Let's kick off the last episode of Book II :) ...



Scene 1: Saved

A.D. 2015

So technically the honeymoon was over, but that didn't mean the honeymoon phase had to be. Especially since they'd decided to remain on Santorini. It was Lacey's hope that, while she and her husband lingered here in paradise, this post-marriage phase of oblivious bliss could continue forever. Or at least for a little while longer.

The stars seemed to agree, she mused fondly while smiling at the twilit sky, a vast expanse of indigo sprinkled with silver light. The tranquil surface of the rooftop pool by which she sat served as a mirror to the night, each twinkling star reflected twice as bright. She reclined more deeply in her poolside chaise - a chaise for two, furnished with a pair of fluffed pillows and as wide as a king-sized bed - basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean evening and the glow of ambient candlelight. This luxury hotel spared no expenses for romantic amenities such as these, which were open only to guests staying in one of its honeymoon suites; everything was just right.

Until Ryder's phone started to ring, reminding Lacey that there was a world outside this lovely little slice of paradise.

"Oh, it's Eldor," he told her before answering. "Probably calling to finalize plans for tomorrow. I'll be right back, okay?"

She nodded, though woeful as ever to let him slip away.

Ryder, for his part, was grateful for the call, for the reason that it gave to briefly disengage from Lacey's arms and step inside. He had agreed to her suggestion to remain a while longer on the island, but in the time since then, he'd come to realize that for her, this was much more than just an extended vacation: in Lacey's mind, the honeymoon was never meant to end. And it became harder for him to handle that with every passing second.

In the midst of this never-ending honeymoon, Eldor's voice was a welcome distraction. And seeing him tomorrow would be a much needed break from the monotony of too many days spent with Lacey, only Lacey, and more Lacey.

Eldor suggested that they meet up at a certain bar on Santorini, then mentioned that he planned to bring a friend, someone with whom he'd been hopping the islands, if that was all right with the Campions.

"Yeah, sounds great to me," Ryder replied. "I'll run it by Lacey, but I'm sure she'll be totally fine with it, too."

"Cool. And hey, the other thing I thought I'd mention was, uh - remember when you asked whether I'd been in touch with Simon?"

Ryder swallowed, recalling that he had asked about Simon after running into Eldor back in Athens. "Yeah."

"I still haven't yet, but since you brought it up, I've been thinking about it," Eldor stated. "And since all three of us are on Santorini now, I thought it actually might be good to reach out. Catch up with him, see how he's been doing - if he's up for it, you know? Let him know that we're here for him, if he needs anything, or just needs a friend."

Ryder paused for a second.

Eldor went on. "Of course, no pressure; if you'd rather not reconnect with him just yet, then I can do it on my own. If I even decide to. But I figured I should mention it to you, in case you'd been thinking about it, too."

"Yeah, thanks. I'm glad you did," Ryder responded. "It has been on my mind a bit, but I don't know - hey, maybe we can talk about it tomorrow? Not an easy decision to make, for me at least, so might be good to bounce thoughts off each other in person for a minute. And Lacey and your friend can get to know each other while we're at it."

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