Part 2 of the Oblivion Trilogy
Cullen tried to judge the situation from his standpoint. If he didn’t move soon, he would be swallowed up with the rapidly sinking boat, yet if he misjudged it, one swipe of an Orca’s tail could kill him. He had heard about killer whales. Gentle giants they were known as yet rile them and you knew otherwise. A family group, they would protect one another, coming to each other’s defence, and Cullen was petrified of them. Could they smell fear? He did not know. It didn’t matter if they did. It wasn’t the essence here, somehow he had to swim through the mass of thrashing bodies to the dinghy without being injured and that in itself was enough. So far they did not seem to have noticed the dingy, which was a mistake to think it, of course they had, but their war was not with the dingy, it was with the boat which had caused one of them injury and pain. Comforted momentarily by the thought, Cullen dived into the ocean and began swimming as fast as he could towards the dingy, aided by the cries of its occupants urging him onwards.
*** *** ***
Within yards of reaching it, he saw out of the corner of one eye, the unmistakable dorsal fin cutting through the water, which to him looked very much like a shark rather than a killer whale. It circled him, wary at first, swimming in tighter and tighter circles around him, reaching him virtually at the same moment as his hands clasped the dingy sides, to haul himself up and over the side as the shark homed in on his disappearing feet. His face was ashen and his body shook uncontrollably, as Brook whispered, “Was that a shark?”
Cullen could only nod.
“I’ve heard about that.” Jamie told them, “they will have been alerted by the Orca, but they don’t usually mix together.”
Almost the moment the words were out of her mouth, the Orca sensed or saw the lone shark and leaving the joy of mutilating the boat, they came straight at it, with intent to kill.
“Paddle!” screamed Cullen, “Paddle now!”
The tiny dinghy rocked with the swell of the surging bodies as they gathered speed gaining on the shark still yards away. And as the four grown people inside the dingy started to paddle, Jacob let out an ear-piercing wail from his position in the centre of the dingy, as an Orca dived below, her tail swishing cold water all over them.
“Stop!” yelled Jamie, “It’s all right, look the Orca, they are going around us, they don’t mean us any harm.”
“Its impossible to paddle anyway in this surge, the current they are making is too strong, we could never work against it. My, look at that shark go.” Cullen shouted over the thunderous sound of breaking water, as the Orca cut and dived through it.
“As long as he goes right away from here, that’s all I hope.” Brook replied, fear in her eyes, watching the Orca chase him out of sight.
It seemed only within moments that the ocean was calm again, as the receding black and white giants swam a long, long way off from them, leaving each one feeling exhilarated by the Orca’s speed, despite the situation.
“ Someone tell me I’m dreaming.” Mouse uttered at last. He was beginning to think his voice had sunk with the boat.
It was such a funny statement to hear Mouse utter, that everyone burst into nervous laughter.
“And where were you?” Cullen regaining himself at last, looking at Mouse sternly, “I mean where the hell were you. I left you at the wheel, and within minutes we are shipwrecked.”
Mouse turned eyes away from him to look at his feet, there were no words to explain.
Jamie fidgeted, slightly, “I’m afraid that was my fault.” she told Cullen, “I distracted Mouse.”
“Distracted him, but he wasn’t even there. What you do, chase him away?” he was only joking so was unprepared for Jamie’s answer.
“Something like that.” Jamie told him honestly. Then turning to Mouse told him, “I’m sorry Mouse, truly I am.” What else could she say? Her lips fumbled for the words, but with Cullen and Brook’s eyes upon her, and not wanting to cause Mouse any further embarrassment and least of all herself, she stopped while she was ahead.
Cullen took in the obvious flustered state of Mouse, and then Jamie. He had heard via the grapevine that Jamie had begun to notice Mouse in that way, so it didn’t take a genius to guess what had transpired between them. Torn between rubbing it in and letting it go he chose the latter. They were in no position for laughter or embarrassing company. Instead he looked around him, “Well, I'm really not sure which way to go now, but we can’t stay here all night, so we had best get paddling, and just hope that we are heading towards civilisation.”
Keeping the sun to their left and a mass of ocean to their right, was the only way Cullen knew they were headed in the right direction, but as the sun began to sink beneath the horizon, he grew agitated. They had been bobbing along for five hours, and yet had they of been on the boat they would have reached the island an hour since. Knowing his thoughts Jamie desperately tried to reassure him. “The dingy goes so much slower Cullen, its going to take double the time now, if not more. Don’t let it worry you, providing we are heading the right way, we have enough food and water for several days.”
“That’s not the problem though Jamie, with the sun setting we could so easily lose our course, and could drift right past the island, we won’t be able to tell where the bay is, in the dark.” Cullen told her.
Anguish seared her soul as she realised the truth of his words. They could drift for weeks, she had heard of people doing that, and of course, there was young Jamie to consider, although in a mild sort of way he was showing no fear of their predicament.
“Have you got a pen?” Mouse suddenly asked to no one in particular.
Brook smiled, “This is no time to write postcards Mouse.”
He half smiled at her. “Mouse has good idea.” he grinned.
“Well I had one, but I expect it got soaked when I was swimming, still it might work, here try it.” Cullen pulled it from his pocket, extracting the top and was pleased to see that the nib was quite dry. “What’s your plan Mouse,” he asked as he wrote on his hand to see if it still worked. Satisfied it did, he handed Mouse the pen.
“Dingy circular.” Mouse told him as if that answered a thousand questions.
“I don’t want to state the obvious Mouse, “Cullen told him, “But I think we already know that.”
Mouse grinned, leaning over to the left side of the dingy to write upon it the word ‘LEFT’ in big letters, and doing likewise with the other side with the word ‘RIGHT’.
“What’s that to prove?” Jamie asked laughing.
“Sun on left, ocean on right.” Mouse told her.
Cullen slapped a hand to his brow, “But of course, why didn’t I think of that. So when the sun rises, if we are facing the other way on, we know we have turned around. Well done Mouse.”
Mouse’s beaming smile faded when Jamie retorted, “You think that’s clever, Cullen you are at the top end, and I am here, surely if we remember which way we were facing, we could tell which way was which?”
“Really?” Cullen told her. “And what if we should move about in the night, and lose our bearings, huh? What then?”
Jamie remained silent feeling foolish. Besides, she didn’t intend to move the dinghy was bouncy enough as it was.
“Are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a boat out there?” Brook scanned the horizon with a hand held to her brow.
Cullen turned swiftly, straining his eyes to see, “It does look like a boat. God, what a fool I am, I should have brought the flares.”
