“He’s here.” Sadie hissed. “He’s here. Right now. In the hotel.”
Jo ignored her for a moment while she looked around to see where the driver had gone. Her overstuffed duffel was still in the back of the hotel’s airport shuttle and, tug as she might, it wasn’t coming out.
Sweat poured down her back, pooling in the dip just above her cotton capris. What had she packed that could possibly weigh so much? She tugged some more before realizing that the strap had snagged itself on a hook in the back of the seat. Jo leaned into the van to free the bag and called back to Sadie.
“Who’s here? What are you talking about? Why are you whispering?”
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” Sadie hissed again, “He’ll hear you!”
“Who? Who is here and going to hear me talk about him?” Jo asked. One final yank and her dark green canvas bag was out. It hit the ground with a loud THWACK, causing a few hotel patrons to gaze their way.
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” Sadie hissed again.
“Okay! What is the big deal?” Jo asked, turning to pay attention to her plump best friend. Sadie’s curly red hair was disheveled and sticking out in every direction, same as always, though maybe a bit more frizzy than usual. Jo pushed back her own sticky hair and wiped some of the sweat from her forehead. It was hot. Much hotter and more humid than she had anticipated. A dip in the hotel pool would feel like heaven.
Jo wondered if Sadie’s hair looked like that because she’d already been swimming. Her friend was looking uncharacteristically frazzled. Her usually relaxed and happy face was creased with concern making the freckles on her forehead mass together in an alarming way.
“What’s going on?” Jo asked again. She searched for an answer in Sadie’s worried eyes and reached for her shaking hand.
“He’s here.” Sadie said again, as though that explained everything.
“Who? Jordan? No, he’s not, he doesn’t get here until Thursday.” Jo watched as the porter, who had finally materialized, took her bag to the front desk. She had no idea who Sadie was going on about, but she didn’t want to lose sight of her bag. Her bathing suit was in there and right now all she could think about was hitting the pool.
“No. Not Jordan. Andy. Andy is here. Right here. In the hotel.”
Jo’s heart stuttered. She reached for Sadie’s arm to steady herself as her chest constricted, and she struggled to take a breath. She gasped, her hand flapping at her throat, wedding ring clinking against the pendant nestled in the hollow. Jo stared at Sadie. There was nothing but concern written all over her friend’s face. Concern that was increasing by the second.
Jo forced herself to calm down by focusing on the sound of the surf and ignoring the mounting hysteria of her thoughts. Finally her throat unclenched, letting in a thin stream of air and letting out a strangled whisper.
“What do you mean, he’s here? How is that even possible? This is a pretty remote island, even for Hawaii. What is he doing here?”
“I don’t know.” Sadie shrugged. “I spotted him at breakfast this morning. At first I thought I was mistaken, but then I saw him again in front of the elevator bank. There’s no mistaking that hair. And that voice. It’s definitely him.”
Jo listened to Sadie and concentrated hard on breathing. She was not going to pass out here in the hotel lobby. She just wasn’t going to.
“His voice? I thought you barely saw him? How did you manage to hear his voice?” Jo could hear herself getting shrill, but couldn’t stop the hysteria from breaking through. Shrill seemed inevitable, but it was better than fainting and making even more of a scene.
His voice. There was a time Jo would have done anything to hear his voice again. Now the mere thought was sending cold sweat cascading down her back. And yet, it was all she could hear – his voice in her head. And, oh, now his voice behind her!
“No Emily! Freeze! You cannot run into the parking lot like that. Come hold Daddy’s hand right now!” The once familiar rich timbre shook Jo to the pit of her stomach, but the words caused both her eyebrows and Sadie’s to shoot straight up.
“Daddy?” They both mouthed at each other? “Daddy?”
“Emily?” Jo thought to herself. “He named his daughter Emily?”
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