is her assistant and protégé.
They kinda like each other.
There is mild violence, mild bad language, mild sexual activity, and mild salsa, with chips.
Whoops. Never mind that…
Hurricane Watch - Part 10
By Melissa Good
"You ready?" Kerry leaned on the kitchen counter, watching Dar suck a comforting glass of warm milk. The tall, dark haired woman was dressed in her overalls, and had her hair pulled loosely back into a knot outlining her angular profile. The dim light in the room caught her pale eyes, and Kerry could smell the clean scent of the soap Dar used, and a soft hint of sun dried cotton. .
"Yep.. I called the ferry dock, and left the names." Dar replied, licking a few droplets of milk off her lips. "I told them to escort everyone down to the marina.. I figured that was easier than meeting here, then trooping over.. besides, there's parking there." Dar put the glass into the sink and exhaled. "Let's go… I want to get the boat ready."
Kerry picked up a small rope bag, which held the crystals and the parchment, and slung it over her shoulder as she followed Dar out the door.
"Yelp!" Chino's head almost got caught in the door, and the puppy complained vigorously.
"C'mon, honey.. you stay here, okay? I don't think you'd like boats." Kerry told the animal.
"No." Dar put a hand on her shoulder. "Let her come.. she's family."
Kerry gave her a surprised look, but opened the door and let the puppy out, watching as she scampered over to Dar's feet and started chewing them. "Okay, but remember you asked me to do this."
Dar scooped up the dog and tucked her under an arm as she got into the cart. She set the puppy down on the seat between them, and released the brake, starting off in the pre dawn darkness.
It was really quiet, Kerry mused, as they rolled along the road, the sound of their tires on the tarmac seeming very loud. To one side, she could hear the gentle hiss of the surf, and to the other, the rustle of sleeping birds that roosted in the ring of trees around the small, 9 hole golf course in the center of the island. Dar steered around the curve that circled the beach club, and headed down the small path that led directly to the marina. The soft sound of clanking rigging got louder, and as they turned the last curve, Kerry could see the security lights of the harbor lighting the rows of boats. "Beautiful morning."
"Mm." Dar agreed, steering down the dock until she was opposite their slip. The boat rocked gently in the water, and Dar hopped aboard with easy grace. "The club people'll be here shortly… " She eyed the front deck, tucking a life preserver away into it's bin. "You want to kick the batteries up.. make sure we've got plenty of juice?"
"Sure." Kerry ducked down into the cabin and stowed her bag, then checked the boat's electrical system, which was hooked to a portal on the dock. "Looks fine." She yelled up, idly opening the small refrigerator. "Hey." She peered inside, spotting a small tray, with two splits of Dom Perignon champagne, and a dish of creamy looking truffles. A card rested there, and she plucked it up, peering at it. "Awww… hey, Dar!"
"Mm?" A voice sounded right in her ear, almost making her hit the overhead.
"Jesus… would you not do that?" The blond woman yelped. "You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days, Dar…"
"You called me." Dar complained. "It's not my fault I was right here." She poked her head into the small galley. "What's that?"
Kerry handed her the card, and retrieved the tray.
Dar studied the writing, and felt a smile edge across her face. "This'll take the edge of your damn nerves… it better, considering it cost more than a damn F18." It was signed. "It's from dad. Wow."
"Open wide." Kerry offered her a truffle, which she obediently accepted. "He's such a sweetie."
"Mmm.hf." Dar nodded, chewing.
"Now I know where his daughter gets it from." The blond woman teased gently, catching Dar in mid chew as a faint blush colored her skin. "Heh."
Dar sighed. "My reputation's in tatters." She swallowed. "Mmm… that's good." Her eyes brightened, and she sniffed after the tray. "More?"
Kerry poured the champagne, and handed her lover a glass, then produced another truffle, which dissapeared immediately. "Hey… chew it, okay?" She took a sip of the alcohol, and nibbled a sweet, enjoying the contrasting tastes. She looked down as a scrabbling of claws indicated Chino's approach, and watched as the puppy stumbled down the stairs, and barked at her. "Hello, honey."
"Yawp!" Chino sniffed around Dar's legs, then sat down on her foot. "Urrr.."
Dar chuckled. "Thanks Chino… I needed a footwarmer." She took a swallow of her drink, and let it trickle down her throat, then she nudged Kerry. "You hoarding those?"
