There was an error in this gadget

Friday, March 4, 2011

Revised Chapters 13-18

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, so I'm posting six new chapters today.

As soon as a looked at my post on Wednesday, I realized I'd forgotten to have Leesie tell Kim where she is AGAIN!!! This is the essence of revision for me. Go over it. Read the new updated. chapter Remember what I forgot while I'm driving or brushing my teeth or doing the dishes. Slapping my forehead and revising again. I added a couple lines to the chat to fix this problem. Continuity errors like this are important to catch. A good editor and then a good copy editor will do that, but it's better to clean them up yourself in the first place. It's great to have you all to help.

Here's six more chapters. Now I need to go back and reread all your comments on these chapters to see what I forgot to fix!



CHAPTER THIRTEEN

PHANTOM

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #84, NOTHING

Michael’s quiet, distant—cold?
Working too much.
No time off Monday.
No kayak ride.
No mishap.
No rescue.
He’s out late filling bottles,
mixing Nitrox, fixing o-rings.
Misses dinner. Gone early.
I make French toast
adding more and more cinnamon.

He hasn’t touched me since
his nightmare, since
he dragged me into his cot, since
I almost won, but lost—lost
too much to try again.
He looks guilty. I feel evil.

I hide that white dress,
the bikini, and the push-up bra—
wear my old T-shirts and ugly capris.
Find his baseball cap and keep
it on my head so he can see I’m his
from this distant strain I can’t surmount.

I bake him cookies he doesn’t eat,
an apple pie that Cooper smacks his lips
over and says, “Just like my mum’s.”
The slice I guard for Michael
sits in the fridge day after day,
untouched.

A week. Ten days. Limbo.
Alex drives me to physio,
tells me he told her all about us—
He spilled our secrets out
in the middle of the night
all over this stranger?
“He’s trying to decide,” she spies
at me via the rear view mirror
trained on my stunned face.
“What do you mean?”
“You need to go home.”
“I can’t.”

Next day, I wash his blanket
and sheet, make up his new cot
all nice for him.
I wash all the clothes jumbled
in the duffel bag he never unpacked.
I fold and put it away in empty
draws, clean out the bottom of the
bag.

My fingers slip on silk.
I draw out a black bundle.
A turquoise necklace of shell
and beads clatters to the floor.
I step away like it’s a snake
but still its fangs sink deep.

With my broken left hand,
careful not to snag the slick fabric
on the jagged edges of my cast,
I shake out the silk.
A long black skirt,
sexy and Asian, hangs
from my fingertips.

I see it on her—Sukanda
the Seductress—her taking
it off, leaving it on his cabin’s
floor to mingle with his
shed clothes.

I search the bag—find sheer
scarves, another skirt.

Suki and Michael?
Suki and Michael?
Pictures don’t lie.
They don’t lie.
Does he?

An enormous fear rises
from the fabric clutched
in my hands.
Dear Lord, Phil?
You died for this?

The guy screwed half of Asia by now
and you want him back?
Open your flipping eyes!
Echoes fly at me from every direction.
Open your eyes, open your eyes,
your eyes, your eyes, eyes!
I hurl the fabric at the wall.

Michael’s keys shine on the dresser.
I grab them and run.
I pull out into honking cars
and the right lane—wrong.
I swerve hard over to the left
where I should have been
in this upside down world,
floor it up the highway—
away,
away,
just take me away before
the echoes can catch up to me
and force me to ask,
If all I am is Michael,
what am I now?

Nothing.
Nothing.
Nothing.

A bottle of my pain pills
rolls out from under
the passenger’s seat.

Nothing.
Nothing.
Nothing.

                       

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME #10

Dive Buddy: solo           
Date:  05/28
Dive #: doesn’t matter
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: the whole freaking island
Weather Condition: too hot
Water Condition: feels like a whirlpool sucking me under
Depth: never been this deep
Visibility: dark
Water Temp: cold
Bottom Time: too long
Comments:
           
            I avoid the apartment. Avoid Alex. Avoid Leesie. Avoid everything. There’s enough work to hide in—to bury my resolve to take her home, my doubts, my desire. The passion that flares every time I look at her.
            I can tell she thinks I’m punishing her, but it’s me that needs punishment. Every day that passes makes the new dawn harder to face.
            “We can’t get married.” I try to imagine myself tell her that. “I’m not a Mormon. Marry Jaron. He loves you—even thinking you’re sleeping with me, he loves you.” But I can’t say it.
            “I’m taking you home.”
            I can’t say that, either.
            I dial her dad—hang up when it rings. Six days in a row. On the seventh day, I give up.
            I will marry her.
            I won’t take her home.
            I’ll quit this job, and we’ll get out of this stupid apartment—away from Alex and that look she gives me like I’m the world’s worst criminal.
            She’s looking at me like that right now from across the boat. I hustle when we dock, get up to the apartment before everybody. “Babe!” No answer. “Leesie—let’s get out of here. We need to talk.”
            A sheen of black silk bathed in sunlight catches my eye. The skirts I bought Leesie. The pretty scarves. A shell necklace I thought would look cool with her fringed up leather jacket are crumpled on the floor.
            I stare at the mess—confused. “Leese?”
            No answer.
            I look for my keys. They’re gone.
            Freak. What would this look like to her?
            I scoop the gifts into my arms, grab Alex’s car keys and head out.
            “Where are you going?” Alex blocks my way halfway down the stairs.
            “She’s gone. I’m taking your car.” I push past her stunned face, get in her car, dump my burden on the car seat, and squeal out of the parking lot.
            Airport.
            Nope.
            Our first hotel.
            The rehab place.
            The beach where she first floated on seawater.
            Nope, nope, nope.
            She could be anywhere.
            I keep pushing west, and north, driving all around the island. Check beaches. Keep driving, driving.
            Freak. Why don’t we have stupid cell phones that work here? After I find her, we’ll get phones. Tonight. No. Better yet, when I find her, I won’t ever let her out of my sight again.
            When I find her? How am I supposed to do that? Go back to the apartment and wait? No. Not yet. I can’t sit and wait. Push on.
It’s dark when I get up north to Rum Point where we had dinner with the guys and those sleazy chicks. The place is empty. Cruise ship sheep gone home for the night.
            Except there’s a girl at a table, slumped over—wearing my old black baseball hat with “Eagle Ray Dive Club” embroidered across the front.
            “Leesie,” I yell and run over to her. “Thank, God.”
I sit down next to her. She doesn’t move. There’s a pill bottle clasped in her fingers. “Babe.” I shake her, pry the bottle from her hand. “Wake up.”
Freak.
The bottle is empty.
“Leese, babe, did you take these?”
One eye opens. She sees me. Turns her face the other direction.
“How long ago? You need to vomit. I’m calling Sugar.” I grab her arm.
She jerks away like my touch is poison. “I flushed them down the toilet. I can’t even kill myself. I was lying here hoping a hurricane would stop by. Instead I get you.”
“Leese. Leese. Listen to me.”
“No.” She stands up and wanders away—to the beach, to the water.
I run after her. “Leese. Listen.”
“No!”



