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    C James
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

In Memory of Ed Wooton

For the Love - 32. Aloha Maui

Steve wheeled the Charger into the parking entrance, stopping first to grab a ticket from the machine, before proceeding a few yards further on to where we were waved to a stop by a pair of grey-uniformed men. Steve rolled down his window as one asked for the trunk to be opened. Steve clicked off the engine, handing the officer the keys as he explained that there was no trunk release. The officer opened the trunk, peering inside for a moment before slamming the lid and returning the keys to Steve.

"What's in those backpacks?" he asked.

"Stuff for our trip," replied Steve.

The officer nodded, "Okay, just so long as you don't have any bombs or explosives in there."

The officer waved us through as my jaw dropped, "Tell me that's not what passes for security these days?" I gasped.

Steve chuckled, "That's just for the parking garage, but yeah, that was bizarre. I think he was joking, maybe, but if I'd have joked back, I would've been arrested."

After spiraling up the corkscrew ramp and parking the car, we entered terminal four, the Barry M. Goldwater terminal, which was enormous but well signposted. Making our way to the airline's counter, we checked our backpacks in, and received our boarding passes. We then re-located the Charger to one of the long-term airport parking lots, catching a shuttle bus back to the terminal, still with two hours to spare before the flight.

We walked around, exploring the terminal and playing on the moving walkways and glass-encased elevated corridors, finding that the cavernous terminal was one long area of airline desks on one level, with escalators up to the departure level, which contained little more than the moving walkways, with some shops and a food court along the way. Following the signs for Concourse A, we went through another security check, where we had to empty our pockets of keys, change, and anything metal, placing them into a plastic tray. I thought it was odd that the tray was placed on a conveyor belt to pass through an x-ray machine, because I couldn't think if anything dangerous that could be contained within keys or pocket change.

Leaving the security point behind, I glanced back at the little old lady they had pulled aside, watching as they dumped out her purse confiscating her bottle of hand lotion, ignoring the burly young bearded guy with a laptop computer and a large bag of gear, for whom they spared not a glance.

After stopping for pizza, we reached the gate to find boarding underway, though our seats had yet to be called. While we waited, we looked at a poster showing the plans for Sky Harbor's future expansion; the demolition of old terminal 2, and the construction of an enormous new terminal 5. Steve explained that the original terminal, #1, had been demolished years before.

Our row was called, and I followed Steve, marching down the Jetway. Ahead, I saw the door of the plane, looking far thicker than I'd thought it would. I began to relax, a little, as we stepped through the door, the air taking on a different feel; colder, somewhat stale, almost artificial. A flight attendant directed us to our seats, and we walked down the starboard aisle to our row near the rear of the plane.

The plane had two seats between the aisle and the window, Steve ushering me into the window seat before settling in beside me. We buckled in, and I glanced out the window at the plane beside us. I don't think I'd ever fully accepted that we were actually going to Hawaii until that moment, and I turned to Steve to say, "We're really going..."

Steve nodded, grinning as he asked, "You still nervous about flying?"

"Sorta, but I feel ok, this isn't bad at all," I replied.

Chuckling, Steve reminded me, "We're still parked at the gate."

I watched with interest as the stewardess gave us what I later learned was the normal pre-flight speech. As soon as she'd finished, a sense of movement startled me, and the view out the window began to change as the plane pushed back from the gate.

It took longer than I'd thought for the plane to taxi to the end of the runway, the ride a little bumpier than I'd expected, too. As the plane turned at the end of the taxiway, I had a great view of the plane ahead of us taking off, my pulse quickening slightly at the sight.

Our plane rolled from the taxiway, turning onto the runway as the engines spooled up with a roar dulled by the thick fuselage, my fingers clenching hard on the armrests as we began to pick up speed.

Steve's hand came to rest on mine, reassuring me as I stared out the window. The nose of the plane began to rise, along with my blood pressure. Steve's hand on mine made me feel safer, until the vibration from the wheels stopped and the ground began to recede.

I closed my eyes tight, leaning back against the seat feeling as if my stomach wanted to stay put on the ground below. Steve patted my hand, softly saying, "Don't worry, it's landings that are the dangerous part, not takeoffs."

