Happy August! It’s a great time of year to listen to an audiobook

Hello fellow readers and writers.  It’s a great time of the year to listen to a novel. Learn and discover something new while working out, driving, passing time on a train or plane, or simply sitting on the couch and letting someone else read to you.  I’ve been a fan of audible.com since its inception.  First thing in the morning I go for a morning run while listening to a book.  I feed my mind and body, what a great way to start the day.  Hours of driving? No problem, time for a new story. Don’t get me wrong I love reading, but sometimes I just want to give my eyes a break.  Other times, I just don’t have time to read, but I can certainly listen.

Audible.com has a free listen for new members.  I encourage you to join and download my novel, Breakfast In Bimini, as your first listen. You won’t be disappointed with this fun, adventuresome story.  Simply click on a highlighted link to get started.  If you decide not to continue with membership, they make it easy to stop anytime with no further commitment.

 Breakfast In Bimini

If you’re already a member of audible and you’d like to listen and write a review of my novel then leave me your email address in the comments section and I’ll send you a code for a free review copy.

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Breakfast In Bimini book launch

book signingThis past weekend I published Breakfast in Bimini, and had a booth at the West Palm Beach Boat Show.  I ordered twenty paperbacks and designed bookmarks for distribution during the event. A few days prior to the show, I learned the books weren’t scheduled for delivery until the following week, and the printer didn’t get my final email approving the promo handouts.  To top off this wonderful day, my computer was hacked and a virus took over.  After many hours troubleshooting, I  reverted back to a previous version of Windows 8.

The night prior to the show opening, both the books and bookmarks arrived at my door. Luck switched in my favor.  I went strong for two days, selling some books and passing out plenty of info on my novel and website.  I received a mention on our local county station who also re-tweeted my book signing booth photo and links.  I met plenty of valuable contacts, but received dubious stares from others.  I always smiled and invited them to take my card.  The third day, I took a more relaxed approach, disappearing from my booth a bit more than desirable.

“You’re a bad exhibitor,”  the show promoter said at my lack of presence on the final day.

This promoter also happened to be my husband, so I took it with a grain of salt.

“I have a better understanding of what exhibitors go through,” I admitted.  “The ups and downs of a three-day show.  Slow at times, busy at others.  And dealing with people all day.  Some are super nice, some what to chat too long, and others just simply ignored me when I greeted them.”

BreakfastInBimini-AmazonMy book is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback and also on my website sierramichaels.com

Breakfast In Bimini shows up immediately during a search as the only book followed by products offered for breakfast in a bikini. These are mostly detox products.  I had to laugh.

 

Every Summer Has Its Own Story

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby  

I’m busy editing this summer,and looking forward to a great novel at the end.  Making memories and great stories in the summertime.

summer flip flops summer

HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE!

book cover summery review and feedback

I’m in the process of editing my new novel and decided to write the back cover draft.  I’m looking for feedback, critique and suggestions.  I’m also not committed to the main character’s names if you have suggestions or preferences.  Any comments are welcomed, appreciated and encouraged.  I have two slightly different versions below, let me know if one resonates more that the other with a first or second version.  Thanks. Sierra

1.    Raven and Lucas embark upon a personal cruise around the Bahamas for an adventure of a lifetime, but things go terribly wrong after finding an artifact on the beach in Bimini. In the process of denying its supernatural power and fixing all their misfortunes, they form stronger bonds with friends, strangers and ultimately each other. Is it all in Raves’ overactive archaeological scientific mind, or does the artifact truly have bad ju ju?

A wooden idol is discovered by Raven just three hours into their two-week journey. Her curiosity and background entices her to keep the artifact with the intention of researching its background and story. Where did this unique, seemingly non-Bahamian statue originate and how did it land in Bimini?

Breakfast in Bimini follows this couple’s journey through paradise and beyond, perhaps even to another dimension.

2.     Raven and Lucas embark upon a personal cruise around the Bahamas for an adventure of a lifetime. Raves discovers a wooden idol on a secluded beach, just three hours into their two-week journey. Her curiosity and archaeological scientific mind entices her to keep the artifact with the intention of researching its background and story. Where did this unique, seemingly non-Bahamian statue originate and how did it land in Bimini?

Things go terribly wrong after finding the artifact. In the process of denying its supernatural power and fixing all their misfortunes, they form stronger bonds with friends, strangers and ultimately each other. Is it all in Raves’ overactive imagination, or does the idol truly have bad ju ju?

Breakfast in Bimini follows this couple’s journey through paradise and beyond, perhaps even to another dimension.

Breakfast in Bimini excerpt

end of world barDark in comparison to the bright sun outside, the rustic tavern displayed writing all over wood panel walls, underwear hanging above, and signed currency from many countries taped on a panel behind the bar. Names of boats and fishing teams, individuals with dates they visited, relationships broadcasted, love proclaimed.

