Fifty feet below, the waves smashed menacingly against the rocky cliff. The currents swept the sediment from the seabed, making it impossible to see the bottom. Elsewhere along the beach the water appeared so clear that the rays of light passed right through it, making the marine floor visible beneath. The light bent as it pierced through the water lending a bluish hue to the white sand and coral.
The sea was warm and inviting, even as it churned beneath the cliffs. The locals claimed that the depth of the water below went down at least thirty feet. Many brave souls climbed the high rock, bare footed and lightly clad, to dive into the cleansing tides beneath. There could be no chickening out once reaching the summit of the cliff. Reputation was at stake, and anyone who turned back would be laughed off of the island.
Max kept that in mind as he peered into the surf below, cursing under his breath and trying to recall why he had thought this would be such a wonderful idea. Glancing over to the beach reminded him of that answer. It was his silly masculine need to impress the lovely woman that waved to him now from a blanket on the sand. The early morning meant that there were very few people on the beach, so it was very easy to spot her.
Ess had told him that she thought the idea was crazy, and that he didn't need to take such a daring risk, but his pride got the better of him when she told him that he didn't have to prove himself. Insinuating that she wouldn't think less of him if he didn't do it made Max feel that he truly must display his manhood, not only to her but also to himself.
"Come on, mate. Make it happen." Oh yeah, and there was another reason he was doing this: the Australian man that they met on the second night at the hotel. Jake, apparently, was a great adventurer. Rock scaling, bungee jumping, scuba diving, and even sky diving were just a few of the exploits he boasted, not to mention his claim to climbing Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Max's manhood didn't stand a chance against this guy, so when Jake suggested cliff diving, Max had to agree.
"Just give me a minute." Max replied. "Gotta get my bearings." The height, admittedly, made him feel a little woozy.
Of course, Jake figured that out right away. After a good natured laugh, he suggested, "You want me to go first?"
"No, no." Max wasn't about to lose face now by following behind the great adventurer, not when Ess was watching.
With one last deep breath – a really, really, lung stretching, deep breath – Max jumped, pushing with his feet and turning his body to aim head first into the depths below. People always say that the fall happens in slow motion, that speed defies time and the body becomes aware of every little sensation – sight, sound, touch.
This was not the case for Max. Gravity pulled at him with all its might. The length of time between springing off the top of the cliff and plunging from the tip of his fingers to the end of his toes into the foamy warmth happened so quickly that he could not register or recall it. The speed at which he plummetted caused him to torpedo deep into the water. And it was at that moment that time seemed to slow down.
When he finally descended as far down as the dive would take him, Max looked up towards the surface. Several feet above him, the sun dazzled and danced on the top of the water. The glare of it reminded him of the first time that he had ever truly experienced the light of the sun in his eyes. The memory disappeared, though, as his body began to plead for oxygen, giving him a burst of energy to swim for the top. The air bubbles caused by his plunge, tickled at his skin as he rose.
The air felt sweet as it flooded his lungs upon breaking the surface, and the breeze along the water felt cool on his damp face and in his wet hair. He did it! It felt wonderful. What an accomplishment.
Max looked up and saw Jake whooping and waving from above. The stunt had earned that man's respect; but more important was the show of his manhood for Ess. He looked towards the beach, waving his arms in triumph. The waves smacked him in the face, making it difficult to see the shore. He couldn't make her out from her position on the sand, so he swam in that direction.
As he came closer in, Max could feel the sand beneath his feet. Finally, he could stand and walk the rest of the way out of the water. Rising up from the surface, he could see the beach clearly now. Here and there very few people stood or lounged along the water, one of them clapping as he made it back to shore, but no Ess.
No Ess. Where did she go? He couldn't imagine that she'd walk off and miss his big moment. In fact, he was sure that she would be there to present a congratulatory kiss for his deed.
Could it possibly be that seeing his courageous act bourgeoned her own confidence enough to try the same thing? Max looked towards the cliff, half expecting to see her ascending the rocky face.
She wasn't there. Her blanket remained and her sunglasses were strewn in the sand, so she could not have returned to the hotel. Max scanned the waterline looking for her head bobbing in the waves. The only person in the water was Jake, swimming in from his own graceful dive.
Then he heard it. His name was screamed out in undulating fear. Max turned and saw Ess stepping off of a small boat dock in the distance and running along the beach, trying to make her way towards him. Her flip-flops slowed her efforts. Two dark men in sunglasses and light colored polo shirts were in quick pursuit. They caught up with her before she could make it very far. She fought to tear herself from their grip, but they held her arms and dragged her without any show of kindness back to the dock. Then, they threw her into the back of a Riva Aquarama that awaited them there.
"What's going on?" Jake caught up to Max on the beach, and noticed the scene playing out before them.
Apparently, Angoli had far reaching ties, even when he was incarcerated. Even in Greece. "Shit, not again," Max cried as he ran towards the docks, uselessly attempting to catch up to the boat that was already speeding away.
Would they ever be free of Angoli?
I just thought I'd give you an alternate ending. Which do you like better? Or should I keep them both?