L is for “Laulau” #nanowrimo #fiction

“My stomach flipped and I suddenly felt like I was standing at the top of Black Rock again, ready to jump. And I was going to go for it…”

I was more likely to encounter a unicorn than a perfect man so something had to be desperately wrong with Galen.

I just hadn’t seen it yet or it was just a matter of time before he showed his true colors.

Galen was too good to be true.

Well-balanced, articulate, thoughtful and conversational all combined into the body of one good-looking man who wasn’t tripping over his feet to make me a conquest?

No. Freaking. Way.

I couldn’t believe in an almost perfect man when I didn’t even believe in the concept of a “decent” man. Fifteen years of my ex-husband and a handful of online dating disasters since the divorce supported my well-proven theory.

Maybe he has a wife, a harem of girlfriends on rotation around town, or maybe he simply preys on women traveling solo to add a little spice to his island flavor… 

We had spent the past days enjoying each other’s company and having thought provoking discussions about Hawaii, life and current events. But we hadn’t really spoken about the details of our pasts. It was bizarre to feel like I knew him deeply as a human being without knowing the basics about him. Our connection seemed to be centered on the moment –  not on the past or the future.

I need to find out the basics about him.

Galen and I sat on a seaside lanai at a bustling popular grill not too far from Whaler’s Village. He had insisted that I experience a Hawaiian “mixed plate” for lunch and I was more than game to add it to my evergreen list of experiences. When our mai tai’s arrived with our orders, I was pleasantly surprised at how quaint my plate looked.

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Photo credit: jshyun via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“A plate lunch always includes one scoop of macaroni, two scoops of white rice, a small side like the haupia you have there and an entrée,” Galen explained as I poked my fork at the contents of my dish. I had taken his suggestion to try the kalua pork laulau wrapped in a taro leaf and he had ordered the seafood.

After a futile attempt at daintily unfolding my taro leaf, I quickly gave up and dug in. I couldn’t help but lick my lips at just how crazy good my food was.

“Do you like it?”

“This is wonderful! I love it. How is your food?”

I watched as he grabbed a shrimp from his entrée and began to delicately peel off its shell to expose its pink nakedness.

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Photo credit: ooitschristina via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“I often order this plate and it’s always great. The food here is homemade goodness.”

My food might have been delicious enough to distract me but nothing could deter me from finding out what I was aching to know.

“Galen…” I started cautiously. “You never told me about why or how you decided to leave the “rat race” you mentioned the other day at Banyan Tree Park.”

Galen cocked his head to the side as if he was trying to remember what he had said.

“Oh, that’s right. I promised to tell you about that over a dinner. But this is lunch so technically…”

His eyes crinkled at the corners whenever he teased but this time around, I frowned. I needed him to take my question seriously.

“Don’t worry. I won’t get all technical on you,” he joked. “You’ll have to forgive me on that. It’s just that I’ve gotten so accustomed to living in the present that I rarely look back at the past.”

Galen took a sip of his mai tai, popped another shrimp into his mouth and then put down his fork to give me the full attention of his sexy blue eyes.

“What do you want to know Katie?”

Was Galen giving me carte blanche to ask whatever I wanted?

My stomach flipped and I suddenly felt like I was standing at the top of Black Rock again, ready to jump. And I was going to go for it.

“Are you married?”

“No,” he guffawed. “If I was, I would not be spending all this time with you.”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

Galen couldn’t contain his surprise.

“Uh, isn’t that basically the same question?”

“Actually, no.” I shook my head. “For a woman, that question doesn’t necessarily exclude the other.”

“Okay. Since I’m not a woman, I’ll have to take your word for it. The answer is no, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Have you ever been married?”

When Galen took a sip of his drink and rolled his eyes, I worried that I was making myself look like an insecure fool.

“I got divorced ages ago. This is starting to feel like an inquisition…but I did say that you could ask me anything you wanted so ask away!”

And so I did.

If he was divorced, either something was wrong with him or his ex-spouse must have been crazy to let him go.

“Do you have any children?”

Suddenly, his handsome face clouded over with sadness. I noticed his chest heave with a deep breath and then he closed his eyes for a long moment.

“No, not anymore. I had a son but he passed away.”

I didn’t know what to say and found myself apologizing.

“I’m sorry…” I whispered.

“No,” Galen reached out and touched my hand. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. My son is in a much better place than this crazy fast-paced world.”

Afraid to ask anymore questions, I pretended to focus on my plate. I pushed my food around nervously, creating a tiny mountain with my macaroni. I was about to do the same with my rice when he placed his hand over mine, forcing me to stop playing like a child with my food and to get my attention.

“Do you really want to know how I ended up in Maui? Why I decided to leave the rat race of New York behind me?”

“Yes.”

Of course I desperately wanted to know.

“I’ll tell you everything. But let’s wait until I take you for malasadas later today. Okay?”

I nodded, letting curiosity overtake my thoughts, not leaving my mind any room to wonder what malasadas even were.

Continuation: M is for “Malasadas”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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K is for “King Kahekili” #nanowrimo #fiction

I was flying in slow-motion, having an out-of-body experience on the descent. When I made impact with the water and surfaced for air, not only did I feel empowered, I also felt fearless…

 

As I peered down at the whooshing of the waves against the rocks down below, I could feel the spray of the mist from where I stood.

My mind raced and my body felt a strange sensation of being pulled forward against my will.

Did I really want to risk jumping when I had already made the decision to enjoy every moment until the very end? 

Photo credit: katsuhiro7110 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

“Hey lady! Are you jumping or not?”

From behind me, a boy’s annoyed voice startled me out of my trance-like state. Before I quickly stepped aside to let him by, I peered down and could no longer see Galen’s head bobbing in the water. He had jumped thinking that I would be right behind him but then I had found myself frozen in place. I moved away and sat down on one of the rocks to settle my nerves.

