2004-05-20 - 10:41 a.m.

Butterflied's Birthday

Gina sat back and closed her eyes. The Hawaiian breeze moved her shoulder length dark hair off her cheeks with a warm caress. “Your drink ma’am.” A waiter set a tropical looking frozen concoction in front of her. She plucked the red hibiscus from the edge of the glass and tucked it behind her ear, smiling to herself.

The red of the flower matched the red in the dress she had chosen. It wasn’t the way she wanted to spend her first night in Hawaii. It wasn’t exactly the night she had planned for this sexy red dress, but she would make the best of it. If Daniel wanted to act like a child he could stay behind. She wasn’t interested in men who acted like boys, hadn’t been even when she was just a girl herself.

Bravado. She meant what she told herself, that she was happy that she was here and comfortable with her own company, she needed no man or boy to complete her. Still, when the band began to play a slow tune, it made her wish she were half of one of the couples swaying blissfully in each others arms.

The breeze blew a little stronger and her napkin fluttered to the floor. Bending down to retrieve it she noticed a man sitting across the deck. A little shiver went through her. He looked so much like “Grissom”, her high school science teacher. He was a little more grey now, had another wrinkle or two, but they only added to his attractiveness.

It couldn’t be him could it?

He caught her eye and smiled, she returned it and raised him a blush.

Her cell phone rang. Daniel. “Gina.” “I can’t believe you went.” “Daniel I told you, I’m here on work. You were welcome to join me.” “Work.” “Yes Daniel, it’s what grown up’s do.” Click. The line went dead.

Before she had a moment to digest what had just happened the waiter returned with a glass of champagne. “From the man just…there” he pointed out her Grissom look-a-like. “He said it was to toast you’re success.” “Thank you.”

The waiter moved away and she lifted her glass to the man who sent it. He made a motion, asking if he might join her. She answered with a nod and he was standing before her.

“I always knew you’d be famous, Gina.”

“It is you! Please, sit down.”

“I don’t want to intrude.”

“No, no intrusion. I’m just enjoying the night air.”

“Alone?”

“Not anymore.”

He smiled, the lines around his blue eyes growing deeper.

Gina was surprised to feel the familiar flutter in her stomach. She tried to focus, “So what brings you to Hawaii, Grissom?”

“You. I’m here to attend your seminar tomorrow night.”

“Not really? You came all the way to Hawaii just to hear me explain basic principals of molecular forensics and their applications to rural police departments?”

“Absolutely, wouldn’t miss it.”

“I thought you weren’t interested in forensics.”

“I wasn’t interested in tv shows about forensics. I was always interested in science, and, as I recall, in you.”

She blushed again. She knew he meant it in a strictly student/teacher way, but she had wanted then, and felt herself wanting again, for it to mean more.

“I knew you would be something amazing. I told you when you graduated that some day I’d be able to tell people, ‘I knew her when’.”

“So you did, but who knew this would be what I was doing. I was so sure I’d be modeling, acting, something creative and entertaining. “

“I find your books very entertaining, and creative. I always knew you were too smart to dedicate your life to anything less serious.”

“Even when I was sitting in the back of your classroom and acting up?”

He gave a soft laugh, “Even then there was a spark, though I wouldn’t say at that point I anticipated this.”

“Are you still teaching?”

“No, I’ve given it up. It got to be too much uphill work, too many students who didn’t care, too few like you, interested and responsible.”

“That’s a pity, I don’t know that I would have gone from not caring to interested if it hadn’t been for you.”

“That means a lot, thank you.”

They sat for a few moments just listening to the soft music. Her eyes drifted to the dance floor and he followed her gaze. Standing he held out his hand to her, “Dance with me?”

Did his voice break? Damn. He had tried so hard to cover the fact that he’d been mesmerized by her.

When she had written her first book, just barely out of Berkley, she had sent him a copy with a hand written note on the first page, thanking him for the confidence to explore her dreams. He had flipped the tome over and taken in a breath at the photo smiling shyly from the paper. She had grown even more beautiful but still had that endearingly awkward self-consciousness. Each new book she had published had arrived, in much the same way, never any contact information, rarely anything more personal than a notation of thanks with her signature on the first page. The photos became more stunning, and less childlike in succession.

Now as she stood and moved into his arms there was no trace of that awkward child, she was all woman, and having entered a world she excelled at, she had found a confidence that was welcoming and powerful.

She smiled at him before resting her head at his shoulder. He could smell her perfume, so subtle and yet intoxicating far beyond the reaches of any alcohol.

Gina sighed a little. His arm around her waist felt strong and comforting. She hadn’t felt like a child in a long time, and while she didn’t feel childish in his arms, she did feel protected and safe like a child. This brought up an image of Daniel; he never made her feel this way. He made her feel like someone’s mother, caretaker.

They moved together effortlessly, as if they had been dancing a breath away from each other all of their lives. His thumb stroked the small of her back; her fingers smoothed the soft gray hair at the nape of his neck. They swayed as if in a trance and Gina suppressed a smile as she thought of the glee her 16-year-old self would have experienced if she could have known this day was on her horizon.

When the song ended he tilted her face to him and kissed the corner of her mouth tenderly, yet gingerly, surprising even himself.

His face was scarlet when she finally opened her eyes. “I’m…sorry… that was…inappropriate. I got carried away.”

Now she let the smile take over her face, and used her thumbs to rub the lipstick from his mouth. “I like carried away. Every now and then, carried away can be a very good thing. This seems like the place for it.”

No, she wouldn’t miss Daniel tonight.

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