featured author: melody Carlson
Honolulu, September 1974
“You can’t see Oahu in just one day,” Jessie muttered as she got in line with the other passengers waiting to disembark from the Arcadia.
“What are your options?” the guy behind her asked.
She turned to see the tall Canadian who’d captured her interest the second day of the cruise—Garret McLean. “I know I shouldn’t complain,” she conceded with a smile. “It’s what you get when you book an old cruise ship for a half fare.”
“Might as well make the best of it.” He waved to someone. “I reserved a rental car and plan to drive all the way around the island. I want to see everything I can.”
“Is that even possible?”
“Care to find out?” His brows arched like this was an invitation.
Jessie considered this. Garret seemed a nice enough guy … but alone with him for the whole day? And what if they didn’t make it back to the ship in time? How would she ever afford the airfare to Australia? Before she could answer, a guy and girl joined them.
“My friends Vince and Dawn are coming too,” Garret explained to Jessie. “But we have room for one more. You in?”
Without a second thought, Jessie agreed.
“You didn’t tell us anyone else was coming.” Dawn linked her arm into Garret’s in what seemed a possessive way. “Ready to rock and roll?”
Garret introduced everyone as they disembarked, and before long, they were climbing into a yellow VW Bug. Dawn hopped into the front passenger seat, and Jessie and Vince got in back. Feeling a little disappointed, Jessie opened her map of Oahu, spreading it across her lap.
“First stop Diamond Head,” Dawn announced, citing facts about the legendary monolith. By now two things were clear to Jessie—this wasn’t Dawn’s first visit to Oahu, and she seemed to have staked a claim on Garret.
Trying not to care, Jessie played navigator while Dawn, as their long-winded tour-guide, directed Garret from one highlight to the next. Dawn knew all the must-see places—everything from blow holes to tidal pools to lighthouses to landmarks until they finally stopped at Sea World which, according to Dawn, was their halfway point on the island.
Glad to escape the cramped, stuffy car, Jessie stood in front of the aquarium, watching the dolphins perform. Enjoying their leaps, she didn’t even mind getting splashed. But at the same time, she felt envious of their freedom as they played happily in the water.
“Something wrong?” Garret looked at her with concern.
She forced a smile, not wanting to be a Debbie Downer.
“You don’t like dolphins?”
“The dolphins are sweet, but I’ve seen something like this before.”
“Yeah. Me too.” He glanced over to where Dawn was crouched down, trying to stay dry as she snapped pictures on her ever-present camera.
“To be honest, I hadn’t expected to spend the whole day in a car,” Jessie confessed.
“You and me both.” He nodded eagerly.
“And, well, I was feeling a little carsick earlier.”
“Of course—from reading that map in the backseat.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “Sorry about that, Jess. So, tell me, what would you like to do today?”
“Oh, come on.”
“Well, it would be fun to just hang on a great beach, swim in the surf, and—”
“Yes!” His eyes lit up. “That sounds fabulous.”
Following the dolphin show and a brief disagreement, the travelers voted three to one to dump Dawn’s island agenda. “And Jessie needs to sit in front,” Garret announced. “She was carsick.”
“Fine.” Dawn’s tone was sharp. “But you guys don’t realize what you’re going to miss—”
“You mean like too much time in a tiny car,” Vince teased.
“No. Like the Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor and the—”
“We want beach time!” Garret chanted as he started the car. Vince and Jessie joined in the chant, and Dawn clammed up.
“So where to?” Garret asked Jessie. “The nearest beach?”
“Sunset Beach is nearby.” Jessie pointed to a spot on the west side of the island, calculating the mileage.
“Sounds good to me.” Garret started the car.
“Just because it’s nearby doesn’t mean it’s a good beach,” Dawn said curtly.
“Are there any bad beaches on Oahu?” Vince asked.
It wasn’t long until they parked by a gorgeous sun-soaked beach. Complete with clear blue ocean, white curling waves, and a number of beautiful palm trees. And, according to the park sign, Sunset Beach was one of the most popular surf spots on the island. After a delicious lunch of fish tacos from a handy food trailer, they set their bags and belongings in the sand and went out to swim. Everyone but Dawn. She still seemed to be sulking.
“Don’t mind her,” Garret told Jessie. Grabbing her hand, he ran her straight out into the foaming surf. Jessie laughed, stunned at how warm the ocean was, and even when the surf crashed her down, rolling her around like a piece of driftwood, she didn’t mind.
“Are you okay?” Garret grabbed both hands, pulling her to her feet—and close.
“I love this.” She laughed. “I couldn’t be happier.”
“Way better than driving all day.” He smiled down at her. “I’m glad you suggested it.”
“I just hope Dawn’s not too mad.” Jessie glanced over to where Dawn seemed to be glowering at them. “Doesn’t she like the water?”
“I don’t know. I just met her the other day.”
“Oh, I got the impression you two were together.” Jessie dug her toes into the wet sand, hoping she wasn’t being too nosy.
“Thankfully, we’re not together. Dawn wanted to get better acquainted. But now I plan to get to know someone else instead.” He grinned. “And we’ve got the rest of the cruise to do it.” He checked his watch. “And I guess we better get going now . . . unless we want to miss the boat.”
Her newest release is Courting Mr. Emerson, which features an endearing duo, hopeful love, and Carlson’s signature touches of humor.
Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com