Spirit of Steel 25

The smells of Hawaii were the most unique that she'd ever smelled.  Of course she'd been to the ocean before in her life and knew what salt water air smelled like, but with the mix of exotic flowers and the smells of summer instead of colder winter air she knew that this year's Christmas would definitely be memorable, not only on her eyes and ears, but on her nose too.

As they were driven out to their room in a golf cart she looked over the brochure that Justin had shoved into her hand in the lobby when they'd helped everyone else check in.  Carolina would be sharing Justin's cottage so she didn't have to check in, but she was glad that he'd taken her there to make sure that her parents would be ok before they retreated to their cottage.

Her eyes scanned the brochure in her hand.  The North Shore of Oahu offers a diversity of scenery and activities in a warm and friendly community. Along the coastline are some of the world's most legendary surfing spots… Sunset Beach, the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.  Turtle Bay Resort is located on the lands of Kuilima where the wide plains "mauka" (mountain side) of the resort are presently covered by the golf course. Kuilima means "to go arm in arm." Hawaiian legend refers to three men who walked in that manner while crossing these plains.  The resort was built on a point formerly known as Kalaiokaunu or "point of the altar." Ancient Hawaiians fished off the point considered to be holy ground where a small altar was built.  

"You're going to miss it all if you stare at the brochure all morning," Justin said from beside her.  He'd slipped out of his sweatshirt and had that laying in his lap while his one arm had snaked around her back to hold her against his side as they rode along.  "You should read that later."

"Ok," she said and folded it and placed it in her lap and looked at him.

"Look around," he said with a laugh.  He made a sweep with his hand as if to distract her from looking at him.

"I like looking at you," she said with a serious tone.  It was true.  Of course she'd been keeping her eyes on the news and on MTV while he was gone, but to see him in person and be able to interact with him was something so unique she wasn't sure that she should take her eyes off him.

"You're so corny," he said and leaned towards her.

It seemed as if he would kiss her, but instead he leaned back and a blank expression crossed his face.  He still had his sunglasses on and she couldn't see his eyes, but his cheeks and mouth went slack and that was enough to show her that there was something on his mind.  She knew that the people following them hadn't been something that anyone normal could handle and even with his life he hadn't been too pleased with it, but it was more than that.  There was something that he wasn't telling her about that had really turned him sour in the forty eight hours since she'd last talked to him.

"What?" he asked.

"Are you ok?" she asked looking at him seriously.

His head turned away from her and he sighed.  "I'm tired."

"Are you sure that's all it is?" she asked.

"Why?" he asked with a very aloof tone.

This was the old Justin.  The one that had wanted to kick his broken foot into things and seemed almost bitter without a real reason to be bitter about.

"I don't know," she said rolling her eyes.  "Maybe because I care?"

He turned his head back towards her for a moment then looked at their driver as he made a turn into a small cluster of buildings.

The beach cottages were on the west side of the bay and in half sunshine as the sun rose higher and higher in the sky.  The outsides of the clusters of buildings on the beach fit in with the other buildings on the property and while they were modern enough she knew that a person could lose themselves there in those cottages.

"We're here," the driver said pulling up to one of the buildings.

"Thanks,"  Justin dug into his pocket as he got out and handed him a tip.  "I'll grab the bags myself."

"Are you sure?" the guy asked.

"Yeah," he said, "She seems to have packed lightly."

The driver nodded and waited for Justin to pull her medium sized suitcase off the back of the cart before he moved towards the door.

Carolina followed him inside and was shocked to see their cottage.  The place was paradise.  With a two room layout, they had their own living room/kitchen and a bedroom, which Justin disappeared into immediately with her bag.  She moved to look inside and saw that he was putting her bag on the four poster bed in the middle of the room.  He stood there with his back to her for a long moment before taking a breath and turning back around.

"You like it?" he asked.

She nodded.  "This is amazing."  She looked back into the living room from the doorway.  "You can walk right onto the beach."

"Yeah," he said, "It's nice out here."

"Justin," she said, "Please tell me what's wrong?  I know it's something and--"

He nodded, "Let's grab a drink and go out onto the porch and see if we can get some privacy."

"Privacy?" she asked looking around and looking outside, "The place seems to be deserted.  I've never heard a place so quiet before."

"You'd be surprised," he said as he went to the kitchen and grabbed out a Snapple lemonade.  "You want one?"

