A ‘Before Spectrum’ Story
By Caroline Smith
"How would you like to stand like a god before the crest of a monster billow, always rushing to the bottom of a hill and never reaching its base, and to come rushing in for a half mile at express speed, in graceful attitude, until you reach the beach and step easily from the wave?"
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. (Hawaiian hero: Olympic champion, movie star and surfing legend.)
The surf was up.
Just the way he liked it.
Eighteen-year-old Adam Svenson gazed out towards the swelling ocean, breathing in the sharp tang of salt on the breeze, and felt, deep in his bones, that the next few days would be some of the most memorable of his entire life.
Adam had been on the waves since he was a boy. His wealthy family owned a beach house on Nantucket Island, a place where surfing was a way of life, and from the tender age of five, Adam was paddling in the Atlantic surf like a son of Neptune.
He spent a considerable amount of his youth mucking about on a long-board, and as his skill increased, so did his desire to ride ever larger waves. There was a streak of the dare-devil in young Adam - much to his long-suffering mother’s eternal despair - and he was just waiting for his chance to get across to the Hawaiian archipelago, and more particularly, the famous north shore of Oahu.
This was the surfer’s equivalent of Mecca, where the very names of the breaks seemed designed to strike fear into those crazy enough to ride the swells. ‘Off the Wall’, ‘Banzai Pipeline’, ‘Monster Munch’, ‘Gas Chambers’. A tubing top-to-bottom wave off one of the buried reefs offshore was enough to keep any jaded surfer-boy high on adrenaline for a month. In winter, when the Arctic storms sent pulses all the way across the ice-blue Pacific, the beaches all along that stretch of coast were pounded with waves of mesmerising fury
When Adam turned thirteen, he finally convinced his mother that the family really ought to take at least one out-of-state vacation this side of the century. Sarah Svenson opted to stay in Honolulu, for the shopping and restaurants, so Adam’s first couple of days on the water were limited to Waikiki beach. Somehow, the cradle of surfing didn’t live up to the expectations he’d nurtured, the long stretch of beach being over-crowded and with waves not any bigger than he could find off Nantucket Island. Finally, they motored north, past pineapple plantations and vast taro fields up to the relatively unspoiled North Shore, and its pristine string of beaches. They stopped at Waimea Bay, with a view of the thundering surf, and when Adam got a glimpse of the surfers hot-dogging it out on the awesome waves, he let out a soulful whoop of joy.
His family had looked on, aghast, (none of his younger siblings shared his passion for the water, nor his particular brand of insanity) while Adam dragged his board off the back of the trailer. They were simply unable to believe he was actually going to venture into those churning waters. But they also knew from experience that trying to stop their eldest son doing exactly what he wanted was an exercise in futility.
Adam was always careful not to muscle in on the locals’ territory when he surfed at a new beach. Being labelled a ‘kook’ wasn’t his thing. He hung back, when good barrelling waves came in, letting those already on the water take their turn. After a while a young Hawaiian paddled over to him and started up a conversation. His name was Sam Kamele, and a friendship was launched.
Since then, with his parents’ sometimes grudging permission, Adam had been allowed to spend one week each year in Hawaii, where he would stay with the Kamele family, and his and Sam’s friendship grew, as did their skill on the waves. Even now, in his sophomore year at Harvard, Adam refused to allow his passion for surfing to be neglected. He worked hard at his studies – it was a punishing workload for someone so young – and in return he expected his parents to grant him this precious time, with the argument that surfing was necessary to renew his mind and spirit. Competing at the highest level against one’s peers was perhaps not most people’s idea of rest and relaxation, but then, the majority of eighteen-year-olds weren’t as intrinsically driven as Adam Svenson.
“Looks like some choice waves today, brah,” Sam noted, with a flash of his toothpaste-white smile. The Hawaiian was shorter than Adam by a few inches, but was every bit as competitive and Adam knew he would have a battle on his hands this day.
He gave a nod of agreement, and pulled his eyes away from the pounding surf to note the other surfers dotted along the stretch of shoreline called Ehukai Beach, but which was known more popularly worldwide by the reef-break off-shore - the Banzai Pipeline. Today it was the location for the first competition in the Hawaiian winter surfing calendar, the ‘Junior Amateur Pipeline Classic’.
This early in the morning, the waves were relatively placid but as morning rolled on the waves would start coming onshore; a fast rising swell that would see them pushing in with ten to twelve foot faces and more as the day progressed. Already, the photographers and local news crews were arriving, and then the whole stretch of beach would be pandemonium, jammed solid with people: sightseers, contestants and the usual hawkers that such events attracted.
Sam’s eleven-year-old sister Leilani stood watching them, with a look of intense jealousy on her face as the two of them prepared to head off for a last minute practice session. Her teeth were full of braces, and she had the gangly awkwardness of puberty. As far as Adam was concerned she was a bit of a whining kid, who insisted on dogging their footsteps at every opportunity, desperate for him to coach her whenever he came to stay with the family at North Shore. He grudgingly admitted that she showed a lot of promise on a board, but would have far preferred her sticking with friends her own age and leaving him and Sam to surf in peace.
One of the competitors was wandering across in their direction; a teenager from California named Zack Millar whom Adam had beaten in a meeting in San Diego two years previously. They’d taken a distinct dislike to one another from the start, and their rivalry was intense.
“Hey, Svenson,” Zack called out, as he stuck his board in the sand in front of him and Sam. “Word up is that your daddy bribed the association so you could get into this competition.”
Adam’s eyes couldn’t help flickering left, to the blue and yellow pennants fluttering in the breeze atop the officials stand, with the legend Viking Fund Management and a stylized Norse war helmet emblazoned upon them. He flushed, and took a step forward, his competition butterflies turning quickly to anger, but Sam laid a warning hand on his arm,
“Ignore him, brah, he’s only trying to needle you.”
“You’re just a rich kid playing at surfing,” Zack taunted. “Some of us had to work our butts off to get into this meet.”
“Listen, my father might have put up some sponsor money, but I got into this fair and square, just like everyone else here!” Adam snapped back. “And just because I don’t spend every second of my life on a board doesn’t mean I love this sport any less!”
Sam tried to pull Adam away. “Just fight him where it counts, out on the waves.”
“Yeah, why don’t you just go and stick it where the sun shines?” Leilani was at their side now, legs akimbo and dark eyes flashing.
“Got your little lap dog with you, huh?” Zack sneered. “She might be cute, if she lost the braces.”
“You might be a jerk, if your IQ was any higher,” Adam retorted.
“Real funny, smart-ass,” Zack pulled his board out of the sand and backed off. “You won’t be so smart when I come first.”
“In your dreams, Millar.” Adam turned away with a look of disgust and made a show of waxing his board.
“He is a jerk,” Leilani said, staring at Adam with those wide soulful eyes. “Trash him out there.”
Adam gave a short laugh at the vehemence in her voice. “Count on it.”
“Hey, what about me?” Sam said in a wounded tone, “Don’t I get any support from my little sister?”
She gave a brace-filled grin and hugged him. “It’s so hard; I want you both to win!”
“Only one winner,” Sam said, “And it’s gonna be me. I’ve got my eye on that prize. You don’t need the money, Svenson.”
Adam snorted. “I wouldn’t bet on it. Winning this competition isn’t about the money.”
“Huh, easy to say when you have it.”
“Now you sound like Zack.”
“Sorry, brah.” Sam had the good grace to look contrite.
“I win, you can have the money.” Adam said as he inspected his board for one final time.
“Who says you’re gonna win?”
“I’ve whipped your hide every time we’ve competed in the past.”
Sam grinned. “Then you’d better think again, brah, ‘cos I’ve been practicing real hard while you’ve been at Harvard getting butt-rot. This time you ain’t going to stop me being the Big Kahuna.” He slapped Adam hard on one shoulder to confirm his aim.
“Butt-rot, huh? That’s fightin’ talk. No way am I going to let you get away with that!”
An hour later, Adam dragged himself from the churning waters as he heard the tannoy announce the beginning of the heats. He cast his eyes over the veritable sea of bodies crammed along every available inch of beach - a riot of colourful aloha shirts and muumuus bursting like flowers within the more sedate western clothing. People lined up, as expectant as a multitude awaiting the arrival of their gladiators, and several photographers were perched with cameras ready to capture every moment of the spectacle in this natural arena. It may only have been a junior event, but any surfing competition on the North Shore was a money-spinner.
“A big crowd, let’s give them a show, Adam,” Sam muttered as he followed him out of the water. “Look, there are my folks over by the podium, and there’s your mom and sister too!”
Adam squinted in the bright light, and saw the tall, elegant figure of his mother standing next to the shorter, stockier mother of Sam and Leilani. The Hawaiian girl seemed to be in deep conversation with Katherine, his younger sister. His only regret today was that his father wasn’t here to watch him take part in the biggest surfing competition of his life. He had instead flown to New York, to broker a deal that would make Svencorp one of the biggest financial players on the East Coast, and he wasn’t willing to leave it to any of his subordinates to seal the company’s fate. Adam knew that being a major sponsor for the event was his father’s way of making it up to him, but it still hurt.
Adam rinsed himself under the showers after the third round of the day. As the morning wore on, the waves, as predicted, were pushing into Pipeline at fifteen to twenty foot faces. It was becoming hazardous out there, and he could hear the roars and gasps of the crowd as the surfers braved the waters. He could feel the sand tremble under his feet as yet another titanic wave broke like thunder onto the beach, less than ten feet away from the goggling spectators. One faltering movement, one slip on your board, and you hit that wall at the wrong angle within that hurricane force of water, and your body would be shattered like a glass goblet. Of course, that was part of the thrill, the ever-present possibility of death.
Ironically, it made Adam feel totally alive.
As it was, more than one surfer took bad wipe-outs on the first-round heats. One of the favourites, an eighteen year old competitor from Japan, Michael Ogawa, broke both fins on his board when he hit chop on the face of a big fifteen-foot wave. Another competitor crashed onto the reef and when dragged from the water looked as though he’d been mauled by a grizzly.
When it was Sam’s turn, Adam saw Leilani watching him, knuckles wedged in her mouth as her older sibling danced across the surf to catch a massive twenty-footer. His board skimmed under the wide green tunnel, shooting out of the hole beautifully at the end. He ran up the beach towards the showers, his board under one arm and a look of intense happiness on his dark face.
“That was a bitchin’ ride,” Sam said, grinning as he gave Adam a high-five. “Beat that, Svenson!” And the Hawaiian’s smile grew even wider when it was announced over the echoing tannoy that his ride had scored a nine point five – the best score of the heats so far. He was now in first place.
Adam had scored an overall nine on his first few rides, good enough to take him through to the next round with Sam and Zack Millar. The competition progressed, and by the mid-afternoon, the Pipeline was living up to its bone-rattling reputation. The crowd erupted with delight and horror in turn as the young riders diced with death. Huge waves crashed onto the beach, sending those unwary souls who stood too close scurrying back to safety. More riders took tumbles; there were leashes and board-fins broken, and at least one competitor suffered a dislocated shoulder on a particularly nasty wipe-out. The Pipeline was claiming its victims today.
Adam looked at the scoreboard. He was neck and neck with Sam and Zack Millar, and it seemed it was all going to come down to his last ride. If he could find a good clean wave there was still a chance for a haole to grab the glory and beat his boyhood pal, not to mention his sneering west-coast rival.
He paddled his board out with fluid, relaxed strokes, all the while his eyes searching the swells, looking for the wave that would develop into the ideal tube. He wiped Zack’s taunts and the fact that Sam was a friend from his mind. There was no room for either anger or sentimentality. He had to focus on what was critical…
And then he saw it, the perfect wave, and his body responded like a well-oiled machine - unthinking, his muscles totally in tune with his thoughts, his board an extension of his body, the two moving as one. In a flowing movement he popped up onto his feet, adjusting his centre of gravity and pushing down with his right foot onto the nose of his board as he rode into the breaking blue-green monster.
And then he was inside the tube – sensing rather than really seeing the hundreds of tons of glassy-turquoise water curving above his head. Time seemed to slow, every nerve at snapping point, magnifying the billowing rush of endorphins that flowed through his body as he shot the curl. He was in the zone – and there wasn’t a feeling like it.
All too soon, the sharp sunlight flooded his eyes and he steered at a perfect angle out across the ebbing wave, and even from this far out, he could hear the cheers and shouting of the crowd, flags waving as he skimmed across white-water towards the shoreline. He knew he’d ridden a good one; everything had just come together perfectly,
“Adam Svenson has scored a perfect ten!”
He trudged out, dripping salt-water up onto the beach, and Sam was there to meet him, and he clapped a rueful hand on one shoulder. “That was some ride, brah, one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen for some time.”
They had to wait a few more agonising minutes as the judges collated all the points. Finally, the tannoy crackled into life.
“Adam Svenson is today’s champion. That ten-point tube ride has pipped Sam Kamele and Zack Millar for the title!”
“Damn, I lost to a haole-boy,” Sam said with a heavy sigh. “How am I gonna live this down?”
Adam simply grinned wider than he had ever done in his life.
“There is no way I’m taking a sabbatical!”
Adam Svenson leaned over and thumped the edge of his superior’s desk in frustration.
“You are heading for burn-out, Adam,” Nathan King warned him. The six-foot two, burly, South African-born head of the World Aeronautical Society Security Division was known for his calm handling of events, but in the last few months his best agent was beginning to push the barriers of his patience to the limits, and for good reason.
“I just want to work,” Adam insisted. His words were forced through clenched teeth. “That’s all that matters to me right now.”
King’s fleshy dark face creased in sympathy. “I understand, Adam, but -”
“Understand?” Adam’s face tightened and his blue eyes were bleak. “How could you possibly understand?”
“Perhaps more than you think. You do realise you are not the only man to have lost someone dear to them.”
“Oh, that’s it; you think I can’t handle it.”
“That’s exactly why. You are still mourning her, Adam, but in the wrong way.”
“She died because of me! That bomb was meant for me, I should have died in that wreckage, not her!”
“And you’re going to kill yourself too, is that what she would have wanted?” King retorted.
“It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.”
King leaned forward, his bulk straining against the expensive charcoal-grey suit, and stared right back into Adam’s face. “You are full of anger, and that means you are vulnerable, unable to think straight.”
“I can think just fine!”
“No. I don’t agree. One of these days you are going to make a mistake, a mistake that may well result in disaster. I don’t want to see you, or any of the men and women under your command, be killed or maimed. You are behaving like a man obsessed, and that is unhealthy.”
“You started this. You were the one who dragged me from my cockpit and insisted I head up this division.”
King sighed, and the chair creaked in protest as he shifted his weight. He sat back, making a steeple of his big fingers.
“Yes, I know, and you have done more than any man or woman possibly could in rooting out the infestation of traitors that plagued this organisation, and I was willing to let you work yourself into the ground, because, yes , you are right – it was an obsession for me too. But there truly comes a point when we have to say – enough is enough. You haven’t had a vacation in two years; it’s time you took one.”
“I don’t want a vacation.”
“I thought you used to surf?”
For a second, Adam’s face lost its hard, pinched look. “Yeah, I did, but that was a lifetime ago.”
“I surfed too, when I was a kid,” King said, and a dreamy look sailed across his wide face. Adam’s eyes widened in surprise, he had no idea his superior was a wave-jockey. King gave a low rumble of a chuckle. “I wasn’t always this size.”
“Sir, I didn’t mean –”
“No offence taken.” He waved Adam’s tentative apology away. “There were some nice waves off the Cape, and I used to think that there wasn’t an ailment in the world that couldn’t be cured by riding my long-board on the surf.”