Cracking open one of my eyes, with which to glare at my snickering boyfriend, I said, "Gee, thanks, that makes me feel somuch better..."

Feeling myself begin to smile, I realized two things; he was trying to relax me with humor, and it was working.

Releasing my death-grip on the armrest, I took Steve's hand in mine as our eyes met. I gripped his hand hard as a sudden, heavy thump from below startled me. He gave my hand a squeeze as he said, "That's just the landing gear coming up, you feeling okay now?"

"Yeah, I think so," I said as I glanced out the window, the sprawling suburbs of Phoenix now far below, "I'll be glad to get back on the ground, but this isn't bad at all. Hell of a view from up here; you can see everything."

Steve gave my hand another squeeze as he said, "Yeah, it's safe enough, except for what happens about halfway through the flight... You have to eat airline food."

With a laugh, I settled back to watch the view. Soon enough, we were over the desert, Phoenix long behind us. The plane continued to climb, the ground dropping further and further away, but it no longer bothered me, I was enjoying the view far too much.

A ribbon of blue bounded by green passed beneath us, and Steve, looking over my shoulder, said "That's the Colorado River. You have now officially left Arizona, because we're now over California."

Turning to meet Steve's eyes, I replied "Yeah, but we're about five miles up, so we should be safe enough," laughing for the first time since leaving the ground.

A half hour later, I was still happily staring out the window as I began to notice a thickening brownish haze along with an increasing number of roads and buildings. Steve, still at my shoulder, muttered the obvious, "Smog. We're approaching Los Angeles."

The pilot's voice came over the intercom, "We are currently just south of March Air Force Base, and if you look out of the windows on the right side of the plane, to the north you will see, somewhat obscured by smog, Riverside and Moreno Valley. In a moment we will be passing over the Riverside VOR, at which time we will turn slightly to the left, taking a west by southwesterly heading, passing over the coast near Huntington Beach. We should be landing in Kahului, Maui in approximately five hours. We hope you enjoy the flight."

I looked down, trying to discern Riverside and Moreno valley through the brown haze, seeing only the near-continuous urban sprawl, making it almost impossible to see where one place ended and another began. I asked Steve, as he looked over my shoulder, "Do you really think it's as weird down there as Dex said?"

Steve nodded, bumping my shoulder with his chin, "Yeah, they don't call it la-la land for nothing. I think what we're over right now is what the locals call 'the Inland Empire', so no shortage of either ego or weirdness down there..."

Not long after, we passed over a thin band of white, which I knew to be the coast. My first glimpse of the Pacific thrilled me, surprising me a little too as I noticed the swells, something I'd have never thought would be visible from such an altitude.

Airline food, despite Steve's dire warning, wasn't bad at all. There wasn't enough of it, but it was tasty enough. As we relaxed after the meal, I asked Steve, "What gives with the airport security? First they didn't even check inside our bags, then, at the final passenger check-point, they were poking through that old lady's handbags while letting through a guy with a laptop and all kinds of wires and gadgets without a glance."

Steve shrugged;"It's the government, I guess. Doesn't matter who's in charge, it's a cluster-fuck, they can't do anything right. The only time I've been on a plane before today was to go to Idaho, and it took so long with all the hassles that now dad just drives."

A stewardess made the rounds, offering soft drinks and headsets, both of which we accepted. The movie wasn't bad, but I'd seen it before...

The clunk of the landing gear coming down jolted me awake. I didn't even remember dozing off. Steve's sleepy grin from beside me made it clear that he'd slept, too, and a quick glance out the window showed the sea, much closer now. The ocean grew nearer still, just a few hundred feet below us, and I began to get nervous as we flashed over the beach, giving me a brief view of palm trees and white sand. The plane settled heavily, floating down the runway like a dream - a dream ruined only by the soft jolt of reality as the plane touched down. The nose came down, and I felt the plane slow as the pilot applied the brakes, accompanied by the whine of the engines as the thrust reversers kicked in. Prior to pulling onto a taxiway, the passengers gave the pilot a smattering of applause for the smooth landing.

