Disclaimers: Lets face it none of these characters are mine, just the story, well most of it anyway. <g> There are a couple four letter words but all in all pretty tame stuff. I would like to thank my beta reader (she knows who she is) for another fantastic job of making me sound so much better than I really am. Gotta thank the great Oz Phil, Steph and the other munchkins for the amazing amount of work that goes into these Bard Challenges.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
"The boat! The boat!"
"Hurry up, Tattoo! You will miss the arrival of our guest."
"How many times have I told you my name is not Tattoo. Its Henry!"
"Details. Details. We have guests to meet."
Standing of the dock in their colorful shirts and white pants, the older gentleman by the name of ORourk and his ever faithful employee watched as the guests slowly made their way off the boat.
"So, Boss man, what is the story on these sad looking folks?"
"Now, Tattoo, our guests are not sad in the least. They have merely lost their way for the moment."
"Whatever. Now get on with the stories. I have things to do while you laze around making small talk with the girls on the beach."
"Our first guest is a salesman from Kansas City by the name of Jim Peterson. He has lost all confidence in himself to make a sale. He has been on a streak of losing contracts, and has come here thinking maybe a vacation will do him some good."
"Yeah, maybe while he is on this vacation he will realize he needs a new occupation."
"Now Tattoo "
"How many times have I told you, my name is not Tattoo, Herve Villechaize or anything remotely close to that??"
Rolling his eyes, he said, "Ok Boss man, who is the next loser please?"
"Ah my dear Toto, our next guest is Juliana Brady, and she has not had an easy time of late. Seems her partner left her, her dog died and her car was stolen."
"If it had been a truck, she would be living a country song."
"Now Tootoo "
"Henry! And you know Im right. Sheesh!"
"Umm well okay. You may have a point about the country song part." ORourk admitted. "Want to hear a funny joke?"
"You ARE a joke, old man." Henry snorted looking up at his boss. Being a "little person" did have its advantages sometimes, like when smart-assed remarks never reached ORourks ears.
Jim Peterson was the first to make his way up the dock towards the odd couple. He was pleasant looking, average height and weight with sandy brown hair and deeper brown eyes. He flashed a lopsided grin as he approached the two men.
"Ah Mr. Peterson. Welcome to Fantasy Island. I am Mr. ORourk and this is my associate, Taataa."
"Henry!" He glared up at ORourk but turned and smiled at Jim, extending his small hand.
The new guest leaned down and returned Henrys handshake firmly but warmly and then repeated the gesture with the older man. "Its a pleasure to meet you both and to finally be here." His eyes swept over the scenery around him. "This is more beautiful then the brochure could ever convey."
ORourk beamed. "I am so pleased you think so. I hope you enjoy your stay with us."
"Oh I have no doubt that I will Mr. ORourk. This place is just what the doctor ordered."
Henry liked Jim Peterson and wondered why such a charming individual would have such a hard time as a salesman.
"Well Mr. Peterson, I truly hope that whatever has been troubling you and your career will fade away while you visit with us. Your suite is ready for you so please go on up to the main house and our staff will settle you in." ORourk smiled gently.
Jim nodded and began to move away. "Thank you both."
"Nice man." Henry stated firmly. "Wonder why he is having such professional problems."
"I am sure Mr. Peterson will discuss that with us if and when he is ready and not before, Teetee."
Henry ignored his boss and watched their next guest approach.
All five feet four inches of Juliana Brady strode purposefully up the dock. Wearing a perfectly tailored charcoal gray power suit, her blonde hair was cut short, not one strand out of place. She came to a halt in front of her two hosts and emerald eyes swept briefly over Henry then cut back up to meet ORourks pleasant expression.
She might be beautiful, Henry thought, if she would only smile.
"Welcome to Fantasy Island Ms. Brady." Mr. ORourk bowed slightly extending his hand. "I hope your stay here will help ease the distress you have recently experienced."
The severe looking woman ignored the welcoming gesture. "It had better be nice considering the money I shelled out to come here." She huffed. "Now I need to find the bar and get out of this monkey suit." She pushed her way between the two men and headed up the stone steps that led to the main house.
"Let me guess Boss." Henry said. "Corporate lawyer, right?"
The unflappable ORourk nodded easily. "I believe so, Tootaa. I also believe you peeked at her bio."
The little mans eyes followed the stiff retreating back. "Hope the one who swiped her car was the
ex-partner, and Ill wager her dog committee suicide."