Adam cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable at his superior’s sudden, almost maudlin, turn of emotion.
King responded with another rueful smile. “I was a naïve youth, I know, and perhaps it’s too foolish to believe that something so simple can possibly mend the scars accrued in the adult’s corrupt world.” He looked hard at Adam, intent on making his point. “But, if anything can, it will be that. I order you to go surfing, Adam, take some time to ride that board, become one with the water and the air and the sky, and maybe you won’t be such a bloody pain in the arse when you return.”
“Do I have a choice?” Adam said with a mirthless smile.
King’s smile in turn was truly ruthless. “Of course, there’s always a choice. Yours will be to write a letter of resignation.”
As Adam’s expression turned to shock, his superior gave a rumbling laugh.
“Come on, Adam, I’m only talking a couple of months, all the vacation you’ve accrued so far, and you get to spend it mucking about on a long-board. You can’t tell me that isn’t a bad deal, my boy?”
Adam hadn’t visited his parents in nearly six months, although he’d spoken to his mother many times by phone. Guilt was like a cross, but he didn’t have the courage to face them and have to explain all the things that had gone spectacularly wrong in his life.
But he couldn’t put it off any longer. He took a flight back to Boston the next day and was welcomed into the bosom of the family home by his mother, almost delirious with joy at the return of her first-born after so many months. Peter, his younger brother, was less enthusiastic at his visit, and Adam still had no idea why he harboured this unfathomable resentment towards him, as if every visit was the harbinger of the news that he would be de-throned as vice-chair of SvenCorp. Wasn’t it plain enough that he, Adam, had no interest in returning to the world of finance? He had enough good sense, however, to realise that his father’s continual attempts to woo him back into the company might seem insulting to Peter, so he tried to be as diplomatic about the whole thing as he could. John Svenson, in his turn, had never quite forgiven Adam for deserting the family empire and carving out a life of his own, so any get-togethers were always laced with tension. It didn’t take more than a few days for Adam to become desperate to flee the stifling family atmosphere and head for the private beach house at Nantucket.
King wanted him to surf. He would frigging well surf.
Adam threw his bags onto one of the sofas in the living room of the beach house. It was spotless and tidy, cleaned without fail every week during the summer, whether a family member was in residence or not. The full-length windows filled the enormous room with bright, airy light and he could see, beyond the dunes, the blue Atlantic curling and sucking at the beach. He peeled off his travelling shoes and checked out the kitchen, noting that the freezer was well stocked with ready-cooked meals and the leviathan of a fridge filled with ice-cold beers and wines. He chose something innocuous for supper and cracked open a beer and settled down for the night with one of the many books from the library.
In the morning he rose early enough to see the mist caught in the hollows of the dunes. He padded into the kitchen, popped a frozen croissant into the microwave and drank half a glass of orange juice. Afterwards, he hauled out his trusty long-board from the store-room, and dusted down the cobwebs which the cleaner had obviously missed. He changed into a one piece silver-grey surf suit, cropped at mid-thigh and arm, and then stepped off the wide wooden deck of the back of the beach house towards the dunes and the sea.
The chilly Atlantic made his feet numb, and after an hour, he began to face the unsettling fact that he was more than a little rusty on the board. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, but his body seemed unable to comply, that instant merging of the mental and physical was conspicuously absent, and he knew that if he’d tried to surf the Pipe now, he would have broken every bone in his body. It was four years since he’d surfed competitively, and at least two since he’d actually trodden his board, but he hadn’t expected to have lost skills he’d thought were immutable. The realisation filled him with bitter shock.
Adam Svenson had a rare intelligence, and was incredibly self-driven. Failure of any sort was anathema to him, and the idea that at twenty-nine years of age his surfing years might be behind him filled him with a sudden desperate fear out of all proportion to its actual importance.
He barely registered the other jockeys in the waters around him, giving them the barest nod of acknowledgment, so intent was he on trying to rediscover that effortless fusion of board, body and water, and after a gruelling six hours, (with a stop for a quick lunch) and by which time he felt as if he might have swallowed half the ocean, he began to feel a little better about his prospects.
Later that evening, he lay for an hour in a bath-tub full of hot water, easing the ache of muscles that protested such an arduous workout. As he breathed deeply, he realised with a sense of guilt that he hadn’t once given a thought to work, or the pain caused by losing the woman he’d loved and lost. Today had boiled down simply to his fight with the sea and mastering it, and at some point, he’d felt a simple euphoria unlike anything he’d known in the last two years. With grudging acknowledgment he figured that maybe King wasn’t as sadistic as he appeared.
The next day he was out on the waves again, and by the next he was skimming the waves as if he’d never been away. Even though the surf was nowhere near as high as on North Shore in the winter, Adam knew prudence was the better part of valour until his body had reacquainted itself with his entire repertoire of neglected skills.
By the end of the second week he had begun to draw a small but appreciative audience on this stretch of beach, where surfers would not normally warrant any special attention. Although he himself was oblivious to the fact, both onlookers and other surfers were obviously intrigued by the tall, flaxen-haired man’s single-minded insistence on conquering every wave the Atlantic was throwing at him, and starting to do it in style. Adam possessed that magic spark that separated the merely competent from an artist, and it was finally starting to make itself obvious.
The young women amongst the crowd were especially interested in Adam Svenson, some prehistoric biological imperative making them home in on the alpha male in that small colony of beach-lovers. After a while, he found himself brushing off some of their less than subtle advances with a forced smile. Getting involved with anyone was the last thing on his mind during this imposed vacation.
Adam sat on the deck of the beach-house, dressed in seersucker shorts and an emerald polo-shirt, nursing a cold beer as he watched the gulls wheel and dip over the dunes and along the shoreline. This evening marked the end of three weeks since he’d arrived at the beach-house, and he still had nearly over a week to go before King would even admit him through the door of the WAS.
He already felt the signs of restlessness settling in. He’d achieved what he had set out to do here and now felt limited by his circumstances, not to mention his inner drive for goals and results. He also realised that the longer he stayed at the beach house, the more difficult it would become to fend off the unwarranted attention from the surf-bunnies that seemed to multiply every time he went out on the water.
On a sudden, ridiculous whim, he got up and wandered back inside the house, to flick on the terminal in one alcove of the room. It booted to life instantly, and within seconds he was scrutinising the list of upcoming events in the global surfing calendar. One in particular caught his eye.
“Annual Waikiki Surf-Rider Charity Challenge announced for end of August 2064.”
Adam’s memory rolled back like a long wave to all the carefree years he spent with Sam Kamele and his family. Back to a time of innocence from a corrupt and brutal world, where avoiding a wipe-out on the waves was the only hazard in life he had to contend with.
But it was almost four years since he’d last set foot in Hawaii, although he had kept in touch with Sam by electronic means. Always the message had been the same: “Come visit, we are always here for you. Bring your new fiancée. You are always ohana, Adam.”
But he never did find the time. And now they would never meet her.
Loss swept over him again like a wave. Innocence. Friendship. Love.
He passed a hand over his face to clear the sudden blurring of his vision, and redirected his gaze towards the screen. Waikiki beach was a lot tamer than North Shore, even in summer when the tropical storms sent the swells to the south side and Pipeline and other breaks were as placid as a swimming pool, but it would probably be perfect for his return to the world of event surfing. And it would be good to see Sam again. They could surf together and hang loose, and maybe he could recapture some of that aloha spirit to calm all the burning anger and guilt that had filled him for so long.
He frowned as he noticed the closing date for applications was today. Glancing at his watch he calculated that it would only be one-thirty in the afternoon in Honolulu. He would forgo the online application for a telephone call. Speed was of the essence.
The line was answered promptly by a young sounding Asian girl.
“Aloha ‘auinala, how can I help you?”
“Hi, my name’s Adam Svenson, and I’d like to enter my name for the Waikiki Surf-Rider Challenge next week. I hope I’m not too late?”
“Oh, Mr Svenson, sir, I am very sorry, but we have had a lot of interest in this event, we are totally full, there are no more available slots.”
Her words were politely delivered, but they caused Adam’s heart to sink into his stomach. “You’re sure?”
“Yes, sir, very sure…”
She hesitated, and across the line, Adam could hear another voice, saying something to the girl he couldn’t catch, and then it was a male voice who spoke next.
“Are you THE Adam Svenson, the surfer?”
Adam hesitated for a second in surprise. “Uh, yes, I am…but…”
The man’s voice was warm, jovial. “Hi, I’m Randy Brown, the event organiser. There isn’t anyone in surfing circles who hasn’t heard of you or your family’s generosity to the sport. I know I was disappointed when you dropped out of the surfing scene. Hey, in fact it was more like you dropped off the planet…where did you go?”
“Uh, family business…you know…”
He could almost hear the consolatory nod of the man on the other end of the line. “Oh, that’s tough, but then it’s great news that you’ve decided to return, and want to surf in the Waikiki Classic.”
“Yeah, I’m just sorry I didn’t see the event sooner, your assistant said you were at your limits.”
“We can stretch to one more. Consider yourself in the Surf-Rider, Mr Svenson. Just fill in the form online, and I’ll sort it out myself.”
“Look, I really don’t want special treatment…”
“Hey, hang loose. It’s a special day when one of the prodigals returns to the sport.”
“No, it wouldn’t be fair on other guys who are in my position. I really can’t.”
“Look…” Randy’s voice became quieter, over the phone, almost conspiratorial, even. “What can I do to persuade you?”
Adam hesitated, with more than a touch of desperation. He wanted to surf in this event, somehow the idea of going back to Hawaii felt right to him. But was he prepared to compromise himself? The Surf-Rider had no prize purse, and was for charity only, and it was possible that a lot of the pros from out of the state might stay away, although its prestige at the heart of the summer Aloha-Fest still obviously drew a lot of entries.
He made his decision quickly. “I’ll enter if you allow me to send a cheque for this year’s charity.”
“Well, that’s really generous of you, but it isn’t…”
Adam cut in quickly. “I really appreciate this, but I’ll only compete on one condition, that there’s no publicity over and above what would be normal for the event, and most importantly, my donation remains completely and utterly anonymous. Is all that clear?”
“Like the water in Hanouma Bay,” Randy replied, and Adam thought he sounded remarkably self-satisfied, as if he’d netted some coup. He let out a quick sigh, wondering if he’d made the right decision.
“Mr Svenson, are you still there?”
“Then welcome to the Surf-Rider!”
Adam was happy enough to borrow the company jet to get him out to LAX, but then he donned his shades and stood in line with the first class passengers for the Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu. Once on-board the jet-liner, he settled into his comfortable seat, and was immediately offered a long glass of ice-cold POG, pineapple, orange and guava juice, by the lovely flight-attendant, who gave him a welcoming smile. He smiled back, that aloha spirit seeping into him already.
The journey itself was tedious, mile after mile of shimmering, blue ocean that stretched to the horizon in every direction. He whiled away the hours by listening to the music and current affairs channels and ate sparingly of the food on offer. He mused on the World Government’s decision to choose the island of Bermuda as the site for its World Capital. For security, they had said. But surely, given the location of the Hawaiian archipelago, and its equidistance from the two great continents of East and West, he wondered why perhaps Oahu hadn’t been in the running.
Finally, the rounded bumps of green and brown of the Hawaiian archipelago appeared on the horizon. The plane banked, and over the intercom, the first officer’s voice could be heard, pointing out the already visible landmarks on the island of Oahu. Adam could make out the great, green ridged folds of the Ko’olau Range, dominating the east of the island, and to the south-east corner, the rising volcanic spurs of Punchbowl and Diamond Head. He peered out of the window as the plane dipped, descending fast, skimming now over Pearl City and its infamous harbour. A glimpse of the distinct white outline of the memorial atop the drowned carrier Arizona was all he registered, before the jet-liner thumped noisily down onto the runway at Honolulu International.
The Moana-Surfrider was the grand old lady of Hawaiian hotels, and the elegant lobby resonated with the presence of the rich and famous through the decades who had stayed within her hallowed portals. This morning, large banners advertised the surfing event bearing her name that would take place in a few days’ time. Check-in was painless, and a bell-hop took Adam’s bags to his third floor suite. He tipped the man and crossed the thick pile carpet to open the windows, and allowed his face to be caressed by the gentle Trade-winds. They provided natural air-conditioning, although the ever-present sound of the traffic constantly ferrying up and down Kalakaua Ave made him decide that, for sleep at least, closing the windows might be a necessity.
He settled into a comfortable rattan armchair near the window, checked his cell-phone for a signal, and considered calling the Kameles. He hesitated, trying to anticipate the ensuing exchange in his head. It had been such a long time, and so many things had happened to him. However, when he at last plucked up courage to dial the number, Sam wasn’t at home, and it was Ma Kamele who answered. She seemed genuinely overcome with emotion when she found out finally that Adam was making the call from Honolulu rather than Boston, as she’d first assumed. He also needn’t have worried about making conversation, as Ma Kamele, without exception, pretty much dominated their intercourse.
“You enter the Surf-Rider? But that is so wonderful! Sam has put his name down too. He will be so glad to have his boy-hood friend again. He’s still in work but he’ll be back for supper. Leilani, she’s living in Honolulu now, but she’ll be dying to see you again, and why you are staying at the Moana and not with us? She’s primo for sure but very, very expensive, you come up to North Shore and we treat you right. You know, I must tell everyone you’re on the Island…”
“Oh, God, no,” Adam blurted out. He might just be able to handle Sam and his folks, but he wasn’t up to being interrogated by the entire assorted Kamele clan on his first day. “I mean, I’m really tired after the flight, and I don’t want to put you to any trouble…”
“Trouble?” She sounded positively scandalised that he should think such a thing. “Adam, you are ohana. It is never any trouble, it is always a pleasure, and it’s been so long since we have seen you.”
“I appreciate it, I really do. But I also meant what I said about being tired. Please let Sam know that I’m here, and tell him that I’ll meet him up at Pipeline tomorrow morning, say around ten?”
Ma Kamele expelled a loud, disappointed sigh. “You make me sad, but I’ll let him know. And after, you come around to see me, you hear?”
He smiled in spite of himself. “I hear, loud and clear.”
He slept fitfully, assaulted by dreams and a little jet-lag. On waking, too early, he opened the windows to another beautiful Hawaiian morning, although he’d heard on the radio the night before that there were some big storms brewing in the South Pacific. He hoped that it wouldn’t affect the surfing event.
His rental car was waiting for him at the Moana’s sister hotel across the street, and he smiled appreciatively when he saw the sleek-nosed convertible. It had a lot of horses under that long hood, and when he turned the ignition, the throaty engine powered into life. Negotiating the parking lot, he swung out onto the already busy Kalakaua Avenue. Waikiki was constantly under construction, and newer, taller buildings continued to sprout, towering over their stately older cousins on the beachfront.
After hitting Queen Liliokalani Freeway he made the decision to forgo the faster but less scenic interstate in favour of Hwy 750. He was early, and thought it might be nice to take the slow route and enjoy the countryside up close. After all, he was on Hawaiian time. Once he had cleared the creeping suburbs the scenery flattened out into agricultural land, mile after mile of cornfields and pineapple plantations, a landscape devoid of buildings or people, nothing but red earth, almost a dark brown in the dawn light, carpeted with long green strips stretching to the very edge of the pale mauve mountains.
Driving along the Kamehameha highway, known simply as the Kam to locals, he noted with satisfaction that little had changed in North Shore, away from the urban sprawl of Honolulu and Waikiki. There were a few new arrivals in Waimea, surf shops in the main, ready to slug it out for the tourists’ cash, but he still recognised some never changing landmarks: the Foodland supermarket, Sunny’s Shave Ice, and the United Church still had a surfboard parked on the lawn proclaiming the weekly message to save sinners.