“Interesting,” I mumbled.

My name’s in here,” Luke announced.

“My underwear’s on the ceiling,” Russ challenged. I looked up searching for the camouflage boxers I saw earlier on the trip. It was mostly ladies thongs, but boxers also hung from above like a flag revealing a conquest. My eyes shifted to one distinguished pair depicting a skull and crossbones with a patch over the eye, the typical Jolly Roger avatar faded and exposed on a single pair of boxers. I briefly thought of Jeff and his treasure hunting Davy Jones yacht, wondering if he’d left his mark in this bar. I continued scanning for Russ’s undies, my gaze landing on a pair representing the confederate flag. It was integrated with a rainbow of woman’s thongs. Blue, black, pick, multicolored, green and purple.

“That’s yours,” I pointed to the pair hanging in the distance. “The confederate flag, cowboy.”

“Damn, you’re good Kelly. But wrong. I wouldn’t give up a pair that nice.” He turned his stool in the opposite direction, pointing to a plain tan pair with grey scribbling’s. “Those are mine from 2001, during a wild fishing trip.”

“So you let people sign your ass while wearing them, or afterwards?” I asked, giggling at the thought of Russ running around the bar in his undies asking for autographs.

“On of course. A bunch of drunk girls in the bar signing my ass. Nothing on the front, I’m not that type of guy.”

I choked on my drink, spraying a mist of beer while laughing. “Oh, I could imagine.” Glancing at Luke, “So no undies on the ceiling for you, sweetie?”

Smirking, “No just a signature of my name and year, somewhere around here.” He searched the tavern, eyes scanning for a hint of recognition and then handing me a black sharpie, one of many sitting atop the bar. “Make your mark,” he said pragmatically.

Eagerly grabbing the sharpie and searching for an empty section to claim as my own, I noticed fainter scratching’s were written over with darker, fresher markings. I avoided busy walls and found a corner behind a speaker and wrote, Kelly and Luke, Breakfast in Bimini, 2011. Satisfied with my scribbling’s, I joined the two men sitting on bar stools, gulping a slightly stronger Kalik Gold.

“Ok, now the undies,” Russ blurted out, wickedly grinning.

“And I can do a shot from your belly button,” Luke added with an equally sinful grin. “It’s tradition in this bar.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” I addressed both of them with a smiling gaze. “But I’d have to say, this place definitely has character.”

compleat angler 1“You might change your mind after a few of these,” Luke said, handing me a Kalik Gold to go. Walking the streets of Bimini with a drink in hand is also tradition, ambling to our next stop, lunch at the Big Game Club. During our short walk to the restaurant we sauntered past some ruins stopping for a moment of nostalgia. Luke and Russ both filled me in on the colorful history the Compleat Angler. Ernest Hemingway was perhaps the most notable resident that slept, drank, and wrote at the Angler, but so did Jimmy Buffett, presidential hopeful Gary Hart got caught messing around at the bar and hotel, Matt Damon was spotted there and the less famous Russ and Luke with their past debauchery. Built in the 1930’s it was once the staging area for rum-runners during the prohibition. Prior to its fiery destruction just five years ago, it housed a small yet unique Hemingway museum and it was full of fishing pictures from every decade since the thirty’s. On any given weekend the bar was packed with drunken tourists and locals listening to live music from Stevie S while socializing, sometimes getting downright crazy. The two compared their most memorable stories, with passionate sinful laughs. I longed to have the same memory of the Compleat Angler. Now only a brick fireplace stood in the center of boulders outlining the three rooms and an outside patio. An A-frame wooden sign over a stone archway read The Compleat Angler, a reminder of its humble yet ornate vibrant past.

“How did it burn down and do you think they’ll rebuild it?” I asked.

The two chortled in unison as we continued strolling to the Big Game Club. “The fire was questionable, the owner was the only one who died. All the Hemingway memorabilia was destroyed. Lots of gossip about foul play, but no arrest were made.”

“If it was that popular, will they rebuild?”

Luke took a swig from his beer as we continued along King’s Road. “It’s the Bahamas, nothing much gets done around here.”

 

Breakfast in Bimini. Chapter 14 excerpt

crab2I silently passed by Luke engrossed in the news, he knew my routine.  I sauntered to a dirt road and walked while building up my energy and determination leading into a jog.  I really enjoyed walking and I could probably do it all day, but a quick run was so much more efficient. Lavender morning glories lined the path, shining upward to greet the sun.  Dense scrub brush added a jungle-like feel to the tropical island.  Light peeked through the tall thin pine trees creating an irregular pattern of shadows on the sandy trail. Buzzing crickets screamed through the trees at certain points and then complete silence. The only other noticeable sign of life was a few comical sideways moving land crabs.  They’d raise a large claw in the air, attempting to intimidate and challenge a fight. All the while doing the horizontal tango into the road then back to the bush, proudly displaying an obscenely sizable claw.  On a few occasions I had to stop and play with an arrogant little fellow, almost taunting him.  I’d never hurt a creature but it was sure fun revealing my armor, my sheer size 121 pounds heavier than its claw. And I too could do the tango.  Needless to say, I always won.