Henrys boss chuckled as they followed their guests path to the house. "Now, now Tito, she has had a rough time lately."
"Do I look like a Jackson Five?"
The large main house on Fantasy Island was fashioned after southwestern adobe style structures. Upon walking through the wooden front door, one found oneself standing in a large common room with a two-story high wood beam ceiling. To the right was a bar/play room complete with a fancy pool table. To the left was a sitting room/library with a beautiful field stone fireplace. Rarely used because of the islands tropical weather, the fireplace still created a warm inviting look. Well-placed chairs and tables gave the impression of separate rooms. Native American art, wall hangings and pottery graced each living space. A spiral staircase at the right back corner of the large room rose up to the second story where an open balcony completely encircled the room below. All guest suites were accessed from the balcony.
After walking through the front door, Jim Peterson found his way directly to a barstool. A stunning young woman bounded out of a door situated behind the bar, startling him.
"Hiya cutie! Welcome and what can I get ya?"
Jims jaw flopped open for a few moments. She stood about 5-6 and had a riot of curly blonde hair that bounced around her head making her seem constantly in motion. Tight, white cutoff shorts and a hot pink sleeveless shirt were the outfit of the day. The shirt was tied at the waist exposing a delightful navel and fabric strained to contain her ample chest.
The bartender winked knowingly. "Honey, if you dont blink soon, your eyeballs are gonna dry up and fall out."
The embarrassed young man clamped his mouth shut and had the grace to blush. "Im so sorry. You are just the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. A goddess even."
"Well arent you sweet!" Blue eyes twinkled. "Ive been called a lot of things but goddess is a first." She extended her hand across the bar. "You must be Jim. I am April Diety."
He clasped the warm hand. "Beautiful name too. Yes, Im Jim. How did you know?"
"Well we only have two guests for the week, a Jim and a Juliana. You just dont strike me as a Juliana." She giggled.
"Beauty and brains." Jim Peterson joined in her laugh.
"What can I get you to drink?"
"Any beer will do."
"Coming right up." April moved down the long wooden bar to fill the order just as Ms. Juliana Brady herself plopped down beside the young man.
He grinned at the newcomer. "You must be Juliana, Im Jim." He was about to extend his hand when icy narrowed eyes stopped him cold. "Ah seems we are the only guests here this week so April told me your name." Jim explained inclining his head towards the bartender.
"Well isnt that special Jim is it? Since we are the only two here we wont be getting in each others way now will we?" The smile was humorless. As April returned with Jims beer, Ms. Bradys attention shifted, appraised the other woman with one look and dismissed her, but not before ordering. "Martini, very dry, rocks on the side, two olives." Juliana spat out.
"Sure thing Babe."
Green eyes were lethal. "The name is Ms. Brady. Call me babe one more time and Ill have your job."
"Not in that outfit you wont." April scoffed over her shoulder while reaching for a glass.
Julianas outraged was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. ORourk and Henry.
The tall gentleman spoke easily in his charming, yet strange accent. "Mr. Peterson, Ms. Brady. Your bags have been taken to your suites. Since its just the two of you, you may eat your meals when ever and wherever you choose. Please just inform the chef what and when youd like to eat. I can see youve already met April."
This was met with a dazzling smile from Jim and a grunt from Juliana.
"She will make any kind of drink at any time you wish. Just call her cell phone and make your request. Her number is in your rooms. If you would like some privacy for a couple days, there are small guesthouses on the island and they are there for you to use. There are also many activities to enjoy including natural hot springs, that are most relaxing, on the other side of the island. A driver is at your disposal to take you anywhere youd like to go. If you have any questions please feel free to ask one of the staff, myself or Toetoe "
" for we are always at your service." ORourk finished his speech.
Juliana grabbed the martini April had placed on the bar. "I would like a driver ready to take me over to the hot springs in twenty minutes." She moved towards the stairs at the back of the room.
"Of course." ORourk bowed then turned to his small companion. "Tatee, see that Rusty is waiting for Ms. Juliana please."
"Sure Boss." Henry ambled off.
"Frosty little thing, isnt she?" April grinned trying to be polite.
Jim shivered slightly and Mr. ORourk sighed and walked away.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Twenty minutes later, exactly to the second, Juliana Brady stepped through the front door of the main house into the glaring tropical sun. Coming from a harsh winter back home in New York City, the heat was welcomed. The next thing the blonde noticed was the monstrosity that was parked in the crushed shell driveway. It was the biggest, blackest, shiniest thing on wheels she had ever seen.
