In celebration of this story being complete, I put a link on my author page to pictures of Ollie and Romie and the song I had stuck in my head when I wrote this chapter.
It All Comes Back to the Island
Rose Mary was drawn from her reverie by a knock on the door. She hesitated to answer it, reluctant to turn away from the last of the sunset outside the windows. This morning she'd been startled again by Olivier's absence, confused at waking up alone. It'd been three years since they'd been rescued, you would think she'd be used to it by now. Perhaps it was the familiar sounds of the island drifting into the room that had made her hope that it was all a dream.
Whoever was knocking was persistent. With a sigh, Rose Mary lifted the skirt of her evening gown and made her way to the door.
"Come in Lizzy," she greeted the other woman. Not that Elizabeth ever needed permission to do anything. She waltzed into Rose Mary's room like she belonged there.
"Oh my, such enthusiasm for your future sister-in-law," Liz remarked sarcastically, dropping herself into an armchair and arranging the skirts of her white flowing dress. Rose Mary watched her practiced elegance with hidden sense of disillusioned disgust, before confidently shaking out of the folds of her own shimmering midnight blue skirt.
"I'm not marrying Joseph," Rose corrected Elizabeth, turning her attention to the mirror to finish applying her makeup, "we're not even dating."
"Tell that to the press tonight," Liz challenged lazily, "Tell that to them the night we open this hotel. See what that does for business."
"Sometimes I think you have a real mean streak in you, Liz. You know I wouldn't do that to Joe. I owe him too much." Liz snorted.
"Yeah, but apparently not enough to stop moping around like your puppy just died. You and Ollie both." Rose Mary cringed at Elizabeth's use of the nickname. "What's the press going to make of it when the two shipwreck survivors that made this island famous to begin with, act like they're attending a funeral instead of the grand opening of the hotel resort commemorating their amazing adventure? I mean, what is it between the two of you anyway? You've been avoiding each other ever since we got here." Rose Mary carefully put away her mascara and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She shrugged to cover the way her heart clenched.
"It's awkward," she explained nonchalantly, picking up her hair brush, "I mean, you were there. You saw. He never returned my efforts to get in touch. Heck, you were the one who gave him my address and phone number and email, time and again. Maybe I'm just tired of trying."
"No I didn't." Rose Mary stopped brushing her hair and turned to look at the woman she had until recently considered her friend.
"I never gave him your messages," Elizabeth explained casually, examining her hand with a totally unbothered air about her, "In fact, this is yours too." Liz slipped the wooden ring Romie had so often admired from her finger and offered it to the blonde. "I lied. He didn't make it for me. He made it for you. Here, on this island. Before you were even rescued. I told him you didn't want it and that you said I could have it. That's why he doesn't want to talk to you. Ironic since that simple wooden jewelry made him a star in the design world. One of a kind, that piece. You're the reason he rarely makes rings." A heavy silence filled the room.
"Why would you do that?" Rose Mary barely choked out, taking the ring and staring at Liz in shock. Elizabeth looked disturbingly smug.
"You're the one who said I had a mean streak," she reminded, then continuing when Romie just stared at her, "Besides, if he's still pining for you three years later and actually had the gall to introduce my brother to that bitch, Brielle, then I figure he's not worth it. Though your expression right now sure was."
"I think you should get out of my room before I have time to let this sink in," Rose Mary threatened quietly, "because when I do, I'm probably going to come after you." Elizabeth grinned and stood with a snort of amusement.
"No you won't. My brother saved your life, remember?" and with that, Liz waltzed out the way she came.
"Rose Mary, there you are!" Joe exclaimed in relief as Romie made her way quickly to him, "We need to be out on the grand staircase in two minutes. Are you ready? I mean, you look gorgeous, but are you ready to deal with the photographers?" Rose Mary made a small sound of frustration.
"No, I'm not, I need to talk to you," she announced, "I can't pretend to be your fiancé tonight." Despite his tuxedo, this news made Joseph Weisler look like he'd just been told he was bankrupt.
"No, no, no, no, no," he begged, grabbing Romie's shoulders as though pleading, "You can't do this to me, Rose Mary. The success of this hotel is banking on the lasting romance of the island; on the fact that we fell in love here." Rose Mary resisted the urge to slap him. He really was a wuss sometimes.