Kerry put a truffle in her mouth, then bit down lightly, and raised her eyebrows. "Srof?"
The taller woman tilted her head down, and took the proffered half, brushing her lips against Kerry's teasingly. "This is starting out to be a great day already."
Kerry grinned happily, then she turned as she heard voices outside. "Well, I think we're about to get things going… awp.."
Dar put her glass down, and laced her fingers through Kerry's hair, drawing her closer and into a heartfelt, passionate kiss. They separated after a long stretch of heartbeats and looked at each other. Dar put a warm hand on Kerry's cheek. "I love you." She said, simply.
"I love you too." Kerry answered, her voice a little hoarse. "Thank you, for doing this, Dar.. it means a lot to me."
Dar smiled, and rubbed her thumb against Kerry's soft cheek. "I know." Her eyes shifted to the door. "Guess we'd better get going… I think I hear Duks."
Kerry hugged her for a moment, then released her, and followed her up the steps to the deck.
Sure enough, familiar figures were lining the dock, weirdly shadowed in the ochre security lights. "Morning." Dar lifted a hand, stifling a grin as Duks put his hands on his hips and glared at her.
"You know, Dar.. it's a very good thing I am a forgiving sort." He shook his head. "You could not have had a sunset affair, eh?"
"Wrong ocean for that." Dar put a bridge down and tugged the lines taut as their guests came aboard. "Go on up into the front… we need to take some supplies on board." She gave the waiting staff, carrying insulated coolers a nod. "Thanks for coming… hello, Maria."
"Buenas Dias, Dar… Kerrisita." Maria gave her vermillion headscarf a tug, and handed Kerry a small box. "I know you are telling me not to get any gifts, but you take this anyhow."
'Thanks, Maria." Kerry took the box, then gave the secretary a hug. "Thanks for coming… we really appreciate it."
"Thank you for asking me." Maria smiled. "My family, they think I am having a how you say.. an affair, to be sneaking away so early."
Kerry walked with her to the bow, to join Duks and Mari, who were seated on the cushion, whispering to each other. "They don't really, do they?" The blond woman asked, a little embarrassed. "I mean.. we didn't think about how annoying it would be for everyone else to drag their butts out here before dawn…it's about the time we usually get up."
"Oh… it figures… " Mari laughed. "You know, I should have realized if my overachieving, typical type a friend Dar there found a match, it'd have to be someone who was as much in to self torture as she was."
"What do you do so early in the morning?" Maria asked, curiously, as she seated herself on a cushion.
"Well.. " Kerry glanced over as Duks and Mari started sniggering. "Actually, we go out running." She stuck her tongue out a little at them.
They both groaned. Maria hid a laugh behind a small hand.
Dar watched the island staff stow the food, and waited for the two Hispanic waiters to leave before she investigated the contents, snagging a corn muffin and some butter, gaining an instantly attentive Labrador puppy glued to her foot. She split the muffin, then cracked open the hot, insulated dish, and scooped out a bit of the scrambled eggs it contained, and put some on each half. Then she settled down for a moment's peace, glad to let Kerry do the social honors for the time being.
The rocking of the boat soothed her as she chewed, allowing her nerves to settle. It wasn't the ceremony that was bothering her, she realized, it was that she was about to expose a very personal side of herself to someone other than Kerry.
Ugh. Dar sighed. Well, get a grip, rugrat, after this whole thing, they suspected you had a marshmallow center anyway. She shared her muffin with Chino, then took a breath and went back up on deck, carrying a thermal carafe of coffee and a stack of purple styrofoam cups. Purple Styrofoam. Where in the hell did these people get stuff like that? She'd asked for plain foam, and gotten a face from Clermente as though she'd asked for paper frigging plates…he'd wanted to provide a china service for the coffee. So this was his compromise, she supposed, shaking her head.
A voice called from the docks. She turned to see Colleen, dressed in neatly pressed tan walking shorts and a crsip white polo with a tall, heavyset man in a sweatshirt and cutoffs who she guessed was the pastor. "Morning." She waited for them to cross the gangplank, and gave them a reserved smile. "If you want to bring this up front, Colleen.. I'll get the engines started." She glanced at the pastor. "Welcome aboard."
The man stuck a hand out, which Dar was now free to grasp since Colleen had helpfully snatched the coffee and cups from her. "Hello..you must be Dar."