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

GUILT TRIP

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM # 85, NO

I spin around and scream
in his face, “No, no, no, no!”
sink to my knees in the sand,
bang my head on the ground.
“No.”

He’s there, beside me.
“Leese, listen.”
His hand finds my arm.
I flick it off. “Don’t touch me.”
I scramble to get away, but he
has me, holds me, won’t let me
go.

“No.” I cry into his shoulder
and pound his chest with my cast.
“Remember that crazy honeymoon
we made up?”
“No.”
“Our deserted island and 24/7?”
“No.”
“Remember how I said I’d buy
you seashells?”
“No.”
“Every market I went to, I’d buy
something for you.”

“For me?

He kisses my forehead.
“For you.”
Me?
“The skirts and scarves—all the stuff
you found—it’s not Suki’s.”
I shudder and he squeezes me.
“I bought it all for you.”
He puts the necklace
in my hand and kisses
my trembling mouth.

“Really?”
“Yes.”
“I want to believe you,
but—”
He lets go, hangs his head, steps back.
“I’ve been a freaking moron lately?”
I hold up the necklace to catch the light
from behind us.
A round shell center pierced
with strands of wood beads
turquoise, round and square,
light and dark.
“It’s Cayman colored.”
He kisses my fingers. “It is.”
I kiss his mouth so I don’t cry, turn
and wade into the water.

“Just leave me here.”
A few steps takes me up
to my knees in soft,
pulsing blue perfection.
Cool. Clear. Enticing.
“Maybe the tide will take me away.”
He plunges after me, grabs my arm.
“That’s enough. It’s over.”
I jerk my arm trying to free it.
“I’m too evil to live! I pervert
everything. This gift. Your love.”
His grip tightens—
I stare at his fingers and into his eyes,
“You’re too good to be near me.”
My eyes drop to the cool water
sucking on my knees.
“I killed my brother, Michael.”
I take a step deeper.
“I really did. I screamed,
cursed him, and drove
off the road.”

His arms wrap around me.
“Hush, babe.” He presses
my head against his
beating heart. “It’s okay.
I’m here now.”
His voice breaks.
He doesn’t move,
doesn’t speak
until he regains control
enough to whisper,
“I’m back.”

His two little words unlock
my heart. My body relaxes
against his. “Where did you go?”
He kisses the top
of my furry buzz cut.
“Let’s call it a guilt trip.”