I barely jump into my own pool at home and here I am, playing the role of a daredevil by jumping off Black Rock in Kaanapali?

Galen and I had spent time snorkeling and admiring the colorful fish that darted around us. We had even seen a bunch of Honu green sea turtles and I was in awe. But then, I had opened my big mouth by saying that jumping off Black Rock was on my list of things to do. Right away, Galen had promptly taken me up the cliff to encourage me. Now, I sat feeling nauseated at the very thought of following through.

Ugh.

Yeah, I could maybe hurt myself if I don’t jump far enough away. I could even forget to breath properly, panic and drown. But if I did do it, I could say that I conquered the scariest thing on my list. 

“Katie, are you okay?” Galen reappeared dripping wet, breaking my train of thought as he sat down beside me.

“Yeah, just a case of cold feet.”

“Well, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.” Galen’s voice helped to soothe my nerves.

“That’s the issue. I don’t have to but I want to. I need to.”

Galen gave me a puzzled look.

“You need to?” He repeated. “Do you mind telling me why?”

“It’s the most challenging thing on my list and if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Galen scrambled to his feet. “Okay, then let’s do it together.”

Without thinking, I took his hand and he helped me up.

“What do you mean “do it together”?”

Like a pig following its farmer to slaughter, I let him lead me to the edge of the cliff.

“I’ll jump with you.” Galen took hold of my hand and squeezed. “Together, we’ll be brave like King Kahekili, the God of Thunder. Legend has it that the souls of warriors left the earth here by leaping from this rock to meet their ancestors.”

The irony of Galen’s statement was not lost on me but I wasn’t in the frame of mind for historical trivia.

“How do you know all this stuff?”

“I just do,” Galen shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry, I’m a little bit of geek.”

Yeah, a really cute geek.

“Well, I don’t want to meet any of my ancestors today, okay?”

“And we won’t.” Galen squeezed my hand hard. “On the count of three, okay?”

“Okay,” I nodded.

“One, two…cross your arms across your chest on the way down…three!”

Photo credit: SKimchee via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

I was flying in slow-motion, having an out of body experience on the descent. When I made impact with the water and surfaced for air, not only did I feel empowered, I also felt fearless.

Photo credit: Joe Parks via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

“You did it!” Galen yelled as I splashed around, trying to get my bearings.

“I did, didn’t I?” I splashed him and he splashed me back.

Galen pointed to my chest and started howling with laughter.

“You sure did. But your bikini top didn’t.”

When I looked down, my bikini top was no longer covering my important bits. I ducked down into the water and hastily attempted to arrange my top back until I had full coverage.

Instead of being mortified and embarrassed, I found myself laughing along with Galen. In the larger scheme of things, exposing my slightly drooping set of almost 40 year old lady bits was not a matter of life or death.

As we laughed, I realized that nothing really was.

Continuation: L is for “Lau Lau”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews. 

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J is for “Joy” #nanowrimo #fiction

“The giggles from children playing and swinging from some of the roots complimented the cacophony of the mynas. I immediately took out my camera. Galen was right about this setting being perfect for photos – the innocence of the children, the greatness of the tree and the mysteriousness of the invisible mynas moved me…” 

“Kate, you’re going to go where with a man you don’t really know?

Megan’s voice was heavy with concern.

“I’m going with Galen to the Lahaina Harbour to do some sightseeing. We’ll walk around, maybe grab something to eat and he wants to show me something special that would make a great photo.”

“Oh, I’m sure he wants to show you something special but it probably has nothing to do with taking you sightseeing.”

Meghan sounded apprehensive and I appreciated that she was looking out for my safety.

“Are you going in this guy’s car or are you taking one of those shuttle buses?

“Don’t worry. We’re taking the complimentary shuttle.”

“Okay, I feel better already. Since when are you comfortable going off with a random guy like that?”

Meghan was right. Under normal circumstances I would never have considered it but Galen and I would basically be in public.

“I wouldn’t call him random. It’s not like we haven’t already been alone behind closed doors. He was a perfect gentleman the other night when we had dinner at my place and he seemed pretty normal.”

“Okay then. The important thing is that you’re comfortable with it. Then again, I probably shouldn’t say a word after what I did when I met Harry in New York.”

My mind drifted back to what Meghan had told me about how she and Harry had met.

“But I’m still paranoid so make sure that the GPS location is turned on your cell so that I can ping you if I need to. And take a picture of him and text it to me just in case he turns up on Hawaii’s Most Wanted”.

“Is there such a thing as Hawaii’s Most Wanted?”

“I hope not,” Meghan laughed. “But I’m really happy that you’re getting out and keeping your mind off things. I’m proud that you are living and not staying in the shadows.”

“Yeah, I guess that I’m living to die now. And who knew that it would feel…good? It just makes me sad that it took all of this to get me to this point.” Galen’s words flashed through my mind and I found myself repeating them. “But it’s never too late if I start now, right?”

“Exactly. Go have fun, check in with me when you get back and don’t forget to text a photo of Galen to me, just in case.”

“Okay Mom!” I teased.

After we hung up, I grabbed my tote and headed to the main building. In the lobby, I took a seat in the shade and waited for Galen. We had agreed to meet at a quarter to the hour to get the shuttle to the wharf but I was more than early which made the wait seem much longer. My mind went back to our dinner together, how we had more wine on the balcony and how the conversation had flowed from one topic to another. We had talked about books, movies we had seen and he had told me more stories about the young couple that had been at pool until we realized that it was close to midnight.

Strangely enough, I was actually a little disappointed that he hadn’t tried to pull a move on me. But then again, I should have been glad to avoid being a clumsy girly fool if he had.

