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storyline: Brighter (starting w/"brittle")

prompt - brittle


"Well, folks, we have begun our descent to St. Croix, where the current weather is 84 degrees. We'll be in the gate in about twenty minutes so we'd like the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for arrival. We want to thank you for flying with us today..."

Peter turned to me, rubbing at his jaw. "You got any more gum?"

Nodding sympathetically, I rummaged through my purse and handed him my last piece. We'd been gradually dropping altitude for a while now, and I know his ears had to have been popping as badly as mine.

"Thanks." Grinning, he kissed my cheek and sat back to unwrap his gum.

Blowing a bubble, I returned my gaze to the bluest sky. Resplendent, turquoise water shimmered brightly below... I'd never seen anything like it. We flew lower and lower, allowing me to see more detail, the ripples of waves and white caps foaming over the reef. I couldn't wait to go snorkeling.

A long, concrete pier jutted out in to the endless azure, cutting in to my line of sight.

I grabbed Pete's arm, yanking him closer. "Look!"

A jagged curve of land came in to view. Sand, then trees. Lush, hilly terrain dotted by houses of every color. Serpentine roads meandered the countryside, cars the size of toys gliding lazily along. Things were more open here, more spread out. This was nothing like Seattle, where millions of people coexisted amongst skyscrapers and apartments and houses and highways.

I loved Washington, but what I'd been dreaming about.

As a native of Seattle, I was used to humidity, but not like this. I wiped a hand across my face, unprepared for the wet blanket of heat. We'd chosen to come in September, and it was still crazy hot; I could see sunblock and shades were going to be my new best friends.

Pete grinned down at me, shading his eyes from the blazing sun. "So...we made it," he said, grabbing my hand.

"I know," I sighed. "Finally." We shared a smile, no doubt thinking about the endless conversations we'd always had about this very scenario. I'd met Pete at UW, through friends, when we were juniors. We'd bonded over a mutual love of the outdoors and travel, and because he was from old money, he had the resources to do both. The summer before senior year, we took a trip to Paris as "friends", and came back as lovers. I moved in with him, and we'd spent the last year of college enjoying a mellow, easy going relationship, complete with weekend trips to anywhere we felt like going.

When Pete's childhood friend left UW for the Virgin Islands during his senior year, (I don't think he ever planned on returning to the mainland, diploma or not) we knew we had to check it out. Tyler and a couple of roommates rented a house on the east end, and he'd offered us a place to stay for as long as we wanted. As far as post-graduation employment went, I didn't have anything lined up back home, and Pete was a trust fund he could afford to chill in the islands for as long as he wanted, and as his girlfriend, I got to goof off right along with him. I planned to make the most of it. We both did. When would we ever be this free again?

"He's late," Pete said, glancing at his watch. I nodded, watching a family reunite near baggage claim. Near the curb, taxi drivers waited in air conditioned vans, offering tourists rides and respite from the heat.

"When isn't Tyler late?" I snorted, thinking of the college days. Pete's best friend lived in his own little world...which, come to think of it, probably explained why he'd upped and moved to a Caribbean island a year prior.

Pete smirked. "True..."

Suddenly a pair of arms wrapped around me from behind, squeezing and lifting. "Hey, Belly-bee!"

Squealing, I twisted around so I could hug the idiot holding me. "Hi, Ty!"

Tyler hugged back, then released me so he could greet Pete. It was so good to see this fool. Some things, like the sun-bleached hair and burly-looking beard, were new, but others, like his infectious laugh and goofy swagger, were totally the same.

"Welcome to paradise," he chortled, slinging an arm around each of us. "Let's go."

Pete offered me shotgun, but I let him have it. Really, I just wanted to stretch out in the back seat, glue my face to the window, and take in the sights. The airport seemed like it was in the country, but then the two lane road we were on led to a highway.

And we were on the left. That would take a little getting used to.

"Can you feel the a/c back there, Belly?" Ty asked as we rolled up to a stoplight.

