Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Endings Part 3

The brilliant sunshine that blazed down on Maya as she descended the stairs of the private jet would have given most visitors to Barbados pause, but to her it was as welcomed as a lover’s embrace.

She paused to enjoy the light breeze wafting off the nearby Caribbean Sea. Although she was in contact with her grandmother regularly by phone, she hadn’t been home in nearly a year.

Her reverie was broken by a star-struck airport official, who escorted her to the terminal. Fifteen minutes and several autographs later, she exited the VIP lounge in search of her ride.

Maya spotted him immediately, leaning against an old pickup truck, arms folded. She ran her fingers self-consciously through her shoulder-length, bronze-streaked curls and resisted the urge to smooth her wrinkled blouse.

He pushed himself away from the vehicle and strode towards her. Maya’s traitorous heart skipped a beat. Nobody can fill out a pair of jeans like Liam Carter, she admitted grudgingly.

His six-foot frame was topped off by a green polo shirt that did little to conceal the muscles ranging underneath. Closely-cropped hair, a neat moustache and goatee framed tanned, chiseled features that would be the envy of many a male model. But the kicker was the pair of serious hazel eyes that locked on hers as he approached.

“Welcome home, Ms. Hollywood. Sorry about Gran.” He gave her a slight smile before turning his attention to the luggage.

Maya climbed into the cabin while he hefted her two bags on to the back of the pickup.

“Thanks for the lift, Liam. I hope it’s not too much trouble.”

He slid into the driver’s seat, fastened his seatbelt and started the engine. “No worries. Gran asked and I complied. I know it’s not the type of ride you’re accustomed to these days, but this is how we island folks roll,” he added dryly.

Maya slipped on her sunglasses, ignoring his jibe. As they headed north, she quietly observed the verdant countryside, dotted with gaily-painted homes, as it whipped by.
Traffic slowed as they approached a roundabout, and Maya decided to break the tense silence.

“So, how’ve you been? It’s been a while.”

He shrugged. “Good. Busy.” He paused. “I don’t have to ask how you are. I can’t open a magazine or turn on a television these days without seeing you.”

She gave him a small smile. “Well, I hoped you liked what you saw.”

Dark brows furrowed, his grayish-green eyes roamed up her body, taking in the casual flats, body-hugging jeans and breezy blouse before settling on that famous face, which appeared luminous even with minimal makeup. “Fishing for a compliment?” he asked sarcastically.

Maya felt the flush of heat rising to her cheeks and turned towards the window. Bastard, she thought.

A few minutes and a mile later, she made another attempt at playing nice. “I really appreciate your mother looking after Gran for me. I hope I can convince her to return to LA with me for a while.”

Liam raised an eyebrow. “Good luck with that. You know she’ll never leave before harvesting is over.”

He piloted the vehicle around another roundabout and picked up his lane. “If she goes, who’s going to look after her when you’re away on location or modeling?” he asked suddenly.

“Do you think I’d take her thousands of miles from her home and leave her to fend for herself? She’s important to me, Liam,” she retorted coldly.

He chuckled bitterly. “Well, I thought I was important to you too, and we know how that turned out.”

She gasped, hurt. “That’s unfair! You’re the one who ended it, Liam, not me.”

“Yeah, after you practically threw my ring back in my face!” He exhaled deeply and forced himself to calm down.

She shook her head, willing away the hot tears already prickling her shaded eyes.

“That’s not how I remember it, but if it makes you feel any better to put the blame on me, go right ahead,” she countered. “Why are you bringing the past up, anyway? We’ve both moved on.”

His hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. “From the parade of guys you’ve been going out with, I see you have. I guess some of us move on more slowly than others,” he added coldly.

Maya snorted. “Oh please. I’m sure you haven’t been a monk since we broke up. I bet that girl you work with, Monique, couldn’t wait to get a crack at you.”

Liam laughed dourly. “Be careful, you sound like you care, Maya.”

Maya cut her eye at him. “I knew this was a bad idea. If you can’t be civil, let me out here and I’ll get a taxi.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And make front page news tomorrow? I don’t think so. Don’t worry, I have nothing more to say.”

A miserable silence reigned for the remainder of the journey, and Maya was thankful when the truck finally pulled into his mother’s driveway.

Part 4 tomorrow.

Image: Fustic House, St. Lucy

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