Maui was the perfect spot to vacation, Derek Tyler thought. It was as close to paradise as he would get. At least in this life anyway. It had everything a man could want. The ocean, the salty sea air, the warm sand, the hot sun…and the beautiful girls. Especially this one. Derek’s heart turned to molten lava when he saw her. She had the face of an angel, the body of a goddess. Her gray eyes shone like evening stars and her lips were lush and full. Those lips were the kind a man could only dream of kissing. She was fragile, yet strong. She was about five foot three, much shorter than his six foot four frame. Her dark hair skimmed the top of her shoulders. She wore a light blue, teal and green striped tankini with a teal skirted bottom and sunglasses perched on the top of her head. She also had a superb tan. Her feet were bare. She looked too comfortable to just be a local tourist. She loved the beach. The sea, the sand, it was all part of her. She gazed out at the horizon, oblivious to the man watching her from across the sand.
Derek’s eyes followed her from behind his sunglasses as she walked past him. As she bent over to inspect a seashell, he marveled at her small round behind. She raised her arms above her head causing her tankini top to rise, bearing her midriff and making Derek’s throat go dry. She was unconsciously flirting with him. He leaned his head back against his rented beach chair and closed his eyes. He didn’t come here to fall in love.
Derek was no stranger to the ocean. He swam freestyle with large, sweeping strokes just beyond the shallow water where a lot of kids had been splashing and playing. He treaded water for a few minutes, trying to decide whether to head back. He did a 180-degree turn and felt something like sin skim across his side. Since he hadn’t gone out too far, he was able to make it back to shore before doubling over in pain. The pain consumed him so much he didn’t hear the footsteps pounding across the sand in his direction.
“Are you okay?”
Derek looked up and saw the raven beauty he had been watching only days earlier. This time she was wearing a red, one-piece bathing suit with a circular, yellow logo on the lower left side. She could have been in an evening gown for all Derek cared. He glared at her. How could she even ask him such a question? She must be blind. Of course he wasn’t okay. His side hurt like hell.
She knelt down beside him and pulled his hand away.
“Jellyfish,” she said knowingly. “Come with me.” She led him back to the surf and began to rinse his side with seawater. “This will deactivate some of the stinging cells. Don‘t worry Medusa‘s aren’t the worst. Box jellyfish. Now, that is what you have to watch out for.”
She took him by the arm and led him up the beach to The Tiki Bar. It was a little shanty that set right on the beach. She took Derek into a cold air-conditioned room with stainless steel appliances. The floor and the walls were steel blue, which just added to the coldness of the atmosphere. She went to the cupboard and took out a bottle of vinegar and some flour.
“This will help deactivate any remaining cells.”
When she was through with the vinegar rinse, she began to lift any remaining tentacles off with a pair of tweezers. Then she dusted the area with some flour and scraped away the remaining cells with a straight razor.
“After all tentacle sections have gone, the pain can be treated with a cold pack, sunburn lotion or insect bite medication.”
“Just doing my job. You know, you shouldn’t go so far out in the water next time. This is the prime time of year for jellyfish.”
Derek was sitting in tenth row center in the amp theater waiting for the dolphin show to start. Since his run in with the jellyfish, Derek thought it best to find other activities besides swimming in the ocean to occupy his time.
He was also watching her walk around the edge of the tank in a black and blue wet suit that fit her like a glove. Every so often one or two of the dolphins would leap out of the water or do a flip or some trick. Then they would come to edge and she would reward them with a raw fish. She also wore a wireless headset.
“This is one of the largest sea water tanks in the world and it holds four of the bottlenose dolphins in captivity,” her voice came over the PA system. “They wandered in to Maui as calves and were brought here. We called them Storm and Silky. They are mature bottlenose and are anywhere from eleven to twelve feet in length. A few years ago they had a calf of their own. Flip. The other one is Apollo. He is the most recent addition. In Greek mythology, dolphins were said to be sacred to him.” With one swift, smooth wave of her hand, a dolphin leapt out of the water with grace. “Beautiful, aren’t they? And extremely intelligent. What you are hearing is recorded dolphin chatter. Other dolphins will pick up this chatter and pass it on. Is it used for navigational purposes? Is it part of the mating ritual? Or just pure communication? Frankly, we just don’t know yet. Dolphins have an acute sense of hearing. When they perform, we ask that you applaud them. They are able to hear your clapping and they recognize it as a sign of praise. Enjoy the show.”
