Chance watched as wrenching heaves made Caren vomit back the seawater that had nearly killed her. Thank God. She was a welcome sight. Thoroughly exhausted, he rolled onto his back and covered his eyes gratefully. He had done it, snatched her back. And he would never let her go. He’d marry her right there, on the spot now, if only he could. As she was carried past them, her eyes turned to his. They were filled with adoration and what looked like gratitude.
“They’re staying at the Pink Palace,” Gus told the rescue squad.
Chance was helped to his feet, speech beyond him. Gus did the talking for them both. They followed as Caren was carried to her room.
Once the hotel doctor and rescue personnel declared that she was out of danger, Daisy took charge. Tenderly, Daisy wrapped Caren’s hair in a towel. She removed Caren’s wet suit. She sent Gus to her room for a nightgown. Daisy urged Caren to drink the hot chamomile tea she ordered. Caren slept.
Chance, still hovering nearby, held her hand as she did. Daisy signaled Gus, who led Chance out of the room. Nervous reaction set in and Chance began to shake.
Wordlessly, Gus took a bottle from the mini bar and poured him a good stiff drink. Gus picked up a sports shirt and shorts Chance had left out and got Chance into them. “The Chinese have a saying that once you save a life, you are bound together for eternity. I’d say that fits in your case.” Chance looked out the window. “You’d never know that tragedy was avoided down there today. I’m still amazed that normal things go on as if nothing has happened. When my wife, Angie, died, everything just kept on going. The mail came, the phone rang, the paper was delivered. Life just went on, but I didn’t. It didn’t matter that everything changed for me, life just went on.”
“You did good today, kid,” Gus said thumping him on the back.
“You think Caren can make the flight this afternoon?”
“You heard the doctor yourself. She has youth and good health on her side.”
* * * *
Daisy packed Caren’s things, leaving out a cute muumuu for her to wear for the flight. Judging by her regular and even breathing, Daisy felt confident Caren would make the flight.
Daisy was right. Caren was shaken but ready to go when the porter came for her luggage. Daisy quietly left the room, going directly to Chance’s room. She knew Gus was with him. She knocked gently at his door.
When Gus answered it, he gave Daisy a hug. “We’re so lucky to have discovered each other before we ran out of time.”
Rousing herself, Daisy cleared her throat. “Well, boys, time to pack. We leave for the airport in less than two hours.”
Knowing Chance’s question before it escaped his lips, Daisy smiled brightly and said, “Yes, she’s fine. Nothing a bowl of chicken soup can’t fix. I’m going to the kitchen now to rustle up some.”
That accomplished, she left the hotel and walked down the sunny avenue until she sighted her goal. The bus. Hurriedly, she crossed the street and caught it. The friendly driver told her where to transfer. Soon she reached her destination. She left the bus and crossed the street to Kawaiahoa, the oldest church in Hawaii. There she gave thanks for Caren’s life, for her own happiness, for Gus. She retraced her steps, but not before ducking into a designer shop and selecting a long creamy kimono to wear for her wedding.
* * * *
Recovering her natural energy, relieved beyond belief, Caren ate the soup Daisy had ordered and found the pink flowered muumuu Daisy had selected for their flight to Kauai. She hoped it wasn’t too casual. She suspected island wear was acceptable attire for island hopping. She joined the others from the tour group as they drove to the airport.
The tiny plane, filled mainly with World Travel people, was lively. To Caren’s relief they, too, were dressed in casual clothes. They all seemed relieved to see her there alive and well. They had all experienced a lot in a short a time. She knew now beyond any doubt that she did, in fact, love Chance, that she was frighteningly but irrevocably in love with him, for better or worse. That much was undeniably true for Chance as well. Occasionally their gazes met. Then he’d smile, making her heart beat faster, and he’d tighten his hand over hers. The way he was holding her made her feel safe and loved. He had literally risked his life for her. She knew that. She’d seen the tears he’d shed and knew firsthand the terrible and very real risk he had taken to save her.
They flew over the Na Pali Coast. Caren thought she’d never seen anything so beautiful. Huge ragged razor-sharp peaks thrust upward as if they had sprung full blown from the sea. No roads went into their silent green depths. Some places were only accessible by sea. Others could only be approached by helicopter or precariously, by foot.
“Oh, I’ve got to get in there, Kekoa,” Daisy said, enthralled.
“Good places for making Aloha.” Kekoa grinned. “Not to worry, we’ll get there soon by whirly birdy. It’s part of the tour.”
Thoughts of their private lagoon off Kaupa Pond ran through Caren’s mind. She hoped they’d find their own Shangri-La here on the lush Island of Kauai.