Jade green sea edged by snow-white surf, coral cream sand shadowed by feathery casuarinas and stiff-leaved palms, slid away beneath the sun-dazzled wings of the jet-liner as it made its approach to a runway. A lake, deeply blue gleaming jewel-like among a setting of dusty sage scrub tilted skywards. The plane righted itself. Wheels hit tarmac and in a few minutes the terminal building at Nassau airport came into view.
Her dark brown eyes sparkling with excitement and good humour, her long dark brown hair bobbed springily as she walked and talked with the middle-ages couple who had been her companions on the flight, Isabella Swan made her way with a hundred or so people, most of them tourists, some of them businessmen who had come to spend a week or a few days on an island in the sun during the month of February. In spite of the numbers of people arriving it didn't take long to clear Immigration, collect luggage and clear Customs. As she walked into the entrance hall of the building Isabella looked around expectantly.
Bahamian porters trundling luggage, their white teeth flashing in their dark faces, shouted to each other and to passengers in lilting tuneful voices. Tourists officials smartly dressed in brightly coloured clothes, like birds of paradise, in yellow, sugar pink and even purple, collected together the tourists they had come to meet and herded them towards the exits where taxis were waiting to whisk them off to the huge many roomed hotels where they would stay.
"Is your sister here?" asked Mrs. Dodd, the woman with whom Isabella had travelled on the plane.
"Not yet, but I expect she will be soon." replied Isabella.
"We're off to the hotel now, on Paradise Island," said Mr. Dodd, wiping his sweating face with a large white handkerchief. "Whew! I don't know about you but I'm feeling the heat already. Can't wait to change into shorts and sandals."
"And I can hardly wait to get into a swimming pool," said Mrs. Dodd with a chuckle. She reached up and kissed Isabella's cheek. "We did enjoy your company on the plane, love," she added, her eyes twinkling with affection. "Don't forget now, when you're back in England look us up in Oxford. Jim gave your our address, didn't he?"
"Yes, thank you. I hope you have a super holiday here."
"You too, dear and I hope you find everything is all right with your dad and your sister."
"Come on Marge," urged Mr. Dodd. "They're wanting us to get on the minibus. We might see you in Nassau," he added, nodding at Isabella. "Cheerio, for now."
Her bulging shabby suitcase at her feet, Isabella watched the couple go through swinging glass doors. Now that she was back with both feet firmly on the ground, the excited anticipation which had kept her going on the flight across the Atlantic was quickly evaporating and she was beginning to feel limp with tiredness. The beige wollen trouser suit she was wearing had seemed perfectly suitable to wear for travelling on a plane but it felt thick and heavy and she wished she was dressed in a sun-dress like the one the tall slim woman who was coming through one of the swing doors was wearing.
The dress was made from thin, lavender-coloured cotton and the hem of its calf-length skirt was edged deep frill and its low-cut bodice was held in place by narrow straps which curved over the smooth sun tanned shoulders of the woman. Isabella blinked and looked again at the gracefully curving neck and shining auburn hair of the woman who was just removing sun-glasses from her eyes.
"Nancy!" Isabella called and waved an arm vigorously. "Hey Nan, I'm over here!"
Since Nancy didn't seem to notice her, Isabella picked dup her case, struggled with it through a queue of tourists who were waiting to be conveyed to their hotels and staggered towards her sister. "Nan!"
"Bella, at last! How are you?" Nancy presented a thin sun-tanned cheek to Isabella's enthusiastic kiss of greeting and stepped back to eye her critically.
"Bella, that suit – it's awful, so unfeminine," she remarked in sisterly disapproval. "And your hair – what happened to your hair?"
Isabella grinned a wide gamin grin which showed her perfect teeth and lit up the dark depths of her eyes. She shook her head so that her hair bounced. "I just wash and wear. It's not a lot of trouble. Just leave it open." she added, looking beyond Nancy to the man standing behind her.
He was tall, about six foot one, she guessed and his bronze unruly hair stood on end, pointed in all different directions. His skin where it showed on brawny forearms and legs as revealed by the short sleeved blue shirt and brief white shorts he was wearing had been slightly tanned but still showed a milky complexion. About twenty eight, he looked in perfect physical condition but his handsome face was marred by an expression of boredom as he looked about him.
"Who is the white god standing behind you?" Isabella whispered to Nancy.
"What god?" exclaimed Nancy, her beautiful amber eyes widening in puzzlement. "What are you talking about?"
"That's how he must look to the dark people in this island, aloof and lord of all her surveys yet wishing he wasn't here right now, bored out of his mind with the doings of mere ordinary mortals like us."
Nancy turned quickly, almost guiltily, to glance at the man. Then she went up to him and to Isabella's surprise smiled at him and slid a hand in the crook of his right arm, the dark red of her painted fingernails glowing like rubies against the light golden sheen of his skin.
"Edward, I'd like you to meet my not so little sister, Isabella." She said. "We've always called her Bella since she never liked the name Isabella. Bella, this is Edward Cullen. He drove me here to meet you."
Emerald green, the same colour as the deep sea she had been swirling about the shores of the island, was the colour of his eyes. Bella offered him her right hand and his big one closed round it firmly. Against her palm, his felt rough.
"Hi Bella," he drawled and his smile was a brief cool flash of white – too cool for Bella, who felt dismissed and beneath his notice. With her chin at a different angle she looked right into the emerald green eyes, feeling irritated because she had to look up because he was so much taller than she was.
"You've been sailing,"she said. "Recently too." Surprise glinted in his eyes and his eyebrows lifted slightly.
"How do you know?" he demanded.
"Your hand is very calloused from pulling on ropes."
"You're very observant," he replied, releasing her hand with a suddenness which betrayed his dislike of her remarks.
"Yes, I am – very. It's necessary for me to be in my work." She retorted, her glance going deliberately to her sister's fingers which were resting so possessively within the crook of his arm.
"What sort of work?" he asked, sharply and she looked up again. A shiver of alarm tingled down her spine because his eyes were no longer the cool green of emerald but the cold green of ice and his eyebrows had a wicked frowing slant to them as he pinched the bridge of his nose with his index and thumb finger.
"I'm a newspaper reporter." She said.
"Ha! His short laugh brought the blood storming up into her cheeks. "I thought you had a nosy look about you." He jeered.
For a strangely dangerous moment their glances held, hers furious and defiant, his scathing and derisive, then he turned to look down at Nancy. With a slow deliberate gesture he covered the fingers resting on his arm with his own and squeezed them gently and intimately.
"You should have warned me, sweetheart, that your sister is a newshound." He drawled. "I can see you and I will have to be careful how we behave while she's here."
Sweetheart. The casual endearment applied to her sister by this handsome arrogant stranger made Bella's blood boil. And what was worse than the way he was looking down at Nancy was the way Nancy was looking at him as if he were indeed some god whom she adored.