Twist woke in sunlight. The whisper-thin white mesh hanging over the bed billowed in the gentle, moist, flower-scented breeze that moved through the little house. Twist stretched comfortably in the soft white sheets and sat up to look around. The simple, wooden room only had three walls, and two of them were broken up by wide, glassless windows that would never close. Where the fourth wall should have been, an open, covered porch sat on the edge of the pale beach sand, showing Twist a perfect view of the brilliant blue waves farther off. Palm trees tapped pleasantly in the breeze and splintered the warm sunlight that spilled inside through the windows.
As he rubbed at his sleepy eyes, Twist caught the echo of a voice calling from afar. He looked to the ocean to see a long, wooden surfboard—devoid of its rider—fly high off of a crashing crystal-blue wave. An instant later, the sound of laughter in the waves soothed his concern. Snatching his pocket watch from the nightstand, Twist wasn’t very alarmed to see that it was already nearly noon. He hadn’t woken up in a morning hour for the past week, and no one seemed to mind. It was only the thought of another cup of the delicious local coffee and a slice of papaya that got him out of bed at all.
Slipping out from under the mesh canopy, Twist got to his feet and dressed. He’d learned quickly that a proper suit had no place in the tropics and had adjusted his wardrobe accordingly. A roomy pair of dark trousers—the cuffs rolled up to keep them out of damp sand—an airy white cotton shirt, and an open silver waistcoat were all he needed now. He stepped across the small deck and onto the beach, smiling at the curious sensation of warm sand slipping between his toes. His eyes narrowed against the brilliant blue sky, reflecting their own chilly, silvery hue. As he rolled his sleeves up to his elbows, he examined the gently darker tone that the sun was slowly laying on his skin.
Myra was not far from the water, sitting under the shade of a small clump of palm trees, on one of many blankets that had been lain haphazardly on the sand. She too had adopted an island style. She wore a pink-and-green sarong draped over one shoulder to form a very simple dress that gathered at her waist with a rope tie, her long hair was loose on her shoulders apart from one bright pink flower tucked behind an ear, and her shining copper ankles and arms were left bare to glint in the sun. She was sitting beside a basket, intently carving a piece of fruit with a small knife as Twist approached.
He slowed his steps to quiet them and turned his course to stay directly behind her. She continued to work, noticing nothing. Twist dropped carefully to his hands and knees and crept silently closer to her over the blankets on the sand. When he was near enough, he knelt just behind her and put his fingers over her glittering azure eyes. His Sight flashed with her surprise, but her emotions warmed almost instantly.
Myra gave a soft giggle. “Oh, now let me see…” she mused, putting her piece of fruit and the knife in her lap to poise a finger at her lips. “Is it a robber? Do you want to steal my purse?”
“A postman? Have I received a letter?”
“No…” Twist sighed.
“Oh, a suitor perhaps?” Myra asked, dropping her voice to a whisper. “You should know, I’m quite well spoken for.”
“You are?” Twist asked, adding a ring of shock to his voice as he released her and bent around to peer at the wide, warm smile that had appeared on her face. “Who is this lucky bastard?” he asked in mock anger.
“It’s a secret,” she said, still in a whisper. Twist’s Sight prickled with her elusive emotions as she reached up to stroke the edge of his face with a hand before leaning in to place a kiss on his cheek. “Now, how were your dreams?” she asked him with a smile.
“Lovely,” he said, taking her hand to kiss it. “I dreamed only of you.”
Myra’s smile poured through his Sight like warm honey, until he took his hands away from her. He flopped himself lazily down on his side, smiling up at her with his head propped up on one hand. Myra picked up her fruit again.
“What did you dream about?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing really,” she said, working carefully on the piece of fruit. “But I’ve discovered how to do something new this morning.”
“This!” she said brightly, holding up the fruit for him to see.
Twist gave a laugh in surprise; she had spun many thin slices of one half of the papaya into the shape of a flower, with two black seeds placed at the center like stamen. The shape appeared to still be attached, sitting in the cupped skin of the fruit.
“That’s remarkable,” Twist said, watching her face bloom with pride. “You’re so clever.”
“Here, I made it for your breakfast,” she said, giving it to him. “Would you like some coffee?” she asked, already getting to her feet. She didn’t wait for his answer as she stooped down to the coffeepot that sat on a small metal grate over a few hot coals that nestled in the sand beside the blankets.