“You mean you didn’t? No, please tell me you are joking?” Brook told him.
Cullen shook his head, “What with everything happening so fast, I just didn’t think.”
“Mouse brought rocket.” all faces turned to Mouse, as he extracted from his pocket a slim object with a fuse attached.
“Oh Mouse I could kiss you!” Brook hugged him tightly.
“I won’t even ask how you happen to have that flare in your pocket Mouse.” Cullen told him.
“Not flare, rocket.” Mouse insisted.
Cullen leaned forward to examine it, “It is a rocket, but where did you get it?”
“Found it where?”
“Devin’s chamber. Big box of them.”
“What on earth would Devin want with fireworks. Mouse did you take it before or after Devin left for the island.”
“Before. Devin took the box with him.”
“He must be planning a secret display on the island, then.” Cullen said almost to himself, then added to Mouse, “I don’t suppose you brought any matches did you?”
Brook’s face fell, as Mouse’s face beamed, “Of course!” and he produced a small box from another pocket. “Not stealing,” Mouse told them, “Just borrowing.”
“Did you only take one rocket?” Cullen asked.
Mouse frowned. Followed by a sheepish grin as putting his hand inside his jacket pocket he produced another rocket.
“How did you do that?” Jamie asked then perplexed. “You went off to get changed just before the Orca hit us, how did you get hold of the rockets in time?”
“Did it yesterday.” Mouse told them.
Jamie nodded, “And when you changed your clothing you put yesterday’s clothing on again. I understand.”
“One thing,” Brook asked, “Why did you have to get changed Mouse?”
Cullen coughed, “I don’t think we want the answer to that Brook, let’s just be grateful for whatever happened up at the wheel, meant that he had to get changed, or else I wouldn’t like to ascertain our fate now. Look that boat is coming closer, but I doubt it can see us. We’ll use one rocket now, and save the other, for another time, just in case.”
But Mouse was unravelling the paper around the gunpowder. “Mouse, what are you doing!”
“Mouse know. Make more.” he told them happily, and they watched as his busy little fingers broke open the plastic coating, carefully unwrapped each rocket, shorten them and made them into four smaller ones, broke their sticks in half and then put them all back together again.
“I jolly well hope they still work Mouse, you should have only tampered with one, until we were certain of success.” Cullen told him, his eyes fixed upon the boat, which seemed to be getting further away. “Hurry, there is no time to lose, we must light one now. Give one to me.”
“My rocket.” Mouse told him, holding the rocket and matchbox in one hand and using his other to strike a match.
“God I hope it doesn’t blow his hand off.” Brook whispered closing her eyes unable to watch.
Mouse hesitated, he hadn’t thought of that. Letting the match go out, his horror filled eyes asked the silent question racing through his mind, as Cullen continued to urge, “Come on, come on, they are going away.”
Still Mouse hesitated. Cullen snatched the rocket from his hand, “Let me do it. We may not get another chance, and it’ll soon be dark.” Mouse handed him the matches, his fingers shaking, as he too saw the boat disappearing from view, and watched in silence as Cullen held the lighted match towards the touch paper.
“Stop! I can’t bear it, you are going to do yourself a serious injury, and if you bleed that shark could come back, I have an idea.” Jamie shouted, stilling Cullen’s hand with the lighted match, before it reached its goal.
“We need a bottle. If we tip out the water, we could use one of those bottles.”
“We can’t waste the water Jamie, it’s needed.”
“Then we must drink it between us.”
“But we need to ration it.” Cullen told her.
“Have you a better idea?”
“Mouse know.” Mouse told them coming to the rescue again. Quickly he extracted the contents of the pen into Jamie’s hand, and then taking the outer casing of the pen, showed that one of the rocket sticks would slide into it. It wasn’t brilliant but it proved better than holding the actual rocket, and the worse that would happen is that whoever held it would get a bad burn from the sparks.
“Here hold a corner of this blanket around your hand, it’ll help save it a little.” Brook told Cullen.
“Or set fire to it,” Cullen smiled. “Well now that’s all settled, where is that damn boat?”
Looking to its place, the recent excitement between them died as they found it was no-where in sight. “Now what are we to do?”
Cullen took the rocket back into his hand and tried to give everyone an encouraging smile, “Well having gone through all that, and knowing the boat is somewhere out there, I don’t think we have any choice, we have still got to try. Okay everyone, ready, here goes.”
Vincent leaned over the railings, his mind weary from thinking. As the sun died signalling the end of another day, he sighed, somewhere out there on that huge expanse of ocean was his son, and Vincent found it frustrating to be able to feel his son close by, and not know where he was.
Catherine handed him a steaming mug of tea, “Drink this darling.” she told him, “It’ll warm you through.” he took it absentmindedly, sipping at the hot liquid, not tasting it. “I know he’s out there somewhere Catherine, not far either. He isn’t afraid anymore, but he’s not sleeping either.”
Catherine leaned against Vincent, loving the security his body offered, while he held the mug in both hands, his elbows leaning upon the railing.
“We should have seen something by now. Devin thinks we may have missed them. He is arguing with Father about going back to the island.”
“I wondered about that. Perhaps someone should have stayed there, lit a bonfire, something that could be visible from the ocean. They won’t be able to tell where the island is in the dark.” Vincent told her, without any emotion in his tone.
“I’ll go and tell them that, it may help finalise the situation.”
While she was gone, Vincent thought he saw a sudden flash. It was sharp and a thin trail of light shot up into the sky, followed by a cascading brilliance of stars falling overhead. His roar for his wife’s name sent her racing back to his side.
“What is it?”
“Out there, I saw a rocket go up. Look upwards, you can still just see tiny sparks falling.”
Catherine looked hard and saw what he meant, as Devin raced onto the deck, “Did you see that, did you see that?”
“You saw it?” Vincent asked joy flooding through him.
“Yes, but it wasn’t a flare, it was more like a rocket. And who would have fireworks way out here?”
“Never mind who, you lot, lets get this boat over to that area.” Father hobbled after his son, “Wherever it came from, it proves there is life out there, and someone needs us, even if it isn’t who we hope.”
Cullen sucked on his hand, the burn was excruciating. The blanket doing little to prevent the searing pain of the rocket as it left the pen casing, melting it in its path. “Light another.” Jamie shouted, “They might not have seen it.”
Cullen looked down at his hand, blistering beneath his eyes. “I don’t think I could.” he told her.
“Mouse do it.” Mouse told them, “Mouse not afraid.”