I stopped at the beach club to stretch, admiring the three-sided ocean view reflecting several shades of blue and green.  Translucent celeron and jade in the bimini watershallower waters, deep midnight to polar blue in the distance and a lighter sky blue in the forefront.  A color I referred to as Bimini blue given its prominence in front of Bimini Sands and most of the island.  Perhaps the most beautiful luminous water I’ve ever seen.  The water contrasted against a dilapidated rusting white fence and pink cement seawall with columns lining a small inlet allowing access to boating canals.  Cement debris littered a beach rock jetty.  Remnants from the hotel that once existed here, from what Luke told me last night.  A hurricane wiped out the inn, a tsunami size wave hit the two-story hotel taking it out into the ocean.  The set-back corner position of the beach club left it undamaged. Next to me, a solid row of sun-drenched green bushes separated the debris from the road.  Too lush and manicured to be native plants.  In the beach club lawn Bermuda grass held indigenous sea-grape trees fashioned into round balls with heart-shaped leaves, strategically placed sunflowers, fuchsia Bougainvillea, and a surf board placed for ornamentation.

I was only fifteen minutes into my run and already drenched in sweat. I used my right hand, index finger side leading, to propel the sweat off my face like a windshield wiper during a downpour.  A motion I continued throughout my run.

shark lab picI jogged past a sign reading, Bimini Biological Field Station.  Better known as the shark lab, it’s an international research facility designated to studying shark behavior and population.  I made a mental note to visit the shark lab during our brief visit in Bimini.  Several students were hanging clothes in the front yard, old-fashioned washing and drying of clothes I concluded.  Other students were arranging casting nets and two rather large dogs leashed to a pole barked and howled as I ran by.

South Bimini was still quiet, although a few locals passed on golf carts with a quick flip of the hand as a friendly wave.  Not that anyone was going to play golf, a golf course doesn’t exist on the island.  It’s the preferred transportation vehicle which given the island’s small size and moderate climate, it’s the perfect way to get around. Not only were cars missing, except the scattered few, but also street signs, horns honking, background interstate noise, asphalt, squirrels, big lush trees, cats sitting on porches, lawn art and any sort of diverse built skyline.

On another side canal I jogged past private vacation homes belonging mostly to Americans, especially from Florida only fifty miles to the west.  In the sandy yard of a lime green house, handmade wooden signs nailed to a dock piling and pointing to Miami, a nude beach, Jamaica, Cozumel and Cuba.  I smelled wood burning, reminding me of Africa and the exotic experiences I had in Benin, Kenya and Tanzania many years ago. The ubiquitous charred wood aroma of the continent I loved the most, longing to live there in my youth. Searching for the source of the scent I discovered a tree burning in the sand surrounded by scrub brush, a controlled burn I recognized.

I found relief in a small marina pool, diving in and exhaling victory at the end of my painfully heated run.  Hot yoga was easy compared to jogging in Bimini during the summer with a humid hurricane approaching.  The air-conditioned condo seemed like an igloo afterwards, so I quickly hit the shower.

Breakfast in Bimini- Chapter 12 segment

Below is and unedited excerpt from the current book I’m working on, which should be complete by the end of summer.  It’s sometimes difficult to read parts of novels and really understand the story and for the writer it’s hard to post unedited drafts.  But I’m going for it!  I try to pick neutral paragraphs without much background needed or plot revealed. Next time I’ll have another travel story.  I hope you enjoy and as always I welcome feedback and thoughts.

Breakfast in Bimini.

Smoke filled my lungs in the middle of the night and for a fleeting moment I thought I was dreaming. I shook Luke simultaneously pushing out the screen and yelling, “Fire.” In an instant impromptu swoosh I bolted through the screened-in window, seamlessly landing on the wooden dock. I unplugged the boat power cord from the electrical box and upon returning to the cabin, I opened all the doors and windows while shouting “Luke, Russ.” The sun was just starting to float on the ocean as the smell of acrid smoke permeated the air. The two emerged through the haze sporting only boxers, Luke with blue and white horizontal stripes and Russ in hunting Camouflage. I noticed for the first time what I was wearing, plaid boxers, borrowed from Luke, and a loose navy blue tank top. I was relieved to have not slept naked as I often did since that could have been an ordeal. We all stepped on the dock to breathe fresh air.

“Well, that’s a hella way to wake up,” Russ exhaled. “It’s not a fire, Kelly. Fire means flames. It’s an electrical smoldering.”

