Lisa - Beach Brides Series Chapter 1



Enchanted Island, East Caribbean
The Month of July
 
Lisa Kaye sipped her wine and stared at the blank page in front of her, wondering how to compose a message to a man she’d never met.

The twelve women in her group, The Romantic Hearts Book Club, had chosen to spend their last night vacationing together on Enchanted Island working on a “spur-of-the-moment” project. The group had read and discussed many romance novels since the club’s inception and each woman had a favorite hero from the book of her choice, a man she would love to call her own. Lisa didn’t know who had suggested the concept, but after a spirited discussion and a couple rounds of cocktails, the group had concluded that each woman would compose a personal message to her “dream hero,” stuff it into a bottle and throw the bottle in the Caribbean ocean. In Lisa’s opinion, the chance of anyone—much less the perfect man—finding her bottle and taking the message seriously seemed ludicrous, but everyone else had agreed to do it so Lisa decided to go along with the plan.

After dinner, the women gathered at the poolside bar to take in the balmy air of their last evening together at the Hideaway Cove Resort. The atmosphere vibrated through the open-air pavilion with the jaunty, percussion-like sounds of Reggae music played on steel drums. A small group of people played a lively game of volleyball in the adjacent pool.

Sitting at a round table for two, Lisa rested her hand on her chin and tried to come up with something clever to put in her message. The harder she tried to concentrate, though, the more her mind stubbornly refused to cooperate.

The young woman sitting across from her sipped a glass of Chablis. “How are you doing on your message,” Clair inquired as the warm Caribbean breeze ruffled a few wisps of hair from her French braid. Her dark locks contrasted richly against her magenta sundress. “Are you making any progress?”

Lisa slid the blank paper toward Clair and sighed. “I can’t even get started. How are you coming along with yours?”

“I need to work on mine, but I’m not putting a lot of effort into it. I don’t see the point in writing a message to a complete stranger when I already have a dream hero back at home.” Clair’s fine brows drew together in annoyance as she leaned closer. “If you ask me, the idea is pretty silly.”

Lisa nodded. “It’s risky, too. What if the wrong person gets hold of my bottle and begins to stalk me on line?”

Clair’s brown eyes widened with an incredulous stare. “You’re not going to put your personal email address on it, are you?”

Lisa shook her head. “No way, I’ve created a new one specifically for this purpose and I’m not using my real name. If anyone replies, I’ll know the person found the bottle.”

“That’s good,” Clair replied, looking relieved. “I did the same thing. I don’t want anyone getting hold of my personal information.” She slid the sheet of paper back to Lisa. “Think of your ideal man and write to him.”

Lisa chuckled. “As a kid, I had a crush on Indiana Jones. I used to run around the house wearing my dad’s Fedora, a brown vest and carrying my sister’s lunge whip, pretending that Indy and I were exploring archeological wonders together. I’ve read quite a few books with that type of character and I’ve loved them all.” She doodled on the paper, drawing a crude outline of a small treasure map. “Sometimes I wish I’d pursued a college degree in archaeology instead of business administration. Maybe I’d be doing something more exciting with my life now instead of supervising the Personal Lines Department of an insurance agency.”

Clair grabbed a business card off another table and flipped it over to the blank side. “This will work. Do you have a pen I could borrow?”

She handed Clair a pen and went back to work, racking her brain to come up with something suitable.

After twenty minutes, another glass of wine and three sheets of paper, Lisa showed her message to Clair. “It sounds more like a Dr. Seuss book than a memo to Mr. Right, but that’s the best I can do.”

Clair picked up the sheet and scanned the words. “It’s cute. And totally you. I like it.” She slid it back across the table. “What are you using for a bottle?”

“Gosh, I forgot to get one.” Lisa took the sheet and began to fold the paper into a narrow strip. “I wonder if I can get a beer bottle and a cork from the bar.”