"First of all, we're not even in love," she pointed out, "Second, you don't need me, you need the publicity. And you'll get to keep that if you tell them the truth: I fell in love on this island but it wasn't with you. And if you really want to make it good, tell them about your affair with Brielle." Rose Mary really didn't think Joseph's eyes could get any wider, but he promptly proved her wrong.
"My sister will kill me. She hates Brielle." At that, Romie grinned and the effect couldn't have been more sinister than if she'd had a mouth full of pointed teeth.
"Oh, believe me," she assured him, "Brielle and Elizabeth are two peas in a pod. They deserve each other." Joseph didn't look so convinced, but then he didn't have time to argue because they were being shoved out onto the grand staircase and the flashing light of the cameras blinded him.
Olivier wandered down the path and away from the party, following signs pointing "This way to the original hut!" He'd tired of the fake smiles and photographers hours ago but he hadn't been able to slip away until now. And maybe he hadn't really wanted to, because if he had he couldn't have watched her from across the room, midnight blue gown against her ivory skin. It seemed to him that during the last three years Rose Mary had shed some of that blushing naiveté he'd remembered and adopted a more collected elegance and maturity. It suited her.
He'd watched her till he thought he could see her with his eyes closed, but when he tried it and opened them again she was gone. Apparently she was wilier than him and had managed to disappear from the party. Staying seemed pointless after that, he'd made his celebrity appearance, he'd done his duty, he'd politely restrained himself from beating the crap out of Joe. So he untied his bow tie and snuck out the pool door through the bathroom and wandered his way into the moonlight and jungle. By all rights the fresh air should have cleared his head, but instead the familiar smells made him think of her more.
Of course, the island was different now from when he'd been marooned here with Rose Mary. For one, they hadn't had lighted footpaths between the beach and their little hut, which—Ollie stopped in his meandering stroll and stared. Where there should have been his tiny two walled shelter there was now a one room cabin with a front door and windows. A prominent plaque outside the door declared this the rudimentary housing he'd built with his own two hands.
Olivier raised one eyebrow, torn between laughter and offense. "Indeed," he murmured in amusement, walking up to the little cabin and testing the solidity of the open door frame with his hand, "built it myself."
"The original fell down," the voice startled him, coming from the shadows inside the cabin. He hadn't seen her because of the dark blue of her dress, but as she stepped into the square of moonlight from the open door, he saw the shimmer in the fabric. "I guess it needed maintenance," Rose Mary continued to explain as though she hadn't just set his heart to racing, "Anyway, they had to build a new one. Joe figured the tourists wouldn't know the difference." Olivier leaned against the doorframe, hoping to look nonchalant as she came near.
"It's nice work," he informed her in his accented English, "Makes me look good." He watched her face to see if she noticed how much his language skills had improved.
"Yours was better," she told him. She stood close enough now that he could see her teasing smile in the moonlight. He half groaned, half laughed.
"You flatter me. But, thank you," he answered, then let the silence stretch as he studied her profile. Nighttime cast a blue tint over her but he could still remember the rose of her cheeks in the sunlight. He missed that. She had been looking past him, out of the hut and into the night, but now she turned her face to him as she stood beside him in the doorway.
"Your English is much better," she noted, "You've been practicing." Ollie grinned like a cat in the cream.
"You have also," he deflected the compliment, wagging one finger at her accusingly as though she tried to get away with something, "I saw you on TV. Your French, it has improved." Rose Mary returned the smile and shook her head.
"I understand you make jewelry now," she changed the subject, "You're becoming famous for it." The new topic reminded him of the ring he'd made her and how for the last three years Elizabeth had been the one to wear it.
"No," he corrected Romie, trying to keep his tone light and teasing rather than hurt and reprimanding, "I am famous for being lost on an island. That is why my art and jewelry sell. Not for my talent." Rose Mary looked away again and bit her lip as though working up the courage to say something. She took a deep breath.
"I dunno, you seem pretty talented to me," she finally managed, holding out her hand for him to see. For an instant he swore his heart stopped beating. In the light of the moon and the footpath lamps, he could make out the ring he'd carved for her, perfectly fitted onto her finger. Without thinking, he reached out to take her hand in his, making sure it was real.
"Ah," he breathed, "I had thought, perhaps, I had made it the wrong size." Romie frowned but the expression didn't so much look confused as simply dark.