I blinked and after a few moments rebuked, “Well I don’t have a dictionary with me at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it means smoke and danger, both of which existed. Smoke is just as dangerous as flames, besides screaming electrical smoldering doesn’t have the same effect and at the time…”

“O.K., my bad. You did the right thing by unplugging the power source.” He looked around, “Why is the window screen on the dock?”

“Oh, welcome to my world,” Luke chimed in. “Kelly screamed, “fire” in my ear, shook me into consciousness, then jumped through the screen and onto the dock.”

Russ stared at me in disbelief with raised eyebrows, wide eyes and mouth agape. I answered prior to any of his wry comments.

“Well, I had to do something and I wasn’t sure what was going on in the cabin. My adrenaline just took over. You know, emergency mode. So are things still sizzling in the cabin? Has anyone checked that out yet?”

“Cutting off the power supply should have stopped any additional smoke, it’s like clipping the fuel supply to an engine. It fizzles pretty quickly. Let’s go check it out,” Russ urged Luke.

I stayed on the dock, admiring the sunrise for a moment. It wasn’t a phenomenon I witnessed often, at least not lately. I was amazed by the stillness and tranquility of dawn, the vast calm sea only enhancing the serene moment. Waking up docked in the Bahamas was an experience unlike any other, the way life should be lived with natural sounds of the sea tenderly hitting the dock pilings, fresh slightly saline air, peaceful and carefree. I drank a quick cup of coffee still brewing courtesy of Luke preparing it the night prior and then pushing the button on his way out.

I changed into my running clothes. “I have time to run, right?” I asked, scooting past Luke.

“Yes, honey. We have to check the wires and weather again before setting sail.” He glanced at me and added, “And reinstall the window screen.”

I snickered, confidently knowing I had done the right thing. I was always one quick to react, a benefit at times and occasionally a nuisance. In hot debates I’d sometimes stick my foot in my mouth and shoot out a comment I regretted. Once as a witness in a courtroom I’d answered too rapidly to a cross-examination, spurring more interrogations from an unfriendly lawyer who tried to trap me. But overall, my innate need to swiftly respond was a gift.

Breakfast in Bimini, Chapter 10 excerpt

I realized the music was coming from our Intrepid, Russ’ choice I concluded. Fileted Tuna spread across a wooden picnic table with soy sauce and wasabi.  The smell of burgers soured the salubrious air.  I munched wasabi drenched Tuna, numbing my senses with an intense burn.  Inhaling the brief pain, I turned towards Russ arranging hamburgers on the public grill, “So do you always fish and boat in cowboy boots?”

“No Ma’am,” his grinned widened.  “Just for my flight here.  I brought shorts and flip-flops for the rest of the trip, but I’m always prepared for a rodeo.”

“We definitely have some sort of goat rodeo going on.  Maybe a little different from what you’re used to.”

He snickered and shook the ice against his otherwise empty glass. “It’s all good.  Hell, we’re in Paradise.”  Handing me his glass, “Would you mind getting me a rum and coke, some buns…and all the burger fixings?”

“Sure.”  I walked off, past the cloud of smoke encircling the Hillbilly Express, returning with a few drinks, a soy burger wrapped in foil, and all the accoutrements.  I threw my foiled veggie burger on the crowded grill.  Yoda was patiently sitting next to Russ, her nose wiggling at the meaty environment.

“What’s that?” Russ asked.

“A soy burger,” I nonchalantly answered.  “I’m a pescatarian.  I don’t eat any meat except fish.”

He shook his head, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“Well now you have,” I smiled widely.

It was happy-hour on the dock with newfound friends meandering by, swooping up sushi and burgers, like the pelicans I’d watched earlier.  Yoda ate every scrap hitting the ground, spotting an airborne crumb as if a missile-launch, occasionally snapping at a fly.  Small talk buzzed around the now tropical storm brewing in the Caribbean and the deadly oil spill.  Apparently, this storm at the end of May was one of the earliest ones on record.  I kept my mouth zipped about our friends oil spill involvement, most fishermen were very environmentally conscious and although the Kramers had nothing to do with the tragedy, just being associated with such a disaster was a conviction.  The oil was already harming fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the long-term effect on the ecosystem.  The Kramers just provided the insurance, they weren’t responsible for the explosion or its aftermath.  But I’d learned the hard way as a junior archaeologist that most people can’t detach or comprehend associations when dealing with environmental issues.  I was hired to help excavate one of the last remaining wetlands in Los Angeles County.  Protesters would show up every day and spit at me as I entered the site.  I wasn’t developing the area, but I was sure as hell going to save and preserve any artifacts discovered.  Sometimes you just can’t fight ignorance, development and strong, yet faulty beliefs. To top it off, I rollerbladed to work the wetlands while the protesters parked their SUV’s on the grass lot.