"What the hell is that?" She remarked out loud to herself she thought.
"Havent you ever seen a Hummer before?" A disembodied voice startled her.
Then the tallest, most gorgeous, raven haired woman she had ever seen stepped out from behind the tank and fixed amused blue eyes on her. Juliana was rarely, if ever, taken off guard, but the intensity of those amazing eyes momentarily rendered her speechless. Hating that off balance feeling, she quickly regained her wits and regarded her mode of transportation.
"Isnt there some poor family in Kentucky searching for their double wide?" She sniffed sliding on dark sunglasses.
That action was just slow enough for the driver to get a good look at sea green eyes before they slipped from view. She ignored the sarcasm.
"Well I guarantee this has better air conditioning and when theres a downpour, it will get you anywhere you want to go on this island, regardless of road conditions." The tall beauty explained and moved to the passenger side door and opened it with a flourish. "My name is Rusty and Ill be driving you over to the hot springs this afternoon and anywhere youd like to go for the duration of your visit with us Ms. Brady."
Juliana stopped in front of the grinning women and quickly scanned the drivers other impressive features. Long jet black hair was pulled back in a loose tail that stuck out the back of a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, allowing high chiseled cheekbones to be grandly displayed. Her skin was a lovely bronze from the tropical sun, making those even, white teeth stand out all the more. Juliana didnt know whether to like her or hate her, but the cocky smirk was pushing her towards the latter.
"Rusty huh? Unusual name." A blonde brow rose above the glasses.
"My real name is Rachel. I acquired the nickname in college and it stuck. I like it better anyway." Rusty explained and had no idea why she felt the need to.
Juliana slid the sunglasses down her nose and peered over them, running her gaze up the lanky body before her. "You went to college?"
Rusty ignored the jab and looking down at the much shorter woman, smiled sweetly. "Need help up? A stepladder maybe?"
The blonde stabbed the glasses back into place and slung the backpack she had brought with her up into the vehicle. Finding a handhold near the roof of the Hummer she grab on and scrabbled up into the front seat unintentionally giving her smirking chauffeur a nice view. Juliana folded her arms across her chest, lifted her chin, looked straight ahead and commanded, "Lets go now."
"Yes Madame." Rusty grinned with a slight bow and eased the door closed with a quiet click.
Without turning her head, Juliana slid her eyes left and watched the tall woman climb up into the drivers seat with aggravating ease, then slip on her own wrap around sunglasses. The baby blues disappeared from view and the blonde found herself a little disappointed. Now where did that reaction come from? She chastised herself. Well she IS attractive in those khaki shorts showing off long, tan legs and that white tight fitting tank top showing off everything else. She shook herself mentally. Get a grip.
Across from her, Rusty was doing her own appraising of the islands newest guest. Juliana had changed out of the power suit she had covertly seen the blonde wearing upon her arrival. She was now sporting white cargo shorts and a light yellow Izod shirt that golfers were fond of. A little green alligator smiled at Rusty from her passengers left breast.
I would be smiling too if I sat where you are buddy. She chuckled to herself. She looks so much younger without the suit. She would be a stunner if she would thaw out a little. I wonder if she
"Are we going to get going sometime before my stay here is over?" Sharp words broke into her musings.
"Yeeeesssss." Rusty patiently drew out the word. "I just wanted to inform you that its about a forty-five minute drive over to the hot springs, so sit back and relax. You can play some CDs if you like or you can enjoy my sparkling wit and charm." She flashed that stunning smile.
Juliana regarded Rusty silently then leaned forward and gave the CD sticking out of the player a slight nudge. The Indigo Girls began to sing.
The dark haired driver threw back her head with hearty laugh and eased the Hummer into gear.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I have always wanted to use that line in a story along with it was a dark and stormy night). Meanwhile back at the ranch, gunmetal gray clouds rolled in turning the bright morning into a dark and stormy afternoon. (Close enough).
Jim Peterson, freshly showered and changed, returned to the first floor to find April moving quickly to each window closing them up tight against the slashing rain.
"Quite the storm." He remarked, noticing even in the gloom, the bartender seemed to radiate her own sunshine.
"Oh sweetie, this is just a little bitty thing. We have them all the time. You should be here for a typhoon! Now thats a storm." The blonde drawled with a slight southern accent. "Can I get you another beer?"
"Actually Id love some coffee, but only if youll join me."
