Hawaiian Heatwave

Elle wasn’t sure if the pounding was happening inside her head or if it was the surf crashing against the beach outside her hotel window.

She groaned and licked her lips, screwing up her face at the stale tang of mint and shuddering at the memory of the mojitos she drank way too many of the night before.

“Morning,” a raspy voice beside her said.

Elle’s eyes snapped open, and she cautiously glanced to the side before slowly allowing her head to follow.

A smile met her. Wide and sleepy and impossibly bright.

She squinted as she struggled to focus.

The smile was surrounded by golden skin, with eyes the colour of faded denim sparkling above it. Messy brown curls stuck out in every direction and dark scruff shimmered along a strong, square jaw.

Everything roared back to her as she gawped at the gorgeous man in her bed. The cocktails. The music. The dancing. The kissing. The more kissing. So much kissing.

She lifted the covers and peeked beneath them, sighing with relief when she saw she was wearing her underwear.

“Yeah. We didn’t do that,” he said with a laugh. “What kind of guy do you think I am?”

At that moment, she wasn’t entirely sure, but she thought he might be an… “Adam?” she blurted. “Hi… Adam…” She cringed at the hesitation in her voice.

He laughed again. “Yep. Adam.”

She winced. “I know. You’re the reason I can’t feel my feet.” Or my lips, she wanted to add.

“We did do some dancing,” he said, stretching his arms above his head. A crack rang out. “Oof. I need to work out more.”

Elle frowned. From her vantage point, it looked like he worked out plenty. Broad shoulders lay against her pillows and perfectly formed biceps rested on top of her sheets.

She ran a hand over her hair, as she wondered how she could slide away to the bathroom and a mirror.

“Hey. You look beautiful,” he said, leaning in and kissing her on the cheek.

He threw back the sheets, strode to the window and drew the blinds.

Elle was dazzled by a magnificent sunrise and Adam’s equally magnificent back.

She inhaled sharply, and a tiny gasp escaped her mouth.

“I know, amazing, right?” he said, still gazing at the view. “Nothing like a Hawaiian sunrise.” He turned and smiled at her. “How about an early swim?”

***

They held hands as they walked barefoot down the path, past the pool and its straw umbrellas, and onto the beach.

“Race you,” he said, turning towards her and running backwards.

“You’re on,” she said, as she dropped her towel and sprinted towards the ocean.

She hooted as she shot passed him, then squealed in surprise as the cool water slammed against her skin.

He followed her in, slid his arms around her waist and dropped them both under the waves with a splash.

Elle burst to the surface laughing and spluttering – her long hair wrapped around her face.

Adam stood in front of her and guided the wet strands from her eyes. Then, bending down, he pressed his lips to hers.

They rocked back and forth, mouths locked together, bodies pressed into each other, fingers entwined, everything warm and wet as gentle ripples lapped around their thighs.

“So,” Adam said, when they finally broke for air. “You feel like some breakfast, Elle? I know the best spot on the island for Loco Moco.”

“Sure,” Elle said. “Or…” she hesitated. “We could get room service?”

***

As they walked back across the sand, towards the hotel and the deliciousness that awaited them, Elle licked her lips, this time savouring the zing of sea salt, and the heady taste of holiday romance.

© Amy Hutton

The Last Sunrise

It would be my last sunrise.

The last time I glimpse the orange streaks stretching across the wide blue sky. The sun shimmering gold above the ocean as its dazzling light glistens off the frothy peaks of the waves.

My breath catches in my throat at the sheer beauty of it. Nature at her most glorious.

A young woman rides along the footpath atop the headland where I stand. She stops and pulls her bicycle onto the grass beside me.

“Gosh. It’s a stunner this morning,” she says.

I nod and hum an affirmative.

***

It’s been centuries since he witnessed the spectacle of the dawn. His eyes have not gazed on the sun, nor experienced its warmth for four hundred years.

He watches it rise in movies. The colours vividly captured on celluloid. The grandeur of the moment frozen in time. He strains to remember the touch of it on his cold flesh. The lick of its heat.