Dar inclined her head, favorably impressed with his friendly face and firm handshake. "That's right… is it Pastor Robert?"
He laughed. "Sure… it's better than Pappy Bob, which is what my nephews call me." He cleared his throat a little. "It's a pleasure to meet you…from the way Kerry talks about you, I had a feeling she'd found someone special." He smiled a little at Dar's discomfited look. I've known Kerry since she was a little girl."
A hint of warmth crept into Dar's eyes. "I bet you know some stories, then." She eased the subject away from herself. "Was she a scamp?"
"Ooohhh.. yes… a boat…er..load." He started laughing. "And yes, she certainly was…especially when she was in my Sunday school classes."
"Mm… we should talk." Dar bestowed a grin on him, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "G'wan up front… I'm going to take us out." She paused. "Thanks for making it out here… I can't tell you how much this means to Kerry… " She hesitated. "And me."
He beamed. "It's my pleasure… and I'm an early riser anyway. The thought of doing this as the sun came up.. out on the beautiful Atlantic under God's own canopy… it's perfect."
Oh. Dar decided instantly. I like him. "Great." She walked over and untied the lines, setting the ship free of the dock. Then she walked to the bridge, and started the two diesel engines, trimming them expertly and backing the vessel out of it's pilon lined slip. She heard a laugh from the bow, and glanced over to see Kerry hugging her former pastor, a look of thinly veiled delight on her face.
Dar smiled to herself as she guided the boat slowly out of the marina, and headed it towards the Cut. The freshening breeze blew her hair back, and she took a breath of the salty air, remembering all the times she'd faced the dawn just like this.
Except, of course, the boat had been a whole lot smaller.
And she'd been the only one on it.
A solid warmth settled onto her foot, and she glanced down to see Chino curled up there.
Duks wound his way over to her and leaned against the railing. "So, my friend…how are things?"
Dar glanced at him, then looked back at her gauges. "Weather's great, water's calm…couldn't ask for better. Why?"
Duks scratched his jaw, and regarded the faintly gray horizon. "Is it hard for you, Dar?" He asked, regarding her. "Letting all of us into private part of your life like this?"
Dar adjusted the throttles, using that as an excuse to delay her answer. Finally she sighed. "Does it matter?"
The accountant snorted softly. "That's answer enough." He advised her. "If it's any consolation, I think it's been good for you."
Pale blue eyes flicked to his face, then went to the water, scanning it. "It's taken some getting used to." She admitted quietly. "I've had to change the way I think about a lot of things."
He nodded. "I gathered." A gentle peal of laughter rose from the bow, and he looked over to see Kerry hopping up and down a little, shaking a finger at Mariana. He looked back and caught Dar watching the blond woman, an unconscious smile tugging at her lips. He chuckled softly and shook his head.
"All right, so where are we going?" Colleen asked, spreading her arms out against the railing and regarding Kerry. "The Bahamas?"
"No… at least, I hope not." Kerry smiled, as she regarded the horizon. "Dar wouldn't say.. or, to be more specific, she gave me a GPS coordinate, which meant to me somewhere in the Florida Straits." She leaned on the railing. "She did say it wasn't that far out… just far enough to lose the city."
They were out of the cut now, and heading across the water, the powerful roar of the boat's engines at full throttle as Dar pushed them through the soft graying light. The ocean was calm, just a faint ruffle moving the dark surface, and the occasional splash as a fish poked their nose up into the dawn, as the horizon went from black to .lavender, spreading out a band of faint color across the rim of the world.
After about twenty minutes, the roar lessened, and Kerry moved to the railing, leaning over and spotting a small bit of land in the growing light. "I guess we're here." She announced with a grin. "It's an island."
They all clustered around her and peered out, gazing at the cluster of trees outlined in the dusky light. A tiny ridge of coral, it seemed, with just enough dirt to allow a cluster of sea grapes and mangroves, with a sand edge which sloped up out of the water.
Dar moved the boat in close, and got a rope around an overhanging branch, securing them, then cut the engines, the sudden silence almost startling as the lap of the waves and the soft hiss as the water brushed the shore became very evident.
Everyone peered at the grayish, licking waters between the boat and the island, then at Dar. Kerry walked over and put an arm on her shoulder. "Um.. Dar?"
"Yes?" Innocent, innocent blue eyes.
