I hope you have been enjoying the beginnings of my story of one man's goal to savour life, and hopefully find Love, on a beach at sunset.

That's the rather simple synopsis at this point: there is much more to the telling, and I hope that you will continue to stick with Mike as I unravel the mystery of his broken heart.

Find previous Chapters:   One

We last left Mike, holding back his tears, rather unsuccessfully..... while Callie and Edan shared some Gratitude.   Will Mike join the two in the sand, or make a hasty retreat?


Chapter Three

"Uncle Mike!! Sit. Come sit!  We're practicing Longitude."

Her laughter rang out over the waves and the wind, and settled straight down like a healing stream upon the burning ember in his heart.  The very sea seemed mirrored in eyes that turned to him; a question asked as her gaze held his.   
With a smile, she stretched out a hand towards him, and simply said, "Sit. We are practicing Gratitude.." with a pointed look and smile towards the young boy, who blushed in return. 

"Oh, Gratitude. Sorry"

Her soft laugh rang once more, easing the boy's embarrassment as surely and sweetly as it did his own pain; "That's okay. It means being Thankful - and you are doing a great job at it!"  

Mike took a seat, cross-legged between them, taking Edan's small hand within his own, and smiled encouragingly at his nephew.  Edan scratched his freckled nose and beamed happily, glancing back and forth between his uncle, and the woman....

"What's your name!?" he blurted out.

This time Mike's deeper laugh joined her own, and he turned expectantly towards her, as she stretched out her hand towards the boy.

"I'm Callie, and I am pleased to meet you..???"

"Edan! I'm Edan" he shook her hand with all the strength an 8 year old boy had bottled up inside. Her arm swung high and wide, until she nearly was knocked over.  Whether by the boy's enthusiasm, or her own delight, she wasn't sure. 

"Easy there SmallFry.  You don't want to hurt anyone!"  Mike roared with laughter.  But he tapped the boys' knee and turning to the beautiful woman beside him, "Here.. like this." and he took her soft hand in his own, and felt the tremor go from his fingers and course like a firebrand through his blood. Those sea blue eyes widened in surprise, and her palm jerked within his own, but he held tight. 

"I'm Mike, and it's nice to meet you." 

Her lips parted, the barest of whispers escaping, "It's lovely to meet you too."

"CALLIE!! I like it.. it's very pretty!"  Edan's enthusiasm had once again intruded upon the moment.  But the exchanged look of amused smiles, and a wink from Mike, suggested the spell was cast.  

Callie shook her head to collect her thoughts, staring mutely down at her pale hand clasped within Mike's large tanned one.
"Ummm.... So Edan, where were we?  Oh yes.. something sad."  Her head turned towards Mike.  "One Word."

Mike inhaled deep, the pain of mere moments ago having subsided, but still lingering around the edges of his heart, "Good-byes."

Callie tilted her head and her wondering gaze settled briefly on his own, before she quickly asked another question. 

"Okay, how about something that tastes good!"

"ICE CREAM!!"  The boy practically leaped up from his cross-legged perch, and once more the peals of laughter drifted over the coming night.
Mike nodded his head, "Yep, definitely going to agree with that one."
Callie met his now laughing eyes, noted the change, and nodded in agreement, "Then it is unanimous!"  

"Okay, how about something you love? I'll say sunsets; especially beach ones."

With her hair and face aglow, and the serenity that seemed to flow from her pores, Mike thought that the sunset would probably whisper back "Callie."  It also occurred to him that he was struggling to name something he loved.  To cover his hesitation, he turned to his nephew who also seemed to be considering the question very thoughtfully.  The boy looked at his uncle as though for direction.

"You can say anything you feel Edan, it's okay."  Callie nodded her agreement, and the boy grew courage as he felt a gentle squeeze in each hand.

"My dog, Pepper."  He smiled bright.

Callie laughed, "Why did you call him Pepper?"

"Because he sneezes a lot. Like, A Lot."    The boys’ head bobbed vigorously. 

Callie turned to Mike who was nodding his head in similar affirmation, and laughing "Seriously, the dog has a condition I think. Or allergies. It really does sneeze a lot."

"So, I guess Sneezy was too obvious then?"  She glanced at both of them, with an eyebrow raised, and the hint of a smile playing at her mouth.  Both boy and man looked at each other, and simultaneously face-palmed their heads; rolling back and laughing hysterically.

Once they had all caught their breath, Callie wiped her tear'd eyes, "No, I suppose Pepper is actually perfect. I like it. and I bet he's great dog."   

 Edan's beaming face was all the response she needed. Mike reached over and ruffled his nephew's hair once more, and the look of love in his eyes for the boy was so unmistakable, but also so filled with something painful and raw, that she momentarily felt like an unnecessary bystander.    

Still, curiosity got the best of Callie, and she couldn't help but ask; "Sooo Mike.. you haven't answered yet."

Mike raised his own eyebrow in reply.

He remained silent, but held her gaze.
She reached out once more, and taking his hand within her own, softly asked, "What do you love Mike?"

He looked into the quiet and waiting face of the nephew he loved like his own child, and then out over the sun that was just about to disappear into it's watery bed.  He heard the sound of the waves, and the cries of the gulls. He thought about things lost and beyond repair, and whether like a new day that would surely come - if a broken heart could be made new.  As he turned once more to look at Callie, and saw the kindness of her smile, and the calm, gentle spirit behind her eyes; he thought about yoga on the beach at sunset, and hands clasped tight, and suddenly he believed in the power of Now.  And second chances.  He knew at last the truth that there was always something to be grateful for.

His smile stretched wide and reached his eyes: "Surprises. I love surprises." 

He didn't miss the slight nodding of Callie's head, or the sudden brightness in her eyes.  

As they stood to leave, darkness wrapped it's cloak around them.  The sand now cool under their feet as they walked along; Edan's arms swinging between them.   Glancing across the bobbing head of his nephew, he noticed Callie's eyes squeezed tightly shut, her lips moving silently; her gaze lifted upward.  

He followed her gaze and glanced skyward, as the first star appeared in the velvet ink canvas above.  Smiling softly, he closed his eyes tight, held his breath, and sent his wish out across sea and sky; and into the night.

Do you like when life surprises you?