“You’ll want to put on jeans and real shoes. No flip-flops for this ride,” he said to me. I hurriedly changed and pulled my hair back.
We cruised the streets of Cape Heron, and then headed for I-75. Holy crap! What am I thinking? I momentarily panicked as I realized I had absolutely no control over my situation. I had put my life into his hands. I squeezed my eyes shut and held on tightly, my muscles tense like a taut rubber band as the wind rushed against my face and the sounds of cars and trucks seemed way too close. Exhaust fumes and the faint smell of hot rubber filled my nose. My knuckles were white by the time we exited the highway and I breathed a sigh of relief that we survived.
Now that it felt safe to keep my eyes open, I noticed we were headed to a barrier island. At the slower speed and with less traffic, the ride was spectacular, especially once on the island. The sun shone brightly in the clear October sky and I could smell the oily warmth rising off the pavement, as well as the salty sea air and meat on the grill from a distant restaurant. I leaned over and held onto Tristan, resting my head against his shoulder, as we cruised parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, enjoying the view. He stopped the bike in a small beach parking lot and we sat there, looking over the sugary sand and steel-blue water, watching as pelicans dive-bombed for their food. A couple of dolphins jumped and twisted in the air, playing with each other.
“Nice, huh?” Tristan asked.
“Perfect,” I breathed. I was still close against him, my arms wrapped around his waist. He held my hands in front of him.
“Let’s take a walk and stretch our legs, then I’ll take you to dinner at a cool little place I found a couple weeks ago.”
We held hands as we walked along the beach and I couldn’t help the smile that was pasted on my face. Every time I looked at Tristan, he, too, was grinning.
“You like it here, don’t you?” I asked.
He looked down at me. “I like being with you. It makes me…happy.”
He squeezed my hand. “Hungry?”
I shrugged. I could be whatever he wanted me to be at that moment. As long as it meant more time with him. “Sure.”
He took me to a little hole-in-the-wall tiki bar and grill for dinner. It literally had a big hole in the wall – one side was open to the outside. When we walked in, several people – employees and customers alike – gave us a warm hello, like we were old friends. A couple of TVs silently displayed news and sports, while Jimmy Buffet sang “Margaritaville” from a boom box. Painted oars, lobster baskets and other boating and beach paraphernalia decorated the three solid walls. Tristan led me to a faded wooden booth by the wide opening, holding his hand out for me to take a seat. He slid in next to me, instead of sitting on the other side, and put his arm around me, holding me close. I warmed inside, totally content. From where we sat, we could see a canal outside the restaurant lead west about two hundred yards to the Gulf. A couple of boats pulled up, their owners and mates coming for drinks and dinner.
“Know what you want?” Tristan asked after we studied the stained paper menu for a few minutes.
“Hmm…I think the shrimp combo.”
He stood up to place our order at the bar and I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. When I came back to the table, I had to stifle a giggle. He held a purple crayon in his hand, drawing something on the white paper tablecloth, like a little kid. When I looked, I realized it was me, drawn from memory.
“Nice,” I murmured.
“Yeah, well, sorry you’re purple.” He chuckled.
I glanced at the two other crayons on the table.
“At least I’m not green.”
“Purple’s good. It’s my favorite color,” I added.
“Ah. Good to know.”
I drew him next – a stick figure. It was the best I could do, I told him. He laughed and hugged me, apparently forgiving the fact that I wasn’t multi-talented like him. We played a few games of tic-tac-toe and hangman – he beat me at the first and I beat him at the latter – while we waited for our dinner. The bartender brought our food to us.
“Oh, now, hold on a minute. We can’t ruin that,” she said when she saw Tristan’s crayon drawing of me. She put our food down on the next table and quickly replaced the paper tablecloth with a blank slate. She took our old one and disappeared with it. She brought back my drawing, cut out in an oval from the rest of the tablecloth, and handed it to me, her eyes crinkling at the sides with a smile. “Here you go, hon.”
The people there were quite a bit older than us, but friendly with everyone who walked in. It was apparently a popular gathering place for the locals. When Tristan told them we’d recently moved to the area, they told us about good and bad beaches and restaurants and the best places to go on a boat or a motorcycle. Their stories were humorous and we laughed a lot.
That evening I learned what it was like to feel normal. In fact, I forgot for a while that I even had any weird quirks. Nobody treated me like an outsider and I didn’t feel the need to make myself blend into the scenery. I didn’t worry about my wall or who I couldn’t trust. For once, I was completely at ease.
After we finished eating the best seafood I’d had since moving there, Tristan moved over to the other side of the table so he could have clean, blank paper. He went to work with a red crayon and drew a portrait of the bartender/waitress. When he was done, he threw some money on the table and held his hand out for me to go. I quickly wrote “Thank you!” by his drawing, then walked out with him, arms around each other’s waists. I felt like the heroine in a movie…with a “happily-ever-after” ending, of course. I ignored the poke in the back of my mind – the one that wanted to tell me that my ending could never be happy.
It’s another blogfest! Yay!!! I love these, if you haven’t noticed. They’re fun to participate in, you get to know other writers and I always find it interesting how so many writers can tackle the same theme in so many different ways.
Of course, this one isn’t written around a theme. It’s simply about sharing those scenes we love but had to cut from our stories because they didn’t pull their weight in moving things along. This is from Promise (which comes out in July, by the way…and you can pre-order here… Oops! Sorry! But it’s my blog so I can throw in a little self-promo if I want. Haha). Anywaaaayyyy…onto the set-up.
In the first two chapters (found here), you meet Alexis and she meets Tristan, who is seemingly perfect in every way (on the surface, anyway). For a variety of reasons, Alexis has a hard time trusting anyone, but she really wants to trust Tristan…even when her mother doesn’t. When mom goes out of town for a weekend, things start heating up between Alexis and Tristan. I wrote this whole glorious weekend they spent together – sweet and lovely and a dream-come-true for Alexis.
It gave some character insight, but, alas, this part, in particular, just didn’t do enough. There’s a little of it still in the book, but not the whole, sweet thing. This scene takes place on Sunday, the last day of their time without mom breathing down her back. Tristan is about to take her on a motorcycle ride – until now, she’d only been on the bike for a couple blocks at a time.