Millie lost track of the days she spent in St Lucia. She had become lost in her thoughts a lot of the time too. Spending most of her days at the beach, staring out into the vast ocean, mesmerised that it could still take her breathe away after so many trips down here from Liam's house. Millie could feel the sand between her toes and the smell of salt lingering in the air and then suddenly, she could hear screaming up ahead, in front of her.. Her head snapped towards the ocean and fifty metres away, there was someone thrashing around in the water. Without thinking, she ran towards the water and dove in.
Liam had grown used to Millie's pattern of sorts in St Lucia. It had been three weeks since they touched down and though the island provided sanctuary and a place for them to be themselves in an unobtrusive manner, the surroundings seemed to have separated them, even further. Instead of drawing them closer, they seemed even more apart. He tried inviting her on road trips around the coast, introduce her to his few close friends on the island and even tried opening up to her, but she had refused his invites. Millie just wanted to walk on the beach and be by herself and so he watched and he reluctantly let her. Something was eating at him and he didn't know what it was, or how to fix it. He'd waited patiently for her but he was fed up with being patient. All this time, he wanted to kiss her, make her see his side of the story, anything. He was frustrated. He got up from the bench he had been sitting on and walked through the halls and that was when he heard the screaming. He knew immediately that it was coming from the beach and as he opened the doors and rushed onto the second floor balcony, he saw Millie running towards the sound, but what Millie didn't see was the shark fins in the water. Liam didn't even think about it, he bolted to the beach.
Millie dove into the water, she hadn't swam in a long time and she couldn't think of the last time she did, but like riding a bicycle, you never forget. She swam as fast as she could towards the screaming. Her denim shorts weighing her down as she swam, she was reaching them only to realise that the water around her wasn't as crystalline blue as she had imagined. It was murky red, crimson and the alarm bells started ringing. She stopped in mid-stroke and looked around her and she saw a woman being thrashed about in the water, like a rag doll. The shock was written all over her face, she was the colour of the puffy white clouds above and as her eyes touched upon Millie's, it was as if she had seen through her. She was obviously bleeding out. From the corner of her eye, she saw a black fin pop out of the water and disappear. Please God. Please. Millie pleaded. She couldn't look into the water because it had turned a deep dark red. She looked towards the woman, her eyes unmoving as she bobbed up and down like a champagne cork. What should she do? Dear Lord, please have mercy. Please... a thousand millions daggers shot up her leg and she was dragged under. She could think of nothing but death, pain and that she would never see Liam again.
Liam was on the open water with three lifeguards and a doctor on board the boat. They were racing towards the dark red patch of water in the midst of what was beauty in paradise. Not anymore. He saw Millie, the fright written all over her face. Her red blouse soaked in blood and he was almost there, almost... but almost wasn't close enough, Liam's worst fears were confirmed; Millie disappeared from the surface. Liam's heart jumped to his throat as he screamed out her name and wanted to jump in, but was held back by the life guards. He was frantic, more then frantic he was crazy and he had no control over it. None whatsoever. He searched the cloudy waters for any signs of her, nothing. He prayed to a God, he hadn't prayed to in a long time and suddenly, one of the lifeguards spotted her on the other side of the boat, she was sputtering water and without thinking, he dove in, helped her up into the waiting arms of the lifeguards and immediately saw the gross bloody mark on her leg.
The white sterile room, was plain but it was the level of medical care Liam was paying for that was important. He had been sitting vigil at Millie's bedside for a couple of hours now. The doctors had sedated her and the image of her being pulled out of the ocean kept replaying in his mind and he couldn't get the image of her calf out of his mind either. Luckily the shark hadn't penetrated too hard or bitten off her leg but it had left bite marks. Luckily they had gotten her out of the water, into a chopper and flown her to the nearest hospital. She was stable and was now in intensive care. She had lost some blood but as the doctor had put it, had a lucky escape. As for the woman, her severed head had been floating a few metres away from the boat and it took a lot of courage not to think about what could have happened to Millie.
The sunlight escaped the blinds, it was a beautiful morning. Millie woke up from a haze and a bad dream where she had come face to face with one of nature's dangerous predators, the great white shark. When she opened her eyes and her eyes focused on her leg, she let out a yelp, awakening her visitor who was slumped against a chair beside her. It was Liam and this had to be a dream, what the hell was going on? She tried getting up but her energy reserves were zapped and she felt like either she had been drinking heavily the night before, or she hadn't eaten in a very long time. Liam was awake now, gently settling her back into the bed.
