Return to Paradise - by Eliza Riley
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Lisa gazed out over the Caribbean Sea, feeling the faint breeze against her
face - eyes shut, the white sand warm between her bare toes. The place was
beautiful beyond belief, but it was still unable to ease the grief she
felt as she remembered the last time she had been here.
She had married James right here on this spot
three years ago to the day. Dressed in a simple white shift dress,
miniature white roses attempting to tame her long dark curls, Lisa had
been happier than she had ever thought possible. James was even less
formal but utterly irresistible in creased summer trousers and a loose
white cotton shirt. His dark hair slightly ruffled and his eyes full of
adoration as his looked at his bride to be. The justice of the peace had
read their vows as they held hands and laughed at the sheer joy of being
young, in love and staying in a five star resort on the Caribbean island
of the Dominican Republic. They had seen the years blissfully stretching
ahead of them, together forever. They planned their children, two she
said, he said four so they compromised on three (two girls and a boy of
course); where they would live, the travelling they would do together - it
was all certain, so they had thought then.
But that seemed such a long time ago now. A lot can change in just a few
years - a lot of heartache can change a person and drive a wedge through
the strongest ties, break even the deepest love. Three years to the day
and they had returned, though this time not for the beachside marriages
the island was famous for but for one of its equally popular quickie
Lisa let out a sigh that was filled
with pain and regret. What could she do but move on, find a new life and
new dreams? - the old one was beyond repair. How could this beautiful
place, with its lush green coastline, eternity of azure blue sea and
endless sands be a place for the agony she felt now?
The man stood watching from the edge of the
palm trees. He couldn't take his eyes of the dark-haired woman he saw
standing at the water's edge, gazing out to sea as though she was waiting
for something - or someone. She was beautiful, with her slim figure
dressed in a loose flowing cotton dress, her crazy hair and bright blue
eyes not far off the colour of the sea itself. It wasn't her looks that
attracted him though; he came across many beautiful women in his work as a
freelance photographer. It was her loneliness and intensity that lured
him. Even at some distance he was aware that she was different from any
other woman he could meet.
Lisa sensed the man approaching even before she turned around. She had
been aware of him standing there staring at her and had felt strangely
calm about being observed. She looked at him and felt the instant spark of
connection she had only experienced once before. He walked slowly towards
her and they held each other's gaze. It felt like meeting a long lost
friend - not a stranger on a strange beach.
Later, sitting at one of the many bars on the resort, sipping the local
cocktails they began to talk. First pleasantries, their hotels, the
quality of the food and friendliness of the locals. Their conversation was
strangely hesitant considering the naturalness and confidence of their
earlier meeting. Onlookers, however, would have detected the subtle
flirtation as they mirrored each other's actions and spoke directly into
each other's eyes. Only later, after the alcohol had had its loosening
effect, did the conversation deepen. They talked of why they were here and
finally, against her judgement, Lisa opened up about her heartache of the
past year and how events had led her back to the place where she had
married the only man she believed she could ever love. She told him of
things that had been locked deep inside her, able to tell no one. She told
him how she had felt after she had lost her baby.
She was six months pregnant and the happiest
she had ever been when the pains had started. She was staying with her
mother as James was working out of town. He hadn't made it back in time.
The doctor had said it was just one of those things, that they could try
again. But how could she when she couldn't even look James in the eye. She
hated him then, for not being there, for not hurting as much as her but
most of all for looking so much like the tiny baby boy that she held for
just three hours before the took him away. All through the following
months she had withdrawn from her husband, family, friends. Not wanting to
recover form the pain she felt - that would have been a betrayal of her
son. At the funeral she had refused to stand next to her husband and the
next day she had left him.
Looking up, Lisa could see her pain reflected in the man's eyes. For the
first time in months she didn't feel alone, she felt the unbearable burden
begin to lift from her, only a bit but it was a start. She began to
believe that maybe she had a future after all and maybe it could be with
this man, with his kind hazel eyes, wet with their shared tears.
They had come here to dissolve their marriage
but maybe there was hope. Lisa stood up and took James by the hand and led
him away from the bar towards the beech where they had made their vows to
each other three years ago. Tomorrow she would cancel the divorce; tonight
they would work on renewing their promises.