Glancing at Russ and Luke chatting with the Davy Jones family, I grinned knowing I didn’t have to watch the news while in the Bahamas.  After all we didn’t have electricity for the rest of our trip except when docked at night, and then we were too busy drinking.

Russ winked at me.  “So pescatarian, do you play the hook game or pool?”

I tilted my head realizing I had a winker, and a bit thrown off by a hook game.  “I play pool and I’ve heard of Captain Hook, any relation?”

He cracked a smile, “Let’s go play in the yacht club.”

Russ took the lead as a gaggle followed, including Yoda and a stray yellow lab. Luke and his buddies lingered at the bar, passing the two of us cocktails:  rum with coke and a white wine spritzer.  Cowboy held a silver circle in his hand attached to plastic fishing line.  The object of the game was to throw the circle onto the hook attached to the wall.  He tossed the swinging line ten times, hooking two of them in the process and then handed me the dangling circle the size of my wrist.  I flung it too aggressively and it bounced off the wall three times.

“Easy,” he said.  “Like your hitching a tame horse, not a mustang.”

Okay, not sure what that means, but I threw a mellower version, only bouncing the hook off the wall once.  It still swung wildly and I was nowhere close to hitting the target.  I played with my footing and focused on the task at hand, finally getting the circle to catch within ten throws.  I threw my hands in the air and jumped up and down. “Yeah.”

“That’s better,” he gloated as a successful teacher.  “A rematch?”

“Hell yeah.  I got this.”

He rolled his eyes and started the challenge.  He championed three hooks within ten shots, grinning with a knowing win, and then handed me the ring, “You’re turn.”

I studied the angles and found my sweet spot. Concentrating on the target, I hit the hook on my first throw, and then the third.  Four and five was a miss but then I mastered six, seven and nine.  I felt like Duane Wade on his best night.  I waved my hands in the air and turned towards Russ.  “I got this,” I rejoiced and added, “Do you want a rematch or a pool tournament?”

“I think you may be a pool shark, but let’s give it a go,” he said wryly.

Luke and Jeff stepped up to the hook game and Russ barely beat me at two games of pool.  I somehow accidently pocketed the eight ball by not paying attention to the task, forfeiting one of the games.  I was more into the Bahamian music leading my feet and mind to sway with the beat.  Jenny joined us, and hit a few of my striped balls.  We danced around the billiard table like courting Blue-footed Boobies.

Breakfast in Bimini, Chapter 8 excerpt

staniel cayWalking off, I scouted the docks for Luke.  He was talking to a few guys near the fish cleaning station.  Nick was at the opposite end checking out a large European yacht I recognized as an Azimut, from three distinct windows on the side and its aerodynamic design.  One of the few boats I could spot and identify, it was also my dream boat.  This one was curiously named Davy Jones. My mind raced to where I’d heard that name.  One of the band members names in The Monkees, I knew from my youth growing up watching and listening to the pop group, but also from somewhere else.  I shook off the mystery name and strolled over to Luke gabbing at the fish station.  Nurse sharks swarmed below in a feeding frenzy for fish scraps, attacking like Komodo Dragons on raw meat.  They didn’t look so peaceful or harmless now.nurse sharks

Luke noticed me standing by his side.  “Hey, sweetie.”  He turned to one of the guys filleting fish, “This is my girlfriend Kelly.”

The tall, thin, shirtless stranger greeted me with a nod, “Nice to meet you.” He glanced at me then the fish he was cutting.  “I’d shake your hand, but they’re a bit bloody right now.”  Two large fish were splayed on the filet table and a bucket full of fresh meat lay between his feet.  He was wearing plastic blue fishing waders. “I’m Paul, and this is my buddy Randy.”  I smiled at the younger, less messy fisherman.  His fish scraps seamlessly fell from the table into the shark infested water.  He was barefoot wearing only a bathing suit and a knife attached to his calf.

“Dolphin?”  I asked, with my newfound yet limited fishing lingo.

“Yes Ma’am,” Paul answered.  “Got a few at sunrise, just out yonder.”

Luke chimed in, “They’re from Fort Lauderdale.”

“Neighbors,” I offered, peering into the sea for another glimpse of the bloodbath.  Although the accent was a bit country-strong for southern Florida.  My eyes drifted toward Luke, “I’m going poolside until we leave on the golf cart.”

“We’re leaving in forty-three minutes.”  Where does he get these numbers?  Not forty or forty-five.  So random.

Jamie, the blonde and the adorable dog, Yoda, were all sunbathing at the small pool. “What are you drinking?” I called out.

“Pina Colada,” Jamie responded.

I returned with two Pina Coladas and a small bowl of ice water for the dog.  “I brought some water for Yoda, if you don’t mind?” I asked, placing the bowl on the ground.

