“I remember suggesting a bed.” Kirby complained. He pointed to the freshwater pool in front of them. “I think we’re gonna hafta just dive in here. We could wade into 80 degree ocean water and acclimate, but groundwater is a shock whether you get in fast or slow.”
She sighed. “One, two…” Kumai dove in. He followed and swam to join her under the waterfall. “What… a… massage…” she yelled over the cascade’s noise.
Water percussion on her shoulders made her voice rattle. Kirby sat under the falling stream and had to dig in his heels to prevent being pushed away by the pressure. A few minutes passed. He pointed to his left wrist to say time to go.
Kumai nodded and ran her head under the water. Then, allowing her whole body to be massaged, she dragged herself through the cascade. First she let it strike her neck, shoulders, and flattened back as she stood, then her bottom. She pushed away and dove under the pool’s surface. Kirby sighed and let the waterfall push him into the basin.
They were dry by the time they had hiked back to their garments spread out at the top of the falls.
“My clothes are seriously pilau.” Kumai said.
“Mine too, and blood stained. It will feel good to get back to civilization.”
“Although our wilderness trek has had its merits.”
“It will be some of my most treasured memories.” Kirby said, stepping closer to hug her.
She put up a hand to stop him. “I’d love to hug, but we’re both in smelly clothes.”
“True.” Kirby said. “I’m offending myself.”
“The good news is that if we collapse on our way to find the road, they’ll be able to sniff us out.”
Kirby chuckled. They started hiking. The sun had come up and was heating Kumai’s black hair. She stopped and covered her head with the short sleeve shirt. Kirby opened the water, they sipped, and then continued the hike.
Voices alerted them to someone approaching. They both stepped down into a shallow crevasse of quake-cracked lava. They crouched and listened, trying to see from their low position.
“Friend or foe?” Kumai whispered.
“I still don’t see anyone. But I’m pretty sure that one voice is Hugh’s.”
“Your partner?” She stood and looked in the direction of the voices. Eight people with two stretchers were stepping across the folds of pahoehoe lava. A police officer led the group and another followed. Kumai said, “Help has arrived.”
“Any sign of our enemies?” Kirby asked as he scanned their field of view.
“If they’re around, they haven’t opened fire or shown themselves. Where’s my phone?” She asked.
“It’s dead, remember?” he asked as he dug it out of the KTA bag.
“It can still reflect sunlight.” She said, holding it up to bounce the light. White flashed across the entourage. She slowed down her reflecting arc and aimed for the EMT’s heads, making small back and forth movements from her wrist.
Both officers dropped to one knee with pistols drawn and aimed in Kumai and Kirby’s direction.
“What’s SOS?” Kumai hissed.
“Save Our Ship?” Kirby asked.
“No, I mean in Morse Code. Long, short short, long?”
“Oh. Three short, three long, three short.”
Kumai looked at Kirby, her mouth hanging open. “I don’t think so. Say you’re Out There Somewhere, bleeding, barely breathing, and going into shock. To ask for help you have to eek out nine digits? Isn’t the longest code symbol eight elements?”
“Hence the distinctive nature of the distress signal. But they seemed to have figured out what you meant to say.” He nodded toward the approaching rescue workers.
Hugh overheard Kirby’s comment and yelled out to Kumai, “You signaled, ‘shoot me.’ Is that correct?”
Kirby laughed. Kumai didn’t.
“Glad to hear your voice, Hugh.” Kirby yelled.
“Stay low,” Hugh advised, “The officers want to secure the area.”
Kumai sat down on the ledge of the crevasse. Kirby faced her and rubbed her shoulders while she rested her head on his chest.
“I stink, remember?” He asked.
“I stink, not you.”
“Get a room.” Hugh called as he crested a closer ridge.
“We’re trying.” Kirby muttered.
They made it back to the ambulances without further threat. As the medics started checking them over, Hugh complained to Kumai, “I loan him to you in perfectly good condition, and this is how you return him?”
“Hugh,” Kirby said, “I’m not yours to loan.”
Hugh lifted his hands in the air as if giving up. Kumai put her phone in his palm and asked, “Mind charging this for me?” Hugh huffed, muttered something, and walked to the cab of his ambulance.
“Can you hand me my phone?” She asked the EMT who was attending to her. “Where are we headed?”