After reclaiming our backpacks from the luggage conveyors, we walked towards the terminal doors, barely noticing the more subdued and smaller-scale architecture of the terminal, the tropical plants throughout were a welcome touch after the tacky-brown sterility of Sky Harbor. Exiting the terminal doors, the thick, humid air hit us, and we smiled as it rushed at our senses; our first taste of Hawaii.

We found the pickup point for the shuttle to the hotel, and I barely had a chance to look around before it arrived.

Both of us did a lot of looking out the shuttle van's windows as we drove up the coast road, the journey, though it lasted nearly a half hour, seeming over within moments. The driver deposited our luggage and us at the entrance to the hotel. I'd seen the photos online, but the reality was far grander; the place was spectacular, a blend of modern and tropical architecture, everything built on a grand scale. I felt like a million bucks as I strode into the lobby with Steve by my side.

We checked in, which went quickly enough, and a porter was dispatched to show us to our room. He struggled with the two backpacks, so I took one from him as we entered the elevator. I'd only been in an elevator a couple of times before, and this one, though plush and large, gave me the same slight claustrophobic feel as the ones in Phoenix a few years before.

Ushering us into our room, the porter smiled as I stopped dead in my tracks; it was beautiful; bigger than I'd expected, with a single king-sized bed in the center. It was modern and clean, but what drew my eye was the glass doors to the balcony, and the view beyond of a turquoise sea stretching to the horizon.

On the table sat a bottle of Champagne, nestled within a bucket of ice. I was amazed at that, given our ages, but the porter seemed to ignore it. Steve tipped the porter, who glanced at the single bed, then at Steve, and finally at me before saying with a wink and a knowing smile, "Have a great time here, guys," as he flounced out the door.

It was late afternoon, but the resort and the beach beckoned. We had both traveled in shorts and t-shirts, and Steve stripped out of his shirt in seconds before his hands were all over me, tugging mine off before herding me out the door.

We retraced our steps to the lobby. Walking through the resort, we noticed a two-story corkscrew water slide beside one of the main pools. Steve's eyes lit up; I knew he'd never been on a water slide, and neither had I. We checked the pool hours, and found that it was open late, the perfect after-dinner activity.

Following the signs, we explored the resort, eventually finding our way to the beach. The warm coral sand between my toes, the swaying palms, and the turquoise waters ahead, combined with the sultry air, drove home to me that it was all real. My eyes met Steve's, and I had to fight the urge to hug him.

Walking down towards the water, Steve spotted a palm shack with a line of jet-skis in front. That was something else I'd always wanted to try, so we both broke into a run at the same time. Steve surged up to the shack, asking the price in a very excited voice. We were duly informed that, as guests, we had two hours per person as a comp, and all we needed was the room key. Steve turned to shoot me a questioning look as I nodded eagerly, so he plunked down the key card.

Within moments, we were taking our first steps in the waters of the Pacific, as we pulled a pair of partially-beached jet-skis into the warm water. The beach had virtually no surf, nothing past ankle height, so we were soon on our way, riding side-by-side away from the beach, scooting across the sand-bottomed lagoon, learning the simple hand-trigger throttle controls in seconds, and finding the jet-skis both easy and fun to ride.

I saw waves breaking ahead in a long line, which we soon found was a coral reef. We nosed close enough to see some fish amongst the coral. "Dude, we have gotto try snorkeling while we're here," I said.

We spent an hour tearing around the placid lagoon, soaking each other with rooster-tails and having more fun than I'd dreamed possible. All too soon, it was time to head in, and as the sun began to set, we turned in the jet-skis, before enjoying a walk along the beach as the tropical night closed in, the hum of tree frogs a perfect contrast to the moonlight shimmering on the sheltered lagoon.

The resort after dark was surreal; lit by countless gas-burning tiki torches flickering their yellow light in the tropical breeze, it was like something out of a movie, though no amount of celluloid could do it justice.

Returning to our room, we donned dry shorts, tank-tops, and sneakers for our trip to the restaurant. I'd never eaten in a fancy restaurant before, so that was yet another first for that spectacular day. The waiter seated us in a little nook off the patio, hemmed in by the ubiquitous potted palms, offering us, to my delight, some degree of privacy. With a flourish, the waiter handed us the leather-bound menus before silently departing. The prices on the menu were more than a little frightening.