He studies the photos I take for him and eagerly listens as I explain every glint, every shade, every sensation the still image does not capture.

I consider how startling he would be in sunlight’s brilliance. His alabaster skin, eternally shadowed by the night, gleaming iridescent. His striking face illuminated, and his green eyes blazing.

I will never see him like that.

Just as I will never see another sunrise.

***

I draw a deep breath, holding the air trapped in my lungs until they burn. Savouring the scent of the sea spray that follows the air down.

I won’t breathe after today. My nostrils will never again tickle from the breeze. My chest will never rise and fall. I exhale an exaggerated puff and marvel at how my lips tingle as the air passes over them.

I will miss it. All of it. But I don’t regret my decision.

Not when I feel his mouth on mine, or his cool touch against my searing hot skin. Not when his hard body presses into me, as his butterfly soft kisses dust my shoulders, and his powerful hands caress my back.

I would give up everything for that.

I will give up everything.

I selfishly want him to love me forever, and if that means dying for him, then I shall.

A tear splashes onto my cheek and I swipe it away before another can follow.

I take one last wistful look at the fledgling day and turn and walk towards my car.

***

He holds my hand in his. “You’re sure?” 

I gaze at his handsome face. His eyes long dead, yet still full of love, crave reassurance.

“I’m positive,” I say, and tenderly kiss his icy cheek.

He runs his nail across my palm, drawing a thin line of blood.

I hiss at the pain and wince as he dips the nib of the quill into the fresh wound.

Red liquid drips from the pen’s end as he hands it to me.

My signature in an ancient book is all it takes to end my life.

I close my eyes and picture the sunrise, fixing it eternally in my mind, before inking my name on the page.

My death was a brief one.

© Amy Hutton 2021

Meeting Bear

I didn’t expect to inherit anything from my great aunt when she passed away. Certainly not her two-bedroom cottage at the end of a winding road, in the tiny coastal town of White Point. She must have known I needed a new start. To put my divorce and the sadness of the last few years behind me.

I stood on the porch and breathed in the sea’s scent, savouring the sound of the waves crashing beyond her small yard, my small yard, and on the other side of the dunes that rose above the sand.

Grabbing one of my great aunt’s coats from the starfish hook outside the front door, I started towards the beach, with a mug of steaming coffee in my hand.

As I stumbled up and over the dunes, my sneakers sliding in their softness, I stopped at the top to take in the wide expanse of windswept shore, before inelegantly traversing the downward slope.

I perched on a small rock and closed my eyes, enjoying the rhythm of pounding surf and the wind swishing in the long beach grass.


A whistle carried on the breeze, followed by what sounded like a man yelling, “Watch out!”
Suddenly I was on my back, my coffee splashed across the sand. A large hairy face with a long pink tongue staring down at me.

A wet slurp dragged across my cheek.

“Bear! Get off her. Bear!” The words got louder as the man came closer.

“Bear,” I said, trying to push the dog away. “Come on, buddy.” I looked up at a pair of soulful brown eyes and caught another sloppy slurp.

“Ew. Bear!” I said, turning my head to the side.

“Sorry. He’s a people lover.” The voice was deep, with a little gravel and a healthy amount of desperation.

Bear’s weight lifted off me and I gazed upwards as a hand appeared out of the glare of the sun.

“Let me help you,” the man said, as he hauled me to my feet.

He was tall. Maybe six-two. His fair hair hung just below his ears, and his neatly trimmed beard had a hint of ginger. He was handsome. Pretty, even. With a smile that positively beamed and sparkling blue eyes as bright as cobalt.

My breath caught in my throat.

“I’m Steve,” he said, still holding my hand. “I think you met Bear.”

I laughed. “He’s a bit forward with his affections,” I said, drawing my hand away. “Alice,” I introduced myself, and turned and gathered up my sand encrusted mug.

“He spilt your coffee.”

“No dramas, I was almost finished anyway.”

Steve bent down, picked up a piece of driftwood and tossed it for Bear.

