Enjoy an Excerpt from Confessions of Love – a curated collection of ten lovers stories.
Here’s just one of the Ten short stories from Confessions of Love – a Curated Collection of Lovers Stories.
Some of these stories I wrote back in the 1990s! Others were written in the last year or two but all have a theme of love relationships, they’re humorous, happy, sad and heartbreaking with emotional suspense and drama at their core. I hope you enjoy them and if you can learn more or download a FREE review copy here.
The outboard motor squeals as Lucas twists the throttle, slicing the launch through the waves towards the coral reef. I clutch the brim of my straw hat and lean towards him, raising my voice near his ear.
‘Hey. We’re on holiday. There’s no need to hurry.’ Men push full speed ahead as if there’s a Lotto win at the destination. After getting no response, I tug his t-shirt. ‘Come on,’ I yell.
He reduces the speed, and we motor across the deep turquoise Pacific Ocean. He stays silent, and I hope his annoyance will fade. The engine idles as we chug along, picking our way through the gaps in the reef. It’s hot on this early summer’s morning, but an icy shiver runs through me.
Lucas spends every spare moment free diving to beat his Australian adversary, Mulheron, with a world record of eleven minutes and thirty-five seconds for the longest static breath-hold. It’s mind-blowing and terrifying. I couldn’t let him try it alone, out here in the middle of the ocean, the centre of nowhere.
I glance at the headland, tall palms, dense along the white sandy beach with forest, cloaking the deep green covered volcano as it reaches up into the cloudless sky.
Lucas swings the boat around and we head towards the shoreline, hugging the coast.
‘How much further?’ I ask to break his silence.
‘Another twenty,’ he responds, glancing at me.
‘Must be good fishing out here?’ I bait him, trying to hook him out of his man-cave mind.
‘Yup, I’ve had some great catches with the boys.’ He smiles for the first time.
He’s over himself now. A relief, like a weight lifted from the day, elevates my spirits. We’ve been together almost a year and I understand the rhythm of his life and the obsession with water sports.
He passes me a soda and guzzles down an energy drink, still cold enough from the icepack in the tog bag. Grabbing a towel, he folds it over the other drink bottles inside the bag, as if tucking in a child for an overnight sleep.
His dark eyes lift to mine, and I smile. ‘Tell me about this place.’
‘It’s a secret,’ he explains like an emissary, lifting his chin. Uncertainty flickers across his face. It’s typical of him to attach more drama, exaggerating his day out on the waves.
‘When I was a kid, my father, Eteroma, and my grandfather used to bring me here. It’s sacred and we shouldn’t be going there. But I don’t believe in all that stuff.’
‘What do you mean?’ I frown. ‘You didn’t say it was dangerous.’ I shift in my seat, feeling uneasy. I don’t want to annoy ancient spirits. It’s not worth it. ‘Maybe we should turn back?’
‘Nah. Relax. It’s cool.’ As an afterthought, Lucas adds. ‘This will blow you away. It’s a massive cave with only a brief window at low tide where we can slip through a narrow tunnel into the main chimney, carved from water erosion. We’ll ride the wave, keep your head down so we can float inside. There’s a huge, deep swimming hole open to the sky in the middle of the volcanic fissure. You’ll feel the spirits there,’ he smirks, coating his words with intrigue. ‘The ocean is so clear you can see a hundred miles down. See that dark patch at the edge of the sea against the cliff? That’s the cave entrance.’
‘My mother wouldn’t be happy about this,’ I say, trying to hide my anxiety.
‘Your mother’s been dead for a year,’ he snorts. ‘She won’t complain.’
I hear Mum’s disapproval. ‘It’s not right and you should know better,’ she says. ‘Keira. You’re playing with fire. Don’t just do what this stupid boy says. Use your head, girl.’
Gulls swoop above us, signalling warning shrieks while Lucas is still oblivious, pressing ahead. Their shrill squawks send a shiver throughout my body. I reach into my pocket and squeeze an old brass button, stamped with a coat of arms, and roll it back and forth with my thumb. Lucas’s father, Eteroma, gave it to me the last time I saw him. It was from his late father’s old WW II trench-coat and I can almost hear the dead grandfather’s rasping voice, stringy and tired, backing up Mum.
‘Yeah. Listen to ya mum and keep the button for good luck. It’ll keep ya safe.’
‘Maybe we should turn back,’ I mumble, as Lucas cuts the engine and we rock to the rhythm of the waves towards the entrance of a massive cave, like a cathedral ceiling way above, two nothings in an outboard.
‘Pass me the oars,’ he instructs, and I do his bidding. The rolling boat compounds my fear.
Lucas paddles the boat through the dark gullet of hard rock gouged out by ocean storms throughout centuries of harsh weather.
‘Keep your head down,’ he demands as we both crouch low to fit through the top half of the tunnel, exposed at the turning tide.
I stare into the open yawn of the cavernous chimney ahead. Dappled sunlight dances on the shiny surface of the black water. Minutes later we are bobbing on the buoyant surface of the circular pond, looking up the rocky walls at the open roof, a window to the real world. Ferns encircle the edges of the blowhole like eyelashes glowing from the midday sun as it staggers across the outside world.
The enormous chamber, a vaulted water sanctum, is breath-taking in its expanse. There is no beach inside this ancient flank cone, just the sheer jagged sides of rock stretching upwards like a massive wishing well, with us wobbling on its watery surface in silence, at least forty meters below the ground. It’s like a stone chimney, an ocean basilica with the short mid-tide giving us temporary access.
I gaze over the side into the bottomless water, dark shadows, and sunlight pulse across its silky surface. The clear water is like a great dark basin of ocean deepening into infinity.