I glanced at my cell and it was five minutes to the hour. Galen still hadn’t turned up and I began to worry that he was going to stand me up.

Don’t tell me that I spent all that extra time to look cute but still casual and Galen was going to ditch me?

As the shuttle bus pulled up curbside and hotel guests piled off with their shopping bags, I had a decision to make.

Do I wait to see if he turns up and miss this shuttle? Or do I go ahead, hop on and go exploring without him?

I observed all those happy guests milling around the lobby, laughing and talking with each other about what they had bought and where they had been.

I made my choice.

I’ve spent too much time waiting on other people. I’m doing this. Like Hannah says, “Ride or die”.

I got up, picked up my tote bag and headed for the shuttle.

I’ll be looking cute for me today and that’s fine. I feel good. No, I feel great.

My foot was almost off the curb and onto the shuttle when I heard Galen’s voice in the distance.

“Hey! Katie! Wait up!”

Galen sprinted towards me with a small bag in his hand. Today, he wasn’t sporting a man bun. His blond hair fell just above his shoulders and it was hard not to notice his lean muscular build through his close-fitting t-shirt. It was also hard for me to ignore how nicely he filled the faded jeans he was wearing.

“Sorry that I’m late. I’m always on island time. That’s the one negative thing about staying here so often – it’s very easy to lose all track of time.”

Galen gave me a surprised look and frowned.

“Wait…Were you actually going to leave without me?”

It was obvious that I was and I wasn’t about to lie.

“Actually yes. I thought that you had stood me up.” I was being totally honest.

“Okay.” Galen gave me one of his smiles that almost made me forget my own name. “A woman who stands in her own power? I admire that. But I would never ever stand YOU up Katie. I’m a man of my word.”

Galen took me by the arm and guided me onto the shuttle. I chose a seat near the window and he slid in close next to me. I had my camera at the ready to take photos as we headed to the wharf but the windows were plastered with some kind of protective sun covering. Galen nudged me when he saw me putting away my camera.

“Oh yeah, I forgot that these shuttle buses have filters on the windows so you can’t get any shots. The next time we go sightseeing, we’ll take my car. That way, we can stop wherever you want along the way.”

Now I was the one who was pleasantly surprised. “The next time we go out?”

Galen smiled and nodded.

“Yes, the next time that we go out, unless I’m being too presumptuous.”

“Hmm, maybe just a little.” I tried not to show too much pleasure at this words but a grin crept through. “Let’s see how today goes first okay Galen?”

He smirked and took off his sunglasses.

“Agreed Katie.” He leaned in and whispered. “But the next time will be tomorrow right?”

We laughed and then he spend the ride pointing out different places through the obstructed window until the shuttle dropped us off at The Wharf City Centre.

“Do you want to grab something to eat first? There are tons of restaurants here.”

“No, I’m good for now. Take me to this photo worthy spot you talked about.”

Galen looped his arm into mine and we walked down to Front Street and joined the throngs of people hustling and bustling. The streets were lined with colorful restaurants and shop fronts as far as I could see and it all made me think of what I’d seen in photos of New Orleans and Margaritaville. As we walked, I noticed a shaved ice stand and made a mental note to get one on the way back. Hawaiian shaved ice was on my list of things to do and experience.

“What I wanted you to see is Banyan Tree Park. It has the largest banyan tree in Hawaii and it’s absolutely beautiful. Listen closely. Do hear that noise?”

There was an odd consistent noise that got louder and louder as we quickened our pace to the park that was brimming with tourists.

“Yes, I do hear something but what is it?”

“Those are myna birds that roost in the branches and cause quite a stir in the evening.”

Photo credit: Koshyk via Foter.com / CC BY

I was amazed at how loud the noise was and looked up. “But I don’t see anything.”

“And you won’t because they basically become one with the tree.”

“Wow…”

I approached the tree and ran my palm along its impressive trunk, admiring the multitude of overhanging aerial roots that towered above us. The giggles from children playing and swinging from some of the roots complimented the cacophony of the mynas. I immediately took out my camera.

Galen had been right about this setting being perfect for photos – the innocence of the children, the greatness of the tree and the mysteriousness of the invisible mynas moved me.

I felt utter joy just standing in its majestic shade and watching a cute little boy admire its height.

Photo credit: Tatters ❀ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

“Go ahead and take your photos. I’ll be over there.”

Galen pointed to an empty bench and left me alone. Taking my time, I made my way around the park and immersed myself from every angle, snapping shot after shot. When I was finally done, I plopped down on the bench next to Galen.

“When I first came to Maui, I would regularly come down here to watch the sunset, listen to the mynas and people watch.”

“Yes, there’s something magical about this spot,” I admitted, watching the children play.

“You know, there’s quite a bit of mythology about banyan trees. Some say that they provide fulfillment of wishes and others say that in scriptures, they symbolize longevity and immortality. Most interesting of all is probably in iconography where Shiva is visualized as Dakshinamurti who sits under the Banyan, which is seen as the botanical embodiment of the universal soul, facing the terror of death and change, unafraid because of his profound understanding of the world”.*

Enlightened and good-looking? I’ll have to think about what he said later on to let his words sink in.

“That’s really… deep.” I was impressed at his knowledge of things I knew nothing about. “Are you into mythology?”

“Not really. But when I decided to simplify my life and live differently a few years ago, I found myself with more time on my hands to read and learn about all things I stumbled across. Getting back to basics and leaving the rat race behind for certain periods of time was the best decision I ever made.”

I sighed and looked up at the trees that surrounded us.

“I’d love to do that. Life has gotten so complicated…”

Galen placed his hand on my knee.

“Nothing is stopping you Katie. Actually, getting back to basics is what you are doing right now.”

We looked at each other for a long moment, the sound of the mynas getting louder as the sunset slowly disappeared.

“I’m curious to know more about why you left the rat race.”