Surrounded by tiki torches and palm trees, I was soon enjoying some of the best lasagna I'd ever had; a perfect blend of tangy cheese and spicy sausage. During dinner, I asked Steve, "What should we do for the rest of the stay? We're here for two more nights, then what? Should we camp out sooner, or at the end of the trip?"

Steve grinned, "I've been having such a blast today I didn't even think about it. Let's explore the island a bit tomorrow or the next day, then we can make up our minds. This resort is great but we can't stay here the whole time, it's too expensive..." Steve paused for a moment before adding, "Tomorrow is your birthday, so let's do whatever you want to do."

Smiling, I replied, "Anything, just being here with you is perfect, so I don't care what we do. Exploring sounds great, so let's plan on that." I stared into Steve's smiling eyes for a long moment, wanting more than anything to take his hand. With a quick glance around, confirming that we had partial privacy, I did what my heart demanded; reaching out, our hands met over the white linen tablecloth, next to the flickering candle.

After a silent, meaningful moment, the waiter's silent re-appearance caught me off guard, and I pulled my hand back, knowing full well that he'd seen it.

His reaction was far from what I'd expected; he gave us a gentle smile, accompanied by a knowing nod. My hand found Steve's again, as we thanked the waiter before completing our order for the evening.

* * *

Dessert appeared in the form of a mountain of chocolate cake for Steve, and a huge slice of key lime pie for me. The pie was perfect, slightly tart, topped by frothy whipped cream that didn't come from a can. As we savored every bite, I remarked "That waiter was very cool. I remember seeing the 'gay-friendly' information when we looked online, but I didn't really get what they meant. Your dad sure picked a perfect place for us."

After dinner, we spent some time having a blast on the water slide before returning to the room. By the time we arrived, it was midnight, and I noticed that old familiar upturn at the corner of Steve's mouth. He began rummaging through his backpack, telling me over his shoulder, "Presents tomorrow, but I've got a little something I think you'll like."

With a wicked grin, Steve handed me a box. Turning it over, I noticed that it was the puzzle from Chad's party, the one with a picture of me from the website. I shot Steve a confused look as he laughed, "I could tell you weren't too happy about that puzzle. Teasing you for going to Piedmont is one thing, but that damn website ain't funny. So, I stuffed it in the gym bag before we left. I thought you might want to toss it in a volcano. I know we're on the wrong island for that, but ya never know..."

I put the box down so I could hug Steve, "Yeah, the website stuff does bother me. Thanks, dude."

Steve chuckled, "There's more. Rob and Joe were creeping me out just a little, first with the web photos of us, then wanting pictures at the party. Remember when I was out of the room before we played beer pong? I'd heard them talking so I knew what they wanted to do. Too bad they had a film camera and that film found its way into Veronica's microwave just before the game. That's why I set you up so you had to strip; I wanted them to take lots of pictures, hot ones, then find out their film was ruined."

I had to let go of Steve as I doubled up laughing, "That's just perfect... I wish I could see their faces when they try to get that developed. I knew you were up to something, but I figured you were just trying to make me run around in Speedos."

Steve began massaging my bare back, "Yeah, well, that's always a plus, but the difference is I know you really don't mind that, but you did mind the puzzle and Rob and Joe being so forward. So, I got 'em for ya."

His gentle caressing of my bare back continued as we moved towards the bed, Steve whispering in my ear, "It's your birthday in a few minutes, so you're about to be a dirty old man chasing after a sweet, innocent minor, but I don't think an old fart like you can still get it up..."

After giving Steve's ribs a good tickle in revenge, I spent the first hours of my eighteenth year proving him wrong - twice.

Waking up in the unfamiliar surroundings was strange; I didn't know where I was at first. Only the safe, familiar embrace of Steve's arms made me feel secure, as the memory returned of where we were, and what day it was. Steve stirred, smiling with his sleepy blue eyes as he wished me a happy birthday, before his lips met mine.