A few early-birds were evident, bleached-haired teenagers lounging in front of the Sunset Café in board shorts and flip-flops. They waved as Adam drove past, giving him the hang loose sign as they ogled the convertible. He continued straight through the town, along the highway, past the turn-off for the Kameles’ oceanfront house, and a left onto Ehukai Beach. He parked the car, and headed down to the shore. It was practically deserted, save for one guy in sawn-off shorts trudging through the wet sand, his black mastiff barking and dancing around him in the low surf.
Adam stared out to sea, breathing in the salt-laden air, and although the waves barrelling into shore were only a gentle foot or two in height, if he closed his eyes he could bring back the memory of that monster fifteen footer that he rode to win the junior title back in 2053 as if it were yesterday. He had no idea how long he sat on the sand, listening to the sounds of the waves, but the spell was finally broken by a familiar voice that came from behind him.
“Adam? Is that really you?”
He turned, and instantly recognised his old friend. Sam carried a long-board, and was wearing his surf-shorts, all ready to get into the water, and Adam ruefully noted the Hawaiian had barely changed one iota in the past four years. He still retained the boyish demeanour, the devil-may-care insouciance of the ageless surfer-boy. Adam suspected that his own face told a rather difference story, and it brought a sharp pang of loss.
“Yeah, Sam, it’s really me.”
He was suddenly grabbed in a tight, brotherly embrace, and Sam was slapping him on the back over and over again.
“My God, I can’t believe you’re really here, after all these years! It’s great to see you, brah. I couldn’t believe it when Ma told me you were here already, why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
“I’m sorry, Sam.” Adam finally got the words out, after he was released from the bear-hug. “I only really just decided a couple of days ago. I finally took some – vacation, and I spent the first few weeks surfing at Nantucket.”
Sam did a good impression of a man shivering. “Man, all that cold water? I guess you finally got some sense in that haole-head of yours and found yourself some nice warm waves, huh?”
Adam didn’t take offence at the friendly jibe. “Yeah, it was a bit of a shock getting back on the board again. But I think I’ve found my surfing feet at last.”
“Ma says you’ve got your name down for the ‘Surf-Rider’.”
Adam nodded. “She said you did too.”
“Sure, brah, you ever known me to miss out on an event in my own back-yard?”
Sam grinned and grabbed his hand in an old surfer gesture. “It’ll be like old times.”
Adam felt a smile on his own lips. “Like old times.”
They fell silent for a moment, staring out at the foamy waters of Pipeline, and then Sam coughed, a little self-consciously.
“Thanks for letting us know,” he started, hesitantly. “I mean, about your fiancée.”
Adam glanced sideways, startled, and yet he knew it was inevitable that the subject would have to be broached at some point.
“Sorry,” Sam replied quickly. “I don’t know what made me blurt that out. Me and my big mouth.”
“It’s just that, we never had the chance to say how truly sorry we were, in person. Mom was really cut up about it…for you I mean….she kinda regarded you as ohana, like one of her own, you know…”
Adam hastily swallowed the constriction in his throat. “It’s okay Sam, it’s been a year. I’m getting over it, honestly.”
Sam’s eyes showed concern, and a little disbelief. “I’m not sure you ever get over losing someone you love. Shit, there I go again, saying all the right things…” He trailed off, his brows knit with a mixture of concern and annoyance at his own clumsiness.
Adam continued to stare out at the ocean, at the waves swelling out in the deeper water, forming their arches as they raced inwards to land, to crash in pounding surf on the shore. A timeless pattern that would be repeated over and over long after he and everyone he knew was gone from this Earth.
“Life goes on,” he said with a sigh, “It has to.”
“So, how’s the rest of the family?” Sam piped up in a cheerful voice, eager to dissipate Adam’s suddenly melancholic mood, which he had precipitated.
“Oh, they’re much the same, my father’s still trying to buy up the world, and my mom keeps telling him to slow down, not that he ever listens.”
“He’ll be heading for health trouble, that’s for sure, if he doesn’t. There are more important things in life than making more money than anyone could ever spend in a lifetime.”
Adam sighed. “I know, but try telling him that.”
“I’m sorry to say it, brah, but your pop seems like the kind of man who likes to give out advice, not take it.”
Adam felt a stab of guilt. Sam had never, ever mentioned it, but there was an almost imperceptible undercurrent of tension in both men’s knowledge that the elder Svenson had tolerated rather than encouraged the friendship between himself and Sam, as if consorting with a mere surfing instructor and his brood was beneath them. Adam’s mother thankfully disagreed. The Kameles were an old-line family, and proud with it. They might not have the Svensons’ wealth, but they carried the blood of kings in their veins.
“Well, we can all be that way sometimes,” he said finally in a voice that suggested the subject was ripe for changing.
Sam was smart enough to take the hint. “So,” he said, gesturing towards the rolling surf with his board. “You want to just look at this primo scenery, or be part of it?”
“I couldn’t fit my board in the car they gave me,” Adam confessed ruefully.
“Tut, tut.” Sam looked more than a little grave, and then his eyes danced with sudden mischief. “Then it’s just as well I stuck another board in the trailer…huh?”
The two friends grinned at one another, all misunderstandings forgiven.
“Let’s go surf,” Sam said quietly.
“You know I’m gonna beat you come Saturday, brah,” Sam said as they emerged, dripping wet from the sea, a few hours later in the day.
Adam threw himself down on the warm sand, on his back, and squinted into the sun, a dazzling white ball that burned into his eye sockets.
“Well, I’ll just do my best,” he said, “That’s all I can hope for, given my hiatus out of the water. In fact, I was really sort of lucky to get into the event in the first place.”
Sam whistled. “Modesty…from the great Adam Svenson, that’s got to be a first.”
Adam snorted. “Actually, I’m just lulling you into a false sense of security so I can whip your butt when the time comes.”
Sam let out a guffaw of laughter. “I knew it was too good to be true. But you’ve been too long off that board, and I got a lot of water under mine these last four years.”
“You know it was never a good idea to throw me a challenge, Sam.”
“I guess so.” He picked up his watch, lying on a towel. “You wanna come eat my house tonight?”
“I remember your mother’s suppers; I won’t be able to get on my board.”
Sam tapped his nose and grinned conspiratorially. “I’m not as dumb as I look, haole-boy.”
“No, just as you act!”
The new voice, clear and feminine, made Adam sit up and stare. The newcomer gazed right back at him, unwaveringly, her hands on hips, and legs akimbo. Like a camera shutter firing in fast motion, he took in details: hair that rippled like black silk, dark brown irises that looked almost indigo against the bright white of the surrounding cornea, and a full, sensuous mouth.
“Fish got your tongue?” she said, and only then did he realise that he was staring at her like some dumb kid out of high school.
“Leilani?” he replied at last, stumbling to his feet in surprise.
She moved towards him and kissed him swiftly on the cheek. An aroma of plumeria and hibiscus surrounded her, making his head reel.
“Aloha, Adam,” she whispered in his ear. “You’re looking pretty good…but then you always did.”
He shook his head, trying to match this vision with the one that had remained static in his head, and found it difficult to reconcile it with the same girl standing beside him.
“Leilani, what happened to you?”
Her eyebrow raised in an insolent gesture. “I grew up.”
Sam chuckled. “Don’t even go thinking about it, sis, Adam’s off limits.”
Leilani ignored her brother. “So now he’s my father,” Leilani retorted, ignoring Sam as she continued to study Adam with her dusky eyes. “It’s been a long time.”
“Everyone keeps saying that.”
“Because it’s true.”
“So…” He found his voice at last. “Your mom mentioned you were living in the city now.”
“Sure, she called this morning and told me you were meeting Sam up here, and I couldn’t wait to see you. Soon as I got off work I headed north. I hope you don’t mind.”
Adam shook his head slowly and rather bemusedly, remembering all those times he’d wished Leilani would buzz off and leave him and Sam in peace. “No, of course not, it’s nice to see you again.”
“I didn’t bring my board, Sam,” Leilani linked an arm through one of her sibling’s. “Maybe you can lend me yours?”
“This is braddah time, and Adam and I just wanna catch up.”
“You’re just jealous because your little sis can tube you any day of the week.”
Sam snorted. “Sometimes, maybe, when it’s a good day.”
“Woah,” Adam interceded, heading off the signs of battle that he recognised from way back. “If Leilani wants to surf with us, I don’t have any objections.”
She smiled then, a full-lipped sensuous smile, a smile that was infinitely older than her twenty-two years. A smile of dangerous promise.
He felt the sand shift under his feet.
For the remainder of the hours in that afternoon, Adam felt as if time had wound lazily back to a time and place he thought existed only in his imagination. Nothing mattered but the feel of the board sluicing sharply across water, accompanied by the joyful sounds of laughter and the rekindling of good friendship. Already on the path to renewal during his sojourn at the beach house, his wounded spirit was finally beginning to be restored on this stretch of shoreline he loved so much.
He lazily watched Leilani paddle towards the reef again as Sam chatted to his mom on his cell phone. There was a line of breakers coming in; maybe three to four foot high.
Leilani grabbed the rails of her board in order to take off as the wave started to break off to the left. In one fluid movement she was up, knees bent and body centred, her arms outstretched. She skimmed across the wave, and white spray flew up behind the cutting edge of her board as she scythed in perfect trim through the blue-green water, her hair flowing behind her like a long, wet, black snake, a lycra-clad goddess on a long-board.
Adam held his breath as his eyes followed her, mesmerised. She truly was a gifted surfer – and had obviously not wasted a moment of the four intervening years since they had last seen one another. He finally released the breath he was holding as the wave finally blew out onto the shore towards him.
Leilani jogged, dripping wet, clutching her board under one arm, back to where the two men now stood on the beach. She had an ethereal smile plastered across her face and her eyes danced with a soulful joy, and Adam knew exactly how she felt at that moment.
“That was a beautiful ride, Leilani,” he said, and he was rewarded by another of her dazzling smiles. Their eyes held fast for a moment and Adam felt his stomach drop like an elevator in free-fall.
You’re beautiful too, was his accompanying thought.
He watched, fascinated, as she rinsed off her board, gracefully bending over and sweeping her long curtain of hair back over her shoulders. A shiver rippled along his spine as he saw the way the sun made her skin glow translucent, and how her body moved, so graceful and so perfect. The odd, almost compulsive quickening of his blood was disturbing and made all the more intense because of its forbidden component. Leilani was family, friend, sibling all rolled into one. It simply wasn’t possible that he should feel anything remotely sexual towards her.
The object of his scrutiny turned her head slowly to one side, as if conscious of his interest. Once more their eyes locked, and that sudden thrill swept over him again, like a wave across wet sand.
“You come eat our house, tonight, brah? Ma’s just getting some good food going.” Sam announced, and Adam was absurdly relieved for the interruption and hoped, for two entirely different reasons, that the sudden heat in his cheeks went unnoticed by both siblings.
“Sure, that would be great,” he answered.
“I’ll see you there in a little while, if that’s okay,” Leilani said. “I just have to see a friend in Waimea. I promised I’d drop in and see her when I came up to North Shore.”
Sam nodded. “Okay, sis, I’ll head off with Adam and tell Ma you’ll be there soon.”
Adam followed Sam in his truck and trailer, although the route to the Kameles’ house was pretty much etched into his brain. The single storey house, built in old plantation style, looked unchanged, as he parked behind Sam in the dusty drive. The two men wandered around to the rear of the house, which faced the sea, and for a moment, Adam stopped on the large lawn so he could drink in the astonishing view of the curved beach and the impossibly cobalt-blue sea. The family home was probably worth more knocked down by a developer, but it was over the Kameles’ dead bodies that they’d ever give up their family seat.
Hale Moana, the House of the Sea. Adam had lost count of the times he’d sat under the old banyan tree, eating huli-huli chicken and listening to the sound of the cicadas and the surf pounding endlessly onto the shore.
Inside the open-plan kitchen, a wonderful smell assailed his nostrils. Ma Kamele, five-foot-three and almost as wide, dressed as usual in a brightly-coloured muumuu, was busy sautéing onions, mushrooms and sweet peppers in a pan on the stove. She looked up at his entrance and immediately greeted Adam with a joyful bear-hug that nearly crushed his spine.
“Adam, look at you, even more handsome than ever, it is so good to see you.”
He kissed her on both cheeks, and she simpered, showing him a large bowl filled with a pale, glutinous mass. “I have made poi, in your honour.”
Sam turned away to hide a smile, and Adam tried not to grimace. Both knew he thought the Hawaiian staple made from the ground taro-root tasted more like wallpaper paste than food, but he always gamely forced some of it down every time he ever came to the house for a meal, since the making and eating of poi was an almost sacred tradition for many people of Polynesian lineage. Ma Kamele returned to her cooking, humming as she worked, and Adam couldn’t help being reminded of his own mother, who could, on demand, quite easily organise a dinner party for fifty people at a moment’s notice, but would not have the slightest idea how to rustle up a grilled cheese sandwich if her life had depended on it.
Pop Kamele, obviously hearing the sounds of conversation, joined them from somewhere within the house, and hugged Adam with genuine affection. Leilani joined them a short while afterwards and they all sat down to eat outside on the lanai at the back of the house, with that glorious view of the ocean.
The food was plentiful, and the chat convivial, and Adam was intensely relieved that it steered away from any ‘delicate’ subjects. They were well aware that he worked for a hush-hush division of the WAS, but they knew little of the detail, naturally. Any mention of Soraya was also left unspoken, and instead, talk mainly centred on the upcoming Surf-Rider competition.
“Those storms out in the South Pacific are moving in faster than we thought,” Sam said, through a mouthful of papaya. “The latest surf reports are saying we’re gonna see some big ground swells on the South shores the next few days, maybe ten to fifteen feet.”
Adam whistled. Waves rarely got up very high on the south and east coasts of Oahu, but occasionally there were tropical storms big enough to send those monstrous, pulsing swells Waikiki’s way.
“You think there will be a chance they’ll cancel the event?” Adam said, with a concerned look.
“Hope not,” Sam, replied. “It would be a real loss for the charity folks who’re relying on it to take place.”
“Damned health and safety,” Pop Kamele muttered. “They didn’t have none of that in the good old days, back when surfing wasn’t all about money and fame and all those big corporations buying up the beachfront. It was all about getting on your board and just riding anything. The bigger and gnarlier the waves, all the better, I can still remember when …”
His offspring both rolled their eyes. “Pop’s off on his reminiscences again,” Sam chuckled, interrupting him. “He just loves to tell the story that great-great-grand-pappy was there on the beach when Duke Kahanamoku caught his big wave.”
“You may laugh, son,” Pop Kamele said, wagging a finger, “But that record in the early twentieth century still stands to this day. He rode that big bluebird all the way till it broke up onshore, the longest surf in history, and never bettered.”
Ma Kamele gave her husband an affectionate shove on the arm. “Well, maybe this time our boy will do some fine surfing and go into the history books.”
“Yeah, mom, nice thought, but I don’t think so,” Sam grinned.
Adam glanced at his watch, and realised he’d better get going if he wanted to get back to Waikiki before sunset.
“Yeah, I’ll see you down on the beach tomorrow, brah.” Sam shook his hand in farewell, “We do some training together before the big day, huh?”
“You come eat our house again soon,” Ma Kamele said, with another hug for good measure to reinforce her offer. “We plan a big luau for after the competition.”
“Which I’ll win,” Sam said with a glint in his eyes.
“Maybe,” Leilani, replied, beating Adam to the retort.
Brown eyes fixed on his blue and he felt himself take a deep breath to still the rush of blood to his temples.