LEESIE HUNT / CHATSPOT LOG / 05/30 3:21 PM

Leesie327 says: He won’t leave my side, and I like it.
Kimbo69 says: How’s he managing that?
Leesie327 says: Took the rest of the week off.
Kimbo69 says: They let him?
Leesie327 says: Everybody owes him shifts. He’s been working too hard.
Kimbo69 says: You guys ever heard of the balance?
Leesie327 says: Maybe I should lose all hope more often.
Kimbo69 says: Hardly balanced! You know Michael isn’t your only hope.
Leesie327 says: Thanks, Kim. I know I can count on you.
Kimbo69 says: I talked to your dad again. He says, “Hi.”
Leesie327 says: I didn’t say you could call him!
Kimbo69 says: He called me.
Leesie327 says: You didn’t spill anything, did you?
Kimbo69 says: I was so tempted. But that’s your job, my friend.
Leesie327 says: I don’t want to talk about it.
Kimbo69 says:  Well, you better think about it.
Leesie327 says: I’m not thinking about anything ever again.
Kimbo69 says: Leesie’s getting lazy!
Leesie327 says: I’m healing—it takes a lot of energy.
Kimbo69 says: So what have you guys been doing with all this time together?
Leesie327 says: Michael slept in today. I sat on the floor and watched his face.
Kimbo69 says: Riveting.
Leesie327 says: It was! I had to tear myself away to make him Gram’s gooey cinnamon French toast.
Kimbo69 says: Gosh, that sounds good. Mail me some.
Leesie327 says: Sure thing. We sat on the balcony and ate it looking out at the ocean. If diamonds were turquoise, it would be this water.
Kimbo69 says:  Aquamarines?
Leesie327 says: Something like that. We talked about Suki.
Kimbo69 says: [Insert loud choking sounds here!!] Oh, my gosh—did he finally fess up?
Leesie327 says: Yup.
Kimbo69 says: The creep.
Leesie327 says: No—don’t say that. He was a hero.
Kimbo69 says: For getting it on with a professional?
Leesie327 says: She enticed him—you saw how gorgeous she is—and he admitted he was tempted, but even though I shoved his ring back in his face like a stupid brute, he didn’t do it. He had my ring around his neck. It stopped him.
Kimbo69 says: You believe him?
Leesie327 says: A hundred percent.
Kimbo69 says: But they were kissing. The whole world saw the photo.
Leesie327 says: The creep she was with beat her up, and Michael took care of her—helped her get back to her people. The Sea Gypsies. She kissed him good-bye. Isn’t he amazing?
Kimbo69 says: Are you sure he’s not making that up to make himself look good? Wanting to do a prostitute doesn’t shine in my book.
Leesie327 says: No way. I had to pry the story out of him. Now I can tell our kids their dad’s a hero. He saved me, too, you know. Don’t forget that.
Kimbo69 says: You’re having kids?
Leesie327 says: Lots of them.
Kimbo69 says: You going to start that right away?
Leesie327 says: Why not? I can’t go back to school from here.
Kimbo69 says: He won’t let you go back?
Leesie327 says: He’d take me back in a second. I can tell he wants to bring it up, but he’s afraid I’ll flip out again.
Kimbo69 says: So you’re going to stay in Cayman and have babies?
Leesie327 says: I’ll go wherever he wants to and have babies.
Kimbo69 says: You’re too young.
Leesie327 says: When my mom was pregnant with Stephie, my grandmother always said, “Young bodies are made for making babies.” She’d look straight at me and say, “Don’t wait until you’re over the hill. Have them in your twenties.”
Kimbo69 says: You’ve got a good decade or more to reproduce then.
Leesie327 says: But a baby with Michael’s eyes would be so cute.
Kimbo69 says: And your life would be over.
Leesie327 says: Or just beginning.
Kimbo69 says: How twisted can you be? The goal is always not to get pregnant, hon.
Leesie327 says: Not always.
Kimbo69 says: Are you trying to tell me you’re knocked up? That was fast.
Leesie327 says: No chance of that.
Kimbo69 says: Still?
Leesie327 says: We made a truce. I promised to stop trying to get him into bed.
Kimbo69 says: Crap—he is a hero.
Leesie327 says: Yeah. He’s guarding my useless virtue.
Kimbo69 says: What did he promise?
Leesie327 says: To find out how to get married on Cayman.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

GUARD DUTY

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME #10

Dive Buddy: students           
Date:  06/01
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: pool
Weather Condition: sunny
Water Condition: calm
Depth:  10’
Visibility:  perfect
Water Temp: 82
Bottom Time: 15 minutes
Comments:

            Back at work. Three days off with Leesie weren’t enough. I’m teaching today, so I bring her along. Can’t leave her alone. Not yet. Terror too fresh.
            The classroom stuff is a good review. She doesn’t get in the pool—but she sits on the edge with her feet in the water, and follows my every move, nodding her head like she’s mentally going through the motions.
            I can’t wait until she gets that stupid cast off her arm. Then we’ll really dive. One week from today she has an appointment. I’m taking her for sure. I want to be there. If all goes well, they’ll saw that junk off her hand and not put a new cast back on. Her collarbone seems to be doing well—her arm is out of the sling more than it’s in.
It’s been over a month since she shaved her head. Her hair is growing fast—almost an inch. At least that’s what she says. It’s more than half an inch—I’ll give her that. Yesterday she searched all over the apartment to find a ruler to measure it with. Made me promise to buy her one. Even at half an inch, it’s coming in thick enough to give the scar some camo. She doesn’t put make up on every day, but the spa ladies at the rehab place gave her heavy-duty stuff that makes a big difference with the part of the scar that marks up her forehead. If she wants to get cosmetic surgery, that’s fine with me. Whatever. If it makes her happy, I’m down with it.
I’ve got to go under the water with my students. I swim over to Leesie. “We’ll be down about fifteen minutes.” I don’t like not being able to watch her. Since I found her Thursday, I’ve been with her all day—until I turn her over to Alex—who was stupid enough to take off before I woke up on Saturday.
That scared me. Leesie was fine—up making me French toast, but still. Stupid, Alex. What was she thinking?
Now, Leesie slips off her sling and picks up a mask and snorkel she borrowed from the shop. “Can I watch you from the surface?”
I squeeze her knees. “Sure.” Freak, I love her. “Great idea.”
She gets me to tape a grocery bag around her cast while my students haul out of the pool, then watch us.
“How come she gets special attention during our lesson?” A middle-aged lady with a giant butt wants to know when I rejoin them.
I grin back at the lady. “Because she’s my fiancé.” Yeah. It feels good to say that.
The lady shuts up—smiles back at me even. “Congratulations.”
“Gear up, guys. What are you waiting for?”
No one says, ‘you messing around with your babe’—for that I’m grateful. Go easy on them. I coach the class of four through getting all their gear on, make them jump in, review descent when we’re bobbing on the surface. And then we’re down.
Big butt lady gets nervous, but I’m in her face—encouraging her to breathe, in and out, slow and calm—until we wear the panic down. She’ll love me after this.
I glance up quick to check for Leesie. She’s off to the side watching.
She watches me.
I watch her.
We both hesitate to rock any boats.
She wants me to look up getting married in Cayman. I keep putting it off. I promised her dad to bring her home first. She’ll freak when she hears that.
I’m taking Leese out on the boat with me tomorrow. More watching. These students are doing a check out dive in the shallow water inside the reef. The water is way too rough on the East End for her to sit on the boat when we go out of the reef on normal dives. She’d be puking her guts up for sure.
She can come with me tomorrow. No prob. I’ve got morning dives on Wednesday. Then students again in the afternoon. I can bring her along in the afternoon, but what about the morning? Alex is booked on the boat with me. Cooper is captain. Gabriel, Brock, and Ethan have the other boat. That leaves Seth.
Would he hang out with her that morning? Nothing obvious or anything. She’d be ticked if she found out I’d set up a watch dog. I so don’t want to ask him. Makes me nervous—yes, jealous. But what else can I do?

