The next wave splashed up above his ankles soaking his pants now creating little pools in the cuffs. He took several steps forward dousing his legs up to the knees. He contemplated walking all the way out until the waves took him completely.
She was gone, what would it matter?
Two days earlier.
Robert appeared in the entrance to the ice-cream parlor overlooking the sea, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He saw Lisa helping a mother and child so he snuck up behind them. He took that moment to admire her fair skin and long brown curls. Her round face and cool blue eyes just about did him in.
"Excuse me miss." He said from behind the large woman.
"You'll have to wait your turn sir." Lisa said without looking up from the banana she was cutting for the woman's split.
"Oh? Then I guess these flowers will wilt waiting for you."
She finally looked up. "Robert!" She spent no time rounding the counter and flying into his arms. "Why didn't you tell me you were home?" She kissed him a hundred times.
"Excuse me miss." The large woman looked a little agitated. "My split."
"Chill lady." Robert hugged Lisa harder. "Can't a woman greet her husband home from the war?"
"Oh well, in that case, take your time."
"Husband?" Lisa laughed in his ear at his lie.
"Yeah." He slipped a small box into her hand.
"Oh Robert!" She opened it up and saw the large diamond. This time she gave him a large messy kiss. "You devil! What a way to propose!" She rolled her eyes.
"You know me, simple and straight forward."
"Yes, my perfect sailor." She kissed him again. "I love you so much. Yes, of course I'll marry you."
"I love you too sweety."
He took hold of her held her back a little and then wiped the tear from her eye. "Now, get back to work Mrs. Paulson. We're being watched."
She giggled a little. "Let her watch. She needs a little excitement in her life."
He shook his head. "When do you get off."
"Six." She said.
"Good, I'll see you then." He kissed her one more time and watched her as she returned to work.
He wasn't watching where he was going and bumped into a large distinguished looking man in a suit, somewhat out of place for the beach, but then again it's California, anything's possible.
He looked back as he left and she glanced up with a smile. He loved that smile. He would have savored it more if he knew it might be the last time he'd ever see it.
Robert stepped out the door another beautiful view. The beach was quite busy, this summer afternoon, but the crowd didn't diminish the awesome expanse of water. He'd spent the last six months looking at nothing but water all around his battleship. One would think he'd be tired of it, but today it was like looking at it for the first time.
After checking in with his CO, he spent most of the day walking up and down the coast. He didn't keep track of time. The relaxing sounds of crashing waves and laughing children kept him quite occupied. He dreamt of his wedding day and night. He lost himself in thought of walking every day with Lisa along the beach.
When most of the people began leaving he was pretty sure it was close to six.
He made his way back to the shop only on approach he thought it strange that the shop was dark. She wasn't waiting outside. He wondered how late he was and squinted in the window at the clock inside. Strange, it said 5:30.
"Lisa!" He called. There was no answer. He pounded on the door, still nothing. He searched the area and only saw the wondrous ocean. No one even passed by the shop. Where could she be?
He rounded to the back of the shop and found it completely locked up. The only thing out of the ordinary was a broken pair of sunglasses near the door. He picked them up and examined them. They were Lisa's he was sure. She was never without her favorite pair. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.
They hadn't found her. It was reaching the crucial 48 hour mark of the investigation. He was giving up hope. No one had heard from her or her suspected abductors. She wouldn't have just left like that and the detectives agreed under the circumstances. They concluded that she'd been taken and possibly raped. Honestly, they didn't have any hope of finding her alive. Robert was losing hope too.
He'd always known the ocean was where he'd live and die. He's always been around it and it was natural to go into the navy. He just figured he'd die on a ship, not by voluntarily disappearing into it.
When he was up to his waist something bumped into him. There was no moonlight to see what it was. Thinking it was driftwood at first he pushed it away. It didn't move like driftwood and was quite a bit softer. He grabbed at it before it got too far away and immediately tore his hands from it again. It was cold and clammy and he was certain it was a body. He built up the courage and grabbed hold of the slippery arm. He couldn't find any clothing to grab onto. From the shape of the chest, he could feel it was a woman and he tried very hard to keep the thought that it was probably Lisa from his mind.
He swam with the body behind him until he touched soft sand then dragged the body to dry land. The nearby street lights illuminated the area enough for him to make out some features on the woman and he gave a sigh of relief to see it wasn't Lisa, this woman was blond and angular. He sat next to her catching his breath before he dialed 911 again.