Adam was cruising along the curves of the Kam highway, ruminating over his day on North Shore with a strange mixture of emotions. He couldn’t think when he had last felt such peace and contentment, and it made him feel wonderful on the one hand and guilty on the other, as his thoughts turned to Soraya, now a little over one year cold in the ground. The feeling of desolation that usually accompanied any waking remembrances of her had, in the past few days, slowly begun to ebb, and he was filled with confusion at what he felt was his lack of respect for her memory, of the love they had shared.
He gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles whitening.
How long was it appropriate to mourn, anyway?
Lost in thought, he barely registered the sound of a motorcycle coming up fast behind him, almost jumped at the throaty roar that accompanied its passage on the left side of the convertible. He saw a twin-cylinder Kawasaki overtaking him, and the helmeted leather-clad rider gave him a Hawaiian ‘hang loose’ gesticulation with waggling thumb and little finger. Irritation flashed through Adam, and he unconsciously slammed a foot on the accelerator, to send the convertible in hot pursuit, choosing, at the same time, to ignore the rational voice in his head that suggested playing boy racers on a public highway wasn’t the most sensible thing in the world.
But he wasn’t feeling sensible; something new and destructive erupted within him, filling him with the delicious knowledge that going close to the edge was the only thing that made one feel alive. Dancing close to disaster and coming away unharmed was the object – the thrill that he – and others like him – had tried to hold onto for as long as possible. Peter Pan defying the inevitable.
He found himself gaining on the Kawasaki. The rider glanced back, and as if in reply, accelerated faster still. Adam grudgingly admired the way the rider barely slowed at the curves in the road, knees almost scraping tarmac to compensate for the centrifugal forces on the bike.
He almost lost sight of the Kawasaki when they hit the slow, heavy traffic on the outskirts of Honolulu and then he saw it weaving in and out of the lines of cars on Kalakaua Avenue. He saw the bike’s indicators flash right to turn into the palm-fringed courtyards of the Moana, and a sudden suspicion flared when he got a better look at the rider, now gently slowing outside the grand entranceway. Adam followed, and got out of the car as an aloha-shirted valet attendant jogged towards him. Adam distractedly handed the keys to the smiling young man, his attention remaining on the unknown rider, who had just kicked out the bike stand and was climbing off.
He strode the few yards that separated them, intending to have words, and his daft notion was rewarded when the rider removed their helmet and shook loose a waterfall of dark hair.
“Hello, Adam,” Leilani said, with an impish grin on her face.
Admiration rapidly dissolved into anger. “What in the name of God was that testosterone-loaded stunt back there? Are you insane? You could have been killed! Does your mother know you ride a bike like that?”
A pout appeared, and she looked crestfallen, and with immediate insight, Adam knew that she had been showing off, trying to make an impression. As if she needed to. His ire subsided when he realised that wiping-out within a twenty-foot wave was every bit as dangerous as hitting pavement, and he’d been a willing co-conspirator many times in the young girl’s enthusiasm for extreme sports.
“Doesn’t anything frighten you, Leilani?”
“Getting old maybe.” She gave him a loose shrug.
“Very funny,” he replied in a calmer voice, although the sting of annoyance was retained at being taken in by the young woman’s antics.
“Anyway, you took after me, which makes you equally as bad,” she said with infuriating logic. “Does your mother know you drive like that?”
“Okay, point taken. Maybe we just ought to forget about it, huh?”
“Admit it, we both like the thrill of danger, don’t we?”
He sighed. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“And that’s just the thing isn’t it? No thrill, no point. Life is too short and we’re too young to die.”
Adam felt a cold hand squeeze his heart. “Don’t say that. Anyone can die, anytime, even when you think you’re in the safest place you can be.”
The smile died on her lips, and their eyes locked, hers full of a sudden sympathy, as if she could read the unspoken pain behind his words. For an answer she slipped one of her arms into his. He flinched almost imperceptibly at her touch, but she seemed oblivious, chattering away.
“I’m sorry, Adam. I know I was showing off, Mom always says one of these days I’m going to get into terrible trouble. I really hope you’re not mad with me.”
“I forgive you.”
“Good. I’d really like for us to be friends.”
“We already are, Leilani.”
He gave her hand what he hoped was a brotherly squeeze and she rewarded him with a grin.
“How about a night cap?” she suggested brightly.
He flailed around in his head for a reply, totally taken aback. “Uh, I don’t think that would be a good idea…”
Her eyes held his, fast, trapping him like a fly in a web. “Why not?”
“Because I’m really tired. Jet lag…you know?”
Her expression was unbelieving, but she shrugged, letting go of his arm.
“Sure. No problem. I hope you sleep well, Adam.”
She quickly wrapped her long hair in a twisted knot and slipped her helmet over, all the time gazing at him with those dark, luminous eyes. Then she threw one leg over the bike and with the other foot, kicked up the stand. A moment later, she had roared out of the Moana, leaving Adam standing there alone and wondering.
He rose early again and grabbed some carbohydrates before heading out onto the beach. His board under one arm, he strolled past the lobby on his way to the rear of the hotel. It was buzzing with activity with new arrivals checking in. Surfboards, in their protective packaging, lined the walls, and he could hear a mix of Australian and American accents with the odd Asian one amongst them. Several of the men spotted him, recognition dawning slowly on their tanned faces.
“Adam Svenson, been like, forever, man.”
“Nice to see you, dude.”
“Some good waves out there, gonna be a good competition.”
Adam nodded, and allowed himself a few minutes to shoot the breeze. He’d almost forgotten the camaraderie that existed between most surfers, and in some way, it gave him a sense of satisfaction that his exploits hadn’t been completely forgotten even after all those years away from the sport. Finally, he left them to their registrations, and continued through the Moana’s interior courtyard, dominated by the majestic banyan tree, its enormous drooping branches casting dappled shade over the ground as he walked beneath it. Beyond, through the pillars at the rear entranceway, he could see the blue waters off Waikiki beach.
Tramping onto the sand, he squinted seaward. The waves certainly looked a lot higher than he had ever seen them on this stretch of coast, and the red flags were up all along the shoreline, designating the water safe for experienced surfers only. Families on their summer vacations with kids would be disappointed, but the surf-jockeys were having a ball. The water was crowded with boogie-boards, long boards, and every type of short-board, the locals and tourists alike getting stoked on the energy of riding those big waves before the official event closed down their fun the next day.
As he strode down to join them, Adam heard a voice calling him. He turned to see Sam jogging down the beach with his own board.
“Hi, brah,” he said, looking at the rolling surf with a nod of satisfaction. “Those waves, they’re bombing, man, never seen anything like this in a long while at Waikiki.”
“Yeah, and it gets better. I looked at the surf report; they’re expecting them to be even higher tomorrow when that storm passes south of the Islands. Not only that, they’re predicting strong off-shore winds over the Ko’olau.”
Sam’s expression became almost reverential. “Maybe the same conditions that made those bluebirds that the Duke rode. You picked a good time to return to the water. Maybe we make history, right enough, eh?”
Adam grinned as they trudged into the surf, dropping their bodies onto their boards, paddling out to the deeper water, to catch the swells. He shouted across to Sam, as spray flew into his face. “I’ll just be glad not to wipe out!”
“Can I buy you lunch?” Adam asked, as they finished showering and towelling down after their session in the sea.
“Sure, but I need to get back up to North Shore. Competition or no, I promised Pop I’d teach the four pm class.” He gave a wide, toothy smile. “It’s murder being a working boy.”
Adam smiled a little ruefully. “It’s almost time for me to return to being one too.”
“But you can have one helluva party before you do. Go out with a bang, eh?”
They ate a leisurely lunch in the bar at the Moana, which Adam insisted on paying for. Sam didn’t object, and they sipped coffee and continued their youthful reminiscences on the waves. Finally though, it was time for him to head off.
“Hang loose, brah, I’ll see you tomorrow. And remember,” he tapped his nose, “Today you’re ohana, but tomorrow, you’re gonna have a fight on your hands.”
Adam grinned. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Adam felt a little bereft when Sam left, and he realised how much he had missed the Hawaiian’s friendship. How easily they had slipped back into their old rapport, as if the years had barely passed. He mooched in the gift-shop of the hotel, bored, but smart enough to appreciate that to return to the water was foolhardy. His body was well used to surfing almost on a daily basis now, but he could still over-extend himself, and there was always the possibility of an accident. The last thing he wanted to do was wipe-out the day before one of the most important competitions of his life.
Perhaps, he thought to himself, he ought to do a little shopping, while he had the time. Maybe pop into the International Market Place and pick up something tacky and tasteless for Peter and David, and something a little nicer in one of the up-market department stores for the women in his family. With that decision he strolled along the wide avenue and spent a couple of hours browsing the shops. He found a beautiful shell necklace for his mother and a riotously coloured Hawaiian dress for Kate.
Around four-thirty he wandered back into the Moana, and strolled through the airy lobby, where a group of surfers milled around the huge rattan sofas. It was impossible to mistake them for anything else, with their bleached hair and board shorts, lounging around with the self assurance of pop-stars.
One of them stood up as he walked by, and Adam recognised the dark hair and the arrogant smile in an instant.
“Well, if it isn’t Adam Svenson,” Zack Millar gave him a mocking salute. “What brings you back here?”
“I thought you’d turned pro,” Adam replied blandly. “And here was me thinking this was an amateur event.”
“Oh, it is, I was just invited to give out the trophies,” he replied, with a sly look Adam recognised from old. “Somehow, though, I get the feeling you’re not gonna be anywhere in the running. It’s been a while since you got on a board, man, and you’re not getting any younger.”
Adam refused to let Zack needle him, although on every occasion they’d ever met they were like two young bucks rutting. He was trying to search for a suitable put-down when he realised that across the lobby, the receptionist was waving across to him, and the young woman he was speaking with had turned around with a delighted smile on her face. His jaw sagged in astonishment as Leilani Kamele strode across the floor, dressed in a simple flowered silk dress, which clung tenaciously to her leggy curves. Every male head in the vicinity turned Pavlov-style to follow her progress.
“Adam! I was just asking the kane at the desk if he’d give me the number of your hotel room, but he wasn’t too happy about it, probably figured I was a hooker or something.”
“Say that a little louder, Leilani,” he muttered in a low voice, his brows lowering in a frown, “I don’t think they heard you in Waimea. What on earth are you doing here?” As he talked he began to steer her away from the far too interested gaze of Zack and the other guests.
“I live in the city, remember?”
He rolled his eyes. “Well, I know that, I just didn’t expect to see you here in the hotel.”
She smiled at him, and he felt that familiar quickening of his pulse. Damn her for being so distracting.
“I wondered if you’d like to go for supper with me,” she said.
“Well, I was just going to grab something at the hotel restaurant…”
“This place? Hell, they charge way too much, even if you can afford it. I know a much better place a little ways from here where you can eat like a king for the price of a Mai-tai in here.”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, Adam, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I’ve not long had lunch with Sam. I probably shouldn’t overload my stomach before a big swim.”
“That’s okay, we can go for a walk beforehand, just give me a minute to powder my nose.” She didn’t wait for a reply, just sashayed across the floor to vanish into the bowels of the ladies’ room.
Adam remained where he was, with a rather foreign emotion washing over him – bemusement – feeling very much like a man who had gone three rounds with a sumo wrestler and lost.
“Is that Sam Kamele’s sister?” Zack Millar suddenly appeared at his side. Adam gave him a curt nod of assent.
“Wow, she’s turned into a babe, what the hell happened?”
“She grew up.” Adam’s voice was laced with sarcasm.
“Are you and her….you know?” Zack’s gesture made it obscenely clear what it was he was suggesting.
“That’s none of your damn business.”
“Just asking. If you ain’t interested, I sure am.”
Adam felt the familiar anger bubble up, even as he knew how ridiculous the argument was. What did he have to prove anyway? Zack’s balls would have shrivelled up and dropped off if he’d had to live with some of the things Adam had seen and done during his tenure with the WAS. But evolution didn’t play rational; sometimes it simply boiled down to the basics, like who had the biggest club, the biggest cajones. One caveman against another. Adam wasn’t one for trophy women; he far preferred a smart mind over vacuous good-looks, but twenty-thousand years of progress hadn’t quite killed off all those competitive male genes.
As he and Zack squared up, the rest-room door opened, and the object of their mutual interest appeared. She returned to his side and gave Zack, whom she had also recognised, a disparaging look, before linking one slim, brown arm through Adam’s own.
“Shall we go?” she said brightly.
He couldn’t help his mouth curving in a smile at Leilani, as Zack gave him a glowering look. The two of them turned away from Zack and proceeded to head for the lobby entrance, leaving him and his fellow Neanderthals. Adam felt quite sure that he felt Zack’s burning stare on his back, all the way out.
Once they were walking along busy Kalakaua Avenue, however, he regretted his impulsive decision. This older, sassier Leilani Kamele unsettled him, left him floundering, and unsure of himself or his motives. But what exactly were his motives? They were simply going for a walk, and supper, old friends catching up; that was all. This was emphatically not a date, even if it gave him a wicked kick to get one over on Zack Millar by letting him think the opposite.
He quickly turned the subject to neutral ground, before she wondered at his silence.
“So, what are you doing now, Leilani, besides trying to kill yourself on a board and a bike?”
She poked her tongue out at his not-too-subtle jibe. “I graduated from U of H with a degree in art-history last year, maybe Sam told you about it, and now I’ve got a job at the Bishop Museum.”
Adam nodded. Sam had done a pretty good job of keeping him up to date with the Kamele family to- and fro-ings, even if he didn’t always reciprocate as often as he would have liked.
“So, how do you like working there?” he asked.
“What I’m doing at the moment is pretty boring,” she continued. “Mostly cataloguing and filing and so on, but I’m hoping maybe I can get a curator’s post in a year or so.”
Adam’s lips formed a wry smile. “I’m sort of having trouble imagining someone with your get-up-and-go stuck in a boring old museum.”
“Boring? Adam, come on, it’s the Hawaiian equivalent of the Smithsonian.”
“Well, yes, but…”
“And,” she continued, with girlish enthusiasm, “The Bishop has the most comprehensive Hawaiian and Polynesian collection in the world, with millions of animal and plant species, many of which are almost on the point of extinction. I sort of feel it’s my duty as a native Hawaiian to be a part of preserving our precious past, and future.”
Her eyes twinkled. “The money’s crap, but I have flexible hours, so I can surf whenever I want.”
Adam chuckled. “It all comes back to surfing.”
“Yeah, but I couldn’t teach it, I don’t have the patience, not like Sam has.”
“I can see that, the way you shot past me on that bike.”
She flashed a grin at him. “You’re not still sore about it, are you?”
“I’m not sure I believe you.”
Their stroll took them past the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, in the shade of the palms, and they stopped for a moment to pay their respects to the father of modern surfing. His bronze arms were laden with leis of bright colour, and they gave off a rich, sensual perfume in the warm air.
“The beach-boys complained so much when the officials stuck it on this spot,” Leilani said. “They argued that the statue should have faced makai, not the mountains.””
“Well, maybe they were trying to be subtle.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Duke was probably the only man who could safely ignore the prime rule of surfing…”
She laughed and finished the sentence for him. “Never turn your back on the ocean.”
“That’s the one.”
She gave a little sigh, and half-turned to face him. “I hope his spirit blesses you in the race tomorrow, Adam.”
“What about Sam, don’t you want him to win?”
“Of course I do, it’s always hard. I want both of you to win.”
