After retrieving our luggage we walked out of the airport and were immediately faced with a dozen eager cabbies yelling different destinations. Nika chose one and watched as he put our small bags in the trunk. Once in the back she instructed him to head for ‘Half Moon resort’. The two of them chatted during the drive. I could barely understand his Caribbean English but Nika didn’t seem to have any trouble at all. She grinned at me and I realized he must have asked me a question.

 

            “Your first time?” Nika helped me out.

 

            “Yes, yes – I’m looking forward to it.” I said over the buzz of his rattling engine.

 

            “Trus’ me, Miss, ya love it, not wan’ go home.” He said, and I smiled in response.

 

            “Maybe we won’t.” I joked.  Nika looked surprised and the cabbie laughed.

 

            The landscape was green and lush to match the hot and humid climate. Most of the buildings were one storey and small with corrugated tin roofs. The main road was sand and crowded with people and a few dogs.  Our resort was a modest looking building, unlike the brightly painted houses we had sped past; it was natural lacquered wood with a simple upstairs balcony. It was surrounded with palm trees and flowering bougainvillea, which reminded me of the southern USA.

 

Keeping with the notion that Nika would take care of the details I looked around the lobby while she checked us in, thought she did have to call me over to sign something.   A young woman directed us to our cabin and Nika picked up our bags to carry them over the sand. It was right on the beach and just happened to be the furthest away from the main building and restaurant. There was a net hammock waiting on the porch.

 

Inside Nika put down our stuff and quickly moved to crank open the louvered windows to catch the breeze. I tossed my bag and hat on one bed and lay down on the other.  Nika joined me and we shared a long passionate kiss.

 

“What do you think so far?” She asked looking into my eyes. I let my fingers toy with her hair.

 

“Seems nice, I think I’ll like it,” she smiled softly, “I think it might take me a while to get the accent.” I admitted. “You seem to understand him right away.”

 

“I used to work with some people from here, in college. I think they drop the ends off of their words – so yes it does take some getting used to.” She leaned up on her elbow. “What do you want to do first?”

 

“Honestly darling, I’d like to have a cuddle and a nap before a nice relaxing meal and perhaps a walk on the beach.” I said with a pleading look.

 

“The flight was kind of long.”

 

“Mmm it was the two stopovers.” I closed my eyes and covered my mouth to yawn.

 

“Best I could do on short notice.” She sounded annoyed, I looked at her.

 

“It was a comment, darling, not a criticism.” I said quietly. She held my stare for a while and then leaned over to kiss me.

 

“Sorry, I want you to enjoy yourself; I know this isn’t exactly the sort of resort you usually go to.” She explained and snuggled closer.

 

“I know, and it’s fine, I’m not a princess – remember I said I wanted somewhere new and unique and you delivered, hon. So, now that we’re here let’s just relax. I don’t want you thinking that this is some sort of test, like I have a checklist in my head and you’ll be graded at the end.” I was trying to make light of her anxiety to reassure her.

 

“Really?” She looked at me seriously. I started to understand how Shelley must have made her feel, if she was this worried about my reactions. I cupped her face in my free hand and used my other hand on her back to pull her closer.

 

“Really!” I kissed her deeply hoping to erase the nervousness that had sprung up inside her. “I love you, Nika. You have nothing to prove to me. Please believe that.” She nodded but tears had welled up in her eyes.

 

“I do,” she blinked the tears away before they fell; “I love you, Kathryn.” Nika continued our kiss and started caressing me. The noises she was making when ever our lips parted were driving me towards arousal. Our lips parted as I felt a huge yawn coming on. She chuckled a little and pulled back. “Ok, you really do need a nap.” She said smiling. Curled towards her with the breeze from the window keeping me cool I fell asleep quickly.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

            I woke up to the sound of laughter from people walking along the beach. Kathryn was still in my arms, my right one completely numb under her head, perhaps that’s what woke me. I loved being this close to her, but I had to get up. When I walked out of the bathroom, turning my arm in circles to get the blood flowing, Kathryn was lying on her back propped up on her elbows looking sleepy and gorgeous. It was a relief to see that all the bruises had finally healed.

 

            “Hi.” She said. I grinned and climbed onto the bed straddling her thighs.

 

            “Hi.” we shared a kiss and then Kathryn yawned, “Nice!” I fell sideways off of her.

 

            “Don’t take it personally, darling.” She smirked. “Shower with me?”

 

            “Indeed.”

 

            We managed to keep our hands off of each other for the five minutes it took to wash our hair and soap each other. Kathryn’s touches switched to caresses as she swept her hands over my buttocks and up my back smushing our chests together. She laughed her low sexy laugh and pulled me closer for a kiss. The shower spray, trapped in our embrace, bubbled and gurgled over our breasts. I shivered with desire when Kathryn’s tongue pushed into my mouth. The passion that we had denied ourselves earlier rapidly reignited. The cool shower couldn’t cool us off once her hand had penetrated my bush. One deft fingertip tortured my clit as she spread me open.

 

            “Fuck, Kathryn!” I gasped and swallowed a little water, she pressed harder into me.

 

            “Nika, so wet.” She pushed inside, stopping halfway, then pulled all the way back up to my clit, I was aching so hard for her I wanted to double over. I reached over and turned off the water so Kathryn could continue her delicious torture, she kept me going like that for along time. Then she knelt down to suck on my clit while her fingers continued to fill me. I thought I heard one of her knuckles pop and she sucked me so hard I thought I might faint. When I finally let myself go I had braced one leg against the opposite wall so I wouldn’t fall. Again my body felt like liquid, pulsing with the heat and rhythm of Kathryn.

