Agent Lambert and the Vice President of the United States strolled down to the beach. The huge rosy sun had broken through the clouds and was rapidly descending. Harry Truman rolled up his trouser legs and waded along the shoreline, calf-deep. Now and again he stooped over to pluck an incoming seashell before the tide washed it back out. A Navy vessel anchored in the Atlantic within waving distance, so Chloe and Mr. Truman waved to them. The sailors lowered their binoculars and saluted. The Vice Commander-in-Chief returned the salute and waved again. They waved back.
Chloe reconfigured the fire ring from the first night of his arrival. She gathered silver driftwood sticks and carefully crisscrossed them within the circle, then took a few steps in the rocky sand toward the bungalow.
“Don’t even think about toting that firewood.”
Fine by me. Sometimes it’s nice being a girl.
Mr. Truman strode up to the house. Mike emerged and the two men each carried an armload down. Harry attempted to place a log into the fire ring.
“No… Sir, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Mike cast an evil eye Chloe’s way. “We don’t want to cross the goddess of fire.” He winked at the Vice President.
Mr. Truman tipped his sombrero to Chloe then grinned at Mike. Both men had a big laugh. Chloe turned toward the ocean and smirked. She lit a match. The breeze blew it out. She scurried to the other side of the ring to block the wind and lit another. One twig glowed orange, then sizzled out. After trying twice more, she stormed up to the bungalow, then returned with newspaper. The two men were elbowing each other. She ignored them.
Chloe crumpled and shoved the paper inside the twigs and then succeeded in igniting the bonfire. Satisfied, she scouted around and found a suitable length and width of driftwood to serve as a poker. The pelican pair swooped low overhead on their way back to their love nest above the outhouse.
Mike fetched two white wooden beach chairs from the shed before the sun disappeared. He set them up along with the chair the Vice President had fished in so the three would have a view of the fire and the moonlit ocean. They sat and stared at the red lights on the Navy PT boat, breathed in the fishy air and swatted mosquitoes.
Chloe tossed another log onto the fire. She poked and coaxed and daydreamed into the hot orange sparking flames. She loved the heat on her face. It suddenly dawned on her that she was being selfish hogging the fire. So she lit the end of her poker and handed it to the Vice President.
Harry held it high in front of him, twisting it slowly, watching the wood burn.
Chloe found two more sticks. She handed one to Mike and then sat down in the chair in between him and the protected one. She leaned in and stuck the tip of hers into the flames. Mike did as well. He crossed hers as if they were two swords in a duel. Slowly, Mike rubbed his stick up and down on top of hers. She looked at him and he winked. Chloe raised her poker out of the fire, forcing his up. When they separated, both had a good flame burning.
Harry said, “Well, folks, I think I’ll go on up to the shack and get some shut-eye.”
“Goodnight, sir.” Chloe said.
Mike dropped his stick into the fire. He escorted the protected one to the house and lit an oil lamp for him.
“Anything else, sir?”
“Not a thing, son. Good night.”
“Good night, sir.”
Mike quietly shut the orange door. He descended the three old steps, enchanted by Chloe’s silhouette in the firelight. She placed a long log on the fire and coaxed its combustion. Her hair was blowing and he could see the outline of her legs through the thin cotton fabric as her dress fluttered in the ocean breeze. His breathing deepened. He took long, slow strides.
Mike stopped behind her, placing his hands over the one that Chloe held her stick in. She trembled and turned to face him. They exchanged predatory looks as he tossed the stick into the flames.
In a soft voice, he said, “Time to douse the inferno.”
He leaned down. She stretched upward. Their lips barely touched. He teased with gentle little whispering kisses. She put her hand behind his neck and pulled him closer.
Chloe felt the rough prickle of his new beard, not yet fully grown in. But it was a pleasurable little pain as he opened his mouth fuller. His tongue flickered around hers on top, underneath and on the sides. This is so right. So right. One man was made for me and you, Michael Allen Taurus, are the one.
Waves lapped around their legs. The tide buried their feet. They staggered in the wet sand. Chloe heard a sizzling noise as Mike closed his mouth for one last, soft kiss. She opened her eyes and saw that the tide had extinguished the fire.
Mike and Chloe stood only in the moonlight. They watched the surveillance boat resume its patrol around Make Believe Island. He held her hand.
Chloe was flooded with new feelings. Was it just her hormones out of whack or was Mike really the one? Chloe tried blocking out the ugly images of the past, ghosts invading their moment in time. She welcomed his warmth. The salty spray of the ocean melded with the lingering smolder of the fire. She tried to inhale the moment.
He turned to her and brushed a wave of hair from her cheek. “Well, let’s call it a night. Would you like to go into town again for a bath and supplies tomorrow?”
Chloe held his hand. “Okay. Anything in particular you’d like to eat?”
“I think you could make driftwood a gourmet treat. Whatever you choose is fine.” Chloe smiled as they strolled toward the bungalow, hand in hand. He likes my cooking!
“Well, we could use some soap and shampoo. And maybe another couple of towels and washcloths.”
“Make a list for me.”
He opened the front door for her. “Can you find your way…or do you need me to walk you to your room?”
She squinted around the living room. The window let in enough moonlight to maneuver. “I’ll be fine, thanks.” Chloe instantly regretted saying that.
“Goodnight then.” He opened the front door. “Where…where are you off to?”
“I have to make sure the fire is out.”
Mike left. Chloe walked to her bedroom, shut the door and undressed. She lazily decided to brush her teeth in the morning. Actually, she wanted to savor the sensation of his kiss all night.