He held out his hand and helped her from the boat. Her hand nearly
disappeared into his, and once more she was surprised at his gentleness.
She turned and looked back to shore. "It seems so much farther away when
you're over here." "I know," he said softly. He rested a tentative hand against
her shoulder and guided her up the path. "It's not nearly as windy as I
thought," she said. "Come out here during a nor'easter," he said. "The
breeze kicks up quite a bit then. " She looked up at him and laughed, taken
by surprise at his show of humor.
Her laugh had an immediate effect on him. A warmth spread through
him that he had never felt before. She was enjoying his company. He hadn't
shared a laugh with someone in years. He had forgotten how much he
They stepped into the house and a look of surprise crossed her face.
"This is beautiful," she said. And it was. Barely a thing had been changed
since his parents had died...but somehow it all looked as if he had just
moved in. "Why would you want to change any of it?" she asked. "I don't
know if I want to change it as much as freshen it up," he told her.
She nodded in agreement. "Could I see the rest of the house?" He
took her on a quick tour and she noticed the same feel in the other rooms.
A feeling of warmth and home. That is until they got to his room. It was
dominated by the huge bed placed against the center of the longest wall. It
was covered by a white bedspread, and a hand made quilt was folded
neatly at the foot. If she had to guess, his mother had probably made it for
him. The room was spartan to say the least. The one nod to anything of a
personal nature, aside from the quilt was a small framed photograph of his
parents. More than likely taken on their wedding day.
As she let her eyes travel around the room she noticed something.
Her house was the first thing you saw when you looked out his window. She
imagined him lying in bed, gazing across at her home and a quiver went
through her. "You cold?" he asked. "No, I'm fine, really." They turned to walk
back downstairs but she was already making plans to change that room for
"So what do you think?" he asked her. "Oh it has possibilities," she
said with a smile. She saw a change in his eyes and this time she was sure
he was smiling. "Could I see the lighthouse," she asked timidly. "Sure. Come
on," he said, taking her hand without thinking. He led her up the winding
stairs and she nearly gasped when they reached the top. She walked
around, peering through each pane of glass. "What a beautiful view," she
breathed. "It is, isn't it?" he murmured. She turned ad found his eyes
riveted to her. Blushing furiously, she lowered her eyes.
He couldn't believe he had said it. But once the words were out he
had no regrets. She made him believe that he could be like other people.
She made him think that there could be more to his life than what he had
now. As they made their way back down the stairs he had a vision of the
two of them actually being friends. In the past this would have seemed
impossible to him...but after today?
"You must be awfully busy," she said. "And I know I've taken up way
too much of your time." "Not at all," he said. "I've enjoyed our visit." "How
about if I get some ideas together?" she offered. "Nothing drastic..just some
ways to brighten things up." "Sounds terrific," he said. "If there's a time
you're not busy, you could come over to my place and we could talk it
The idea of actually knowing he was going to se her again filled him
with a feeling of happiness he hadn't ever felt before. "Saturday morning?"
he ventured quickly, almost afraid she would change her mind. "Saturday it
is," she said. He brought her back to the mainland and helped her from the
boat. She waved to him as he made her way back up the path to her car.
And for the first time he could remember, Kane actually found himself
looking forward to something.
What neither of them knew was that Steve had been watching the
lighthouse since the two of them left his store together. He glanced at his
watch every few minutes, furiously wondering what in the world the two of
them were doing over there. When he finally saw his boat returning to dock
at the beach, he let out a sigh. He had been immediately attracted to her
and he had no intention of letting Kane get any closer to her. For some odd
reason, she seemed to like him. "Well, I'll soon change that," he thought.
He walked back around the counter and picked up the phone.
"Debra? It's me. I can't make it tonight. I just got a new shipment in and I
have to inventory it." The woman on the other end of the line sighed in
anger. "Something told me you were going to cancel on me again.” “it’s my
business,” he snapped. “It can’t be helped. I’ll call you tomorrow.” “If I feel
like it,” he added silently as he hung up.
She was just finishing up the dishes when she heard the knock on her
door. Looking up in surprise she went to open it. “I know I’m a little late,
but I thought I’d welcome you to the neighborhood.” There stood Steve, a
bottle of wine in his hand and that lifeless smile pasted on his face.
“Oh...hi,” she stammered. “I know you weren’t expecting me. But I tend to
be impulsive.” In anyone else that might have been endearing. Coming
from him, it sounded ominous. “Come on in,” she said, stepping aside.
