After arriving on the island the Friday before the surprise party, I decided to walk to the Sleep Inn and Breakfast since it wasn’t far from the boating and ships port. The sun shone brightly down on the beautiful greenish-blue water while the wind wrapped around my petite body. I took in a deep breath as I listened to the hummingbirds echoing in the trees above. I pulled my rolling luggage as I began to walk the trail to the hotel. On each side of the trail stood the most beautiful tall pitch pine and eastern red cedar trees. The pitch pine trees were an evergreen color and stood at least forty to seventy feet tall. The irregular, twisting, drooping and gnarled branches had leaves different in color from normal trees. The yellow-green needles usually appear in clusters of three to four. The eastern red cedar tree was also of evergreen color and stood about thirty to forty feet in height. These trees can grow in drought weather, either cold or hot. The atmosphere here on the island was totally different from the busy streets of New York. I can say, it was really nice to be home.
“Sky! Skylar Holmes, is that you?” asked a young guy around my age. I immediately stopped in my tracks.
“Yes, and do I know you? Brice! Brice Cane? Oh, my world! It’s been so long!” I exclaimed. “How are you? You are looking good. Jeez, damn good.” He stood about six feet tall, with a brown complexion, broad chest, muscular arms and legs. He was wearing a light blue t-shirt, blue jeans and fishing water boots.
“I am doing good, Sky,” Brice said while picking me up and twirling me around in the air into a bear hug. “What? It’s been about nine to ten years, right? Since your parents… I’m sorry, Sky. I didn’t mean to… ” he said as he put me down.
“It’s okay, Brice. And yes, it’s been nine years.”
“Don’t tell me, you are here for Payton’s surprise going away party?” Brice said with excitement in his voice.
“Yes, I am, Brice. She has no idea I am here. My uncle has been keeping in touch with her family. Well, her mom and dad, anyway. Her dad told my uncle his wife was throwing her a big party before she moves away.”
“I didn’t think she was ever going to leave her folks, leave this island,” Brice said with sadness in his voice. “Ever since that devastating wedding was called off, dumped at the altar, Payton hasn’t been the same, Sky. But I knew from jump that Tyler was no good for her. Hell, he is no good for anyone but himself. That guy is so stuck on himself. If he was to marry anyone, he needs to be marrying himself.”
“Could you blame her, Brice? I wish I could have been here to comfort her like a BFF is supposed to do. Not only was I not here to comfort her after the most humiliating day of her life, I haven’t been keeping in touch with her either.”
“Don’t say that, Sky! If anyone understood what you were going through, it’s Payton,” Brice said calmly.
“No, Brice, it’s not just the wedding! I failed her by not answering her back about being her maid of honor. I totally ignored her phone calls, texts, emails and whatever else she used to try and contact me. Instead, I stayed away because of my fears of coming back home, back to this island.”
“Well, I think she is going to forget about all of that past stuff when she sees you,” Brice said with laughter in his voice. “Where are you going to be staying while you are here?” he asked with confidence, one eyebrow up.
“I am staying at the Sleep Inn and Breakfast, Brice. I don’t mean to cut you short, but a girl really needs to be going so she can get checked in. So, I will see you later, okay?”
Brice smiled at me while I walked away. “Okay, Sky, I will be seeing you soon,” he said with that smile still on his face. “I really need to be getting back to work. Catch you later, Sky.”
Within minutes I was walking in the parking lot of the hotel. The hotel was a three-story building with a deck as far as I could see going around it. I walked up the stairs dragging my luggage behind me. I entered the double doors and walked to the counter to check in.
“Sky, Skylar! OH, MY GOODNESS!” exclaimed a short, medium-sized lady in her mid-forties with black curly hair. “You don’t remember me? I used to visit your mom every weekend for our book club before… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
I smiled. “It’s alright. I am sure you are not the only one who is going to mention my parents while I am here. I have been gone for so long. I should have come back to visit long before now. But, I am sorry that I don’t remember you.”
“It’s okay, Sky. My name is Kathryn Wells. I have lived here on this island all of my life. I have watched people come and go when I should have been going myself. I am related to all of the Wells on the island. Do you have reservations here?”
“Yes, I do. I will be here until Sunday.”
“Well, let me get you checked in so you can get to your room. I am sure you are needing some rest from your trip. I will need your ID or driver’s license and the credit card you used to reserve the suite. If you don’t mind me asking, where are you living these days?” Kathryn asked with concern.
“I am living in New York with my Uncle Nate and his wife Angela,” I told Kathryn as I handed her my driver’s license and my American Express card.
“Huh, that’s funny. I didn’t know either of your parents had a brother. They have never mentioned one. I thought your mother was the only child and your father only had one sister,” Kathryn said, looking confused.
“Kathryn, my Uncle Nate is my mom’s brother. It was just the two of them. My Uncle Nate is the oldest.”
