"Surf's up!" Luca Avigliano heard the cry repeated closer to where he lived in Waikiki, in a room he had rented for two months, right off Kuhio Street. He grabbed his surfboard, glad his room was on the ground floor, so that he could run to the surf at the first cry.
He quickly checked the crowd. Yes, there she was, Malina Kaimana, the girl who had curled herself around his heart. How had she done that? Always, he guarded his heart most carefully against commitment, involvement. Yet, this time ... He had never allowed himself any commitment in his flings, preferring to sever the connection the moment the young woman showed signs of 'nesting'. He smiled ruefully. This one time, he'd be so happy if Malina showed deeper feelings for him, but even in their most intimate moments, she remained as uninvolved as he had always been. And now, there was no time left to work at more commitment on her part. A strange pain clenched around his heart when he reminded himself that, tomorrow, he'd fly back to Jacksonville, Florida.
As he came closer, he frowned, watching that gangly redhead--a lousy surfer--trying to hit on Malina again. Moments later, he reached her, tapping her on the shoulder. Malina turned quickly from the gawky surfer. She smiled her brilliant, white smile for Luca. "There you are!" They gazed at each other with delight. Malina took in Luca's shape, his broad, muscular shoulders, narrow waist and hips, the interesting bulge in his swim pants, his long, strong legs ... She liked the way he wore his midnight dark hair a little long, curling at his nape. Malina saw the caressing glance of his dark eyes, with their long, thick lashes under slim, black brows. Luca sure was to die for, with his sculpted cheekbones, straight nose and oh, his mouth ... She felt desire curl deep inside her. But he mustn't know she felt that way. He'd come here for a few months, to surf--and indulge in a little affair with her. She must be prepared for goodbye, and nothing more ever heard from him. She sighed, trying to look away, but found she couldn't.
Luca's dark eyes gazed at Malina. He thought he couldn't get enough of her--petite, with a mane of shiny, long, ink-black hair, her dark eyes huge and long-lashed, her mouth luscious and tempting. He sighed at her satiny, flawless café-au-lait skin, of which a lot was on view in her tiny bikini ... He mused how strange it was--after seven weeks of making love together, he still felt a jolt of hot desire, every time he looked at her. Never before had that happened to him. If only she would give him something of herself, apart from her sensual body in love's embrace. With an effort, he stopped gazing at her.
Taking her free hand--both were carrying their surfboards--Luca ran with her to the surf, where they threw themselves down on their boards, content to let the ocean take them, its rhythm both intoxicating and soothing. A glance at Malina convinced him that she felt as he did, and that she, too, had seen the perfect wave. When the wave started breaking, they rose like statues upon their boards, becoming one with the wave and the earth. As always, it was exhilarating being this close to nature, the wall of turquoise water curling above them, and Luca felt a sense of elation arrow through him, for the beauty of the wave and the energy of the earth. Nothing else came close to the amazing feeling surfing invoked in him. Although, being with Malina--but that was another story altogether.
Again and again, they drifted on their boards, waiting for yet another perfect wave. Again and again, they rode the waves, close to nature and to each other. When, at last, Luca called a halt, he and Malina walked to his room.
"I think we've deserved a drink."
Malina smiled at him. "I'm so glad you drink only coconut water or juice, and aren't a booze-hound like too many of the others."
Luca shrugged. "Different values. We find the perfect waves, they lie around in the shallows, paddling, waiting to get back to dry land and their keg of beer."
"Beer," Malina scoffed. "Try rum, particularly that gawky creep that's always trying to come on to me." Her mouth curved in disdain. "The moment he sees you, he scuttles away."
Luca lifted a brow, then he smiled as recognition dawned. "Yeah, that guy with the orange hair and the stiff white eyebrows and lashes. I've noticed him trying to hit on you. I glanced at him and he scurried away." Concern suddenly hit him. "He won't become a nuisance once I'm gone?"
Malina shook her head. "No. He's only here for two weeks, five more days to go, he said. Tomorrow, when you fly to the mainland, I'll fly to Kauai, spend some time with my grandmother. By time I get back, that creep will be gone."
Luca brought two glasses of coconut water to the small patio, giving one to Malina. He toasted her with his glass. "To you, and the perfect vacation you've given me." Silently, she toasted him back.
"I have some fresh Ahi we could eat..." When he saw Malina's light shrug, he went on, "Would you rather have dinner at The Reef?"
Malina shrugged again. "Anywhere you want."
Frowning, Luca said, "If there's a place you prefer..."
She shook her head. "No, The Reef has good, authentic Hawaiian food. We'll go there." She became aware that Luca was unusually silent. Is he sad that his vacation is at an end? Hardly. He knows he can come back again in a few months' time. Hmm. What then? She thought she'd ask. "You're quieter than usual. Why?"
Luca decided to tell her exactly why. "I'm not too happy with the way our relationship is going. We've known each other for two months--spent seven weeks being close. Or so it seemed. But you never stay the night with me. We make love, then you tell me you have to go home. Yet you've told me you have your own little apartment in your mother's house, and she isn't intrusive. Why won't you let me come closer?"
Malina's mouth twisted. "No particular reason. I thought you liked the way things were between us."
"I do, but I had expected us to grow closer, not remain virtual strangers. You tell me nothing about yourself, and show no interest in knowing anything about me." As he spoke, Luca was aware he was voicing the complaints women usually made to him. He shrugged imperceptibly. So be it.
Malina sighed. "All right. What do you want to know about me?"
Luca shook his head. "Not like that, as if we were interrogating each other. I had thought as we grew closer, we'd confide in each other, discover things about each other, slowly."
"Well, if that's how you feel, let's eat the Ahi, and we can spend the whole evening and all night discovering each other."
"I didn't realize my staying all night was a pre-requisite for you to feel happy about our relationship. So, belated as it may be, I'll stay the night. Okay?"
"Very much okay. You hungry?" When she shook her head, he added, "Good, we'll eat late. And I have plans for the next hour or so. Sound good to you?"
"Only if you mean dropping your bamboo shades down, and getting naked together." Luca smiled. It's going to be all right.