It had been a ridiculously long journey; Chloe reclined on the deck of the ferry, her back resting against the cool metal wall that housed the restaurant, her long bare legs splayed out across the walkway. Her chosen seat on the deck of the passenger ferry, was both bathed in glorious sunshine, and also gave a beautiful view of the clear seas of Puget Sound. The boat was so busy that none of the seats on the outer deck were vacant, and it was too warm to sit inside...and then there was the fact that she didn't travel well indoors. The fresh air seemed to beat her sea sick tendencies.
An elderly couple emerged from the lounge door to her right, and she had to retract her legs to allow them to pass. She smiled as they thanked her, then stretched back out again. She was glad that she'd worn shorts; it had seemed hazy when she'd woke this am. But as she was on her holidays in July, there was almost an obligation to wear summer clothing.
Resting her head back she closed her eyes that were already hidden behind her Jackie Onassis style shades, she sighed. Who'd have thought six months ago that twenty six year old Chloe Bridges would give up her job, her home, and go on an extended vacation like this? Not her, that was for sure, or her friends, and definitely David her boyfriend. She sighed again, ex boyfriend. It was amazing what the twisted hand of fate could deal you, and as she relaxed in the sun, Chloe wasn't disappointed, not now, here in this beautiful location.
Not that it hadn't been a mammoth trip. She'd left her home in Bristol what seemed like days ago. After a two hour journey to Heathrow and an eight hour flight to Newark, her eight hour transfer to Sea-Tac was delayed due to bad weather, the intention had been to head to the ferry straight from the airport, but with the time she'd travelled, plus the time difference, she'd checked into an airport hotel instead. After passing out for six hours on an extremely comfortable bed, she’d woken confused and jetlagged. It had taken all her energy to get showered and dressed, then head for firstly Seattle, and then pier 69 and the ferry.
But this was an adventure, and she was determined not to let fatigue ruin a minute for her. Pulling her camera from her bag, she started to snap some photos of her surroundings. The beautiful cloudless blue skies, and azure seas were only disturbed by lush green coast, and the odd spray by a pod of Orcas who seemed to be following the boat.
Her older brother Phil was waiting for her in Victoria, with his wife and two boys. The existence of Phil had been a real shock. Until the age of thirteen, there had only been her and her twin brother Owen. Inseparable, greatest enemies, yet best friends, they'd both been stunned when a significantly older brother, appeared out of the woodwork when they hit their teens. It seemed their father had left a part of him behind in Canada when he'd been posted there with the army before he'd met her mother. Julia, her mother, had taken news of the extra child, the Canadian legacy in her stride, but then her mother was rarely flustered. And then Owen had died and the World had ended for the whole family. Chloe was only now starting to imagine living again. Without her opposite half.
Phil was so different to Owen, where her twin had lived for the moment, fun, crazy and infectious, Phil was safe, staid and a respected government worker. She had little in common with Phil, but he'd tempted her over to the West Coast with stories of good weather and whale watching trips. Chloe laughed, the way that the pod in front of her were performing for their audience, she'd not need another trip. From peaking out of the sea, almost observing the boat, to flicking their tails in a flirtatious manner, their shiny black and white bodies caught the light, and she was mesmerised.
They eventually rounded a headland and seemed to be doubling back on themselves an intricate wind between the headlands, but it was then that Chloe got her first glimpse of Victoria. A beautiful harbour flanked with several apartment blocks, and then the regal Empress Hotel that she'd heard so much about. The engine sounds changed and she knew the boat was about to dock. Gathering her huge rucksack, book and day bag, she joined the queue of people wanting to disembark.
Glancing into the darkened window to the lounge, she saw her reflection, her wayward long blond hair was wrapped up into a scruffy knot, the strappy top she wore over her denim shorts was bottle green. Smiling she wondered what Phil and Didi would make of her, stamping her heavy hiking boots to shake off some of the dust of the trip she shrugged to herself, she knew she looked different, maybe even eccentric, but then she'd always been that way. And since Owen...she gulped, the emotion still raw, the pain still real. No, since that day Chloe did what she wanted. It was her new mantra.