Well, I have been working hard lately doing revising and edits on my book…
Here are the first two chapters! Let me know what you think.
I stared in the oval mirror across the black and white themed room. I hated what I saw. And how could I not? I am a ghost of my former self. If I was beautiful once, I took it for granted. My thick raven hair used to sway freely beside my hips but now it hung limply below my ears. I touched my face. The scar felt like it had a life of its own, thick and merciless. Seeing it always brings back memories. Memories of losing my mom and the realization that nothing since last summer was, as it seemed. This time is no different. My finger traces over the scar and my mind wanders back over the past year of my life.
I guess in a way I am on my own now.
I turned eighteen in October and I started looking for a place of my own and considering I am from a small town the options were slim, fortunately, Max, a local ex-farmer, who was as old as they come had a place I could rent. I was staying with my old boss, Tessa, from the diner I worked for, at that time. She said I could live with her until I graduated in June, but there was no way I was staying in her house any longer than I had to. Not that it was bad or anything but her twenty-something daughter was newly married and had a two-year-old son. I felt like a live-in nanny but without the extra pay.
I moved into Tessa’s house for a couple of months after my mom died last July. I was only seventeen and the state said that because I had no other living relatives I would have to finish my senior year in foster care. Luckily for me Tessa talked to some people and got whatever she needed to get approved as long as I stayed in her spare bedroom until my eighteenth birthday.
Back home, I worked at a tiny, fifties style diner, home of 151 hamburgers, true story. The town was so small that if you blinked you would miss it, where you have to leave an hour early for work because cows block the roads when the cowboys herd the cattle to different pastures. Hall had a whopping population of three hundred and fifty-eight and most of that population consisted of ranch hands. I technically worked in Drummond, because Hall was sandwiched between two ‘bigger’ towns.
Hall had a church, a k-12 school, a gas station, and a cop always on the prowl to speed trap the people who didn’t slow down to 25 from 75 for the two minutes they passed through town.
On the other side of Hall was Phillipsburg, commonly called P-burg, and that was the home of a sapphire gallery and a very famous candy shop, needless to say the towns surrounding P-burg survived based on the tourists that came through. I would be filthy rich if I had been given a dollar every time a customer at the dinner showed me a sapphire they ‘mined’. The truth, however, was that the sapphires had been mined long ago and were rehidden is various sandboxes placed in the back of the shop. City folks were clueless.
When I moved into my own place the town was small enough that everyone took care of me in there own ways. Gary owned a huge ranch and always offered me fresh milk and beef, Suzie gave me discounts at the general store, and Max let me rent out is barn-converted-guest-house for dirt-cheap. I think that everyone in Hall and the towns that surrounded felt bad for me after what happened so they tried to free themselves from their guilt and worry by helping me. I only had one year of high school left and I counted down every day until I graduated because that meant freedom.
It made no sense to me to drop out of high school and leave. Graduating meant better options in the future; nobody hired a high school drop out. Nobody. I considered getting a G.E.D but knew waiting and working for a year would make it easier to leave once I graduated.
But now, here I am on an island thousands of miles away from my comfortable little town. I was standing in the foyer of a large renaissance style castle that was bigger then Drummond, Hall, and P-Burg combined. I felt so venerable and alone.
I turned, startled and embarrassed. To my left was a bald man who looked as if he was in his late sixties. Classic. He looked like every butler stereotype written in the history of man. Okay, I may be exaggerating but his white-gloved hand was holding a silver tray while the other hand was bent behind his back. He stood tall with his nose in the air making his black and white penguin-style suit extremely pronounced. If it weren’t for his dark skin he would have blended in with the drab undecorated room.
I stifled my chuckle. Hicksville was slowly becoming my past life.
“Thanks,” I said, taking a seat on the flat modern looking white couch. He placed the tray on top on the long rectangular black coffee table in front of me. I reached out to take off the lid, but his gloved hand beat me to punch. I smiled at the food. In front of me was a generous portion of biscuits and gravy with a tall glass of grapefruit juice. My favorite. The butler left the room just as I shoved the first bite into my mouth. I was about to inhale another bite when I heard the sound of glass breaking. I looked up to see three girls in a doorway that led to a classy looking room with a huge grand piano in it.
