N is for “Na’au” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

“My heart and soul were already missing pieces and with nowhere to go fast, I had no choice but to listen…”

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella. 

I never realized how hungry I was until I wanted to taste Galen.

How long had I been starving for this kind of connection with a man like him?

 Forever.

The malasada had opened up my appetite and the thought of Galen’s sugary lips on mine ignited my entire body. But just as quickly as our lips barely touched, Galen slowly drew away.

“We shouldn’t,” Galen groaned and closed his eyes.

My heart dropped into my stomach. I felt like a fool as I suddenly realized that he had never really made any explicit advances at me.

That’s what you get for throwing yourself at him. Was I that out of practice that I no longer knew the difference between friendly and flirty? Maybe Galen isn’t even interested in women…

“Uh, no…I’m the one who is sorry,” I muttered under my breath, shifting my body away from his. As a distraction, I grabbed another malasada, took a big bite and turned my red face away. I kept my eyes focused on the sun worshippers and swimmers on the beach from our vantage point.

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Photo credit: Foter.com

“I shouldn’t have done that. I had this all wrong.”

I could feel Galen staring at me.

“Katie, you haven’t misjudged anything. I am…I mean…I do want to…kiss you. You’re so damn sexy that holding back has been killing me.”

Galen’s “damn” took me by surprise and forced me to look at him.

“I think that “damn” is the closest thing to profanity I’ve heard you say since we met. I was almost ready to think that you were beyond perfect.”

“I’m very, very far from being perfect Katie and that’s why I didn’t want to ruin this connection in my na’au that I’ve had from the moment I saw you.”

“Na’au?”

I couldn’t keep up with all these new words he kept peppering into our discussions.

“Na’au is like your gut, your chi, your soul – the place where you just “know” things and where you keep your life experiences. It’s kind of like what I was saying about faith.”

Galen closed the distance between us and he was quiet for a long moment. “But I do have a confession to make.”

My heart stopped cold as I waited for the shoe to drop.

Yeah, I had gone and opened up myself and now he was going to drop a bomb on me…How freaking wonderful.

“You know what Galen? I really don’t want to know!”

I scurried angrily to my feet, ready to storm away but quickly realized that I had no place to go. I had no clue where Galen and I were and we had driven in his car.

I was stranded.

With a deep breath, Galen reached out from where he sat and held onto my hand.

woman-lady-couple

Photo credit: Foter.com

“It’s not what you are thinking! It’s just something that I wanted to tell you since we first met…”

My heart and soul were already missing pieces and with nowhere to go fast, I had no choice but to listen.

“I knew who you were the moment I saw you sitting by the pool that day.”

“What? What do you mean?” Now I was totally confused.

What was he talking about?

“When Jennifer texted that she had given my number to a woman, I had a vision in my head of what that woman would look like. Jennifer barely described you but you were exactly as I had envisioned. I immediately knew that you were her.”

Galen blushed slightly, letting me know that it was a compliment. I felt relieved.

“So why didn’t you say something before?”

“You left so abruptly that day at the pool that the chance slipped away. Then, when we had dinner, I felt stupid saying anything “after the fact”. And as the days went on, it got harder and harder to say anything at all and so I just didn’t.”

“Well, you and I have very different ideas on what qualifies as a confession!” I shook my head. “Why say something now?”

“It was nagging at the back of my mind and since you are always so suspicious, like right now, I wanted to be upfront with you before…this…we…went any further.”

“Suspicion has become a part of me.”

Galen pulled firmly on my hand, coaxing me to sit back down.

“Please don’t be suspicious of me. I know that we are all a product of our pasts.” Galen maneuvered himself to sit directly in front of me, took both of my hands in his and looked up at me with those blue eyes. “And I promised to tell you about mine. Let me do that now, okay?”

I nodded, sat down and waited to exhale until Galen told me what I was dying to know.

Continuation – O is for “Ohana”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

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The “Realness” of Katie & Hawaii?  #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

Photo credit: Foter.com

Katie is “real”.

At least that’s what I’m getting from some of your comments. Dealing with a medical diagnosis, feeling alone in the world and slipping into a dark place with a desire to give up…

And if you don’t have an affinity to Katie, for some of you, maybe Hawaii is “real” for you.

I’ve tried to quietly weave some of my own Hawaian island experiences into the story and if you’ve been, hopefully they have got you reminiscing about your own travels.

When I started writing “Living To Die” as my A to Z Challenge project, my goal was to step away from writing the romantic stories to which I always gravitate.