Kerry chewed her lip. "Did you..um… think this all out?"
"Yes." Dark lashes batted at her. "Why?"
Kerry leaned close to her. "I don't know if everyone here can swim, sweetheart." She whispered. "Unless you wanted to have the ceremony on the boat."
"Nah." Dar patted her on the shoulder. "Be right back. " Putting her hands on the railing, she vaulted over, landing in the water with a clean splash. The waves came up to her mid thighs, and she waded towards the island with a purposeful stride.
"What is she doing?" Colleen came up next to Kerry at the railing, and peered over. The rest of the group joined her, even Chino poked her head through and sniffed.
"I have no earthly idea." Kerry murmured. "It must be a sand bar.. look how shallow it is here."
Eyes turned to her. "Hope we don't get stuck" Mari remarked with a grin. "Can you imagine the story that would make?"
Kerry peered out into the slowly growing light, chuckling. "No.. she anchored us in a deep enough draft…it slopes up there.. I can see the water getting lighter." She leaned over. "Hey Dar… what are you doing?" They could hear splashing noises coming towards them.
The water parted, and then Dar reappeared from around a bend,, her overalls damp almost to her groin and a rope over one shoulder. She moved steadily towards the boat and as she came closer, they saw something trailing behind her. The wind tugged at her knotted hair, sending tendrils of it whisking around her face, and a flash of white appeared as she smiled up at them. "Here you go." She handed up the rope. "Pull."
Duks took hold, and tugged, and they watched as a barnacle bedecked wooden platform came towards them. It was old, but seemed to be in one piece, consisting of sun bleached wood on rubber pontoons.
"Dios Mio.. it's a sidewalk." Maria said, surprised. "How clever you are, jefe."
Dar leaned against the boat and pulled the wooden bridge into place, tying it securely to the railing. "Well, actually I made this in my much less clever days." She gave them all a wryly frank look. "High school, to be exact." She used the railing to pull herself up, standing on the bridge and removing a piece of impudent seaweed that had attached itself to her thigh. "Water's nice."
Kerry had retrieved the diving ladder from it's hooks, and she set it into place, then climbed down onto the bridge. It bobbed under her weight, but held firm, and she bounced up and down on it a few times. "Well, for a high school shop project, it sure feels sturdy." She gave her lover a warm smile. "Okay… let's go, folks."
With some hesitation and muted screams, they did, and landed safely onto the bridge with little incident, moving along it towards the small beach they could see ahead. Dar waited to bring up the rear, and collect Chino, then she followed along, not surprised to find Kerry waiting for her. "Hey."
"Hey…" Kerry looked around. "So this is an old haunt of yours, huh?" She smiled. "It's nice out here."
Dar took a deep breath of the familiar air. "You could say that… most kids have treehouses.. this was mine." She stepped off the pontoon bridge onto the soft, sandy beach. "It's too small for anyone to bother with it, and it's about the best place I've ever known to just sit and watch the sun rise." She paused, as they walked towards the small group standing on the beach in the growing light. "Or just to daydream."
Kerry looked up at her. "Bet you had some great parties out here." She nudged her lover in the ribs gently.
Dar regarded the intertwined mangroves reflectively. "You're the first people I've ever brought out with me." She remarked quietly.
Kerry sucked in a surprised breath. "Oh." Then she put an arm around Dar and leaned against her as they walked along in silence.
They joined the small group on the beach, where the waves were rolling gently up and hissing back with almost hypnotic regularity. Seagulls coasted over head, circling lazily, waiting for the sunrise which was now painting the eastern horizon in bands of coral and a deep russet. Only a thin tracing of clouds obscured the view, and the breeze grew stronger as if in anticipation.
Dar put Chino down, and watched her dash excitedly over the water, almost immediately encountering a startled crab.
"Yawp!" Chino barked, watching the crab skitter backwards. '"Yawp!"
The group laughed. "Chino. Don't got there." Colleen warned, shooing the crab down it's hole. "You're gonna get your little nose bitten."
Dar cleared her throat. "Thanks for coming out here, folks."
"Thanks for inviting us." Mari answered promptly. "I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning."
The taller woman stuck her hands in her pockets and regarded the horizon. "I know sunrise isn't everyone's favorite time of day… but it seemed appropriate to me because I always regarding dawn as being a time of… " She paused. "A time to start things."