A head of curls bounced, "Ive got everything closed up and tied down. Ms. Frosty butt is off with Rusty somewhere poor thing. Rusty I mean so yeah that would be nice. How do you like it?"
At first Jim wasnt quite sure what she was asking him. "Oh my coffee, ah black, one sugar."
"Gotcha." April floated behind the bar and through the door into a back room Jim gathered was the kitchen. He watched the rain sheet down the windows and could actually feel the thunder rumbling through the soles of his shoes.
April was back carrying two mugs within a few minutes. "Lets go into the library. Not really chilly enough for a fire, but its cozy anyway with some nice big comfy chairs."
Jim merely nodded and followed the lovely bartender into the library sitting area. Each picked a large comfortable chair and relaxed. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, enjoying their coffee and watching Mother Natures show.
"So Jim." April was the first to break the ice. "Tell me about yourself. I know you are in sales of some sort. Were never told anything about our guest." She explained. "Just names and occupations usually. Mr. ORourk is big on privacy."
Peterson was having a hard time concentrating on what the young woman was saying because he was too distracted by her presence. April always seemed to be smiling and had a devilish twinkle in her eyes. Her voice was pleasant and melodic.
"Oh heh, sorry." He found himself blushing yet again. "Yes Im in sales." Then the expression darkened.
April caught the sudden change. "I didnt mean to pry. You dont have to talk about anything youre not comfortable with. This is your vacation after all."
"No. Its ok. Maybe it would do some good to talk about it." Jim saw Aprils smile of encouragement and continued. "Ive lived in Kansas City selling materials for building and construction for the last ten years. The job is not very exciting but the money is terrific. We sell to very large contractors and besides salary, I get commissions on my sales. I know this business from top to bottom. Ive worked on construction crews and even helped design a building or two. I know how structures should be build and what they should be built with."
April watched Jims demeanor change, his jaw tightened, hands wrung together and shoulders slumped.
"A while back," he continued, "a contractor came in with a very large order for materials. When I started to fill the order, I noticed that many of the items he requested were not right for the job he was doing. Either the stuff he wanted was substandard or of lesser quality than what the owner had asked for. I questioned him about it and he said the stuff was good enough and it was no big deal. He offered me a nice bonus for my help on the matter."
"What did you do?" April asked quietly.
"I turned him down and he went straight to my boss. To my surprise, I was the one to get hell and was told to fill the order or to give it to a sales person who would. Play ball or get out. After that, I passed those types of contracts to other sales people. There seemed to be more of that going on than I realized. I guess once the word gets out youll sell substandard and fudge the accounts, youll get a lot of business from it. Needless to say my commissions have gone down drastically. I took this vacation to think." Jim ran his hands through thick brown hair giving him a rakish look.
"Could substandard or cheaper materials cause people to get hurt?" April inquired.
"I guess theres always that possibility. Its more likely the work done wont hold up as long and customers are definitely not getting what they paid for."
"What are you going to do?"
He regarded the concern in her eyes and smiled sadly. "I think the choice is pretty clear. For me anyway."
April raised her brows in question.
"I cant work for a place like that no matter how much money Im making. I couldnt live with the guilt. I can get another job anywhere. Hell, I would even work as a handyman. I wont get rich, but Id be a hellava lot happier."
"Damn straight! Good for you!" the bartender cheered then seemed to be mulling over a thought she was going to voice, but changed her mind.
Jim Peterson let out the breath he felt he had been holding since arriving on the island and his features relaxed. "Wow, I feel a lot better a lot lighter I guess is the word. Thanks."
"Hey all I did was listen, but glad I could help. I think you had it figured out all along, you just needed to voice it aloud."
"Guess so." He changed lanes. "So what about you Ms. April. Whats your story?" He smiled over the rim of his coffee mug.
April was still for a moment but decided, what the hell, he had been honest with her. "Not much to tell really. Mr. ORourk bought this island a little over six years ago, right after his wife died. Guess he wanted a place to run away from the pain. He decided to create a haven for others running from their own hell. He was, well actually still is, a very wealthy Atlanta businessman. Real estate, oil, stocks inherited a lot too. He used to come into a local restaurant where I tended bar. We became friends "
Jim looked his surprise.
"NO! Not like that!" She giggled.
"Well who would blame him?" Jim grinned.
"A truer gentleman never lived." April continued. "His wife died just about the same time my ex-husband began to drink heavily, gamble a lot and use me as a punching bag."
"Bastard." Jim spat.
