Happy Fourth of July to all of my wonderful American friends and welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. I gave my website a makeover. Not sure I like it, but, we’ll see.This will be my last post until July 25th, since I’m going camping where I have no Internet access. It will also be the last post from Wedding Bell Blues. The story has taken some wonderful quirky twists and is ready for the editing process to full all those wonderful scenes you liked into the semblance of a novel. I’ve loved writing MJ and Paul’s story and hope to publish it soon.
“Why did you tell Mark that I found the coin on the island?” MJ asked once they were well away from the main building and alone. The path to the lagoon had been cleared of all debris.
“I don’t know,” Paul admitted, “but he seemed just a little bit too interested in it. I want to get back to the bungalow and do a little investigating of my own. I don’t trust him to return it.”
“Good point.” She yawned. “I was just using my tiredness as an excuse to get out of there, but suddenly, I’m beat.”
“You should lie down for a while. It’ll do you good,” he answered, putting his arm around her as they walked along the stone path.
MJ nestled into him. “Not on your life. I need to go to the village and see Lucette’s grandmother. I’ve got to find out what’s going on. I feel as if I’m losing my mind and imagining things one minute and then, something happens to prove I didn’t the next.”
They walked along the pier until they reached the bungalow. MJ stepped out of Paul’s arms and let him go ahead of her.
Paul unlocked the door, held the door open for her and then closed and locked it behind her.
“That makes sense,” he said, “but there’s something I have to do first.” He pulled her into his arms. “When I realized you were the woman in the water, MJ, I almost died.” He bent his head and kissed her.
The emotions stirred by her near death experience combined with a need she couldn’t seem to satisfy fueled her ardor. She returned Paul’s kiss with all the passion she possessed, and when he carried her to the bed and undressed her, she was eager for more than a kiss. He entered her, claiming her body as his, and firecrackers exploded in her head, bringing with them a kaleidoscope of colors. Spent, she closed her eyes and rested nestled safe in his arms.
* * *
“Hey, sleepy head,” Paul said, whispering into MJ’s ear, feathering kisses along the side of her jaw. “I would love to keep you in this bed for the rest of this vacation, make love to you until we were both too exhausted to do anything else, but if you want to see Lucette’s grandmother before we meet the others for dinner, we have to get dressed now. It’s almost five.”
She opened her eyes and smiled at him.
She’d never looked more beautiful and that added to his confusion. He still felt the remnants of the fear of losing her that had gripped him in the water, and even though she was safe in his arms, he was terrified that might still happen. He liked her—there was no doubt of that, and he definitely was more than a little aroused by her phenomenal body, but there was more to it. He’d bedded women before—he was no saint—but none of them had made him feel the way MJ did. Was it possible he’d fallen in love with her?
“I was having the most unusual dream,” she said, her eyes still sleepy, her voice husky.
“Was I in it?” he asked. Was he as entrenched in her as she was in him?
“As a matter of fact, you were. I imagined you as a handsome, lusty pirate—not like Captain Jack Sparrow, but the swashbuckling kind—and I was a lowly mermaid, but like Daryl Hannah in Splash, when I stepped ashore, I had legs.” She yawned. “It was quite pleasant to go back and forth.”
“And did I turn into a merman?”
He liked the idea of being in her dreams as well as her life.
She frowned. “I don’t think so. I’m not even sure you knew what I was, but I do know you were afraid of the water for some reason and you were worried.” Shaking her head, she sighed. “It’s all gone now, but it felt so real at the time … Let me take a quick shower and then we can go and see Germaine, Lucette’s grandmother. She has to know what it all means.”
“Want me to wash your back?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Laughing, she hurried into the bathroom with him at her heels.
“If I let you do that, we won’t make it to the village let alone to dinner,” she said, looking over her shoulder, her teeth biting her lower lip. “Maybe we can take a bath together later.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“You’re limping.” Her brow was creased, her lips pursed. “Why don’t you ice your knee and look to see what you can find out about the coin?” She screwed up her face. “It’s possible it has nothing to do with the mermaid. I know you don’t believe I saw her—hell, I don’t believe it—but that coin definitely isn’t mine and wasn’t in my pocket when we left here this morning. So, if she didn’t put it there, who did?”
He nodded, reached for her, and kissed her gently. “If you say you saw a mermaid, I believe you. There was a purple glow there … Maybe when I figure out what this is,” he held up the coin, “that will make more sense. Don’t forget. There was someone else on that boat. I don’t believe in vanishing men, either.”
“Perhaps Shakespeare had it right in Hamlet when he said, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ English teacher, remember? Ghosts and mermaids could be among those things. They do show up in a number of mythologies, and when you think about it, the ocean is full of creatures we know nothing about. I won’t be long.” She shut the bathroom door.
Paul grabbed his tablet before sitting down at the table. Using one of the small bar towels, he created a makeshift ice pack with cubes from the mini-freezer and placed it over his knee. With the tablet up and running, he typed “lost Inca treasure” into the Internet search engine and clicked on images.
“Well, I’ll be damned.”
The disc MJ had shown him was featured on the page along with other Incan artifacts supposedly from the missing treasure of Paititi, the Incas’ city of gold the Spaniards had fought over for more than forty years—the city the Incas had vacated in 1572, leaving the place deserted. The problem was Lacorneille had ostensibly been carrying treasure looted from Pizarro’s men who had executed Atahualpa, the Incas’ emperor in 1533.
How could this coin come from that cache if that particular treasure hadn’t been lost until almost forty years later? Rumor had it that the Incas had moved all their gold into the southern Amazonian rainforest. How would a ghost or a Caribbean mermaid, if such a creature even existed, get her hands on something like this? Mark was right. It had to be a forgery.
“Find anything?” MJ asked coming to stand beside him.
How long had he been reading?
“I did, but I’m afraid Mark might be right. I doubt this coin came from Lacorneille’s ship.” He explained what he’d learned from the Internet.
MJ reached for the coin, examined it, and then dropped it into the pocket of the skirt she wore.
“It’s possible the coin pre-dates moving the city, isn’t it? Maybe Germaine will be able to tell us more. Yesterday, she assured me I couldn’t be hurt, and yet today, I almost drowned. First our names suddenly appear in that draw, then Mark shows up and is assigned to our team—I’m not so sure Quimbois magic likes me!”
“Well, I like you,” he said, licking his lips. “I like you a lot.” He swallowed. “Give me a sec to use the bathroom, and we’ll go. If you don’t mind, we’ll use one of the golf carts. My knee is a little sore. No dancing for me tonight.”
MJ put her arms around his neck and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “I’ll think of something we can do without putting any pressure on your knee.” She winked.
He smiled. “I’ve got a feeling the best part of the day is yet to come. Move it, Mrs. Davis. I want to visit the Quimboiseuse, have dinner, and then allow you to use whatever creative ideas you have percolating in that pretty little head of yours.”
A few minutes later MJ stepped out of the bungalow ahead of him and he pulled the door shut, locking it. Monday night, he’d told Louis James that he’d fallen in love with MJ years ago. Paul swallowed the lump in his throat. He hadn’t realized he’d told the truth until he’d almost lost her earlier today. What the hell was he going to do now? She deserved a man who’d make all her wishes come true, and he still didn’t believe he could be that man.
That’s it for now! I hope you have a terrific July. See you in a few weeks.
Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.