Ch. 19 Truce

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Flying into Kauai was the hardest island yet for Russell. This island was where his aunt and uncle had lived, and where he had grown to love the sand, the trade winds, the ocean waves and the hot sun beating down every day. This was what he had wanted most to share with Erica.

Adding to the difficulty was the quagmire of crap he'd created. Sitting next to him, Beth was busy cruising through a book with a smoking gun and blood splatters all over the cover. It most likely reflected what she wanted to do to him, and the day had only just begun. He cleared his throat to let her know he was going to talk.

"Beth, I know you are upset, I would like to tell you what I have planned for today, in case you would like to change anything," he said.

"Whatever you want is fine. That way I don't get hurt and we can stay friends." Sarcasm dripped from her voice.

"Well, then I hope you enjoy camping."

The book tumbled to the floor of the plane and Beth groaned.

"Camping?" she asked. "Because staying on top of an active volcano was not enough excitement for you? Am I being punished?"

"That's why I wanted to talk to you. I don't know if I can find anything else for tonight, things book up fast in the islands, but it could be a lot of fun." At least, Russell and his brother had always had a lot of fun. Staying up late, pigging out on chips, telling jokes and farting by the light of their flashlights. But it might have been a teenage guy thing.

"I don't camp, Russell. This might have been part of our deal, but maybe you should do it on your own and I'll stay in a hotel."

The quagmire was getting deeper. Essentially, he should screw himself and let her hang out in paradise with some creature comforts. Alone. On the other hand, he knew she had never gone camping; she had told him as much when she was drunk at the Mexican restaurant in Denver. She had also told him there were certain things everyone should do at least once—camping next to the ocean was one of them, but he was smart enough not to mention that.

"Camping isn't punishment. We will rent top-quality equipment, I called for the permits already and the spot is to die for. It's on a cliff overlooking the north shore; the lull of the surf all evening, waking up at dawn to see the light on the water below...."

"There are no hotels or bed-&-breakfasts that overlook the ocean? In all of Kauai?" She shook her head. "What about showers and bathrooms? How am I supposed to brush my teeth and get coffee first thing in the morning? Remember what I said about vacation?"

"I will make your coffee. There are showers and bathrooms not too far away on the beach, although usually when you are camping, you just dig a little hole and..." He could not finish. He had already said too much.

"Right. I am not camping."


Beth held the tent poles in her hands, debating on whether she was going to hand them to Russell or whack him on the head with them.

"Tell me again what you are going to do for me in Denver in exchange for me agreeing to camp?"

"I will handcraft a dart board that you can pin a picture of Brian's face to, plus give you a set of darts to throw. In addition, I will give you the dresser I'm currently working on. Can you pass me one of those," he said, motioning with his chin to the poles.

She weighed her options one last time, and handed him the pole instead of whacking him with it. A dart board with Brian's picture on it would go great over the mantel. And secretly, deep down inside, she was a teeny-tiny bit curious about camping.

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