Leilani’s words seemed to echo in his head, pulling him back all the way to the carefree days when the three of them had swum together on Waimea Bay. At that moment the wind blew up, pulling at their hair, and tossing Leilani’s locks around her like a black halo. She shivered, although the wind was balmy, borne on the Trades, and turned to cast her gaze mauka, where the Ko’olau Mountains lay hidden behind the tall facades of the city.
“It’s blowing in hard, like the reports said,” she said softly, and slid her gaze to his. In a sudden, silent heart-stopping moment, their eyes locked, and she reached out to grasp one of his hands. Adam held himself still for several heartbeats, as her cool fingers interlocked with his. All of a sudden he felt light, weightless, and he had the irresistible urge to pull her close to him and kiss those sultry lips, warm and beckoning. Guilt and shame held him back, and he slowly let go of her hand, feeling wretched at the disappointment he saw bloom in her eyes.
They continued on their stroll, as if nothing had happened, and she chattered about his family and friends, wanting to hear about Kate, and Peter and David and his mother, although mercifully, she avoided the subject of Soraya. They crossed the busy thoroughfare and she took him through a warren of streets heading towards the Ala Wai canal, where they finally stopped in front of an unpretentious place full of people tucking into huge plates of fish and seafood.
“I’d better not eat too much, not with the competition tomorrow, I don’t want to have cramps on the board,” Adam warned her. The jovial owner, a rotund Filipino with a gap-toothed grin, embraced Leilani like a regular, and showed them to a table. Adam’s eyebrows rose at the rock-bottom prices on the menu, but refrained from comment.
“Have the mahi-mahi,” the owner suggested. “It has the protein for energy, but won’t overload your digestion.”
Tall glasses of iced-tea appeared moments later and Adam took a long refreshing sip. Their fish arrived, and chat stopped for a few minutes as they ate. Adam took a hesitant forkful of his mahi-mahi. To his delighted surprise, it was bursting with flavour and freshness.
“See?” she said, with a smug expression on her face. “I told you the food was good here.”
“You did, and I stand corrected.”
Adam wasn’t sure about his feelings as the evening wore on and the small strip of sky beyond the window of the restaurant turned from mauve to indigo. He was having dinner for the first time in almost a year with a woman, in a situation that did not involve work, and although he was doing a sterling job of convincing himself that he had nothing to feel guilty about, still the faint pang of disloyalty to his dead fiancée’s memory persisted.
When Adam called for the tab, Leilani insisted on paying her half, saying that it was she who asked him out for supper.
“Nonsense,” he retorted, handing his credit card to the waiter, who stood looking at the couple with barely-concealed amusement at their argument. “I have a well-paying job, and I’m on vacation, I won’t hear of it –”
“I’m not penniless, you know,” she retorted, her hands making for her hips.
“If we keep arguing, I won’t have any energy left for surfing.”
“You’re quite right, and you do need to keep your energy, because I’m taking you dancing.”
His hand stopped mid-wallet. “You’re kidding me.”
“Not at all, I’m too excited to sleep just yet.”
Adam glanced at his watch.
“It’s early enough,” she argued. “Just a couple of dances won’t hurt.” She batted her eyelashes at him coquettishly. “I’ve been having so much fun, and I like having you all to myself.”
Adam swallowed hard. Supper was all very well, but dancing, that was something else.
His protests continued to be ignored, although he was making them half-heartedly. Something primeval stirred and pushed him into her arms, as she took him deeper into the labyrinthine side-streets until even he wasn’t sure he could find his way back.
Finally they approached a stylish dance-club, and as they wandered downstairs, he could feel rather than hear the pounding throb of the music that floated upwards to greet them. His ears were fully assailed by the noise when they stepped into the darkened dance floor, and his eyes adjusted to the gloom, picking out the gyrating bodies, patterned with glinting shards of colourised light from the strobes on the ceiling.
“Wanna dance?” Leilani asked, her body already making the little unconscious moves of someone unable to stand still when they heard music.
Adam listened to the thumping bass of the techno-beat track and shook his head. “A little fast for me!” he shouted above the din.
“Suit yourself, you can watch!” she said with a laugh, and she twirled her body onto the small dance floor to gyrate in rhythm with the pulsing, throbbing beat. Adam stood at the edge and watched her, entranced once again, just as he had been when she was on the board on the water up at Pipeline. She danced with total abandon, not sexual in any way, just a lost-in-the-music way. She didn’t give a damn who was watching, and he realised there were plenty of eyes doing just that, and not just guys, the women too. People drifted away to give her space as her long black hair swung from side to side and her limbs incarnated the rhythm in a way Adam could never have imagined in his wildest dreams, even on this island of hula where almost every girl and woman was genetically programmed to sway on hearing the sound of a ukulele or slack-key guitar.
When the music stopped, suddenly, he realised he’d been holding his breath, and when the music changed tempo, to a slow, sinuous beat, Leilani looked him directly in the eyes and his stomach did the tango. She stood before him, her forehead pearled with perspiration from her efforts and she reached out to grasp both of his hands, tugging him towards the dance floor.
“Stop staring at me like you’re starving and I’m prime rib; come and dance with me instead.”
Adam blinked at her ability to shock him, despite the difference in their ages, and, he reflected momentarily, perhaps that was exactly her intention. He felt a flush creep up from his neck to the roots of his hair and thanked God it was dark enough that she probably couldn’t see his embarrassment.
“Whoa, no.” He finally found his voice and made some half-excuses. “I last made a fool of myself in a nightclub on my senior prom.”
“This is a slow dance, Adam; you don’t have to do anything, just move with me.”
He was lying, of course; he knew how to dance perfectly well. But he needed some sort of excuse. Doing Mach 4 at thirty thousand feet upside down in a metal shoebox phased him not at all, but he was not altogether comfortable standing out as the centre of attention in a night-club. There was no mistake; they were being stared at – looking at him - the guy who managed to snare the most gorgeous woman in the room. But there was a second and perhaps more important reason. He suspected that getting up close and personal with Leilani Kamele wasn’t a terribly good idea with his libido running dangerously out of control.
“There are too many people here,” he said, resisting.
“Forget the people.”
“I can’t. I’m not nearly drunk enough.”
“You aren’t drunk at all, remember? You have a competition tomorrow.”
“Thanks for the reminder, perhaps I’d better think about getting some sleep.”
“Oh no, you’re not getting away that easily,” she said, pulling harder, and with a half-sigh he let her lead him onto the floor, where other couples were already twining together to the sultry beat.
“Close your eyes,” she said, stretching up on her toes to whisper in his ear.
“I’ll tread on your feet,” he lied.
“No you won’t.” She gently pressed his eyelids closed with long fingers, and he shivered involuntarily at her touch. “I’ll keep you from doing that. Close your eyes and feel the music, let it into your soul, feel it move from the soles of your shoes up into your body, let the pulse of it flow into your veins.”
He closed his eyes, feeling only her closeness, her soft scent - of hibiscus - drifting into his senses, gently numbing him like a drug. He felt himself take one step, and then two, and three, with her swaying in his arms, and felt as if he was gliding on a slow wave.
“See? No problem,” she whispered against his ear, “You’re a surfer, Adam, how could you not be able to dance the way you ride that board?”
He simply nodded his assent, and allowed himself to surrender to the moment. He felt her body entwine closer to his, her flesh warm through her thin dress, and he became aware of the hard, sinewy muscles of her legs and the heated juncture of her thighs as she rubbed against him like a cat in time to the rhythm of the music. The hypnotic pulse throbbed in his head as he opened his eyes to look down at her, and his breath caught in his throat and his blood quickened and headed to parts south as she stared back at him, her irises dilated
He was about to pull away when the DJ changed the music changed again to a soft, smoky, jazz melody. She laid her head in the hollow of his shoulder, and with a start he felt the hardness of her breasts against his chest. It sent an erotic current running all the way through him and this time he really did almost stumble over her feet. She looked up at him, her brown eyes fixed on his with a burning intensity. The strains of the song finally petered out, and Leilani grudgingly let him slip out of her arms as he made a fuss of glancing at his watch.
“We ought to go, it’s getting late. Can I get you a cab to wherever you stay? I don’t want to see you wandering the streets alone after dark.”
“You’re sweet, but I can take the bus. It’s only a few stops.”
“Didn’t you bring the bike?”
“More trouble than it’s worth sometimes, in the city.”
“Well, you can walk me back to the hotel and we’ll sort something out.”
She smiled sweetly. “Well, if you really insist. I stay in a small apartment just off North King Street, I share it with a couple of girl-friends.”
Adam was mortified at the sharp, unbidden, flash of disappointment he felt because she didn’t immediately comeback with a sassy suggestion that they sleep together in his room – or hers.
What on earth was the matter with him?
Leilani was a little subdued as they wound their way back along the streets towards his hotel. She’d slipped her arm again through his as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and he didn’t have the heart, or maybe the nerve, to remove it. He felt as if he was walking in a dream, and tried to tell himself that nothing had happened on that steamy dance floor. But he was fooling himself. Something had definitely changed between them, and he wasn’t sure if it was possible to put the genie back in its bottle.
Instead, he tried to fill the silence with chatter.
“So, Leilani, you surf like the Duke, ride a bike like you were born on one, and you dance like Cyd Charisse and Madonna put together. Is there anything you can’t do?”
She gave an impish smile, and twirled a strand of long hair in one index finger. “Oh, sure – there’s plenty. I can’t cook, can’t even boil an egg, much to my mother’s disgust. I’m completely hopeless at anything vaguely domestic, so I’ll make someone a terrible wife someday.”
“Well, thank goodness for take-away.”
She laughed and squeezed his arm. “That’s what I always liked about you, Adam. You always treated girls as equals.”
“I do try.”
The cab came almost immediately, leaving little time for any further conversation. He opened the door, and she climbed in as the driver swiped his card.
“Sleep well,” she said, as her fingers interlaced with his for one last time. He hesitated, again fighting the sudden compulsion to kiss those fragrant lips. But that thought led to madness, and she was too precious, too lovely to spoil. But she had pulled him close, and he felt those very lips on his cheek, warm and soft. Almost immediately, she drew away, settling herself in the rear seat, and he closed the door, and watched from the steps as the cab drove off to make a u-turn towards downtown Honolulu. He waved as she peered out of the cab, and the last thing he expected to see was that poignant look on her face.
Fifteen minutes later, Adam was pulling off his clothes in his hotel suite, uncharacteristically dropping them on the carpet rather than putting them away them neatly in the wardrobe as he would normally do. He felt as if the events of the last few hours belonged in some other time – some dream. And yet, the still-warm touch of her lips on his cheek assured him it had been no fantasy.
He wasn’t ready for this. The past year or so, he had worked hard to build a wall around his emotions, blocking off the pain so he could continue to function. Work had been his mantra – that very same work that had destroyed his world in the first place. Lack of emotion and desire was his steady-state, or at least it had been until only a few hours ago. Now, he felt the seditious waves of desire swirling around the foundations of his tower of solitude, and knew that it was starting to crumble around him.
He stepped into the shower cubicle, and turned the water on full blast. Leaning back against the glass, with the hot water streaming over him, he closed his eyes, and imagined Leilani’s body pressed up against him.
Eyelids squeezed tight in sudden frustration, Adam sighed softly as the water beat against his chest. Up to this moment, his interest in anything remotely sexual had been non-existent, a fitting punishment for his crime of allowing Soraya to die while he lived. Now by some twist of fate, he realised his carnality had been merely lying dormant. Between the beach and the dance floor, Leilani Kamele had awakened the sleeping dragon in a sudden conflagration of lust that drove every sensible thought from his head.
Leilani crept quietly into the hallway of the tiny apartment she shared with her two girl-friends. Rent for real estate cost the earth in Honolulu, but it suited her needs, being close to work, and to the beach, and she could still visit her parents easy enough. Her mom still harboured the old fashioned idea that kids stayed home until they got married and had their own family, something Leilani wasn’t sure she actually wanted, and certainly not right now.
The apartment was in darkness, her girl-friends still out for the evening. She was glad, as it left her alone in order to make some sense of the mass of emotions churning within her. She wandered through to the kitchen and poured herself some wine from an opened bottle in the fridge. She sipped, letting the cold liquid soothe her throat. Every part of her body seemed to burn and tingle with a desperate longing. Her mind whirled, full of him.
Could dreams really come true?
She had told no one, but a few days before Adam set foot in Oahu she had dreamt about him. She’d spent many a tormented hour in her gangly youth day-dreaming about the handsome Bostonian, but she’d never in her life had an actual honest-to-goodness eye-shut REM-induced fantasy. Then, he’d arrived on Oahu, seemingly out of nowhere, after a four year absence, and the faint lines around those sea-blue eyes only served to make him infinitely more attractive to her. The news that he was going to compete in a surfing competition had thrown her world into complete disarray.
Had her dream been pure coincidence, or a premonition?
Leilani had worshipped him in her childhood and wept bitter tears when she discovered he was going to marry a woman older than he was, and wept some more when she found out he had lost her a year ago in a tragic accident. Now, he was actually here, and as inexperienced as she was with pain and death, there was no mistaking the dark shadows behind his smile. She drained the last of her wine and moved on silent feet through to her bedroom, mulling over the past few hours. Perhaps if things had turned out differently, if he had ignored her, or treated her exactly the same as he always had, like an annoying kid sister, she may have decided not to flirt with him.
But he hadn’t done any of these things. Almost from the first moment she set eyes on him at North Shore she felt the change in his demeanour. And the moment she saw the unmistakable desire spark within his eyes following her last surf, her resolve was made complete. An incandescent joy had welled up inside her - making her bold enough to insist on taking him dancing, knowing that such a sensual activity would fuel the simmering fire that she believed existed between them. And yet, he was holding back; she had enough experience to know that, too. Whether it was from guilt, or something else, she did not know, and it made her more hesitant than she perhaps otherwise might have been with a man. How she had ached for him to kiss her; she had hoped he could read the signs in her eyes that she was willing, but he seemed unable to take that first important step.
Leilani felt she had a healthy attitude towards sex. As long as one was sensible and took the correct precautions, she saw nothing wrong with indulging in some pleasures of the flesh. Certainly, some of her past lovers had become a little clingy when she felt it was time to move on, but she usually managed to charm them around, and they mostly remained amicable friends.
Adam Svenson was very different. He had reigned in her thoughts for so long, always unreachable, like some golden god that she could never hope to attain. The reality of him now, in the full flower of manhood, was almost unbearable.
She tossed and turned on her bed, reliving over and over the blissful memory of her body melded to his as they’d danced. She’d prided herself on not being one of those girls who did stupid things in the name of love, or believing in the romantic drivel of uncontrollable passion – and yet here she was, unable to sleep because of this madness. With sudden realisation she knew that she had been waiting for a man like him. The college boys she dated surely could not deliver the rapturous fulfilment she sensed that making love with Adam Svenson would bring her.
Her eyes closed, as her skin grew hot with unfulfilled desire, and in her mind, it was Adam’s fingers that caressed her skin, ending her torment and allowing her to sink into the torpid haze of sleep.
Adam woke with the early alarm, yawning, and picked up his breakfast tray from the doorway where it had been left by the porter. He sipped a cold glass of freshly squeezed mango juice accompanied by a wry remembrance of last night’s lapse of self-gratification in the shower. It was reassuring to know that he was still a fully-functioning male, but on an emotional level it brought only marginal comfort. Damn Leilani Kamele and her sultry eyes, promising a garden of earthly delights. Her face swam into his vision, taking over his thoughts, and he swore softly, crossing over to the floor-length windows, knowing his energy had to be focused onto the one thing he had come to Hawaii to achieve.
Opening the windows, he found the wind was wild, whipping the palm trees, and as he stared out to sea, he could see the high glassy ridges building up beyond Diamond Head. A rash of goose-bumps prickled all along his skin, as he contemplated this uncannily high surf off Waikiki Beach on this, the very day he chose to surf again in competition.