Duks chuckled softly. "I always suspected the reason you were constantly one step ahead of us was because you just woke up earlier, my friend." He stated, with a wry grin. "It is nice to have that confrimed."
Even Dar laughed. "Thanks." She drawled in response, then fell awkwardly silent.
"Well, you can't take the blame for this." Kerry spoke up, as she moved to Dar's side, and they faced the oncoming dawn. "Pastor Robert here was visiting in Miami.. he's been my pastor since I was …well, let's say a long time." She paused, sucking in a slightly nervous breath.
Another round of gentle laughter.
"And he offered to preside at a commitment ceremony.. and I kinda talked Dar into so.. it's my fault we're all out here." She continued bravely. "So I guess it's time to get started." She actually heard Dar swallow audibly at this, and gave her lover a mildly concerned look.
Pastor Robert stepped in front of them, his plain, black sweatshirt highlighting the polished silver cross on his chest. He drew out a small bible and held it, regarding them with kindly eyes.
Kerry smiled back at him, her hand instinctively finding Dar's, and feeling the faint tremor run through it. She glanced at the taller woman, and saw the brief tightening of her lips, and the sudden movement as her jaw muscles clenched under the skin. A gentle squeeze of her hand brought a smile to the tense lips, however.
The pastor folded his hands. "My children." He stated, softly, then glanced at Dar. "It's okay to call you that, isn't it?"
Dar nodded. "Sure." She let out a breath, unsure of what to expect from him. Kerry had merely said he had words prepared, but…
"Good." He exhaled, then started speaking, his voice taking on a rounder, more mellow tone. . "My children.. we stand here in the eyes of God, beneath his sky, and amongst the waters of life he put upon the earth." He paused. "And as those things are by his mercy, and out of our control, so too is the coming together in love of the two people who stand before me, so this ceremony is not a thing of permission, or of sanction, or of regulation, but rather a simple affirmation of a truth that is one of the greatest gifts our Lord has bestowed on us."
The sky brightened, and the sea eased from gray to a thousand shades of green.
Dar drew in a breath, and released it. Waiting.
"So I will state here, in the name of God, whose servant I am, that no person shall sunder what the Lord has chosen to join together, and may his gentle hand guide you, and watch over you for all the days of your lives. " The pastor turned to Kerry, his eyes twinkling a little. "Kerrison, I have known you since you were a small child running rampant in my classrooms."
Kerry bit back a nervous chuckle, but nodded. "Yes, you have."
"I have never known you to give your word and not mean it, or enter into a thing if you didn't intend to carry it through, so if you say to me you wish to spend your life with this person, she'd better watch out." Pastor Robert intoned. "Because for you, I know in my heart, that forever means just that."
Kerry felt tears sting her eyes, but she just nodded in affirmation.
Now the pastor's eyes shifted to Dar. "I have just met you." His voice was quiet, and thoughtful. "But the person I see before me is someone I believe would be steadfast, and loyal, and a friend you could depend on above all others."
Startled, the pale blue eyes flicked to his face.
"And I feel that your word, once given, is never taken back." The pastor went on.
Dar hesitated, then nodded quietly.
Robert nodded as well. "Then sit at the side of the Lord, for his hands cup your souls gently together. " He held out the book, and took their joined hands, resting them under his own on top of it. "Go with God, and know that where love exists, he is present, now, and forever." A pristine rose light spread over them, as the sun hit the horizon, sending a palette of reds, and golds, and tropical tints across the sky.
The pastor squeezed their hands, then let his drop, watching as they turned towards each other, the sound of the surf suddenly loud as he stopped speaking.
Kerry felt very nervous, conscious of the people watching, and the expectant air. Then she lifted her eyes to meet Dar's, and found herself swallowed into them, sparkling there in the rose light, warm and familiar, and her nerves settled. "Me first, I guess. " Screwing up her courage, she took a breath, hoping she'd remember all the words, in all the right places. "I'm not really sure where this came from… I was sitting outside looking out over the water, and thinking of you, and when I looked down, there it was… in my handwriting." She paused, reflectively. "It was like my heart wrote it for me…but anyway.." Kerry cleared her throat. "When I look at you." She stated softly.
I see sunlight and shadows
Deep, still waters, and wild rapids
A fiery heart and a cool, clear mind.