 

 

            The restaurant was casual, but Kathryn looked elegant in her long linen top and dark blue sarong skirt. We both ordered the same meal of grilled local fish, spicy rice and cold slaw. As we discussed possible plans I checked out the other diners; they were mostly young and probably straight. The dining area was open, like a huge patio but with a gabled roof for when it rained. The insects buzzing around the lights inevitably attracted little lizards that kept us entertained. I felt relaxed and happy. I looked at Kathryn and wondered how someone so marvelous was part of my life, the centre of my life actually.

 

            “What’s that look for?” She asked quietly.

 

            “Just happy.” I replied smiling at her. Just then one of the staff came to collect our plates.

 

            “Anything else tonight? We have ice cream or maybe a coke?” he asked.

 

            “What do you have besides Coke?” Kathryn asked leaning forward a bit.

 

            “Fanta orange, Fanta lime, banana, uva – um grape?” My love looked delighted.

 

            “Oh Fanta lime, please.” She said, he turned to look at me and I shook my head. “I didn’t think they even made lime Fanta anymore, I haven’t had it since I was a kid.” He returned with Kathryn’s opened bottle and the bill. After her first sip her eyes widened and she took a second larger gulp. “Oh that’s good – it’s like pure lime flavoured sugar.”

 

            “Might keep you up all night,” I teased, Kathryn quirked her eyebrow at me.

 

            “Who says that’s a bad thing? We’re on vacation – we can do whatever we want.” She raised her Fanta and I tapped it with my plastic water bottle.

 

            “Here – here!” I said. We had attracted the attention of some of the other diners, one of them got up and introduced himself as one of the local scuba instructors. He was dressed in faded board shorts and a nipple ring and his hair was bleached almost white, he was perfectly sure of himself. He held on a bit too long shaking my hand.

 

            “Martin, where do you work?” Kathryn asked as I yanked my hand from his grasp.

 

            “Deep Cove Divers – just up the street – you’re here to take the course?”

 

            “Perhaps,” Kathryn gave him a measuring look, he noticed and smirked. “Nika is already a diver.”

 

            “Fantastic, you can come fun-diving while you’re on the course.” He seemed to be flirting with both of us.

 

            “Maybe” I said. He rubbed a hand over his pectoral muscle and down his well toned side.

 

            “You’ve gotta come out dancing, tho” he made some move and I almost rolled my eyes. 

 

            “Anything’s possible.” Kathryn said, but the look on her face was a barely controlled laugh. Martin gave up and left us alone after a loud ‘we’ll see you later then,’ which was clearly for the benefit of his friends. “Shall we pay.” She said cheerfully.

 

            We left the restaurant and wandered a little way down the beach.

 

            “Was he ever barking up the wrong tree!” Kathryn smiled and took hold of my elbow.

 

            “Wow, wow – I’m sure when I met him in Thailand his name was Devon.”

 

            “Not actually the same?” Kathryn began.

 

            “No- just his clone – I’ll bet there’s one of him on every island.”

 

            “Just one?” she grinned and leaned in for a kiss.

 

            “Lucky for me there is no one else like you.” I said as we pulled apart.

 

“Ditto.” Kathryn said looking into my eyes. I kissed her again quickly and we walked back towards our cabin. I taught her how to share a hammock so we could watch the sunset.

 

“Kathryn, I know you said you and Mark never,” I started to ask and she waved her hand to stop me.

 

“Only once – college – I was experimenting – and I’d heard he was a rogue so everyone would hear about it.” She said looking chagrined. “what about you?”

 

“Mmm I kissed a boy once in grade two and then tried again in grade eight.” I said.

 

“That’s it? Two kisses? Just didn’t work for you?” She grinned.

 

“Not even slightly.” I raised my eyebrows and shook my head once.

 

“Well, lucky – lucky me.” Kathryn said leaning towards me and shifting our legs so my thighs were on top of hers. Her chin was just above my nipples. “I think we should go to bed now.” I leaned up and captured her lips.

 

“Sleepy?” I asked.

 

“Not a bit,” her tone low and dangerous.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

            The next morning I let Nika take the lead in planning our day, she suggested renting a moped to tour the island and I happily agreed. All day with her between my thighs and my arms wrapped around her waist sounded perfect to me! We covered a lot of ground before lunch which we had in a Garufina village. The afternoon was spent just exploring; zooming around on our little moto' stopping to take photo's and check out the attractions.

 

            At dinner we decided to plan out the next few days; a beach day, a shopping day, a nature day, because I was not going to pass up the chance to get up close to butterflies and iguana's. At dinner it was most of the same couples from the night before I smiled if someone caught my eye, I was more than willing to be friendly. Thankfully Martin wasn't there. While enjoying the sunset and my Fanta lime after dinner I looked at Nika and decided to broach the subject she seemed to be avoiding.

 

            “Aren't you going to go diving? I know you love it.” I asked. She glanced towards the sea and nodded. “I really don't mind.”

 

            “I know, I will – in a few days maybe.”

 

            “I was thinking of trying that shallow try-out thing you mentioned.” Nika looked surprised.

 

            “The discover course.” she offered and I nodded.

 

            “So you're not avoiding it then?” I asked hoping for an explanation.

 

            “Maybe I am, it feel a little weird.”

 

            “What does?”

 

            “Being here, reminds me so much of Thailand and Petra,” she gave me a guilty look. I tried to be patient. “Like I'm recreating something that I lost, only it's better.”

