ten minutes,” Deidra said, “and you’ve already brought up Marx, Hegel, and Rousseau. Not to mention Plato and Kant. I’m guessing she’s her father’s daughter.”
“More like the antithesis spawned by my thesis. I’m a materialist and she seeks transcendence. I’m a realist and she’s a romantic. She’s a wonderful daughter but her mother and I thought it best to bring her to a new environment. She was running with a bad crowd.”
“My sister,” Deidra said, “lost a stepson who got tied up with gangs.”
“Heather was hanging with Young Republicans.”
“And,” Charles continued, “she threatened to apply to Big Ten schools. Said she wanted to live in the Midwest. Iowa was her top choice. Refused even to consider Berkeley.”
“That is serious.”
“She was likely to end up worse than a neocon.”
“At least,” Deidra said, “there won’t be any of those throwbacks on this island. It’ll be a safe place to come of age.”
“I guess,” Charles said with a laugh, “she’ll come of age in paradise. I should rename her Margaret Meade.”
Both laughed and the conversation wound down. After a time, they wished each other good night and the woman returned to her cabin while the man remained in his chair.
Only when his wife stole behind and brushed the back of his neck with a forefinger did Charles stand.
“There you are, Joan. Ready for bed?”
“It’s late,” Joan said with a smile. “What’d you do all evening?”
“Drank a couple beers, talked some politics, met some neighbors.”
Joan took her husband’s hand. “That reminds me,” she said. “I forgot to pack alcohol. Could you see to buying some? On ship?”
“They’re Russian sailors,” Charles said with a grin. “For certain, there’ll be both booze and a black market.”
Joan nodded as she reached for the cabin door and turned the handle. Tiptoeing into the room, they fell into bed without lighting a lamp or changing to nightclothes since it was late and their daughter already slept.
“She’s so grown up,” Joan whispered.
“She is,” Charles replied. “We’ve done our job. Now she’s a woman and can choose her own values.”
Joan kissed her husband on the side of the cheek and pulled the sheet to her shoulders. Both soon slept as silent as their daughter.
A sharp-faced Caucasian with hard limbs was lying on a bunk, sheets pulled to his shoulders. A light-skinned and dark-haired woman—her curls frosted with gray—reclined beside him, propped on an elbow as she looked at the man. She, too, was draped with a thin sheet. Neither wore clothing and the woman talked loud.
“Does it bother you,” the women giggled, “that … that I’m Protestant?”
Father Donovan shook his head and smiled. “Not at all,” he said. “I’m ecumenical. Served three years as a consultant to the Board of Trustees of the World Council of Churches.”
“What’d you consult?”
“Mostly efforts to reach out to Islamic countries.”
The woman raised her eyebrows. “Did you devote yourself to good works there too?”
“I brought paradise itself,” Father Donovan answered, “to the daughters of Muslims and freed them from their burkas—at least for a few minutes.”
“That sounds fun.”
“And it is, too. At least until the first Iranian girl confesses fornication to her father, the ayatollah. Then it’s all fatwas and threats and resignations. That’s when I went to Nicaragua to minister to the proletariat. I spent three years as spiritual advisor to troops trying to flush out Contras. They needed comfort and strength for the tough work at hand.”
Now the woman sat up, her countenance serious and voice soft. Her breasts slipped from behind the sheet and fell forward, though she made no effort to veil them.
“I remember that battle,” the woman said, “back in the States we were trying to prosecute Casey and Reagan.”
“And you just about won,” Father Donovan said,
Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, Marilyn Pappano