In an instant, doubt took hold of him as he wondered if he was doing the right thing, for he had rushed headlong into this competition without giving a thought for the possible consequences. The only thing he was sure of was that he wanted to win the Surf-Rider very badly; it had become a personal challenge, a mountain he needed to climb. But was taking part also a foolish act that would destroy the security that he had so carefully tried to attain for his family and friends?
Thoughts warred with one another as he sipped his coffee and ignored the wind trying to tangle his hair into knots. He tried to think about it rationally. He was literally thousands of miles away from Bereznik and their pasty-faced spies, and any one of them would stand out on Waikiki beach like a hula-dancer in a convent. The world of surfing tended to be self-contained, and celebrities were not generally feted within the public at large. Still, there was always the chance he could be recognised. He thought again of Leilani, and Sam, and the rest of the Kamele family, and knew he would never forgive himself if he allowed anything to happen to them because of his past.
Adam stared out towards the ocean and its huge waves for what seemed like a very long time. From his balcony he could see the long crescent of Waikiki beach starting to fill up with people, all ready to watch the competition unfold. Suddenly, there was a sharp rap on the door. He jumped, lost in his reverie, and with the caution born of his years in security, he called out to whoever stood outside in the corridor.
“It’s me, Sam,” came back the voice to his interrogative.
Adam sucked in a long breath, opened the door and realised he was being ridiculous. Was this how he was going to spend his life, afraid of his own shadow?
“Hi, brah,” Sam shook his hand. “I didn’t see you in the registration room with the others and I thought I’d just better make sure you hadn’t chickened out of the competition.”
“You’d better not be thinking of quitting,” another voice added, “I want to see you wipe that smug look off my brother’s face.”
Leilani followed Sam into the suite, and Adam unconsciously tightened the cord on his bath-robe, trying to quell the thrill of excitement that swept through him at seeing her again, and at the same time annoyed at the inability of his mind to control the urges of his body.
“Better get ready,” Sam said, motioning at Adam’s state of undress. “Or you’ll be disqualified for non-appearance.”
For a few seconds Adam’s tongue stalled in his mouth, his reservations about the event filling him up with uncertainty. He caught Leilani’s gaze, and her expression changed, a frown appearing like a V between her brows, her eyes flooding with concern.
“Adam, are you all right?” she asked softly.
He flushed, astonished and embarrassed at how easily she read the turmoil in his thoughts.
It was Sam’s turn to look concerned. “Yeah, are you feeling ill, man?”
“No, I’m not ill, just…”
How on earth could he explain? They knew little of his work in the security forces, or the exact circumstances that led to Soraya’s demise. It would make no sense whatsoever to them if he suddenly bowed out of the competition now. He wouldn’t be able to give them the truth, and he was sick of lying. Leilani continued to stare at him, and he regretted even thinking about quitting.
As Pop Kamele would say, sometimes you just had to hang loose and go with the flow. All his instincts told Adam that he would regret this for the rest of his life if he didn’t rise to this challenge.
“I’ll be there,” he said finally. “Just give me a minute.”
Whatever Sam thought, of Leilani staring at his friend, of his air of uncertainty, he didn’t voice any of it, merely nodded and gave an unusually tight smile.
“Okay, I guess you know what you’re doing.”
“Do I?” he murmured to himself. “Do I really?”
Sam turned and left the room. Leilani didn’t follow. Instead, she half-turned to gaze out of the window at the view of the ocean beyond.
“Don’t ask me how I know this,” she said in a soft voice, “But you need to do this, Adam, even if for some reason, you’re afraid. You have to go out there - I sense fate here today, Adam. Destiny. She’s waiting for you out there on these waves.”
A shiver passed its way along his spine, as her words filled him with a strange prescience the like of which he had never experienced. He blinked and stared at her, as if wise old Ma Kamele was suddenly in the room speaking with her daughter’s mouth.
She turned back to him then, and gave an impish smile, the old woman vanishing. “And I’ll be waiting for you on the shore, waiting and watching. Win this for me, Adam.”
She kept her eyes locked onto his, as she walked slowly towards him, and he thought that it might be perfectly possible to drown in the depths of that gaze, so warm and liquid - like delving into an ocean of chocolate. The black pupils swelled in her eyes with passion and her breath rose and fell, lifting the curves of her breasts against her dress in an ardent rhythm of arousal.
He felt his own breath catch fire in his throat, the sudden throbbing in his legs echoed by an even more painful one a few inches above his knees. He wanted to grab her and fling her onto the huge bed, rip off her flimsy dress and show her just how he felt about her this very minute. He might well have been a young teenager again, overdosing on hormones, his mind all fogged up with desire and all his rational thoughts gone to hell. It frightened him, this lack of control that she threatened to release in him.
But his time here on Hawaii was almost at an end, and he had no right to demand anything from this girl-woman. He thought long and hard about it as she slid her arms around his waist, and strands from her long black hair broke free to tickle his bare chest where the robe fell away. Tenderness warred with lust, and as he filled his hands with that perfumed mass, he wanted nothing more than to bend down and crush his lips onto hers. But he knew once that happened he was a goner for sure, and Leilani was right, the Surf-Rider was calling him. He could no more refuse to heed its call than he could stop breathing.
“Pomaika`I. Good luck, Adam.”
“Thank you,” he whispered hoarsely against her hair.
Adam straddled his board, long legs dangling in the warm waters of the outer reefs beyond Diamond Head, as he waited out for his final ride of the competition. Sam was once again in lead place after four rounds, and Adam was trailing in fifth. Just a few minutes previously, he’d watched the last surfer before him set off on his ride of a lifetime, the second placed Australian from Melbourne. He grabbed a second to wipe a few wet strands of hair that caught in his eyes, and looked skyward, alerted by the deep thrum of the helicopter flying overhead, keeping tabs on the competitors, tracking progress and relaying the images back to the judges.
At this point in the day, with most of the competition completed, the winds off the Ko’olau were blowing hard and stiff offshore, causing the waves to stand up like tower blocks as they approached the reef and curled over. He’d had to lie flat on his board and paddle furiously – arms aching – to battle his way through the churning surf to the deeper waters where the wave building began. Several times he’d almost ‘turned-turtle’, hanging on for grim death as the water in the great swells sucked and pulled at him.
Adam clung to the board, regarding the rolling hills and valleys of blue-green water advancing towards him. Several huge swells passed, lifting and dropping him as they glided past - silent and threatening - on their way to Waikiki beach. He felt their immense power underneath him, filled with the deadly energy of that monstrous storm that pulsed many miles south of Honolulu - the sort of power that fuelled tsunamis. He waited, breathless, a myriad thoughts clamouring in his head, his heart hammering in his chest, waiting for - something.
And then – he turned to see a towering turquoise ridge bearing towards him, and instinctively he knew this was it. The wave. The one he had been waiting for – higher and wider than any he’d seen in many years. A fiend of a wave, much like the one Duke must have ridden on his own day of reckoning. This wave called to Adam with siren-song, and all at once every doubt vanished, to be replaced by a heart-full of certainty.
He sprang onto his board as the monster caught him - slashed and pitched – and at that second of instinctive surety, Adam bent his right foot forward, knees bent, arms outstretched to balance.
The wave sloped and a trough yawned wide and deep as an elevator shaft, but Adam kept his nerve and rode the ridge like a skier down a mountain, sliding left as the avalanche of water bore towards the shore. For a second, he imagined losing his footing and tumbling into that curving bulk – like being buried under tons of crumbling masonry.
Almost immediately, this malevolent notion was dispelled by another altogether happier image, that of Leilani’s beautiful face, and the knowledge that she was out there on the shore, watching, filled him with a clean, bright, courage, dissipating any doubts he might have had about his ability, or his courage.
He would best this wave, for him, and for her.
Adam cut across the face of that watery behemoth; spray flying up from the edges of his board, stinging his face, the winds slamming the breath out of him.
On he flew, as if with wings, and the long, wide wall seemed to move forward with the speed of an express train. He slid left, right, left, right, fighting for balance, his feet planted firmly on his board, fighting the momentum as he rode that wave for what seemed like an eternity.
Left, left, he kept going, the board screaming as it cut through the water, sucking on that ever-deepening ridge. His heart thrummed in his chest, his muscles keening at fever pitch. White water pounding, the bulk of Diamond Head filling his vision, a sloping black giant – and time seemed to slow to zero, crystallising thought into a perfect moment that he would play back in his mind forever.
He angled still further to avoid plunging into the curling, sudsy depths to his right, one wrong foot now and he was lost. The water still sucked and pulled – as if this titanic wave was determined to destroy the mortal who dared to brave its sublime majesty. Adam teetered on his board for several heart-stopping seconds before wresting control from the monster wave again, skewing left and surging forward on one last triumphant slide shore-bound.
Now he could see the beach at last, glimpsed the bodies all the way along, lined up, squinting against the horizon, but it took all his concentration to ride out those last few crazy yards before he tumbled at last into waist-deep water at the shore’s-edge. He crawled out of the foaming water, shaking with adrenaline, and only barely registered the flood of bodies that surged forward. Dragging his board under one arm, he loped onto the sand as they clustered around him, clamouring their delight and appreciation, but Adam’s eyes searched for one face only in that yelling and excited crowd.
“Jeez, dude, that ride was off the Richter!”
And then Sam was there, in front of the throng, and he thumped his back and grasped Adam’s free arm. “Oh, man,” he said, his eyes shining with a rueful admiration, “Do you realise what you did out there?”
Adam shook his head in bemusement, he knew he’d surfed the ride of his life, but couldn’t quite understand the level of excitement that it seemed to be generating. “Did I win?” he grinned, still looking for Leilani in the crowd.
“Win?” It was Sam’s turn to shake his head as he walked with Adam towards the official’s podium. “You’ve only just beaten the world record for the longest single surf on ocean waters. You’ve just got yourself into the history books, Adam.”
He stopped and stared at Sam in disbelief, even as he knew it must be true. He’d felt it, every inch of the way on that watery giant.
Then, at last, Leilani fought her way through the circle of well-wishers, and his happiness was complete when he saw the look of sublime adulation on her face. She stepped forward and linked one arm into his free one, walking with him towards the official’s podium where he would receive his winner’s trophy.
“Ho'omaika'i 'Ana, Adam,” she whispered in his ear. “Congratulations. I never doubted you could do this.”
He looked down at her face, wreathed in an adoring smile, with those eyes that promised so much. His doubts returned, marring his victory the tiniest fraction. However, he bestowed on her a smile of gratitude and prepared to walk up to the podium to receive his prize. She had handed him a pair of large sunglasses, which he put on, a small concession to security in case any photos might wing their way around the ‘net. He was determined that any publicity would be short-lived and would not endanger the Kameles in any way. In a very short while he would get off the Islands and they would be safe from any retaliation that might follow in the wake of his presence here.
But as he caught Leilani’s smouldering gaze, he realised that it wasn’t going to be that simple.
Adam’s second moment of guilty pleasure resulted from being presented the trophy by a rather sullen and subdued Zack Millar. However, Adam received it gracefully, without a hint of I-told-you-so, and within the sound of ringing cheers and applause, Adam stepped off the podium to be hugged warmly by Sam, Leilani and Pop Kamele, who had arrived just in time to see Adam’s winning surf ride.
At the Hale Moana, Ma Kamele, who had evidently been busy in the kitchen while the rest of her brood were on Waikiki Beach, greeted Adam in a luminescent turquoise and cerise muumuu that made him wish he was still wearing his sunshades. She beamed at him, and crushed him in one of her bear-hugs.
“I am blessed to receive the victor,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Stop it, you’ll make me blush.”
“Come in, come in,” she insisted, finally letting him go, but still holding his hand to lead him inside, followed by a smiling Sam and Leilani.
The house seemed to be bursting at the seams with the assortment of aunts and uncles and cousins that had been assembled on Adam’s behalf. He felt a lump settle in his throat as he was hugged and greeted like a long-lost member of the family by each and every one of them. Sam’s parents were paupers compared with the wealth of the Svensons, but they more than made up for it by a spirit of unconditional generosity that left him feeling humbled every single time he visited. This sense of belonging made a sharp contrast with the friction-fuelled homecomings he had with his father on his occasional returns to Boston.
Through the polite chat, Adam realised he had lost sight of Leilani, and he wondered if she was in the kitchen helping her mother. He was surprised how keenly felt her absence was, and was almost prepared to go looking for her, when she finally appeared, looking stunning in a long, floating silk muumuu. He felt his breath stop as she walked – no, glided – towards him, and when she smiled, the clatter of conversation retreated to a hum. An instant later, the spell was broken as Pop Kamele appeared at his side, offering him a mai-tai.
Leilani chatted dutifully with her Aunt Edith, but all the while her eyes flickered to the back of Adam’s neck, as he stood talking to one of her male cousins. She was hypnotised by a fine line of blond hairs along that perfect neck, shaved close to a prickle. She wanted to run her finger along them, and wondered if he would tremble under her touch. She breathed in – she felt giddy, lighter than air and a delicious sensation ran down into the pit of her belly and beyond.
Leilani drifted, lost in a sudden, excruciating yearning, and when she came back to earth she saw her aunt regarding her with a knowing little smile that made her blush.
After being pestered by the throng of guests to tell them all the gory details of his ‘perfect’ world record surf more than once, Adam was grateful when Ma Kamele called out for them to sit down to supper. Everyone ate on large trestle tables, and they groaned under the weight of typical luau food – a feast fit for the ali’i themselves: laulau pig, lomilomi salmon, poke-fish, sweet potatoes and a huge bowl of the ubiquitous poi.
Leilani sat, like Hawaiian royalty, two places away from him, on the opposite side of the table, and their gazes drifted inevitably to the other’s and each time, Adam imagined that the entire gathering must feel the electricity being generated between them.
Toasts were drunk and followed by impromptu singing and ukulele playing as the sun slowly dipped into the molten sea, turning the sky shades of mauve and lavender and cerise. At one point, Pop Kamele sang an old Hawaiian love song in a melancholy refrain that was enough to bring tears to the eyes, and Adam tried, and failed, to imagine his strait-laced father singing his heart out this way in public. As the last notes of Pop Kamele’s ukulele drifted away on the salt-kissed breeze, Adam’s gaze once again met Leilani’s. The light from the torches flickered orange motes into her eyes and he felt a coil of heat slowly rise like molten magma in his belly.
Leilani was impatient. She desperately wanted the banquet to end so she could get Adam alone. Her mind whirled like a butterfly, considering possibilities for her seduction, wondering if she could really be so bold. Yet, she had to be, as she had overheard him in conversation with her mother as she had asked him how long he intended to stay on Oahu. His answer had filled Leilani with a stomach-dropping dismay. He was leaving tomorrow! She tried to keep her face calm as she talked to one of her relatives, all the while thoughts filled solely with Adam Svenson. Was he truly intending simply to go without even kissing her goodbye? She was so sure that he felt the same way about her as she did about him. But what if she was wrong? What if in his eyes he simply still saw her as that skinny annoying teenager with braces? Her whole being recoiled from the idea that she had imagined the look in his eyes and the hardness of his groin against hers when they had danced hip to hip in the smoky nightclub. Was she really that deluded? Leilani’s mind refused to allow the possibility, and she unconsciously jutted her chin out as she cast her eyes on the subject of her mental hand-wringing.