All three of their mouths hung open and their unblinking eyes were fixated on me. On the floor beside the girl in the middle were the remains of a glass that, by the looks of it, contained orange juice. I looked down at my food and tried to avoid there staring.
The middle girl walked right toward the couch and stopped once she was directly above me. The moment I looked up at her I wished I hadn’t. Her bug-like eyes were squinting down at me and her lush pencil-thin lips had the nastiest of smirks. She started to laugh, reached over and grabbed my grapefruit juice, and then slowly began to pour the liquid all over my face. The worst part was that I didn’t do anything about it; I just stared up at her and let her pour the sticky juice all over me. I briefly wondered if she was going to stain the white couch but then decided a stained couch was the least of my worries. Somewhere in the background I heard the other girls giggling.
Once the glass was empty she calmly placed the cup back on the tray and sneered, “It was nice to meet you. Really! But next time I wouldn’t leave your room.” Her sandals made a flapping noise again the black tiled floor as she and her posy tittered themselves right out of the room.
Seriously? What was that? I grabbed the white cloth napkin that was placed on the tray for me and begin to wipe off my sticky face.
“I see you met Amber.” Sang a male voice. I was hesitant to remove the napkin from my face because I didn’t want a another unpleasant encounter at my new “summer home for the ‘gifted’.” Whatever that meant. So I stood up and turned my back from where the noise had come from.
“Yeah I guess so. Does she treat everybody like that?” I asked.
“You could say that. She isn’t what I would call pleasant. Amber doesn’t let anyone push her around. She likes to mark her territory, so to speak,” The soft yet deep male voice answered.
“Lucky me.” Sarcasm has always been a friend of mine.
“What did you say to cause such a welcome greeting?” He asked. I heard him grab my fork and then through a mouth full of food say, “Sausage gravy is the best! I hope you don’t mind, you looked like you were done eating and they don’t believe in snacks around here.”
I did mind. I was so hungry I felt like I could have eaten a farm but I didn’t want to turn around and make this boy decide to throw the rest of my food in my face the moment he saw the scar. I started to walk out the room when he practically sprang towards me.
“Lincoln.” He said matter-of-factly. I could see his tanned muscled hand extended in my peripheral vision.
“Rose.” I said and walked away. Walked out of the den, into the marbled foyer, up the long spiral stair case, into my dorm room, turned on the hot water, sat down on the bottom of the claw foot bathtub, and let the shower water drown out my sobs.
I was usually stronger then this. I could usually handle anything, but this? This was out of my grasp and out of my measure of understanding.
I began to rock back and forth holding my knees tight. The red summer dress I was wearing was now plastered to my pale skin. I had no idea how I was going to face the day, much less this summer. I turned the dial further on the hot water so I could feel the red hot burn on my skin as I stood back up. I sighed with heavy relief as I pealed off my dress and let it fall lifeless to the bottom of the tub. Looking at the red cloth puddle I could hear my mother’s voice saying how clothes weren’t meant for water and that is why I have a swimming suit. I smiled at her memory and rubbed my hands over my face. She was always a stickler on the proper ways to wear clothes. I remember falling asleep in my jeans once and waking up to them folded on my dresser with a note saying “I bought you PJ bottoms for a reason, dear.” Oh how I missed her.
Once the steam filled up my bathroom I walked out of the shower. I grabbed the lush blue robe that hung limp off of a bronze hook in the wall and let it swallow me whole. I grabbed my iPhone off the marbled green bathroom countertop and paired the Bluetooth with my dorm’s fancy built-into-the-wall speakers and let The Duprees steal away the silence. Somehow music from the sixties has always calmed me.
The room I was now living in was large enough to fit ten California king beds. The floor was a creamy marble with huge swanky red area rugs and the furniture was all made of a dark cherry wood. When you entered through the giant round red door you immediately caught a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean through the massive bay windows that overtook ninety percent of the back wall. I starred at the ocean now and let myself feel the heartache. I grabbed at the locket around my neck. It was a classic golden oval with my mother’s picture quietly tucked inside. Needing to feel the ocean breeze I opened the window and swayed back to my bed singing along with the music. The transparent netting that was placed on the large canopy bed seemed to want to romance the ocean by the way the wind kept pulling the cloth towards the window. I lay down on my side counting the waves as they came and crash-landed on the sand. I kept one hand on the locket, sliding the gold oval up and down the small fragile chain.