The show started by her calling Storm and Apollo over to the edge. Then she took a hold of their dorsal fins and they towed her from one side of the tank to the other in just matter of seconds. They did this a couple more times while another trainer timed them just to show the audience how fast they could swim. The other trainers showed how the dolphins played basketball and volleyball. Then they gave away little green balls with the name of the Aquarium on them. They distributed them throughout the audience by throwing them up in the air and having the dolphins hit them into the audience with their tails. Derek happened to catch one, but ended up giving it to a little girl who cried when she didn’t get one. Then it was time for the audience participation part of the program. They picked a little boy from the audience and taught him the hand signs to make the dolphins stand up and roll on their back and waves their flippers. Then they had Flip give him a kiss. They gave him a raw fish and asked him if he wanted to feed it to the dolphins or keep it. Everyone laughed when he said he wanted to keep it. Finally, for the finale two of the dolphins pushed her by her feet underwater and then she shot a couple hundred feet up in the air. She leveled out like she was doing a swan dive and then dove back into the tank. When the dolphins were told to take a bow, all four of them came up and on top the dive platform and stuck their tails up in the air. The applause was long and loud.
“Storm and Silky were originally wild and it just wouldn’t be fair to keep them confined in a tank for the rest of their lives. They should be free. It’s really too bad because they are quite friendly as you can see. I’ve grown quite attached to them,” she concluded.
Later that day, she was rewarding the dolphins with fish when she was joined by one of the other trainers. Rick wanted to be her boyfriend since they were in the second grade, but she had no interest or use for him.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“Don’t tell me fish stories, kiddo. I’ve known you too long.”
“Rick, it’s tearing me apart, okay?”
“I know,” Rick replied sympathetically. “I feel the same thing, but you said yourself Storm and Silky ought to be free.”
“I know and they should.”
“You can’t let the dolphins take over so much of your life. They aren’t pets.” Rick never did understand how she felt about the dolphins. Sometimes, she wondered how or why Rick had become a marine mammal trainer.
“Can’t I?” She was through being cordial.
“I’m sure they amuse you and hobbies can be very satisfying.”
“Hobbies?” He was treading on thin ice. “The dolphins are not a hobby or an amusement. They are so much more.”
“Naturally, of course. But you must admit, it’s taking up a huge amount of your time. Why it’s taken us six months to finally have dinner together.”
It would have taken another six, if she had anything to say about it.
“Are you finished?” she asked. As she turned to walk away, Rick intervened and tried to steal a kiss. “Don’t even think about it! Men like you, who don’t care if the dolphins sink or swim hold no interest for me whatsoever.”
“Besides, we are not talking about human beings here. It’s never been proven their intelligence is superior to man’s,” Rick reminded her.
“Oh, come on, Rick. I don’t know about you, but my compassion for someone isn’t limited to my estimate of their intelligence. And the first time we will have dinner together it will be Popsicles with Hades.”
The rain was coming down in sheets, like it was coming from one of those constant waterfall machines, she thought as she moved to change the placement of one of the metal buckets. Her little sea shanty home was not very weather proof, but it was all she could afford right now. At times, she wished she lived up north. Then she would have the companionship of a blazing fire on the hearth. But the island was her home. And with it came the summer storms. The thunder crashed and the wind howled, shaking the walls of her shanty. She was sure the roof would fly right off. She lit one of the hurricane lanterns since she had lost power, which was not at all uncommon during one of these storms. She shivered and she sat on the ratty, old loveseat and tucked her feet up under her. She wrapped a light yellow blanket around her shoulders as if to protect her from the storm’s wrath.
“It’s just the ghosts going bowling,” she murmured. That’s what her mother always told her. Even though she wasn’t a child anymore, it still comforted her to remember the old fables.
The wind struck again and her door flew open. Rain pelted her face as she fought to close it. Just when she thought she had won, it fought back. Cursing the wind, she tried to close it again, but this time something stronger pushed back. Slowly, she was loosing the battle. The force on the other side of the door was getting stronger. When the door finally gave way, she saw a dark, shadowy figure filling its frame. Her eyes widened in fear. She stood like she was rooted to the floor. The figure moved. She willed her legs to move, ran to the small kitchenette and grabbed the only weapon she had: a single egg frying pan.
“Stay where you are! Stay where you are!” Her hand trembled as she raised the frying pan. “I mean it!”