At last, when everyone was milling around after a break from another song, she saw him slip away towards the house, no doubt heading for the bathroom. She decided to grab her chance. It was now or never. She waited, outside the small cloakroom, her heart hammering against her chest, and glancing around in case anyone else was about to come in the house. She could still hear the laughter and chatter and the sound of the surf crashing gently onto the beach. This was madness, she thought, as the cistern flushed.
I’m behaving like a crazy girl…
Then the lock drew back with a snick and the door opened...
She thrust up against him, pushing him back inside the room, kicking the door closed, and locking them in again.
“Adam, it’s me.”
“Leilani – uh, you want the bathroom?”
“No, silly, I want you.”
He let out a short, explosive gasp…and then, “Leilani, this isn’t a good idea…”
Now she could see his outline more clearly as she pressed up against him, almost dizzy with his smell – clean, masculine. His eyes were grey-clouded, but chasing his initial surprise was the desire she saw – for her. She wanted him - here and now and to hell with the consequences. Anyone needing to pee could use the upstairs bathroom. Her arms snaked around his neck, and she pressed her breasts hard against the wonderful hardness of his body.
“Adam, I need you to kiss me, now. Please. Don’t make me wait any longer. It’s been torture out there, being so close to you, wanting to touch you...”
He made a noise in his throat - a strangled sound, and then – the sudden shock when at last she felt his lips on hers, her mouth opening quickly, almost dying of pleasure when their tongues met, searched, entangled. But, oh – he tasted wonderful, and how she ached for him! Her thighs were like water, barely able to support her, and in that wild moment her fate was inexorably sealed and all pretence at chasteness vanished as all those drawn-out days of pent-up desire were unleashed. She felt his strong fingers in her hair, dragging her close, as the blood hammered in her head and the dark, warm room spun around. For long moments they kissed, sliding into it as if they couldn’t get enough of one another, the heat from their bodies driving up the temperature, their arousal scenting the air with sexual pheromones. She could hear their panting gasps as they broke for air, and then as if they might die without the other’s lips, returned to their breathless kissing.
But it wasn’t enough, not nearly enough for her, now that the floodgates had burst open and the passionate waters unleashed. She became impatient, and her fingers fumbled with the buttons of his shirt as she distracted him with her frenzied kisses - pushing the fabric away, baring his chest to her avid gaze. She nuzzled him there, her lips sucking on his hard, taut, flesh. Her tongue found a nipple, and she delighted in the sound of his agonized gasp.
“Jesus, Leilani,” he muttered.
She raised her head, and he shivered as the air cooled around his skin where her feverish mouth had left wet trails.
“I want you,” she said.
“For God’s sake, we can’t make love in a cloakroom.”
“Then let’s leave, go somewhere, just the two of us.”
“Are you kidding? We shouldn’t be doing this – period. I’m the guest of honour at your folks’ luau, I’m not about to just run off with their twenty-two year old daughter and -”
Emboldened by lust, too far gone in her insanity to care, she babbled at him. “Give me one good reason why not, Adam Svenson? I’m hardly jail-bait, and I lost my cherry a long-ways back. I’m a big girl now, not the little wahini whose hair you mussed on the beach all those years ago.”
“No, listen to me! I have all my shots up-to-date so you won’t catch anything nasty – including a little nine-month surprise, so what’s the problem? Or are you just one of these guys that has to be in control, to decide when and where he does his hunting? If so, don’t you think you’re leaving it a bit late, since you obviously intend to get on a plane tomorrow?”
Adam blinked, trying to wrest some sense into his brain as Leilani finally allowed him a few precious seconds of lucidity in between kissing him half to hell. Damn it, but his brain was an annoying-as-hell-organ battling with another that seriously wanted authority over this moment. He looked down at her, so vulnerable in his grasp in spite of her sass and take-no-shit attitude. And here he was, a nearly thirty-year-old spy with a nice line in killing fiancées, a man with four years of lies and tangled mess between them. His rekindled love of surfing had indeed started him down the path of renewal, as Nathan King had wisely foreseen, but this was no time to further complicate matters by making love to Leilani Kamele.
Was he going to mess up her life as well – just so he could douse the flames that she had ignited in his soul? He just wasn’t that wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of guy, or at least, he didn’t think so. She might not be jail-bait, but he still remembered the young girl that used to smile shyly at him, twisting the lei blossom around her neck, watching her big brother and Adam surf off Sunset Beach. Passion took a nosedive. Damn. Damn. Damn.
“I just can’t do this, Leilani, I’m sorry.” He heard his voice ragged and harsh.
“What do you mean, you can’t do this?” She splayed long fingers over his groin. “Sure feels like hell you can to me.”
He gave a short bark of a laugh. “I almost wish that was the problem.”
The fingers of her other hand crawled along his chest, her breath exhaling as if in relief. “So you do want me.”
“For God’s sake, woman, I want you so much it hurts.” The words came out through gritted teeth. “But that doesn’t make it right.”
“Adam, I want – I need to understand what’s going on here.”
He opened his mouth, and then, suddenly, comprehension bloomed on her face. She eased back a little stiffly and stared up into his eyes. “You still love her, don’t you? You haven’t gotten over her yet.”
His hands dropped from her shoulders and clenched for a few seconds as he tried to frame a reply, knowing that he somehow owed Leilani an explanation for his erratic behaviour, and yet, to tell her about the exact circumstances that resulted in his fiancée’s death would only beg more questions from her, and the answers to every one of them were probably classified. Hell, the years he’d spent in the WAS meant he couldn’t take a crap without it being logged, tagged and filed in the archives. But none of it had made a split-lick of difference. Soraya had still paid the price for his failure to protect her, and Leilani didn’t deserve to suffer the same fate by virtue of being involved with a man like him.
“Adam, say something, you’re scaring me,” she said at last, and her eyes were large and filled with confusion. “I know I could never replace her in your heart. I’d never ever presume to. It’s just that I’ve had a crush on you for such a long time…”
She placed a finger on his lips, shaking her dark head, refusing to be silent until she had said what was on her mind.
“I know I’m being totally selfish, but I just can’t let you leave without – without…” She gripped his arm, and he felt her nails dig into his skin. “Oh, you drive me crazy, don’t you know that? All I can think of is you, every minute, with no space for anything else. I’m like a dam about to burst.”
“Leilani, it isn’t so simple, you know?”
And even as he said it, he wondered if it ought to be. Perhaps he spent too much time analysing things until his head spun - partly due to his age, he thought wryly, and partly because it was his inherent nature. Leilani’s headlong embrace of the here and now brought back echoes of his own teenage years, and he realised she was offering him a second chance to grab the spirit of his youth, where consequences were unimportant and secondary to how you felt in the moment. He looked down at her upturned face, knew now that it had haunted his every waking moment on Oahu, and saw the glitter of unshed tears in her dark brown eyes. He was causing her this pain, and she didn’t deserve it. Reaching for one of her slender hands, he grasped it tightly in his own, trying to rid himself of the hard obstruction in his throat, cursing how inadequately he was dealing with this situation.
“I only want to make you happy,” she said, in a voice barely audible, and without warning, she arched up and pressed her mouth to his, and no doubt she meant it to be tender, comforting, for she didn’t even press her body against him.
But it in fact had completely the opposite effect, the ever-present combustible mix of passion and emotion that existed between them, flared to life like a volcano, the fires barely banked since their last breathless kiss. Adam felt like a drowning man offered a life-belt, and as her lips parted under his he finally threw away rationale and surrendered to the fragrant, moist heat that was totally Leilani Kamele, vibrant and full of life in his arms, chasing away the demons.
Just then the door knob rattled noisily, and a dark shadow passed across the frosted glass. The two of them froze, the door jiggled again, and then the shadow moved off.
Adam let out an explosive breath. “This is crazy.”
Her laugh was low and throaty, and she leaned in to press light kisses against his lips, sensing her victory. “I never knew a crazy that felt so right.”
He sighed. “You’re going to kill me, you know that, you minx?”
”Oh, that is still to come, my dear, sweet Adam.”
Somehow, time now seemed to stretch out eternally, as they returned to the company, and waited out the remaining hours of the luau until they could be alone again. Now that he had accepted the inevitable, Adam felt an all-consuming urgency to be with her, to peel off her clothes and relish the sweet, bountiful flesh that lay so seductively beneath. He watched her with lidded eyes, the blood running hot in his veins, as she glided amongst the guests, and, it seemed to him, that she was aglow with some ethereal fire, the same fire that she had kindled in his loins, and his heart. In a moment of fancy, he could well believe that she was some Hawaiian deity who had stepped off the fiery slopes of Kilauea and ensorcelled him.
One by one, the party-goers left, and Adam’s arms were sore from shaking hands as they congratulated him once again on his surfing victory and new world record. Finally, Sam wandered across and took him aside, and Adam felt a momentary flicker of nervousness, wondering if the younger man suspected his tryst with his sister, and if so, how he felt about it.
“I’m gonna miss you, brah,” Sam said, draping an arm around his shoulders. “I forgot how much fun we used to have, playing on those waves. It’s sure going to be awful hard letting you get on that big old plane and fly off to the mainland again.”
Adam’s smile was heartfelt and wistful. Whatever else happened in his life, he knew that the man standing close to him was a true friend, and would remain so, no matter what. This friendship and the hospitality of his family had been the soothing balm that had chased away the demons that had haunted him ever since he had lost Soraya. He knew that he wouldn’t forget her, but he also knew that in order for him to truly live again, he had to let her go.
“So,” he said at last to Sam. “You’re not mad at me for beating you out there, again?” His friendly taunt was second-nature, and covered up any hint of the sentimental wash of feeling that suddenly threatened to cascade over him.
“You were always determined to win, Adam, maybe I just don’t have enough of that competitive streak as I once thought I did. I think maybe Leilani’s the more aggressive one in the family now. You know, you two are pretty alike on that score.”
Adam felt a pulse flicker in his neck, but he kept his face impassive. “Yeah, she’s good on a board.”
“The best; just as well the wahinis can’t compete with the kanes, eh? She might well be the one to whip your hide.”
“I’m not going to argue with you on that one.”
Sam stared across to where Leilani was chatting with her mother and Aunt Edith, who was preparing to take her leave of the party. “Just be – you know – careful.”
Adam swallowed, instantly aware of what Sam was implying, and he wasn’t going to insult his friend by pretending he had no inkling of what he was referring to. “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt Leilani, you have to believe me.”
Sam gave him a slow grin and punched him hard on one arm. “It wasn’t you I was worried about.”
Sam’s eyes creased and he gave a loud chuckle, making Leilani suddenly look in their direction. Sam waved and blew her a kiss, and she stuck her tongue out, making her look about thirteen again. Adam felt a slow flush begin in his neck.
“The look on your face –” Sam was saying, still chuckling.
“Hey, no sweat, brah. My little sis can get under a kane’s skin like a wave under your board. I’ve lost count of the guys she’s put through the wringer.” He gave another throaty chuckle, the impish expression on his face making him look uncannily like Leilani’s twin. “But I’m figuring that she ain’t gonna find you such an easy pushover.”
Adam was lost for words. He hadn’t expected such an easy acceptance of the situation.
Sam thumped him again. “Forget it. I just let my mouth motor on my rambling thoughts. What you and she do is your business, period.”
Adam shook his head. “You’ve both been good to me these last few days, I don’t want any of you to think I’m taking advantage of anything here…”
“Not gonna happen, and I want you to know I would be honoured to have you as my kaiko'eke.”
“I’m not promising wedding bells, Sam, I – can’t, my life’s too complicated.”
“I’m just kidding, I don’t expect any such thing, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want it to happen. You know, Adam, when it all comes down to it, sometimes you make it complicated. But you know, it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.”
“Just promise me something, brah.”
“Just don’t take another four years to come back and see us again.”
They grasped hands, shaking on it.
At last, Adam crossed over to where Leilani sat with her folks, both of their brown faces beaming with the good vibes of hosting yet another successful family feast.
Ma Kamele spread her arms wide to embrace him. “It was so good to see you again, please do not stay away so long this time. You come to surf North Shore in the winter, you hear?”
“I don’t know how to thank you for your hospitality, all of you,” he said. “These have truly been a few wonderful days spent in your company.”
She made shooing gestures. “You are ohana, always.”
“Mom, Adam’s going to run me back down to Honolulu,” Leilani piped up, making Adam start, as he hadn’t been privy to this information. “I’ll see you next week for Sunday lunch as usual, okay?”
Before Adam could go, Pop Kamele took his arm, steering him out onto the lanai, asking if he wouldn’t mind - just one more time – to demonstrate how he caught that monster wave and rode it into the record books. Leilani rolled her eyes, but Adam wasn’t about to be rude to his hosts, even though both mind and body yearned to be alone with her. He couldn’t help an involuntary glance at his watch; time was running desperately out for both of them.
When Pop Kamele finally allowed him to leave, they wandered back through to the living room, where Leilani was chatting with her mother. Both women seemed complicit in something, and when Adam came in, Ma Kamele raised her dark eyes in his direction. She patted Leilani’s hand with a knowing smile, and Adam fought down a dose of discomfiture, with the distinct impression that the older woman knew exactly what was going on between her daughter and her guest of honour.
Finally, they sat together in the front of the rental car, after waving goodbye on the porch to the other members of the family. For a few seconds Adam felt melancholy, wondering when he would next see them, or the house, again.
“Don’t.” Leilani’s voice held a tone of admonishment.
He blinked. “What?”
“You’re thinking again. Don’t think, feel.”
“Sorry.” He started the engine and fiddled with the sat-nav, feeling awkward. “So, where do you want to go for our nightcap…the Moana? We can sit under the banyan tree and –”
He wasn’t allowed to finish, as she swiftly pressed her lips to his, sliding up next to him, and his unease at the thought that her folks might be watching them from a window vanished in the sheer, intoxicating bliss of her nearness once again.
“I don’t want to go to Honolulu...” she whispered, after they broke for air.
“But I thought you said…”
She shook her head. “I know somewhere, along the coast; it’s a special place, just like you.”
He raised one blond eyebrow.
“You’re like no kane I’ve ever met, Adam. I’ve never had to work so hard to get a man to take notice of me. ”
“So, I’m a challenge, that’s it?”
She kissed him again, gently. “A little, but that’s not the only reason why I’m here with you.”
“What did your mom whisper to you in there?” he asked, curiosity nagging at him.
She giggled. “I can’t tell you.”
“You’d better, or I’ll lick you all over and then leave you high and dry.”
“Bastard,” she said, with a grin.
“Flattery will get you nowhere. So come on...tell me.”
“She said that if she was thirty years younger, she’d be going for a nightcap with you instead of me.”
Adam felt his face flame. “So she isn’t fooled that I’m just taking you back home.”
“Nope.” She sat back in the seat, with a smug look on her face. “Well, don’t just sit there, drive me to Paradise, Adam Svenson.”
“No pressure,” he muttered, half-serious. “Sounds like you’ve been planning this since I got off the plane.”
“Even before that.”
His eyes widened, but he let the comment go, for the moment. “So, where it is that we’re going?”
The sat-nav ran out at a dirt road that snaked off up a hill, and finally, the road petered out into sand and grass, coloured silver by the full moon.
“Stop!” Leilani suddenly laid a warning hand on his arm, and he braked sharply, almost skidding. “We’re nearly at the cliff edge.”
He took a deep breath, adrenaline pumping along his veins at the thought he might have driven straight over. “Now you tell me,” he said, killing the engine. “Is this it? Our mysterious destination?”
Leilani was already out of the passenger seat and opening his door. “Almost, just a little further.”
She led him along a winding path that ended in a large stand of stately palm trees, tall and soaring. They stood guard over what looked like a collection of rocks, but as he moved closer he could see the stones were arranged in some sort of symmetry, and were carved in places.