“Then you should be, this really hurts.” Cullen told him.
“Better idea, better than good, better than better.” Mouse told him, placing another rocket in the burnt out shell of the pen casing, and placing it between his knees.
“Mouse no!” Jamie screamed, as she had visions of the rocket blowing up amid delicate parts of Mouse’s body, but her words came too late, as horrified she watched Mouse light the touch-paper and saw the rocket spark into life. A terrific explosion ripped apart the night, and she saw Mouse writhe in pain, as the material of his pants disintegrated, and a gaping wound appeared upon both legs. Mouse jumped to his feet, oh the pain, the pain, the searing, agonising pain, he didn’t know what to do, only that he had to stop the pain. Falling to his knees he let out a long deep sigh as something wet and cold touched his burning skin and the relief it brought was blessed.
For several moments he knelt there, until Brook screamed, “My feet are getting wet!”
Jamie pulled her feet up, and felt her bottom grow wet, “the dinghy is leaking!” she cried.
Horror flashed through Cullen’s mind, Of course the rocket! Held so low between Mouse’s knees it had burnt right through the bottom of the dinghy.
They had no life jackets, and when the dinghy had deflated it would offer no protection.
Mouse was bleeding, there were shark in such waters, and they didn’t know for sure if they had been seen.
“We have to let off the last two rockets,” Cullen told them, “It’s our only hope now. Once they get wet we won’t be able to use them, we may as well cut our loses now. Give them to me Mouse.”
“But your hand?” Jamie gathering Jacob against her, took off her pullover to tie it around herself and the child, in the hope that it would keep him with her, at least she was a strong swimmer, but they would need to tread water for maybe hours.
“Forget my hand, better to lose a hand than my life.” he told her.
“No, let me. Your hands are precious Cullen, look what you use them for Below. What use is your life if you are unable to use your hands ever again, you will feel as good as dead.”
Cullen knew she was right, but to bestow this pain on someone else, especially the tender skin of a young girl, never, he couldn’t allow it. Before she had time to argue, he lit another rocket, feeling as he did so, the dingy disappearing beneath him, and followed the rocket with the last one before the pain in his hands had time to register. Watching as the rocket exploded into a thousand stars above his head, he knew only relief as the searing pain in his hands was dulled by the coolness of the ocean. Now all they had between them was hope.
“Someone is obviously very distressed. Four rockets in less than a few minutes and that last explosion was a double. Can’t you make it go any faster Devin?” Father called as loud as he could to his son back in the engine room. As if in response Devin opened the boat out full throttle. He hadn’t heard his father’s words, but thinking along the same lines had known the same urgency when he had seen that last double explosion.
Gerry huddled at his side, “Is there anything I can do Devin?”
Frantically he tried to get his mind into action, suddenly declaring, “Yes take the wheel a moment, I’ll be straight back.” Running, he shouted, “Vincent help me.” And made towards his cabin. Vincent left his place by the railings, and was behind him in seconds. “What is it Devin?”
“This box it contains flares. I can’t think where the damn key to it is, smash it open will you?”
Vincent brought down his fist, splintering the box into fragments, and watched as Devin bundled some flares into his hands and shouting his thanks, fled back to the deck.
“I want them to know we are coming.” Devin called to no one in particular, as he tugged at the cord beneath a flare, and heard it whistle out into the semi-darkened sky, to cascade in a scorching fireball as it exploded high over the ocean. “Now if you can get those lights positioned, out that way, I’ll switch them on.” And he was gone racing back to the cabin where Gerry continued to steer the boat.
“Look!” Jamie felt a great rush of happiness flood her senses, as the flare exploded above them, “They’ve seen us, they’ve seen us.”
Momentarily the light from the flare, and something else lighted Cullen’s face. Something else was visible in the light. Jamie gasped hugging Jacob tighter against her, as fear filled her soul, “Cullen,” she whispered hoarsely; “there are sharks behind you.”
Jacob felt her fear, his tiny heart hammered, sending shock waves across the ocean, through the Bond, to plant themselves in his parent’s hearts, and make them cling to one another in their anguish.
“How much further.” Father called, “We don’t even know if it’s them.”
“It is.” Vincent told him.
Father did not need to ask how he knew both Vincent’s and Catherine’s faces assured him of the fact.
“Jacob is very afraid.” Catherine told him, “Something is happening out there, and we aren’t going to reach them in time.” A sob caught in her throat.
“Hush now.” Vincent drew her towards his side, kissing her cheek, “We’ll soon be there.”
A flood of lights hit the water then, as Devin found the appropriate switches, hoping their brilliance would bring relief to those on the boat. Then straining their eyes to sea, all gasped in horror as Catherine’s scream split the night, and following her gaze saw the unmistakable dorsal fins of many sharks!
“What to do, what to do,” Devin’s mind battled with ideas, dismissing this and that as he sorted through them, pacing up and down, up and down as Gerry continued to guide the boat. “I’ve got it!” He cried, running away again, and heading below deck. Chucking audio tapes this way and that, until he found the one he sought he put it on, flicked the switch for the underwater microphone, and the sound of the song of the Orca filled the ocean above and beneath.
Running back onto the deck, Devin could hardly believe his eyes, the sharks in fear of the Orca, retreated rapidly in shoals, and he could not stop a whoop of joy escape his lips.
“Great idea my boy.” Father shouted. “Yes.” Mary echoed, “Look at them go. My they must hate the Orca.”
“They are the sharks’ enemy. And with the recording on so loud, it fools them into thinking the Orca are close by. We shouldn’t have anymore trouble with them tonight. The only thing that would keep them hanging around would be the scent of blood.” Almost as soon as he had said it, he clapped a hand to his mouth horrified. For what other reason were the sharks milling around in the first place? Obviously those people with Jacob were injured in some way. Vincent saw the fear in his brother’s eyes, and tried to avert Catherine’s gaze, but Devin’s words had already sunk in, and Vincent felt a fresh wave of Catherine’s fear stab straight through his heart.
“Can you shout, everyone. We have to shout. They aren’t far away but they are heading straight at us. We must let them know where we are.”
“Help!” Brook and Jamie screamed together, “Help.”
“Mouse?” Where was Mouse? Cullen looked around frantically, “Mouse where are you? MOUSE!” He screamed, as he saw a dorsal fin dive next to Mouse who was frozen with fear at the sight of it so close to him.
“Did you hear that! Mouse is with them. Whatever is happening out there?”
“I don’t know,” Gerry called, “But I’m sure as hell going to find out.” Without a second thought, she heard Devin screaming her name as she dived from the top deck into the ocean below.