“That’s funny! Lynn never mentioned a brother,” Kathryn said with a puzzled look on her face. “Oh well, here are your keys to your room, your ID and your credit card. I need you to sign here on the line next to the X. You are on the second floor, suite 211. And before I forget, breakfast is ready every morning from 6:00 am until 9:00 am, Sky.”
“Okay, thank you, Kathryn. I will see you later.”
I walked up the wide stairs that sat in the middle of the hotel up to the second floor. I was looking down at the steps instead of looking up in front of me when I heard a girl scream out loud.
“NO WAY! IT CAN’T BE! SKYLAR HOLMES, IS THAT YOU? OH MY, IT IS YOU!” she cried as she practically knocked me back down to the first floor with her arms around me.
“I should have known it was you, Kennedy! You are still loud and dress like you are on your way to a strip club. I don’t have to ask you how you are doing because by the look of it, you are okay.”
“Sky, you are still the same ole plain Sky,” Kennedy said with laughter. “I am sure by now you have a lot going for yourself but are too scared to flaunt it. Girl, you need to let loose and work what you got! I know there is more to see under those plain clothes of yours.”
“Yes, I am sure there is, Kennedy. But why advertise it? I am not in that profession to do so. I am going to leave it all to you.”
“Girl, I see nothing has changed with that slick mouth of yours. What made you come back to the island after all of these years, Sky?” Kennedy asked sarcastically.
“I am here for Payton’s moving away surprise party. Wait, don’t tell me, her mother didn’t invite you, because the look on your face tells me she didn’t, Kennedy.”
“Let’s just put it this way, she is not my type to hang around in the first place. She is simple, just plain Jane like you, Sky. But I can tolerate you. You know how to get out and have a great time, unlike Payton,” Kennedy said as she cleared her throat. “I would love to continue this reunion but I really need to get going, Sky. I have a date with a fisherman, your childhood crush.”
“Really, Kennedy? I did not have a crush on Brice!”
“Who said I was talking about Brice?” Kennedy said as she walked down the stairs.
That Kennedy always knew how to ignite a fire. I walked to the door of my room and went in. Finally, peace and quiet. I did not have to worry about running into anyone while I was in my room. I did forget to ask Kathryn not to let anyone know I was here. Before I forgot again, I called down to the main desk to inform her to do so.
“Good morning, thank you for calling Sleep Inn and Breakfast, my name is Sage. How may I assist you?”
“Good morning,” I answered, “I am staying in suite 211 and I want to ask that you do not share with anyone that I am here.”
“Certainly, ma’am, let me just make a note in your account.”
I heard typing as I held for Sage.
“Okay, ma’am. I’ve taken care of your request. Will there be anything else?”
“No, that will be all,” I replied.
“If there is nothing else, have a nice day and I hope you enjoy your stay here at Sleep Inn and Breakfast,” Sage said.
As I unpacked my suitcase, I couldn’t stop thinking about my nightmares. I was playing in a treehouse that was painted in colors of pastels: pink, green, blue, yellow, and orange. I heard a woman scream at the top of her lungs. In my nightmare, the woman was screaming words I couldn’t make out. I walked over to the small opening shaped like a window, looked out and saw a faded, cloudy image. It just went on for what seemed like miles and miles of nothing. What the…? My gaze was broken by the sound of my cell phone ringing.
“Hello, hello!” I answered my phone in a panic.
“Sky, it’s Uncle Nate! Are you alright?” he asked with worry in his voice.
“Yes, I am, Uncle Nate,” I said as I tried to calm myself down.
“I haven’t heard from you. I just thought you were going to call me once you got to the island,” Uncle Nate replied.
“Yes, I was, Uncle Nate. I got distracted by the people that knew me. From the moment I got off the ship to the time I got checked in at the hotel. Uncle Nate, do you recall anyone here by the name of Kathryn? She said she knew Mom and Mom never mentioned having a brother.”
“No, Sky, I don’t recall anyone name Kathryn,” Uncle Nate replied. “You know, she may have moved to the island after I moved away when I was eighteen and came here to college.”
“I can understand that, Uncle Nate. But what I can’t understand is why mom never mentioned you to her. That is something you bring up when you become friends with someone. Well, it’s in our nature to bring up, you know, family, other friends, exes.”
“Don’t wreck your brain worrying about that, Sky. You are there to help celebrate Payton’s moving away and reconnect with the rest of your friends,” Uncle Nate said in a soothing voice.
“You are right, Uncle Nate, as usual. Where is Aunt Angela?”
“She had to run some errands, Sky. She should be back in a few hours. You know that wife of mine can never go and come straight back,” Uncle Nate said with laughter.
“Oh, yes, I know. Well, tell her I asked about her. I am going to go now, Uncle Nate. I still need to unpack. Love you, and I will be talking to you soon.”
“Alrighty then, Sky, love you, too. Remember to have a great time and call me if you need me,” Uncle Nate said before he hung up.
I decided to take my Uncle Nate’s advice and just have a great time while I was here on the island.