The SurgeWillow Rose
BUOY MEDIA LLC
Two years later
II. Told you so
III. Now what?
IV. Make up your mind
V. Karma Chameleon
Two months later
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Copyright Willow Rose 2017
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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A sudden powerful forward or upward movement, especially by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide.
Ridge Manor, Florida
He was looking at the old phone. An antique, Lydia had called it. A collectible. Nothing but old junk, Wayne had thought. In his opinion, anything could be called an antique as long as it was old enough. But he would never say that to her face. He would never hurt her like that. And he hadn't thrown it away. It was hanging on the wall of his home office like it had since his dad died.
The old bastard.
The old phone was all he had left of him. Not that he needed anything to remind him of the fact that he had been alive. He had the scars on his back and the sound of his angry voice in his head, reciting the Bible or whatever he used to make Wayne miserable with. He didn't need no stinkin' phone to remind him of that…to remember that his old man had put his mark on this earth. There was no way he would ever forget.
Wayne didn't know why exactly he kept the old thing, or even why he had it staring at him from the wall. If it was for Lydia's sake or because it had been in the family for a very long time. It had belonged to Wayne's great-grandfather. That's how old it was.
"An antique Stromberg-Carlson double box telephone in walnut wood. A thing of beauty," Wayne's father-in-law had told him when Wayne showed it to him.
Wayne had found the old phone by accident when cleaning out the old man's stuff after he finally had the decency to leave this world and Wayne alone. Wayne guessed Lydia's father knew what he was talking about since he had devoted his life to selling antiques from that old shop next to the hardware store downtown. Wayne had asked how much he could get for it, but Lydia had told him not to sell it.
"It would look great on the wall in your office, don't you think?"
"It doesn't even work," he had complained. "What's the use?"
But Lydia had - of course - gotten her way and now when looking at it, Wayne had to admit it didn't look too terrible.
"Look at me, Dad! Look!"
At the sound of his daughter's voice, Wayne turned to look into the yard. Arlene was playing on the swings, going very high.
Wayne smiled with a soft sigh. There was nothing in the world that could melt his stubborn heart like this little girl. He had built her that swing set just before summer break and she had been on the darn thing all summer long. He didn't know how she did it, how she managed to play outside for hours in this heat.
Six-years-old going on seventeen.
Wayne shuddered at the very thought. It was a cliché but he really couldn't believe how fast she was growing up. He was afraid to miss even a moment of it.
"Look at me now, Daddy!" she yelled again.
Wayne laughed and got up from his chair, cup in his hand. He walked to the window to make sure she could see that he was watching her. He sipped his coffee while watching her and waving with the other hand.
"I see you, baby," he said. "I see you."
"Look at this, Daddy, look," she yelled as she let go of the chains on the swing and leaped through the air, then landed on her feet in the tall grass that Wayne had mowed just a few days ago, but already was knee high.
Wayne's heart stopped for just a second, but when he saw her smile followed by a ta-da, he laughed.
"Very nice," he said. "Very nice."
Wayne looked back at his desk and all the work he still needed to do. He was behind on his taxes an
d had gotten an extension, but he had to have it done this weekend. He sipped his coffee, looking at the stacks, wondering if it couldn't wait a few hours.
It is, after all, Sunday.
Wayne shrugged and sipped his coffee again, then turned to look at Arlene, but she was no longer there.
Wayne looked to all corners of the small yard, but she was nowhere to be seen. He hadn't heard the screen door slam shut as he would if she had run inside, and the yard was fenced in, so there was nowhere else she could have gone.
Something was terribly wrong, he just knew it was.
Heart in his throat, Wayne dropped his cup and the coffee spilled on the carpet. It left a stain for him to be reminded of this day for years to come.
That night, at precisely a quarter past midnight, the old Stromberg-Carlson rang for the first time in a hundred years.
Two years later
Martha Pattison was holding on tight to the handle under the ceiling of the small van. The bumpy road made her nervous.
"Are you sure he knows what he’s doing?" she whispered to her husband, Carl, just as the driver swung the old van out in front of a car. Martha let out a scream. Carl laughed.
"They drive a little…different down here," he said. "I’m sure he's got everything under control."
Just as Carl had said the words, the driver took a sharp turn and led them down a small street with slum houses on both sides.
"This doesn't look much like a safe neighborhood," Martha said, clinging to the handle even though it was slightly loose. The car was rustling and squeaking on the bumpy road.
"It's gonna be fine."
"You sure he's not just taking us to some place where his little friends are waiting with machetes to rob us of everything we have?"
Carl chuckled. "I'm pretty sure."
She snorted. "Pretty sure? That doesn't sound very reassuring."
"We're on vacation, Martha. Relax and enjoy it."
The van bumped back onto a bigger road and the driver took another sharp turn, made it out just in front of a car, and barely missed it. Martha screamed again. The driver looked in the mirror with a bright smile.
"Shortcut, ma'am. I know all of them on the island. That's why they call me Shortcut Mike."