“Its all right, its all right”, she called back, “Don’t worry I’m armed.”
“Her claws of course!” The words were out of Mary’s mouth before she realised. It took only a second for them to sink in, and Vincent was easing Catherine out of his arms, as he too dived overboard, swimming with ease behind his sister.
“VINCENT!” Catherine screamed, feeling helpless as well as afraid, as Devin’s arms stole around her holding her tightly against him, “Don’t worry Cath, they will be all right, I’ve a good feeling about this.”
“Who’s manning the boat Devin!” Mary cried, looking from one to the other of those around her. “Oh Lord, I forgot about that!” Devin let Catherine go and raced back to take the wheel that Gerry had just discarded.
The lights from the boat rippled across the swirling ocean, as tails from the excited and wary shark fanned great undercurrents around the sweet scent of blood that wafted tantalisingly towards them. Incensed to a frenzy, they did not notice as Gerry reached the side of one glistening body and swiped it with her claws. Blood trickled through the wound, and she watched in horror, as thrashing bodies gorged themselves upon the wounded shark, even as the injured one bit off parts of itself. Swimming past them, she headed towards a group of people huddled together as they bobbed upon the ocean holding tight to the fragments of the burst dingy.
“Are you all right.” she called, as she approached.
“Gerry!” Jamie called, “Thank Goodness.”
“Okay good, okay fine.” Mouse uttered with relief.
“Where’s Jacob?” Vincent called as he came alongside his sister, “Vincent!” Cullen cried, “Am I pleased to see you.”
“Jacob is with me, he’s fine Vincent, but another few minutes....” She left the statement unfinished.
“Don’t remind me, and we aren’t safe yet.” Vincent told her, treading water, and kissing his son’s face over and over.
“Are you kidding. With you and Gerry here, nothing can harm us now.” Jamie told him seriously.
“I wish I had your faith.” Gerry told her, “These shark are everywhere. Or they were where have they gone? Vincent, can you see any of them?”
He shook his head, “No, come on, lets get back to the boat, I don’t like the feel of this.”
Together they started to swim quickly towards the boat and Devin, on seeing their approach shut down the engines, and cruised towards them, helping as Father, Charles and Catherine hauled the cold and frightened tunnel dwellers up on deck, aided by Vincent and Gerry who pushed them from behind.
Fetching blankets, Mary wrapped them in their warmth, and hurried away to make some hot sweet tea for each of them.
“What I can’t understand is where the sharks suddenly went to. One minute they were all around us, and the next they were gone just like that.” Gerry still stood by the rail overlooking the ocean, leaning against Devin who with his arms around her held the blanket in place.
“Perhaps the body of the one you slayed sunk to the bottom, and they followed it.” Vincent told her, as he cradled his son upon his lap, kissing the downy head between words.
“Maybe”, Gerry didn’t sound convinced.
“Look!” Devin exclaimed, “There’s your answer.” He pointed out to where the lights from the boat beamed a spotlight onto the swirl of the ocean, when from it broke the unmistakable black and white body of a large Orca, who drawn by the sound of her own song had unknowingly, saved their lives.
“That’s wonderful”, Father exclaimed, as he administered to Cullen and Mouse’s wounds, “I didn’t think we would see them again.”
“You sound as though you are happy to see them Father, yet it’s because of them things that we ended up in the water. They’re dangerous.” Jamie trembled with fear.
“No, Jamie.” Devin told her, “Look I’ll show you.” Leaning overboard he gently slapped the water, and waited expectantly as the Orca swam to his hands, and allowed him to stroke her. A gurgle came from her, and everyone watched in delight as she opened her mouth to allow him to stroke within. Running his hand around her tongue, he felt rather than saw the stitches beneath her tongue and cried joyfully, “It’s her dad, it’s the one you took the glass from!”
“Amazing.” Father stood at his side, looking down with love at the great and awesome creature, bending to stroke her head. “Hello old girl,” he caressed her skin, and laughed as he was rewarded with warm air blowing softly through her mouth into his face, “So now we are even eh?”
“Of course!” cried Vincent, watching from behind, with Jacob fast asleep upon his shoulder,
“It’s almost as if she knew. Do you think she has been following us?”
“Who can say Vincent, all I know is that I am happy she knows about the law of life.”” Father told him happily.
“The law of life Father?” Vincent queried.
“Yes, the law of life, that is a life for a life. We saved her life and she felt compelled to save someone special to us. Now we are even eh old girl,” he returned his attention to the Orca telling her further, “Now you can return to your family, with a happy heart.”
Incredibly, almost as if she understood, the Orca buffeted Father’s hands gently, blew into his hair, and with a swish of her mighty body backed away from the boat to sink beneath the depths out of sight. Leaving behind her a peaceful, easy feeling to wash over everyone on board the boat as calming as the caress of the tranquil sea.
*** *** ***
"She has mislead him
by the abundance of her persuasiveness,
By the smoothness of her lips
she seduces him."
(Proverbs 7 v 21)
"How on earth did it happen Cullen?" Devin asked the following morning when everyone had been given time to recover.
His hands bandaged, Cullen shook his head. “I have an idea how it happened, but I can’t say for definite. You see I had been steering the boat for twelve hours without a break when I decided Mouse could take the wheel.” Father groaned, “No,” Cullen told him, “That wasn’t when it happened, Mouse was very good, better than good in actual fact,” he laughed, then wished he hadn’t as the laughter stabbed more pain through his body, and seemed to jolt right down into his hands. He winced, then continued, slowly, “The problem arose when I went to take a break. I really needed to, my eyes weren’t focusing properly, and though there is nothing to see but ocean, I really had to rest. Had I of been able to steer non-stop for the entire eighteen hours I would have done.”
“No-one would have expected you to do Cullen, so you can stop tormenting yourself, it wasn’t your fault.” Devin told him sincerely.
“Well, I did take a break and left Mouse in charge. He’d steered on his own for the past two hours, and I had no qualms about leaving him, besides Jamie was nearby, and any problems he might have encountered, she could have helped.”
“Oh don’t tell me?” Vincent raised a hand to his brow, “You didn’t leave Jamie and Mouse alone together, where was Brook?”
“Sleeping alongside Jacob. Those bunks are so high, she was afraid he’d roll off in his sleep, so she lay down at his side and fell asleep with him.”
“What problem is there with leaving Jamie alone with Mouse, they have been friends for years? Father asked mystified.