I admired his back, wrapped in a snuggly white cable-knit sweater, the kind with an intricate pattern of knots.

“How about I buy you a fresh one, Alice?” he said, still looking toward the bounding dog.

“It’s really okay. I just live over the dunes. I can go make another.”

He turned and looked at me with a gaze that made my stomach flip. “I’d still like to buy you a coffee.”

I studied his disarmingly handsome face. A mix of softness and strength.

A delicious tingle whooshed through my entire body.

“What the hell,” I thought. “Sure,” I said. “I’d like that.”

“There’s a place up the beach. If you’re free?”

I slid my cup into my pocket. “I’m free.”

“Great.” He flashed a wide, brilliant smile. “Bear! Get over here,” he hollered and chased after the wayward dog.


I laughed at the scene in front of me. Steve dashing across the sand. Bear jumping and barking joyfully.

Steve turned, laughing and shrugging, before racing after the dog again.

“Maybe this is your new start,” I thought, and from where I was standing, it looked pretty good.

© Amy Hutton 2021

A Devil Of A Romance

Longlisted for Australian Writers’ Centre October 2020 Furious Fiction competition

 ______________________________________________________________________________

“This is kinda romantic,” Callum said, nudging Holly. “A cabin by the lake. You and me…

“Tied up, waiting to die.”

“Well, I said kinda.”

They sat on the floor, back to back, wrists and feet bound, a band of rope pulled tight around their waists.

It was supposed to be a routine haunting. Holly would clear the spirit, and Callum would back her up. Except there was no spirit. Just an elaborate ruse by a pair of amateur Satanists looking to sacrifice a psychic to their dark lord. That’s where Holly came in. Only the idiots forgot the ritual candles and ran into town to pick some up, leaving Holly and Callum alone. Holly would laugh if she wasn’t so damn angry.

“You shouldn’t have come, Callum. They wanted me. Now we’ll both die.”

“We’re not gunna die. We’ve been in worse fixes than this.”

His pinky finger caressed hers, causing a familiar tingle to zip up her spine.

He was right, they had been in worse fixes. Like the time they were trapped in the basement of a condemned house with a furious spirit who sent Callum soaring across the room, splitting his head against a wall. He still carried the scar from that wound. It ran through his left eyebrow. Holly found it sexy.

“Can you wiggle out of the ties?” Callum said, bringing Holly back to the present.

Holly tried to move. “No. But what if we drop to the side?”

They rocked back and forth, falling sideways onto the fluffy white rug that covered the cabin floor.

“What Satanist buys a white rug,” Callum said, as he puffed the long pile away from his mouth. “I mean, blood sacrifices and white do not go.”

“Focus, Callum. Move around a bit. It might loosen the knot.”

They flipped and flopped like two fish beached on the sand until Callum squirmed out of the rope with a “Ta-da!”

“Give me your hands,” he said.

Something wet and warm ran along Holly’s wrist. “Did you just lick me?”

“Maybe.”

“Callum. Focus!” She tried to ignore the goosebumps that erupted across her skin.

“Couldn’t help it,” he mumbled, as he tugged on her ties with his teeth.

The second Holly was loose, she crushed her lips to Callum’s, kissing him hard and deep. He didn’t object.

She forced herself to pull away. “Later,” she said, through heavy breaths. “We need to go.”

They clamoured off the floor and darted to the door.

“Hang on,” Callum said as he dashed back inside. He returned brandishing a bottle of red wine.

“Is that their sacrificial wine?”

“They ain’t gunna need it now. Besides, they owe us. We can grab a pizza on the way home!” He flashed a dazzling grin.

“You are unbelievable.”

“That’s why you love me.”

“That’s why you’re lucky I love you.”

“To the moon and back,” Callum said, and he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Holly smiled. “And then back to the moon.”

© Amy Hutton 2020

The Cruel Sea

Should I tell Jackson what really happened? Should I confess to him my secret? 