He went to place the bottle on her dining room table and she rushed
to move the magazines she had spread out. “Sorry. I’m helping a friend
re-decorate.” “Friend?” he thought. “Is that what he is now?” He looked
around and smiled. “Judging from how this looks, you’ll do a great job.”
She looked down at the bottle of wine and knew she should be getting some
glasses. “Have a seat,” she said, retreating to the kitchen. When she
returned he was comfortably situated in her coziest chair. “Oh great,” she
She handed him a glass and went to the other side of the room to sit
down. "Are you settling in ok?" he asked. She nodded and smiled. "It's like I
never left." "I see you and Luci have hooked up again." She could tell by his
tone that this fact didn't exactly please him. "I guess some friendships are
made to last," she said. Steve leaned back in his chair and studied her. His
gaze made her very uncomfortable. "So, my curiosity has the best of me.
What's it like?" "I'm not sure what you're talking about," she said. "The house
on haunted hill," he joked. She still wasn't sure where he was headed. "You
know..the lighthouse...home of the masked man?"
She suddenly tensed, not at all willing to discuss Kane with this man.
"It was very nice," she said simply. "It must be spooky living over there
alone." he said, sipping at his wine. "Well, it certainly isn't his choice," she
pointed out. Steve shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "How about you?" he
asked, needing desperately to change the subject. "I heard you got married.
"I did," she said quietly. "He died last year." As dense as Steve could be,
even he picked up on the cold tone in her voice. "Was he sick?" "You could
say that." she mumbled.
Seconds later she stood up. "I don't want to be rude..but I have plans
tonight." "Oh...anyone I know?" he said with a wink. "I doubt it," she replied.
He got up reluctantly and headed for the door. "Listen, I'd like to take you
out to dinner some time." "Won't your girlfriend mind?" she asked. He
looked at her speechless. "Luci told me," she said sweetly. "Damn that big
mouth," he thought. "Oh Debra and I are just friends...nothing serious." "I
hope she knows that," Liz said, opening the front door. He stepped into the
frigid night air and turned to her. "Guess I'll see you in town." But she
wasn't looking at him. Her gaze was drawn over his shoulder to the
lighthouse. The light in his bedroom was on and she could barely make out
his shadow moving behind the shades. Steve whipped his head around
angrily. "Goodnight," he said, before walking through her front gate. "Night,"
she murmured never once taking her eyes from the vision across the bay.
"Good night Kane," she whispered. "Sweet dreams."
Saturday couldn't come fast enough for him. It was barely past nine
o'clock when he climbed into his boat and set out for her house. She had
been up since seven anxiously awaiting the vision of him sailing across the
crystal water. When she finally spotted him she was shocked to feel her
heartbeat pick up. Shocked..but enormously pleased. She opened her door
just as he stepped on to her porch. "Hi," she said brightly. "Hi," he said,
taking his hand from behind his back. "What's that?" she asked taking the
fragrant bouquet from him. "Heather," he explained. "It grows wild over
there. It smells nice..and it's pretty. I thought you might like some." "It's
beautiful. Thank you." "You can dry it out. It'll last quite a while."
"Can I get you anything?" she asked. "No thank you," he said,
unconsciously touching his mask. "Ok, she said, moving to the dining room
table. "I've got a ton of ideas for you....nothing radical though." They sat
together and she began to show him her ideas. He barely heard a word she
said. She could have been showing him caves for all he knew. All he could
do was revel in the sound of her voice and delight in the soft scent of her
perfume. "So what do you think?" she asked. He snapped back to reality and
found himself staring into her wide brown eyes. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear
you," he said. "Oh," she said, blushing lightly as she lowered her eyes.
He longed to reach over and lift her chin with his finger, just so he
could look into her eyes again. "I'm sure whatever you choose will be fine,"
he said quickly. "Style isn't my thing." "Well, I'd need to come back to your
place..you know to check colors and take some measurements?" "That's
fine," he said. "Tomorrow?" "That would be fine," she said, smiling up at him.
She got up to pour herself some coffee and his eyes followed her closely.
She could feel the heat from his gaze on her back and it felt completely
different from the cold stare that Steve had given her. She sat down and
went to push one of the magazines out of the way. A pencil she had been
using began to roll from the table and they both reached to stop it. Their
hands collided, their fingers tangling together. Instead of pulling away like
he normally would have, he let his hand linger in hers, enjoying the warm
He looked up at her, almost shocked that she hadn't snatched her
hand away. In fact, he seemed to sense a reluctance on her part to pull
away. She finally did, but not before smiling up into his eyes. An hour later
he stood to leave and she walked out to the porch with him. "I'll come by
about eleven, ok?" "I'll be ready," she said with a smile. He walked through
her front gate and headed down to the docks. She stood there, oblivious to
the cold, watching him walk away. What she didn't see was Steve, watching
from his car, just around the bend, out of sight. "Oh no," he thought. "This
isn't gonna happen."