“Many people believe the old gods inhabit this place,” Leilani said, as she led him around the circle of stones. “There are many others, just like these, dotted about the islands. Some are very large; some are small, like this one. They’re not often visited, because some people consider them kapu - forbidden.”
Adam looked up and around, and shivered despite the warmth of the evening. There was something about this lonely spot, a something he was unable to put his finger on. For a moment he stood completely still, as the cicadas chirped within the symphony of a thousand infinitesimal sounds of the night.
He found his voice at last. “Uh, Leilani, then, don’t you think that what we’re about to – do - might be considered blasphemous?”
She gave a little laugh, and he swore he heard the slightest edge of nervousness within it.
“I’m not superstitious, really,” she said. “All that hokey stuff doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you’re in the middle of downtown, with all those people, the noise, the hustle and bustle. But sometimes, in a place like this, where the only sounds are from the sea, and the sky, with the forces of nature and pre-history surrounding you, I feel something. I can’t explain it. It’s as if some sort of energy exists in this place, powerful and spiritual.”
Adam nodded as he studied the ancient, weathered stones. “I can believe why people might feel that way.”
She turned to face him, and the breeze caught her long hair, and it floated like a raven’s wing.
“I wanted our – first time together to be special, spiritual even, silly though that sounds. I wanted to celebrate your triumph and our feelings for one another in this unique place so I can remember forever, no matter what else happens between us.”
“Leilani, about this – us. I just can’t promise you anything, I’d be lying if I said I could. You know I have to return to the mainland tomorrow, and I don’t know when I’ll be back…”
Gently she curled her fingers about his cheek, bringing him towards her, and they met in a languid embrace. He felt her hands in his hair, then on his back. His lips were very close to hers, and he felt her bare thigh hot against his. Heat rose between them, a musk scent in the air.
She whispered. “Stop fighting this, please. I don’t care about the future, I only care about how I feel right now. I’m doing this of my own free will, and I’m willing to deal with the consequences.”
He brushed his fingers along her cheek in reply. Moonlight threw shadows across her face, the same cool light sparking her black eyes, making them appear startlingly large.
“I want to tell you something else,” she continued in that same quiet insistent voice. “I dreamt about this place, I had the dream a few days before you arrived on Oahu. I dreamt we made love here.”
A rash of goose-pimples broke out along his spine at her words. He touched her, and felt her heart beating. All at once it was as if her pulse was his pulse, as if a cascade linked them together. In this place of power, Adam felt his heart open, felt the shell of his bitterness slough away.
Leilani spoke again, her voice almost inaudible. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment, Adam. My whole life, it seems. Don’t make me wait a second longer.”
With that, he bent his head, his lips searching blindly for hers and found her mouth open, waiting for him. Their tongues flickered and met, and the heat spread through him like wildfire. Without words - like gliding in a dream - they moved closer to one of the tall trees. He leant against the thick trunk of the palm, and began to kiss her again, starting with her mouth, moving onto the darkened hollow of her neck. She sighed for him, a sound that floated sweet and jagged into the humid night air. He heard a bird trill, somewhere in the trees, as if answering her elemental cries. After a while, Leilani started doing some exploring of her own, unbuttoning the collar of Adam’s shirt, and impatiently tearing it from his shoulders, tossing it onto the sand. He obliged her further by removing the remainder of his clothing, all the while locking his gaze onto hers. Her own eyes widened, but she remained silent, instead spreading her fingers wide, to scrape along his ribcage, down the flat muscle of his stomach…
She let go quickly as if she’d been burnt.” Adam, what’s wrong?”
He counted to ten - backwards – fighting for control. She had him that close to the edge.
“Leilani, it’s been a while – you know?”
Through the haze of yearning he saw her eyes darken. “Then let’s stop wasting time, shall we?”
He raised an eyebrow with sudden amusement, releasing the unbearable tension that had built between them. “Bossy, aren’t you?”
She gave him a sultry smile. “You’d better believe it, lover. And if you don’t take me here right now I might have to scream the place down –”
He didn’t let her finish. Instead, he kissed her. Hard. All at once, the next few minutes slid past in a hot, sweat-drenched blur as they followed the instincts of their flesh. And now he gave vent to his own passion, slaking the fires that she’d stoked so artfully. He didn’t want it to be rushed, but the sensations were too intense, so long anticipated and frequently fantasised, that they overtook him, and it was like holding back an enormous wave that rushed onto the shore.
He unclenched his eyelids when the tsunami had passed over him, and felt a line of sweat trickle along his chest; saw a similar small rivulet snake its way along the hollow of Leilani’s breasts, She was staring at him with a beatific smile on her face.
“I’ll never be able to look at a palm tree in quite the same way again,” he whispered raggedly as he leant his face against her hair.
She giggled, and clung to him, shivering slightly as the air cooled the sweat on their bodies, until he pulled her down with him onto the sandy grass. They lay together, listening to one another’s heartbeats, and the sound of the palm trees swaying gently in the warm breeze.
“You make love like you dance, Leilani,” he said, tracing a finger across one of her shoulders.
“It’s probably going to get me into trouble one of these days,” she murmured, as one of her hands settled on his temple. She brushed back the thick fringe of his blond hair, and he felt her fingers drift across the outline of the scar running along his forehead.
“Was that a surfing accident?” she asked.
“No, but, it doesn’t matter; it was a long time ago.”
“I’d always wondered, but I never had the nerve to ask you about it.”
He kissed the tip of her nose. “Well, I don’t think you have any trouble with self-confidence now, Leilani.”
“You’re good for my ego.”
“I didn’t think that needed my help either.”
She traced his lips with her fingertip. “I still can’t believe that I’m here with you now.”
He took her fingers and kissed each one in turn. “Well, you are, so you had better start to believe it. And I’m not about to suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke.”
“But you will, tomorrow.”
He flinched at the sadness that floated into her eyes, and it filled him with a sudden shocking despondency too. He realised how precious Leilani Kamele had suddenly become to him within these few short days. Despite all his best efforts, he knew it was going to be very hard for him to get on that plane tomorrow and leave her behind.
She was looking away now, her eyes resting on a spot on the grass. “It’s my fault, completely. Mom always says I don’t know when to stop. I kept pushing, even though I know you have a life, somewhere I can’t follow…but I just wanted you so much I didn’t care.” She rubbed one eye angrily. “Damn. I promised myself…and here I go crying like some silly teenager.”
He pulled her close. “Stop it,” he said softly. “I’m seven years older than you, and I ought to have known better, I’m every bit as much to blame, Leilani, stop torturing yourself for something that isn’t your fault. I can’t ask you to come away with me, this is your home, and it would be like plucking a flower from its garden.”
Her dark brows knit together in a frown. “This isn’t turning out exactly how I’d planned.”
“Emotions never cooperate, that much I’ve learned in my life so far. You just get a bit better at dealing with them, or hiding the pain.”
They clung together, as much out of comfort as lust.
“So, where do we go from here?” Her words were almost inaudible.
“We could go back, if you want.”
She immediately shook her head.
He stroked her face tenderly. “I don’t know why I should be so lucky; after all, someone as stunningly beautiful as you has to have their pick of all the handsome young men on the islands.”
Her teeth gleamed in the moonlight, and she actually preened in his embrace, the momentary sadness vanishing from her eyes. She slid both arms around his neck and stared deeply at him. “You really think I’m beautiful?”
He shook his head in mock disbelief. “Are you kidding me? What can I say to convince you? Let me say it again. I truly think that you’re beautiful inside and out, mind and body. I also want to you know that the last few days in your company have made me feel –” He hesitated. “I’m not quite sure how to say this…”
He took a deep breath, steadying himself. “I’ve been living a joyless existence ever since Soraya’s death, crippling myself with guilt. Everything was starting to suffer, my work, my hold on sanity. I’d never ever gone through something like this before. I had always been so sure, so confident about life and my future, and yet all this time I’ve been living in the past. When I was forced to take some time off I started to break out of the crazy cycle of self-damnation, and then when I came to Oahu…”
“Surfing, and you – I think you may both well have saved me.”
She had held his gaze as he talked, those brown eyes growing more liquid all the while. When he finished, she slowly drew his face to hers, and he closed his eyes as he felt her mouth upon his once again, and for a long while, words became irrelevant, as they allowed fingers and lips to articulate those understandings that speech was unable to convey. Under the dark Hawaiian night, in the shadow of palm trees and stone, they explored one another’s bodies, allowing one another free rein to indulge in the sweet curiosity reserved for new lovers. Inevitably, their gently tender caresses grew more urgent, their breathing became faster, as the sweat built on their skin.
Leilani’s eyes had grown enormous, wide and black, like great opals. Moonlight accentuated the sweep of her jaw, her long neck, and the hollow part of her throat that was filled with darkness seemed to Adam like a deep, mysterious pool. He was suddenly filled with the strangest notion; that if he drank from that pool he would be infused with some sacred energy, filling him with the power of the goddess – Pele, bringer of life and death. Once again, he felt the tide gathering, calling, running inwards from the vast depths towards them, blotting out all thought, all memories, in the onrushing wave of pleasure as he lost himself in her. And at the end, as he called her name, he became vaguely aware of a dim, primitive sound, like chanting, or drums, or perhaps both, and then the full force of it hit him, and he was soaring, colour billowing behind his eyes.
“Good God,” he said, breathing out hard, collapsing upon her. She sighed as he rolled over a little to give her air and for a few precious moments, they said nothing, just waited until all the blood had slowly pumped back to where it was before, and their hearts had stopped racing.
He heard a bird softly hooting into the night, a poignant sound, reminding him his vacation was nearly at an end, and that he must leave this verdant island tomorrow, to return to the world of espionage; that dark twilight world where nothing was as it seemed, and truth was a commodity to be bought or sold to the highest bidder. He knew that these few sweet, bright days spent in Sam and Leilani’s company would be a shining reminder that there were good people in this world, who asked for nothing in return for their love.
After a moment he said, “I thought, that when we - I heard something, like – chanting…”
Leilani nodded, her eyes still wide, and filled with astonishment. “I heard it too,” she whispered in awe. “I told you there was something about this place.”
“Are you afraid? We can leave if you like.”
She shook her head. “No, I don’t feel threatened. More – that – I think perhaps, whatever gods or spirits reside in this place, I sense that they approve.”
Adam pulled her into the crook of his arms, and held her tight as a feeling of peaceful enchantment settled over him. Tomorrow he had to go so others could claim his mind and his body for the dark and dirty tasks ahead, but for tonight, for this one, blissful, Hawaiian night, he belonged to Leilani.
“I promise I’ll come back and see you again,” he whispered against her hair.
She leant back a little, and bestowed him a rapturous smile. “Mahalo. And when you do – what then?”
“As your father likes to say, I guess we’ll just have to hang loose and let nature take its course…”
She stroked his face with one long fingertip. “The weeks will seem eternal without you.”
He kissed her gently. “I haven’t gone yet, we still have a little time.”
“You’re right, Adam, let’s not waste it.” She cupped his face once more, drawing him close. “E kipa mai, ke aloha. Come to me, my beloved.”
Some Hawaiian vocabulary and phrases as used in the story:
Ali’i - the Hawaiian royalty.
Brah, or sometimes Bro – friend, buddy.
Come eat my place – come for supper/dinner - pidgin, not my bad grammar!
Haole – Foreigner, sometimes specifically Caucasian.
Kahuna – important, the ‘big cheese’.
Kaiko'eke – brother-in-law.
Kane – man.
Luau – traditional Hawaiian feast, party.
Mahalo – thanks, thank-you.
Makai – direction, towards the sea/ocean.
Mauka – direction, towards the mountains.
Mummuu – Hawaiian ladies dress, loose-fitting and brightly coloured. Female equivalent of the Aloha shirt!
Ohana – family.
Primo – good, excellent, the best.
Wahini – woman.
Some surfing slang:
Barrelling - when a wave forms a tube when it breaks and curls over.
Bluebirds - huge waves.
Bitchin’ – very good, excellent.
Bombing waves - when waves are bigger and more powerful than usual, but the size of ‘bombing’ is relative to the surfing area.
Chop – rough wave conditions.
Clean – good conditions, good waves.
Curl – portion of the waves that is spilling over and breaking.
Gnarly – dangerous, out of control, intense.
Hot-dogging – fancy surfing done by a skilled surfer.
Kook – someone who behaves inappropriately due inexperience or ignorance.
Leash – cord attaching a surfer’s ankle to the board.
Wipe-out – to fall off or be knocked off the board.
This started life as a shorter story that I penned a few years ago for a friend’s birthday, and she kindly agreed to let me borrow it back in order to extend it, incorporating an idea I got from the following statement from one of the official merchandise publications. According to Captain Blue’s biography in Chris Bentley’s ‘The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet’, Adam Svenson holds the ‘world record for the longest surf-ride, an estimated distance of 5000 feet, recorded at Waikiki Beach, Oahu, in 2064’. I have only recently discovered that this statement was most likely derived from an article in the 1970 TV21 annual, entitled ‘Off Duty’, in which Captain Blue enthuses to an un-named interviewer about the excitement of surfing in Hawaii.
It’s worth mentioning that Duke Kahanamoku’s world record ride, (in 1917 or 1921, sources vary) also made off Waikiki Beach, Oahu, was a distance of one mile, which is 5280 feet, so in fact, Duke’s record (for an open ocean surf-ride) still stands today. However, a writer doesn’t allow a little inconsistency to stop the creative process, so I just used some of that poetic licence that they talk about!
Longer surfs have taken place on tidal rivers, such as the Severn in England, and near the mouth of the Amazon – a phenomenon known as the Pororoca, where brave (or crazy) souls can ride a twelve foot wave for distances of over twelve kilometers. A surfer’s ultimate dream, the never-ending wave. Maybe one of these days Captain Blue might want to try it, if the Colonel doesn’t mind him taking his chances with the piranhas and dead trees….
I had a lot of fun wallowing in this, my own little private paradise, writing this mixture of romance and surfing-action set in one of my favourite parts of the world, and giving star billing to one of my favourite captains. I hope that you, in turn, have enjoyed reading it.
As in previous stories, the usual disclaimers apply. This story used characters from TV series “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” ©, which is the creation of Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson, and the rights of the series belong to Carlton International, and no profit was made from this fan-fic whatsoever.
The majority of illustrations accompanying the text are montages created by myself from various photos from the Captain Scarlet series and pictures from the web.
The shots of Hawaii on the title page and end page are two of my own ‘trannie’ shots taken when I visited the Islands in 1993.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank a bunch of folks:
Hazel Köhler, my kind beta reader, for her usual sterling shock and awe of my prose.
Marion Woods, for allowing me to use her original character, Soraya Carmichael, who has appeared in several of Marion’s wonderful Captain Blue stories. Okay, I was probably both a little lazy not to create something of my own for Blue’s background, but Marion’s excellent idea, that Soraya died in a car-bomb meant for him, was a tailor-made plot device to a) result in Adam being forced on a vacation, and b) to help in creating the atmosphere of guilt and tension surrounding Adam and Leilani’s relationship. I’d also like to credit Marion with the name SvenCorp, the Svenson family’s company.
Chris Bishop, for allowing me to use the names of Adam Svenson’s family that she initially created for ‘Symphony in Blue’; namely, John, Sarah, Peter, David and Katherine Svenson. Also I give her my heartfelt thanks for continuing to allow me to post my ramblings on her marvellous website.
TV 21 publications/Chris Bentley, for the idea about the world-record surf ride at Waikiki.
Last but never least, to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, whose creations continue to inspire all of our writing; past, present and future.
Any errors or omissions are entirely mine.
Caroline Smith 2010
Any comments? Send an to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site