I share the pulse with something else manifest in the wet fringes of vines stretching over the edge of the round opening to the sky and down its stony sides. Blades of time slice through my consciousness and I hear a small voice whispering. I glance around at the dark yawn of the cave. ‘Dangerousssss,’ the voice hisses.
‘A shift as the tide turns or a squall of wind and you’ll both smash against these wet stone walls and sink to the bottomless end, dropping to the centre of the earth. No one will find your bones. No recognisable sign you were ever here, buried in these dark, infinite shadows.’
‘Let’s swim,’ Lucas strips off his white t-shirt and dives into the clear water. I watch him circle, like a shark under the sea. His naked legs and torso glow where shafts of sunlight bounce off his body, bubbles rise like weightless silver pennies, and he bursts above the surface.
‘Wow! You got to get in!’
I shake my head. I realise I don’t really know this guy. What am I doing here? It’s too terrifying to step away from the safety of the boat and risk drowning in the watery darkness or be eaten by a Great White.
‘Come on. It’s incredible. So clear, I can see everything,’ his enthusiasm echoes off the rock surfaces.
‘What about the Taniwha’s evil spirit?’ I partly jest, swivelling my head around at the shadowy edges of the rock walls.
He blows through his lips with derision. ‘Get real. Hey, I’m here. I won’t let you go.’ He breaststrokes towards the boat and grips, breathless, to the side. ‘Come on, get in. I’ll hold you.’
The same dark shadows soak into my memory. My mother reeks of criticism. I stare into Lucas’s face. Can I trust him? Trust him with my life?
I inhale and press my lips together. Is it worse once I step into that water? Will something grab me and pull me under for breaking the sacred Tapu curse?
He coaxes me, I gingerly step over the edge of the boat, and slide into the cold water. ‘It’s freezing,’ I gasp while my body adjusts to the temperature.
‘Yeah, of course, it’s from way underground.’
‘Don’t remind me.’ I shiver, close to the edge of panic. I tread water and look up, seeking the light, patches winking between the overhanging trees above.
‘Here,’ Lucas says, calmly reaching out his arms to me. I hesitate, but I need him to anchor my racing heart, pacify my strangled breaths.
I clasp his hands in mine. ‘I don’t like it,’ my voice trembles.
He pulls me towards him, pressing his naked chest against mine. He hugs me and we kiss. All fear momentarily evaporates as I luxuriate in the warmth and love of his closeness. He pulls back. ‘I love you, Kiera.’
‘Let’s get back on the boat.’
Lucas scrambles onto the motorboat after me and struggles into his wetsuit. He is determined to try a free drive and practise his breathing at one hundred meters. I try talking him out of it and in the end, to appease me, he throws a weighted safety rope overboard after securing it to the boat. It curls and slithers like a massive snake down into the depths. He holds the rope and jumps back into the dark, silky water.
He pulls on his goggles and gives a thumbs up. ‘If I tug the rope, you pull me up.’
‘Okay,’ I give him the thumbs up. ‘Be careful.’
He grins and pumps his lungs with air, stretching and raising his oxygen levels. ‘Time me!’ He shouts and is gone.
I watch his bare feet, like two glowing friends working together to propel him down into unknown depths. I remind myself; Lucas had promised not to go deeper than one hundred metres. He wants to beat Mulheron’s world record at two-hundred-and-fifteen metres. But not here and not now.
This is just a practise run. It’s just…
I glance at my cell phone: 12.38 pm. I can’t see him anymore, but the rope is pulled from the deck. Thankfully, it’s in his grip. I take three photos, looking upwards at the stone circle in the sky.
I look at the time again. 12.40 pm.
My eyes jump from the anchor bound rope lying in the hull and the distorted rope, refracted below the water surface, taut, and fading out of sight.
I flick my phone on again. 12.41 pm. He should come up now. But I see nothing. Blackness with no tell-tale movement or bubbles. Where is he?
I sit back, watching the seconds pass. Something nudges the boat, startling me, and I drop my phone. I cling to the seat as the boat rocks, almost tipping me out. My shriek bounces off the hard surfaces and echoes at me, sitting bolt upright, stiff with fear. I clutch the rope, terrified I’ve missed Lucas’s signal.
Breathless, I fumble with my phone and check the time. It’s 12.44 pm. He can’t survive this long without air. I don’t want to believe the obvious. I shove the phone into my back pocket, training my eyes on the rope over the side of our launch.
At 12.45 pm, I jerk on the rope and wait. There is no response. I pull the rope in fast, frenzied piling the bundle of soggy rope at my feet. The weight at the end comes to the surface. I gasp. Sobbing, I dial emergency. After a couple of false starts, I get through.
‘What’s… emergency?’ the metallic nasal voice crackles and is almost inaudible above the static on the call.
‘Drowning, I think… I… Help… I need… rescue helicopter…’ I break down.
‘What’s… the… address?’
My body trembles and I can’t utter another word. I swap the phone to my other hand. The signal disappears. My phone falls onto the hull, amongst the seawater and mess of wet rope.
‘Lucas!’ I scream at the top of my lungs, sobbing his name with growing hysteria. Gasping, I want to wretch and vomit into the blackness. I’ve got no idea how to get back.
After what seems like hours, I hear Lucas’ father, Eteroma, speaking inside my head. ‘Get out of there, girl, before the incoming tide smashes you against the rocks. Get out now.’
I shove the wooden oars into the rowlocks and slump into the cross-board and begin to row, slowly at first, building my balance and strength in each stroke. Several minutes later I am out in the open Pacific Ocean with the dark maw of the cave behind me.
My phone gives a muffled ring. I see it’s flashing light and rummage amongst the sodden spirals of rope and pick it up.
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