The blonde nodded. "Big time. So Mr. ORourk noticed the bruises, told me about his island hideaway and offered me a job. He took me in, kept me safe from my husband until I could get a divorce and the rest, as they say " waving her arms indicating her surroundings, " is history."
"He sounds like a terrific man and friend."
"Well duh, hon. I know I would be dead if it wasnt for him." She confirmed.
A violent clap of thunder rattled the windows and the wind howled through the palms bending them at will.
"Yikes! Glad I am not out in this mess." Jims eyes grew round.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
"Why are you stopping? I thought this humbug could drive through anything?" They were the first words the blonde had spoken in the thirty minutes they had been on the road.
"Its a Hummer." The dark haired driver was losing some of her cheerfulness. "And it CAN drive through most anything provided I can actually SEE where I am going." She raised her hands indicating the windshield. The wipers were flapping as fast as they could go yet hardly anything was visible through the gray curtain of rain.
Both pairs of sunglasses having been long removed, allowed angry green eyes to lock with blue. "So just how long do we have to sit here?"
"The storms last as long as they last. Its not typhoon season so it probably wont be all that long. See that structure over there?" A long finger sliced past Julianas nose and pointed out the passenger window. As if squinting would help her see through the rain, she tried to find where Rusty was pointing.
Without waiting for a confirmed sighting, the driver continued. "Thats one of our guest cottages. I figured we might as well wait this out in comfort."
"Yippee fucking skippy."
"Is that a legal term councilor?" A raven brow arched.
"I intend to wait right here." Juliana grumped and hunkered down in her seat. "Howd you know I was a lawyer anyway?"
"Attitude." Rusty said and before her passenger could protest, hopped out of the vehicle and sprinted towards the cottage.
"Hey! Dont leave me out here alone!" The lawyer yelled only to herself. She was barely able to make out Rustys tall frame slipping through the small structures front entrance. "Damn it."
"Phew!" The drenched driver leaned against the closed door and laughed. "That was wild and very wet." She commented aloud looking down at the puddle she was creating. What a piece of work! I wonder how long shell stay out there alone? Just as that thought passed through her mind, Rusty was startled by a flash of lightening so intense, it actually made a sound.
"Uh oh!" Rusty scrunched up her shoulders and plugged her ears.
The tall woman thought she actually felt the floor move. "Hee hee, it wont be long now!" She snickered anticipating the frantic knocks on the door that would occur any moment. After a minute or so passed and none came, she turned and peered through the three-paned window in the door that just happened to be at her eye level.
"What the ? Oh crud puppies!" Rusty yanked the door open and plowed headlong into the pouring rain towards the small figure curled up on the stone walk way. She skidded up to Juliana and went down on her knees beside the prone woman. "Kinda old to be playing around in the puddles arent we councilor?" She tried to joke but a shaky voice betrayed her fear.
Green eyes flooded with pain and anger met hers. "I got I didnt damn. I was coming inside and slipped on the flagstones." She was gripping her left leg. "I think my ankle is broken." With the rain it would have been impossible to distinguish the tears.
"Lets get you inside." The very concerned Rusty said, slipping her arms under Julianas helping her stand upright.
Its human nature to test an injury and thats exactly what the young lawyer did by putting pressure on her foot. "Owwww shit." She nearly crumbled back to the ground but the taller woman caught her.
"Well that was smart. Hold still a minute will ya?" Rusty leaned over, slipped her hands around Julianas shoulders and under her knees then lifted the blonde into her arms with surprising ease.
"Whoa! Wait what ?" Juliana sputtered but threw her arms around Rustys neck. She found herself mere inches from those very blue eyes. Despite the ankle injury and the chilling rain, her body suddenly felt extremely warm and tingly. She gaped slack jawed at the beautiful profile.
"If you dont close your mouth councilor, youll surely drown." Her rescuer smirked heading for the open door.
The blush that was creeping up Julianas neck was suddenly stamped back down by pain and pride. "Stop calling me that and youll be damn lucky if I dont sue the pants off you and ORourk!"
"Spoken like a true lawyer." Rusty grumped pausing in the doorway. She then made a decision, turned right and headed down a short hallway that led to the bathroom, always mindful not to jar her patients ankle any more than necessary. Once inside the bathroom, she gently eased Juliana down onto the toilet seat. The soaked blonde was scowling but prudently keeping her mouth shut.
"Do not move." The dark woman pointed a finger at her and left. Juliana could hear closet doors opening and closing then Rusty returned with a towel and a white, fluffy terry-cloth robe.