She nodded.  She would want to get food soon considering that she was skipping breakfast, but for now the lemonade would do.  "Thanks."

He let her have his bottled and grabbed out another one before he slipped out of his shoes, leaving them near the kitchen before he walked down the two steps into the living room and then opened up the back doors.

She followed him outside and took a seat and he took the seat across from her.

"Last night I got here early enough so that I could go Christmas shopping," he said.


"So I step off the plane and find fifty reporters in my face.  I figured that was typical since the shows here have been advertised, but the fact that when I got here and there were about fifty girls in the lobby really pissed me off and when they followed me out into the city to go shopping it really just--"  He sighed.  "I came home without even making it to the place I was supposed to go shopping last night."

"I'm sorry," she said.

"I'm just not feeling the Christmas spirit right now.  I don't want to ruin this vacation for you, but it's going to take a miracle for me to get out of this funk."

"It'll be ok," she said.

"I hope so," he said with a shrug.  I'm going to send Trayce out shopping for me tomorrow morning.  I don't know if you all had planned to bring presents, but if you want to go with him to shop I'll make sure that you can catch a ride with him."

"I actually did my shopping.  My parents and I exchanged gifts before we left so we wouldn't have to drag them all the way out here and back."

She didn't like the look that crossed Justin's face.  He made her normal life expectations seem not good enough.  To him flying out to somewhere and bringing along house and home was normal, but for her flying to Hawaii was a once in a life time kind of trip, the kind of trip that you save a lifetime for.  "You could have fit them on the plane."

"Well this way it's done and we don't have to worry about it," she said.  Truthfully the idea of bringing Christmas here wasn't at all settling with her parents.  They liked the tree and the cold weather of the winter months and it had been appropriate to open presents at home before leaving on vacation.  "But I do have something for you."

"You didn't have to go out and--"  He sat back in his chair as if it insulted him that she would spend her money on him. 

"I didn't," she said.  She hadn't done anything expensive.  When she had started to think of what to get him she knew that no matter what it was, there would be something bigger and better coming from someone else.  She'd chosen to put thought into her gift and hoped that the little thing that she had picked out for him was something that would make him happy.  "I mean I didn't go out and buy something, because really what do you get for the guy that has everything?"

"I don't have everything," his bitter tone was unmistakable.

It was strange just how true it seemed to be that money couldn't get you everything in life.  She thought for the most part that Justin was a happy person, but the more she got to know him the less she thought that he liked his life.  Of course she knew that he thrived on the performing, but all the burdens that came along with being a public person seemed to be becoming more and more evident.

"Well you can afford most things that you could ever want, so I had to be crafty," she said saving herself.

He nodded.

She sighed.  "Why don't I unpack real quickly, you can take a nap and I'll read through the brochure then we can go have lunch with your parents?"

He nodded and moved his hand towards her.  "Why don't you leave the unpacking until later and come and take a nap with me?"

"You're incorrigible," she said.

He smiled and for the first time that day she saw the true Justin coming out.  "Thank you."

"Ok. Ok."  She laughed, "Let's go take our nap."

They made their way back into the cottage and Justin flopped down on the bed while Carolina slid out of her shoes.

"You look dead."

"It's been a long few days," he said, "One thing I'm not doing on this trip is getting up early.  Tomorrow I'm sleeping in until noon."

"Me too," she said.

"You're not training?" he asked.

"I may take a few runs and see about working out a little, but I left my foil at home.  I'm not picking it up for a good five or six days."

"Really?"  He sat up and looked at her.  "You're ok though aren't you?  Your ankle and all that is doing well?"

"Yeah," she said, "Fine.  I just thought I should really make this vacation a vacation.  Time away every once in a while just reminds me that I really want to do what I'm doing with my life."

"I wish it were the same with me," he said, "Even this week I've got my mind on things that are coming up in the next few months."

"You need to relax or you're going to burn yourself out."

"I think that happened a few years ago," he said, "Basically now I'm just coasting on fumes."

She held her breath and got lost in his expression.  There was something very unique about this man.  The words he was saying showed that he was completely upset with his chosen path in life, but there was a light in his eyes that spoke volumes as to where his heart was.  He loved school.  How could someone hate and love their life so much at the same moment.

Info about Turtle Bay...from http://www.turtlebayhotel.com/about/location.html

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