But when she went to the bar and asked for a bottle to use, the bartender refused, warning her that the resort forbade throwing any trash into the bay. She’d purchased an antique bottle from a small curio shop in the island’s historic downtown area, but she certainly didn’t want to use that one. The cobalt bottle had attracted her, embossed with “Owl Drug Company” and a figure of an owl sitting upon a mortar with one claw clutching the pestle. The shopkeeper had remarked that he came by the bottle after a local resident had fished it out of the bay. She hated the thought of throwing it back in there!

Unless I don’t actually toss the bottle—just make it look like I threw it...

The early evening sun dipped low in the sky, hanging over the endless horizon of the Caribbean ocean like a crimson ball of fire. The twelve women laughed and talked as they walked through a grove of palms in an undeveloped area next to the resort. Tara and Meg led the way along the well-trodden trail to a remote strip of shoreline, far enough from the resort so no one in the area could see them tossing their bottles into the water. Jenny and Faith were next in line. They vowed to organize another group getaway and smacked their palms together in agreement. Behind them, Nina and Hope joined in, laughing as they offered a few suggestions.

Lisa and Clair hung back, trailing the group so they could chat.

“Ouch! Wait a minute.” Clair stopped and pulled off one of her silver flip-flops to remove a tiny fragment of coral stuck in the ball of her foot. She looked up. “Are you leaving tomorrow with us or are you staying on to visit with your aunt?”

“I came a few days early and spent time with her,” Lisa said as they stood on the sandy trail. “She wants me to move here permanently to take over her bed and breakfast hotel.”

Her Aunt Elsie Dubois lived in a large pink and white house on the edge of the island’s business district. Lisa had poignant childhood memories of time spent here, roaming the cobblestone streets of “old town” Morganville and playing on the beaches with her cousins. The thought of living here permanently tugged at her heartstrings, but...

“Are you serious?” Clair slipped her flip-flop back on and resumed walking. “That sounds like a dream come true! Are you considering it?”

Lisa sighed with regret, knowing an opportunity like the one Aunt Elsie had figuratively handed to her on a silver platter would never come along again. “I’d love to accept the offer, but I have too many ties back home to just drop everything and move here.” She leaned close to Clair to keep their conversation private. “The last time I talked to my guy on the phone he said he had something important to tell me.” She didn’t know for sure, but she had the feeling Rob planned to surprise her with an engagement ring. He said he didn’t want to talk about it until they were together again. What else could it be? She smiled to herself. The thought of one day becoming Rob Mancuso’s wife made her heart brim with hope. “I can’t wait to get back to West Palm Beach.”

Clair gave her a brief, knowing smile. “I’ve had a great time here, but I’m getting a little antsy to get home, too.”

Though she didn’t say any more, Lisa understood that Clair missed the “hero” in her life and wanted to see him again.

They walked out of the palm grove and along the rocky shore until they reached an area that looked suitable to toss their bottles.

“Okay, everyone,” Tara said as the group lined up. “On the count of three, throw ‘em in.”

Claire shook her head and mumbled, “Here goes nothing.”

Lisa drew the small blue bottle from her purse that held her message. She stood poised to throw it, but intended to merely go through the motion then quickly slip it back into her purse before anyone noticed.

“One...two...three!”

An assortment of glass in a blend of colors, sizes and shapes flew through the air and dropped into the ocean in a succession of loud plunks and splashes. Lisa clutched her bottle and swung her arm, but the bottle had something slippery on it. The oily liquid squished through her fingers. The cap on the sunscreen lotion she carried in her purse must have loosened and leaked all over everything. Darn! The bottle suddenly flew from her hand and sailed through the air like a missile then disappeared into the water, leaving only a circular wave of ripples in its wake.

Shocked, she stared across the surface of the aqua water, disappointed that she would never see that bottle again.

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Lisa is a "standalone" book, but is part of a 12-book series of beach reads. To view the entire set, visit the Beach Brides series page on Amazon.




2 comments:

Donna Lovitz said...

Denise you are a very talented writer. I enjoyed your first chapter. I agree with your comments about the book cover.

Denise Annette Devine, Author said...

Thank you, Donna! It means a lot to me.

Denise