by Shirley Penick
“Oh no, we’re landing in a lava field, is the pilot lost? Are we going to crash?” I whisper to my best friend, Jennifer. She just shrugs. I crane my neck to look around at the rest of the passengers; no one seems upset. Are they paying attention?
The man in the seat behind my friend chuckles, leans forward and says, “It’s okay, we’re not crashing or landing in the volcano. Is this your first time to Kona?”
Whoa, that voice is amazing, deep and rich, with a hint of laughter. I can’t really see him between the seats. “Yes, my first time to both Hawaii and the Big Island.”
“The airport on this side of the island is different than any you’ve probably flown into before. It’ll all be fine. Trust me.”
I don’t know him from a hot rock, but for some reason, I do trust him. The plane touches down in a gentle landing. I still can’t see anything, except black lava rock and the ocean. But the plane is not bouncing over all the bumpy, spiky lava so apparently, there is a runway under us.
When we stop, I grab my rolling bag from the overhead and my tote from under the seat. I extend the rolling bag handle, when that same man taps me on the shoulder. I turn back, his body and face back up the voice. Dark hair, almost black snapping eyes, skin the color of burnt caramel and a smile so big, it’s nearly blinding. I just stare at him stupidly.
“Can you carry both of those, down stairs?”
“What? Stairs? No. What stairs? Why do I need to carry them?”
“This airport has stairs only, from the plane to the tarmac.” He shrugs.
“Yes, I’ll help you with your rolling bag.”
We’re moving forward and I get to the door, oh for goodness sake he’s right, no building, no walkway, just stairs. He takes the bag out of my hand, compresses the handle and follows me down the stairs. I’m so damn glad he’s helping. I would kill myself trying to schlep them both, without crashing down the stairs. As it is, I have a death grip on the hand rail, and I take the stairs very slowly. My best friend is nowhere to be seen. She’s probably already out the gate and kissing her fiancé, we’re here for her wedding.
When I get to the bottom, the man steers me to the side a bit, so I’m not blocking traffic I suppose. He sets down my bag, pulls out the handle and gives it to me.
“Thank you so much, I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
“My pleasure, have a great time on our island.” He smiles and I feel weak in the knees, he’s hot! He starts walking and I hurry to catch up to him.
“Do you live here?”
“My friend is getting married and her fiancé lives here, I’m the maid of honor, Kim.” I’m babbling, but I want a few more minutes with the man.
“Kalani, nice to meet you.”
“Are you Hawaiian?”
“Yes, partially.” He plucks a flower from a tree, glances at my left hand and puts the flower behind my right ear. “Baggage claim is right there. Aloha.” And he’s gone.
* * * *
I leave the pretty lady at baggage claim and jog out to the street, trying not to bust a gut. I jump into Keoni’s ride. “Ho brah.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh man, you should see this one chick on the plane. Man she’s freakin’, sure the pilot’s landing us in the volcano and Pele’s going to eat her right up.”
“First Kona landing.”
“For sure, then she’s got one rollin’ carry on, weighs a ton for her little self. Mighty fine little haole girl, but no can carry that bag and a huge tote down stairs.”
“So you carry for her.” It’s not a question.
I shrug, “She no can, I can. Pau.”
“Get her number?”
“No. Here for a wedding, maid of honor, no time for local boys.”
“Hanalei’s pickin’ up his wahine and her maid of honor right now. Might be same.”
“Wedding’s not for two weeks.”
“Yeah, girls are comin’ in early for checking it out. Got a luau tonight to welcome the girls, remember?”
“Naw, guess I forgot, mainland brain, what time? Supposed to bring some kine ting?”
“Nothin’ special, just same ol’.”
“Well now, that might be worth looking into.”
“Got your mainland talk goin’, brah.”
“Whatever it takes, my friend, she was one pretty lady. Blond hair, blue eyes, pretty mouth, and a body I would love to see in a bikini.”
* * * *
A few hours later, Jenn and I are showered and changed into pretty sundresses, I’ve put the flower back in my hair where Kalani put it. Her fiancé has a little welcoming bar-b-q planned for us with some of his friends, who will be in the wedding party. We’ve got two whole weeks in Hawaii and I’m excited to see the place; if I can drag my friend out of the arms of her fiancé long enough to go sightseeing.
The plan is to check all the wedding stuff. But I am beginning to suspect that was a ruse to get out here early, so she can hop in bed with her fiancé, before the big day. We’re staying in a pretty place near the ocean, so even if I don’t get to sight see, I can still enjoy and maybe even get into the water. We walk outside and again the scent hits me, the air smells like flowers and sunlight. I first noticed it as soon as I got far enough away from the tarmac with the jet fuel fumes.
I think about the man from the plane and wish there was some way to bump into him again. But I can’t think of any way to find him, and I’ve found out that half the men on the island are named Kalani, so that won’t help much. It would take a miracle.
Hanalei brings Jennifer and I over a Mai tai. “Here are some drinks for some lovely ladies.”
I accept mine and take a cooling sip of the frothy liquid while Jennifer nearly crawls inside the guy. I’ve never seen her this crazy about a man. I guess that’s why she’s marrying him.
I’m trying to decide if I should make myself scarce when Hanalei looks behind me and smiles. “Aloha brothers. Come meet the girls.”
I turn and nearly drop my drink, the guy from the plane is walking up with a huge smile.
He takes my hand and kisses it. “We’ve already met Hanalei, on the plane.” He turns to me with a soft look that makes me tingle all over. “Welcome to Hawaii, Kim, I hope you will let me be your tour guide while you’re here.”
He puts a lei around my neck and kisses my cheek. I try to get my mind to work, and my knees to keep holding me up. “I would be delighted.”
“Excellent.” He takes the flower from behind my right ear and puts in behind my left one, puts my hand on his arm, and steers me toward the bar-b-q pit.
I hear Jennifer say, “Well, we might be looking at another wedding soon. What is it with you Kona boys?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am a former techy turned writer. I am writing a small town contemporary romance series based in a fictional town on Lake Chelan in eastern Washington. I have lived in Colorado, Hawaii and currently Washington. I’m a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the local chapters GSRWA (Greater Seattle RWA) and Eastside RWA.
I am a mother of two grown children and the grandmother of two adorable grand-daughters. I started reading at a young age with the Nancy Drew mysteries and have continued to be an avid reader. I primarily read romance in most of the genres.
My favorite past time is playing with my grand-daughters. I have been a carnation grower’s worker, a trap club puller, a pizza hut waitress, a software engineer, an international trainer and a business program manager. And for something really unusual… I once had a raccoon as a pet.
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