Gesturing for Anna to stay seated, Joel got up and headed over to the others. Kelly was quick to take his place.
“Well…?” she asked.
“What do you think of Joel?”
“You are kidding, aren’t you?”
“No. I’m guessing he’s pretty into you—so what about you?”
Really? He’s into me? Stifling her enthusiasm, Anna responded, “Yeah—I reckon I could get pretty into him, too.”
Once again, her eyes sought Joel. He was standing with the tall, dark haired man. Although they didn’t appear to be talking, they seemed to be engaged in some kind of silent contemplation. Looking awkward and superfluous, the Hispanic woman began walking towards Anna and Kelly.
“You must be Anna.” Her Spanish accent was melodic and carried on the breeze.
“That’s right. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“My name is Bonita.”
“Nice to meet you, Bonita.”
Staring Anna up and down, she replied simply, “Mmm.” Bonita’s hair was like molten chocolate, and her skin, flawless. Dressed in a dark brown strapless dress, her figure was to die for and Anna clawed back the feeling of inferiority.
“And what brings you to our little beach tonight…Anna?”
“Oh…err, Kelly invited me. I met Joel today, and Kelly thought I might like to come here to see him again.”
“Is that right.” Her eyes narrowed and her lips hesitated. “You’re lucky you know.”
“Yes. You chose the right one.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, I’m sorry you don’t know do you.” A sly smile shaped her features.
“Bonita!” Kelly scolded.
Anna pushed, “What don’t I know?”
“I’m sorry, it’s not for me to say,” taunted Bonita.
Frustration, laced with fear, gnawed at her. “Kelly…what is she talking about?”
“I’m sorry too, Anna. Bonita shouldn’t have said anything. But she is right—it’s not for us to say.”
“Should I be worried?”
“No…not at all. Look, relax, Joel’s coming back.”
It was difficult not to be reassured by Kelly. She seemed to have such a gentle nature. Bonita, on the other hand, she couldn’t quite fathom.
From behind, Joel wrapped his strong arms around Anna and rested his head on her shoulder. At the same time the dark haired man summoned Kelly and Bonita over to him. Although Anna couldn’t hear what was being said, something told her their evening by the fire was coming to an abrupt end—and she was right. Joel spun her around, and kissed her with just as much passion as the first time. And with her head still spinning, he left her on the sand.
Gathering herself together Anna turned back to Kelly and Bonita. “Who’s that other man?” she asked, pointing to the man with long dark hair.
“His name is Marshall. But he is of no concern to you, mi amor,” purred Bonita.
Acknowledging Anna’s discomfort Kelly put her arm around her. “Oh don’t mind her, she’s can be a bit possessive sometimes.”
As Anna watched, Joel and Marshall made their way across the sand towards a pair of huge motorbikes, and were quick to disappear from sight. Clutching her shoes in one hand and the skirt of her long dress in the other, Bonita, too, headed off across the sand. Kelly reached out and clasped Anna’s shoulder. “Sorry, sweetie, they had to go.”
“Oh,” she responded. “Will they be back?”
“Not tonight. Come on, I’ll take you back into town.”
* * *
Anna closed the door to her hotel room and rested her back against it. Wow, was all she could think. Wow...
Laying in her bed, with the no-vacancy sign periodically flashing streams of unwelcome blue light into her room she closed her eyes. Sleep was quick to claim her, but as it did, her dreams didn’t feel like her own.
Anna found herself standing alone, beneath a tree, but she wasn’t really alone. There were people all around her, but not with her. The feeling was odd—lonely even. She stared up into the silvery branches set against the jet-black sky. Fairy-lights and coloured lanterns illuminated bare branches, in place of leaves that clearly no-longer grew there.
Her attention diverted to the image of Joel, standing by what appeared to be a bar with other people she almost recognised. The atmosphere was quiet—tranquil, and Joel looked up. She smiled but his gaze appeared to be looking straight through her. Anna turned to see what it was that had caught his attention, and was stunned to see his very same image walking in through open gates towards her.