The shower wasn't big enough to hold both of us, so while Steve showered, I headed for the hotel's breakfast bar intending to load up plates for us both, then return to the room for a meal on the balcony, overlooking the blue Pacific. On my way, I passed one of the many stores adjoining the main lobby, and something caught my eye through the window. Chuckling to myself, I ventured in to buy it before continuing on to the breakfast bar.

After a very quick shower, I joined Steve on the balcony, where he was waiting for me before starting breakfast. We ate in silence, mesmerized by the confluence of ocean and sand below, savoring our first full day in paradise.

We'd both worn Levis; neither of us were taking shirts. Steve helpfully, with a slight upturn at the corner of his mouth, which he tried hard to hide, packed us a gym bag with some towels, and made sure I saw him throw in some boardies. We donned sunglasses and a little sunscreen before we headed out the door, ready for a day of fun and exploring.

One thing we'd learned before our trip was that you needed to be at least twenty-one, and with some companies twenty-five, before they would let you rent a car. Fortunately, eighteen was old enough to rent mopeds or scooters, and scooter rentals were popular in Hawaii; there was even one in our hotel. The paperwork took only moments, then we were off, wheeling down the tropical road. The old Vespa scooters were easy to ride, and though they were slow, topping out around forty miles per hour, they were perfect for a leisurely ride across the island.

Maui is shaped roughly like the number 8, running east to west with a narrow waist and the east end bigger than the west. From our resort, we cut inland, crossing the waist of the island, seeing fields of pineapple growing in the flat terrain, with green-clad mountains on either side.

Upon reaching the south coast, we turned right, following the signs for Lahina.

Lahina had been a whaling town in the eighteen hundreds, though today it's a tourist town more than anything else. We ended up parking near a central square, which contained an enormous tree, its limbs sprawling for hundreds of feet across the ground, supported by pillars so that it covered nearly an acre. A plaque declared it a Banyan tree, and a closer look revealed the pillars to be additional small tree trunks. I'd never even heard of a tree with multiple trunks, but it wasn't the strangest thing we'd see in Hawaii.

The town itself was stranger than the tree, all laid out with covered plank boardwalks in front of New-England style buildings, mainly row after row of shops and boutiques, plus many fast-food places. Steve and I ambled down to the sea front, standing by the wooden railing, looking down at a beach of dark round rocks rather than sand before gazing out across the placid blue bay at the islands of Lanai and Molokai.

A short walk through the town was an experience; tourist in every shape and size clogged the boardwalks, but some were head-turners. One pair in particular nearly made me trip over my own feet; two surfers in one of the souvenir shops, just browsing around, wearing just flame print shorts and flip-flops, were spectacular in every way. Perfect builds, gorgeous tans, and sun-bleached blond hair. This was one of our first introductions to the eye-candy of Hawaii; almost everywhere, hot young guys parading around bare-chested. Sunglasses were a definite must, for reasons having nothing to do with the sun.

Lahina didn't impress either of us that much; it reminded us both of touristy places in Arizona, such as Tombstone and Jerome, so we quickly left it behind us, heading north along the coast road. Along our route, we found smaller towns that lacked the touristy atmosphere, plus mile after mile of spectacular views of beaches and sea.

We parked at our destination; the snorkeling site of Makulei'a Bay. Removing the gym bag from the basket at the back of his scooter, Steve followed me to a stand where we rented masks, snorkels, and fins before venturing onto the warm coral sand. A row of coin-operated lockers set into the side of the stand solved the problem for what to do with our wallets and other gear while snorkeling.

Steve wrapped a towel around his waist to change into his favorite black Speedos, setting the gym bag near me before turning away. I couldn't see, but I had no doubts as to the expression that was on his face.

I didn't need to look to know he was pranking me again, and on my birthday, the rat. There was one sure way to partially foil his plans, hence my purchase at the store, so I stripped out of my jeans and stood waiting for him to turn around.

Steve dropped the towel once he had finished changing, turning to face me, the grin freezing on his face when he saw what I was wearing, "What the... Where did you get that? I put a black one in for you... It's really hot though..."

Laughing, I patted the electric-blue Speedos I wore, "From the hotel store this morning. I figured you were out to get me again, but ya can't if I'm already wearing a suit."