I could feel the need to open my eyes and break free but I couldn’t. I was trapped inside myself as unfamiliar memories plagued my dreamful mind. I was screaming at the top of my lungs begging him to stop. I kept jumping towards them but the chains around my wrists only grew tighter and the tighter they got the more I felt the blood from chains cutting into my wrists leak down my arms. My mom told me to close my eyes and not watch the horror that was going on in front of me, but I couldn’t tare my eyes away. While I screamed for him to stop my mother screamed in protest and tried squirm herself free.
Abruptly my view changes from watching my mother to being locked in my room with unforgiving gray smoke feeling my lungs. I tried to escape, but the window wouldn’t budge. I lay down on the floor in an attempt to stay calm and cover my mouth and nose with my shirt. I turned to my side and I see my blood making a puddle before my eyes and I hear my mother’s sweet angelic hum and the snapping of scissors. Piles of my long black hair join the puddle of blood. I started to scream not understanding why my mother was doing this and struggling to understand what was happening.
“Wake up, baby girl, wake up.” From somewhere in the distance I hear a soft feminine voice. My body starting to shake and there is a sudden coolness on my face. “Come on, wake up, sweetie, wake up.”
A scream comes from my lips and my eyes open wide to a blinding yellow hue cast from the antique chandelier lighting up my room. I take a moment for my eyes to adjust but once they do I process the scene around me. The large grandfather clock to my left says 7:26 and based on the darkening sky outside my window I figured the clock means pm. I am sitting up in my bed with my robe loosely covering my body, my hands clutching a thick gold colored comforter, and I am covered in sweat. Before me is Mel, the women who brought me here. Her red curls hang limply just below her shoulders, her body is short and semi-plump, she has pale skin covered in freckles, her thin baby pink lips are frowning, and her rich hazel eyes stare at me with concern. She reaches up and wipes my face with a cool rag and then engulfs me in her arms. I rest my head on her shoulder and take deep breathes trying hard to calm my raging heart.
“What are you doing in here?” I ask, barely audible, as I release myself from her embrace. If she hadn’t caught me at such a vulnerable moment I know that I wouldn’t have let her hug me.
“Some students informed me that there were screams coming from the east wing so I came to investigate.” She replies softly.
“How did you get in?” Knowing full well that I locked the door.
She laughed and held up a master key and asked, “Want to tell me what that was about?”
“No.” I say flatly.
She lets out a soft sigh, “Was it about your mom?”
I just looked at her and shrugged unwilling to say the words aloud. Her eyes looked sad as she stared at me. After what seemed like forever she stood up and walked towards my door.
“You missed all of your meals today. I’ll send something up, any preferences?”
“No, whatever is fine.”
Mel walked back towards me and kissed the top of my head. “Your first training session is tomorrow at noon. Here is your schedule.” She said handing me a piece of paper.
She walked out of the room without saying another word. I looked towards the door nerved by her loving nature. I haven’t met Mel more than a couple of times and each time she acted as if she had known me my whole life. Normally I would shrug her off but something about her makes me want to be taken care of.
I met Mel a couple of days ago at my high school graduation. If you could call it a graduation, my class of six gathered together in the school gym while the teachers who taught us since kindergarten said a few words. The whole ceremony took about thirty-five minutes. When the ceremony ended and I said goodbye to a few of my teachers but I didn’t take too long because I was ready to head straight back to my Honda and drive away never looking back. I packed up my few belongings that morning and left Max a note that I shoved between his screen door and the slider door on his back porch. I had just thrown my diploma on the passenger seat when I heard someone say my name
I turned around to a beautiful middle-aged woman with the kindest face I have ever seen. “Yes?” I answered, the confusion in my voice clearly audible
She reaches out her delicate over-ringed hand, “Mel Holbrooke.” She smiles as I shake her hand. A moment passes without saying anything. I wasn’t sure what to do or say so I looked around and counted the people as they passed. Fifteen total, practically my whole town. “I talked to a few of your teachers and they told me you’re beyond exceptional.” She finally says
“Ok.” I answer taking off my graduation robe and throwing it along with my cap and purse into the passenger seat. I shut the door and walked around to the driver’s side ready for the uncomfortable greeting to end.