Devin shot Vincent a look, which simply said, “Whoops”. As Catherine and Gerry each stifled a giggle, and Father found himself growing hot with embarrassment, “You don’t mean, what I think you mean?” He spoke slowly, with disbelief. “Surely not with Mouse?”
The silence from his audience confirmed his suspicions, “Tell me I’m dreaming!” He rubbed his brow with one hand, “How long has it been going on, and why wasn’t I told of it?” His eyes bulged, with horror, “The times I have sent the pair of them off on an errand together, I used to wonder why it took them double the time it would have taken anyone else.” Catherine and Gerry burst out laughing, followed by Mary, who had been trying to hold her amusement at bay for some time.
Father turned in his seat, “You mean you knew, Mary my dear?” she nodded, unable to trust herself to speak.
“I think everyone was beginning to notice dad,” Devin told him, “And we didn’t bother you with it for we all thought it was mild infatuation. I mean think of it Mouse is just a boy at heart, its not as if he would understand what she was attempting is it?”
“I’m not so sure about that Devin. When I left Mouse steering, he was fine, a little nervous maybe, but I felt confident in his abilities. Then when the boat was sunk by the Orca, it transpired that Mouse had to leave the wheel to change his clothing. Now I have never actually got to the bottom of the reason for that.” he nodded, “And I think I’d like to do.” he laughed.
Gerry joined him, “Seems to me, Jamie got to the bottom of it.” She laughed out loud, and Father shot her an irritated look, which fuelled laughter from everybody else.
“Oh poor Mouse.” Catherine told them, “I bet he didn’t know what hit him.”
“As far as I can tell, he bolted for the bathroom....” Cullen went on, only to be halted by Devin’s gale of laughter at the delicious thought of it, Cullen tried not to join in, “and when he returned he was wearing different trousers, and a long jacket.” He couldn’t stop himself then, as he realised why Mouse had needed to change his trousers, and laughed out loud.
Cullen grew serious then, “But as it all turned out, it was as well he did.”
“Why?” Catherine asked, tears of laughter in her eyes.
“Well, okay, so the accident may have been caused by Jamie’s advances on Mouse, who knows? Maybe even I would not have been able to steer a clear pathway through all those Killer Whales. But the fact remains that it did happen. And Mouse had to change into the clothing that he had started out in, on the journey the day before, which meant that in the pockets of his trousers and jacket were two fireworks. Which we used as flares.”
“Fireworks! You say fireworks, wherever did he get fireworks?” Father wanted to know.
Cullen shot Devin a ‘what should I tell him?’ look, and Devin shook his head, he didn’t want anyone guessing his plan just yet.
“I have no idea,” He began and then thought better of it, when he realised Father might ask Mouse the same question, well there was no might about it really, Father would ask Mouse the same question.” ”Well that’s not strictly true, I do know where he obtained them, but as it is not for me to say, can I ask you Father, in fact any of you, to refrain from asking Mouse until after the end of your holiday.”
Father was about to refuse, when Cullen’s eyes pleaded with him, and he heard himself say, “Please?”
Reluctantly, Father agreed, “But as soon as we are back home, I want the truth.”
“Don’t worry dad, I think you will come to realise long before that.” Devin told him sheepishly.
“Has this got something to do with you, Devin?” Father asked.
Knowing he had said too much, Devin smiled sheepishly, “My lips are sealed.” He mumbled with a wide grin.
“So let’s get back to the main story then shall we?” Vincent suggested, with laughter in his blue eyes. Devin had given the game away as far as he was concerned. “Whatever are we to do about Jamie and Mouse, we don’t want this boat sunk as well do we? And though I for one, would not mind spending the rest of my days on this glorious island, I do have my other children to consider.”
“Yes, we should get it resolved, the sleepyheads will no doubt be up soon, its way passed breakfast time. I’m surprised the smell of Charles pancakes didn’t lead Mouse up on to deck in his sleep.” Mary told them happily.
“Maybe Jamie will have learnt her lesson. We shall have to hope that her folly has shown accidents can happen. I don’t think there is anything we should do until we see something that concerns us between the pair of them. And in any case, they are both adults, do we have the right to put a stop to anything?” Cullen told them.
“We have every right!” Father exploded, “Jamie yes, should have the mind of an adult, but has obviously proven she has not. Mouse indeed!” he didn’t think he would ever get over that declaration as long as he lived. “ You would think the girl would have more sense. We simply have to put a stop to this foolhardiness, there is no telling where it will lead.”
“Well as far as I can tell, mice breed faster than any living thing, and can you imagine dozens of little Mouse’s scuttling around the tunnels?”
“Devin!” Father reprimanded his son; “This is no joking matter. This is serious!”
“I bet that’s how Jamie would like it to be.” he laughed but the look on Father’s face made him apologise, reluctantly, “I’m sorry dad, I couldn’t resist it.”
Father found his lips twitch just slightly, but kept his face straight nonetheless, he couldn’t allow himself to make light of this. Bringing it back to the seriousness of the situation he took the smile off of everyone’s face when he said, “If Jamie had not of been making advances towards Mouse, young Jacob might not have ended up as possible lunch for those sharks. Why the horror of that experience could trouble him for all his life.”
Vincent and Catherine found tears well in their eyes, Father was right, they were joking too much about a very serious matter, one which so easily could have robbed them of their son.
“If you would excuse us Father?” Vincent pushed back his chair and stood up, holding his hand to pull Catherine up with him, “I think Catherine and I would like to go and check on our son.”
Father stammered his apologies, but Vincent brushed them aside. “You said what you thought was best Father, but I find myself unable to not get emotional over it. Please don’t worry, Catherine and I will regain our composure after we have spent some time with Jacob.”
Father watched them go, “I should never have said that.” he told no one in particular. “They were so frightened yesterday, we all were, and at least the joking was bringing them out of that fear, now I have put them right back in the midst of it.”
“You never meant anything by it Father.” Cullen told him, “You weren’t to know. And you are right it is serious, we shouldn’t have been joking about it really, though it did ease the stress. They’ll be all right, you’ll see they won’t hold it against you. You have just reminded them where their loyalties lie that’s all.”
Father nodded, “Thank you Cullen, well what are we to do then about the romantic pair?”
“Who, Vincent and Catherine, or Jamie and Mouse?” Mary tried to get Father to see the funny side of things again.
His lips twitched, and this time he could not stop his laughter from escaping, only ceasing when Gerry promised, “Tell you what Father, first chance we get, Catherine and I will take Jamie in hand, and have a word or two with her, would that please you?”
