Chapter Eight

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Chapter Eight 

Scorpio: "From today your love life and career will be taking on a new direction, leaving you feeling frustrated at the lack of action but if you are patient you will reap the rewards."

Winter awoke first, as the sunlight beamed in through the floor length windows. She rubbed her eyes and blinked, then stretched languorously. Her muscles were stiff with cold and her ankle had swollen up to the size of a tennis ball and throbbed unbearably. Her movements must have awoken Dan, who rubbed his eyes and stretched as well. "Good morning sleepyhead", she teased, smiling at him. "I hope you managed to get some sleep-I hope I wasn't too heavy". Dan turned towards her, gazing at her lovingly. "Hi lovely, this is a great way to wake up, with you beside me, looking beautiful." He brushed her hair off her face with the back of his hand, sending shivers down Winter's spine. He kissed her slowly yet passionately until she winced and pulled away. " How's your ankle?" Dan asked soliticiously, noticing her pain. "It's pretty painful, but there's nothing I can do about it". Winter said philosophically, "Somehow I'm going to have to walk down those stairs to get out of here." 

"Speaking of which, I thought I'd go down to the foyer and check to see if my mobile gets better reception there, or maybe I can try to get the door unlocked. If I go though, you'll be on your own for a while, will you be ok?" 

"Of course, I'll be fine, but could you help me drag the mattress back outside to the balcony, I'd rather sit out there while I wait." Dan dragged the mattress and doona off the bed and placed it in a position that Winter was happy with. Then he carried Winter outside and placed her carefully on the makeshift bed. Next he took off his shirt and rolled it up so it made a temporary bandage then wrapped it around Winter's sprained ankle. "You really need to keep that foot elevated if possible, and rested. I'll be as quick as I can, with any luck we'll be out of here before lunchtime! I've got a couple of gym sessions scheduled so hopefully we can make it back by then or the captain won't be too pleased with me!" Dan said, as he tucked in the end of the shirt and sat back to admire his bandaging. Winter felt the weight of disappointment on her shoulders, he seemed in a hurry to leave their romantic hideaway, and hadn't mentioned any plans with her or their future together. She had hoped that after their night together they had cemented their relationship, after all, she knew now that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, it was convincing him that would prove difficult! Dan picked up his phone and placed it in the pocket of his jeans. Winter had to remind herself to breath properly as she watched the movements of his naked torso. Then he loped off towards the staircase and was gone. The silence suddenly felt oppressing, until Winter concentrated on the view of sea and sky and the tips of the palm fronds floating in the soft breeze. She tuned into the nature all around her and heard exotic birds calling through the forest, the rustling of palm fronds, and the crashing of the waves against the boulders dotted haphazardly like marbles, along the cliff. She breathed in deeply of the tangy, sea air. Winter re-positioned herself on the doona, so she could lie on her back to gaze up at the sky, trying to keep her ankle elevated. Soft drifts of clouds bobbed past, like cotton sails on miniature sailboats. She tried to think logically of what to write next for her travel article and what questions she would need to ask the crew when she interviewed them, but her thoughts floated and darted around her conscience like butterflies alighting on flowers. One moment she was in the past, reliving her childhood, then she was in the future, dreaming of happy ever afters. As she closed her eyes, she returned to the moment of her miscarriage, in her mind the pain was intense, the world was coloured red and her shoulders were heavy with grief and longing. She had lost so much, her father, her lover and a tiny, unborn child. Would the future hold happiness and love for her? Would she ever fill the hole in her heart? She wished more than ever that she could thumb through her horoscope book to peek at the future, so far she had only cryptic clues to follow but no answers. Winter must have fallen asleep, as she saw her mother's face, creased in pain, and her cat, Molly wearing a baby's bonnet and booties. She saw a wedding and herself in a cream-coloured sheath style dress, with a lacey veil. As she was walking down the ailse towards Dan, he turned to face her and had somehow merged into her father. As she approached, her father was smiling benevolently at her, encouraging her to continue walking alone. He had his arms outstretched, and she could hear his gentle, wise voice speaking to her. "I give you my blessing Winter, I love you and I'm so proud of you and the beautiful woman you have become. I am just sorry I never told you before." Then her father disappeared as Winter heard someone crying out, "Dad! Don't go! I am not ready! I have so many questions I want to ask". Winter awoke with a start, her heart racing, she must have been dreaming, because her surroundings were the same. She was still on the island, stuck in the lighthouse, waiting for Dan. While Winter waited for Dan to return, she alternated between playing games on her mobile phone and sleeping. While her body was inactive, her mind was working over time, analysing every word and movement from the past twenty four hours. Had she done the right thing in revealing her feelings for Dan? She hadn't said the words aloud, but she knew her actions had been clear. Finally, she heard Dan's footsteps on the stairs, he called out to her "I'm back Win, and you'll never believe what I have to tell you!" He hurried out to the balcony and plonked down beside her on the doona. His chest was heaving from the exertions of running up the stairs. "I managed to get phone reception so I rang Carlo, one of my collegues and he spoke to a friend of his who is a helicopter pilot on the island, and they have organised to winch you up and take you back to the ship in the helicopter. Isn't that cool?" Dan smiled giddily, like a child with a lollipop. "What about you? Are you coming in the helicopter too? How many people know we are here? I was hoping it would have been our secret, I don't think it would be a good idea if everyone knew we were here together, it could ruin our careers." 