 

            “That doesn't sound so bad to me.” I said, “as long as I'm the better part.” I realized I was only half joking as it came out of my mouth. Surprised at myself I waited for Nika's reaction, and felt awful when she looked like she might cry. She regained control by looking around the restaurant.

 

            “You are,” she said, “truly, Kathryn.” She took a long swallow of water. “It brings up a lot of things I thought I'd put behind me.” I reached out and took her hand not caring what anyone watching might think. “Can we walk?” she asked standing up.

 

            “Ya, of course, just give me a moment.” I paid for our meals and met her out on the sand just beyond the circle of light. There was a bit of a breeze which seemed to keep the bugs at bay. “If you don't want to talk about it, darling.” she took my hand and we walked together in silence for a few moments.

 

            “Petra and I hit it off the moment we met. It was the sort of thing that never happens in real life, you know, only in the movies. Within a few days we were in love, finishing each other's thoughts.” Her eyes scanned the horizon. I squeezed her hand.

 

            “Sounds magnificent,” I said. She nodded and bit her bottom lip.

 

            “It really was, we – we traveled together for three months, took the diving course. So I saw my first turtle with her, my first sting-ray, my first whale-shark; buses, tutk-tuks crazy scary hotels in Bangkok.”

 

            “What went wrong?” I wondered. Had Petra left her, did Nika leave?

 

            “Shell happened.” I gasped feeling suddenly cold and stopped walking.

 

            “How?”

 

            “I have no idea, but somehow, she managed to fucking track me down in Bangkok! Showed up at our hotel and created a huge scene. The manager told us to leave and Petra bolted.”

 

            “She just left you there?” Nika wiped at her tears.

 

            “I took her on a boat taxi to try to explain. She said I should have told her that I had a girlfriend and that we clearly had things to work out.” She let go of my hand to cover her face for a moment. I put my hand lightly on her shoulder. “I tried to hide that I was crying and, when I looked up, the boat was moving and she was gone.”

 

            “Oh darling,” I wrapped one arm around her waist and she turned onto my embrace. “I can't believe she just left.” Nika kissed my ear and we turned to continue walking arm in arm.

 

            “She was gone by the time I got back to our hotel.” she took a deep breath and I knew the must be more. “She was gone, but Shell was there, looking innocent and apologizing for upsetting my 'friend.' I went up to the room and got my pack together and walked out.”

 

            “She didn't follow you?” I asked.

 

            “She tried, she walked with me talking like nothing was wrong, actually making plans to visit some temple the next day.”

 

            “What the hell?” I tried to imagine how I would have reacted had I been in Nika's place.

 

            “I grabbed her,” Nika gave me a worried glance; “I pushed her up against a wall and just stared at her.”

 

            “She didn't say anything?” that seemed out of character.

 

            “She couldn't because,” she glanced at me again, “I was holding her up by her neck. It was the longest time I'd spent with her without her talking. She didn't even struggle. Then I just dropped her and left. I got back on the water taxi and took it as far from her as I could and then I found a regular cab to take me to the bus station, then an overnight bus to the border.” I pulled her into a hug and held on tight for as long as she let me. She wept for a while and then pulled back to look me in the eye. “I'm not like that, Kathryn, I don't hurt people – I'd never.”

 

            “Shh – darling, I know that. The only time I've ever seen you like that was because of her, and even then, darling, even then you were more concerned for me than for yourself.” Nika gasped in a breath and tried to stave off her tears. “You could have hurt her a lot more than you did, but you didn't. I know you're not violent. Darling.” She pulled me close and I could feel the pain shaking through her. The sun had long set and we had walked quite a distance from our cabin. Nika gave a few more jagged breaths as I led her back to our cozy sanctuary.

 

            I fussed with the bed as she washed her face and brushed her teeth. I did the same while she used the toilet which was in its own tiny room. I lay on top of the blankets waiting for her. When she finally appeared dressed only in a gauzy sarong my heart flipped. Her eyes were puffy and she looked annoyed.

 

            “Wanna get smashed?” I joked. She smirked and joined me on the bed.

 

            “It's a long walk to the liquor store and they'd be closed by now,” she said settling next to me and wrapping one arm over my waist. She shifted until I moved my arm so she could rest her head on my shoulder.

 

            “That was very poor planning on our part.” I said looking down at her.

 

            “You intoxicate me.” she pressed closer, “who needs wine.” I chuckled and toyed with her hair.

 

            “Oh my darling, you and your cheesy lines.” her eyes stayed closed but her grin grew ever larger. She mumbled something into my side. “What?”

 

            “You love it.” she said. I nodded dramatically.

 

            “Indeed – I sure do.”   

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

            With a shirt on Martin wasn't nearly as annoying, and as an instructor he seem fairly adept. I relaxed in a hammock close enough to hear what was going on in the classroom. Kathryn had decided to take the discover scuba experience and liked the looks of the shop that also happened to employ Martin. He had a more professional manner at work but was still a flirt. He had checked out my Dive master certification and agreed to have me along as an assistant, but there was really no need for me to sit in on the short lesson. Besides Kathryn there were two other people along; a married couple in their fifties. Our gear was set up and waiting in a dory alongside the dock. I enjoyed the breeze with my eyes closed.

 

            “Bathroom break and then I'll see you on the boat in ten!” Martin said sounding cheery. I watched him hustle away barefooted and looked up to smile at my love.

 

            “Ready?” I asked.

 

            “As I'll ever be I suppose,” Kathryn smirked, “back in a sec.” As Kathryn walked in the direction of the bathroom Martin reappeared with a smoke dangling from his lips, he gestured for me to follow him to the boat.