"Why would you think that?" she asked cautiously. Olivier looked up from his examination of her hand to her face, his fingers twining with hers of their own accord then growing still as he remembered the answer.
"Because you gave it to Elizabeth." Rose Mary took another step toward him, so close their knees touched. The years have changed her, he thought again, she would never have been so bold before. Never before so clear about what it was she wanted from him. She would have been petulant and stormed off even if he was right because what she really wanted scared her. She was much more brave now, though he suspected still as innocent. He experienced a brief moment of annoyance at the moon that its bluish light masked the blush that had charmed him so early on because he was sure she must be blushing now.
"I never had it to give to her in the first place," Rose Mary whispered, but the softness of her voice couldn't quite hide her nervousness, "I didn't know it was mine to keep until tonight." Olivier frowned at this explanation.
"I do not understand."
"Elizabeth lied," Rose Mary swallowed nervously, then continued, "she never gave me the ring. She confessed to me tonight just before the party." As the reality of this information sank in Olivier couldn't decide if he was angry or relieved. Relieved to find that Rose Mary hadn't rejected him as he'd always thought. And now she was standing in front of him anxiously awaiting a sign that he believed her, that he forgave her for all the time he'd spent hurting over her. He almost laughed. He'd never blamed her to begin with; he'd always thought he brought it on himself. He should have asked Tana to help him talk to her. He shouldn't have taken no for an answer. He should have...
She must have seen his lips twitching with the suppressed laughter because she looked away from him again, her neck and collarbone exposed to him, so close he was sure she felt his breath. The moonlight set the curves of flesh in stark relief and he decided that all this waiting was nonsense. There would be no more "should have"s about Rose Mary in his life. When his lips met the skin of her neck a small sound of surprise escaped her, making him smile into the curve of her shoulder. She was a little more courageous perhaps, but he knew those sounds, those tiny sighs, and she was still his same Romie.
"Je me suis dit: Je t'oublierai. Mais j'ai échoué," I told myself: I will forget you. But I failed, he confessed, his lips moving against her flesh as he made his way to her ear. "No matter how hard I tried, I could not forget you." Romie dug her fingers into his hair, tangling the soft locks. She opened her mouth to tell him the same, that she couldn't forget him either. That the engagement to Joseph was a sham; there was no one apart from Ollie and there never would be. But those words never made it out her mouth because he stopped them with his lips and she was given no choice but to lean into the intensity of his kiss.
When their lips parted he smiled, their breaths mingling. Her own lips were quirked at the corners, full of the knowledge that he was right: they'd never needed words to say it before and they didn't need them now. There were better ways of communicating that they'd discovered on this island years ago. Words were a waste when they already knew the meaning. Overflowing with all that they wanted to say, he lowered his mouth to hers to tell her again: I love you.
I'm done! Tee hee! I love happy endings.
Anyway, I won't post the first chapter of POGA 2 right away (probably some time next week) because it's in the rough draft stage and I need a quick respite to absorb the fact I finished this story before I jump right into the next one. But when I do start up again, I will be splitting my attention between POGA 2 and A Siren Call because Siren Call is so different from everything else I write (I mean really different, not everyone can handle it) and it's a nice break for me every now and then that helps prevent writer's block.
murphy1086 (you probably didn't expect this update so quickly either...), Willoughby Spit (lol, I'll help you), Ck90 (you make some excellent points), ShairiMean (holy crap, that was long, but awesome!), ellinikolouloudi, Freakage (yay, awesome compliment!), Twizler519 (lol, I totally agree about Joe), pinkfluffyoranges, Callitha (me too), The Storyteller's Seer (was the ending happy enough?), Treblesome Kylie, IGNIS Elementi (lol, you're not the only one), britty-sum41 (stupid spell-check keeps "correcting" your name...), Mishca (ROTFL, we totally should!), curious.soul :), L.Elizabeth, iLoveFiction (I'm glad you noticed he was jealous), Lucy Grace, RedMoonChick (is Brielle as a sister good enough punishment?), Mabisco (LOL), Jenny, Itsxmy-soliloquy, PearlinTheMist (yay!), swimchickslam (agreed), Trmpetplaya1, clavira
You are all the most wonderful reviewers ever!! I'm going to miss everyone now that the story's done...