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Heat Wave
Author:Karina Halle

“Right, Ronnie,” Charlie corrects himself.

Kate studies me for a little too long, her expression hard to read.

She looks back at Charlie. “Shephard is still at the pool. He told me he'd give her the tour though, so don't think you don't have to get back to work.”

Charlie checks the clock on the wall. “Damn, time is a bitch.” He looks at me with a shrug. “Wish I could continue being your tour guide, sweet thing,” he says. He looks at Kate, who is in the process of rolling her eyes. “I'll leave her bags here, for now. Do you know where she's staying?”

Kate's dark eyes fly to mine. “She's staying with me.”

I blink at her, surprised. “Uh, I was under the impression I would get my own place.”

She laughs dryly, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Right. Because that would be fair. Look, if you had a place to yourself, you'd be docked a lot more pay. Rent in Kauai isn't cheap. You're more than welcome to go find a beach house up the street or down in Hanalei, if you want to share with six other people, most of whom will leave empty beer cans lying around the place and piss on your head in the middle of the night, thinking you’re a toilet. Not that I’d know. But if you want to stay at the resort, you're staying with yours truly. Believe me, I don't like it either.” She sighs. “I just had a wonderful month with the unit to myself after Charlotte started shacking up with her boyfriend. But it is what it is.”

“Dude, Kate, lighten up,” Charlie says, taking me by the elbow and giving her a dirty look. “I'll come by and get the suitcases later.” He leads me out of the office. “I should also mention that I'm also the bellhop sometimes. So is Johnny. Or really any staff member who happens to be walking past guests with luggage. Be prepared to add that to your job description as well.”

I nod absently. “She seems . . . nice,” I whisper to him as we walk down the path and away from the office, skirting alongside one of the buildings.

“Kate? She's actually great once you get to know her. She's just one of those people who you can never tell is joking or not. Deadpan, you know? But she's good people. Hey that's your unit there. Corner one, great view.”

I look up to where he's gesturing, the second floor of the building, an outdoor staircase leading up to it.

“The units are nice,” he says. “I share one with Johnny over there by the pool. You guys get a view so there's that.”

“How many other workers stay here? Does Logan?”

He shakes his head. “Nah. Shephard has a house up the street, just across from the beach.”

“The same one as before?” For some reason I thought that maybe the house would have been empty after the accident.

“Same one,” he says. “And Nikki and Shannon share the unit next to us. We get docked a bit in pay for it but it's not as much as if we were to live elsewhere, so no one complains. Only drawback is that you live where you work, you know? So in a way you're always working. Just try and have a nice evening off without someone knocking on your door, asking you for something.”

We pause outside a gate with a sign displaying the pool hours, lush foliage with bright hibiscus flowers on either side.

“Well this is the—” Charlie begins but is interrupted by a loud, “FUCK!” coming from the other side of the fence.

Charlie winces. “And that would be Shephard. Sorry you have to meet him on a day that he's losing his shit.” He pauses. “Then again, you know him. Try to think of the happier times.”

The happier times? My brain chugs back to the past, where all the happier times reside. It pauses on the sight of him, seven years ago, looking out over Lake Michigan in that uncomfortable suit, the way his eyes looked as they first glanced at me. Like I was someone he knew. Like I was someone he wanted to know.

I'm prepared not to know him anymore.

Charlie swipes his key card at the gate and it swings open.

To get to the pool you have to walk through a small, open-air structure that has the change rooms, washrooms, and a small outdoor kitchen. There are a few barbeques scattered about and an eating area, as well as some loungers, couches, and a fire pit, all surrounded by lush potted plants and palms, adding to the tropical feel.

Beyond that is the tiled patio leading to the pool where a tiny balding Korean man is hunched over the filter, concentrating as he sticks his hands inside.

“Anything yet, Jin?” A brash Australian accented voice yells from the right of us. We look over to see the door to a maintenance shed open, a tall hulking figure half-hidden inside.

“No, nothing,” Jin says. “It’s not the filter.”

Charlie swallows, looking nervous again, which in turn makes me feel like I'm about to throw up.

Get it together, I tell myself. You'll be fine.

“Still working on it?” Charlie comments.