The music from the ballroom wafted on the breeze as I breathed in the salty air, its sweet tang settling in the back of my throat. We stood alone on deck and took in the stars; the tiny pinpricks of light peaking through the swathe of darkness. It had been such a beautiful evening. Perfect. Dancing, laughing, singing, swaying in Jackson’s arms. It made the last time I was on a ship seem like a distant dream. A distant dream preceded by a nightmare.

~*~

Jackson knows nothing of the man I loved before him. The man who made my every day a living hell. Whose cruelty still marks my body and my soul. He knows nothing about what I endured. The humiliation. The brutality. Will he understand if I tell him everything? Will he understand if I tell him the truth about the night the man tumbled overboard and vanished into the inky ocean?

“Somebody, help me!” I remember screaming.

Eventually.

“No. Please. No,” I remember crying.

In public.

But behind closed doors, I secretly celebrated. The joy was almost painful, it was so acute. I didn’t feel sad about it. Not for minute. Not for a second. I mean, I wouldn’t have shoved him over the rail if I didn’t want him dead.

Sometimes I wonder how death claimed him. The man. Was he dragged into the frozen depths and sliced into tiny pieces by the ship’s giant propellers? Or did he scramble to the surface and bob in the great expanse of water until sharks despatched him in a bloodied frenzy?

These are the sweetest of musings.

Jackson never questions me about what happened that night. He never asks for details. He says with grief, he knows the score. He understands that sometimes, it’s easier to keep the pain hidden than it is to share it.

Dearest Jackson with his kind eyes and sweet smile. He saved me in so many ways. He brought brightness back into my bleak world.

~*~

I gaze up at him, the silvery glow of the moonlight illuminating his gentle face. For the first time I know love, and if I’m going to spend my life with this man, then he deserves the truth.

“Jackson,” I say. I notice the thump of my heart pounding against my chest. “There’s something I should tell you.”

Jackson smiles at me, “I know all I need to know.”

“But you don’t.” A quiver colours in my voice, as the beginnings of tears prick at the corners of my eyes. “I didn’t tell you everything…”

“About the man?” he says. “The one you killed?”

“What?” I breath out.

Jackson’s hands suddenly slam against my chest, and the force of his shove makes me stumble backwards.

“Jackson!” I cry, as I bash into the guardrail. The metal impacts across the middle of my back and I yelp in pain and shock.

He shoves me again, and this time my balance falters completely and I tumble over the side.

I somehow manage to grab one of the rails as I fall. But it’s cold and slippery from the spray of the sea and I struggle to hold on. My fingers ache with strain as my feet scramble wildly against the hull of the ship trying to find a hold.

“Help me! Please! What are you doing?”

“I’m doing to you what you did to my brother,” he says, coolly.

I hear myself gasp, and in that moment, I see his face switch from kind to cruel. They have the same sneer, Jackson and his brother. The same ugly, vile sneer.

“You don’t understand,” I say, as I plead for my life, hoping he has more compassion in his heart for me than I had for his brother. “I’m sorry, Jackson. I’m so sorry.”

“I’m not,” he says, and his foot comes down and stamps on my knuckles.

I watch his smirking face get smaller and smaller as I plummet. My arms flailing in front of me, grasping at the air. My screams lost on the wind.

The surface of the ocean is like concrete when I hit it, and the shock of the impact explodes the air from my lungs.

I disappear beneath the waves and the foamy wake of the ship.

 I’m kicking now, kicking and kicking. My hands reaching for the light as I struggle for air. I break the surface briefly and glimpse the stern ship as it disappears into the black night. I wave frantically, but a whirlpool of freezing water is sucking at my legs and dragging me down, and I know I can’t fight it.

Will Jackson raise the alarm, I think, as my lungs start to burn from craving breath. Will he feign panicked devastation while he secretly celebrates?

I know he will. That’s what I did.

I’m dying now, my mind is dimming; my heartbeat slowing. And as the darkness of the inky ocean pulls me into its depths and swallows me, I no longer need to wonder about the man’s death.

Because I’m living it, and in a moment, I will understand everything.

© Amy Hutton 2020