The biggest idiot
"You want me, don't you, Cruz?" Jasmine slurred, dipping her head the way drunks do to get the words out, pulling against him, dancing again. "I can tell." She giggled.
"Yes, I do, dear," Cruz MacKenzie sighed. "But that doesn't mean anything is going to happen tonight."
She giggled again. "I knew you'd say that. But it's OK. I asked Daddy."
"You what?!" Biggie Kanaka was not a man to be messed with.
Jasmine laughed again and weaved. "No, no, no. But he wouldn't mind. He likes you."
"Your father likes a lot of people, but that doesn't means he wants all of them doing the do with his baby girl."
"Oh, Cruz, don't be silly," she said and kissed him warmly.
"Jasmine, no ..." He forced himself to back away.
"You don't want me either!"
"Yes, I do. If I'd never called you niece, we'd already be ..."
"Dance" by the Hawaiian Style Band came on the radio. Jasmine retied the towel and danced as gracefully as a beautiful drunk can to the salsa-rock rhythm.
She pushed Cruz toward the bed and he fell backward and watched her move, imagining, wanting, searching for his old friends Resolve and Principle, both of whom had suddenly vacated the premises.
The song wasn't over when Jasmine crawled onto to the bed, losing the towel, and then on top of Cruz. "Jasmine, I love you, truly, and ..." He kissed her.
"... and that's why I can't make love with you, not tonight, even though part of me is aching to have you and tomorrow and for the rest of my life I may kick myself. But you're drunk and angry and heart-broken and ..."
"Why don't men like me?" She tried to pull away, but Cruz gently held her close. "Don't get me wrong, I believe in 'Help me Rhonda, help me get her out of my heart.' But not with me. I'm flattered, I'm aroused and I'm probably an idiot, but dear Jasmine, not tonight. If it ever happens between us, I want it to be for the right reasons, not just because you're mad at a jerk named Jason."
"Oh, Cruz," she sniffled, started to cry.
Later she lay curled sleeping against him, head on his arm, as Cruz recalled the events of the day. Lucien's call meant that he'd be flying home via Maui. He wanted to talk with the son of the fisherman whose half-eaten body had been recovered.
Jasmine stirred, shifted, rolled toward him, head still resting on his arm, and he couldn't help admiring her nakedness in the glow of moonlight through the open lanai door. Cruz wriggled his arm free, covered her with the sheet -- further proof that he really was the biggest idiot in the free world. But he slept well.
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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily
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