sands—the sun hot, a cool sea-breeze rustling the palms. The waves, the soughing of
the wind, the distant calls of seabirds—all seemed a conspiracy to lull her half asleep.
Adrian leaned close, his deeply-tanned left pectoralis major gently brushing her
He spoke in a husky whisper: "Come away with me, Elise—now. Don't return to
your five-star hotel—we'll simply swim out and sail away."
His yacht swung at anchor, masts dipping to the eternal rhythm of the trade winds.
"A mere two days we've spent with each other," he said, "but two days with you is
like eternity with any other woman. Come with me! I want you to see the black volcanic
sands of Maui, the crystalline beaches of Bora-bora, the Great Barrier Reef—track
lemurs and aye-ayes on Madagascar, view Cape Horn by moonlight, watch the giant
sea-turtles come ashore at… I dunno—the Galapagos, or wherever."
"The child," she protested.
"Child! What child? I refuse to believe your slim youthful figure has ever borne a
child. Besides," he laughed softly, "a child aboard a romantic cruise for two? How
"But the child, Adrian! She's calling me!"
"Don't obsess, Elise. There's no child, no child, no child…"
She jerked erect, panicking a second time until she remembered—letting her eyes
re-close, wondering why she'd again wakened.
"Momma! Are you awake, Momma? Momma!"
Now she knew.
"Uhhh-hh… Uh, I am now, I guess. Can't you stay in bed awhile, Honey?"
"I'm hungry, Momma."
"No you're not, Frankie—you aren't hungry in the morning."
"I am today, Momma—real hungry… Momma?"
"Wait a second," she muttered. "Gimme couple minutes to wake up. Get dressed or
She allowed herself the luxury of one heartfelt groan before sliding her legs off the
bed. Blast! Why couldn't she sleep late on the one day possible? Frankie never wanted
to get up on weekdays—almost always balked.
She pulled on the first clothes at hand and lurched downstairs to prepare a
facsimile of breakfast.
The milk carton was almost empty, forcing a choice between cereal or hot chocolat e
for the girl. After consideration she decided to water it to stretch. Thin milk wouldn't
hurt anything—nutrition would remain, though the flakes would be a bit mushier, the
instant chocolate thinner. Frankie wouldn't notice or care.
Absolutely got to shop today.
One more blasted chore! She needed to review bills and figure how to stretch her
measly pay—and the car was running on fumes.