The figure moved closer. With all her might, she swung the frying pan as if she was swinging a baseball bat. Her aim wasn’t true and she cracked the stranger along the jaw line. The intruder cursed and caught her wrist. The grasp tightened causing her to drop her weapon. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. No one would be able to hear her over the storm anyway. She thought for sure, she was going to die. Maybe not right away. She felt her throat close up and it felt like she couldn’t breathe. Everything started to blur. Her eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted from fear.
Derek caught her as she fell against his black slicker. He picked her up in his arms, holding her as if she were a crystal vase and carried her over to the loveseat. The front of her white, V-necked shirt was damp and he could tell she wasn’t wearing a bra. The shirt clung to her and Derek saw her rosebuds pucker. He glanced around the room and found a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants lying in her laundry basket. He also grabbed a pair of socks. Derek turned back to her.
Stop gawking at the woman’s chest Derek scolded himself. He was a red blooded American male for God’s sake. He tampered down his fantasies. He peeled off her shirt and khaki shorts, while deliberately diverting his eyes away from her chest. She was as limp as a rag doll. She moaned some incoherent curses as he pulled the sweatshirt over her head. She flailed her arms and legs blindly as he tried to maneuver her arms into the sleeves. She didn’t seem to have any control over her movements.
“Come on, honey. Don’t fight me on this.”
Slowly, her violent movements stilled. That made it easier for Derek to get her pants and socks on. He laid her on her back and draped the yellow blanket over her. He brushed her wet hair out of her face. She whimpered and curled up into the fetal position. Then he shed his black slicker and fell exhausted into a near by armchair.
She woke to the smell of coffee. She heard soft movements, but couldn’t tell what they were. As she listened, the sound lulled her back to sleep. The next time she woke, she didn’t hear anything. She cautiously opened one eye and then the other. She slowly sat up, trying to shake off the fuzzy feeling of sleep. She glanced down and wrapped her hand around the gold locket she wore. She didn’t remember wearing a sweatshirt, but then everything about last night was still foggy. She remembered the storm and waking up just now.
She heard movements off to her right.
Derek entered the room. His golden hair was slicked down and he wore a pair of faded jeans, low on his hips. His chest was bare. She could almost feel the heat the emanated from him. Aside from the red spot on his jaw, he was the most strikingly handsome man she had ever seen.
“Glad to see you’re awake,” he said. His voice was warm and friendly and held just a touch of concern. “Cream or sugar?”
She then saw two steaming mugs on the table. She nodded and then shook her head.
“I like it that way, too.” He held out a mug, offering it to her. When she hesitated he said, “Come on. You need something to warm your insides.” She tentatively took the cup and took and slow sip. “Better?”
She nodded. The woman must not talk much.
“So…” He sat back down in the armchair. She watched him intently as he half smiled at her silence and took a sip from his own mug.
“Why are you here? What do you want?” The woman spoke.
“You don’t remember last night?”
“I’m still a little fuzzy. I know there was a storm, but that’s not uncommon around here. Poseidon likes to unleash his wrath on Maui every summer.”
“You don’t remember me, do you?” He pointed to the jellyfish sting on his side.
“The jellyfish. It seems to be healing nicely, “ she observed.
“So I guess you can say we sort of know each other.”
“Are you ever going to tell me your name or do I have to call you Jellyfish Lady?”
“Sorry. Cynthia Kocot, but everyone around here calls me Cindy. You’re not from around here, are you?”
“Not originally. I’m from Iowa.“
“Oh, land lover.”
Derek saw her relax a little. The yellow blanket fell from her limp shoulders. Her hand still clutched her locket.
“What’s that you’re holding?”
“My locket. It was my mother’s. There’s picture of her inside.” She opened it for Derek to see.
“She’s beautiful. You look like her.”
“What happened to her?”
“She, uh, drowned when I was eight. Dad said she went to live with the mermaids. I know that’s only a story, but sometimes it helps comfort me when I am missing her. You probably think that’s silly.”
“No. It’s nice to have something to believe in. You must hate the water. I mean, since it took your mother.”
“On the contrary. I love the water. It’s the only time I really feel alive. Sometimes, I wish I could breathe under water so I would never have to come up. Being in the water makes me feel closer to her somehow.”
“You aren’t exactly catching me at my best. I have a hunch that we’d both be a lot happier discussing this over lunch. My treat. What do you say?”
Cindy’s stomach rumbled from lack of food. All she left in the kitchen was a half eaten jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, two eggs and a little carton of milk. She pondered for a minute.
“You like Italian?”