"That's nice," Martha said, but she didn't mean it.
"Or you can call me M&M. Like the candy, not the rapper," he said with a loud laugh. He looked at Carl. "Here for vacation?"
"Yes," Carl said. "It's our thirty-year anniversary."
"Thirty years with Boss-Lady here, huh?"
Martha and Carl looked at each other, then smiled. M&M nodded.
"Very nice. Very nice. Well, welcome to the Bahamas. Best vacation you'll ever get. Here, we are too blessed to be stressed. If you're stressed when you're here, then you're not doing it right."
M&M burst into a loud laugh. On the dashboard, one of his three cell phones started to vibrate. He didn't even look at it.
"Ten kids," he said. "There's always something." Then he laughed again. He pointed out the windshield. "See those buildings over there? Chinese are building there. Gonna be the biggest buildings in all of the Bahamas."
"The Chinese, huh?" Carl asked surprised.
"Yes, Chinese are everywhere. They buy it in the name of some big company but that company is owned by the Chinese government. There are buildings like that shooting up everywhere around here. They have bought so much land they own half of the Bahamas now. And they gave the government money, lots of money. They even built that stadium over there as a gift for our government. Don't know what they want from us."
"Maybe they just like to go on vacation too. It is awfully beautiful here," Martha said as they drove over a tall bridge. In the distance, she could see many small islands and more boats than she had ever seen. She had heard about the beaches here, but now that she saw them, she realized they really were whiter than paper. She couldn't wait to feel the sand between her toes.
Martha had dreamt of this vacation for years, ever since Carl promised her they'd go for their thirty-year anniversary. They were going to spend the first four days at a small resort on Paradise Island before they continued their trip island hopping. It was the trip of a lifetime for Martha and she had been looking forward to it for years.
"I keep telling people they must want something," M&M continued on the subject of the Chinese. "But so far, they haven't said what. I guess we'll know soon enough, won't we?"
Paradise Island, Bahamas
The Sunrise Beach Club was just as cozy and small as Martha had hoped it would be. It was located right next door to the monstrous Atlantis, with all its water parks and big restaurants. This place was quite the opposite. Sunrise Beach Club only had the one restaurant where Martha and Carl ate all their meals, getting served by locals, tasting the local food. Just the way they preferred it. There weren't many families there since all the children wanted to stay at the big Atlantis and go on the water slides, so Martha had the pool almost to herself. Carl preferred to sit in the shade and read the news on his iPad (at least that's what he said he did, but she knew he really played Candy Crush). Meanwhile, Martha spent most of the day submerged in the water, the only way she could cope with the strong heat. Being born and raised in Florida and living there all her life, Martha was used to the heat, but lately, with the hot flashes she was suffering from, it was getting harder to cope with it.
"You think we should call Josh?" she asked.
Carl didn't look up from his iPad. "We've only been gone one day, Martha. I don't even think they’ve had time to miss us yet."
Martha sighed and sank deeper into the water. It wasn't even cooling her down at all.
"But maybe they'd like to know that we made it over here all right," she said. "A lot can happen when flying."
"The flight here is less than an hour, Martha. Besides, if the plane had crashed, don't you think he would have heard?"
"I just wanted to tell him about the place and hear how Marley did at her recital."
Carl sighed. "Fine. Why don't you call them, then? No one's stopping you."
Martha looked at her watch. "Irene has her yoga class on Tuesdays at noon. She's barely made it home yet. I'll have to wait till later. Marley will be home around three. I'd like her to be there too so I can talk to her. I think I'll just swim a little longer, then call them."
"As you wish," Carl said, once again immersed in his iPad.
Martha looked at him and wondered if it really was worth spending all this money to get to this tropical paradise when all he did was the same as he would have had they stayed at the house. Martha sighed and thought of Joanna. Tomorrow, it was ten years ago since she had run away from home, pregnant and crying. They never spoke about it, but it was eating both her and Carl up. The child had to be almost ten now. They had missed out on everything. Didn't even know if their grandchild was a boy or a girl.
Does she have any other children? Is she married?
"I thought maybe we could go on one of those boat trips out to one of the small islands tomorrow," Martha said hopefully.
Carl didn't usually want to do much. Taking this trip was a huge step for him. Martha had been nagging him about going somewhere ever since Josh moved away from home. She had always believed she would be able to really fully enjoy life once the kids were grown. She had sacrificed everything for those two. Now it was supposed to be her time to have fun. She wanted to go places, stay in hotels, and eat food prepared by others. But Carl wasn't like that. At least not anymore. He used to be when they were younger. He used to talk about traveling. But all that had changed. Now he thought that Ridge Manor was such a pretty place there was no reason to go anywhere else. He liked the swamps surrounding the city and fishing on Lake Geneva.
"They come with food and everything," she continued when he didn't answer. "They sail you out to these deserted islands and you stay th
ere for the day, eating lunch and stuff. Sounds really nice, don't you think?"
Carl answered with a shrug. "What's wrong with the resort?"