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