"Gee, that's romantic of you, not thinking of the fantastic time we've had locked away together and how hard it is going to be in the future to find time like this again..just worried about your tv popularity or what your readers will think!" Dan replied.

Winter glanced at him, trying to determine if he was being sarcastic, then just to set the record straight she said "It's not like that Dan, you would have more to lose than me, I am a freelance writer, I don't have to answer to anyone, but you have your job on the ship to consider, I just didn't want too many people asking too many awkward questions about us if we haven't even figured everything out yet ourselves." 

"What is there to figure out? I thought I laid all my cards on the table last night. If you can't make a commitment after all we've shared then maybe we are better off to just stay as friends." Dan's features were set in hard lines. His jaw was clenched and his eyebrows tilted angrily. He stood up and paced over to the wrought iron railings, leaning over to see the waves crashing below them on the rocks. He ran his fingers through his hair, and breathed out loudly. How could Winter not know how he felt for her after last night? Did she want to continue a relationship with him? In the distance he heard the whirring of the helicopter approaching. Soon they would be whisked out of their temporary idyll and thrown back into the real world, where responsibilities and reputations became more important than how two people felt about each other. He didn't want things to end on a bad note between them, but the helicopter was approaching rapidly, he would have to say something soon, but his anger still boiled beneath the surface, he didn't want to be the one to apologize and now was not the time to tell her how much he still loved her, although he wanted to shout it to the wind. The helicopter arrived, hovering nearby, waiting for Dan to give the signal. The rest of the morning passed in a frantic blur. He helped Winter onto her feet and waited by her side as the rope ladder and harness was dropped down to them. Expertly he fastened her in and made sure everything was safe. Then he signalled the pilot and she was hoisted up into the helicopter. There seemed to be no right moment to apologize for his abrupt comment and no time to kiss her goodbye. Winter had looked at him with sadness in her eyes, and as she rose higher into the sky on the winch, she kissed her fingers to her lips then waved them at him. She looked like an angel, flying in the sky, with her ice-blonde hair streaming across her shoulders. Dan waited until she disappeared inside the helicopter and it took off, then he packed up the doona, inhaling the remains of her scent. He carried the doona and picnic basket down the stairs, missing her lively presence already. The silence filled his heart with heaviness and dread, knowing that he had to face the days without her. He arrived back at his car and placed their belongings in the back seat, and before driving off, he glanced at the lighthouse over his shoulder, trying to imprint the memories in his heart forever. He had a lot to do once he got back to the ship. The most important job was to get Winter back into his life for good..

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