Harpoon Louie’s was a little diner over looking the ocean. You could take a nice, little stroll down the beach after dinner. Each table had a red and white-checkered tablecloth and a gaudy ceramic pot with a drippy candle stuck in the middle. The chairs were made out of imitation bamboo.
“Do you trust me?” Cindy asked Derek.
“Large mushroom, pepperoni, with extra onions and a coke, please.”
“Great choice,” the waiter said. “And you, sir?”
“Make that two of them. So, how does a nice girl like you get to be a marine biologist?” Derek asked after the waiter went to place their orders.
“Just lucky I guess,” Cindy replied. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
“You can tell you really love these dolphins.” Derek had never heard anyone speak so passionately about something as Cindy did when she talked about the dolphins.
“Only with my whole heart and soul. It’s funny, this cove used to be full of dolphins. They were as tame as they could be and still be considered wild. They would come in and play with all the local kids. After school, we would all get into our bathing suits and it was playtime. They would push us around and give us rides. Then one day a guy came and shot one of the dolphins. We don’t know why. The other one never came back. Damn.”
Derek saw tears brimming in her eyes.
“I don’t know how anyone could kill such a beautiful creature,” he said.
“Me neither.” She wiped the back of her hand across her face. “I’ve always had a dream of being able to communicate with dolphins in their own language. It’s said some dolphins can actually understand English, but I have never seen one.”
“You’re upset about loosing the dolphins, aren’t you?”
“You’re very perceptive.”
“How will that be done exactly?”
“We will turn them out into the ocean and then close the tank doors.”
“And that‘s the last you‘ll see of them?”
“See, yes. But we‘ll tag them with radio transmitters on a special frequency so we can keep tabs on them.”
Then the waiter came with their orders.
“Here you are, sir.” He sat a pizza in front of Derek. Then he turned to Cindy. “Artemis.”
Cindy gave him a death stare. “Thank you, Tony.” Then she stole a quick glance at Derek. “I know you are dying to ask why he called me Artemis. So go ahead.”
“I was wondering, but I wasn’t going to ask after seeing your reaction. You must not like being called that.”
“It’s my nickname around here. Cynthia is just another name for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon.”
“Why am I not surprised? You must be really in to Greek mythology with a dolphin named Apollo and everything.”
“I am Greek. Well, half Greek. My father’s parents were from Greece. We all grew up listening to Papouli tell us myths from the homeland. It’s part of our history and culture. Papouli wanted us to be proud of where we came from.”
“Next, you are going to tell me you have a brother named Zeus and sister named Hera.”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“I didn’t mean it like that. It just seemed like the next logical thing to say.”
“I do have a sister, but her name is Penny.”
“Not exactly a Greek goddess.”
“Actually, Penelope was the clever and loyal wife of Odysseus.” Cindy smiled. “Penny never really cared for the ocean and even less after Mother died. She lives in Arizona.”
“There’s not much water out there.”
“Haven’t seen her in five years.”
“Don’t you two get along?”
“Oh, we got along all right. We just lived in two different worlds.”
Just then she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. It was Rick. On sudden impulse, Cindy leaned forward and gave Derek a quick peck on the lips.
“What was that for? Not that it wasn’t appreciated.”
Cindy shifted her eyes in Rick’s direction.
“Lover’s spat?” Derek whispered in her ear.
“I would hardly call it that,” Cindy replied. “Since we aren’t together. He wants to be, but I don’t. You should hear the way he talks about the dolphins. He doesn’t care one bit about what happens to them.”
“He must be pretty brave.”
“What do you mean?”
“Anyone should know better than to double cross you when it comes to the dolphins.”
Derek leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. She knew it was for Rick’s benefit more than for hers. But she could still feel the soft caress of his lips for the rest of the day.
As soon as Cindy arrived at the Aquarium, she knew something wasn’t right. She just had a feeling, like her stomach was trying to digest itself. When she walked outside to the dolphin tank, her suspicion was confirmed. Her eyes got as round as fifty cent pieces and her mouth dropped open. The tank was empty and being drained. She felt like someone had punched her in the stomach right below her ribs. They might as well have ripped her heart out. She turned around and ran smack dab into Rick.
“They left last night. We didn’t want a whole bunch of people around. It wouldn’t have been good for them. Besides, we thought it would be easier on you this way.”
“You let them go without even letting me say good-bye to them?!”
“You son of a fish!” She slapped his face.
When she came into the Beach Club like a whirlwind, Derek could tell immediately that something was wrong. Knowing someone had hurt her, made him want to find that person and knock his teeth in.
