“Those storm clouds are headed this way,” Durren said, pointing west across a wind churned surf. “We’re north of the tropics and it’s gonna get bloody-well cold.”
“Bloody-well? Since when did you become British?” Bessera hugged her knees, shreds of her floral blouse waving like tissues at a bon voyage.
“What’s your name again?”
Durren’s shoulders fell. “Sorry, I’m Durren, the guy who saved your life. And you are?”
Bessera squinted one eye at the brash young man who’d dragged her—choking sea water—across the lagoon, their life raft having finally succumbed to the patchwork holes punched by the coral reef. “You’re the man-of-the-hour aren’t you. I mean, you were the man-of-the-hour. The reason Sharon was even on that boat.”
“Ship, my ass. Fuckin’ thing isn’t shipping anymore, is it?”
“You’re Sharon’s friend, Bessie, or…”
“Bessera, asshole. Yeah, Sharon’s… Oh my god, Sharon.”
Durren knew not to approach the bristly woman in her grief, so he knelt quietly in the sand opposite her. Around them, the expanding gloom of the oncoming storm settled like a shroud.
After her shuddering slowed and her sobbing breaths transitioned to hiccups, a trait he had to admit he found endearing, he cleared his throat. “Bessera, I’m no golden child, I’m nobody really, now that we’re trapped here.”
“Trapped? Isn’t this some part of, I don’t know, Australia?”
“That would be the South Pacific. We’re up here in the north.”
“Fine. So where are all your cronies and when are they coming to save us?”
Rising to his bare feet he held out a hand. “Let’s find some shelter and then we can discuss our options.”
Bessera used her ragged blouse to dab her eyes, she brushed her straggly brown hair back from her face and put on the biggest smile she could muster. “Listen, Darren…”
She smiled even wider.
“Ha. Fair enough.” Durren smiled back, his eyes betraying the intrigue that now spread across his face.
“Listen, Durren. You’re going to keep me alive until your friends find us. You hear me?” She glanced at him up and down. Somehow his white shirt and khakis still looked clean and intact. She took his hand and he briskly pulled her to standing. “Easy there, fella.”
“I’ll do my b…”
“No, your best is not good enough.” She retained hold of his hand, gripping it in both of hers. “Something happened to me out there.” She tilted her head to the embroiled ocean. “The only reason I was on that boat, I mean ship, was because Sharon had heard of my accident and she knew I needed head-time.”
“You needn’t ex…”
“Shut up, Durren, sweetie. I’m not finished.” Bessera released his hand which fell awkwardly to his side. She raised both of her own closed fists to her chest. “Something happened out there. I’ve got this clarity now. A piece of the puzzle to a glaring gap in my brain, I’ve found it. I know what I have to do. So, you’re not gonna just do your best, Durren.”
He reached for her hands. His pleading hazel eyes and guileless look compelled her to offer them. “I’ll keep you alive, Bessera. I promise,” he said.
She squeezed his hands. “I know you will.” Her smile returned. “So, where’s this shelter you promised me?”