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #86, CAYMAN PRINCESS

Michael takes my hand
and helps me down
into the boat—other
passengers clear a lane
for me like I’m royalty.
His princess—with my island
scarf wound round my head,
Michael’s Cayman-colored shell necklace
swinging around my neck, his diamond
flashing on my broken hand,
and my old swimsuit giving
me away. It’s just Leesie,
people. Move along.

I trip a little so I can fall
against Michael’s bare chest.
He gives me a squeeze
and a XXL lady yells,
“Hold it,” and snaps our picture.

He lines up his students
along one side of the boat,
sits across from them
and gets down to business.

I sit off to the side
and watch him teach,
watch the muscles in his shoulders
and back subtly ripple when
he stands to reach his wetsuit.
The boat putters a few hundred
feet from the dock while Michael
coats himself in neoprene.
All black—wrapping him tight.
I miss his golden skin, but
can’t deny he devastates
exponentially more wetsuited.

He hovers over me.
“We won’t be down long.”
I slip my right hand out of its sling
and rub it along his shoulder and arm
while the rest of the women
watch their prince. “It’s cool,”
I whisper. “I’ll help Cooper.”

Sun burnt, sandy-haired, smiling
Captain Cooper lies on a bench
and follows the one lonely cloud
crossing the sky as he tells me about
Canada and snowdrifts that
don’t melt until April.
“I know snow.” I hand him a slice
of the melon I chopped for the break.
“Grew up driving in it.”
“Cool. Where?”
“Washington.”
“State?”
I nod and pitch a melon rind
over the side.
“When you going back?”
My face pulls into a frown.
“Leave here?” My glance
indicates the paradise
of sparkling blue we float in.
“Are you kidding?”
“You can’t stay forever.”
“Why not?”
“Visa runs out.”
“That sucks.”
“Not for me.”
“Shut up.”
“Make me.”
I flick a piece of melon
at him and stick my tongue out,
wander to the back of the boat,
try to see what’s going on down under.

I’ve never been so eager to get
in the water, sink into Michael’s
kingdom, obey his every command,
trust him with my life
like our pudgy pal and her friends.

Cooper hands me a mask.
“Care for a swim?”
He tapes my cast in bag,
jams fins on my feet,
and comes along so I don’t
drown. “He’s over there.”
He points to bubbles
percolating on the surface.
I swim to them, mask down,
blowing too hard through
my snorkel until
Michael comes into view.
Perfect.
Except I’m here.
He’s there.
Gotta change that up.
Soon.
But today, this moment
of jeweled wonder floating
in pure clear ocean
I can watch, wait
and love him.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

BACKFIRE

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #87, BABYSITTERS

Seth’s off this AM,
drunk again last night.
“Can you wash him?”
Alex says through her toothbrush.
I pull a bleck-are-you-crazy face. “What?”
She spits. “Watch him—hang out until we”—
she pauses to rinse—“all get back at lunch.”
“What would I do with him?”
I can see Seth through our half-open bedroom door,
awake earlier than he needs to be, turning his nose
up at bacon and eggs.
Alex rinses her toothbrush. “Keep him
away from the beer.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
She gives me a don’t-be-this-stunned-this-early
grimace. “Feed him coffee.”
“I don’t do coffee.”
“It’s a machine, hon. Already done.”
Me serving coffee? To hung-over Seth?
What a joke. Maybe I’ll try some.
Or join the guy in a couple of beers.
Michael won’t be around to stop me.

The apartment empties out.
Michael’s the last to go. He kisses
me good-bye and gives Seth a wave.
Friendly? Weird.
I don’t want Michael to walk out
that door and leave me behind
with Mr. Broken Down Boozer.
But he does.

I give Seth his coffee, disappear
into the bathroom, take too
long in the shower.
Loud knocking on the outer door
penetrates my steamy retreat.
Somebody’s yelling like there’s a fire.
I turn the water off, wrap fast in a towel,
drip my way to the door, don’t open it.
“What?” I yell at the wood.
“You all right in there?”
Seth’s yelling, angry? Still pounding.
“Fine.”
The knocking stops. “Oh, sorry.”
“And you?” Too rude not to play
my part in this strange ballet.
“Fine.”
“Perfect. Can I get dressed now?”
“Fine.”

I put on my yellow dress, sandals,
the baseball cap that matches,
open the door, peak out—
Seth’s sitting in the living room
mess of pulled out couch and unmade cots
sipping a beer.
I begin to withdraw, hide, renege on my promise,
but I push myself forward instead, march
up to him and grab the can. “Alex says
no beer this morning.”
He holds out his hand.
“Just let me finish that one.
I don’t want to waste it.”
I sniff the contents—reeking nastiness—
like grain that’s gone bad in the elevator—
fake a smile. “That’s okay. I’ll drink it.”
He’s out of his chair, lunges at me, grabs
the can—dumps it down the sink.
“No way, girl. Michael would kill me.”
My forehead folds into ugly creases.
“What has he told you guys about me?”
Seth stares at the retreating golden
liquid and mumbles, “That you don’t
drink beer, and you’re a—”
The guy actually blushes.
I reach over and turn on the faucet.
“What’s going on here?”
He pulls the spray gadget free
and squirts the sink clean.
“Michael asked me to—”
“Watch me?” I flip off the water. “That’s rich.”
“What?”
“Alex asked me to—”
Seth’s eyebrows arch, and I start
to see what Dani saw in him.
He grins. “Babysit me?”
Heads shake. Nervous laughs.
“We’re officially pathetic.”
He crushes the empty beer can.
“Dangerously psychotic.”
I take the can and trash it.
We both blurt,
“Who do they think they are?”
He yells, “Jinx.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“You can’t talk.”
“Nobody’s jinxed me since—”

Phil the Pill. A lump gets
stuck in my throat just
above my heart.
Seth’s got a pained look on his face, too.
“Damn. Sorry. Dani was goofy like that—
way into kid’s stuff—jinx and slug bugs
and—” His voice breaks. “Crap.”
I look down at the white linoleum I need
to scrub. “Sorry to remind you.”
He takes a minute to get control.
“No one mentions her—I hate that.
It’s like she’s dead or something.”
I close my eyes tight. “That would be worse.”
“Maybe not.”
“Trust me.”