I was just about to dismiss myself when Mel continued, “I am sorry about your mother. I know what happened.”
“How do you know about my mother?” I had been living on my own since October but nobody but the police knew what happened. Aside from what I had told the police I kept the details to myself. Of course being in a small town there was gossip, rumors, and assumptions, but nobody knew.
“Did your mother ever tell you about her past or were she came from?”
“No. How do you know about my mother?” I repeated pulling down my short red dress I bought for graduation, not that anyone cared what I was wearing, but I knew that my mother would have wanted me to dress up for the occasion.
“She never once told you who you are?” Mel asked. She looked sad at my short replies but she wasn’t giving me anything either. Who is this woman?
“I know who I am. What I don’t know is who you are.”
She smiled. “I am sorry I haven’t explained. I am, just, so delighted to finally meet you. I knew your mother very well. Graceland was an extraordinary woman. I am here to take you to the place you belong. I am so sorry I didn’t find you sooner. After Graceland made her choice and left Holbrooke Island, she made it impossible to find you. You see, she left shortly after she found out she was pregnant with you. I have cried for eighteen years! Wanting so badly to know you. Hiding you in Hall was clever. We checked all the major cities and their suburbs but never thought of coming to a one horse town in the middle of Montana.” Mel, let out a light laugh.
“Umm…right, like you said I am eighteen so I can go where I please. I don’t know you and if my mother left you and never looked back, why on earth would I go with you anywhere. And…Holbrooke Island? I have never heard of it and that is probably because you made it up considering Holbrooke is your last name. And, honestly, who has an island named after them? I mean no disrespect but you come out of nowhere and I don’t know you from Adam and there are so many holes in your story that I couldn’t possibly believe a word your saying. So…if you’ll excuse me.” I got into the drivers seat and closed the door. I just buckled my seatbelt and started my engine when Mel started pounding my window. Now what? What did this lady want from me? I debated just driving away but some force inside me chose to roll down my window and give her the time of day.
“Thank you. Before you make up your mind I want you to see this.” She handed me an old photograph and I couldn’t hold my gasp. In my hands I held the only photograph I have ever seen of my family. It is the first time I have ever seen what my father must have looked like. He was standing in a vast blue ocean, jeans rolled up to his calves, and a black t-shirt that barely held in his muscled frame. His arms were covered in tattoos and his left ear supported a tiny diamond stud. He was holding a chubby baby wearing a fluffy pink dress, with huge green eyes and tiny bits of black hair. He has the same black hair and green eyes and was kissing the baby’s cheek. My mother stood laughing beside him. Her blonde hair caught in the wind her violet eyes gleaming with joy. She had her hand on her stomach hiding the tiniest of baby bumps.
“Is that my father?” I asked.
“Is my mother pregnant with me?”
“Is my father still alive and who is that baby?” So many questions fogged my mind. Did I have a sister? I had my mothers violet eyes but other then that the baby my father was holding could have been me.
“No, he isn’t and neither is your sister. There was an accident and that is why your mother left.”
“There has to be more to the story then that.” I said, swallowing back the tears. For a brief moment I had hope. For one spilt second I had a family, a father and a sister, but just as quickly they were taken away again. My mother never once mentioned her past or who my father was. I used to beg her for answers but after one tries and fails so many times you eventually give up and come to terms that some things you will never know. And here I was, talking to this strange woman, who came out of nowhere, and I was talking about some of the biggest holes that my soul bared.
“There is, but know is not the time or the place.” The expression in her eyes told me to trust her now and the details would come later.
“Where are they?” I asked referring to the photograph.
“Holbrooke Island,” Mel said clearly relieved that she was getting somewhere with me. “Your parents met at the Holbrooke Academy for the gifted and that is where I would like to take you. I promise I will answer all of your questions if you come with me.”
“In case you didn’t notice but I literally just graduated and college is not for me. Besides I never had a learning disorder or anything so clearly,” I made air quotes with my fingers, “ ‘a School for the Gifted’ isn’t for me.”
“This isn’t an ordinary school.” Mel said.
I looked at the photo in my hands.
“Trust me I will answer all of your questions.” Mel pleaded.
My family, my mothers past was always a mystery to me. I have always wanted answers… and my father is an even bigger mystery. And this woman was offering me the keys to the kingdom.
