Authors: Mimi Barbour
"A kindred spirit at last. I'll admit to feeling the same way about Beauty." He wiggled his eyebrows in the rear-view and she fell a little more in love.
Relaxed now, Leilani cast off the horrible dread of arriving in Honolulu alone. At the last moment, her best friend Shana had backed off from coming along. Not her fault exactly, but procrastination about applying for a passport had the same result.
So Leilani had found herself alone on her very first flight, first time leaving home, in fact first adventure that would take her from the safety of the ordinary. Needs – must as her mom used to say. Forced to ignore the nail-biting, knuckle-clenching panic, she'd let Shana accompany her to the terminal. When her remorseful friend reiterated the frantic list of do's and don'ts, she’d bravely nodded and stepped into the future.
"This is my first time away from home. I thought I'd be terrified, but it isn't nearly as hard as I expected."
"Good! Don't you worry, little one. I'll be around to look after you while you’re in Waikiki. So where is home?" His voice soothed.
Leilani released the stiffness in her shoulders and answered. "I live, um, lived with my mother in a city on Vancouver Island called Victoria. She passed away last week. I…I'm bringing her ashes back to Hawaii. She was born here, left the day she married my father and her wish to return never changed."
"But she never returned?"
"How did you know?"
"Something in your voice. There’s a sadness when you talked about bringing her home."
"You're right. She never did return. Soon after she arrived in Canada, she became pregnant with me. Then when she and my dad finally managed to save enough money for a trip home, she was involved in a hit and run accident with a drunk driver.”
"How very sad."
Not understanding the gushing need to talk about a time she preferred to forget, Leilani added. "She was the drunk driver. Her penalty for her stupidity that day turned into a harsh life-changer. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down and she lived the rest of her life in a wheelchair."
"Poor angel.” The sorrow in the driver’s voice touched her deeply. “Her heart was broken no doubt."
"Her heart and her spirit. I was all she had left after my father decided to leave. I loved her dearly."
"Lucky her. Did she appreciate her fortune in having you as her daughter?"
What a question? Asked by a stranger?
"I don't know." The sigh escaped before she knew it formed.
What she did know was that her globby-filled eyes were clearly visible to the driver who spent a lot of time watching her in his mirror. His soft smile drove its way directly to the grief in her soul.
Healing warmth spread throughout, and she greedily clutched at the feeling. Wiggling her stiff shoulders, she eased tense muscles. Then leaned back against the seat and peered out the open window at the sight of the vehicle-filled, well-lit bridge.
The ocean scent she'd noticed upon her arrival floated through the window and intermingled with the aroma of the overwhelming sweetness from around her neck.
The leis were gorgeous. A surprise she'd never expected to experience on her tight budget, and therefore, they were greatly appreciated. Gathering them gently in her hands, she lifted them upwards. Stroking their velvety-like petals, she sniffed and enjoyed. Giddy, bubbles of happiness broke into her lingering sadness and something deep inside opened wings of joy. Her spirit lifted for the first time in days.
Leilani welcomed back her customary happy glow. No way would she feel sorrowful or confused a moment longer. After all, she had a quest, a mission of love. A promise was a promise and her mother had made sure Leilani would follow her instructions to bring her home.
"Do you have other relatives here on the island from your mother's family?"
"It's funny you should ask. A letter arrived the day Mother died. It came from her sister who I never knew existed. My aunt’s message to my mother sounded desperate. It said that she's gravely ill and needed her help."
"This sister lives here in Oahu?"
"Yes. I often saw the letters from Hawaii, but when I asked my mother about them, she said they were from an old friend. My mother was very secretive about her youth."
“Will you go and see the woman while you’re here?” His soft dark eyes seemed to glow at her from inside the mirror.
Without an ounce of hesitation, she answered. “Why of course!”
Leilani’s interest had been roused. Truth to tell, she couldn’t wait.
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Mimi Barbour lives on the beautiful east coast of Vancouver Island and fills her days with writing and promoting her work.
The rest of her day is spent in her garden, doing minimal housework, and visiting with her husband while he cooks their dinner.
"The favorite part of my job is meeting the characters from each new book. Designing them the way I want and having them act however I think they should. It's thrilling, especially when most of my make-believe folks are so very interesting. They're fun and surprising, and in most cases,
people I would love to interact with in reality."
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