Galen grinned widely, got up and extended his hand to me. I took it and he pulled me to my feet.

“I’ll tell you but you’ll have to agree to dinner first.” Galen kept hold of my hand. “What do you say?”

“I say yes.” I smiled back. “But only if our next stop is for you a passionfruit orange guava shaved ice with coconut ice cream on the bottom and sweet cream on top.”

From the look on his face, I had taken Galen by surprise.

“I see that you’ve done your research! A woman who enjoys dessert before dinner? I love that!”

I smiled even wider. “Well, I only have this one life so why not do what feels good, right?”

“Yeah, you’ve got that right!”

Hand in hand, Galen and I headed back down Front Street with one thing in mind.

But to be honest, I really had two things on my mind…

Photo credit: moonjazz via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Continuation: K is for “King Kahekili”

*referenced from here

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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I is for “Islandology” #nanowrimo #fiction

“I had a crazy vision of telling him that I was dying and him running through the door or jumping off the balcony like I was infectious…”

 

If Galen was a rapist or a mass murderer, I was already dead.

Oh well, I guess that I’ll die by the hands of a hot man.

Galen waited for me to close the front door and then his eyes darted around the room.

“So…where did you see this mouse Katie?”

“It’s under that towel over there near the wall.”

I pointed out the kitchen towel that had since stopped moving. When Galen saw that I refused to move any closer, he failed to contain his laughter. He approached the towel, kneeled down and lifted its edge, giving me a perfect opportunity to admire his nicely endowed backside. I took it all in and almost got caught in my admiration when he looked back at me with a wide grin.

“This is not a mouse Katie.”

Galen scooped up whatever it was into the towel and attempted to show it to me. I quickly scurried away in the opposite direction.

“No, no, no! I don’t want to see it! Just kill it!”

Galen stopped cold at my shrieking.

“It’s only a harmless cockroach.”

“A cockroach THAT big? I don’t want to see it! Oh my God! What kind of infested place is this?”

“Relax and breathe.” Galen tried to soothe me. “It’s normal in the tropics. And you shouldn’t blame the building complex. This place is not infested.”

Galen glanced over at the open patio doors, probably noticing my table. I was immediately self-conscious at what he would think at such a nicely set table for one.

Photo credit: Foter.com

“Do you always keep those patio doors open like that?”

I nodded.

“Yes. Most of the time. I love the breeze and seeing the ocean. Why?”

“Well that’s probably how it got in. Cockroaches can fly you know.”

As Galen started walking out onto the balcony, I slowly approached but still kept my distance at the word “fly“.

“Aren’t you going to kill it?”

Shock registered on Galen’s face.

“No. Of course not. There’s no need to kill a living thing when it’s just as easy to set it free.”

The soft tone of his voice made me feel like a cold-blooded killer.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Release it back into nature back where it belongs.” Galen stepped out onto the balcony, gently shook the towel out over the railing. “Actually, where we all belong.”

I sighed with relief that the thing was finally gone.

“Could I please use your bathroom to wash my hands?”

I nodded and without needing to direct him, he headed into my bedroom to get to the bathroom.

A good-looking man who refused to hurt a cockroach, who had the word “please” in his vocabulary and was in my bedroom right now?

The universe was taunting me as a reminder that it had been so long that I wouldn’t even know what to do with a man like that in my bedroom.

I waited uncomfortably for Galen to return to the kitchen, glad that I had kept the bedroom tidy. At least he wouldn’t think that I was a helpless and messy lunatic.

“I can’t thank you enough for what you just did. You are a true gentleman for helping someone you don’t even know. I’m sorry that I bothered you like that.”

Galen stuck his hands into his pockets and swayed a little from side to side.

“It was no bother at all. Getting called to help a pretty woman is always my pleasure.”

I felt the blood rushing to my face at his compliment – again.

Okay, he is definitely flirting.

Galen pointed out the balcony table. “It looks like you were about to have dinner. Whatever it is you’re making smells really, really good.”

I nodded and noticed that he kept staring at the balcony table.

“Yes, I was just about to finish cooking when … well, you know what happened.”

The quiet message in his blues eyes was crystal clear.

“After my shower I was planning on grabbing something to eat before you called.”

I might have been dying but I hadn’t lost my marbles yet. Galen was fishing for an invitation that I didn’t want to give but after what he had done, I had no choice. I bit the bullet and fought against my comfort zone.

“Would you like to join me? It’s the least I can do after interrupting your plans,” I joked, knowing that my cheeks were flaming red. “There is enough for two.”

“I thought that you would never ask.”

I nervously rattled off what I had prepared. “I hope that you like steak.”

Galen nodded and took a seat at the island counter. I felt him watching my every move as I navigated around the kitchenette.

“Do you need any help?”

“No thanks. I can handle it. Would you like a glass of wine or something?”

“Sure but I’ll get it.”

Galen reached for another wine glass and added it to the one that I already had set out on the counter. He poured us both a glass of the pineapple wine and handed me one. While the steaks sizzled on the grill, I had no choice but to make conversation with him.

“So…” Galen said between sips. “What do you do?”

Oh God, such a typical and normal let’s-get-to-know each other type of question that I had to answer.

“I work as a translator, I’ve got two grown children, I’m divorced…”

“No,” Galen said, shaking his head. “That’s not really what I meant so I’ll rephrase my question. What do you do as in what do you do for pleasure, you know, for pure enjoyment to pass the time?”

My mind blanked because I still didn’t understand.

Was this a trick question?

Seeing my confusion, Galen cocked his head to one side.

“Okay, I’ll get this started by telling you what I do besides rescuing damsels in distress. I spend as much time as I can outside enjoying the sun and beautiful weather. I try to surf, swim and I just started writing poetry – at least I’m trying to.” Galen took a sip from his glass. “I wake up every day looking forward to what each new day will offer me and what I can offer it. When I’m not doing all of that, I make a living by doing background research for a European-based online health magazine. Now, tell me what do you do?”