When Steve saw his boat sliding through the waves the next day, he
couldn't believe it. "He's been over here more in the last week than he has
in the past year," he grumbled. "Did you say something?" Luci asked as she
tried to find the nails her husband had asked for. "No...nothing," he said
turning away from the window. She looked past him and saw what was
annoying him so much. "I wonder where he's headed," she said. "Who
cares," he snapped. "Did you find what you wanted?" "I sure did," she said, a
huge smile spreading across her face.
She was standing on the dock, an array of bags at her feet. "You
shouldn't have waited here," he said. "It's cold." "It's ok. I didn't want you to
have to climb all that way up the path again." "We'll have to work fast," he
told her. "There's a chance of a storm tonight. I'd rather not be out on the
water when it comes through." "No problem," she said. “So what's in the
bags?" he asked. "You'll see soon enough," she laughed. From his vantage
point, Steve watched the two of them head back to the island. "I don't get
this," he said. "What the hell is she thinking?"
What she was thinking was that each time she saw him, they became
more and more comfortable together. He helped her carry the bags inside
and stood back as she opened the first one. "Well, what do you think? she
asked, holding up a length of blue fabric. ""I like it. What's it for?" "Your
room," she said. "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but it could use
some livening up." He laughed softly, a sound that took her completely by
surprise. "I guess you're right." She indicated which bags she needed, and
he carried them up the stairs for her. He stood by the doorway watching
her, content to help when asked, simply enjoying the sight of her at work.
Around one o'clock, he walked over to her and took her hand. "Break time.
You must be starved." "I am a little hungry," she said.
They went down to his kitchen and she was pleasantly surprised to
find a sandwich waiting for her. "Aren't you eating?" she asked. "Maybe
later," he said softly. She took a long moment before she spoke. "Kane, this
is your home. You shouldn't have to wear that mask if you don't want to."
"It's not a problem really," he said quickly. "I hope you aren't worried about
how I'll react?" "No...I'm not." "Kane look at me." He raised his eyes to meet
hers. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe it isn't as bad as you think?
Besides have I given you any reason to think that it would bother me at all?"
"No...of course you haven't." "I'd like to be your friend," she said touching
his hand lightly. "I don't think we have to have that mask between us." The
words of his prayer came back to him and he suddenly needed to let her
see the real him. He reached behind his head and undid the clasps. The
mask slid off and his auburn curls tumbled into his eyes. She reached
forward and brushed his hair back from his face. He reluctantly raised his
eyes and looked into her smiling face. "There, was that so bad?" she asked.
"No, I guess it wasn't." She reached up and gently touched his face. "And
look at that. I'm still here," she joked. "Now why don't you make yourself a
sandwich? I hate to eat alone."
They sat and talked and laughed, completely unaware of the time
passing. Suddenly they were both jolted back to the real world by the low
rumble of thunder. They turned quickly to look out the window and were
shocked to see the sky filled with low black clouds. "Oh damn," he said,
jumping up. "This thing moved in a lot faster than I thought it would." He
headed up the stairs to the lighthouse to switch on the bright beacon. She
followed him and stared out the window. The sea was steel gray and
beginning to churn. "How am I going to get back home?" She asked. "You
aren't....at least not tonight." he said, making notes in his log. Judging by
those clouds? I'd say we were in for an all night siege."
She watched him go about his work, oblivious to everything around
him. She headed back downstairs to wait for him. Some time later he came
back down, satisfied that the light was doing it's job. "I'm sorry about this,"
he said. "I should have been paying closer attention." "It's not your fault. I
was kind of distracted too." He smiled at her choice of words and
something happened to her. The combination of his warm smile and bright
blue eyes almost made her knees weak. She gripped the back of a nearby
chair and tried to meet his gaze. "You weren't planning on an overnight
guest," she said. "No, I wasn't. But I think we can make do," he said, smiling
Steve had been watching the island all afternoon. When the storm
blew up and he still hadn't seen them return he knew his worst fear had
materialized. She was over there...with him....and she wouldn't be back. At
least not tonight. He continued to glare in the direction of the lighthouse as
if it would magically bring her back. His burning anger had subsided into a
cold fury. "You brush me off, but go running whenever the freak calls? We'll
just see about that."
|On to Part 7 - Epilogue|