I wanted to tackle a more serious story and explore questions and thoughts we have all had at one point in our lives:

  • If you had less than 24 months to live, what would you do?
  • Would you give up and wait to die or would you tackle everything on your bucket list?
  • Would you tell anyone or would you keep it to yourself?
  • What regrets would you have about the life you had led or the things you had done?
  • And if you had finally met the perfect man/woman, would you even bother to open up your “dying” heart to them?

These are all questions that Katie is thinking about…

In the coming months, I’ll be revising this story into a novelette/novella and all those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE COPY

I would for you to sign up since I’m trying to build my email list.

Enjoy your Easter weekend with family and friends!

Marquessa xoxo

 

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M is for “Malasadas” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

“Galen shifted closer and softly dusted off my cheek with his thumb. My body jolted at the touch of his fingertips on my skin and I found myself placing my hand over his to stop him.

Without thinking, I gently parted my mouth and slowly licked my lips, taking his thumb into my mouth…”

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella.

“You don’t have faith in me, do you Katie?”

The hypnotic ocean and crystal blue skies whizzed past the car window as Galen and I sped down the highway to a destination unknown to me. His tone was shaded with concern as well as amusement.

“From the questions you were asking me earlier, it’s obvious that you don’t.”

In such close proximity to him in his car, I had no choice but to answer, which was no longer a bad thing. Somehow my habit of self-censoring before speaking my mind had ebbed away when I just didn’t care. With my diagnosis always at the far corner of my mind and the realization that I only had 12 to 24 months left had stripped me naked of my ridiculous idiosyncrasies.

And it felt good.

“Galen, I can’t say that I trust you. I don’t really know you. I mean, I feel like I do but I really don’t.”

He was quiet for a moment before he glanced over at me. When our eyes made four, I knew that he understood where I was coming from.

“I get it. A woman can never be too careful. I’ll just have to make sure that my actions keep speaking louder than words to gain your trust. But I was really referring to your faith in me.”

“Trust and faith are the same…”

“Uh, no. I respectfully beg to differ,” Galen said as he veered off the highway and maneuvered down a skinny side road. “For me, trust and faith are two different things. I totally understand that you don’t trust me. Trust is about placing confidence in another and it has to be earned. Trust is about having confidence and reliance on someone and you haven’t known me long enough for that. But faith…”

Galen glanced over at me again and by the look on my face, I think he realized that I was trying my best to follow his logic.

Where were we going that was taking us off the highway?

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Photo credit: Foter.com

“If I loosely refer to Hebrews 11:1, faith is about believing in something or someone, even if proof doesn’t exist. It’s a noun. It’s something we have. It’s about your heart. But trust is different. Trust is a verb. It’s something we do. It’s about your head and the evidence that appeases your mind. For me, trust is faith in action.” *

I found myself holding my breath, trying to figure out if I was being taken to school, to church or a bit of both. Either way, it didn’t matter. It was too much food for thought to sink into my mind all at once. I had never thought of the two concepts on such a deep and thoughtful level.

“Only you can know if you “trust” me or if you have faith in me, Katie. And I have no problem with you taking the time to figure out which it is.”

I remained deathly quiet for a very long moment.

“I’ll be honest with you Galen. Your actions have been speaking louder than words. But from things that have happened in my past, I can’t help but be… suspicious.”

He nodded with understanding.

Trust and faith? I don’t think that I have either one of those in anyone, except Meghan and my son.

Before my diagnosis, I was resigned to the fact that my life was boring and humdrum. But it was only after that and during my mini-breakdown, that it had become painfully clear to me that I had not spent my life living.

I had spent most of adulthood simply existing for others.

It was a thought that made me want to cry each and every time that realization crossed my mind. I shook my head and refocused on our conversation.

“Well, you must have a little faith in me otherwise you wouldn’t be here right now. Right?”

I could feel that he was trying to lighten the mood.

“True.” I peered out the window and realized that we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll have to have faith in me.”  Galen teased and tossed me a wink. I couldn’t help but smile whenever he did. Galen kept his eyes on the road until we made a stop next to a small colorful food truck where dozens of people were milling around.

“Wait here.”

Before I could open my mouth to ask where he was going, Galen sprinted out of the car and cut to the front of the line of people waiting to be served. From the way the portly man inside the truck greeted and fist-bumped him, it was obvious that they were friends. After Galen was handed a box and a tray with two coffees, the man waved to me. I automatically waved back.

What was Galen up to?

Galen carefully walked back the car, handed me the coffee tray to hold and then gently placed the box in the backseat.

“That’s Makaio, an old friend and all around sweet guy. He owns that food truck and the locals in these parts know that he has some of the best….oh…wait…you’ll see,” Galen said cryptically.