We walk up the highway to East End’s
tiny grocery, buy hot dogs, buns,
and a foil pain full of easy-light mini
charcoal that we light on the beach.
I focus on the red glow creeping
through the miniature grill, glance
up at Seth, catch his eyes.
“Did you love Dani?”

His eyes drop down to the caged fire.
“I thought it was just for kicks—until
she left.”
I touch his hand. “You should tell
her that.”
He jerks his hand away from me.
“How? I don’t know where the hell she is.”
I speak slowly, not sure what or why,
just let the words tumble out.
“But what if she misses you?
What if she’s sick of Kai?
What if she made a horrible mistake?
What if she loves you?”

He searches the horizon for returning
boats, stirs the reddening charcoal.
“The office probably has her address.”
I nod, smile. “Don’t you have her email?”
“Of course.”
“What are you waiting for?”

LEESIE HUNT / CHATSPOT LOG / 06/05 3:15 PM

Kimbo69 says: I can’t believe you told him to email the slut who ran off with your roommate’s boyfriend.
Leesie327 says: I know. I was possessed by something crazy. If Alex finds out I gave Seth the idea, I’m toast. I’ll be sleeping on the sidewalk.
Kimbo69 says: Alex already knows about it?
Leesie327 says:  Oh, yeah. They all do.
Kimbo69 says: Seth told? She must have written back.
Leesie327 says: If a guy emailed you that he loves you and life is hell without you, what would you do?
Kimbo69 says: Send him a nice reply saying I’m sorry?
Leesie327 says: That’s a start.
Kimbo69 says: Call him and beg his forgiveness?
Leesie327 says: You’re getting warmer.
Kimbo69 says: Try to see him so I can convince him with my personal charms?
Leesie327 says: How about fly back to Cayman and move back in with him as if nothing ever happened.
Kimbo69 says: Seth is that much of a sucker?
Leesie327 says: It’s what he wants more than anything. He took her for granted until she was gone. He won’t do that again.
Kimbo69 says: Is Alex ballistic?
Leesie327 says: It got pretty ugly when Seth told her Dani’s coming “home” this weekend.
Kimbo69 says: What about the guy?
Leesie327 says: Kai? He’s staying in St. Lucia. Dani caught him cheating on her. She says he cheated on Alex with a bunch of other girls—not just her.
Kimbo69 says: Alex is well rid of the creep.
Leesie327 says: She sees that, but not enough to welcome Dani back into the nest.
Kimbo69 says: She and Seth should find another place to live.
Leesie327 says: No chance of that happening. Seth’s kicking Gabriel out of his room to make way for Dani.
Kimbo69 says: So where’s he going?
Leesie327 says: On a cot in the living room I guess. Alex would like him to move in with her, but I’m in the way.
Kimbo69 says: Is she making any progress?
Leesie327 says: I think so. He got all protective when Seth announced Dani was moving back. He and Alex went down to the beach together—didn’t come back until late.
Kimbo69 says: Total soap opera.
Leesie327 says: Right. Since I caused the problem, I’ve found the solution.
Kimbo69 says: What?
Leesie327 says: I looked up getting married on Cayman. If you’re a resident, you have to go to the registrar’s office and they post a notice in public that you are going to marry. People have two weeks to object. Crazy, huh.
Kimbo69 says: Like bans in Jane Austen novels?
Leesie327 says: If you’re getting married in a church, they still do that.
Kimbo69 says: What’s your status there? Are you like an illegal immigrant?
Leesie327 says: I’m a visitor. I can stay six months. Michael has a temporary work permit. So we’re not officially residents. Maybe he is. I can’t tell. I think we can get married using a non-resident permit.
Kimbo69 says: How does this help the situation?
Leesie327 says: Non-residents just have to pay $250, prove their age and citizenship, and they get a certificate. It’s easy. Fast. You go to some government office in Georgetown and get it.
Kimbo69 says: You’re really going to do it?
Leesie327 says: I have to convince Michael all this drama isn’t good for me. Moving into our own condo would be the only option. He’d do it if we’re married.
Kimbo69 says: Be careful. You’ll end up convincing him to buy you a ticket home. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Leesie327 says: I don’t think so. He loves it here as much as I do. I think he’ll work here as long as they’ll let him. That’s something like eight years. I’m already home.
Kimbo69 says: But you have a family.
Leesie327 says: He’ll be my family. He’s all I need.
Kimbo69 says: What about your mom’s needs? What about your Dad—and Stephie?
Leesie327 says: This way they’re safe. I can’t hurt them anymore.
Kimbo69 says: That’s stupid. Twisted. Selfish and mean.
Leesie327 says: Me.
Kimbo69 says: No. It’s not you. Not the girl I know.
Leesie327 says: But it’s who I’ll be forever now. I’m scared for Michael. What will I do to him?