"Take those wet things off and put this on." She commanded. "I have an emergency kit in the Hummer. Change and Ill come back and tend to that ankle." Rusty looked down at the small, wet, shivering figure and softened her tone. "Would you like some help with your clothes?"
"Oh youd just enjoy that wouldnt you?" Juliana snapped but instantly regretted it when she saw the flash of hurt in those incredible eyes.
Rusty turned, grabbed the door handle and paused without looking back, "Ill help you into the living room when you are ready. Just call me."
She was gone.
Juliana stared at the door, then closed her eyes from pain and frustration. Why does she bring out the worst in me? She has been nothing but kind and I bite her head off at every chance and now I just insinuated she was a horn dog lesbian not that that would be a bad thing. What the hell is wrong with me? I dont even know if shes ANY kind of lesbian. Youll never find out now dipwad.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
A short time later, Rusty had changed into a dry robe. She was standing in front of a small blaze in the cottages fireplace, toweling her dark hair. It really wasnt that cold but she felt like warding off the chill of being soaked to the bone. Rusty also figured their clothes might have a better chance of drying hanging near the heat. Small grunting noises and a thump, thump coming down the hall cut through her thoughts. She turned to find her guest clad in the robe she was given, out of breath and clinging to the back of a chair just inside the living room.
A dark menacing look pinned the blonde in place. "I thought I told you Id help when you were ready?"
"I can manage." Refusing to meet the angry glare, Juliana hopped around the chair and gingerly eased herself down. She caught words like stubborn and stupid being mumbled by the dark woman.
Rusty tossed her towel in a heap onto the couch and grabbed the small medical kit she had retrieved from the Hummer. Sitting on a footstool in front of the lawyer she sighed. "I just want to take a look at your ankle, ok?" Without waiting for any response she gently lifted Julianas left leg and placed it across her knees.
The blonde jumped a bit and concerned eyes caught hers. "Im sorry, did I hurt you?"
It wasnt pain, but the warmth of those strong hands on her chilled skin that jolted her yet again. Unable to speak she let the driver think what she may and merely shook her head.
Rusty examined the ankle carefully asking questions as she went. She only received sharp replies for her trouble. "Well I dont think its broken, just a really bad sprain. Some ice and an ace bandage should do it for now."
Julianas body kept betraying her and it angered her to no end. Taking it out on the driver seemed to be the only course of action at the moment. "And what med school did you graduate from doctor?" She smirked.
Blue eyes flicked up briefly and then lowered to concentrate on wrapping the injured ankle. "Johns Hopkins actually."
There was a harsh burst of laughter from the blonde. Stunned silence followed when she realized the admission was not a joke. She regarded the gentle expertise Rusty possessed in the task at hand. "Youre serious."
The dark head remained bent.
"Youre a doctor?"
Slight nod. "A surgeon."
Green eyes were round with surprise. "But ? Why on earth are you here pretending to be a chauffeur instead of making tons of money in some big medical center?"
The blue eyes were icy now. "I am not pretending to BE anything. I like it here and my dad needed the help. Plus if any of the guests are sick or injured " She let the sentence trail off with a shrug.
Now the blonde was really shocked. "Your dad?"
Rusty rose and looked down at her patient. "Ill get you some ice for the ankle and a couple pain killers. Would you like something to drink?"
Juliana had a ton of questions but decided they could wait. "Just some hot tea if that wouldnt be too much trouble." Her tone changed dramatically.
As Rusty moved off toward the small kitchenette, her patient surveyed her surroundings for the first time. The cottage was relatively small but very cozy. The living room consisted of a comfortable looking couch and another large wicker chair like the one she occupied. A bamboo bar acted as a separator between the living room and the kitchen area. Full-length windows with a sliding glass door ran along the back wall. The lawyer noted the rain had let up enough to allow a hazy view of the beach and the ocean beyond, which were only a few hundred yards from the cottages wooden deck.
Juliana watched her silent companion moving gracefully about the kitchen preparing her tea and ice pack. Barefooted, wet hair and in her robe, the tall woman presented a disconcerting sight of familiarity and painful memory.
Rusty padded over with a cup of tea and set it down on the small end table next to the blonde. "Here, take these." She said placing two tablets next to the cup then gently laid an ice pack over the ace bandage covering the swollen ankle. Moving to the chair on the other side of the fireplace, the doctor sat down, stretched out long legs and watched Juliana from under hooded lids.