“Okay, well, thanks for the coffee,” I said as he slipped back into the driver’s seat, started the car and we drove off. “Which one is…”

“Yours is the one on the right. Four sugars, two creams.”

I raised my eyebrows at him.

“How do you know that I like my sugar with coffee?”

“It’s how you ordered it the other day. And I’m very observant,” Galen laughed. “But you’ll have to wait a few minutes before you drink it, okay.”

I was more interested in the box in the back seat than asking why I couldn’t drink the coffee right away.

“And what…”

And…you’ll have to wait to know what’s in the box,” Galen preempted me.

Since Galen had said that he would tell me about how he ended up in Maui when he took me for malasadas, I could only assume that they were some kind of dessert and that was what was in the box. I had no choice but to be patient.

We drove for a few more minutes before Galen turned off at a stop off point off the highway with an exquisite view of the sun shining brightly down onto the blue green ocean.

“Follow me.”

sea-beach-sunset-hawaii-waikiki
Photo credit: Foter.com

We got out of the car and Galen grabbed a blanket from his trunk. He spread it on the ground in front of the car, took the coffee tray away and motioned for me sit. Then he handed me the coffees, skirted back to the car for the box and sat down next to me.

“What are we doing here?”

“I’m going to teach you the best way to eat a malasada.”

Galen popped open the lid of the box to expose a hot half-dozen array of sugary goodness. They looked like doughnuts dusted over with confectioner’ sugar.

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

“Doughnuts?”

“Yes and no. Malasadas are more like beignets than doughnuts. These treats have no holes and are filling with gooey goodness so I bought a few different ones for you to sample. This one has custard, this one has chocolate and this one here is my favorite. It has haupia, the same type of coconut dessert you had earlier today at our plate lunch.”

Galen was almost like a little boy as he explained from where they originated, how malasadas came to Hawaii – all information I would unlikely remember later.

“They look delicious. But why do you have to show me how to eat them?”

Galen took his coffee, popped the cover off, took a malasada and dipped it into his cup.

This is the best way to eat one. You dip it once into your coffee and then take a bite. But you don’t dip it twice because it’ll get too soggy and fall into the bottom of your coffee cup. And as my son used to say when we used to do this, “That’s just gross Dad.””

Galen chuckled to himself. This time when he spoke about his son, his eyes twinkled with joy as opposed to sadness.

“Oh,” I said, trying to be cautious. “The two of you used to do this together?”

My curiosity spiked as I picked up a malasada and watched Galen nod.

“Yes, we’d do this all the time at this very spot when he would come to visit. He loved to come here because it’s such a great spot to watch the sunset. I would have coffee and he would do the same with hot chocolate. To be honest, he’s the one who taught me this way to eat them. Go ahead and try it. I promise that you’ll love it.”

I popped the top off of my own coffee and copied what Galen had done. I groaned with pleasure the moment the haupia filling oozed past my lips and onto my tongue. Then a grin spread across my face as I tried not to let the confectioner’s sugar sprinkle all over my lap.

“Oh my God. This is amazing!”

Before I knew it, I had devoured my entire malasada and was hungrily eyeing a chocolate one that was whispering my name from the box.

“I told you so! Wait, you’ve got some sugar on your cheek.”

Galen shifted closer and softly dusted off my cheek with his thumb. My body jolted at the touch of his fingertips on my skin and I found myself placing my hand over his to stop him.

“What’s wrong?”

Galen’s eyes searched mine for a clue and when I said nothing, he ran his thumb along my lips.

“You’ve got some sugar all over your lips too.”

Without thinking, I gently parted my mouth and slowly licked my lips, taking his thumb into my mouth.

Galen inhaled sharply, closed his eyes for a moment and tilted his head closer to mine so that our foreheads touched. When he reopened his blue eyes, the look that he gave me said it all – intensely.

“What are you doing Katie?”

Galen’s voice was quiet and questioning.

What was I doing?

I felt myself leaning into him, my lips just inches away from his.

I was a dying woman who could now do whatever she wanted.

“This is me having faith in you Galen,” I told him as our lips touched.

Continuation – N is for “Na’au”

©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

*reference based on this article found online

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L is for “Laulau” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

“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…”

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella. 

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.

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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K is for “King Kahekili” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

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…

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella. 

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” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

“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…”

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella. 

“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” #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge2017

“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…”

To start from the beginning of the story, click HERE first.

All those who sign up for my mailing list HERE will receive a FREE copy of this story after it has been revised into a novella. 

 

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.

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. You can also sign up for my mailing list here to get the latest news from me.

 

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