“Come on, what do you have to loose?” Mel asks.
Nothing. I had nothing to loose. Absolutely nothing.
The knock at the door brought me back to reality. I tighten the robe around myself and answer the door to the same butler who brought me my breakfast. The moment the door was fully opened he wheeled a silver food cart right past me and into the ‘dining’ area of my dorm. The dining area had a small fridge attached to a basic kitchenette, and a small square bistro table. He began to unload the food on the table, some sort of soup, cut up fruit, and breadsticks. He grabbed a goblet from the bottom of his cart and placed it on the table and then filled it with ice water from a silver pitcher.
Seriously? Was this how my mother was raised? We ate out of pizza boxes and paper plates at home all while wearing our favorite pair of sweats. Maybe she left because the glitz of the privileged was too much.
“Thank you.” I said, mostly because the silence was killing me.
“Of course Miss, do you need anything else? A warm rag perhaps.” His deep melancholy voice sang. He stood tall in his penguin suit holding his white-gloved hands behind his back.
“No, I’m good.” Why, in heaven’s name, would I need a warm rag? The humidity here was absolutely insane.
He grabbed his cart and began to wheel it out of the room. “Wait! What’s your name?”
He stopped abruptly and gave me a shy smile, his gray eyes sparked, “You can call me Mr. Jefferies, Miss.” He gave a quick hand-on-stomach bow and walked out closing the door tightly behind him. I let out a small laugh, mimicked his bow, and walked over to the food. There was a note on the tray for me to leave the mess for the maids to get in the morning. Maids? Butlers? Where am I and what was I doing here?
I ate quickly and cleaned up most of the mess. I stacked the dishes together and wiped up the table. Maid or no maid I wasn’t some slob who let other people clean up my messes. I threw on my favorite pair of black yoga pants; a gray long sleeved t-shirt and slid out the tilt turn window on the far left of my dorm. The window opened to a small three-foot wide veranda that overlooked the Atlantic. I noticed that the veranda had a small and extremely narrow staircase that led to the beach below. Once I descended the stairs I immediately felt the damp cool sand beneath my toes. The sky was black and the moon was a rich plump lantern reflecting off of the oceans top magnetic layer.
Mother took me to see the Oregon cost once when I was little but she wouldn’t let me get within twenty feet of the shoreline so this was closest I have ever been to the ocean. She used to tell me that the ocean was a powerful, hypnotic force that made you believe everything was possible but the tantric waves had a way of breaking your heart to the point of no recovery.
Mother never explained why she felt that way and I never bothered to ask but standing here now, feeling the oceans energy, I wanted to know more then anything what she meant.
After our little chat at graduation, Mel had given me driving directions to an abandoned field in Washington, where I was to drop off my car so I could be escorted to the airport. Hall is too small for airports and the next “big” city had no immediate flights out.
The flight had taken me to Puerto Rico and from there I had hopped on a private five-seat plane that flew me over the Atlantic and the U.S Virgin Islands. I guess Holbrooke was somewhere between St. Croix and St. Thomas, who really knows. All I know is that the seventeen-hour flight was killer, especially in a graduation dress.
Hall had rivers and a few times I went swimming in lakes but for the most part I hadn’t ever really been around water so to feel the icy, white sea foam tickle my toes was enchanting. I inhaled a big gulp of sea air and for the first time since I arrived I felt like I was at home.
I wanted more, needed more, so I walked into the ocean further until my waist was below sea level. Large waves kept splashing my face and dampening my hair. I could feel the oily sea floor in the base of my feet.
The sound, the smell, was as addicting as thick snow is to a skier. I felt animated, peaceful, and wide-awake. I started to run as fast as I could against the current while bringing my hands to a point in front of me so I could I dive into the water headfirst.
I wasn’t sure what I was doing considering I haven’t ever really been swimming but I was moving my arms and legs in a soft rhythmic motion as if I had been swimming my whole life. The power of the water overwhelmed me as I dove deeper and deeper, forgetting sometimes to come up for air.
My mind was lost in some kind of trance when I felt something large and incredibly rough scrape my stomach. I reached down with my hands and it felt like petting sandpaper. I swim to the surface as fast as possible. The fear in my veins threatens to turn into lead. Leaving me here to drown.