"Spoilsport," Steve laughed, "Wrecking my fun. I knew you didn't really mind that much, but why are you so okay with wearing Speedos here?"

Pointing to a couple of guys far up the beach, I chuckled, "Because other people here are, and nobody knows me so I don't have to worry that people will think I'm a show-off like you."

Laughing, Steve gave me a light punch in the arm, putting on a big show of stretching, showing off his magnificent body as I somehow managed to close up the locker. I hadn't really won this round of our game, but neither had Steve. This one was a draw, but the best I'd managed so far. I figured I could always get him sometime by swapping his Speedos for shorts, but one glance at him in his racing suit convinced me that would be a very bad idea.

After walking a few paces towards the water, I noticed two hot guys making a beeline for us, the closest greeting us from a few feet away, "Chase and Shawn?"

Shaking my head, I replied, with a little unease, "No, Steve and Chris, but yeah, those pictures on the internet were of us, taken without our knowledge."

"But you two really are a couple, right?" the guy asked with a smile.

Figuring that there was no point in denying it, and that they didn't look hostile, I replied, "Yeah, we are," as Steve nodded in support.

The two guys exchanged a glance, grinning as the other of the pair told us, "Yeah, we are, too. It sucks that was done to you though. It was great to meet you guys..." With a friendly wave, they resumed their journey to the parking lot.

Padding down to the water's edge, donning the masks and flippers, we entered the warm waters, to be awed by the sheer beauty of the underwater scene; everything from coral outcroppings to brightly colored fish, all lit by the brilliant tropical sun reflecting off the white coral sands below us.

We spent the latter part of the afternoon riding towards Hana on the other end of the island, on the quiet coast road snaking between the mountains and the sea, the cool air of the rain forest through which we passed a welcome relief from the sun. Stopping frequently, we finally found a perfect secluded spot to camp; a stretch of sandy beach bordered by palms, just a ten-minute hike from the road, surrounded by black cliffs. That, we decided, was where we would spend a few days camping.

Returning to the resort that night, we noticed a large rack of tourist information and brochures in the lobby. We spent a few minutes grabbing a copy of everything that looked interesting before returning to our room.

Settling in on the balcony, we began reading the literature, looking for things to see and do, finding far more than we would have time for. Steve pointed out a flyer for Haleakala national park; the enormous mountaintop crater of a dormant volcano. That, we decided, was a must see, and Steve studied the directions while I checked out a flyer listing more snorkeling spots. While paging through a large book listing attractions all around the Hawaiian Islands, I froze, flipping back a couple of pages to find the image that had so stunned my subconscious. It was what I'd thought; a black-and-white picture of the three of hearts.

I grabbed Steve's arm, pointing in silence at the image. His eyes opened wide as he recognized it; the sigil of Blackheart, the hacker who had helped Eric set up the porn website as well as providing the stolen account information for the data stick.

The image of the playing card was part of the background for an advertisement, but it alone among the other background paraphernalia stood out, both in its prominent display, and the incongruity of its location. Steve studied the ad, looking as puzzled as I felt, before he broke the silence by muttering, "It's an ad for a shoe store..."

"A shoe boutique named 'The Shoe Whore', but that's the exact same image Blackheart uses." Glancing at the small print on the bottom of the ad, I said, "It's near Honolulu, which is where the servers for that porn site were located. I don't think this is a coincidence."

Steve shook his head as if to clear it, "But why would a hacker be tied up with a shoe store?"

Shrugging, I replied;"I don't know... Maybe he's just into shoes? Or, maybe it's some kind of a cover... That would fit; the ad would let people who know his trademark find him, or more likely just find out how to get in touch with him. Maybe we should check this out?"

Steve hesitated a moment before nodding, "Yeah, we should, but it's not on this island. Maybe we could get over there on a ferry?"

A quick visit to the computers in the lounge that the resort provided for guests, and a confirmation from a desk clerk, revealed a surprising fact; there are no ferries in Hawaii. After a slew of phone calls, we had our answer; we could change our tickets to fly home from Honolulu. Due to there being no ferries, we would have to fly from Maui to Honolulu, but the price wasn't that bad. We even found a hotel and booked two nights there after confirming that we could rent scooters in Honolulu.