I was embarrassed that I couldn’t rattle off a list like his.

I had no energy to cover up my lackluster life with lies. Galen might have been hot but he was also a stranger that I would never see again after this trip.

Screw lying, I’m just going to be honest.

“To be truthful, I don’t have a clue anymore. All of the things I used to enjoy are way into my past. Gardening, running, painting…But my one true love was always photography. I used to dream of becoming a professional photographer.”

I had a crazy vision of telling him that I was dying and him running through the door or jumping off the balcony like I was infectious.

“That’s a lot of used to’s Katie. What happened?”

Galen looked genuinely interested as I flipped the steaks and turned the grill off.

“An overbearing ex-husband that I revolved my life around, raising twins like a married single-mother and then trying to get myself financially on track with a new career after a divorce. That’s what happened.”

“You could still be a photographer if you wanted.”

“It’s too late for all of that.” I grabbed a plate, lay a steak on it and handed it to him. “Help yourself.”

I gestured for him to take whatever he wanted from the food that I had already prepared. Galen got up, started filling his plate and stopped cold to give me a serious look.

“Nothing is ever too late if you start now.”

I inhaled deeply at his words.

If only he knew that starting now would get me nowhere…

After I filled my own plate, he took it from me and walked them out onto the balcony. I took the opportunity to get an extra set of utensils for him as he doubled back to grab our wine glasses. When we finally settled in, I no longer felt nervous. I guess that his handsomeness had finally worn off on me.

“You should take this opportunity create your own islandology.”

“Islandology?”

“It’s something that I basically made up. I consider it to be slowing down and truly experiencing the relaxed vibe of this island. You know, immersing yourself in new experiences and living in the moment. That’s how I ended up staying here so often.” He sliced into the steak and when he put the fork in his mouth, he smiled. “You cooked this to perfection! All of this is delicious.”

Photo credit: Foter.com

“Thanks Galen.”

“What’s on your to-do list while you’re here in Maui?”

I got up to retrieve my handwritten list from the coffee table and hurried back to the balcony. I handed it to him and watched as he perused it bullet point by bullet point.

“That’s a good start. But there are a few crucial things missing from this.”

“Like what?”

I was curious since my list was based on a number of things from the brochures and websites I had researched before leaving home.

“I won’t tell you,” Galen smiled. “But if you’re open to it, I could show you some of the things that are not on your list.”

“Oh! I couldn’t let you do that. I’m sure that you don’t have time to play tour guide.”

“It would be my pleasure and I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t have the time. I make a point of only working a certain number of hours each day. And anyways, when someone offers you a pineapple, you should make pineapple wine Katie.”

Every time Galen said my name, I got goosebumps.

“Okay, sure. I would love to make some pineapple wine with you.”

Only after the fact did I realize how suggestively that rolled off my tongue.

“And I with you. Make sure that camera of yours is ready for a workout because you’re in for a treat. I’m going to coax the photographer out of you.”

Yeah, I’m sure that you could coax a lot of things out of me if I let you…

Stop.

I laughed at the twinkle in his eye as he raised his glass to me. I instinctively raised mine to him.

“Cheers to making wine together,” Galen said, his eyes never leaving mine.

“Cheers.”

As our wine glasses touched, I marveled at how the more I opened up to the universe, the more the universe opened up to me.

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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H is for “Hale” #nanowrimo #fiction

“From the smell of fresh soap on him, it was clear that he had just stepped out of the shower. His dirty blond hair was still wet and pulled up into a messy man bun. I never liked the whole man bun trend but on him…”

 

 

Katie The Goddess? I like the sound of that! And I forgive you for hanging up on me before,” Meghan laughed after I had called her back. “I’m sure that you would look hot in nothing but your birthday suit and grass skirt. Maybe the dream you had is some kind of sign.”

“A sign of what?”

“Maybe it’s a sign that you are in a better head space – you know, less stressed. You definitely sound like you’re coping better than when you left.”

“I am! It’s really bizarre how it hasn’t been too difficult to forget that I’m sick being here in paradise.”

“Hmmm…maybe being naked means that you’re shedding your inhibitions and opening up to new beginnings. I’ve got a friend who is deep into that dream stuff so I’ll ask her. What are your plans for tonight?”

“I bought a bunch of groceries at Foodland and plan on making myself a nice meal. Steak, creamy mashed potatoes, garlic bread and some stir fried veggies just because I should have something healthy. And the pièce de resistance will be the pint of double chocolate and fudge ice cream that I’ll have for dessert. Dinner on the balcony, listening to the ocean and making a list of all the things I want to do while I’m in Maui is going to be my fun for the evening.”

“Good for you! But that ice cream sounds far from organic Kate.”

“Nope, it’s not organic. I’m done with that! All those years of eating organic and look what it got me? 12 to 24 months left on my clock. From now on, I’ll be indulging on whatever I damn well please as long as my clothes will still fit,” I joked and Meghan laughed along with me.

“At least you’ve got your sense of humor back…uh…which I plan on ruining right now by asking you this next question. Have you thought about getting a second opinion when you get back?”

I smiled at how Meghan was persistent even from thousands of miles away. I paused for dramatic effect before answering.

“Yes, I made that decision today.”

“Oh my God! I’m so happy to hear that! What made you change your mind?”

“Again, it sounds strange but it was a combination of that dream and a song I just heard. Strange but true. I just need to live in the now right now. And when I get home, I’ll live in that now when I go back to the doctor.”

“I’m ecstatic! Oh no, I’ve got to go now. I’m meeting you-know-who for lunch so I’ll give you a shout tomorrow, okay? Enjoy that scrumptious dinner of yours. Wish I was there with you!”