“Ahh, thanks.  I’ve been giving her ice cubs from my drink and she swims in the pool.”

“She’s such a cutie.”  I sat in the lounge chair between Jamie engulfed in a magazine and the blonde. “And a good traveler?” I added with a quick sip from my sweet cocktail.

She beamed a new motherly glow.  “Yes, I’ve only had her for about nine months.  But she goes everywhere with me.”

“Where do you call home?”

“North Carolina is home, but we’ve been traveling for the past few years on our boat.” She paused.  “I’m Jenny.  I’m here with my husband, it’s our fifth anniversary.”

“Congrats on five years.  I’m Kelly.”  I raised my drink to her unknown cocktail.  She lit a cigarette and I borrowed one.

“You smoke? I thought I saw you running.”

“Yes. I do both.” I mumbled.

She giggled with a knowing uninhibited grin. “No worries.”

I glanced at Jamie still absorbed in her magazine.  Yoda was under her lounge chair, resting in the shade.  “So you’re sailing around the Bahamas?” I probed for conversation.

“Yeah.”  She pointed to the marina.  “Our boat is docked over there for the next week.  It’s called Davy Jones.

My eyes widened through my sunglasses.  I’d assumed she was on one of the many sailboats.  “An Azimut.  My favorite boat.”  I took a sip, “And is your husband Davy?”

She giggled.  “No, it’s Jeff Johnson.  Davy Jones is a reference to shipwrecks at the bottom of the sea.”  She extinguished her cigarette into a close-by empty glass.  “Most people don’t get it, but he’s a treasure hunter looking for Spanish shipwrecks, mostly in the Bahamas.”  She clarified.  “He does web design and hosting for a living, but his passion is treasure hunting.”

It clicked.  That’s how I know the name Davy Jones.  It’s an idiom for the bottom of the sea.  Davy Jones’ Locker, or death to sailors. I started to fluster, my mind spinning through everything that had happened during our trip; boat disasters, pirates, my idol, portals, and nightmares.  Sensing my fear, Yoda jumped on my lap.  Jamie lowered her sunglasses and whispered through her teeth, “I caught part of the conversation, and I can see beads of sweat forming all over you, and you’re as pale as a ghost.  Breathe. Just breathe.  This has nothing to do with your dreams.”

“The symbol of death was just dropped on my feet,” I teeth-whispered back. “And the sweat’s from the hot sun.”

She smiled thinly toward me then to Jenny who was unaware of any conflict.  Jamie quietly nudged me and then turned towards our newfound friend, “We are going to change for our island exploration.   See you later this afternoon, I hope.”

“I think Yoda likes you Kelly,” she uttered.

“And such a cute name, how did you pick it?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t some omen.

“Oh, we’re Star Wars fans.”

I calmed at the response.  Great, the Star Wars Jedi master meets the sea devil. Following Jamie to the cottage, I imagined the dog and horned demon dueling it out with lightsabors to save the galaxy.  Somehow in my mind’s eye, the adorable pup won the battle before I even reached the doorstep.

Nick and Luke were waiting, ready to sightsee, “Has it been forty-three minutes?” I called out to Luke.

“Forty-four,” he taunted

We perambulated to the golf cart with no plans but to be at the airport around 3:00, or whenever we saw the Caravan fly overhead.  I wanted to stop by a local grocery store because I liked checking out foreign food, and Jamie sought boutiques, if we happened to pass one.  We were all in our bathing suits with cover-ups.  Jamie and I on the back of the four-seater with the boys navigating in the front.  Crossing the rickety bridge over Bonefish Creek, Luke in the driver’s seat, decided to stop and admire the fleeting fish.  A Piper Aztec buzzed us. “Not a Caravan,” Luke announced.

A small grocery store sat across from the creek.  “Can we check that store out,” I pointed to coral shack.

Luke pulled in front and Jamie and I jumped off the cart. I perused the can goods and cereal boxes.  Plenty of beans, rice, oatmeal and a few boxes of Captain Crunch and Cheerios.  The elderly Bahamian lady watched me like a bird stocking its prey.  “My God. You can’t come in here without a shirt,” she chided.

“Oh, I didn’t know.  Sorry,” I murmured.

Exiting the shack I glanced at Jamie wearing a cover-up.  She wasn’t far behind carrying four opened Kalik lights.  “I don’t think she liked your cleavage,” she kidded.  “What are you like a 36D?”

“C,” I corrected.  “It’s the islands.  Who knew?”

“Hey Kelly, did you tell Luke about the Davy Jones boat?”

“I met the owner, Jeff.” Nick said. “Nice guy.”

“Well we met his wife and dog at the pool.  Jeff’s a treasure hunter.  That along with the Davy Jones Locker euphemism leads me to believe my idol is still at work.  Maybe it wants to return to the bottom of the sea.”