The woman retrieved Kumai’s phone from the front and handed it to her. “Waimea hospital.”
“Oh. Duh.” Kumai laughed. “Hey, do you know if two men went there for treatment of bee stings?”
“I heard on the scanner that someone came in. The nurse said that both of his epi-pens disappeared before they could administer any antihistamines. He arrived in serious condition and that delay didn’t help. But I can’t say any more than that.”
“Thanks.” Kumai said. She would bet her shell lei that Kane sent the guy to the hospital and then took his prescription. She texted Peter, “Anaphylaxis case at Waimea hospital is possible crucial witness.”
She scanned her texts, mostly “Where are you?” from Sage, Bonnie, and Auntie Helen. She had a voicemail from a number she didn’t recognize. She touched the icon to play the message.
“Ms. Kaimana, your silver, uh… silver…” The man speaking was audibly shuffling papers.
Kumai felt her pulse surge. Silver? Her gift from Taka had probably arrived.
“Easy there.” The EMT watched the heart monitor, “Maybe we should put the phone away.”
Kumai held up her hand and shook her head no. She whispered, “Good news.”
She listened for the man to tell her what the gift was.
“Oh, here it is.” The caller said. “Your silver Range Rover has been thoroughly checked over. Let me see, the mechanic’s notes say, ‘vehicle passed the well woman exam.’ What? Oh, sorry, that was an internal memo, uh, so, your vehicle has the all-clear.” He hung up without saying goodbye.
“Any chance Hugh could take us to the Toyota Dealership in Kona instead of the hospital?” Kumai asked the woman.
“Not a chance.” She answered.
“Mind asking Kirby for me?” Kumai asked. She smiled, “Please?”
The medic harumphed and spoke into a radio.
“This isn’t a taxi, Kumai.” Hugh bellowed.
“Just rest.” The woman handed Kumai a bottle of water to sip. She held out her hand for Kumai’s phone. “It needs more charging.”
Kumai drank. She thought about last night with Kirby and how he had handled the threats. He was somebody she might even be able to rely on. She sighed and pictured them living part time in Waimea, maybe while he was on his duty rotation, and part time in her house in Puako. The idea of holidays with his brother and family seemed cozier and less claustrophobic than before. If she didn’t want to go to Vegas, she could always travel the Hawaiian Islands and play tourist. People were scheduling staycations all the time now that the economy was tight.
And she was staying clean. In fact, she hadn’t even thought about using in the past two days. Kirby wouldn’t be far behind if he stuck with his program.
Then she thought about Kane. He wanted to kill her. And now Kirby was a marked man. Trouble had found her even though she worked hard to stay clean. If only Kirby liked to travel, they could run off together. But no, she was enjoying Hawaii the longer she stayed here. Kane might just be the marked man.
And if things didn’t work out with Kirby, maybe there was something here for her with Taka. Guilt made her come back to reality. Kirby was here with her. Taka would come and go. She sighed.
The EMT handed the cell phone back to her. “Kirby says you had a call.”
“Thank you.” Kumai said and played the message. She had two calls, one from the Four Seasons asking her to come in to work today. She’d deal with that when she was on her way to Kona. Hopefully there would be a taxi at the hospital and enough money in her account to cover the cost of the long ride.
The other message was from Peter. He sounded relieved to get her text. Detectives were questioning the man with the bee stings. He was pointing to the man with cat wounds as the one who murdered her neighbors. And vice versa. They would play them off each other to find out who put them on the job. Peter also said they found a trove of artifacts under the neighbors’ pier. The cat-scratch guy said the couple had been using archaeological pieces to buy themselves out of some deal. Their payouts pointed to an untapped source of income.
Kumai texted Peter back, “Look at Kane A for possible ringleader. He also has multiple bee stings so may be unrecognizable.” She handed her phone back to the woman and thanked her. Then Kumai drifted off to sleep.
When the ambulance stopped, they had pulled in front of the Kona dealership. Kirby opened the back door and helped Kumai step out.
She asked, “Want to ride to my place with me? You can borrow the Rover to go for your truck.”
They kissed and tried not to embarrass anyone.
“See you soon?” Kirby asked.
“Tonight.” Kumai agreed.