When we hung up, I finished cooking everything except for the steak which I wanted to do last. I set the balcony table for one and took out the bottle of Maui Splash I had scored. But just as I was about to put the steak on the grill, I noticed something flash from the corner of my eye, something the size of a small mouse crawling along the edge of the far wall.

Photo credit: glennshootspeople via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I immediately screamed and backed up against the counter. Whatever it was stopped dead in its tracks as if to observe me. When it began to slowly move, I almost let out another scream but stopped myself. The last thing I wanted was for the neighbors to call security. Now, I was in a face off – I wasn’t moving and neither was whatever that thing was.

What the hell was I supposed to do?

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself of that old lady’s words on Diamond Head summit.

You can do anything you put your my mind to

That creepy crawly thing couldn’t kill me, that is, unless it was poisonous or something… but I was already headed for dead so I had to at least try to do something.

I grabbed a dish towel, approached it like a ninja on my tip toes and as gently as possible so that it wouldn’t get away, I flung the towel over it like a fisherman casting a net. I was feeling pretty proud of myself until the towel started moving slightly.

Oh God…Oh God…Oh God…What if it escapes?

And that’s when I remembered that Jennifer had put some guy’s number into my cell – a nice man who lived in the complex.

“Galen, Galen, Galen…” I muttered as I scrolled through my cell until I found his name.

What was I supposed to say to this stranger without looking like a freaking lunatic?

I was going to look like a helpless woman who needed a man to rescue her but since I wanted to go to bed that night without wondering what that thing was all night so I had no choice. I bit the bullet but texted this stranger to avoid sounding like a blithering idiot.

Hi Galen. My name is Katie. Jennifer and Joshua gave me your number in case of an emergency. This is going to sound really stupid but I think that there’s a mouse in my place and I need help to get rid of it.

I waited for a reply, wondering what I would do if he didn’t respond or wasn’t even at this place.

Please respond, please respond, please respond…

When my cell pinged, I was overjoyed.

Hey Katie! Yes, J & J told me about you. Sounds like you’ve got yourself an emergency to me. 🙂  What hale are you in and what’s your hale number? Give me ten minutes. I’ll be right over.

I quickly texted him my information, surprised that I even remembered that “hale” meant “building”.

As I stood watch over the dishtowel, it wasn’t until I heard the doorbell ring that I realized that I was about to invite a strange man into my condo. It dawned on me that not only could he be some kind of rapist, but he could be a mass murderer. But at that point, I had made a choice and had to have faith in J & J’s words.

I rushed to the door, swung it open and found myself face to face with Mr. Handsome, the man I couldn’t get away from fast enough at the pool looking down at his cell.

I was speechless.

Photo credit: Foter.com

You? You’re Galen?”

He smiled like the cat that ate the canary as he extended his hand for me to shake.

“Yes, Galen would be me. And you’re Katie. Nice to meet you – again.”

From the smell of fresh soap on him, it was clear that he had just stepped out of the shower. His dirty blond hair was still wet but pulled up into a messy man bun. I had never liked the whole man bun trend but on him…

“Well, you were right about us probably bumping into each other again. And from the look on your face, you didn’t realize that it would be so soon, right?”

Again, his smile was infectious and I caught myself smiling with this Galen at my door.

“Serendipity, I guess,” I managed to squeak out.

“I don’t need to guess. It is definitely serendipity. Now show me this emergency Katie.”

I let him in and when he brushed past me, I quickly closed the door.

Besides that creepy crawly thing in my kitchen, I now had to worry about just how dumb I would make myself look before the night was over.

Continuation – I is for “Islandology”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

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G is for “Grass Skirt” #nanowrimo #fiction

And if I was truly honest with myself, when I looked at him, all I could think of was which would taste better – the Dole Whip I had sampled or him…

Dying was hard work and all I had wanted to do was sleep, sleep and sleep some more. But after the dream I had just had when I nodded off, my desire for sleep had completely disappeared.

Stretched out on my lounge chair next to the pool, I tried to decipher what the dream had meant. I had seen myself standing high on a mountaintop, my arms outstretched wide as if to embrace the vast blue ocean that lay beneath me and all I was wearing was a simple purple lei and a grass skirt.

I had no clue what it all meant and I gave up trying. What I did know was that I had woken up feeling fully rested, at peace and with the decision to get a second opinion on my diagnosis when I returned home. Meghan’s suggestion to take time to clear my head in Maui had been the right choice. Most of the time I actually forgot the reason why I had taken this trip in the first place.

But that was just most of the time.

I put on my floppy hat, slipped off my sandals and headed into the pool to cool off from the heat. I closed my eyes, raked back against the cold tiled wall and enjoyed the water caressing my skin until voices sliced through the air behind me.

Photo credit: Foter.com

“But I have soooo many other people that I want to invite to the wedding! I need more seats for my side.”

From behind my dark sunglasses, I snuck a peak at a young couple in their early twenties getting comfortable in the lounge chairs next to mine. They struck me as an odd pair. He was plain and homely-looking in contrast to the girl who was fully made up with make-up and expensive tote bag. Her long perfectly coiffed blonde curls were obviously enhanced by hair extensions, her breasts looked unnatural perky for her body type and with the length of her nails, there was no way she ever washed dishes.

But the worst of it all was her completely annoying voice that sounded like a cross between Elmo and a whiny four year old. I tried my best to block out their conversation but I would have needed Tom Cruise for that mission impossible.

“We agreed that we would each stick to 50 guests babe.” His voice was patient but definitely not firm. “We need to cut back to save on costs.”

I watched as the girl rolled her eyes at him. She reminded me of Hannah. Then, the girl sighed as though she had the weight of the world on her shoulders – First World problems.