WhenI look at you,
I see all that I am, and all that I could hope to be.
My past, and my future,
My one safe harbor in a terrible world.
When I look at you,
I see my best friend and playmate,
My protector and defender,
The love of my life and the holder of my soul
Losing you, I would also lose myself
And be left in a darkness so deep,
No light could ever find me.
"So.. where you go…. " She finished in an almost whisper. "I go."
The sun's rays now poured over them, throwing part of Dar's face into shadow, and her chest moved suddenly, as she resumed breathing. "That was beautiful." She whispered, unnerved at the familiarity of the words, and the deep, resonant chime they made inside her.
Kerry dropped her eyes, then lifted them again. "Thanks."
A tiny, awkward silence fell. Then Dar closed her eyes, and sucked in a deep breath, visibly straightening. "Well, I'm really not one for speeches."
A soft chuckle rose.
"And I've never really known how to use words to express what I was feeling… so I guess I'll just have to improvise." Her shoulders dropped a tiny bit, then she opened her mouth and started singing.
Kerry stared at her, completely mesmerized, to the point where she almost missed the words.
But not quite.
I feel like I was born today
Like all my life before's only been a dream,
Only touching the surface, never going further
Never being a part of the world.
I feel like I was born today
Knowing I have to walk a wider path from now on.
Wide enough for two of us, walking side by side
Facing the future together.
The sea is wide,
Our love is wider,
Covering the earth from end to end.
Walk beside me,
Through wind and weather,
For all the years on earth we'll spend.
I feel like I was born today
We leave behind a past of sorrow.
Going forward through the sunlight,
Hand in hand, and soul's united.
Dar let her voice trail off, and she fell silent, uncomfortably aware of the stares focused on her. What had she been thinking of? She sighed. At least it was over. She lifted her eyes to Kerry's face almost furtively, then stilled, seeing the tears running down her lover's cheeks.
In pure reflex, she lifted a hand and brushed them away. "Wasn't that bad, was it?" She joked faintly. "I didn't get a chance to practice it." She paused. "Much."
"Wh.. " Kerry's voice broke, and she cleared her throat, then tried again. "It was gorgeous… awesome… where did you find it?" She asked. "The song? And my god, Dar… you should sing more often.. you have a beautiful voice."
A murmur agreed with her, causing Dar to glance around self consciously. "Thanks." She was painfully aware of the deep blush coloring her skin, and was glad of her base tan to cover most of it.
Kerry moved closer and enfolded her in a hug, burying her face into Dar's chest and squeezing her tightly. She returned the hug, looking over Kerry's shoulder to see quietly respectful glances back at her. Well. That went better than expected. "So… I um… " Dar realized she was rooted in place by her blond lover. "Hope everyone's hungry… they packed enough food to feed half the office."
That broke the reverent tension, and everyone relaxed. Dar smiled as she felt Kerry's hands clench in her shirt.
Yeah. Definitely different.
Kerry sniffed, and backed off a little, lifting her head to peer up at Dar. "Hang on.. I've got one more thing."
Everyone turned to watch her, as she pulled the wooden box from her bag, then handed the bag back to Colleen. She opened the case and the sun poured in, sparking brilliance from the crystals.
Dar blinked. "Wow…. "
Kerry held her hands out. "Hold the box for me?"
Dar did, cradling it in her palms as Kerry pulled the joined crystals out.
"I'm.. um.. I'm not sure where these came from, originally." The blond woman stated softly. "They probably have a history we'll never know…but I really liked the way they're both very unique.. " She parted the two pieces, holding them up to the light. "But they fit together so perfectly." She mated them with a tiny, satisfying click. "I hope we can do the same."
Dar smiled at her. "I love it… they're beautiful.. I can't believe they turned out so nice."
Kerry beamed, then looped one chain over her hand and opened the other, leaning forward, and lifting her arms up.
"Wrong one." Dar stated softly, then she blinked, a little startled.
Kerry looked at her for a long moment, then she nodded, and changed hands, fastening the other necklace around Dar's smoothly tanned neck. She kissed her gently, then stood back, as Dar took the other chain, and fastened it around her, and the crystal nestled itself into the hollow of her throat with a sense of quiet belonging.
Blue eyes met green, in a glance as old as time.
They kissed again, as the sun bathed them, sparkling the waters that surrounded the island as though dancing off crystal walls.
