Convoluted (part 1)

The following is a short story I wrote. It’s not my usual style, but I think you’ll love how it ends! The rest of this story will be posted every Friday. Enjoy…

Alexa wandered to the forbidden area, hoping to have a few moments to herself at the previously mentioned waterfall. Her boyfriend, Clint, had suggested this romantic trip to the Grenada islands. She had been delighted to accept, then soon learned why she and Clint would not be engaged in any long-term relationship. He had appeared to want all the same things as herself: successful career, great home, fabulous car, living in the lap of luxury and corporate glamour.

The trip was a wake-up call to her. She had enjoyed Clint’s good looks and designer clothes too much to notice the front he had put on for her. The guy was far from successful. It became evident as they toured the six small islands of Grenada that, while he had paid for their trip over, he was expecting to mooch off of her income. She wasn’t even sure if the man had a job.

As she walked along a rarely tread trail that was surrounded by lush greenery, Alexa admitted to herself that she had allowed her shallow side to be duped. This experience was an eye opener to her in more than one way. Though she knew Clint to be real scum, she also knew that she had to take responsibility. She had let herself be blinded. In retrospect, she saw plenty of signs that Clint was using her as a free ride.

Alexa sighed and wiped sweat off of her brow with the back of her hand. The climate was hot and humid, making her skin feel sticky. She couldn’t even identify all the scents of flowers and plant life around her, but it was soothing. She was glad to be away from Clint and the others in the tour group. They were at the beach, absorbing yet more rays from the sun. Alexa had claimed a headache and stayed in bed until they had left. Then she had donned a comfortable, razor-backed tank top and a pair of khaki shorts. She didn’t have hiking shoes, but the runner shoes she wore sufficed.

The trail was somewhat difficult, especially since Alexa wasn’t used to this kind of exercise. She was a die-hard gym guru, but rarely spent time outdoors. She found it pleasant at the moment, but that had more to do with her solitude than her surroundings.

Their tour guide had pointed this area out when they had first arrived to the small Diamond Island, saying that the grounds were considered sacred and trespassing was a serious offense. Obviously, she didn’t care enough to heed the warning and found she was glad she’d followed her impulse to explore out here.

She had been hiking for a while and was starting to get tired. She chided herself for not bringing along any food or water with her. She was thinking of turning back when she heard the thunderous sound of a waterfall. She pressed forward, her goal close at hand.

When she finally emerged from the brush of long leaves and trees, she stared. It was spectacular, but she couldn’t place how this waterfall seemed so different from the others she’d seen in her lifetime. Maybe it was because it was so isolated, making it a peaceful spectacle of wonder.

Whatever the reason, she trudged forward through the mud, took off her shoes and socks, then waded into the knee-deep waters to sit on a large boulder standing above the surface. The water was cool on her legs, the sun shining on her back. The rhythmic pounding of the fall was mesmerizing. Alexa felt completely at peace for the first time in a long while. She’d definitely be breaking up with Clint when she got home, but this one moment made the hassle of the whole trip worth it.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting in the remote sanctuary when a noise alerted her. Alexa didn’t know exactly what the sound was, only that it wasn’t conducive to the nature around her.

She gasped and stood in the water, looking around her. Nothing. Trying to gain control over her erratic heart, she swished her way to dry ground and put her socks and shoes back on. As she stood, she saw the leaves shaking and wavering on the opposite side of the river.

Suddenly, a tall, strikingly handsome man appeared out of the foliage. They made surprised eye contact for more than a minute before the man blushed. He had black hair and icy blue eyes that were framed by dark lashes. His build was fit and trim, and he was wearing black slacks with a white, long sleeved shirt tucked in. The suspenders over the shirt stuck out the most.

He turned his head to the side and spoke over the noise of the waterfall. “Forgive me, madam. I was not aware there would be a woman bathing in this area.” He looked around. “Is your dress nearby? May I fetch it for you?”

Alexa’s eyebrows puckered together in a frown. “I wasn’t bathing. I was just getting my feet wet. And I’m not naked, for crying out loud.”

His flush deepened, but his gaze went back to her. “I assume the rest of your party is close by. Shall I escort you to them?”

Though he was acting strangely, she felt a surge of warmth at his concern. “They’re on the other side of the island. I’m sure I can find my way back.”

He looked at her as if she’d said her group was on Mars. “You cannot go back that way. There is nothing but dangerous animals and serpents.” He appeared to debate with himself then said, “You may come with me to my plantation. I will give you aid there.”

“Look, buddy, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I can certainly take care of myself.” As she spoke, she looked up to realize that the sun was already beginning its descent. Her hike had taken more than two hours and it would be dark in about forty minutes.

Alexa didn’t catch exactly what the guy said, but thought she’d heard him say something about a bluestocking. “I don’t know much about birds.” She gestured to the sky. “It’s later than I thought, so I guess I’ll take you up on your offer. I’ll just stay at your place for the night, then go back to my hotel tomorrow.” At the disdainful look on his face, she added, “If that’s okay with you.”

In response, he beckoned for her to cross the river. As she sloshed her way in the water with shoes on, he said, “The name’s Benton, by the way. James Benton.”

“Sounds like James Bond.” She stood next to him and noted that he was about six feet tall. She was five nine herself, so wasn’t intimidated in the slightest by his height.

“Who?” He stared at her strangely.

It was her turn to look at him like he was insane. “Forget it.” She waved her hand in the air. “My name’s Alexa. Why don’t you just lead the way, hmm?”

James shook his head and pivoted on his foot. Though he was handsome, she felt no attraction to him. He seemed too arrogant. Besides, she was on the island with another man. It would be poor taste to ditch Clint now, even if she was planning to break up with him.

The hike down wasn’t too much trouble and it was only thirty minutes before they approached a large house that was surrounded by farmland. It looked like James harvested sugarcane or something similar.

A black woman opened the door before they reached it. She held a gas lantern against the nearly dark sky. Alexa smiled at the lady who looked to be in her mid-thirties. “Is this your wife?”

Both the woman and James stared at her as if she had an extra head. “Okay,” she said slowly. “Sorry I was being presumptuous.”

James shrugged it off and brushed past the woman into the house. Alexa followed, noting that the woman bowed her head as James walked by.

The woman looked at Alexa disapprovingly. “I be Tessa, the ‘ousekeeper.”

Alexa nodded politely. James had wandered into the front room and Tessa told her to join him in the parlor. Alexa took in Tessa’s ragged dress that looked like it was made out of curtains, looked around the house made completely out of wood. There was no wallpaper or plaster or even a light-switch. The entire interior was lit by candlelight.

“Forgive me for being rude,” Alexa said to James as he lit a pipe, “but are you Amish or something?”

He looked puzzled. “I’m Presbyterian. I’m from England originally.” She didn’t know how to respond, so just sat on a settee and pulled her sodden shoes and socks off to dry. “I’ll be having company over in a few minutes. Shall I see if Tessa has an extra outfit for you?”

“Ah…no, thanks. I’d prefer wearing my clothes, and they aren’t very dirty.”

He sent her a curious glance but didn’t say anything. They sat in awkward silence for some time, and then a knock sounded at the front door. Alexa heard Tessa shuffle over the creaky wooden floors and greet whoever was there. Tessa stood in the doorway to the parlor and announced, “Yer friends be here, mastah.”

“Send them in.”

Three gentlemen who appeared to be the same age as James came in and stared at Alexa. Before she could say anything James stood. “Gentleman,” he greeted. “This is Alexa. I found her stranded by the falls and brought her home.”

“Just for one night,” Alexa stated as she stood and smiled at the men who were still staring.

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