Kirby got back into the ambulance. Kumai thanked the EMT. Then she went over to Hugh and said, “I appreciate your help. If I can ever help you, please let me know.”
“You know what I want.” Hugh said. He glanced at the ambulance.
“I’m not in charge of that.” She apologized and walked away to claim her car. Now that she knew it wasn’t a bribe from Skip Summerbourne, she could actually see herself driving and liking the Rover.
Before driving away from the dealer’s lot, she connected her phone to the vehicle’s bluetooth, switched the radio to KAPA, and turned on the seat warmer for her sore muscles with the air conditioning turned to full blast.
When she was back on the Queen’s Highway, she commanded the phone to dial the Four Seasons. The concierge office extension went straight to voicemail. Kumai left a message to call her at their convenience and disconnected. While glad to hear from them about work, she would be even more glad if they could wait until tomorrow. It felt good to be back in business.
She decided to drive the loop around the airport’s open air terminals. Maybe there was a chance that she could pick out one of the men who had attacked her. She only found sunburned backs and red legs in the outgoing lines and pale faces on overdressed people incoming. No limping or anxious thugs appeared to be in the mix. Next she drove down to the cargo hangars to look for the Hummer but didn’t see it parked anywhere. As she pulled into a parking space to turn around, Skip Summerbourne dashed out of the private jet terminal to wave her down. For a moment she debated whether to run him down.
Instead she rolled her window down and said, “Mr. Summerbourne.”
“Ms. Kaimana! I am glad I got to see you before I fly out. I wanted to apologize to you personally for the treatment you received on my yacht. Several of the crew members were new hires, and they passed our security checks.”
“That’s bad news.”
“Indeed it is. I’m researching our procedures so it never happens again. Did you get the fruit basket, flowers, and Shades of Summer tennis outfit I sent to your home?” He asked.
“I have been away with work for a few days.”
“Oh dear. I’ll resend them. I am so very sorry for what happened. If you find it in your heart to do so, please give me another chance to meet you when I return to the island?” He put his palms together at the center of his chest and bowed.
“If only I had a clone!” Kumai said, “Then I’d have more time.” and backup.
Mr. Summerbourne’s eyes lit up at the idea of two Kumai’s, but then registered the rebuff. “Ah, yes. Here is my card in case time opens up for you.”
Kumai took the card and said, “Good luck with your bachi.” She rolled up the window and drove out of the lot.
At the next hangar, a large man with a round face and loud aloha shirt was stepping out of a taxi. He looked at Kumai and something about him seemed familiar. He paid the cab and walked into the private jet terminal. Kumai exited the airport and was half way home on the highway when she realized that the round face was swollen. The eyes were Kane.
She pulled over and texted Peter, but felt sure that Kane was already in the air by now.
Once home, she entered to find Susan resting on the couch with Mana on the floor beside her. Bonnie saw Kumai pull up and had a plate of food waiting for her on the counter, but only after a big hug. “You’re alive!” Bonnie exclaimed.
“And well.” Kumai nodded.
Bonnie removed a tower of tropical fruits from the counter and set it on the floor. Kumai looked out to the lanai to see an arrangement of anthuriums big enough for the entrance to a resort. It obliterated her view of the ocean. “There are more flowers and fruits on their way here.” Kumai laughed.
Susan stood up and held out the counter stool for Kumai. “We were getting worried. But I said you were probably with Kirby, getting to know each other, out having fun…”
“Exactly.” Kumai said.
“See?” Susan said to Bonnie.
“Huh uh. Nothing to tell.” Kumai said and sat down. “What’s new with you two?”
“I was wondering if you would like some work.” Susan said. Bonnie poured Kumai a glass of iced tea while Susan continued, “I’ve decided to travel a bit. I could use a companion.”
“Travel?” Kumai asked.
“Europe, specifically. It could be as long as three months. Interested?”
“I am!” Kumai said. Then she remembered Kirby and her new feelings of connection. “When would you be leaving?”
“Tomorrow.” Susan said. “Does that work for you?”
Kumai would be able to explain the job offer to Kirby tonight. Then she considered saying no now that she had work available at the resort again. She looked up to see Bonnie and Susan waiting for her answer. She said, “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
~ aloha ~
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Mahalo Nui Loa to our readers and followers
from David & Sarah, aka Charlie Tioli