Rose and Elle walked outside and took the steps down from the deck to the beach. The moonlight glinted off the calm water lapping softly along the sandy shore. After a few minutes, Rose removed his shoes and socks and rolled up his pant legs. Elle pulled the hem of her long dress up to her knees. Together, they strolled barefoot through the beach break.
“It’s so beautiful out,” Elle exclaimed. “I’ve always loved the ocean. It’s such a tremendous force of energy and power. The ocean is the one thing that makes me feel truly free.”
“Why wouldn’t you always feel free?”
“There is a man who claims to love me, and because I don’t love him, he will destroy me.”
“His name is Derek Ballard, one of the richest men in Hawaii. In the country, for that matter.”
“The pineapple mogul? He must be in his sixties.”
“No, he was very young.”
“I’m not sure we’re talking about the same guy,” Rose said. “But young or old, what’s the difference? You don’t need the aggravation. If you don’t love him, forget about him. Life’s too short to settle for the wrong guy. Just do what makes you happy. Be free.”
“I wish I could be that way. That’s one difference between you and me.”
Rose and Elle stared into each other’s eyes for a moment. Then she leaned in, and they kissed deeply. Rose put his arms around her, and she put her arms around his neck. After several moments, she pulled away and looked down.”
“Forgive me,” she said. “It’s the alcohol.”
“No, it’s not,” Rose said, kissing her tenderly again.
When they parted, Elle said breathlessly, “Do you have a cigarette? I could truly use a smoke.”
“Sorry, I had one, but I left it on your table before we walked outside,” Rose said.
“It’s all right, thanks anyway.”
“No, there are cigarettes back at the bar. You wait here. I’ll go get you a smoke.”
“No, really. I don’t wish to be a bother.”
“No, bother at all,” Rose said with a grin. “Wait here. I’ll be back in two minutes.”
He turned and started back to the bar but stopped. Turning back, Rose said, “Elle, why don’t we—”
But all he saw was the empty beach. Elle was gone. Rose walked further down the beach, calling out her name, but got no answer. He searched in vain for her for over twenty minutes, but Elle had disappeared. It was like she vanished into thin air.
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