“You mean that you need to save on costs! You should have agreed to let my father pay for the entire wedding! We’re on vacation and we should be enjoying ourselves instead of skimping. It’s bad enough that we aren’t staying at the resort that I wanted.” She was clearly unimpressed by the quaintness of the complex. “If I can’t have the Smores on the beach or the spa day like I wanted at the other hotel, I at least want to do all the other things I had on my list.” The girl pulled a bottle of lotion out of her bag and shoved it at him. “Put some lotion on me.”

The boy obeyed and lovingly slathered tanning lotion all over her back as she rattled on about her list of all of the things she wanted to do and buy until I thought his slippery hands would slide around her neck and squeeze her into silence…for good.

“Let’s go for a swim,” he suggested and motioned to the pool.

“No. I need to get started on my tan and anyways, I need to buy a new magazine in the lobby first.”

“Didn’t you just buy one this morning?” The boy’s voice was overflowing with frustration and I could almost hear his eyes rolling back into his head.

“Yeah, but I don’t like it.”

When I glanced over at them again, I caught him staring at her like he could follow through with the image I had.

“Fine. I’ll take a swim while you go get a new magazine.”

No. You need to come with me. I don’t want to go alone.”

There was a brief silence and a loud groan from the boy. I already knew that he was going to give in.

Taking me off guard, the boy suddenly turned and caught me looking in their direction.

“Uh, Ma’am? Would you mind watching our stuff while we are gone?”

Ma’am? Was I that old to be called Ma’am?

I nodded. “Sure but I might be leaving soon.”

“Oh, that’s okay. We won’t be long. Thanks a lot.”

When the young couple disappeared, I let out a huge groan, got out of the pool and made my way back over to my chair.

“Run Forrest run,” I kept muttering to myself uncontrollably, shaking my head. “Run Forrest run.”

“You won’t believe me but I was thinking the exact same thing,” someone said nearby. “I loved that movie.”

Feeling my face flushed with embarrassment, I looked over to the only person sitting with a book in his hands a few chairs away. The man’s eyes twinkled with laughter and I was utterly mortified.

“Oh my…I didn’t mean for anyone to hear me,” I apologized. Through my sheepishness, I found myself taking a full look at this man with dirty blond hair, a lean muscular build and blue eyes that I found hard to look away from. From his deep tan and his totally relaxed vibe, everything about him screamed outdoorsy surfer dude. I was also beginning to realize that he was more than handsome. My stomach did a nervous flip.

Why was I suddenly feeling like a school girl?

Photo credit: madabandon via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“Oh, don’t apologize! Yesterday, she wouldn’t stop complaining about how cold the pool was. I give that marriage less than a year to survive. Narcissist girl and doormat boy will not make a lasting relationship.”

I nodded. “Yeah. And the same applies for the reverse combination too. But they say opposites attract, right?”

“That’s what they say. But compatibility is so much more important, don’t you think?” The man lay his book down on his lap and gave me his full attention. “I haven’t seen you around here before. Did you just check-in?”

“No. A few days ago.” His blue eyes were hypnotic and his infectious smile took me for a loop. I felt my face flush again and I pretended to look for something in my purse as an excuse to look away as I settled back into my chair.

“Really? I haven’t seen you around.” His friendliness made me a little suspicious and I hoped that this conversation wouldn’t crash and burn like what had happened to me on the Pineapple Express.

“Oh, I’ve been going to the beach a lot so this is really my first time at the pool,” I offered cautiously.

“Well, there’s first time for everything, right?”

His eyes twinkled again and I swallowed hard.

Was there some kind of flirty double entendre behind his words?

I forced myself to ask a semi-intelligent question. “Are you a tourist too?”

“No, I’m a kama ‘aina.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m what they call a long time resident. I travel back and forth between here and New York but I spend most of my time here. I love the island vibe. ”

I nodded and let an awkward silence take over. Any other normal woman would have asked where he was from in New York and what he did for a living but I knew that I would find myself tongue tied with him so I said nothing.

What could I say that would be friendly but not too friendly to avoid him getting the wrong idea? 

He pointed to the notepad I had with me.

“Are you making a list of things to see while you’re here?”

“Sort of…” I lied. My notepad really contained a running list of things I needed to do when I got home to start tying up loose ends, to start shutting down my life.

“Well, if you want any recommendations about what to see and do, I could…”

As if God knew how nervous and flustered I was, I was saved from further conversation with Mr. Handsome when my cell rang. I hadn’t felt that way in years. And if I was truly honest with myself, when I looked at him, all I could think about was which would taste better – the Dole Whip I had sampled or him…

“I’m sorry…I…I need to take this call.”

His face dropped in disappointment.

I clumsily started gathering my items, slipped on my sandals and let my cell slip out of my sweaty hands. Of course, Mr. Handsome was agile enough to catch it before it hit the concrete. He glanced quickly at the caller id and smiled.

“If you don’t answer it soon, Meghan will hang up,” he teased handing it back to me.

“Oh, thanks.” I clicked it, told Meghan to hold on and said goodbye to him. “It was nice meeting you. Uh, maybe we’ll see each other around?”

Mr. Handsome gave me one of his infectious smiles and nodded.

“I’m sure that we’ll bump into each other again.”

I couldn’t scurry away fast enough, feeling his eyes boring holes into my back as I walked away. Poor Meghan. I completely forget that she was still on the line.

Continuation – H is for “Hale”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

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F is for “Fruit” #nanowrimo #fiction

The Dole Whip turned out to be a soft serve pineapple ice cream that was absolutely orgasmic, a word that I hadn’t used or experienced in ages…

I was this close to shoving the fool sitting next to me off of the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation

But finding myself in an Oahu jail far away from home wasn’t on my list of things to do in Hawaii so I resisted the urge by folding my arms tight across my body and leaning away from him.