Twist examined the intricate papaya sculpture and shook his head slowly. “Myra, you take far too good care of me.”
“No, I’m selfish,” she said, sitting down again beside him with a cup made from a small, dark, speckled coconut shell in her hands. Twist caught the delicious scent of fresh coffee and smiled. “I like to make you happy,” she said, handing him the cup.
Twist took a sip of coffee, savoring the smooth, nutty, and deep flavor. “I must be the luckiest bastard on the planet,” Twist said with a sigh.
“He’s alive!” a voice called to them from afar.
Twist looked up to see Jonas and Skye approach from the rolling waves. They were both dripping wet and dressed in very sparse swimming costumes. Twist still marveled at how Skye seemed so comfortable showing the bare skin of her legs below the knee, and nearly her full arms in the simple, puffy blue cotton blouse and gathered shorts that she wore in the water. Kali, the tiger, padded along beside Skye, her orange, white, and black fur flat and heavy with water, even after a vigorous full-body shake. Two long surfboards were stuck upright in the sand behind them to dry in the sun.
“It’s past noon, you know,” Jonas said chidingly as he stepped onto the blankets and snatched two folded towels from a small pile to one side. He handed one to Skye as she too knelt down in the shade. Kali flopped lazily onto the sand in full sunlight, her wide, furry face a picture of bliss.
“I’m on vacation,” Twist said smugly, looking to the flower of fruit again. It seemed somehow wrong to disturb the delicate design, no matter how delicious the fruit.
“Oh, wow, that’s a good one, Myra!” Skye said brightly, leaning forward to see it.
“Thanks!” Myra responded. “I think I finally got the hang of it.”
“She’s been playing with papayas all morning,” Jonas said in an aside to Twist before tossing the towel over his head to rub at his damp hair.
“I got to eat the mess-ups,” Skye said with a smile and a wink, her towel now hanging around her shoulders. “Hey, you wanna practice some more?” she added to Myra. “I really worked up an appetite out there.”
Myra reached for the basket of fruit. “I did want to try making a bird…” she mused, selecting a sweet, yellowing papaya.
“I’d have thought you swallowed enough seawater and kelp to keep you till dinner,” Jonas said, one finger in an ear to shake out a bit of water.
“I told you,” Skye snapped instantly. “I like falling in the water. It’s fun!”
“Oh, you!” Skye grumbled, reaching out to swat at him. Jonas leaned out of reach, his face awash with a guilty smile, but Skye got to her knees to reach for him.
“Save me! Save me!” Jonas gasped, pulling at her grip on his wrist, his eyes snapped tightly shut but his features otherwise devoid of fear. “Clowns can bite! I don’t want to become one!”
“I’m not a werewolf,” Skye snapped at him, struggling to keep a hold of him.
“Twist, don’t just lie there!” Jonas pleaded.
“I told you,” Twist reasoned, glancing away to the palm trees with a languid smile as he took a sip of his coffee. “I’m on vacation.”
Skye laughed triumphantly as she finally managed to pin Jonas down.
“Got you now, cutie pie,” she purred, grinning evilly at his closed eyes. “Now, whatever shall I do to you?” Twist felt an electric thrill flash in the buzz at his neck and glanced at Jonas.
“Hey, here’s an idea,” Jonas said quickly. “Let’s throw Twist in the ocean again.”
“What?” Twist snapped, putting his coffee down.
Skye had paused in her assault, looking at Twist with a wide grin. “Okay. Truce,” she said, releasing Jonas.
“No,” Twist said, his eyes locked on Jonas. He put his fruit down slowly as well.
Jonas opened his gleaming, dark-blue eyes on Twist and got smoothly to his hands and knees, his expression predatory and his posture pounce ready.
“Now, Jonas…” Twist toned warningly. His own limbs were preparing to flee, and his heart was already pounding. “Now…now, just a minute. Calm down.”
“I’m calm,” Jonas said smoothly, an instant before his hand lunged out for Twist.
Twist shot to his feet, slipping away in time, but Jonas followed just as quickly. Twist turned and leaped away, running for the trees and away from the sea as a wild thrill shot through his heart. He heard Jonas’s footsteps pound across the sand after him and turned sharply to one side. Jonas didn’t anticipate it. He tried to snatch at Twist but missed by inches and tumbled to the sand. Twist took an instant to look around at him before Jonas leaped back into the chase. Twist heard Skye and Myra cheering and laughing as he and Jonas tore past them. Kali, sitting up now to watch, also gave a playful sound.
