"So are you ready to try the poi?" Russell asked after a few minutes in a conspiratorial voice.
"Do you think I should have another cocktail first?" she asked back.
"Not if you want to remember the occasion."
"Is this something I'm going to want to remember?"
"Oh, yes. There is only one first time to try poi." With this statement, he dipped one finger in the bowl and scooped out a bit of the purple mash. He placed his finger tip in his mouth and licked it off with satisfaction. "One finger poi. It's a very thick batch. Sometimes it takes two or even three fingers for thinner consistencies. Hawaiians didn't have silverware, and used their fingers."
Beth was definitely hot and bothered: one finger, two fingers or even three and then Russell licking it off. She wanted those fingers to dip into other places. There were native drums starting up in her head. She cleared her throat and shifted in her seat.
"Do I have to use my finger or can I try it with a spoon?"
"If you want an authentic experience, then try it with your finger and no salt or sugar. Lots of people flavor poi to be very sweet or salty, since it isn't something our palettes are acquainted with. But I recommend trying it au naturel this time. That's how I ate it as a teenager." He gave her a pointed look.
Well, if that's what he recommended....She daintily put the end of her pinky finger in the poi. It felt like the slimy pudding it resembled and then she sucked it off slowly. Russell's eyes were locked on her expression so she made every action count. The poi hit her tongue, she moved it around in her mouth and started to gag.
"Oh, that's so nasty!" she yelped. "It tastes like, like, I can't even say what it tastes like!" She grabbed her fruit cocktail to wash away the poi. It tasted mostly like fermented wallpaper paste, she decided, although a few other unpleasant substances came to mind.
Russell suppressed a chuckle. "I'm sorry, there isn't a way to warn you ahead of time. You just have to try the stuff. It was the most important food staple for Hawaiians for centuries, and I think it's rather tasty. You deserve an award for trying it straight up, though. What'll it be? Ice-cream, another cocktail?"
Russell waved the waiter over at the same time Beth's phone rang. Her sister, Ray. She excused herself, moving towards the beach to talk. Who knew what Ray would want to talk about. "Hey there!"
"So did you make it? How did the flight go? Where are your posts, the pictures in Connections?" Ray asked in a rush.
"I'm here, the flight was fine, and the beach is fabulous. We are on Waikiki, so it's kind of crowded, but still great. We are eating at the hotel luau, which could be more romantic, but I don't know how much a private luau would cost, so I'm not complaining," she answered.
"Could be more romantic-so he hasn't made his move yet? You took your hair out of the bun, right!"
"He did not make any moves, I'm afraid his interests in me are work-related. But I can have my fantasies, right?" Beth sighed. Oh, yes, she had her little fantasies which In fact, were coming on more and more frequently, and at the moment they had to do with Russell's fingers.
"I know this will happen. How could it not? So where are the pictures?" Ray continued.
"What do you mean what pictures? I need selfies and snaps of that hunk in front of the sunset for Connections. For a photographer, you sure hate to take pictures," said Ray.
"Photography is not the same thing as selfies for Connections. Photography is art, and as far as Connections goes, I will not be a slave to the social pressure of advertising my every move so that other people feel envious and less worthy." There, she had said it. She was the morally superior older sister.
"That's crazy anti-social talk, Bethany, and I won't stand for it. Post something good now so I can bounce it to my sphere and you-know-who will have to look at it the next time he logs on. It will be good for his bloated ego."
"Fine." Beth caved. She was weak. Her ice-cream and fresh cocktail were waiting for her and she wanted to get back to the table.
"Love you!" Click.
Beth held up her phone. Russell was watching the dancers moving to the stage and the setting sun gave him a golden, warm glow. She snapped a photo, and sighed. No matter what happened, she would have this photograph for as long as she wanted. Back at the table, she explained that her sister had called for news and she asked Russell to take a picture of her with the piña colada to send.
"Connections?" he asked.
"Could I perhaps make a deal with you?"
"Is this an amendment to the original deal or a new deal altogether?"
"A totally new deal, and feel free to accept or not," he said.
"Tell me," she said.
"You don't post any pictures after this to Connections and I will..." his voice trailed off.
"You will..." she prompted, growing very interested.
"Dance the hula for you."
"Hah!" she cried. "Deal! But only if I can take pictures for personal use-not just for work."
"You're on. I'll even take a couple of pictures you when you ask me to."
"What do have against Connections? I thought everyone had their sphere," she said.
"Not me. Connections is for people who want others to be jealous of them, they want to brag about their glorious, successful lives and how cute their kids are and the amazing tricks their dogs can do. I don't have anything to post."
Beth opened her mouth to make a joke, but held her tongue at the expression on his face. He was dead serious. He had nothing to brag about in his life. Was he hiding something from everyone, from her?
A young surfer jogged by with a t-shirt saying 'Eddie would go,' the same as Russell's shirt.
"So who is Eddie and where exactly would he go?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Eddie? Oh, Eddie. He is a legendary Hawaiian surfer and life-guard who died at sea when the sail boat he and some other guys were on sprung a leak. He set off with his surf board to try and find help. They never found him again. They say no one ever died during his watch as life-guard and he would ride waves that others couldn't even paddle out to."
"Wow. How utterly brave and reckless at the same time. They must really admire him around here."
"Yeah, but it's more than admiration. Maybe this is just my take on the legend, but I think he lived his life on his own terms and those terms were to face danger. He had the courage to take his board out no matter what the odds. Eddie would always go. It's an inspirational story. He chose how to live his own life until the very...end." His eyes focused on the sea and he fell silent.
"Are you all right, Russell?"
"I'm not going to lie, I've got a few demons; that's part of why I had to come. There is no problem that you need to worry about."
"Well, if you ever need to talk, my ears are all yours," she said, thinking her ears along with several other body parts, such as her breasts. He could definitely have her breasts any time he wanted: to kiss, hold and caress....She turned her face to the sea in case he read her thoughts through her eyes or notice her flaming cheeks.
"How about a walk on the beach?" Russell asked, his voice so thrilling that Beth almost did not have the strength to stand and join him.
*** Who wouldn't want a first evening in Waikiki like this one? Is it hot enough for Beth? Thanks for reading <3 ***
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Two Tickets to ParadiseRomance
***Wattpad Featured Story and included in the Wattpad Block Party Winter 2017, hosted by @KellyAnneBlount !!!!*** He keeps to himself and doesn't date anyone from the office. She has free tickets to Hawaii and a plan. Sort of. When heart-broken Beth...