He nodded, “Yes thank you, it would. She would listen to you two, that is a marvellous idea, I feel better about it already.”
“Well then, now that is sorted, what are we to do about the remainder of the holiday dad? I contacted the coast guard to say we had found everyone, and they will send out a boat if anyone needs to return. I mean, without his boat, Cullen can’t return by himself, even if his hands were up to it, but really there aren’t enough bunks on this boat to sleep everyone, unless we take it in turns. I mean I really don’t mind, if we have four extra people for the duration of our holiday here with us, but what about their injuries, do they need to get to a hospital for skin grafts or something?”
“I think I have all we need for their injuries here. Certainly the salt water will purify the wounds more than anything I have in my little black bag, but we don’t want to entice the shark back by the scent of blood do we, can you suggest anything?” Father asked him gravely.
“I can play the song of the Orca from time to time. That would keep them away from us, but as you say the blood scent will bring them hurtling in Orca or no Orca.” Turning his attention to Cullen he asked, “How do you feel about spending the rest of the week with us Cullen, that is the foremost question. And then if you want to stay, how would you feel about spending the next five days on the beach with Mouse?”
“Why the beach, and not the boat Devin?” Mary asked.
“If Mouse and Cullen need to bathe their wounds on the boat, we have to tip the bloodied water into the ocean and that will entice shark. But if they spend the rest of the week on the beach, they can collect seawater in bowls, bathe their wounds, and tip the dirty water somewhere in the shrubbery. Thus the shark will be none the wiser, and the rest of us swimming from boat to shore will not be in any danger, so long as I continue to play the Orca song tapes.”
Father nodded, “Well that sounds like a splendid idea, how do you say Cullen?”
Cullen smiled happily, “All this, all the sun, sea, and a tropical island, and you expect me to hurry home to a life beneath the city, when you are offering this paradise, what answer do you expect me to give? And I am certain you’ll not hear any different from the other three.”
“Good man.” Devin patted him on the back, “ Welcome to our island. You are going to really enjoy being here.”
“If it turns out to be as explosive as I expect, I am sure I will.” he winked at Devin, and Father went on, “There you go again, keeping secrets from me. I am certain Devin is up to something.”
Devin laughed, “You just concentrate on having a good time dad, there is nothing to worry about believe me?”
“Famous last words.” Father told him.
Devin laughed, “Well you know me dad.”
“That I do.” Father told him sternly. “That’s what worries me.”
“Let’s just say then that the holiday will go out with a bang.”
“My god, he’s going to blow us all up. Tell me you are joking, if this is one of Mouse’s inventions.... Devin!” he couldn’t finish.
Devin laughed, “Calm down dad, no nothing like that, don’t worry, trust me.”
“Hum!” was all Father could say, as he glared at his son. Now where had he heard Devin say that before?
*** *** ***
Despite the pain from the wounds between his knees, Mouse was in seventh heaven. The island offered him a wealth of inventions yet to be had, and operating in a Swiss Family Robinson fashion, he helped Devin and Vincent to erect a temporary lodging for himself and Cullen to stay during their time on the beach.
“I don’t think you will be cold Mouse, but one can never tell if a stiff breeze should blow up, you could go into the shrubbery of course, but its as well you have somewhere to shelter, if only from the ants.” Devin told the boy.
Rummaging amongst the shrubbery, Mouse brought back palm tree fronds, to use on the roof, and all manner of things the others would have disregarded, that he told them happily he could use for this and that. Cullen too, it seemed, despite the injury to his hands, was finding pieces of wood which he foresaw great designs within, when he could get back to work shaping them again. “I must take this bit back with me,” he told Vincent, stooping low to pick up a piece of wood, “and this bit too.” Vincent visualised the boat being loaded down with a mountain of logs before the week was out.
When they discovered the seashells, it was something else. “These would be great.” Cullen cried, his eyes bright, “I can see it now, you’ll see, what I could do with these shells, why the list is endless.”
“Mouse has an idea.” Mouse picked up a large couch shell placing it to his ear, and Vincent marvelled that he knew about that. “See Vincent, the sound of the sea is inside.” he told Vincent merrily, “Must take this home.”
Vincent found himself swept along by their obvious joy, and falling into step alongside Devin told him, “This Island brings out the best in people Devin, we should endeavour to bring others here. Look what it would do for Elizabeth alone, and even Narcissa could benefit from the sunshine.”
Devin nodded, “Yes, we should share it shouldn’t we. I’d need to get permission from Greg of course, but I don’t see a problem, he hardly ever comes here.”
“Greg? Is he the chap that owns the island?”
“Yes, we met when I was staying in London. He is a great guy, with his fingers very neatly in all the pies. There is hardly a thing he doesn’t know. His brain soaks up information like a sponge. He made his fortune on stocks and shares, and believe it or not, won this island in a card game. He’s been here once or twice, but admits it isn’t his scene, and he was more than happy to have me come here once or twice a year to keep an eye on it. I just hope he never sells it, our being able to use it like this suits me fine.”
“Perhaps we should take more of an advantage while he does own it then, and come here twice a year instead.” Vincent suggested.
“Fine by me Vincent. We could certainly do with it, and it would afford us with a better opportunity to bring everyone from Below out with us in turns, wouldn’t it?”
“If they are anything like me, you might find, fewer come back with you than went out, I could really live here for the rest of my life.”
“For you I would make an exception. You more than most deserve to live here. Perhaps when your children are older we could come out here, and stay for months at a time.”
“Could we really?” Vincent was overjoyed.
“I don’t see why not, and as you say, we might as well make the most of it, while its available to us.”
“Mouse is getting so much joy from being here, even while we are back beneath the city, I expect he will fill our days away from here, with tales of the island. I am pleased Cullen chose to bring him, Devin.”
“Yes, but the Jamie thing is a problem isn’t it? The poor guy, look at him, excited over a couch shell just like a kid. He doesn’t understand the wiles of women. Come to that though, do you remember last year when the four of us built that gynormous sand castle, we acted just like children too?”
Vincent laughed, “It was great wasn’t it. Sometimes it is good to be young again.”
“Sometimes I think Father never believes we have grown up, and he still tries to wrap you in cotton wool Vincent.”
“Yes he does, but I don’t mind, it shows how much he cares for me, and after all I owe him everything.”
“I am pleased we brought him out here too. Do you know when he came with me into the Appalachian Mountains; I saw a side to my father I had never before seen. I warmed to that side Vincent, he became the father I never had and always yearned for, and made me realise his life couldn’t have been an easy one, making decisions right or wrong for other people. He asked me if I would take over from him Below, did you know that?”