Turning suddenly again, Twist felt excitement burn in his skin as he slipped just out of Jonas’s fingers. A moment later, he was startled when his feet struck the thin edge of a receding wave. The water splashed high in the brilliant sunlight, slowing him slightly. He’d somehow doubled back, right up to the water. He turned, aiming for the trees once again, but Jonas dove at him before he could. Jonas caught him around the waist with both arms and sent them both crashing to the wet sand with the force of his leap.
“Let me go!” Twist yelped, struggling to free himself.
The satisfaction of the catch splashed over Twist’s Sight for only an instant before a warm, soft, bubbly wave burst over the both of them. The water filled his ears and nose with frightening speed, but he clenched his mouth closed in time to hold his breath. The wave receded into a thin, foamy sheet that lingered around them for a moment before it ran back out to the sea. The instant he could breathe again, Twist let out a pitiful whimper of a scream.
Jonas finally released him, and Twist struggled up out of the surf to discover himself to be thoroughly soaked, head to toe. Jonas was barely able to breathe for his laughter. Twist turned back to find Jonas sitting in the edges of the crashing waves, smiling up at Twist with pure delight.
“You look like a drowned cat!”
Twist saw an incoming wave about to fall and recognized instantly that this wave was larger than the last one had been. He kept his eyes narrowed on Jonas, who was waiting patiently for a reply to his taunt. Twist held his tongue. The waved crashed over Jonas, shoving him roughly with the spray and foam. Jonas scrambled to his feet and out of the ocean’s reach, sputtering and cross, as the wave receded.
“You could have warned me!” he shouted at Twist.
“Yes, I could have,” Twist said, smiling smugly. “Serves you right, you damned brigand.”
“Soggy little dandy,” Jonas spat back, a smile on his face as he reached out to ruffle Twist’s soaking-wet hair. Twist’s Sight warmed his mind with the quick touch.
“Oh, come away!” Myra called to them, standing well out of the water’s reach. She was holding a fresh towel and wore a piteous expression. “You’ll only get more wet, standing there.”
“My dear, I fear that’s impossible,” Twist said, shaking his arms as rivulets of water poured down them. He stepped forward with a sigh.
Myra gave a sympathetic tone and wrapped the soft towel around his shoulders as they came back to the shade of the palm trees. Skye was suppressing her giggles behind a hand, and Kali’s tail swept the sand happily, as Twist sat down on the blankets again. The moment he did, Myra took the towel and ruffled his heavy, wet curls with it. Twist couldn’t help but smile, helpless to stop her, as the towel flapped awkwardly around his face.
“There,” Myra said, wrapping it around his shoulders again and trying to straighten his mess of hair with her fingertips. “We’ll fix you right up,” she cooed, showering his Sight with sunny, rich warmth in every touch.
Jonas, who had sat down again next to Skye, watched with a shake of his head as Myra poured her tender care over Twist. He then gathered his own discarded towel and began to pat himself dry once again.
“Here, let me,” Skye said, snatching the towel away from Jonas and kneeling before him. Before he could voice a protest, she tossed the towel over his head and gave it a playful shake, mimicking what Myra had done.
“Stop that!” Jonas snapped, taking the towel back and pulling himself clear of her. When he got the towel off his head again, he glanced toward Skye with a petulant pout, his face flushed and his hair even more of a disheveled mess than it had been before.
Skye giggled at him. “You sure you don’t want a hand, sweetheart? You look like you need it.”
“I’m perfectly capable of drying of my own damn head, thank you,” Jonas grumbled through a persistent smile as he used his hands to get his hair roughly back into shape. “If I need any help, I think I’d prefer Myra’s. She’s gentler.”
Myra gave him a slightly piteous glance.
“Oh, poor thing,” Skye cooed mockingly, moving swiftly closer to leave a kiss on his cheek.
Jonas gave a long-suffering sigh and made no other comment, but his smile remained. Twist was reasonably puzzled by the quiet and obscure emotions that murmured at the buzzing at his neck, as well as the way that his two friends managed to quarrel and flirt with each other, simultaneously. Looking back to Myra, Twist was reassured to know that he at least understood his relationship with her.
Welcome back to the Clockwork Twist series, lovely. Want more of this story? You can read the second chapter right here!
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