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

COMPLICATIONS

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME #10

Dive Buddy: Leesie plus           
Date:  06/06
Dive #: --
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: the apartment
Weather Condition: night time again
Water Condition: choppy
Depth: manageable?
Visibility: too clear
Water Temp: getting warmer
Bottom Time: not sure--hours
Comments:

            Seth is supposed to pick Dani up at the airport tonight, but nobody’s seen them yet. I take Leesie out to dinner, and when we get back, Alex has Gabriel in the room. There’s a note to Leesie on the door. Come back at one.
            I steer Leesie out of the apartment before she hears anything. She’s never been around stuff like this. I don’t like it. “How long has that been brewing?”
            “Since Kai left. Gabriel’s good at comfort.”
            “But not commitment.” I put my arm around Leesie and we head down the stairs.
            “Alex thinks she can change that.”
            My hand glides down to Leesie’s waist. “He seems to care about her. You should have heard him tear into Seth when we were cleaning up after this morning’s dives. Not like him at all.”
            Leesie slips her arm out of her sling and wraps her fingers around mine. “He’s a classic hero. All he needed was a damsel in distress.”
            I jingle the keys in my pocket. “You want to go for a drive.”
            She wraps me closer, puts my hand on her stomach. “Nope.”
            We wander across the beach and down to the dock. She wants to make out, but we need to talk.
            I kiss her fingers. “So Alex and Gabriel? Is that going to be awkward?”
            She runs the fingers of her casted hand through my hair. “I guess I could take the fifth cot in the living room.”
            “No way. It’s not that serious. They’re just messing around tonight. He won’t move in with her.”
            Her eyebrows rise. “You don’t know Alex.”
            I sling both arms around her back. “You don’t know Gabriel.”
            “She got your work schedules changed up so they’re diving together—every shift.” She sticks out her tongue at me.
            I wrinkle my nose back at her. “She’s so not his type.”
            She leans in close. “But she needs him.” Her breath tickles my ear. “That’s intoxicating.”
            I close my eyes and inhale her cocoanut closeness. I miss her sweet banana mango shampoo. “So what do you think we should do?”
            She kisses me. “Make out.”
            “But—”
            Her mouth is on mine again. “But nothing.”
            We kiss for awhile standing on the edge of the dock with the soft night surge swirling against the floating wood and the deep starry night for a backdrop. It’s sweet—slow, unhurried, neither of us going anywhere, pressuring each other to do anything else but hold each other and trade love with our lips.
            I rest my cheek against her head. “You can’t stay in that apartment all summer. It’s not good for you.”
            Her face gets hot. “Maybe I’ll learn something.”
            I grasp her face between my hands and tilt her head back. “I don’t want you to learn anything.”
            Her shoulders rise in a hopeless shrug. “I have to learn sometime.”
            “I’ll find a new place for you to stay.”
            “Without you?” Her lips find my neck. “No way.” She looks down at our feet—mine on either side of hers. “Let’s buy our own place.”
            She pulls me in close, kisses me, won’t let me talk.
            I turn away from her lips. “But we can’t get married.”
            “Yes”—she kisses me—“we can.” Another kiss. “It’s easy.” She goes in for another kiss, but I pull out of her reach.
She pouts, then flashes the smile I love. “I looked it all up. We could get married tomorrow—well Monday if I didn’t have my appointment.”
            I study her happy face. “Did you plan the whole Dani thing out? Manipulate it all to get me to marry you?”
            She laughs. “I’m not that smart. But I am in the way for Alex and Gabriel. We don’t have much choice.”
            “We can’t get married.”
            She kisses me, gets my tongue.
            “Stop it, babe.” I put my hand on her lips, tip my forehead so it touches hers. “I promised your dad I’d take you home before we get married.”
            The smile drains out of her face. “You what?” She releases me, turns her back, squats down and stares into the dark water.
            I hunker down beside her. “When we talked on the phone—I promised him.”
            She turns her glare on me. “I’m never going home.”
            I lean over and catch her lips. “If you want to marry me, you will.”
            She lies back, draws me down on top of her. “We can just shack up together. I don’t care.” Her legs wrap around me.
            I push up off her. “Nope.” I get on my feet and offer her my hand.
            She won’t take it, just lies there looking up at me. “Then what are we going to do?”
            “Go back up to the apartment and disappoint Alex and Gabriel.”