Vincent stopped walking, to stare at Devin, “Did he? And how did you answer?”
“I told him that right belonged to you, but he insisted that you already had your place Below, and I in his place would make the two of us a great team. Can you believe that, he actually wants you and I to team up and make the decisions he once made.” Devin shook his head. “Is that acceptance or what?”
Vincent hugged his brother, “Father is a remarkable man, and his judgement is seldom wrong, I agree, you and I would make a great team. What did you tell him?”
“I said I’d think about it. Mich’ael also wants me to work with him at his new institute not far from my mountain home, so I can be close to Charles. And Gerry would love being in the mountains. Marie too. But that leads me into something else, having just found your family, they are being snatched from under your feet. How do you feel about that?”
Vincent thought about it a few minutes before replying, “I’d miss them, but I’d get used to it. I would never prevent anyone leaving the tunnels for a life Above if it were possible for them, and it would be selfish of me to ask otherwise.”
“Father asked me not to say anything Vincent, but I can’t have you feeling left out. The invitation extends to you and Catherine also. I don’t mean permanent residence, but to be able to come out to the mountains to stay from time to time, what do you think of that?”
Vincent’s jaw dropped, and a smile lit his eyes, “That would be wonderful. Thank you Devin, between you and Catherine I can forget what I am, and believe what I feel I am, and that is a man.”
“You’re so very welcome Vincent, it gives many people great pleasure to make your dreams come true. Going back to the tunnel leadership however, Father suggested I travelled the world for a month at a time then came back and taught the children geography from my experiences. I must say, that sounds very appealing to me. Then there was Cathy’s offer to stay at the apartment and get myself a job in New York. You know I had so many offers come at me at once, that really I haven’t begun to think about them. Whatever I decide its got to benefit more than myself alone, that I do know. There’s Gerry to consider now. Talking of whom, I have been away from for several hours now, should we leave these two beach combers and return to the boat Vincent, I feel in need of some T.L.C.”
Vincent laughed out loud. “I think the day Gerry gives you some tender loving care, I’ll put the flags out, just look at all those scratches on your skin”
Devin looked down at his chest, his arms and legs, “the pathway of love is seldom a smooth one,” he told his brother, jokingly, then joined Vincent in a gale of infectious laughter.
*** *** ***
At ease with the situation she found herself in, Jamie once again found her eyes following Mouse’s every move when he was on the island. From her vantage point on the boat, and with the aid of Devin’s binoculars, she could watch him to her hearts content, without his knowledge, and she liked what she saw.
No-one had spoken to her about what happened on the other boat, but from time to time she felt Father’s eyes upon her, and in a knowing way, she could tell that something had been said in her absence.
Brook had taken to spending time with Catherine and Jacob, and Jamie found she was left a lot to her own devices and desires. When she announced she was going for a swim, no one batted an eyelid, with Devin and Vincent on the island, supervising Mouse’s activities; there wasn’t a chance of her getting into mischief with him.
Jamie was a little perturbed about that. Cullen she could handle, but Devin and Vincent, especially Vincent, now that was another matter. So when she saw the pair of them swimming towards her, she at first thought their intention was to take her back to the boat, until they passed within yards of her, and just smiled before swimming onwards. Relieved she made her way stealthily towards her intended victim.
Cullen saw her coming, “Oh no, here comes trouble.” he thought to himself, as she stood up from the water and walked towards him, “Hi Cullen, have you seen Mouse?” she asked innocently.
‘Just like honey’ he thought to himself, ‘her words drip just like honey. You would never believe her intentions weren’t good, did you not know the situation’.
“He’s looking for things to help with his inventions.” he told her, amused when she pouted her lips, and flopped herself onto the warm sand.
“Has he been gone long?” she asked idly, as if she wasn’t really bothered.
There was a few minutes silence, and then she asked, “When do you expect him back?”
“It’s a big island, and you know Mouse when he is exploring, it might be days before we see him again.”
“Nonsense. I do know Mouse, and I know he likes his food, he’ll be back when he gets hungry.”
“Not necessarily Jamie,” Cullen enjoyed his teasing, “ The Island is full of bananas, coconuts and peaches. He loves fruit, he’ll be more than happy to eat as he goes along.”
Jamie blew upward tousling her hair, in obvious frustration. Which sort of frustration Cullen could not be sure.
“Are those his footprints?” her face lit up.
“Some of them are. He went that way with Vincent and Devin, but he didn’t return with them.”
Getting to her feet and without another word Jamie started to follow the footprints when Cullen serious, called her to a halt, “Jamie?”
She turned, shielding her eyes from the sun to look at him, “What?”
“Leave the boy alone, Jamie.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean.”
“Mouse is my friend. You know that.”
“Then leave it that way. Friends don’t try to make one another uncomfortable.”
“Is that what you think I’d do to Mouse?”
“Then you are wrong. I would never hurt Mouse.”
“Not intentionally perhaps. But what you want and what he needs are not the same.”
Walking back towards him, Jamie seethed, “And what is that may I ask?”
“You know Jamie, don’t act the innocent. You intend to seduce the poor guy, and he doesn’t understand things like that.”
Jamie coloured up, “I what?”
“Don’t act the innocent Jamie, just stop and think about what you are doing, it’s not right. Leave the boy alone.”
Jamie flopped down onto the sand, “I can’t.” she whispered softly, as tears gathered in her eyes, “I love him.”
Surprised and at a loss as to how to continue, Cullen could only walk across to her, sit at her side, and draw her body against him. “Sure you do Jamie, we all do, but you have got to remember Mouse is different. He thinks different, and the kind of love you are offering him, would make him feel uncomfortable. He doesn’t understand that kind of love.”
“We could learn together.”
“Yes you could, but does that make it right, Jamie. Deep in your heart you know it doesn’t. Mouse may be older than you, but in many respects you are years older than he is, he is just a young boy at heart, wanting to play young boys games. Don’t force the adult into him Jamie, it would change the Mouse we know and love now, forever.”
Jamie nodded, “I know what you are saying Cullen, but it doesn’t alter how I feel.”
“Love is a funny thing Jamie. It grabs you when you least expect it. And you fall in love with people who very often do not return your feelings. Believe me that can be the worst of it, hankering over someone, who wouldn’t give you a second glance, but its all part of growing up, and learning to handle set backs. There is always someone for everyone Jamie, and the man for you is out there somewhere, only take it from those with experience, it isn’t Mouse. Don’t waste your time pursuing a lost cause. It’ll only bring you heartache. And will upset Mouse, and if you really love him, you wouldn’t want to do that to him would you?”