 

            “Nika this is Phil, one of our Captains,” we shared a nod, “Nika will be helping out for the discover dive. You done one of these before ya?” I nodded. “Good, Phil is going to take us to a nice little sandy cove, swim to the shallows the usual. I know you'll be looking out for Kathryn  but keep a close eye on Becky, she seems nervous, and constantly looks at Lorne instead of me.”

 

            “Ok, I've helped with panicky students before.” I said.

 

            “Good, let's not use that word in front of her tho' ya?” Martin grinned at Phil.

 

            “Got it.” I said as Kathryn arrived.

 

            “you're quite comfortable in the water, Ya?” Martin asked her.

 

            “Yeah, fine, it's the whole self-contained breathing apparatus I have have concerns about.” She smirked and I grinned at her.

 

            “You forgot 'underwater'.” Phil said.

 

            “Oh, you noticed that?” Kathryn teased. Phil stood up to help her on to the boat, “Thanks” as Kathryn was settling next to me Lorne and Becky arrived. Becky looked miserable.

 

            “We're not sure we should go.” Lorne said. Martin stood up and offered a hand to Becky.

 

            “Then just come for the boat ride, you might change your mind when we get there, it's a short trip.”

 

            “Good spot to snorkel.” Phil added. Becky took Martins hand and wobbled onto the boat.

 

            “C'mon Lorne.” Martin smiled. Lorne refused help and awkwardly crouched down to climb into the low boat. “There you go, Phil if you would.” Martin untied the bow rope and pushed off with his foot, as we angled away from the dock Phil started up the engine and we headed out to open water. Kathryn sat just in front of me and leaned against me. We shared a smile and enjoyed the sunshine and the spray. It was only a 15 minute trip, Martin tied us off to a buoy and I prepped to get in the water.

 

            “Good luck.” I said to Kathryn before popping the reg’ in my mouth and doing a backwards roll into the water. I caught a quick glimpse of the blue before turning around and signaling 'ok.' Martin got Kathryn in the water first. She doggie paddle the short distance to me and I took her hand. “Just relax love. Put your snorkel in and look around.”

 

            Kathryn looked adorable in a scuba mask; her BCD was a little large for her and over inflated. I released a bit of air and the jacket was no-longer riding up under her armpits. She took my advice and tipped her head forward into the water. She was making excited noises; I wondered what she was looking at. Martin signaled 'ok?' and I signaled back. Becky joined us and was soon grabbing onto my free hand. 

 

            “S'ok Becky – take a look – I've gotcha.” I said. She shot a worried look towards her husband and then dipped her face in. I let go of her for a moment to get my snorkel in and then grabbed hold of her again. Under water Kathryn was pointing her finger to follow a silver jack of some sort who had darted through the large school of anchovy that practically surrounded us. Becky was nodding and pointing too. I let go of Kathryn and she didn't seem to notice, I signaled 'Ok?' to both of them and received enthusiastic ok's in return.  The water we were in was only about 10 feet deep, I pointed at the sand directly below us, where a small yellow stingray gracefully moved away from their churning fins. I heard a splash and looked up; Martin had gotten Lorne into the water wearing only snorkel gear. Phil handed down Lorne's tank and belt to Martin who had quickly entered the water after Lorne. Martin led us up a narrow channel of sand surrounded by coral to the beach. Once we were in water we could easily stand up in, he helped Lorne don his equipment. A quick round of practice signals and a few basic skill and we were ready to go diving, well Becky and Kathryn were ready. Lorne was not enjoying himself and Martin stayed within arms reach of him at all times.

 

            “Nika can lead you two on the fun dive,” Martin began; Lorne squinted angrily in the bright sun.

 

            “Oh I don't mind staying here.” Becky said.

 

            “That's good of you, but I think you should at least go for a quick tour.” He winked at me while she shared a look with her husband.

 

            Kathryn looked up from the water, took the reg' out of her mouth and assessed the situation, then she put the reg' back in and returned to looking at the fishies. I smiled at Becky and tipped my head.

 

            “Just a quick one – not too deep.” Martin said. She had her reg’ in and was underwater before he even finished. “Back down the channel, go right for about 15 minute the loop back to the boat.

 

            Below the surface Kathryn and Becky were already holding hands, I pantomimed thrashing around and then shook my head no. They both understood – I think Kathryn was laughing. I led them along the course Martin had suggested frequently looking back to check on them. Kathryn's buoyancy was almost perfectly neutral and I saw her letting small puffs of air out of her buoyancy jacket as we got deeper.

 

            There was a lot of life to point out among the coral; we were very lucky and had a turtle swim alongside us for a while. I felt full of affection for my love as she pointed with one hand and put the other on chest in amazement. Becky was visibly excited; she kept shaking her fists like a toddler filled with glee.

 

            I had them check their depth and air after we had been touring for precisely 15 minutes; I suggested that they lead on the trip back towards the boat which made them both excited. It was a trick I had learned in Thailand during the dive master course. I would actually be above them monitoring their depth and within close reach of their tank valves in case I had to haul them up. They were both very good if still a little flailing when they saw something exciting. I directed them closer to the reef as we approached the boat keeping them at 5 metres depth for far longer than needed. When I signaled to go up they both copied my safe ascent position complete with hand above the head.

 

            “Oh My God that was fantastic!” Becky yelled the moment the reg was out of her mouth.

 

            “That turtle!” Kathryn exclaimed. They both kept talking as I added more air to their jackets and swam closer to the boat.

 

            “'Ad a good time?” Phil asked as I handed up my weight-belt, I grinned while Kathryn and her dive buddy told him all the amazing things they had seen. With a bit of instruction form me we got their weights and then their jackets off. “If you wan? Snorkel til Martin shows.” Phil suggested.