The conversation with the man next to me had started innocently enough, with friendly touristy banter but when I made the fatal mistake of saying that I was traveling alone, his attitude took an unwanted 180 degree turn.  And I was out of practice with dealing with unwanted male attention.

“You’re too cute to be hanging out all by your lonesome. I’m alone too. How about we have dinner and go back to my hotel after this boring fruit tour thing is over?”

Photo credit: dnyluong via Foter.com / CC BY

I stared down at the loser’s ring finger and then into his ugly face.

What?

“Two lonely people like us could enjoy each other’s company…” he leered, hovering his hand too close to my outer thigh. “Think of it as a two for one deal. We paid to ride this lame train but we could have much more fun riding each other…”

WTF?

The feeling of empowerment and strength I’d felt at the top of Diamond Head summit washed over me like a tidal wave but this time it was fueled with anger.

The only thing standing in my way was me and I no longer had time to waste on nonsensical shit like this…

“First off, I said that I was alone, not lonely.” I pointed to the tan line of where his wedding band had clearly been before he had taken it off. “Second, I feel sorry for your wife because she clearly could have done better than you. And third, get your crusty ass away from me or you’ll find my fist in your face.”

But my harshness was no deterrent for the fool.

“Oh, I like a feisty woman who …”

A hand suddenly stabbed the air between us from behind and grabbed the loser’s shoulder.

Hard.

“Dude, I strongly suggest that you slither over to the next seat and away from the lady otherwise I will be forced to move you myself,” a deep voice boomed.

Taken by surprise, we both simultaneously turned to face a massive man giving the loser a very nasty glare. The woman sitting beside him had her hand on his arm as if to hold him back. Without a moment’s hesitation, the loser jumped out of his seat and scurried over two benches ahead of us. Scared shitless, the idiot never looked back once.

“Are you okay? You seemed to have the situation under control but we both couldn’t take that asshole harrassing you like that. My boyfriend was getting angrier by the second.”

The young woman appeared to be in her late twenties and was quite petite in contrast to the hulk of a man beside her. Her hand flew up to cover a giggle. “But it was sure funny how that loser jumped those seats like he was hurdling.”

“I’m okay. And thanks for intervening like that – I appreciate it. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him that I was traveling alone in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20. ” I extended my hand to her. “My name is …Katie by the way.”

I liked the sound of Katie instead of Kate or Kathryn.

“Nice to meet you Katie. I’m Jennifer and this is my boyfriend Joshua. Nice to meet you.”

“Do you want to hang with us for the rest of the tour?” Joshua offered, looking quite protective and still giving a death stare to the back of the loser’s head.

“You don’t have to do that…I don’t want to impose.”

“Oh, we wouldn’t mind at all, right babe? Have you been to the Dole Plantation before?”

“No, this is my first time here and in Hawaii.”

“Wow! And you’re doing this solo? I admire that. I’d be so scared to do that.”

Joshua nodded. “To be honest, I would be scared too and I’m a pretty big dude.”

Before we knew it, we were chatting and ignoring the automated tour guide voice recording that was providing a running commentary for the tour. When it was over, we all piled off the train and towards the plantation store.

“Are you going to have a Dole Whip?”

I had no clue what Jennifer was talking about.

“A Dole what?”

Jennifer and Joshua looked at me with surprise.

“You don’t know about Dole Whip? Oh my God, you’re in for a treat. Come on Katie, let’s go have one together.”

I followed them into the store where we each ordered one and sat down at a table nearby.  The Dole Whip turned out to be a soft serve pineapple ice cream that was absolutely orgasmic, a word that I hadn’t used or experienced in ages.

Photo credit: jpellgen via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“Isn’t it delicious?” Jennifer asked me between bites. All I could do was nod as I licked my spoon after each and every bite.

“Katie, are you spending your entire vacation in Oahu?”

“No, today is my last day here. I’m headed to Maui for three weeks in the morning.”

“Oh, we just left Maui. It is amazing! You’re going to love it. Where are you staying?”

“At the Lahaina Mahalo Breeze Condo Resorts*. The reviews were good and the price was right so I’m hoping that its not a cockroach infested dive or something.”

“Oh my God! We just left there last week! It’s a great little place. We loved having a kitchenette and the grocery store around the corner. Condo style apartment hotels always have less tourists and the local residents living there are really friendly.”

I sighed with relief.

“Well, I’m relieved. You two are real live references!”

Jennifer nudged Joshua.

“Maybe we should give her Galen’s number. You know, just in case she needs help or something when she’s there.”

Joshua, a man of few words and focused on his own Dole Whip simply nodded and handed over his cell.

“Who is Galen?”

“This real sweetheart who lives in that condo complex. He’s a writer or a researcher. He’s such a nice man. Since you are solo, he might be a good resources in case you ever need help. He’s also cute and single…”

“Jennifer….” Joshua warned before getting up to order another Dole Whip.

Jennifer laughed. “I’m just saying that he’s cute, that’s all. Give me your phone Katie and I’ll put Galen’s coordinates in. And mine too if you want to keep in touch.”

What did I have to lose?

She scrolled through Joshua’s to get the number she was looking for, took my phone and punched in the numbers. Then her thumbs started texting away at an amazing speed.

“I’m texting Galen to say that I gave you his number to you. You’re all set now! I know that I shouldn’t but I want another Whip too. What about you?”

One of the upsides of a ticking clock was no more thinking about calories and dieting. I didn’t blink twice.

“I’m in for round two Jennifer.”

Continuation – G is for “Grass Skirt”

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

If you liked this piece and want to see more like it, please click on “Like” and/or “Comment” below and share with others who would also enjoy it. I plan on making this story into either a short story or a novella so you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news on when it’s completed.

*fictional resort name

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