The threesome snickered with Luke going into a lingering belly laugh.  “I think maybe the owner watches too much Sponge Bob,” Luke managed to cackle.

I blinked at the three, raising my lips slightly.  “Do you know what Davy Jones means, sweetie?”

His laugh teetered to a perpetual grin.  “Yes.  Sponge Bob had a locker at the bottom of the ocean that he kept some socks in.”  He went to a full belly laugh again and stopped the cart.

Nick spoke through his smile.  “I don’t know a thing about Sponge Bob, but in pirate lore it’s the devil of the sea and it’s meant to cause fear among seamen.  It’s mentioned in Moby Dick and Pirates of the Caribbean.”  He glanced back at me.  “But in reality, it’s just a name some guy picked for his boat.  Besides he looks harmless.  You should show him your idol.”

I shrugged.  “He’s still a treasure hunter.”

“And you’re an archaeologist.  You two should have a lot in common.  I’ll introduce you two tonight,” he concluded.

“Breakfast in Bimini” Unedited excerpt chapter 5

After dinner I put on one of the few dresses I packed and Luke and I ventured into Atlantis resort and casino for a bit of nightlife.  Enormous columns imitating the temples of Luxor flanked the foyer as we entered the casino.  I rushed over to one of the machines and started feeding it quarters.  Luke touched my right elbow and murmured, “let’s check out the aquarium first and then we can play.”

“O.K., I didn’t know they have an aquarium.”  I followed his lead down the stairs past several contemporary restaurants arriving at a colossal glass window housing what appeared to be the entire Atlantic Ocean.  Soft serene music played in the background as schools of fish floated before my eyes. “Holy shit, this is beautiful.”

“This is the main entry to the aquarium but there’s more,” he muttered.

I stared in awe at the marine life, not wanting to move just yet. Pale grey fish with yellow tails, tiny yellow fish with blue eyes, colorful rainbow fish with hints of pink, turquoise and green shades.  A shadow suddenly filled the aquarium as my head and eyes tilted upward. I pointed to the top of the window at a huge ray drifting above, “Wow.  That’s the largest sting ray I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s a Manta Ray,” Luke said with conviction.

The manta glided through the water with the grace of an eagle riding mountain thermals, so effortless and timeless. I half expected Chopin’s Tristesse to start playing in the background as angels appear above.  The classic music played in my head as the manta turned towards me with a large elegant smile the size of my entire body.  I beamed back.  A remora hovered around the manta’s large triangular wings seeming minuscule in comparison.   Luke took my hand gently leading me into the main entrance where a Mayan archaeological theme jolted me out of a natural magical beauty into fantasy land.

I sneered, “seriously, where does this Atlantis Mayan connection come from.  The Mayans in Mexico have nothing to do with Plato’s Atlantis.  It’s two different parts of the world, two completely separate cultures. Not to mention…”

Luke interrupted my tirade, “honey, it’s just a resort.  Don’t overanalyze.”

I sighed, “you’re right.”  We passed several small tanks housing seahorses and the perpetually graceful jellyfish, artificially lit up and pulsating bright neon pink.  Stopping to admire for a moment we continued to the next exhibit, a glass tunnel. Marine life surrounded us as if we were submerged undersea.  A shark glided overhead and then to eye level as we watched the magnificent creature.  Tuna, grouper, stingrays, sharks and the distant eel peacefully co-existed. “Don’t they want to eat each other like in the ocean?” I asked with concern.

He sent me a sideways look, “I think they feed them.”

“But still it’s their instinct,” I shot back.  “I mean a shark with a tuna, in the marina they go nuts for tuna scraps.”

He glanced at me again with a shrug and a dismissing, “I don’t know.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to be that tuna,” I thought aloud.

We strolled through the lobster tunnel where thousands of lobster lay overhead and on each side of the glass passageway.  Nasty looking creatures but they are tasty.  We emptied into another room scattered with ruins and artifacts of mixed cultures.  I snickered and sashayed to a tank holding a few dozen small flat silver fish.

“What are these?” I asked inquisitively.

Luke joined me at the tank, “Piranhas.”

I gasped while leaning in and examining their teeth. A bulbous head with big razor-sharp teeth gaped back at me.  I cringed, “They don’t live in the Atlantic Ocean, right?”

He laughed, “No, just the Amazon river.”

Opposite the Piranhas sat a tank lined with fake ceramic vases and jars housing Morey Eels. They also exposed sharp teeth, a big green slimy head and blue beady eyes with pottery jars concealing their bodies.   This must be the scary flesh-eating room, I thought scurrying towards Luke as he headed for the exit.

I caught up to Luke in the lobby, “let’s get a drink and then hit the casino,” he suggested.