"Thank you." The blonde mumbled, popped the pills in her mouth and gingerly sipped the hot tea.
The cottage was very quiet except for the sounds of rain against windows and the happy little pops of burning wood.
The silence finally grew uncomfortable to the young lawyer so she decided to dip her toe into the waters of conversation. "Look um, do you think we could start over? Maybe get to know one another a little better?" Emerald eyes questioned hopefully.
"Oh, now that I am a respectable professional instead of just a lowly chauffeur, you deem me worthy of getting to know?" It was said in earnest with out sarcasm.
"I deserved that." Juliana sighed. "Things things have not been great for me lately but that doesnt give me the right to go around like a wounded dog and bite everyone in the ass."
Rusty suppressed a grin at the apt description. "You must have your reasons."
"Still its no excuse and I am sorry. What you do for a living or even what I thought you did has nothing to do with my behavior. Im angry at one person and taking it out on everyone else seemed like a good idea at the time." Juliana snuck a peek at the stoic woman across from her to see if she was listening. Blue eyes locked on her indicated she was, so the blonde forged ahead. "On the registration form under reasons for wanting to come to Fantasy Island I wrote, my partner left me, my car was stolen and my dog died. Well my partner did leave me, but she is the one who took the car and the dog."
The word she was not lost on Rusty. Well that answers that question. She thought, noting with irritation that her heart skipped a couple beats. "Im really sorry Juliana."
The lawyer realized it was the first time the deep rich voice had spoken her given name. She admitted she liked it. Juliana openly gazed at the tall figure slouched across from her. Rusty had swept her wet hair back from her forehead and sat with long arms dangling over the sides of the chair, azure eyes gently reflected firelight. She was, Juliana decided, breathtakingly beautiful.
She cleared her throat, a subject change in order. "So your real name is Rachel ORourk then?"
"Rachel Mary Catherine ORourk to be precise."
Finally, Rusty was the recipient of a full-blown, genuine, high wattage smile from the councilor. The adorable expression crinkled her cute nose and amusement danced in sea green eyes. "I think Rusty suits you much better."
"Agreed." The doctor returned the grin amazed at the transformation the smile had produced in Juliana. She really was very attractive.
"Um you dont have to explain anything to me of course, but Id really like to know why youre here on the island I mean, and not practicing medicine somewhere."
There was a long moment of silence and Juliana thought she would not receive an answer. She finally heard a deep sigh and Rusty began her story. She related how and why her father came to buy the island after her mothers death, Henrys role in her Dads life and all the details in between.
"Henry has been Dads friend for over fifteen years."
Blonde brows rose in surprise.
Rusty chuckled. "I know, Dad never uses his given name. That has been a running gag between them as long as I can remember. Henry was there for my Dad when Mom died and helped pull him through some really dark days. In return Dad brought Henry along when he bought the island and permanently moved here. He is a brilliant business man in his own right, but the world can be a cruel place for someone with Henrys uniqueness."
Juliana felt a sudden pang of guilt remembering her own dismissal of the tiny gentleman without so much as a word of greeting. She knew deep down, that was not because of Henrys shortcomings but her own.
Seemly reading her thoughts Rusty offered, "My Dad tends be the keeper of lost and hurting souls."
Green eyes gazed thoughtfully into blue. "Do you fit into that category too?"
Rusty went very still. Juliana felt she had finally overstepped her bounds but decided to wait it out anyway. Her dark companion leaned forward and stared into the fire.
"I had a very successful medical practice in Boston," she began, voice barely audible. "Life was wonderful right up until the moment Renee, my partner of ten years, was diagnosed with a highly advanced case of pancreatic cancer. There had been no warning signs and by the time they caught it well she was gone within six months. I felt I should have known should have been able to save her. At least thats what I believed for a very long time. Dad finally came and dragged me out of my alcohol induced stupor and brought me here. That was two years ago."
Pain radiated off Rusty. Not yet allowing herself to open up and reach out to this mysterious woman, Juliana quietly said, "Im so terribly sorry. My problems seem pale by comparison."
"Losing a partner is tough no matter how it happens." The doctor smiled sadly.
"True, but you lost the love of your life. Im not sure Sue and I cared about each other even as friends by the time she left. It was more a blow to my pride than my heart." After a beat she added, "I sure do miss that dog and the Lexus though."
The two women regarded each other quietly for a moment then both burst out laughing.
"Oh my god!" Juliana covered her face with both hands, shoulders still shaking with laughter. "That says a lot about me doesnt it? But damn that felt good to admit."