 

            “Oh! How long were we gone?” Becky asked, likely remembering the 'short trip' comment.

 

            “Close to 50 minutes in total.” I said, Kathryn quirked her lips at me, “48minutes and 12 seconds to be precise.” I smiled.

 

            “Nika likes to be precise.” Kathryn explained to Becky.

 

            “Should we go find them?” Becky asked.

 

            “Would you like to be in the boat first?” Phil asked. Climbing back onto a dory is awkward and difficult even when you know what you're doing. By the time both women were on board and Phil had grabbed my tank Martin and Lorne surfaced on the other side of the boat. Becky waved looking a little frantic.

 

            “Oh he doesn't look happy,” she said quietly to Kathryn, “this was his idea; I don't even like lakes so this is all a bit,”

 

            “Ironic.” Kathryn finished her thought, and Becky nodded and pursed her lips.

 

 

            ~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

            On the trip back Nika and Martin shared some significant looks. I sat with Becky who was telling me all about herself and Lorne, their four kids and two dogs in Washington state; 'So far north it's practically Canada,' she joked. Lorne sat alone on the bench right behind Phil. Martin talked to him at the start and then left him alone.

 

            Back at the dock Nika insisted on helping Phil and Martin carry the tanks and gear back to the wash bins in front of the shop.

 

            “Coming for a drink to celebrate then?” Martin said as he distributed our card-stock Discover Scuba cards.

 

            “Oh yes, lets!” Becky enthused, “Kathryn you'll come to, won't you?” I looked a Nika who gave me her tiny soft smile. I took her hand and turned to Becky who blinked away her surprise.

 

            “Sounds nice.” I had enjoyed Becky's company, she was friendly and genuine. Lorne shrugged which seemed to mean yes. Martin slapped him on the shoulder.

 

            “C'mon bro, you did really well! You faced down that dragon and you slayed it!” Martin said and Lorne looked embarrassed.

 

            “I was nervous.” he said to his wife, stating what we all already knew.

 

            “Let's have drinks!” Becky grinned and took hold of Lorne's arm, “C'mon sweetie, I'll even say you were right and you told me so.”

 

 

            The bar was like nothing I had ever experienced before; a single layer of worn wooden planks which they called a dock built out over the water, with a square hole in the centre of it. There were only three actual stools near the bar and the rest of the seating was on low wooden benches. It looked to be a fairly even mix of locals and tourists. The bar itself was a single counter covered with a thatched roof.  I secured one of the stools, Becky and Lorne took the other two, while Nika and Martin went to get drinks. We chatted amiably enough but Lorne wanted to leave after their first drink.

 

            Martin introduced us to a few other dive folks and eventually drifted off with them. Nika and I snacked on tiny bags of banana chips and I could feel myself getting buzzed on my third drink. As the bar filled up we had the same conversation several times with different people.

 

            “Darling, I think I need to eat.” I said to Nika interrupting her.

 

            “Kathryn, this is Dar, she and her partner own a b and b here,” I turned to shake hands with the woman I hadn't even noticed Nika was talking to.

 

            “You should come up for a visit, we make great iced tea.” she said. She was cute, her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, a bit taller than me and about 45, I guessed.

 

            “That sounds lovely, know a good place to eat nearby?” I asked leaning closer; another woman I assumed was her partner arrived carrying two beers.

 

            “Nanc; Nika and Kathryn.” Dar explained. Nancy grinned and shook our hands.

 

            “Hello, it's so great to meet you, doesn't happen often enough – if you know what I mean.” Nancy was tall and thin with crazy billowing long hair, she could have been 30 or 60, I couldn't really tell.

 

            “We were just discussing dinner.” Dar said.

 

            “Do you eat meat?” Nancy asked, Nika and I both nodded yes, “you might like the hog place?” she suggested. That caught my attention.

 

            “Have you eaten?” Nika asked. They only considered for a moment then led us out of the bar. Nancy handed off the two Salva Vida's to Phil and another local guy, the called out cheers and thanks.

 

            “They serve pork done locally, traditionally barbequed.” Dar explained as we walked away form the bar.

 

            “Uh-oh.” Nancy said, under her breath, “Trouble approaches.” I looked around; there were lots of people walking along the narrow main street. Nika pulled her hood up and put her sunglasses on. It was dusk so this seemed like odd behavior.

 

            “With minions,” Dar added. Nika moved to walk almost behind me. We passed a large group of tanned 20 year olds, “guess she's not talking to us today,” she added after the group had passed.

 

            We were given a table close to the ocean view. Nika had propped her shades back on top of her head again.

 

            “May I ask what that was about?” I asked keeping my eyes on the menu. To my surprise Nancy answered.

 

            “This young woman we were friends with for a while, she's got some problems.”

 

            “Some drug problems.” Dar added glancing up at Nanc. I made a non-committal noise and paid close attention to Nika. It seemed nothing was amiss.

 

            “So what's good here? For us meat-eaters?” Nika smiled her most charming smile and naturally all else was forgotten.

 

            “Well, there's hog.” Dar joked.

 

 

 

            “I'm glad we met them.” I said, stifling a yawn on the walk home.

 

            “Mmm, they're quite nice. Could you picture yourself owning a bed and breakfast on an island?” Nika asked with a smile.

 

            “Maybe, ask me again when I'm not so sleepy.” I said. It was near midnight and the street was still quite busy, mostly people walking and the occasional taxi or motorbike. “Darling?”

