Wren is a hardworking archaeologist on his first vacation in years. While he’s tempted to look for ancient artifacts, this is Maui and he needs to focus on taking it easy. So it’s off to the beach to relax.
There Wren dives into trouble, literally. Luckily, the backward roll and breathing techniques he learned studying Ninjutsu saves his life, because the shore break called Satan’s Washing Machine grinds him up and spits him out, temporarily blinded and badly battered.
A karate dojo owner named Steven takes him to a doctor, a pharmacy, and then back to the beach, only to find Wren’s car and all his belongings have been stolen. So Steven invites him home instead.
Will their mutual love of martial arts lead to other a deeper relationship? Or will their shared desire for humbleness and respect for others keep them from falling in love?
Twenty minutes later, we were back at the beach. I recognized the bumpy road in and could hear the heavy pounding of the shore break. Had I really gone out into that, like a total idiot?
"Oh, crap! I can't drive my car!"
"What does it look like?"
"Uh ... red? Oh, yeah, it's a red Mustang convertible."
There was a brief silence, then Steven said, "Dude, it's not here. There's nothing here. Did you leave your clothes on the beach?"
"No, in the car. In ... the ... car. Shit. Well, shit."
"They must have been very fast, as I don't remember seeing a car like that on our way out. Geez, there's so much car theft here. Paradise, right. I'm so sorry."
A hand cupped my cheek, and, I realized, wiped off the tears that were leaking down my face. The tears made my eyes sting, and I was ashamed to be caught crying.
Steven patted my knee. "Well, then, we're going to my house, unless there's somewhere you'd rather go. Where are you staying?"
"Unh ..." I stammered out, unable to bring up an address or even location. After all, the crisis was over, right? So now it was time for me to fall apart. Good job, Rennie. At least you can do that part right.
"Never mind, we're going home, to my place. You'll feel better after a shower and something to eat. Too bad you can't see the scenery. It's a pretty drive!"
Trying to be polite, I said, "You said you know a little karate, too? What are you studying?"
"I'm doing some sword work," Steven said quietly.
A short while later, we were there. He turned off the engine, got out, and helped me out.
"I've never been blind before," I said, trying to make light of it.
"Hey!" A woman's voice shouted. "Hey, Steven, if he's straight, can I have him?"
This was followed by gusts of laughter.
"Never mind her. She's ugly! Oh, I guess that wouldn't matter right now!" Steven said that with quite a bitchy streak in his voice.
I didn't really know what that was all about, but I almost applauded anyway. My Speedo got tighter as well. Gay? Steven was gay? Well, why not?
"That's my neighbor, Waiola the Witch. Well, that's what I call her, but her real name is Bai. It means purity, so, no. Huh, like I should talk," he added. "We really do get along, don't mind us."
All this time we'd been walking along a driveway or sidewalk. I could make out shapes by now and some shadows, enough to tell me we were at a door. He opened it and showed me in, well, helped me in. Then he led me across the room to the bathroom.
"Here's clean towels, and if you need any help, just call. I'll be right outside, fixing some drinks. Gin or rum base? Wait, let me help you find the shower stall. Here, put your hand right there. I'll get the water on to a nice temperature. You sure you don't want some help?"
He had me at gin. Yes, yes, I did want some help, but if we had enough gin, or rum, maybe that would come later.
"Soap here, shampoo here, toilet there, or use the shower. That's been done before." He laughed. He had a great laugh, and I joined him. Or tried to, but crinkling up my eyes hurt too much.
From outside the window came a call. "If he needs any help getting that tiny suit off, I'd be glad to give him a hand!" Following that, there came a trail of blissful happy laughter that ended in a very unfeminine belch.
Steven gurgled. I think he was trying not to laugh. "I'll lay out some clothes for you. Then I'll help you get them on. If you want ..." His hand lingered on my arm, spreading warmth to my heart. And other areas as well, actually. Maybe too much warmth because I heard the Speedo fabric rip.
"Uh, I don't think we've been formally introduced? I'm Steven, almost six foot zero, weight, uh ... never mind, sun-bleached but originally brown hair, and dark blue eyes. I like, uh ... I was going to say long walks on the beach." Steven laughed and patted my stomach.
"My name is Wren, like the bird, but for God's sake, just call me Rennie. I'm supposedly named for some famous artist or architect my grandmother liked, or loved, I don't remember which."
Steven took pity on me and reached past me, and I heard the shower come on. "There, that's about right," he said. "Relax. Now we've been introduced."
And my evil brain thought, wait, you haven't met my dick yet. His name is Dick! But I kept my mouth shut and stepped into the embrace of the warm, soft water.