Finally at the surface I gasp and in the black of night I can’t see anything but the faint glow of light that the stars are offering. I am miles from the shore and I am slowly drifting further out, completely alone with the beast below me. How did I get so far away from the shore?
Completely panicked I frantically start kicking my legs just to stay afloat with the massive waves hostilely taking me under. I inhaled, as much of the air as I could but with only getting to the surface every few seconds the air I was able to suck in wasn’t enough to sustain me. My arms are waving around without purpose and the sandpaper skin is now grazing my feet. As if to confirm my greatest fear, a fin reveals itself slightly above surface and only inches from my face. I couldn’t hold back my scream and a substantial amount of salt water causes me to choke and my body is thrust underwater by vast amounts of waves. One by one I could feel my limbs giving in to the struggle and my body begins to play hide and go seek with the ocean.
I was hiding and the ocean was counting. I began to relax under the false sleepiness that was taking over my being. For a brief moment I saw my life as I have never seen it before, a black and white rerun. I held on to my memories by giving into the lethargy and relaxing into my mind.
My mind drifted to when I was six and mother took me to Rattlesnake Park, a couple of hours away from where we lived, and pushed me on the rusty old swing-set. Winter was coming and dead leaves were flying all around and the clouds were starting to part forcing the sun to greet me. If I only relaxed a little more I could almost hear the giggling echo.
“Grab my hand!” I heard a strong male voice yell but it was too late I was already fading. Somewhere in the distance I heard a splash and within seconds I felt arms around my stomach. I tried to fight the sleep that was slowly taking over my body but it was getting impossible even when I felt cool un-wet air hit my skin. I felt something hard against my back and then a leave-a-red-mark on your face kind of slap. I opened my eyes halfway before I had to close them again. I felt another mind numbing slap.
“Wake up! Come on wake up! I need you to wake up!” The voice yelled again. I opened my eyes and coughed repeatedly. Water came gushing out of my mouth and my lungs burned. “Can you hear me? Rose? Can you me?” I nodded in reply and through my blurry vision I saw a deeply rich smile form on the thickest red lips I have ever seen. “Good! Now I need you to turn around and climb the ladder. Don’t worry I won’t let you fall but I need you to help me by supporting yourself, okay? Can you do that for me Rose?” I nodded again and slowly turned around and saw the metal ladder that I had been leaning against. I started to climb but my body felt so weak.
I felt a hand go under my bum giving me a much-needed push. One step, two step, three step, four step, how many steps where there? I blinked a few times and felt a soft white cushion in front of me. I pulled myself up and with a push from the man below I collapsed onto the white cushion before me and started coughing again. I registered that I was lying on the back of a medium sized motorboat. I closed my eyes again and focused on breathing. I could feel my body shaking from the cold.
“Take off your clothes.” I immediately opened my eyes. What? A man over six foot tall stood half naked before me. He was obviously built to perfection, had shoulder length dark brown hair that curled slightly. His midnight blue eyes were round and looked perfect with his muscled jaw line and high cheekbones. I started to shake even more. He turned around, “Take your clothes off, I wont look. But if you keep them on you’ll freeze.”
I understood now, hypothermia 101. I struggled to sit up and take off my heavy clothes. I kept my underwear on but everything else was clumped on the floor, hiding my bra at the bottom on the pile. “Umm, I’m naked now.” I said hoarse and awkward. I heard a slight laugh come from his lips as he tossed me a t-shirt with surprisingly good aim considering his back was towards me. I held the white shirt up in the boat’s faint light and it read Carnival 89’ with an image of a cat walking on a tight rope. Smiling I pulled the shirt over my head letting it hang clumsily at my knees.
“I would give you pants too but that’s all I have.” He said turning around and wrapping a blanket around me. “Are you okay?” He grabbed my shoulders and looked me square in the eye.
“Yes, aside from being groped, I’m as happy as I would be if I were eating a fudge brownie.” I said and coughed.
He laughed again, “Groped?”
“Don’t deny it, you know you touched my bum.” I coughed again as he poured me something hot from a thermos. I took a sip of the warm liquid I recognized as coffee. It felt soft as butter going down my throat.
“Sorry that’s all I have, I wasn’t exactly expecting to save a life tonight. Your bum? Who says bum?”