 

            “Yes, Kathryn?” Nika stepped in close to me smiling as she said it.

 

            “What was that, before the restaurant? You were acting a bit – well, oddly?”

 

            “Holy Fuck! Leute!” Someone yelled nearby, Nika's eyes were huge I turned to look where she was looking. “This' some good shit- I'm fucking seeing ghosts, bra!” A very thin young woman wearing a saggy tank top and a dirty wrap- around skirt seemed to be talking to herself; she was stumbling along the middle of the road. She laughed to herself and pointed at Nika who looked completely horrified.

 

            “Need a ride?” a taxi had stopped. It was the driver who had brought us from the airport, he sneered at the blond.

 

            “You know her?” Nika asked him.

 

            “Ma' ev'body kno dat girl! Crazy coke head.”

 

            “You know her name?” Nika insisted, I tried to understand what was going on.

 

            “Na, Petra!” he said. It thumped in my ears. She looked up from her giggling reveries.

 

            “What Bra?” she said to the cabbie, “what you wan'” she said in an exaggerated local accent.

 

            “Naugh' fra you.” he looked like he was going to drive on but Nika stopped him.

 

            “Do you know where she lives? I'll pay.” I stared at Nika wondering what on earth she was doing. “C'mon Petra, you need to get home.”

 

            “What? Fuck! I've lost it.” Petra said shaking her head and stumbling sideways, before going on in German. Nika opened the cab door and reached for her. “No – no, it can't!” she sounded panicked.

 

            “Nika?” I said. She gave me pleading look.

 

            “Annika?” Petra said like she had just woken up.

 

            “Please, Kathryn, I just need to get her safely – back to her place.” Petra had fainted. I helped Nika haul her into the cab. Local folks walking by made comments but I couldn't make them out. The cab driver somehow backed up and turned around on the one lane sandy road. A Few moments later we had turned up a side track away from the bright lights of the main street.

 

            “None of this is your fault – you know that?” I said to Nika. Petra was passed out across her lap and Nika looked down at her with tears in her eyes. She nodded yes, but I doubted she believed it. 

 

            “Crack what’s at fault.” our driver said.

 

            “Crack?” Nika and I said in unison.

 

            “Crack, blow, anythin' she gots cash for.” He explained.

 

            “Fascinating,” I said. I looked over to Nika who looked too pale for someone who had spent a week in the sun. She covered her face with one hand and was clearly fighting tears. I put a hand on her shoulder and stared out into the night. There were a lot of houses of all sizes, but the further up the hill the less expensive they looked. Finally the car stopped and pulled into a short muddy driveway.

 

            “Ten minute, I wait for ya – den you sleep overnight.” He said. I nodded. Petra stirred when we started to move her.

 

            “Annika, Annika. Woher?” she mumbled wrapping her arms around Nika's neck. “Where did you go?” she whined as we half carried her up the stairs. The door wasn't locked. Inside was a small kitchenette with an adjoining bedroom with a single bed. Clothes hung on twine strung back and forth across the small room, it smelled stale and musty. Petra curled up on her side and whimpered the moment she touched the bed.

 

            “You left me!” she said.

 

            “No.” Nika said, but that one simple word was loaded with emotion.

 

            “You're a liar.” she lifted her head and her red rimmed eyes held Nika's, “now you cry?” she grabbed some piece of clothing laying on the bed and half-heartedly tossed it towards Nika, then she noticed me. She looked angry and confused. “Where is the bitch girlfriend, Annika? That bitch and her knife. Let her cut me – who cares.” Nika was rummaging through her belongings while Petra was raving.

 

            “We should go.” I said. Nika nodded. she was holding Petra's passport.

 

            “Bitch want to cut you.” Petra lay curled in her moldy sheets looking up at me. I felt chilled and completely sober.

 

            “Nika, please, Now!” I said, I turned and walked out. The cabbie was sitting on the hood of his car smoking a joint.

 

            “Dey sista's?” He hiccupped.

 

            “Or something.” I said leaning my head down on my arm, which was resting on top of the cab.

 

            “What's your name?” I asked without looking up.

 

            “Roy.” he pronounced it like, 'whry'

 

            “Thanks for waiting Roy.” I said.

 

            “Street's dangerous, not have ya hurt on m' conscience.” he said waving his hand towards the darkness.

 

            “Are they?” I asked surprised. He simply pointed up towards Petra's room.

 

            “Na?” he said and I nodded.

 

            Up the road a way I could see a papaya tree backlit and outlined by a dim porch light, perhaps I imagined I heard voices. Other than that one distant light we were surrounded with darkness. Just as I was about to go back up, Nika came out of the door and downstairs. Roy drove us back to our hotel and I paid him five times the amount it cost to get to the airport. I shook his hand for good measure, he held it and held my eyes for a long moment until he was satisfied with whatever he was looking for, and then he nodded and left. 

 

            Nika was in the shower when I got to our cabin, I could hear her crying quietly. I decided to leave her alone and quickly got ready for bed. I was sitting nursing bottled water when she came out. She still looked on the verge or tears. I put the bottle aside and pulled the blanket down for her to join me. She snuggled close like she had a few nights earlier after telling me about Thailand.

 

            “Let's just go to sleep, my love, and talk tomorrow?” She nodded yes. I could feel her tears through my thin sleepwear.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

           

 

            Kathryn didn't press me for answers during breakfast but I could tell the questions were distracting her. After we ate I led her back to the porch of our cabin so we could share the hammock. She watched me silently for a while as I busied myself rubbing her feet.

 

            “I'm sorry, Kathryn.” I said finally.

 

            “For what?” she said sounding honestly surprised.