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
The fire slowly burned down casting soft shadows around the room and afternoon slipped into evening. The rain slowed to a drizzle, wet cloths dried and two souls got to know one another. They talked of life, love and loss.
Both women were sitting on the floor among piles of pillows in front of the fireplace. Rusty had helped her patient get settled, propped up against the front of the couch, bandaged ankle slightly elevated. They were sipping wine and munching on snacks the cottages always had in stock.
Rusty stood and placed another log on the fire, then gently adjusted the ice pack on Julianas ankle. "How does it feel?"
"Very sore, but Ill live thanks to your expert care." Then her eyes grew wide. "Oh geez your Dad must be worried sick about you!"
The lanky doctor eased down beside her again. "Oh. No, sorry. I forgot to tell you that I called in on the two-way radio I have in the Hummer when I got the med kit earlier. He knows we are safe and sound."
"Good. Im glad." The blonde nodded and sighed. "You know, Im really not a cold hearted, materialistic bitch. I realize I can give that impression. A successful career and all the money in the world cant take the place of the peace of mind you have found for your self here. I envy that as a matter of fact."
Rusty smiled at the admission. "I knew there was much more to you than that iron clad exterior, and there must have been a reason why you acted the way you did."
"Thank you for seeing beyond all that. Thank you for everything," Juliana turned her head to find she was just inches away from those arresting features, causing her heart to do a little tap dance. She slowly raised a trembling hand, running her fingers over soft skin and full lips that were quirked in a crooked grin. "You are so incredibly beautiful."
The silky touch sent a shock wave through Rusty. A feeling she long ago gave up hope of ever again experiencing, flooded her senses. Her eyes tracked down to inviting lips curved in a slight smile. She knew her heart was making a decision her brain didnt have a chance to think about. Leaning in slowly, Rusty captured those waiting lips with hers. The wash of emotion was so intense, that she was glad to be already sitting down because her knees would have surely buckled.
After a few minutes of glorious exploration Juliana whispered against Rustys lips, "Now I know why this place is called Fantasy Island." A glint of mischief danced in emerald eyes. "So Doc, when my ankle can handle it, do you think you might be able to give me a very personally guided tour of the hot springs?"
"That, Ms. Brady," Rusty purred nuzzling a warm neck, "would be my pleasure."
Another wave of sensuality washed over them and towed them under.
THREE MONTHS LATER
Mr. ORourk and Henry were relaxing on the beach in comfortable lounge chairs. Frosty drinks sat between them on a small table.
"This is the life." Henry sighed with contentment.
"Indeed it is, Tootoo. Indeed it is."
"You know Boss. I think you can drop that silly fake accent seeing that you grew up in Cleveland and all." The tiny man smirked.
"Oh but our guests are so impressed." He chuckled and winked.
Just then April was making her way down the beach toward the men, with a very tan, very happy looking Jim Peterson in tow.
She pulled up in front of them and smiled. "Can I get you two anything else before Jim and I head out for some wind surfing?"
ORourk returned the smile. "No my dear. We are fine. Go have fun." He turned his attention to her companion. "Jim you did a wonderful job on the new gazebo. Its truly a work of art."
"Glad you like it Mr. ORourk. Its really nice to be making things with my hands again." He beamed.
"Come on lover boy lets catch some waves." April pulled him away as they said goodbye.
"Nice couple." Henry nodded after them. "Glad April found someone so good for her and that Jim wanted to stay on with us. He is a fine asset to the island along with that cute little blonde lawyer you hired."
Mr. ORourk looked toward the dock with a wide smile. "We did very well, didnt we? Everything worked out perfectly. I havent seen Rusty this happy in years."
Clang! Clang! Clang!
"Ooohh the newbies are arriving!" Juliana grinned in anticipation sliding her arm around the waist of the tall figure standing beside her on the dock.
Rusty smiled down at the blonde hair bleached white from the tropical sun and planted a kiss there. "Yep you never know what surprises that boat will bring." She wiggled her eyebrows throwing her arm casually around the tan shoulders of her lover.
"It brought me to my future." Green eyes smiled up into blue. "I love you Doc."
"I love you too, councilor." Rusty whispered then turned to greet their first guest. "Welcome to Fantasy Island."
Back on the beach Henry watched the new arrivals make their way toward the two women. "The islands future is in good hands Boss."
"It truly is Henry. It truly is."
Thanks for reading!