“Do you have any photos of my mom?” I quietly ask her when I pull away.
Her face goes soft again, and she gently slides her finger across my forehead, moving a piece of my hair. “I do. I’ll bring them when I come visit you.” She smiles slightly then looks at Kai. “Take care of her.”
“You know I will,” he tells her, and I can hear the sincerity in his tone. “Are you guys going to stick around for a while?”
“Yes. Your uncle Frank is here,” his mom says.
Kai mutters, “great,” under his breath.
“I heard that,” she scolds then looks at me. “You’ll like Frank.” She smiles. “Your mom loved him. He’s funny.”
“No one thinks Frank is as funny as Frank thinks he is,” Kai’s dad says, shaking his head.
“He’s funny,” his mom tells me with a wink. “We will see you guys before we head home.”
“Sure,” I concur, watching them walk away. Once they are out of earshot, I turn in Kai’s arms, get up on my tiptoes, and pull his head down so I can whisper in his ear, “You have a lot of explaining to do.”
He leans his head back and looks down at me. His arms wrap around my waist, and he hauls me flush against him, making me inhale sharply at the feeling he ignites between my legs.
“You told me you would trust me.”
“You keep making that task very difficult,” I tell him honestly.
“Sometimes, the things that seem the most difficult end up being the most extraordinary,” he tells me quietly, dipping his face and running his nose across mine.
My breath pauses as his lips barely skim mine. “Please stop,” I murmur, dropping my forehead to his chest.
He is making it so difficult to separate real from fake, and I cannot let myself be pulled down any further than I already have been. Regardless of how much I want to get lost in this thing with him, I know I can’t.
“No, Kai, please. This is already hard enough.”
“All right, makamae,” he says gently, letting me go, but not before I can feel his arousal against my belly, which makes my stomach dip.
“What does makamae mean?” I question as he takes my hand again, making a tingling sensation shoot up my arm.
“One day, I’ll tell you,” he says, leading me through the sand back towards the fire pit.
“Why not now?”
“Now, you need to eat,” he says, giving my hand a tug when my feet stop moving, because in front of me, on a table, is a pig that looks like it has been cooked whole. The outside is golden and glossy, and in its mouth is a bright-red apple.
“I’m not hungry,” I tell him immediately.
I love meat; hell, I love bacon as much as the next person. But seeing a pig whole like the one sitting in front of me makes my stomach turn over.
“You need to try it.”
“I can’t,” I whimper.
“I know you eat meat. I’ve seen you eat meat, including bacon.”
“I know,” I swallow as saliva fills my mouth.
“I’m going to make a plate for myself and one for you without the kalua, and if you feel like it, you can have some of mine,” he tells me, which makes my body relax. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful of their culture, but I cannot imagine myself eating that.
After making our plates, he leads me a little ways down the beach, away from most of the crowd. He takes a seat in the sand, and I follow his lead, slipping my sandals off before sitting down next to him. Once I’m situated, he hands me my plate and I begin to eat, enjoying everything he chose for me.
“It’s really beautiful,” I say, looking out at the ocean.
“It is,” he agrees.
I turn my head and see that he’s not looking at the water, but at me, and there is a dark look in his eyes that makes my pulse speed up.
“Would you try something with me?”
“Like what?” I ask, turning slightly towards him.
“I want you to close your eyes and I’m going to feed you.”
“Kai.” I shake my head but then realize this might be the perfect opportunity for me to get some answers. “If I do this, then you have to do something for me,” I tell him.
“Answer a question for me.”
His expression closes off, and I can tell he is going to say no.
“One question, Kai,” I plead, sitting up a little taller.
His eyes search my face, and then he nods, making me feel like I just accomplished a huge feat.
“Turn towards me and close your eyes,” he orders, taking my plate.
I shift slightly and sit cross-legged in front of him. His eyes drop to my chest and then my legs, and I pull my dress down slightly so it lays over my thighs.
“Close your eyes.”
The rough, deep tone of his voice makes the butterflies erupt once more, and my pulse pick up. I bite my lip and close my eyes, feeling the intimacy of the moment wrapping around me.
When I hear a low growl from him, my eyes fly open and I see that his are locked on my mouth.
“Close your eyes.”
I do and inhale sharply when I feel the touch from one of his fingers on my bottom lip.
“Open,” he says, pulling down slightly on my chin.
My lips part, there is a cold, sweet taste on my tongue, and the flavor of ripe pineapple fills my mouth.
“Do you like it?” he asks, and I nod.
I have always enjoyed pineapple, but since coming to Hawaii, I have found out that it’s nothing like what I used to buy at the store back home. Here, it’s sweeter, and there are times when I swear I can taste the sun when I take a bite of it.
“Open again,” he tells me as soon as I swallow.
I do, and this time, the taste of ginger and chicken hits my taste buds. I chew slowly, enjoying the texture.
“Do you like that?” he asks.
“Yes,” I whisper as soon as I swallow.
“Again,” he instructs, pulling down on my bottom lip.
My lips part, and the taste of smoked meat fills my mouth. I block out what I saw and just enjoy the flavor.
“That is the taste of years of tradition. Men are taught at a young age how to properly prepare and cook the Kalua pig.”
I feel his finger on my bottom lip again, and my eyes open. I look at him and suck in a breath. His face is inches from mine and his dark eyes are on my mouth.
“I’m going to kiss you.”
I can’t say anything. I can’t even breathe. His lips brush lightly over mine at first. I turn my head slightly, not wanting it to be over, and he groans as his hand tangles into the hair at the side of my head, making me gasp. Then I feel his tongue on my bottom lip, and I open my mouth, losing myself in his taste and smell. He pushes me back into the sand, his body lying half on me. His hand not in my hair holds on to my waist, his thumb close to the edge of my breast.