Jamie wanted to believe him, but found she couldn’t, to her Mouse was the one. Okay so he didn’t yet know it, but a belief she maintained for years that best friends make the greatest lovers, urged her on. And now she wanted more than anything to be with him. Her mind racing, she knew she had to throw Cullen off the scent, to give her the freedom to locate Mouse’s whereabouts.
“Perhaps you’re right.” she heard herself tell Cullen.
“I know I’m right Jamie. I might be single, but believe me I’ve had my share of love affairs, and they aren’t all their made out to be. I gave up searching for that certain someone, but don’t get me wrong, I still believe she is out there somewhere.”
“Then surely she is miserable at not finding you, and being shut away beneath the city streets, she is hardly likely to do, is she?”
“I have nothing to offer her.” Cullen told her sadly, “Anyway, this is not about me, its about you and Mouse. Can I trust you now not to hurt him?”
Jamie nodded, her heart hammering, nothing was further from the truth, though she did not intend hurting Mouse, just highlight a few facts for him maybe, but definitely not hurt him.
“Then perhaps you could go and find him for me, I fear if someone doesn’t bring him back the shelter will never get finished, and Devin and Vincent have gone back to the boat. Lovers eh? You can’t depend on them. See what you are missing Jamie. When love gets its grip on you, you are drawn by an invisible magnet, and your life is not your own anymore. I for one can do without that.”
Jamie got to her feet, smiled down at him, and walked back along the sand following Mouse’s footprints, ‘You might fool yourself Cullen’ she thought to herself, ‘but you will never fool me’. And her heart lifted when she saw Mouse’s prints veer off towards the deep undergrowth.
“Can you see what is going on?” Father wanted to know, as Devin held the binoculars to his eyes, “Why on earth you didn’t insist she came back with the two of you I’ll never know.” Father told them unhappily.
“Father please, we aren’t chaperones. And Jamie is an adult; we can’t be with her all the time. Besides it looks as if Cullen is giving her a heart to heart even as we speak.”
“Is he? Let me see.” Father took the binoculars from Devin, and grunted happily, “Well that is good, let’s hope she takes his advice. Something needs to be done about the girl.”
“We’ll make our way out there Father, as I promised.” Gerry told him, “It won’t hurt to go over ground that Cullen has tried to establish. It is more than obvious that Mouse is not the one for Jamie, it’s just telling her something to believe it that will do the trick.”
“Unfortunately, advice is not always wanted.” Catherine spoke up, then blushed as she remembered experiences from her past, and found all eyes upon her.
And the words, “So says one who knows.” from Devin, did not help the situation. He laughed at her, “Come on Cath, tell us your history. I could do with a good laugh.”
Catherine shot him a stinging look, making him grin, “Oh,ho,ho, hit a nerve have I. Do tell?”
Vincent came to Catherine’s defence, sliding his arm protectively around her waist, “Catherine’s past is locked in place, you of all people Devin should know what secrets are.”
“Touché.” Devin remarked, bursting into laughter.
Jamie had temporally lost Mouse prints, and was feeling a little afraid. Her mind running away with her. What if she got lost, what if there were wild animals, snakes maybe! She froze, she hated snakes. And her legs were bare, nothing to stop them biting her. The sound of a twig snapping underfoot, made her freeze, hardly daring to breath, and almost fainted with relief when Mouse’s cheery young face appeared right in front of her. For a moment he hesitated, then at her smile, his face lit up, “Jamie, Come see.” he grabbed her hand, and pulled her back with him, the way he had just come, “Something good, better than good, better than better.” Jamie laughed along with him; he was great fun to be with.
Tugging her hand through the dense undergrowth, Mouse looked this way and that to get his barings, then reaching the spot of his desire, he stopped, put a finger to his lips, and said, “Shhh. It’s a secret. Mouse tell Jamie. Jamie keep secret.” Then he dug beneath the roots of a palm tree, and beckoned for her to look into the hole. Jamie gasped, “Buried treasure!” she exclaimed, “Mouse you have found buried treasure. Oh Mouse, why there is enough there to set us up for life. We can buy a house, go abroad, oh Mouse, now there are so many things we can do together.” She flung her arms around him, and used the situation to her advantage, kissing his lips hard. A slight response from him sent her eyes opening wide, and she pulled back to study his face, as Mouse touched his lips with his finger tips. Remembering the feelings she had evoked the day before, Mouse trembled slightly torn between wanting to feel them again, and running away. He continued to gaze at her face, and Jamie found herself holding her breath, until without thinking, she blurted out, “Oh Mouse, I love you.”
He swallowed hard, and fidgeted, stepping from foot to foot, undecided about something. The treasure almost forgotten. And then he did something she was totally unprepared for; he leaned forward and kissed her back. Jamie felt her head swirling, and her legs grow weak as his lips fastened against hers, seeming to never let them go, and to save herself from toppling over, she reached her arms around him, feeling as she did so, his own come up and round her holding her close. His kiss was much like that of a child’s wet and sloppy, but Jamie didn’t mind, it was more than she had dreamed, and her pulses raced. And then he stopped, let her go, and abruptly turned away, embarrassed. The feelings his body was giving out shamed and humiliated him and he could not cope with them. “Jamie go now.” he whispered hoarsely, unable to look at her.
“No I want to stay with you.”
He turned on her, something he had seen Vincent do, when caught in a situation not of his liking, “GO!” he screamed at her, making her back off a little, and then boldly step back to try to take him in her arms.
“No,” Mouse pleaded, “Jamie don’t. Leave me alone.”
His words shocked her, and tears pricked her eyes, “You don’t mean that Mouse, not after that kiss. It was wonderful. Mouse I love you, and after that I think you love me too.”
Mouse shook his head, which was filled with foam or so it seemed, something had indeed clouded his thinking, “Mouse stay with treasure.” he told her, “Jamie keep secret.”
Jamie saw the answer to her problems. Clutching it like a lifeline, she stood her ground, “No. Not unless you kiss me again.”
Mouse shook his head, and Jamie grew agitated when she saw tears form in his eyes, and start to slither down his cheeks, “I thought you were my friend.” he told her, “Friends do not hurt friends.”
It was too much, turning on her heels, Jamie pushed aside the dense foliage, and ran as fast as her weakened legs would carry her back towards the beach, where she literally ran weeping blindly into Gerry’s and Catherine’s arms.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Thirty-One - Click on 'Next' below:
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