Last Light(2)

By: Dean Koontz

When she considered calling it a day, wading out of the foaming breakers with her board, she checked her GPS surf watch, expecting the time to be about 3:30, but it was 5:15. Her legs should have been aching, but they were not. No weariness attended her, though she was famished.

Back at her ’54 Chevy, the westering sun slanted through the limbs of the podocarpus and projected spiral galaxies of somber light on the deep-space black of the car’s hood. She stowed her board in the sling bag. Because her hair was wet and her clothes were damp, she retrieved a beach towel from the trunk, intending to drape it over the driver’s seat. When she closed the lid of the trunk, the demigod was standing on the sidewalk, only a few feet away, watching her.

He said, “Hey, you were amazing out there. Totally stylin’.”

Close-up, the guy was beyond gorgeous, but he didn’t play the moment as if he were a hunk. He didn’t use his physical perfection. He had pulled on a T-shirt with the Volcom TRUE TO THIS slogan and wore over it an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt with a pattern of surfing penguins. He had a disarming boyish quality.

“I was just in the zone,” she said. “It happens every great once in a while.”

“That wasn’t just a good day. That was serious skill. You ever compete?”

She smiled and shook her head. “Only with myself.”

“You should maybe go pro. You’d rock it.”

He wasn’t her type. With one exception, she had found that guys who were knockout handsome were so into themselves that their primary romance would always be with a mirror.

She said, “Go pro and have to travel the circuit? I’m happy here.”

“What’s not to like about Newport, huh? I’m Rainer Sparks.”

When he didn’t offer his hand, she was relieved. She didn’t touch just anyone. She had her reasons.

“I’m Makani.”

“Gotta tell you, Makani, this car is radical. A real beauty.”

“Built it myself. Well, me and my guys. My employees. I have a custom hot-rod shop.”

He grinned and shook his head. Even his teeth were perfect. “So you ride the waves like Kaha Huna, build hot rods, look the way you look…”

Kaha Huna was the Hawaiian goddess of surfing. Makani liked being compared to Kaha Huna. She’d been desperate to escape Hawaii, but she was proud of her heritage.

He said, “You should have a reality TV show. Except you’re too real for that.”

If he was making a move on her—and he was—he had an agreeable way of doing it.

She wasn’t a virgin, but she wasn’t easy. She believed an ideal man existed out there somewhere, her destiny, and the worst way to find him would be to try every bozo who winked at her. She had been alone for more than a year, however, and “Lonely Surfer” definitely wasn’t her favorite song.

“Hey, the way you were slashing those waves, you must’ve worked up a monster appetite. Maybe I could take you to dinner?” When she hesitated, he said, “I know, I know, a million guys must be always hitting on you. I sympathize. Guys are always hitting on me, too, and it’s so boring.”

Damn, he was also amusing. “It’s not that,” she said. “I’m a mess and not in a mood to go home and prettify.”

“Me, too,” he said, though he looked as if he had stepped out of a glamour spread in Foam Symmetry magazine. “We just go now, the way we are. You know Sharkin’?”

Sharkin’ was boardhead lingo for surfing, but it was also the name of a funky restaurant in the vicinity of the nearer of the peninsula’s two piers, a casual place where barefoot customers in beachwear were welcome.

As the lyrics of “Lonely Surfer” rose in memory, Makani could not justify saying no, so she said yes.

Rainer reacted as if he were a teenage boy who couldn’t believe his luck. He nodded repeatedly. “All right, okay, cool, so then…see you at Sharkin’.” And he pumped one fist. “I’ll leave now. I’ll get there first. Snare a table.” He dashed across the narrow street to a white Mercedes SUV, a big GL550, and called back to her, “Don’t stand me up. I’d get drunk if you did, and throw myself off the end of the pier. To my death.”

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