“They’re gone. They were taken last night. I wasn’t told. They knew how I felt about the dolphins. How could they do this to me? I had something with those dolphins that some people never have in their entire life. I will never have that again. I understood them on a deeper level; in a way no one else did. It wasn’t bad enough they had to cut the dolphin program, but they had to take away the dolphins, too. Who was there with Silky the whole time she was in labor? Me. Who taught Flip to do her first jump? Me. And who nursed Apollo through his rough patches?”
“You?” Derek guessed.
“Damn right. It was me. We weren’t letting them go just because they were originally free.”
“I guess I can tell you. It’s just that no one except the trainers know. Flip’s pregnant.” Then her face got really sad.
“What is it?” Derek asked softly.
“It’s just that I won’t be able to see this baby grow up”. The way Cindy talked about the baby, it was as if she was talking about her own child.
Derek was in the dive shop returning some snorkel gear when Cindy walked past him. He hadn’t seen her since the day she learned the dolphins had been set free.
“Hey, Cindy?” he called.
“Oh, hi, Derek.” She didn’t seem like her usually passionate self. He walked over to where she was standing.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“I wish I could say I was.”
“What’s wrong? Did something happen with the dolphins?”
“No, nothing like that. You probably know that it’s almost time for the Water’s Edge Surfing Competition.”
Derek nodded. He had seen signs posted all over the resort. It seemed like a pretty big deal almost like a mini Olympics.
“In order to compete each team has to have at least four people and as of now we only have three. And we had a real good chance of winning this year. We haven’t won against Copperton in ten years. My team has trained so hard for this and now we might have to forfeit. Why did Tom have to break his leg?”
“Who?” Derek asked.
“Tom. He also works at the aquarium,” Cindy replied.
“Isn’t there anyway to find another person?”
“Since there are only three days left it’s going to be like finding a needle in a hay stack.”
“You might not have to look that far.”
“What do you mean?”
“I could do it.”
“Have you ever surfed before?”
“Isn’t there some law in California that says you can’t live there unless you can paddle a surfboard? I can hold my own.”
“Then what is it you want? Sex?”
She had totally caught him off guard.
“No, no. Of course not.” But even as Derek said the words the vision of her lying naked beneath him flashed through his mind.
“Most people want something in return.”
“Not me. I am just trying to be nice.”
“Puppies are nice. Kittens are nice. I don’t even know you. Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Sucker for hard luck cases.”
Since there were only three days left, Derek figured the more time he spent practicing the better. And it wasn’t like he was starting from scratch. He knew the basics. Cindy had promised to teach him everything she knew.
Lie on your board belly down, in the shallow water with your feet slightly hanging over the back edge of your surfboard. Begin to shuttle your way into the deeper water by using your arms to paddle. Conquer the smaller waves in this position only reposition your hands to hold the sides of the board and elevate your body a bit for balance. Ready yourself for the perfect, big wave. Turn the nose of your board towards the beach. Paddle towards the shoreline when your wave begins to approach. Wait to feel the wave underneath you, when it is stand up on your board. Balance yourself and ride the wave.
The day of the competition, Derek was a bundle of nerves. He met with the other members of the surfing team at 10:00am. Each person would have a solo ride. The competition was supposed to begin at noon and there was a warm up scheduled for 11:15am. At least that gave Derek a little more time to practice. He had a pretty decent warm up and that helped get him psyched up. Now the anticipation was killing him
“Doing all right?” Cindy came up behind him.
“Fine except for the fact that I feel like I am going to throw up.”
“And you’re bringing this up now?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine once I get out there. The worst it’s ever been was three years ago when I had the flu. I went out and rode the best wave of my life.”
“She must be impressed with you to let you join the team,” one of other team members said to Derek after Cindy had walked away.
“What do you mean?”
“She must have seen some raw talent in you. She doesn’t say something like that to just anybody. She must think pretty highly of your surfing.”
The first three members of the surf team competed. Derek kept stretching trying to keep his leg muscles warm. When he saw how much fun everyone else was having his nervousness changed to excitement. Finally it was his turn. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced. And it wasn’t like he had never surfed before. He knew what he was doing. The thrill of it was intoxicating. The best feeling in surfing is when you are going across the curl. It is called getting barreled when the wave comes over you, you look to your right and left and there is only water .The only way out is to go straight out. If you are out where there are good waves than there will be left and rights. And suddenly it was all over. It was almost like a dream.
When it was announced Cindy’s team had won the competition, Derek didn’t see Cindy anywhere. He had expected her to come running.
