Authors: Stefanie Graham
The intruder looked down at herself in her short shorts and baby tee with her body oiled for maximum effect, and her limbs strategically draped across a beach towel and said, “I’m relaxing and enjoying the sun. What does it look like?” Storm answered smoothly as she shifted position so her long legs and toned thighs were displayed to their best advantage.
Cairo stomped forward. “It looks like your damn well trespassing to me.” She must have bribed half the hotel staff to find his sanctuary. Did his employees think he would welcome the intrusion? They were wrong. Everyone knew this was his private domain. It was where he was happiest.
“Why are you here?” He felt his jaw clenching.
“I told you already, I came to relax.” Storm responded her expression appearing less certain than when the conversation first started.
“No, I mean why are you
on my island? Why are you back in my life? I know what you’re trying to do and it won’t work. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” Somewhere deep inside Cairo knew he was overreacting but he couldn’t stop himself. “I left you and New York for a reason. You already have everything you want. You have a rich husband, a child and enough money in the bank to make most people happy for a lifetime. Why must you have me too? I don’t want you, Jessica. I’ll never want you again. Your so-called love nearly killed me the first time and I will not let you poison me with it again.” He pointed to the surrounding area. “This is all that I have. This island and this summit are mine. I won’t let your presence taint and destroy it.” Cairo said furiously finally giving full rein to his temper.
Jumping up to her feet, Storm confronted him. “Why so much venom, Cairo? We were young. Barely more than teenagers!” she yelled. “What did we know about love? What did I know about fighting for what I wanted? I came to make peace. Is that too much to ask? Don’t you have any more love left in you?” She challenged her hands planted firmly on her hips.
“Love? No, I don’t have any more love left in me. Not for you.” His words were cold. “The only things I love you have come to destroy and I won’t let you succeed. This is my place, my sanctuary.” He flung his hands out to encompass the landscape around them. “They must have told you at the hotel that it’s special to me but you had to come anyway. You had to ruin it for me.”
“Cairo, I’m sorry,” she said gathering her things. “I didn’t know it meant so much to you. They told me that you came up here because it was beautiful. I simply wanted to see why.”
Cairo thought he heard sincerity in her voice but he was too raw to care. Storm had tainted his
Eden; he had to deal with that.
“Cairo, will you accept my apology?” She asked coming up to him.
Cairo looked at her and turned away. “Enjoy the summit, Jessica.”
“Wait!” Storm said holding on to his arm. “Don’t go,” she said gathering the last of her things. “I’ll leave. It’s your summit, I won’t intrude again.”
The dark chocolate of Cairo’s eyes glowed.
“Everything you touch, you destroy. The summit is just another one of those things. Don’t bother leaving, it’s all yours.” He headed back down the hill.
Like a flash fire, Storm’s temper flared. “Why do you hate me so much? What the hell did I do to you?” She yelled
Cairo turned on her with vengeance.
“You have the nerve to ask me that? I hate you for being a liar and a cheat. I hate you for being a lying . . . ” Cairo stopped abruptly.
. . .
snake” Storm finished for him. “That’s what you called me six years ago. It’s been over
six years since that night, how long do you plan on punishing me? Have you never asked yourself in all this time why I changed my mind after marrying you? Didn’t you ever wonder what could have been behind my change of heart?”
“No, I’ve never wondered. Why would I?” Cairo yelled all pretense of calm now gone. “I saw your face in that living room. I looked into your eyes. I pleaded with you to tell me the truth and you did. You never loved me and I will never forgive you for making me believe even for a second that you did.”
Storm’s eyes filled with tears. “My God,” she said in awful realization. “You really do hate me.”
“Yes!” He admitted
turning his back on her. “I hate you far more than you will ever know.”
When he turned back around Storm was running down the treacherously steep path.
“Get your things, we’re leaving this instant!” Storm yelled at her son as she burst into the room, startling him and the hotel nanny. With the barest flick of her head, she sent the woman fleeing the room before the tears came in earnest. Without stopping to catch her breath, she took her clothes from the drawers in handfuls. With little regard to order, she filled suitcase after suitcase with her clothing. Cairo hated her and Storm was inconsolable. Consumed with her own misery she didn’t see the look of devastation that crossed her son’s face.
