She’s the sunrise, the moonrise, all four points of my compass.
She’s every gorgeous moment in my life all rolled into one.
And she’s mine.
“Hi Freckles,” I say to her softly, trying to keep my emotions in check. The tears keep wanting to creep up there but I’ll be damned if I cry in front of my brother.
“Hi old man,” she teases. She grins, her cheeks glowing with the sun and blush, her actual freckles making her look fresh as a morning wave. Her caramel-colored hair is pinned back with plumeria, her white dress long and gauzy, like she’s a Grecian goddess, on earth for just one day.
But I know she’s here for more than that.
She’s here for now and forever.
Betty clears her throat and starts the ceremony as I grab onto Veronica’s hands, holding her tight.
This is it.
This moment is the beginning.
Later that night, after the food and the cake (which Veronica baked herself—coconut, macadamias, and chocolate), while the guests are still dancing and the music is blaring and the drinks are flowing, I take Veronica’s hand and lead her to the beach where we had our first surf lesson.
We settle down in the sand, the bottle of champagne between us, watching as the moon rises up over Moonwater Inn. The ocean is bathed in silver, our bodies glimmer in the dark. We look like immortals. I feel immortal.
“Look,” Veronica whispers, bringing my attention back to the horizon.
A humpback whale is surfacing, its breath shooting high into the air like a feathery plume. We watch in awe as it dives, its back illuminated by the moonlight, gleaming.
Its massive fluke disappears into the waves and then it’s gone.
We wait with bated breath, expecting it to come back, for others to be with it.
But that’s it.
And it was enough.
After so many books, it gets hard to think of something original to write in the acknowledgements and I usually just end up thanking the same people over and over again. But that’s okay because, hey, without them, my books wouldn’t be here. As much as I like to think that I am an island (like Kauai), I am not and it takes a village to make a book.
I’ll make this short and snappy…thank you to Kelly and Alex St-Laurent for all your advice with regards to being a chef. Alex is the best chef there is and I had to learn a bit about the whole thing before I made Veronica one. But if I messed up in anyway regarding the way kitchens are run, that’s completely on me.
Thank you to Laura Helseth for her proofing and edits, to Dani for her promotion, for Hang Le for the stunning cover. Thanks to Ali and Jay for keeping me from jumping off a cliff and being such a good sounding board. Thank you to my readers for being so understanding, caring and supportive, even when I’m saying crazy shit, and especially my ARC readers who were left hanging with this one.
To my parents and my husband…sorry. Here’s the thing. I was supposed to finish this book before we went to our annual trip to Kauai. This trip was going to be a real special one too because this time I got to take my parents and let them experience the Kauai we’ve fallen in love with. Nothing like being in paradise with your ohana.
Well, it turns out I was writing Heat Wave well into our vacation, so I haven’t been as “available” as I normally am. But hey, I’m still here, the book is done, and I’ve got a few days to relax. I have to say, it’s been funny actually being in Kauai while writing about it. I went to visit the hotel Moonwater Inn is based on (the Hanalei Colony, if you’re wondering – worth a stay! But don’t go swimming in the ocean, it will kill you!) and I could have sworn I saw Logan and Veronica, Johnny, Kate, Charlie…the thing about Heat Wave is that so many of the characters can be found on this island. Including Daniel, Betty and others.
Kauai is a special place to me and to many people and I hope I was able to convey that in this book. The aloha spirit is prevalent here and it truly is a place where you feel connected to man, to nature, to yourself. Even the mythology of Hawaii is fascinating to me and I see myself dabbling into that subject one day. If you ever have a chance to visit Kauai, please take it. Bring this book with you. And if you can’t visit, I hope this book provides the same kind of escape.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank the Anti-Heroes, for always having my back. You guys are the best.
Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo.