Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Vacation, Chapter 7...Roxanne Rustand

Amelia hesitated, debating about whether or not she should walk over to Darrel and Christy's table and wish them good morning. Yesterday, Christy had been distraught over the loss of her ruby engagement ring on the beach.  Now, given the stiff set of Darrel's shoulders and the lines of tension bracketing Christy's mouth, it was clear that anger simmered between them, and they both appeared tired. Had they argued late into the night?  Had the loss of that ring destroyed their future happiness together?  If I could help them somehow I would, Lord.

A hostess appeared at Amelia's elbow and guided her to a table a few feet away from where the young couple was sitting, but they didn't look up as she passed by.  Saddened, Amelia rubbed the gleaming diamond ring she'd left on her right hand for safekeeping.  The irony of the situation made her sigh.  Christy had lost her ring, and yesterday Amelia had found a different one, so  two women were mourning the loss of a precious symbol of the love they shared with someone special.

And now Amelia's own wedding ring was in her back pocket, because she'd finally gained the courage for the symbolic step of taking it off, and she was mourning, too.  She was alone. Where was the fairness in life?  Why hadn't God intervened the night her husband died?  She'd prayed so hard at his bedside, desperately hoping that Andrew would recover. Instead, he'd suffered terribly, and then he'd died.

Wedding rings.  A small, precious stone, a bit of gold.  So  easily lost, one way or another. Yet a ring stood for so much more than mere monetary value.  Love.  Caring. Companionship. The chance to grow old with a beloved man who had held her heart gently in his hand.

"Madam?"  the hostess said.  "Would you rather have a different table?"

Jerking her thoughts back to the present, Amelia blinked.  "I'm sorry.  I just realized that I need to take care of something important, but I'll be back in a few minutes."

Amelia wound through the tables in the cafe and strode to the front desk of the hotel where several staff members were dealing with hotel guests.  She waited until the heavy set brunette, the shift manager, was free. 

"I found something on the beach last evening." Amelia held up her hand.  "I'm sure someone must be desperately looking for it."

"Wow.  That's one amazing solitaire.  Huge." The woman's brow furrowed.  "I haven't received any reports on a lost ring like this one.  A young couple is looking for their ruby ring, though."

"Maybe this one doesn't even belong to a hotel guest.  Perhaps someone was just strolling past along the beach."  Amelia studied the glittering facets.  "The police should be notified, and it would be better off locked up in the hotel safe."

The manager nodded and pulled a form from beneath the counter.  "Fill this out for me, while I call the police."

Amelia completed the form, and handed over the ring when the woman finished her phone call.  "Will you let me know if the owner turns up?" She wrote her cell phone number at the bottom of the form.  "I'd just like to know what happens."

A large, warm hand settled on her shoulder and she turned to find Colin standing behind her. "I called your room and checked the cafe, looking for you.  I thought perhaps you'd decided to back out on today's New Experience."

He was dressed in khaki shorts and a black T-shirt that emphasized his deep tan and muscular build, but it was the twinkle in his bright blue eyes that caught and held her attention.  "What is it?"

The laughlines at the corners of his eyes deepened.  "Go get your swimsuit. I promise--if you are very brave--you'll have an experience that you'll never forget."
The twinkle that had charmed her now had her worried.  "But--"

He held up a hand.  "I promise you'll love it, if you're willing to take chances.  If you aren't, you miss out on the best things in life.  Right?  I'll bet there are a lot of things you haven't tried."

Andrew had liked that about her, she thought stubbornly.  She'd always been solid.  Dependable.  Predictable.  He'd been exactly the same, and they'd been happy.  Hadn't they? 

A small, rebellious ember of excitement started to flicker to life, somewhere deep in her heart.

"Are you game?" Colin lifted an eyebrow.

"I...I guess I am." Amelia swallowed back her uncertainty.  "And I've already got my swimsuit on, so lead the way."

His grin widened as he took her hand and headed toward to open archway leading out of the hotel to the beach.  The warmth of his hand sent a dizzying swirl of sensations up her arm that gathered in her chest. 

Sunbathers were already stretched out on the white sugar sand, baking in the Florida sun.  Children romped with each other, building castles and waterways in the sand. People bobbed in the water, laughing.  And farther down the beach to the right she could see a handful of people surfing.

She felt the warmth drain from her face.  "Y-you aren't thinking about surfing.  I mean,  I've never...I couldn't..."

He angled a look at her and squeezed her hand.  "Not there.  Look to the left."

There were brightly colored paddle boats and canoes pulled up along the beach. They  She smiled.

"Nope, look farther down."

A sleek boat dipped and swayed in the surf, with some sort of metal framework on the back. Two men walked back and forth on the deck, busying themselves with rigging of some kind. Disappointment slid through her.  "Fishing?  That will be...nice."

He laughed.  "Not today.   I was just thinking that we're both on a Valentine's vacation, and we should do something so exhilarating that we'll remember it forever."

Far out in the water, she saw a speedboat flying through the waves, and a bright speck of something following it, but so high in the air that she could barely make out what it was.  She stared, as comprehension set in and her knees turned weak.  "Parasailing?  You want to go parasailing?"

He stopped at the water's edge, where the waves rhythmically washed up over their feet, then fell back.  "You can just come and stay in the boat if you like.  Or, you could go up with me--they have a two-man harness."

"I get dizzy on stepladders!"

He look down at her, his dark eyes warm and mesmerizing, and lifted her chin gently with a forefinger.  "It's not what you think.  The first time I tried, I thought it was going to be like a gut-wrenching roller coaster.  I was afraid to open my eyes initially--but when I did, then I didn't want the trip to ever end.  Trust me?"

Trust him?  She didn't really know him.  Yet...that ember of excitement in her heart burned a little brighter, urging her on.  Her children had begged her to take this trip, wanted her to start leaving her sadness behind.  It was time to make changes, and this was the perfect time.

Twenty minutes later she found herself in a web harness, far, far above the sparkling waters of the ocean with Colin next to her.  A sense of peace settled over her as they drifted through the air so smoothly that she felt as if she were floating on a cloud.  Below her, a beautiful panorama of  lush Florida landscape spread far as the eye could see.

Colin reached for her hand and brushed a kiss against it.  "What do you think?" 

She sighed with bliss. "You're right--I wish this would never end." 

Far below, the tiny speedboat turned into a long, sweeping arc that brought them along the curve of the beach.  As it gradually slowed, they began to descend.

She looked down at the hotel and the beachgoers.  "Isn't this wonderful ?  Look at all the--"  her voice caught in her throat.  She blinked, then squinted, trying to focus on a group of people gathering just outside the hotel, her pulse hammering through her wrists.  "Do you see that?  Colin--what's going on?"


  1. Hi Roxanne:

    I’d say you left the reader up in the air with the best view of what’s going on and the least ability to ask what’s happening.

    The last time I went parasailing the boat had mechanical failure and I had to come down as a regular parachutist. But you couldn’t do that in fiction!

    How is this going to end? I don't think I'd want to be the last author on one of these stories.


  2. I'm loving it. I can't wait to see what happens.

  3. This has been a great story.I have enjoyed it so much.

  4. Ooh, the suspense of it! I can't wait for the last installment. Great job, Rox!

  5. Okay, from one who would never parasail over the ocean, what happens next?? Did someone get hurt or did they find another ring? A necklace. A note written in the sand?? I can't stand it.

    You left me hanging, Roxanne!

  6. I"m a day late, but really enjoyed it! Now, on to Lyn's conclusion...


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