“Where’s Cindy?” Derek asked Rick.
“I don’t see her.”
“Where could she be?”
“I might have a theory. Ever since she found out we let the dolphins go, she hasn’t acted like herself.”
“The dock,” Derek said.
He and Rick raced down the beach to the dock when the boats were harbored. Neptune’s Bride was missing.
“She’s gone out to find the dolphins. I never did understand what she sees in them,” Rick said.
“You wouldn’t,” Derek replied under his breath. “Come on, we have to go find her.”
“My boat’s just docked over there.”
They boarded Rick’s boat called The Merganser.
“I just hope she hasn’t run into Scar,” Rick commented as he started up the boat.
“Scar. The hammerhead, who stalks these waters. Legend has it that he took out a whole boat full of tourists. They say he has a taste for out of towners.” Rick wasn’t helping. “You mean she didn’t tell you about him?”
“Must have slipped her mind,” Derek muttered. “What’s Storm and Silky’s transmitter?”
“Sorry. That’s classified.”
“Give me the number! If we are going to have any hope of finding Cindy, we are going to have to find those dolphins. Give me the goddamn frequency.” Derek took hold of Rick by the collar.
“The frequency is 401 megahertz.”
Neptune’s Bride bobbed gracefully upon the waves. Cindy sat on the sun deck putting on flippers, a mask and snorkel. She had planned this. With all the excitement she hoped no one would even notice she was gone. She gazed out over the water watching for signs of dolphin activity. She lowered her into the water. The day was overcast so the water was cloudy and she wasn’t able to see clearly. She saw movement off to her left and turned and started swimming toward it. She kept her arms straight down at her side just like the dolphins do with their flippers. She saw the silhouette of a body and her heart began to beat faster. Only when she got closer, was she able to see the head was wide and flat and resembled a hammer.
Cindy stopped. Any further movement would invite the shark to come and investigate to see if there was any possibility of food. She looked up trying to judge the distance to the surface and back to her boat. She was a fast swimmer and decided that was her only choice. Using her flipper she pushed as hard as she could off the ocean floor. The shark saw the distressed movement and started toward her. Cindy glanced behind her. The shark was gaining on her. She swam faster.
All of the sudden off to her left came a sleek graceful body. Storm swam past her knocking out her out of the way with his tail and rammed into the hammerhead’s gills. Silky came at Scar from the other side. Cindy watched in amazement as they continued to take turns hitting Scar with their hard noses. When Scar finally decided he was no match for the two dolphins, he turned and swam away, nursing his sore gills. Storm and Silky returned to Cindy. They swam up under her arms, as of telling her to take hold of their dorsal fins and they towed her to the surface.
“Can’t you go any faster?” asked Derek.
“I’m going as fast as I can.” The front panel light’s flashed, blinked and bleeped excitedly. “That’s it. Affirmative. Contact with the dolphins. I have a signal closing in on their position.”
“Is it biologic?”
Rick and Derek looked at each and immediately said, “Scar.”
Derek then saw Neptune’s Bride bobbing not more than ten feet away.
“Stop here,” he ordered Rick. “I am going to investigate.”
Derek dove into the water and swam expertly over to Cindy’s boat and climbed aboard. He called her name. No answer. He went down below and saw a mask, snorkel and a pair of flippers were missing. He grabbed another pair and went back up on the deck.
“What’s going on?” Rick called.
“She’s already in the water,” Derek answered back. “I’m going down to look for her.”
Before Derek had a chance to get in the ocean three objects appear. Two sleek, silver heads on each side and a dark haired head in the middle. Storm and Silky brought Cindy to the edge and Derek helped her back up on to the boat.
“What the hell were you thinking?”
“It was just something I had to do.”
“Do you know how dangerous this was?”
“Not anymore dangerous than getting stung by a box jellyfish.”
“Oh, I would call a shark encounter a lot more dangerous.”
“Oh, Rick told you about Scar.”
“If it hadn’t been for these guys, I would have become shark meat for sure.”
Derek looked over the side. Storm and Silky chattered. Cindy threw them each a raw fish and then with a wave of her hand they were gone.
“You know, it makes me crazy when you do stupid stuff like this,” Derek said taking her in his arms.
Cindy had drawn him into her world with open arms, sharing everything that was important to her and expecting nothing in return. Derek’s hand tightened around the mast as he remembered how they had spent last night together underneath the stars, wrapped around each other, driven by reckless hunger and desire.