When she finally turned to look at him, she forgot her own problems. She dropped to her knees and held him close.
“Oh, Shane, baby. I am so sorry.” She apologized, her heart breaking.
Visibly close to tears, Shane hugged her, and in a familiar ritual, they consoled each other.
“It’s okay, mommy,” he soothed her. “I know Cairo is being stubborn, but you can’t give up.” He said forcefully. “I won’t let you.”
Storm wiped away the proof of her sorrow. “I can’t abide tears. Crying has never solved anything.”
She hung her head for a while and then slowly lifted it again with the greatest effort. She had to be strong, if not for herself, then for Shane. Staring at her son’s dejected face, the magnitude of what she had lost swept over her.
“Shane, darling, how could I have done this to you? In my determination to get Cairo I have lost sight of what is most important in my life: you. Let’s leave this place and go back home.”
usually a happy child with a bright smile and infectious laugh. But when he looked at her now there was misery beyond his years
mirrored in the emerald of his eyes.
“I’m not leaving. You promised me Cairo and I want him. I need a daddy. You promised me a daddy!” He wailed.
“I know, darling—” Storm said trying to soothe him. Shane cut her off.
“No! No! You promised. You promised!” Shane yelled, long repressed tears flowing freely.
“Cairo is going to be my daddy. I’m not leaving! You go,
leave, I don’t care. I’m not going!” Still crying, Shane turned and ran from the room.
Storm gave chase, but her son was too fast for her. Distraught, he ran wildly with no apparent destination in mind. He was in no condition to be alone. He tore down the stairs, through the hotel lobby and out the front doors before she lost sight of him. Her gaze searched the horizon frantically for any sign of her son. He was nowhere to be found.
“Shane! Shane!” She yelled searching the grounds anxiously for her son. When he didn’t answer terror set in. She had never seen him so upset. In the state of mind he was in, he could get himself hurt, or worse!
“Shane! Shane!” Storm ran down the hill away from the hotel to the beach calling her son’s name. She frantically scanned the dunes, then the rocky shoreline and finally the surf pounding on the beach. By the time she was finished, her voice was raw and hoarse from yelling. She was in a panic; she didn’t see him anywhere. Too much time had gone by since she had lost sight of him. Storm was almost hysterical. She needed help.
She ran back to the hotel as fast as her feet would carry her. She came bursting through the door and collided with Tyrone. Storm sank into his arms.
“Tyrone, please, you have to help me.” Her voice shook with desperation. “I can’t find my son. He and I had a terrible fight and he ran away from me. Please help me find him!”
“Of course I’ll help you. Where did you last see him?”
“He was on the north shore of the beach when I lost sight of him. Please Tyrone, it’s been almost thirty minutes, we must find him soon!” She pleaded.
“Calm down.” Tyrone soothed. “Wait here, I’ll get Cairo to help.”
Storm grabbed his arm. “No! Don’t get Cairo, there’s no time. We need to leave now.”
“Alright, alright,” Tyrone said sensing her terror. “We’ll leave immediately.”
Together they scoured the beach but there was no sign
of Shane anywhere. Tyrone didn’t want to alarm Storm but he was getting worried himself. Although the island of Jamaica was beautiful, it was also wild; you had to respect it, you had to know how to navigate it.
As teenagers, he and his foreign born cousin had explored the land. Tyrone had taught the city-reared Cairo to love and respect his homeland. They had made games out of finding the secret places to hide. Tyrone new the parish inside and out; as he searched for Shane he drew on his childhood memories of the places he used to hide as a child, but to no avail.
Jamaica was a wonderful place filled with many amiable people but it was also dangerous. Tyrone turned to Storm
as the gravity of the situation dawned on him.
“I think we should call the police.” He suggested quietly.
His words had a physical effect on her. He thought for a moment that she might faint.
you think he’s dead?” Storm said shaking beside him, barely able to get the words out.