“I do. And, no worries, the coffee is great.”
“Care to explain, yourself?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe why you’re out swimming in the middle of night and playing tag with a shark?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, I went for a swim and I guess I got carried away.” I pulled the blanket tighter and sipped my coffee. He moved beside me and rubbed my shoulders trying to make me warmer, but I could see that he was shaking too, having given me his shirt. Unsure of what I was doing, I opened the blanket and brought it around his shoulders scooting closer to him. This has seriously been a weird day. Accepting the blanket he scooted closer to me too, his arm was now smashed against mine. I could feel my heart starting to pound at the feel of his skin and I didn’t even know who he was or where he came from.
“You got carried away? I’ll say…you’re a good seven miles from the shoreline.”
Seven miles? Since when can I swim seven miles? “What are you doing out here and what happened to the shark?”
He motioned towards and open cooler full of fish. “I come out sometimes to fish and collect my thoughts.”
“To think? About what?” I interrupted.
“Nothing important.” He looks at me, and smiles. My heart does a flip. “I had just finished putting my net away when I heard screaming so I turned on the headlights and saw a black patch of hair, splashing, and a shark. So I quickly cut a fish open and threw it as far as I could in the opposite direction trusting that the shark would follow the sent before I dove in after you. I got there as fast as I could but you scared the you-know-what out me, Rose.”
“How do you know my name?”
“You told me, this morning, before you took off.”
“Oh right, Lincoln!” I said remembering what seemed liked days ago. “You ate my biscuits.”
He laughed, again, and I couldn’t help supporting a grin as well. “Were you going to eat it?”
“Yes, I was so hungry!” Taking a sip of my coffee I continued, “I just got in from my flight, but that one girl came in, what was her name? Oh, yeah, Amber, and she kind of destroyed my need for substance.”
“Ok, I officially owe you breakfast. I repent of my sins.”
This time, it was my turn to laugh, “Deal.”
“So how long have you been swimming?”
“Umm…just now, kind of.” I said slightly embarrassed about my behavior.
“No way, swimming like that does not happen that fast.”
“Seriously, I’m from Montana, the most I ever swam was in the river.”
He looked at me and tucked my hair behind my ear. I shivered at his touch and then stopped when I saw what he was starring at, my scar. I turned away. He put his fingers under my chin and brought my face towards his. I could feel his breath on my neck. Back home people starred at first but eventually everyone was just got used to the scar and didn’t take notice of me. I felt so naked in this moment as if Lincoln could somehow know my pain and feel my secrets.
At school I was always the weird girl with odd comments, too short hair, and with an exceptional GPA. I wasn’t this girl. The girl who swam in the ocean, on some random island, getting saved by a gorgeous guy, wearing only his t-shirt, I have never even been kissed! This wasn’t me. But now I was looking directly into his eyes and he was looking directly into mine and I was confident that I wasn’t breathing.
“Your beautiful.” He whispered.
“Umm…thanks.” Knowing what a lie that was. I had a burn mark that covered my left temple all the way down to my left shoulder. In a way my scar resembled the mirrored image of Florida, if you put Miami on my shoulder, Orlando right in front of my ear, and Santa Rosa on my temple. That was the half of my face that was caught in the flames that took my mother’s life. The EMT’s were able to save me but my mother was already gone by the time they arrived.
“Sorry.” He said stopping my thoughts and moving away from me. The moment his hands left my face I longed for his touch again. It felt so good to be touched.
I spent a month in the hospital getting a skin graft to cover the horror that become of my face and after all of that wasted time I found that I was only slightly less ugly then before.
“Seriously… I have never met anyone with purple eyes.” He said staring.
“They’re violet not purple.” I said automatically hiding my insecurity. He laughed and we let the conversation fade sitting in a comfortable silence. We were shoulder to shoulder, snuggled under a blanket, and sipping what I hoped was decaf. I knew very little about the boy who saved my life but as I snuck a glance at him I knew that I would be a significant part of his story. It was irrational and beautiful all at once. He caught me staring at him and offered me a smile. I gave him a weak smile in return.
“Can, you take me back?” I said needing to get back to my dorm and sort out all of my thoughts. There was something about Lincoln that I couldn’t quite place. But I knew from this night onward, my life would never be the same.