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Okay...good, cuz I had that bad boy fixed just for you...couldn't have you wilting in the heat like a delicate flower."

"Shut up," I chuckled, swatting at the back of his head.

He grabbed my fingers and squeezed. "Hey, look right there – you see that lady?"

We looked over at a woman selling food from a truck parked beneath a tree.

"She sells this stuff called, the best curry anything you've ever, ever had."

"Sounds good," Pete said, nodding.

"You hungry?" Ty asked, slowing down.

I almost said no, but then my stomach grumbled. Loudly.

"Starved," Pete said, winking back at me.

Our first week in St. Croix was insane.

Tyler worked at a dive shop in downtown Christiansted, but he'd taken a couple of days off to show us around. Jet skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking...every night found me in bed, exhausted, achey, tanned and happy. The idea was to cram as much sightseeing in as possible, because once he went back to work, we were on our own.

Not that it mattered. The island was twenty eight miles long and seven miles wide; it wasn't exactly hard to get around. Pete and I rented a car of our own and spent most of our time beach and bar hopping.

Friday night, Tyler found Pete and I lazing on the couch, channel surfing.

"Hey, there's a live band playing at my friend's bar," he said, plopping down next to me.

"Oh yeah?" Pete yawned, nodding. "You going?"

Ty scoffed. "Of course, man. Get up. You can sleep when you're dead."

I was rather sleepy, but apart from a couple of quiet restaurants, we hadn't experienced much of the island's nightlife. I needed a shower, though. Swimming all day had left my hair knotted and brittle with sea salt. "What time do you want to leave?" I asked, getting to me feet.

"Whenever." Ty shrugged, pulling a bright glass pipe from his board shorts.

Aaaand that was my cue to leave. Not surprisingly, Ty had always been a stoner, but pot made me stupid, so I avoided it like the plague. Pete played with it now, but I had a feeling that once we were back in Seattle, living our "real" lives with jobs and careers and grad school for him, he'd be over it. Whatever. That's what this trip was for.

"I'll be ready in ten minutes," I called.

People were everywhere. For such a small place, St. Croix had quite a bustling scene. The pubs and restaurants along the Christiansted boardwalk were packed.

"It's the season," Ty said, when I commented on it. "Snowbirds come back, should see this place in the summer, though. Dead. Some shops have to close until the season starts up again. But right now? I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

He and Pete continued talking about the island's economy, keeping me between them so that I wouldn't get lost in the crowd, but I zoned out pretty quick. The music was amazing...I'd never been in to reggae before, but I'd developed a taste for it since we'd come down. I just wanted to lose myself in it.

Pete wasn't much of a dancer, and honestly neither was I, but I was willing to try. Ty humored me, though, twirling me through the throng of people.

Eventually we ended up outside his friend's bar, which was actually a restaurant as well, the Brew Pub.

"They have their own micro brewery," he yelled over the music.

The three of us fought our way to the bar, Ty stopping every five seconds to say hi to yet another friend. Pete put his arm around me, holding me close. I felt him kiss the top of my head, and I leaned in to him, glad we'd come out tonight.

Ty flagged down the bartender, a gorgeous, curvy girl with long curly hair and a dimpled smile. She kissed his cheek, giving Pete and me a small wave when he whispered in her ear, gesturing toward us. A minute later three Heinekens made their way in to our hands, and we left the bar to see if any tables near the boardwalk had became available.

A bus boy happened to be clearing one off, and we made a beeline for it, claiming it before anyone else could. Ty and the busboy hugged and did some weird guy handshake before turning to us, grinning.

"These are old friends from back home, Pete and Bella," he announced proudly, grinning at us. I flushed, warm from beer and how unexpectedly cute the guy was. Damn. He's pretty hot, bus boy or not.

"Guys, this is Edward," Ty continued, clapping him on the back. "The owner."

...going back to my roots with this one.

thanks for reading. ;) will probably update daily, unless i'm trying to get another chapter of Glimmer Darkly out (which is almost complete, anyway).