"Oh no." Colleen lifted a cup and sucked down a mouthful of the fragrant peach ice tea. "They say going downtown at night 's dangerous.. let me tell you, it's got nothing on a drop in at the local library."
They were seated in the shade, sprawled in the soft sand as they lingered over breakfast, the warm sun and the steady breeze making it too comfortable to want to move. Dar was stretched out, her feet half buried in the sand, leaning on a piece of driftwood with Kerry curled up on her side pressed against her.
"C'mon, Colleen.. how dangerous can a library be.. what did you do, go there at midnight?" Kerry objected, with a grin. "I've been the beach branch..it's safe enough." She paused. "Well, except for the creepy guys sequestered back by the peridocals, that is."
Colleen held up a hand. "Oh no.. no… it was in barroooaaaadd daylight… I just went into the main branch, to look up some material for that anthropology class I'm taking…"
"What made you pick that?" Mari asked, curiously.
"That Circle stuff." Colleen responded succinctly. "Anyway… so I go in and ask for these reference books… and the desk people look at me like I'm speaking one of the three languages that aren't spoken in Miami, right?"
"Right." Kerry tangled her fingers with Dar's and smiled.
"So they tell me.. that's kept in the special research section, and I've got to go back and see the oracle." The redhead stated.
"Oracle?" Duks leaned forward. "M'dear, that's ancient history."
"No joke." Colleen responded. "So I follow this guy back, and he leads me down about twenty minutes full of winding passageways…"
"And you should have exited into the Biscayne Aquifer by then." Dar remarked dryly.
"Shh." Colleen scolded. "It's me story, all right? Anyway…so we finally get there, and it's the weirdest thing. .I thought I was trapped in a santeria rite. There was this desk, right? And around it was stacks and stacks of these rough loosleaf notebooks, and shelves, with the weirdest things on them."
Now they were all watching her.
"Candles, lit, mind you, and skulls! Skulls! Heads everywhere…and little bits of armor and leather things I'd rather not think about, and a couple of riding crops that I swear had feather dusters tied to them."
"You're making this up." Kerry stated flatly.
"I am not…and behind the desk, there was this woman wearing this weird mask covered in feathers, typing away at a computer."
"Sounds like a lunatic." Dar offered. "Did you get your research material?"
"What?" Colleen laughed. "Are you kidding? I took one look at the pair of fur lined cuffs on the desk and got my lily white Irish butt right on out of there.. must have set the world land speed record on the way out." She shook her head. "I know some people really get into their job, but.. Sweet Mary!"
They all laughed. "Well, I suppose it's like us nerds having little stuffed Dogbert dolls on our monitors." Kerry grinned. "Dar has Catbert, though."
They looked at the dark haired woman, who shrugged. "Gift from console operations." She glanced up as Chino started barking, somewhere of in the brush to their left. "Chino!"
The puppy just barked harder, then the brush rustled sharply.
"I'll get her." Dar sighed, then hoisted herself to her feet and brushed a layer of sand off her legs. She plowed off through the soft surface, heading towards the sound of the excited puppy. "Chino!"
She pushed through some brush, the froze, as she heard a low voice. A moment later, a grin spread over her face and she hurried forward.
"Would you shut up ya little bag of mouse squeaks?" The voice was saying, in a loud whisper.
Dar parted the last bushes and peered through. "Hey."
Cantankerous blue eyes glared back at her. "Damn dog."
Andrew Roberts was hunkered down, a light three quarter wetsuit covering part of his body, and a neatly stacked pile of diving equpment just off to one side. In the sharply patterned sunlight, the horrible scars o his face were very evident, but even that couldn’t hide the smile as he gazed up at his daughter. "Hey there, rugrat."
Dar ambled over and dropped to her knees next to him. "Thanks for the treats… I'm glad you could make it out here.. but how..?"
"Ah could just go all military on you and say them is classified infomations." The older man rasped. "But the truth is your little kumquat got hold of me and batted those pretty green eyes."
Dar smiled, and glanced down. "She's really something else, huh?"
"Ya got that right." Andrew studied his hands, which were petting a contented Chino. "That was a real nice ceremony." He told her. "Who's Grizzly Adams?"
A soft chuckle. "Kerry's pastor from Michigan.. he's on vacation."