 

            “For everything that's wrong with my life, but especially for last night.”

 

            “None of that was your fault, Nika.”

 

            “I should have told you when I first saw her.”

 

            “on the way to the restaurant?”

 

            “I hoped it wasn't her, she looks so different.”

 

            “She's emaciated – from the drugs no doubt.” That hurt but I knew Kathryn hadn't meant for it to.

 

            “Different in a lot of ways.”

 

            “So what did you learn from her passport?” Kathryn asked.

 

            “Her parents live in the same place. . .” Kathryn watched me silently for a while. “I thought I should call their embassy.”

 

            “Not them?”

 

            “I don't know if they know about me – or Petra, really.”

 

            “Flight to Zürich can't be that expensive.” Kathryn said casually.

 

            “No, it's not your – no, I need to be the one to fix this.” I said and Kathryn looked offended.

 

            “I just thought.”

 

            “I know, Kathryn, and it is a lovely thought but this had even less to do with you than with me. Please let me handle this.” She nodded slowly. “I'm only going to call the embassy and let them know that she is still here, and that her visa is about to expire.”

 

            “When?”

 

            “in a few days, actually.” Kathryn looked off towards the ocean.

 

            “If you'd like to leave early, darling?”

 

            “No, no more running – it ends here, I'm not going to sacrifice time here with you because of the past. That isn't fair to either of us, but especially not to you.” I leaned closer and took her hand to kiss her knuckles. “I love – you – Kathryn.” I looked into her eyes and saw that the tension that had been keeping her shoulders taut had relaxed. I kissed her wrist and she pulled me into a hug.

 

            “I don't want to go zip-lining today, love.” she breathed into my hair.

 

            “Neither do I,” I kissed her with all the love I had. “Give me five minutes, want a Fanta?”  She smiled and nodded yes. I kissed her again.

 

            Using a phone in the lobby and the number from the guidebook I called the Swiss embassy in Guatemala city, it only took a few moments to record my info and explain the situation. The man on the phone was cheerful and sympathetic. I bought Kathryn's lime and a banana flavoured drink for myself. Kathryn was still in the hammock reading a mystery novel when I got back.

 

            “Thank you, love,” she said clinking our bottles together, “I'd like a lazing around day, that ok?” she took a swig of the cold drink.

 

            “Of course.” I sat down on the deck leaning against the cabin.

 

            “How did the call go?”

 

            “Short and efficient,” I said, while raising my glass to the Swiss.

 

            “Good.” Kathryn gave me a soft smile, “thank you for the Fanta.” I smiled back.

 

             She read for a while and I simply sat watching her and looking at the people nearby on the beach. Somehow, knowing that Shelley would spent the rest of her life under medical supervision, didn't feel like justice for all the harm she'd done. Maybe Petra's drug problem wasn't because of our past but she had been hurt and frightened. That was certainly Shelley's fault. I had to do something to stop thinking about her and the past; I had to force myself to really move on. I left my empty bottle on the porch and went inside to change.

 

            “I'm going for a swim.” I said. Kathryn's eyes wandered appreciatively over my snug surfing skin, I hadn't bothered with my bikini top underneath, then down to my textured boy-shorts.

 

            “I love beach vacations.” she drawled, reaching up to take my hand, “don't get burned and try not to cause a riot.” she teased. I leaned down to give her a deep kiss.

 

            “Back soon, my love.” I promised.

 

            I had to swim for a bit to get to the more populated coral heads nearby. Whenever my thoughts started to drift to Shell or Petra I would move to a new spot and try to remember the names of all the fascinating creatures I spotted. It might take a while, but I promised myself I would re-program my brain. I dove down to peek under overhangs and soon enough was far too distracted to think of anything but telling Kathryn all that I'd seen.

 

            When I walked out of the water carrying my fins and mask I drew several stares but the only eyes I cared about were half hidden by trees just beyond the beach chairs. She was leaning on the railing of our porch sipping an iced drink. I grinned at her and she grinned back. I ran up the stairs and pulled her into a damp hug and kissed her for several long and glorious minutes.

 

            “Darling, you're all salty.” her voice was low and sultry.

 

            “Do you mind?”

 

            “I'll try to cope.” she joked and kissed me again.

 

            “Let's have lunch, my love; because,” I kissed her neck, “I'll need my strength,” I nibbled her ear, “for this afternoon.”

 

            “I see.” she said smirking at me.

 

            “Trust me, I'd rather not wait but, I'm hoping to keep you busy for several hours.”

 

            “Then we'd better eat.” she lightly bit my bottom lip as I pulled away. “I'll get us a table.”

 

 

            Kathryn enjoyed vegetarian jambalaya while I flipped though the hotels' well thumbed copy of the guide to reef fish, and pointed out most of what I had seen. I ate a large serving of grilled fish with extra potato salad.

 

            Back at our cabin we brushed our teeth side by side. I hadn't finished drying my face when Kathryn wrapped her arms around me to cup my breasts and nuzzle the back of my neck. The low buzz of desire that had been building during lunch took over. I turned in her arms and kissed her deeply pushing her up against the wall. Moaning, mouths dancing, hands everywhere at once; I convinced her to wrap her legs around my hips.  I pressed my pelvis into hers and we groaned. She was torturing my left nipple with her fingers in a way that she knew would make me wet. I pulled off her linen top and bikini while still holding her up. Then I carried her to the closest bed and laid her down. I quickly undressed while she squirmed out of her tight bikini bottom. She pulled me down on top of her and sucked on my tongue while her hands clutched my ass. Her first orgasm came quickly with my thigh pressed hard against her, but we didn't stop until she'd had several more.

