I just have to get myself through two more days, I tried to encourage myself when I woke with the memory of what had happened at dinner. I just have to get through today and tomorrow, and then we have an early flight the next day. I'll be back with the Cranes and I can leave all this behind me.
A salty ocean breeze ruffled the sheer curtains on the open window, inviting me to step out on the balcony that overlooked the sea. It was overcast this morning, but there was nothing that would indicate bad weather. The light wind was crisp and cool, and the murmur of the sea and the call of birds filled the air. A sheet of mist hung over the water, and the early morning light gave everything a soft grey glow.
A loud pounding at the front door broke the peaceful moment.
"Daphne! Are we going to breakfast?" Mum shouted through the door.
I was jarred out of the serenity I was feeling. Back to reality…and the uncomfortable situation at hand.
All through breakfast (at the hotel's inexpensive cafeteria, as I didn't want Mum going off about "throwing away money" again), Mum kept up a steady stream of chatter as if nothing had happened. I briefly considered bringing up what had happened in the restaurant, but restrained myself. The last thing I needed before our outing was another fight.
As Mum droned on, I zoned out as I remembered that today was the day Niles and I would have been sailing out to a coral reef to snorkel, just the two of us, but now...
I pushed away my wistful feelings. It would do no good moping over what couldn't be helped. Besides, I was looking forward to our new plan, birdwatching at Akepa State Park. I had rented a car for the coastal drive.
"I hope the tour guide speaks English," Mum said as she got into the passenger seat. "You never can be sure, in these foreign places."
"We're still in the United States, Mum," I reminded her. Again.
"You don't have to sound so condescending," she sniffed. "Now, before we get too far away, you are taking emergency supplies, right? We should have some extra food and water for our outing."
I smiled reassuringly.
"Don't worry, Mum. Our guide knows what he's doing," I said. "And it's not a long hike. I chose a nice, relaxing walk for us."
"Why? Because you think I'm a decrepit old bat who can't walk?"
"No, that's not what I-never mind, forget it."
The rest of the drive was spent in awkward silence.
The walk was a very welcome distraction.
Our guide, Kele, was a pleasant young man who took us on an easy trail that wound through lush vegetation before opening up on the most unspoiled, perfect beach I'd ever seen. Along the way he would point out the many species of beautiful birds, as well as butterflies and flowers.
Mum was surprisingly enthusiastic; so enthusiastic, in fact, that it grew tiresome. She took photos of everything, even taking several minutes to photograph rocks she claimed looked like celebrities.
"It's almost noon," Kele said nonchalantly at one point. "Sun's pretty high. I'm sure you'd both like to finish this before it gets too hot."
I flashed him a grateful smile. He'd saved me the trouble of trying to get Mum to wrap things up.
"It is getting warm, so we probably should go," Mum said. "But I had a wonderful time."
"I agree," I said. "But we should probably get some lunch. Apapane Grill isn't too far from here."
Kele smiled and waved as we drove away. Whether it was from appreciation or relief was uncertain.
The restaurant's open air seating was in the middle of a beautiful tropical garden. I could see colorful birds, many of which I now recognized, flitting among the branches.
Mum once again took up most of the conversation (or lack thereof, as conversation usually involves more than one person), but I knew sooner or later I'd have to broach the subject of last night. The arrival of dessert gave me an opening.
"Mum, I think we should-no, we have to-talk about what happened at dinner."
She narrowed her eyes at me.
"What is there to talk about? Me own daughter embarrassed me in front of everyone!"
"I guess I could've handled that better," I said, hoping this concession would help, "but I was hurt by what you said. If you were uncomfortable about us paying for dinner, you could've actually talked to me about it. Even worse, you criticized me again for choosing Niles. I love him, and you need to accept that."
"I still think you overreacted," Mum said, before returning her attention to the large margarita she held.
Just forget it, I told myself.
When we were back at the hotel, we parted ways, as if we had a silent agreement that we both needed some time apart. Maybe a chance to have some time to ourselves was better than trying to have a talk would produce no result. Least said, soonest mended, perhaps.
While Mum spent the afternoon at the pool, I retreated to the balcony of my room to catch up with Niles.
"Hello, my love," he said as soon as he picked up. "So, how's Hawaii?"
I told him everything except for my row with Mum. I didn't want to trouble him, not after he'd let her go in his place, despite badly wanting to be with me.
"Sounds like you're having too much fun to miss me," he teased.
"I am having fun," I said, "but that doesn't mean I don't miss you. My voice took on a flirtatious tone as I continued. "When I'm back in your arms, I'll show you how much I missed you."
Niles gasped eagerly.
"That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate you coming home".
After a few more minutes of talking, I excused myself to get ready for the hotel's beachside fish fry and luau. It turned out to be a flop; the "luau" part proved to be nothing but generic tropical music played by a DJ and an overabundance of tacky, fake flowers for decoration. The food wasn't that good, either, and we soon slipped indiscreetly away.
"Why did you take me to such a dull event?" Mum complained as we settled onto a couch in the lobby and sipped coffee.
"I didn't know it would be like this," I protested. "I would've like to attend a real luau too, but..."
And then I stopped, remembering. In my stress over the situation with my mother, I'd forgotten that Niles had planned to take me to an authentic luau tomorrow night. A carefree evening taking in Hawaiian culture sounded like something Mum and I would both enjoy.
"I'll make up for it tomorrow. We're going to an actual luau tomorrow night, not this pathetic touristy display. It'll be a lot better."
"I hope you're right," Mum said dubiously.
A/N: The scene with Gertrude photographing everything is inspired by my aunt, who is totally awesome but also has a habit of bombarding family with a slew of photos. Once she even sent a photo of a squash that looked like a duck.