For the first time since he’d learned who she was,
Tyrone’s heart went out to her.
“I don’t think he’s dead, Storm. I know that he’s not. I just think
the police will help us find him faster. Come with me back to the hotel and we’ll call them.” Tyrone tried to take hold of Storm’s arm but she pulled away.
“No! I can’t stop searching for my son
for a second. You go, I’ll keep looking.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He said looking out over the darkening landscape.
sat on several acres of beachfront property. If you didn’t know the terrain it was very easy to get lost in the dark. “It’s getting late, I can’t let you wander around alone, please be reasonable.”
Storm swung around to look at
“Be reasonable, be reasonable,” she repeated. “I can’t be reasonable. It’s my fault my son’s out there all alone. I disappointed him; I let him down. I’ll never forgive myself if he’s hurt in any way. He’s all I have in this world, Tyrone. I can’t go anywhere until he’s found!”
Tyrone understood but didn’t back down.
“You’re wasting valuable time arguing with me, Storm. I’m responsible for you. I will not have the police looking for two missing people. You’re coming with me.”
Tyrone was unaccustomed to volatile women. The women he knew did what they were told. He tried again to take hold of her arm but she yanked it out of his grasp, shoved him and then took off running down the beach disappearing quickly into the darkness.
The sound of his voice calling her name melded together with sounds of the night.
Cairo’s bonfire on the beach glowed warmly in the fading light. Wet from his sunset swim, he didn’t expect to see anyone on the remote side of the beach. When he saw Storm running toward him, he assumed that she was following him. With the bitter taste of their earlier argument still fresh in his mouth, he grabbed her when she came close enough. To his complete surprise, she started to struggle out of his grasp. She cursed and swore and fought until his voice finally penetrated the haze of terror that trapped her.
The eyes that finally focused on his were wild with panic.
“Jesus Christ, Jessica. What the hell is wrong with you?” He demanded.
She couldn’t speak, could barely breathe, she just shook violently in his arms. He sat her in front of the fire and placed a cup of water in her hand. Her trembling hands spilled most of it until Cairo placed his hands over hers to steady them.
It was the first time in over six years
he had willingly touched her.
As she drank, Storm looked fretfully around the beach. Her eyes were red rimmed with tears. Her already wild mane was windswept and unkempt. Cairo watched her closely waiting for her to collect herself. He couldn’t think of what had put her in such a state. Their argument earlier had upset her, but nothing like this.
Cairo took the cup out of Storm’s hands. As he waited for her to speak, her lips trembled with suppressed tears. He watched her helplessly. He hadn’t seen her cry in a long time. The last time had been on their wedding night.
The tragic night and the events that followed seemed a lifetime ago, but the emotions that fuelled the events of the past were fresh. Witnessing Storm’s current distress he wasn’t sure what he should do.
Storm didn’t wait for him to do anything; she was on her feet and moving in seconds.
Cairo jumped up to catch her.
“What’s wrong, Jessica? Let me help.”
She turned to him and fell into his open arms. “Shane and I got into a fight and he ran away from me.” She sobbed. “Tyrone and I looked everywhere but we can’t find him. What can I do, Cairo? I love him. He’s the most important thing in my life. I can’t lose him.” She cried in his arms.
Cairo stroked Storm’s hair and crooned encouraging words. He was tender and considerate to her, surprising himself. He was certain that he had forgotten how. Sensing his own vulnerability, he pulled away. From that point, he was all business.
“Tell me where you last saw him and tell me where you have looked so far.”
The swiftness of his attitude change startled her. Once he agreed to help her find Shane, he was intent on his mission. Together they searched the beach, then the rocky area just beside the dunes, and then finally they trudged through the thick shrubs and beach grass bordering the beach and the hotel property. Each time they came up empty-handed. Storm was visibly on the edge of despair when Cairo stopped abruptly and turned to her.
“I think I know where Shane is. It’s the one place we haven’t looked. If I’m right, he’s been there all this time. Come with me.” He said taking her by the hand.