            The clock reads 1:52 AM when I usher Leesie in through the apartment door. All the guys—including Gabriel—mill around the kitchen and living room drinking beer, waiting for Dani and Seth.
            “Shhh!” Gabriel puts a finger up to his lips. “Alex is asleep.”
            Cooper chucks a pillow at him. “Worn out, eh?”
            Gabriel catches the pillow, frowns. “She was distressed.”
            Brock sets his beer down. “And you took her mind off her troubles?”
            Ethan looks up from soccer reruns on TV. “She does not need another rascal breaking her wee heart.”
            “I’m well aware of that.” Gabriel lets the pillow drop from his hands.
            Cooper stands. “Then what the hell are you doing?”
            Gabriel rifles his fingers through his black chick-bait hair. “She wants me.” He rotates, gathers everyone’s eyes. “What am I supposed to do? Turn her down? Humiliate her?”
            “You’re taking advantage of her.” Cooper gets right in Gabriel’s face. “Not cool, dude.”
            Gabriel puts his hand flat on Cooper’s chest and pushes him back. “I’m trying to make her happy.” He sits down on the couch.
            Brock cocks his head. “You care if she’s happy?”
            Gabriel’s face softens. “I do. I care.” He see’s Alex’s face peeking from a crack in her and Leesie’s bedroom door, turns, and addresses her. “I do care very much.”
            Alex slips through the door, crosses the room to Gabriel, climbs on his lap, and hides her face against his neck. Gabriel’s arms go around her, protecting, a hand strokes her head, and he kisses her forehead.
            Leesie smiles, goes to the fridge and takes out butter and eggs. “I need brownies. Anybody want to help?”
            I crack the eggs, Leesie melts the butter and chocolate on the stove. Brock turns on the oven. And Cooper and Ethan measure the flour and sugar.
            A half hour later, we’re crowded around the table, eating hot, gooey brownies—same recipe that she made when I met those jerk missionaries back at BYU.  The guys traded their beer for milk. The apartment door opens and a half-drunk Seth leads in a very drunk blonde girl spilling out of her fuchsia halter top and matching mini skirt. Dani.
            Alex gives her a brutal, loathing glare and stalks into her and Leesie’s bedroom.
            Gabriel stands up. “Hello, Dani.” He speaks in a solemn voice and goes after Alex.
            Dani giggles and punches Seth in the arm. “You’re right, Sethie. They all want me back. “ She stumbles. Seth catches her—stumbles, too.
            Cooper and Ethan leap to help them. “It’s cool, Dani,” Cooper says. “We’re glad you’re back.”
            “Liars.” The giggle dissolves to tears. “She should be mad at Kai—not me. It’s his fault.”
            Brock pats her arm. “If you promise to make this pathetic bloke happy again, we’ll all be thrilled with your return.”
            She beams at Seth. “So it’s true? He can’t live without me?”
            Seth plants a loud smack on the side of her face. “You’re never getting away from me again.”
            She kisses him, and Brock and Cooper hustle them into their room and shut the door.
            Leesie leaves the table with the dirty plates balanced on her broken left hand.
            I gather up the dirty glasses and join her.
            She dumps her sling on the counter and whispers so only I can hear. “Dyed hair. Long, though. Pretty.”
            “Uh-huh.”
            “And those”—she rolls her eyes dramatically—“weren’t real.”
            “I didn’t look.” I concentrate on scrubbing the plate in my hand.
            Leesie elbows me. “Yes, you did.”
            “They weren’t so big.”
            “So you admit it?” She pulls the sprayer gadget out and rinses the plates I washed.
            I nuzzle the side of her head. “Sorry. I won’t ever look at those again.”
            “Or any other girl’s frontal zone.” She turns to me holding the sprayer like a weapon.
            I hold up my hands. “For the rest of my life?”
            “Yes. This is all you get.” She drops her hands to I can assess my fate.
            I put my hands on her waist and whisper, “You know I’m a small breast guy.”
            “There’s no such thing.” She glances down at her white T-shirt. “Should I get them fixed? Look like that?”
            “No way, babe.” I hug her. “I want the real thing.”
            Leesie still has the sprayer in her hand and somehow it gets pressed and soaks my back. I wrestle it away from her, making sure I douse her front.
            She hides against my chest and whispers, “Do you want to go back out to the beach?”
            “Yeah.” It’s too late, we’re too tired, too turned on, and feeling her up is a huge sin, but we’ll just roll around in the sand—make out some more—that’s it.
            She takes my hand, walks backward to the door so I get a good view of her wet T-shirt, pulls me forward.
            Gabriel opens the bedroom door. “Leesie?” he calls. “Alex needs you.”
            The teasing excitement drains out of her face. “Sure. I’m coming.” She kisses me goodnight and disappears.

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #88, GOOD THING?  

Alex sobs curled in a fetal
ball on the bathroom floor.
Gabriel picks her up,
tucks her in bed,
wipes her face
with tissues. “Come on,
now, my treasure,
enough.”

I relieve him of the box
of tissues. “Let her cry.”
His handsome face
shows doubt. “Are you sure?”
I nod and sniff, blinking
back my own tears that threaten
to break through the stone
I’ve buried my heart with.

Gabriel bends over and kisses
her forehead. “Goodnight, my Alex.”
He retreats elegantly, looking every bit
the millionaire playboy caught
in caring that’s morphing to love
with every tear Alex sheds.

Once he’s gone, she groans, hiccups.
“I can’t stop. I keep trying.
Gabriel saw me like this.
How hideous am I?”
I give her a fresh wad of
soft whiteness to staunch
the hot snot dripping down
her chin. “He loves you like this.”
“I wish.” She buries her face
in the tissues.

“Cry, Alex. Don’t stop.
Even I still believe
in the power of tears.”
She sobs and sobs,
mourning her hurt, her loss,
melting into new found
tenderness that tinges her pain
with sparks of joy,
flutters of hope,
and the dawn of love.

In the morning, she meets
Dani with coolness, but doesn’t
tear all the hair out of her head
or stab her with the knife Alex
wears strapped to her leg when she dives.
Gabriel whisks her away
for a day off in the sun, lazing
on beaches and sipping icy fruit froth.

Dani’s got double shifts
until hell freezes over
to make up for leaving
everybody high and dry.
Seth’s working with her.
The boys have the other boat—
which leaves me my Michael
to dote on all day long.
Bonus.

We leave the dishes undone
and the place a wreck,
drive down to the blow holes,
buy spicy grilled chicken
from a roadside stand,
eat it, sitting side by side
on the bare coral shore
as waves crash against the cliffs
and force water in the cracks
and up through the spouts
to spray white and pure
high into the air.

He picks up a drumstick.
“I’m sorry about last night.”
He bites and chews. “Good  thing
Alex needed you.”
Good thing?
Bad thing?
It used to be so easy
to spot which was which.
I’ve opened the door
to bad thing.
Crave it more and more
every day. Would it
be so bad? Or would
it be the best thing
that ever happened to me?

I lean my head against
his shoulder. “If we would
have gone down to
the beach—?”

His eyes move away
from the intensity of mine
and gather the spectacle
of the ocean’s purity.
“I don’t know, babe.”
He shakes his head.
“I don’t know.”




CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

I KNOW

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME #10

Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/08
Dive #: last time here
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: Rehab Center
Weather Condition: sunshine
Water Condition: 2’ swells
Depth: on the surface
Visibility: 100+ 
Water Temp: fine
Bottom Time: the rest of the day
Comments:
           
            Dove this morning. Seth and Dani. She ran the show. Whatever else you say about her, she knows her stuff. Great with the people on the boat. Not just the guys. Even the kids and their moms.
            I’m off this afternoon to take Leesie to her appointment at the rehab place. She got all dolled up for the nurses. Pretty white dress and the hip white scarf twisted around her head—I hadn’t noticed the silver and white beads tied onto the fringe. Lots of makeup. The only color she’s got on is the bead and shell necklace she thought was Suki’s.
             “Ah, Sugar, look at you!” Her favorite nurse greets her with a hug. “So pretty! Better, no?”
            Leesie blinks, getting emotional. “No more pills.” She’s refused to even take over-the-counter pain pills since that night.
            “Good for you.” Sugar pats her back, the quintessential mother.
            We wait for the doctor in a treatment room. She’s nervous. “What if it’s not fixed right?” She holds up her hand, twists it trying to see under cast and inside to the bones.
            I take her hand. “Don’t worry.”
            “What if he says I have to keep wearing the cast?”
            “Then my plans for tomorrow are wrecked.” I want to get her in the water so bad.
            “Here, take my ring. I don’t want cast-dust on it.”
            I take her hand and slide the ring off her finger and put it in my pocket.
            “Do you think they’re fat now? My fingers?”
            I bring her fingers to my lips and kiss them. “Your fingers are fine.”
            She tips her head to rest against my cheek. “I love you.”
            “I know.”
            She sticks her tongue out at me and the doctor walks in. Leesie gets cherry red and flustered, but the dude has his nose in Leesie’s chart.
“Let’s see what we’ve got now.” He directs Leesie to perch on one of those doctor’s office exam tables. He checks how the wound on her head is healing. “Any headaches?”
“Only him.” Her eyebrows rise in my direction.
The doctor laughs. “How’s your nose?” His expert fingers press along the ridge of her nose, stop at the slight bump from the break. “Is it still tender here?”
“Not very.”
“Any nosebleeds?”
“No.”
“Good.” He unlatches her sling and pulls it off.
The dress is bare on top, shows how tan she’s getting.
The doctor runs his fingers all along her collarbone—spends extra time around the break. “This has healed nicely. Have you been using your arm?”
“Some.” She looks down at the white skirt of her dress draped over her knees.
“A lot.” I fold my arms across my chest.
She glares.
“Good.” The doctor helps her put the sling back on. “Wear the sling as needed for another two weeks. But you can take it off for exercise. Swimming would be good. Are you doing your physio?”
“Yes. Every day.”
Physio and more. She works out until she hurts. I think she wants to be buff like Alex. I got to change her mind on that one.
The doctor finally gets to her hand. He rolls a wheelie table in front of her and takes an electric saw with a round whirling blade out of a drawer. “Rest your hand here.” He puts on safety glasses and revs up the saw. “Hold still.”
The blade whirrs and kicks up a  billow of white dust. It’s hot in that room. Airless. A vision of him cutting her hand right off invades. I breathe faster and faster like a newbie diver in panic mode. Choke on the dust.
Leesie stops the doctor with a touch on his shoulder. “Are you all right?”
I wipe my face. “Fine.”
“Good—look.” She holds her hand up so I can see her cast hangs on by a mere half inch width.
The doctor puts down the saw and opens a drawer. “I’ll use my scissors on that. Don’t want to slice open your hand.”
He really didn’t need to say that.
I take a deep breath, move closer for a better view. Snip. Snip. He pulls the cast off and her hand is free.
Pale, clammy, greenish contrasted with her tan fingertips. She turns it over. Four faint scars curved to fit my fingernails emerge and memory blurs my vision. She’s holding my hand for the very first time, talking about angels, and I hang on to her so tight I hurt her.
She sees them, too. Remembers? I hope so. I need her to remember the power and conviction she bathed my wounds with that night. I wish I could bathe hers like that now.
Not my element.
Saltwater, though. Healed me up fine in the end. It should work for her, too. A good place to start.
Tomorrow.
           

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM # 89, SALTWATER WONDER

Water closes over my head.
My pulse rate triples.
Michael, his face inches
from mine as we sink
together, motions slow,
take it slow, slow, slow.

I swallow, and my ears pop
like we practiced yesterday
in the pool, swallow again.
No pinching my nose and blowing
like I learned with him back
in SLC in that hotel pool—
he’s worried about pressure
on my weakened nose.

To avoid strain on my newly
healed collarbone, Michael
geared me up in the water,
kicking tanks and weights to where
I floated and gently wrapped me
in the complex web of equipment.

He motions, Okay?
I nod—remember to return
his signal, swallow again
and bump my leg into his
on purpose. Private lesson today.
No other students.
Just him and me, coral
and aqua water. Stray fish
staring at me like I’m an alien.

Alex with her students stir
up the sand on the other side
of the boat.

I’m in a new world with
Michael—his world
where my heart races
and I want to kick free
and swim for blue skies,
his world where bubbles
he exhales break around me,
calm my soul enough to pass off
skills kneeling in the sand,
wetsuited knees touching,
gauges checked, masks cleared,
air supply recovered, buddy
breathing.

Buoyancy balanced, he
leads me on a swim around
that replaces final fearful
wisps with wonder.
Is this really just under the surface?
Or did he transport me?
Am I on the moon? Mars? Venus?
A purplish world where
large flat fans screen the water
in lazy rhythm, fantastical formations
top every coral head.
A kingdom of tiny bright subjects
whiz in and out of their intricate
castles. Yellow. Blue. Black. Orange.
Vivid in tubular rays descending
from our own bright sun,
revealing their hidden playground.

Too soon we’re on the surface.
Too soon Michael unsnaps my B.C.
and unsnugs the Velcro cumber bun.
Too soon he boosts me back into the boat.
Too soon he reads the delight
in my face.

“Can we go again?”
I’m dying for another taste
of this mystery he loves so much.

He crushes me close, wipes a tear
from his eye before it can fall.
“Sure, babe.” He whispers,
“I love you.”
I blink, sniff, and manage to say,
“I know,” before his lips
take my breath away.