Mormon girl Leesie has life figured out--until devastated Michael lands in her high school. CAYMAN SUMMER is the third novel in Michael and Leesie's romance that began with TAKEN BY STORM. My readers rallied around me—giving me the guts to release UNBROKEN CONNECTION (Book #2) independently. I launched this blog because I wanted them with me every step as I wrote CAYMAN SUMMER. I posted the novel as I wrote each scene. Now this blog is devoted to all things Michael and Leesie.
Here's chapter two. I'm starting with the typed up version. I can't continue to torture you with deciphering the rough drafts. I'll post them below. Scroll down if you want to see them. I don't want to drive you crazy, try your patience, any more than I already am. I don't know how much I'll be able to post tomorrow. I still have to research Leesie's injuries.
Leesie's next poem is eager to emerge, though. And I think Michael and Kim need to chat. That will probably be half of the next chapter.
LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM # 74
I wear out my voice calling
him to come back, wear out
my heart, wear out
“Take your pills, Leese.”
His voice through the door triggers
rebellion. Those stupid pills—
his solution for everything.
Drug her up so I won’t
have to deal with her,
hear her, touch her, kiss her,
“Take your pills, babe. The nurses
I sweep them off the nightstand.
The tiny capsules mock me
from the carpet, glowing
in the light he left on
in my room.
I pick up the bottle of water,
grind it open with my teeth,
spit out the lid, drink,
spilling on my shirt, slam
the bottle down, close
my eyes against the light.
I invite the pain to be my comfort,
seek solace in suffering. If Michael
won’t fill my nights, guide me
into another realm, I’ll linger here
just as he left me, encourage my wounds
to be my companion. My head, hand, ribs,
clavicle, ankles, and heart
seethe, stew, seer.
Pain mounts and rolls as the clock
on the nightstand flicks past number
until hurt is all I know.
I’m lost in its waves, oblivious
to anything but it’s pulsing embrace.
I don’t need you Michael,
I want to scream.
You and your pills just
get in the way of what’s
All is silent on the other
side of the door.
I hush my moans, writhe
in silence. I don’t want
him now forcing
those pills down my throat.
I clutch this exquisite ache,
discover a white hot ball
of anger festering deep
in my gut, coax it to bloom
and engulf my guilt, my sorrow,
my shame. I point it at
my dad, for being too kind, too good,
my mom, for her funeral schemes,
Phil for attacking me over Michael,
and dying, the jerk, how could he do that?
And Michael, you too, for refusing to take
what you use to beg me for.
And God for letting it all happen.
I thought you loved me?
I thought I was your daughter?
How could you?
A familiar comfort tries to slip
into my heart.
I block it—wall it away—
revel in my pain, my rage.
I don’t deserve that touch.
Can bear the comfort that
I know is lost.
I killed my brother.
And that is the biggest
pain of all.
MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG—VOLUME #10
Dive Buddy: Leesie
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: [hotel?]
I wake up to Leesie moaning. I’m lying on the floor in front of the connecting door, drooling on the carpet. Gross. I get to my feet and press my ear to the door. She should still be knocked out. Could she make that noise in her sleep? It’s the saddest sound I’ve ever heard.
“Leese,” I call quietly in case she’s asleep. “Did you take your pills?”
The moans cease.
The nurses told me to give her a “sedating dose” to get her through the night. If Leese let the pain get out of control, the pills might not work. “They are right there, babe—on the nightstand.”
Still no answer. I wait and wait. Maybe she went back to sleep. Or she’s stifling her suffering, gritting her teeth so I can’t hear, fighting back the agony.
“Leese. Answer me.”
Then a muffled moans meets my ears.
I grab the door handle, turn it, start to push it open, but something stops me cold.
I’m just going to give her the pills.
I won’t stay. I won’t touch her.
I can do this. Trust me.
So I have to leave her like that all night?
I want to move, but I can’t. I’m glued to the door listening to her moans mount louder and louder until Isadore sweeps down on me, and I’m lost to wind and waves. My mom’s screams mingle with Leesie’s cries—freak it seems like hours. Gray dawn light fills my hotel room when Isadore releases me.
Whatever stopped me earlier is gone. The door opens easily. I walk through, try not to look at Leesie writhing on the bed, try not to hear her moan. Ifind her pills on the floor. Freak, she chucked them. Get four fresh ones out of the brown prescription bottle. Sit on her bed and slip my arm behind her back to raise her up. Put the drugs in her mouth. Pour water into the mix. She tips her head back and swallows. Falls back against me.
I settle her down on the pillows, slide onto my knees beside her, cradle her hot, sweaty, broken hand in both of mine. “Freak, Leesie, I’m sorry. I had to get out of here last night. I couldn’t live with myself if the first thing I did when I got you alone was like rape you.”
She closes her eyes and considers my confession. “It wouldn’t,” she manages to whisper, “have been rape.” Her eyelids lift and she drills me. Freak, she’s angry.
I bow my head over her hand. “You’re hurt—not thinking straight. It would have felt like rape.”
“That’s what”—she pauses to gather each word out of the pain haze thatquakes her body—“I need”—her hand breaks away from mine—“now.”
I raise my head and try to find a way in through her eyes. “No, it’s not. You need that good old Leesie magic you poured all over me. Remember?”
Her eyes retreat. “That’s over.” She inhales and exhales, gathers another phrase. “It’s—gone.”
“No, it’s not Leese.” I take back her hand, clasp it in mine. “It’s here. Protecting you—from me. It kept me on the other side of the door.”