A quick check of our e-mail delivered to us a one-word message from Dex: movement. That, we knew, meant his GPS gadget had checked in, hopefully meaning that we would have welcome news upon our return home.

With the end of our trip squared away, we returned to our room to resume planning the rest of it.

Dinner that night was superb. Steve slid me my gift across that candlelit table; a wonderful new waterproof watch, engraved on the back with our initials, surrounded by a heart. Returning to the room, I opened the present from his parents, to find a second pre-paid debit card.

Later that night, after a moonlight stroll on the beach, Steve and I celebrated my birthday by sipping Champagne on the balcony, before moving inside, hand in hand, to celebrate my birthday in a very different, but far more meaningful way. Life just didn't get any better than that.

The following days were a whirlwind for us both; jet-skiing in the sun, visiting the spectacular Io Valley, watching the sun set from the rim of Haleakala crater, doing the things tourists did, and loving every minute of it.

On our last night at the resort, Steve had an idea; find a nightclub that was gay friendly, so that we could dance together. A search of the Internet turned up nothing, but our discussion during the search yielded a big surprise; the porter who had ushered us to our room that first night overheard our conversation, and suggested a club in Lahina. As it turned out, he was - to our surprise - gay too, so he knew a lot about the gay hangouts in the islands.

The club in Lahina was a new experience for us both; packed with couples, gay and straight, blaring music and flashing lights, far different from the clubs I'd known in Phoenix. Steve and I made our way to the dance floor for our first public dance together. Though we were far from skilled, we, like many of the guys there, soon had our shirts off, working up a sweat as we danced the night away. It was an exhilarating experience we would never forget, nor were we likely to find in small-town Arizona.

After checking out of the resort, we rode our scooters towards our camping spot, stopping along the way to sightsee. That afternoon, we set up our camp in a grove of palm trees, then sat around our campfire at sunset, roasting hot dogs and savoring the tropical evening. As the fire guttered, Steve and I fed it with the puzzle pieces, followed by the box, watching as it reduced to embers that drifted out to sea on the gentle night breeze. We retreated to our tent as the skies clouded, just enjoying each other's company, and then far more than that before falling asleep to the varied sounds of the tropical night.

We awoke, hours later, stirred from our slumber by the spatter of raindrops on the tent, signaling that the nightly rains common to the area were underway.

We climbed atop our sleeping bag as we listened to the rain. Steve pulled me close, "Chris, let's go for a walk in the rain, maybe play in the surf..."

Steve tugged me from the tent, neither of us bothering with clothes in that dark, secluded spot. The warm rain played on our bare skin as we trod the sodden black sand, wading in the gentle surf, two people in love and in paradise. We waded out deeper, the warm waters and gentle breakers caressing our naked bodies, the near pitch blackness lit by the luminescent waters of the surf line, as our hands met, our bodies entwining as we moved towards the deeper waters, caressed by the ocean as our passions flared.

Out beyond the breaking surf, buoyed by the rain-kissed tropical waters, our bodies moved to the ancient drives, becoming one, in a union as perfect as the setting was exotic.

Floating together in the dark, rain-spattered bathwater sea, letting the gentle motion of the waters carry us as we savored the afterglow, I listened to the waves, the surf quieted by distance. My attention suddenly drawn to our situation, I spun in the water, the feel of it upon my naked body forgotten, seeing nothing but uniform blackness in every direction as I asked Steve, "Uh, which way to the beach?"

©Copyright 2007 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.  The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

Many thanks to Conner for editing, support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions on this chapter.
Many thanks also to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions (and for thinking up a title!).

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading and advice, and for putting up with me.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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Chapter Comments

Uh oh those two going to check out a business connected to a hacker who’s connected to other criminals is not their smartest idea. Potential for more danger ahead.

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A wonderful and romantic description of their time on Maui. It was so well written and real.  They are really trying hard to live up to the blonde stereotype.  Drifting out to sea without any light or clues as to where they are???? Then the really stupid idea of chasing Blackheart by changing their flight to leave from Honolulu???? I do hope the stop at the local FBI to let them handle the whole thing then hightail it back to home.  

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