We climbed the stairs to the casino entrance coming across a bar where Luke ordered me a glass of Pinot Grigio and himself vodka and cranberry with a splash of tonic.  I stood at the gate memorized by a huge dramatic crystal sculpture rising perhaps twenty feet high.  The light from above played on the variation in the translucent crystals ranging from clear to smoky grey. I recognized the work from a show I watched years ago on Dale Chihuly and his statues at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  Luke returned and handed me a glass of wine while a tourist snapped a picture of the Chihuly piece .  I jerked my chin in the air towards the direction of the artwork, “isn’t that beautiful.”

He glanced at the impressive piece and replied, “I guess so.  There’s more glass art in the casino.”

“I’m ready,” I said, taking a quick sip of my wine and joining Luke as we walked into the brightly lit room.  “So, what’s your game for the night?” Entering the casino, sounds of bells, dings and slots screaming various sounds flooded the air.  It was smoky and I welcomed the freedom to smoke indoors.

“Poker.” He stopped and took a sip of his cocktail while searching for the poker tables.  Spotting them with a knowing recognition I followed his lead.  He leisurely walked by several tables glancing at the minimums and maximums listed on a petite digital sign. After a few minutes he turned towards me and declared, “I’m going to play here for a bit.”

“Sounds good, I’ll be at the slots for now.” I meandered through the nickel and dime slots then the quarter and dollar machines settling back at the quarter slot section.  I was drawn to a machine singing, “Wheel of Fortune.” I sat down and fed a $100 bill into the machine racking up points for my cash.  Twenty plus games passed and nothing.  I took a sip of my wine while mindlessly pushing the maximum play button.  Suddenly, the machine sang and the wheel spun.  I attentively sat up in anticipation waiting for the wheel to stop spinning when it slowed and landed on $200.  I grinned, looked around and silently gave myself a “woo-hoo.”

Twenty minutes passed with only a few dollars here and there so I decided to cash out with $80, get a drink and explore the casino.  I was credited on a card instead of the bucket full of quarters I was used to in my youth. Growing up in Vegas the pounding sound of coins hitting steel was deafening yet exciting and an all too familiar sound.  My mom worked at the Flamingo casino as a dealer, and although I didn’t spend much time there as a child when she’d pick up her check or visit the casino she often gave me a roll of quarters.  Back then I would pull the side bar and wait for the 7’s to line up. Nobody really noticed a kid playing slots, although nowadays it’s forbidden and frowned upon.  Perhaps that was in part due to my mother’s high status as a dealer.  It was just a game to me and everyone looked in the other direction.

I stopped by the poker area to check on Luke.  “Hey sweetie, I’m going to get a drink do you need a refill?” I said placing my hand on his back.

“No, they’ve been taking care of me.”  He glanced at his cards making a pass hand signal to the dealer.  “How are you doing?”

“Good. I won then lost, and now I’m going to get a drink and explore a bit.”

“O.K., I’ll be here.”

After ordering white wine at the bar and searching for another game, I stumbled upon a brilliant fiery glass sculpture.  It radiated heat and energy with red, yellow and orange glass entwined resembling Medusa on fire.  Damn, where’s my camera when I need it most.  I took a few breathless moments in admiration then continued to roam.  I passed endless slot machines full of hopeful winners and card tables filled with risk takers and players, including my lover who was still in the same seat.  My eyes and body drifted towards the center of the casino where I spotted another glass sculpture perched atop a temple. Contrary to the previous heated Chihuly monument this one was cool and calm emanating a yin presence.  Cobalt blue mottled with opalescent white glass symbolized the moon.  A bright vibrant carpet lay beneath the temple and constellations painted on the ceiling bordered the sculpture.

I felt a light touch on my right arm and I immediately glanced back at Luke’s unbiased face.  “So, how did you do at the tables?”

“I broke even. Are you ready to head back?”

“Sounds good,” I said placing my hand around his forearm.

When we arrived at the yacht Nick and Jamie were snuggled on the couch watching a movie.  We fixed another drink and shared our Atlantis experience with the Kramers, and then tucked away into our sleeping quarters.

I was jolted awake in the middle of the night with a light finger sliding down the foot bed of my right foot.  A chill fluttered through my entire body as I glanced at Luke realizing he was snoring and in a deep sleep.  What the hell was that, it seemed so real but nobody else was in the room. My heart raced as I recalled the moments prior to waking. A gloomy voice whispered that I opened a portal.  What the hell is a portal?  If I don’t know the definition of this word then how could I be dreaming it.  The voice and finger running down my foot seemed so realistic and creepy.  I sat up attempting to slow my breath and calm my pounding heart.  O.K., I’m not alone here. Luke is by my side and as far as I could tell we were still in the marina and not drifting towards a portal, whatever that might imply.   I’ll have to look up the meaning in the morning but the voice seemed somber.  Breath slow, I repeated to myself while I snuggled up to Luke.