The coast guard's boat bounced upon the waves. It rushed from boat to boat and they boarded each one. According to the authorities this had been the third woman to wash up on shore in the area over several month period. If someone was dumping bodies, then they more than likely were keeping the victims onboard out at sea. With all leads gone dry on land this was his last hope of finding her. Still after several dozen boats they found nothing. He was beginning to get sick of the endless blue ocean.
Now they were 30 miles out to sea, out beyond international boarders. They had gotten an anonymous tip that there was a boat out there running illegals across the boarder. On an off chance Robert went with the coast guard. After a week of searching boats he was willing to try anything. They didn't have jurisdiction out in international waters but with his Navy status he was hoping they could at least get aboard.
Before the coast guard even announced themselves they were fired at. This did not bode well.
They couldn't get close without getting shot. He had to get on board though. He had to see if she was there. He removed his shoes and half his clothes and jumped overboard. The water was choppy and cold even with the sun beating down. With his training he was able to cross the distance easily despite the bit of hardship. It wasn't his training though that pushed him to swim harder and faster than ever. It was the thought of finding her aboard. He would not, could not lose her.
He swam halfway around the boat before finding a way on board. He saw a guard on the stern shooting at the coast guard. Robert snuck up behind him and knocked him on the back of the head. He went down quickly.
Robert took his gun and pushed him overboard. Then made his way further around looking in windows as he went. The fire fight was still going on distracting others from noticing him.
Suddenly the gun was knocked out of his hand and he received an elbow in his face. He swung blindly about. He connected with something, though it didn't feel like a human body. His fist hurt like hell. He was hit in the stomach and went down on a knee. He heard the cock of a gun and luckily he was with it enough to grab the knife from his ankle sheath. He jabbed it upwards into his assailant. The man fell on top of him until the boat rocked and he slid down the deck.
The boat churned from side to side harshly. It took all Robert had to hold on. So he wasn't prepared when a man with a gun stood in his path. It was his luck that at that very moment the boat lurched so hard he lost his grip and fell right into the man. They tumbled across the deck. The gun went sliding past the railing lost at sea. He almost was too as he and the bad guy went sliding that way.
The rail hit him in the ribs and despite the pain he grabbed onto the rail for dear life as the other man grabbed onto him. Water splashed him in the face and the man was getting water logged, and heavier by the moment. He swung his leg about and kicked at the man. Another wave hit at the right moment and doubled the power of the kick sweeping the man away. Robert rested for half a moment before struggling to pull himself up.
Somehow he knew she was here. She had to be. He couldn't accept anything else. The thoughts of her drove him forward. He stepped heavily towards the stairs. He still heard gunfire but it wasn't in his direction so he still had a chance. At least he thought so until he was half way up.
"Hey Gringo!" A dark man called from the deck above. "You want the woman?" Robert saw now that there was a woman hardly able to stand being tossed about by another thug. The man must have seen the recognition and fear on his face. The woman was Lisa. She looked out of it, perhaps drugged. "Go get her."
The thug tossed her over the rail, luckily, she missed the deck below but still the fall into the water could have been fatal.
Robert jumped overboard, knowing Lisa wouldn't survive the water long on her own, if at all. It was hard to see but at least there was a little moonlight. He spotted her quickly and swam to her.
Robert hugged Lisa close to him the waves splashed above their heads and gunfire still sounded in the distance. He swam as well as he could back towards the coast guard's boat. He was freezing and so was she. She was unconscious and he feared the worst.
As he neared the boat he heard yelling and then before him a preserver splashed and he grabbed hold. He hardly had enough strength to hold onto it as they pulled them up.
The rapport of gun fire slowly ceased as activity around him told him Lisa was still alive. They only placed a blanket around him but they were doing a lot for her. He watched in a daze
Robert held Lisa's hand as they walked along the beach. She hardly smiled anymore. The smuggler boat had in fact been smuggling people illegally but not into the US, out of it. They were kidnapping women to sell to rich South Americans. The man he'd bumped into at the parlor was Carlos Sanchez a man they'd been looking for sometime in association with drug running. Apparently he had diversified. Lisa said, she had seen him at the parlor before, but never thought him suspicious, in fact he had been quite charming and that's how he had lured her into the back before his goons grabbed her. He had not been on the boat during the attack, so he was still at large.
She'd been changed by the ordeal, but he still loved her and was never going to let her out of his sight again. He would be not be remiss in his duties to her ever again.
He loved her even more now and she held his hand so tight as the water touched their feet that he knew she would never let him go.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.