 

            After chugging some water, and handing me the bottle she pounced; mouth buried in my wetness before I could swallow. Kathryn took me in every way she ever had; and in a few creative ways I had never imagined. Her flexibility and stamina amazed me as always, I couldn't get enough of her; I wanted some part of her inside me all the time. As I lay quivering from yet another orgasm she returned to her favourite of sucking hard on my clit while stroking deep with her fingers. I was swollen and intensely sensitive so her every move rippled through my entire body. She moaned into me as my hips lost control, thrusting ever towards her, I peaked again with a long keening cry.

 

            When I recovered, I realised we had moved to the second bed. Kathryn was lying next to me panting with her hands on her own pussy. I lay in exquisite exhaustion for a few moments before turning to kiss her and place my hand on top of hers while she bucked and came again and again. I loved the taste of me on her lips. My stomach growled. She slowed down a bit moving our hands to her chest she lay gasping as aftershocks shook through her.

 

            “Goddess, Kathryn, you're so amazing.” I pulled her into my arms as she curled towards me.

 

            “Darling,” her hips still shook as she bent her leg to lay it over my hip bones. “What time is it?”

 

            “Sun’s setting.” which meant is was after 8pm.

 

            “Wow, really?” I nodded and kissed her forehead. “Wow.” she repeated.

 

            “Time flies.” I smirked against her hairline.

 

            “Nika, what you bring out of me, it's just,”

 

            “Amazing?” I asked.

 

            “Insanely amazing, never before have I – I've never been able to go that long or want that much. When you're inside me, darling, I never want to stop.”

 

            “We don't ever have to.” I smiled at her amazed look.

 

            “Well except to refuel and sleep, I suppose.” Kathryn grinned and toyed one finger along my lips.

 

            “So shall we stay in bed for the rest of the trip.” I licked her fingertip.

 

            “Maybe we should.” she snuggled close. “Although, I'd like to take the dive course.”

 

            “Really?” I had dreamed of diving all over the world with Kathryn.

 

            “Really, truly.” Kathryn smiled and squeezed me. 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

            For the next four days we focused on diving. In the mornings while I was in the classroom, Nika went diving, and then she came along to assist on my open water dives. Luckily my course only had four students so Nika was always nearby. Once I learned to trust the equipment I was hooked. To celebrate we invited Martin and my course-mates for dinner at our hotel. We were enjoying drinks when we were interrupted by a very solid, very pale man with an odd German accent.

 

            “You are Miss Nika Raven?” he asked looking directly at my love. She nodded. I gestured for him to sit, “No, no I only come to say thank you for what you did – to help my sister, Petra.”

 

            “Oh, you're welcome, no trouble.” Nika smiled cautiously.

 

            “Are you the Annika?” He asked and Nika nodded slowly, Martin perked up.

 

            “You're the one she was always on about?” Martin looked shocked.

 

            “I suppose so.” Nika said and I put my hand on her shoulder to reassure her.

 

            “I thought she made that girl up.” Martin said to the very confused faces at our table.

 

            “For a long time she has this problem.” Petra's brother continued, “Drinking and drugs.”

 

            “Before Thailand?” Nika asked.

 

            “Even before she finished school.” He looked upset, “Alzo, I must go, Thank you, Annika.”

 

            “You're taking her home?” Nika asked him.

 

            “Ja, for some proper help.” he nodded at the table and then quickly walked away. My dive buddies glanced around the table. Martin was shaking his head.

 

            “A friend from years ago.” Nika offered.

 

            “May just have saved her life!” Martin said before finishing his beer. Sensing the tension my course-mates simply nodded and returned to talking about diving. I watched my love for any sign of tears but none appeared. We rejoined the conversation and chatted until well after sunset.

 

 

 

            I was sad to leave Roatan but more than happy to return home. Our home, the lovely nest we were creating together. We left our bags near the door, Nika called out from the kitchen.

 

            “Yes, please!” I yelled from the bedroom. Her surprise was perfectly arranged. I found her on our balcony watching the first hints of sunset. She smiled and handed me my glass of water. 

 

            “Notice on the island how everyone stopped to watch the sunset?” she asked looking into the distance. I mmhmm'd. “I really liked that, just taking a moment to really look and experience.” I grinned at her. “What’s that look for?” she tilted her head.

 

            “I have a surprise for you,” I said, “it's in the bedroom.” She quirked one eyebrow.

 

            “The sort of surprise that requires a lot of stamina?” she teased.

 

            “No – totally different sort of surprise,” I said stepping back inside. We put down our drinks and I led her into the bedroom. It didn't look different, the dark wood furniture complemented by the various shades of blue and purple accents that we had chosen. It took her a moment to realize what was new. She walked slowly towards the bed without speaking; I stood beside her and took hold of her hand.

 

            The seamstress had done an amazing job on the quilt; there wasn't a hint of damage. She had managed to find swatches of fabric that were exactly the same shades as the original but wit different patterns. The huge black hole was replaced by a large patchwork star and she had added a wide border to make fit our bed. She was quite the artist. I turned to see silent tears falling from Nika's cheeks. I pulled her into my arms.

 

            “It's perfect, beautiful, Kathryn...” she turned her eyes to mine, “Thank you, my love, this means more to me than ...” she turned to look at it again and I held her tight. I slowly pivoted and pulled her with me so we landed with a bounce on the bed. We shared a long look and an even longer kiss. “I'm going to make love to you on this quilt for the rest of our lives.” Nika said.

 

            “Good.” I said smiling. She laughed and kissed my grin.