A little silence fell. "Ya know… I always wondered what I'd do if I had to walk you down some long damn aisle." Andrew mused. "I didn't think anyone living could convince me whoever was standing up on the other end was good enough for my kid."
Dar sat down in the sand next to him, and circled her knees with both arms. "I can remember thinking.. that I wouldn't marry anyone unless I could find someone just like you." She told him quietly, feeling a hand settle on to her shoulder. "Then I realized you're one of kind."
"Paladar, if you make me start crying, I'm gonna whup you." Her father growled. "Bad enough I had to listen to all that pretty poetry and you singing and all that.. like to have drowned back here. I almost had to get my damn desal kit out."
Dar had to let out a soft laugh. "Sorry." She studied the ground, a soft gray sand mixed with broken seashells. "Thank you for coming. It means a lot to me."
Andrew reached over and awkwardly stroked her hair. "Makes me feel good to see you feel good, rugrat." He murmured. "I think you found a real good one there."
Dar turned her head and gazed up at him. "Thanks… I do too." She paused. "You want some breakfast?"
"You telling me you had that yacht catered?" He laughed.
A sheepish chuckle. "Something like that….c'mon… come sit by us, and join the party."
A quietly sad look colored his eyes. "Naw… you know I'm not one for company, rugrat."
Dar nodded. "Me either… but I found out that sometimes what matters is what's important to other people… and I'd really love to introduce my friends to my father." She kept her gaze even. "Please, daddy?"
Andrew looked at her for a long, tense moment. A terrible, aching fear was the chief emotion Dar could see in his eyes, which fluttered closed, then opened again as he let out a breath. "You don't know what you're asking me, Paladar."
Dar smiled wistfully. "Yes I do."
Then she waited, listening to the soft sound of the waves rustling all around them, and the contented breathing of the puppy curled at their feet.
"All right." Her father finally said. "If you could get up and sing in front of all them people, I guess I kin do this." He grumbled. "C'mon already… I'm hungry."
Dar pushed herself to her feet and took his hand, ignoring the glare as she lead the way back towards the beach, Chino tucked under one arm.
"Where did she go off to?" Kerry worried, getting to her knees. "This is a really small island.. and that's a really big puppy.. she can't have gotten that lost that fast." She peered into the brush, shading her hands, then stopped, as her breath caught. "Oh."
"She got someone with her?" Duks lifted himself up on one elbow. "Where did they come from?"
Kerry watched the approaching duo with a sense of wonder. "No…I can't believe it." She got up and trotted over, giving Andrew a big smile and throwing her arms around him. "Dad…this is great."
Dar's father stopped dead, and managed to give the impression he'd been attacked by a large, friendly, talking alligator. "She do that to everyone?" He asked Dar, who was biting her lip to keep from laughing.
"No." Dar told him. "Only people she likes."
Andrew sighed, then hugged the blond woman back. "Hi there, kumquat…" He joined them as they walked back to the rest of the group, facing curious eyes which glanced at the tall man, then flicked to Dar in question.
"Folks, say hi to my father." Dar announced quietly. "His name's Andrew… dad, this is Duks and Mariana, and Maria, who work with us, and Pastor Robert, from Michigan."
Everyone was a touch awkward, but Andrew rose to the occasion and settled down, his wetsuit creaking slightly. "Nice ta meet you." He stated bluntly, then glanced at his daughter. "Were you saying something about eggs?"
"Dios Mio… " Maria said suddenly. "You are the one who is sending those beautiful flowers! I am recognizing your voice."
"Oh.. the peach colored roses?" Mariana smiled. "I was wondering…"
Andrew glared at them. "Well. ya plastered her picture all over the city, I had to do somethin."
Dar nodded a little, then went to grab her father a plate. She felt a hand touch her shoulder, and turned, to see gentle sea green eyes looking warmly back at her. "He came."
"Mmhmm." Kerry agreed. "You got him to come out with us… Dar, that's amazing."
Dar added grits to the plate, and drizzled gravy over them. "It's a day of new beginnings." She looked out over the water, then back at the blond woman. "Wonder what'll happen next?"
Kerry took the plate from her, and slid an arm around her waist as they walked back over. "I can't wait to find out."
Will there be a sequel? Well.. I want to find out what happens when Kerry testifies.. and if Dar's parents will ever get back together… and of course…..
Yeah, there's a sequel.
Thanks for taking the ride….