“You wanted to come in?”
“All night babe.” My voice gets husky. “I wanted to be with you. Really with you.” I loose her hand and hide my face in the bedding.
With an obvious effort, she strokes my head. “That’s what I want.” Her voice catches. “Love me your way.”
I raise my head, sit back on my heels. “This isn’t about love.” I don’t want to continue but I can’t stop. “You want to sleep with me to prove that you’re lost, a sinner—mound up the guilt. Add to the pain. I’m not helping you with that.”
She clenches her fist and pounds the bed. “You don’t understand.”
“Yes. I do. More than you know.” I sit on the bed, clasp her face between my hands so she can’t look away. “I refuse to be that guy.”
“You won’t love me?” She reaches to kiss me, but I pull back.
“I won’t destroy you. If that’s what you want find somebody else.” I let go of her face, but I don’t move away.
She closes here eyes. Won’t look at me. Won’t open them. Won’t talk. I watch her face go slack as the drugs get into her system. Listen to her breath steady. My stomach rumbles. Freak, I’m starving.
I check my pocket to be sure I have a room key, tiptoe to the door, ease it open, and close it safe behind me. I double check to make sure it’s locked.
I notice myself in the elevator mirror. Freak. I rub the drool off my chin and finger comb my hair. It’s greasy. I stink. My mouth tastes sour. A shower sounds so good. A long hot one. By myself. Leesie needs to get cleaned up to. How the freak am I going to manage that one?
I stop at the front desk. “Is there somewhere close I can get some food?”
I shake my head.
“We’ve got two restaurants. They open in”—she checks her watch—“two hours.”
“What about a drug store or 7-11?”
“Two blocks down. Turn right when you leave the hotel. Go out the side entrance.”
“Great, thanks.” I muster up a smile.
She seems to appreciate it.
“I need a nurse. Do you know where I can get a nurse?”
She gives me a weird look. “I’m not sure what you mean, sir.”
“A nurse.” I frown. “Like from a hospital.”
She glances over at her computer monitor. “We’ve got a doctor on call. Would you like us to page him?”
“No. We don’t need a doctor.” A doctor wouldn’t take Leese to the bathroom or get her cleaned up and dressed. “I need a nurse.”
A second girl at the desk butts in. “You can check with the rehab center across the street. It’s a couple blocks past the convenience store.”
“Rehab center?” My brows scrunch together. “You mean like for drug addicts?”
“No.” She shakes her head, leaves her stool and walks over to her colleague. “My uncle went there after he had back surgery. He was ready to leave the hospital but not to go home. They make them do physio. A bunch of therapists work there. And nurses. I’m sure there are nurses. They taught him to get dressed and made him exercise. Stuff like that.”
The confused knot in my guts begins to unravel. “And the nurses are nice?”
She nods her head. “My uncle liked them. My aunt not so much. My mom got an earful every time she called.”
She giggles. “Something about sponge baths.”
“She got jealous?”
“Acted like that.” She shrugs. “My mom said she was scared out of her mind.”
I can relate. “Thanks. I’ll check it out.” I turn to leave. “Which way again?”
They both motion with their thumbs sticking out. “Right.”
I grin. “Thanks.”
It’s fresh dawn cool outside. Not muggy hot like last night when the cab dropped us off. The air smells like ocean. Two blocks and I’d be there. The edge of the water. There’s got to be a beach. If I run, I could be there in minutes—seconds. Saltwater, soothing, cool. I won’t stay in for long.
I do run.
Stalk through an ocean front condo resort like I own it. Strip down to my boxers on the beach. Race into the foam of a retreating wave. Slide onto my belly when it gets knee deep. Stretch my arms forward and pull them back. Kick. Submerge. Freak it feels so good.
I swim out until I find a clump of coral in this sandy desert, take a deep breath, another and another—swim down to the coral, wishing for a mask. Two tiny fish dart in and out of the holes in the stony coral. Ignore me. I surface, lie on my back as the sun rises.
I love Cayman. I haven’t been here since my parents died. I can’t wait to dive. I never thought I’d be tough enough to come back here alone. But it feels right to be here now. Leesie can do her open water dives. Finish her cert with me training her.
I wonder how long until she can dive. Broken collar bone. Cracked ribs. The cast on her hand. I hope they say it’d be good therapy. We’ll get snorkels and fins—wrap her cast in plastic. I’ll bring her down here every day as soon as they take that thing off her nose.
They. Who is they? I got to get back to figuring that out.
I swim twenty feet down to the ocean floor again, wave good-bye to the fish, drag myself free of the water, let it swirl around my feet while I put my dry clothes on my wet body.
I retreat to the hotel and turn left since I’m coming from the opposite direction, find the snack place, slam three power bars, and a quart of juice. Grab some for Leesie and head up the street searching for that rehab place.
I try the door. It’s open. I wonder how late it is? How long have I been gone? I don’t want Leese to wake up alone again.
A woman at a huge mahogany desk sitting in the middle of the entry way stands up. “Can I help you?”
“I hope so.” I make such a mess of describing Leesie and me and what we’re doing here that any sane person would have called the cops.
She doesn’t bat an eye—just launches into fees and services and expectations.
“Can I bring her in this morning? Right away?”
And here are the rough drafts I promised. I scribbled the little white notes in the car. I drafted the poem at 6 AM this morning. These notes for Michael's next dive log came to me while I was getting dressed, but I couldn't stop and write them or my son would be late for school. I repeated it over and over in my head. Scribbled as soon as I pulled the car back into my garage.