The Big Break(5)

By: Cara Lockwood

“I mean, it’s not a good idea.” Po already hero-worshipped Kai. He didn’t need to learn the fine art of being a heavily partying bachelor at age four.

Kai looked at her intently. It was as if he could sense her inner conflict, as if he knew she was struggling to keep control, as if by grasping her arm, he could feel her pulse tick up.

“Kai!” called one of the women from his front stoop. “Kai, we’re hungry!”

“You’d better go,” Jun managed.

“Jun, wait...” But Jun ducked into her car and turned over the ignition. She drove off, not looking back.


KAI SAT IN his manager’s office waiting room in Kona, nursing the headache that only seemed to get worse the longer the day went. He’d had a hell of a time extricating himself from the two tourists who seemed to have wanted to move in with him overnight. Thank God they’d had a flight to catch, or they might still have been lounging around his pool, drinking his booze and eating his food. He was a man who appreciated women, but he vowed, once more, to stop. He couldn’t keep falling into bed with strangers. Well, technically, he could. It was a fine way to spend a Saturday. Or hell, a Tuesday. But even he knew they were just a quick fix, a way of distracting himself from his real problems. Chasing women meant he didn’t have to chase waves. He didn’t need a psychologist to tell him he was deep into avoidance.

He frowned, thinking about his damn knee. He flexed it, wondering whether it would ever be 100 percent again. The World Big Wave Surf Championship was coming up soon. He was nowhere near ready, and he knew it, and that thought scared the hell out of him.

The damn tsunami.

Everything had been fine before the wave tore through half the island and broke his leg in three places and completely dislocated his knee. Doctors told him he was healed, but he didn’t feel healed. His knee felt as if it was going to slip out of place. The ligaments like loose rubber bands. It could’ve been worse. He knew that. And he was glad he’d gotten the broken leg and not Po.

Jun and Po.

He had almost forgotten about them. He’d been so fixated on the tsunami and his own leg that his thoughts had crowded out little Po. In some ways, the boy was impossible to forget. Kai couldn’t look at his battered knee and the long ugly scar that ran the length of his thigh without thinking about the dreadful day, about being washed out with Po, about barely surviving. But Kai didn’t look at the day the same way Jun did. He didn’t know why Jun was trying to thank him. She kept sending him food all through that first month and then the second, too. Kai had thought maybe she’d forgotten him at last, but then she showed up on the anniversary of the damn thing. He really wished she’d stop thanking him.

He hadn’t done anything. He’d simply stayed with the boy. In the end, it had been just dumb luck they’d not both been killed. He’d thought countless times, what might have happened if he hadn’t gone to the day care that day to check on his cousin? If he’d simply headed straight to higher ground?

He remembered Po, the small dark-haired boy, recalled that the two of them had huddled in the second story of the day care before the first wave hit. He’d obviously been scared, but he’d worked so hard to be brave. Just three then, barely older than a toddler, he’d swum for his life and made it. After the wave had wrecked half of the building and torn them from it, he’d lain crippled in the flood with Po, who was magically unharmed. He’d done nothing special then but pray.

But he couldn’t convince Jun of that. Jun, with those serious dark eyes and that delicate heart-shaped face. He’d forgotten how striking she was, how pretty. His thoughts wandered where they shouldn’t, and he felt sleazy for even wondering what her petite, toned body might look like naked in his bed. She was a mother, for goodness’ sake.

There you go again, avoiding the real problem. It was easy to avoid problems, he thought, when he had a pretty face to think about.

Kai reached into his pocket and pulled out the small business card Jun had slipped into his gift bag. It read “Jun Lee, personal trainer, life coach. Live life organically.”

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