"Mills, calm down. You're okay," he said groggily.
"What happened?" Millie asked, there was silence and she asked again, "What happened?!" she almost yelled.
"You were bitten by a shark, a great white they say... but something must have happened... or..." Liam tried to finish his sentences, but he was finding it hard. The emotion caught in his throat.
"Did it take my leg? Can I walk?" Millie asked, searching his face for answers.
"You were lucky Mills, so lucky... it was a bite mark, you have tissue damage that could take a couple of months to recover but there's no nerve damage, no nothing. You had a lucky escape," Liam said, taking her hands in his and feeling that they were cold.
"Is the woman okay?" Millie asked, not caring for herself.
It took a while for Liam to register what she was asking and he took a deep breathe and shook his head. Millie nodded in acknowledgement. And then there was silence.
Two weeks later, Millie was discharged from hospital and was flown by chopper back to Liam's house on St. Lucia. Of course, he had fussed over her and made all the arrangements for her comfort. He had carried her into the house where they met Patty his house keeper at the door, she opened her arms wide and took her into a bear hug.
"How are you doing my darlin'?" she asked in her St. Lucian accent, "My my, it's glad to have you back, I've missed having you keep me company. Liam, you better sit her down here and I'll cook her up a storm and fatten her up."
Liam did as he was told and sat her down on the couch and slid a foot stool to support her leg, whilst it recuperated and he disappeared out the door.
"I'm fine thanks Patty, how are you doing?" Millie asked.
"Darlin' I'm good good, don't worry about me. I'm made of stern stuff... but my darlin', poor Liam he's been wracking his mind about you. He's thinking that this trip was a bad idea, that everything was a bad idea. He can't seem to get past that every decision he's made, has resulted in you going into harm's way. Poor boy, thinking that. Of course, the Lord only puts us through things he know we can survive. And God works in mysterious ways, however hard them ways be, or how we take 'em. You just hang in there," Patty said, pointing a wooden spoon towards the doorway, "I think that man there, has realised something... and that something is that you are important to him... and he's gonna be trying his damn hardest to please you. You hear what I'm saying darlin'?"
Millie digested that said information as Liam walked back into the room with her hospital bag, "What are you two ladies talking about?"
"Never you mind Liam, this is girl's talk. Why don't you make yourself useful and go down to the market and get me some salt fish and plantain. Leave us girls to catch up." Patty said, leading Liam out of the door. When she heard Liam leave by the front door, she sat down beside Millie, "You look like you need to get some stuff off your chest my darlin'- why don't you pretend I'm one of your girlfriends, eh?"
And so, with complete ease Millie began talking, getting everything out in the morning. Leaning towards someone who wasn't in the picture, who could clearly see out of the box. After everything was spoken, Patty didn't say anything. She just looking at Millie.
"You've been through a lot, but so have a lot of people, but that's not to say that your problems aren't any less important. Some people make mistakes, more then others and no one is perfect, no matter how popular they are, how many films they've made or the degree of money they got. Trust me. Regardless of that, we all are the same. Life happens, you got to roll with the punches but I know that Liam loves you, though he don't know it yet. Y'know you are the first woman he brought here to this place, says a lot about the man. At first, I thought it strange that he hasn't brought a woman home, I was starting to think the man was gay but when you walked through the door, I thought what a stunning little thing you are."
"What do you think I should do?" Millie asked bravely. Because she didn't know what to do. Everything that had happened in such a short amount of time, had happened with Liam in it. Was it a sign that they were meant to be together?
"I say, you should talk to him. The poor guy has been worried sick about you, I only have to look at him to know that," Patty said, clutching Millie's hand, "If you don't talk to him, all of this... of what you've been though, would have been for nothing."
"Why do you know so much?" Millie asked.
"It's not about knowing darlin', it's about doing things right and going with your heart," Patty said.
"How do I know what's in my heart and what's in my head?" Millie asked.
"You will know... Liam is a good man, take my word for it darlin'. You just have to wait and see," Patty said, resuming with chopping the vegetables.
The front door opened and Liam walked in with the ingredients Patty needed, setting it on the table and sitting next to Millie, "How are you doing?" He asked.
"I'm okay," Millie said shyly, observing him, "How are you?"
"I'm okay, if you're okay. I did want to ask you about your plans... what you wanted to do, whether you wanted to stay here or to go back home, provided that you had the care..." Liam began. He couldn't express himself as well. He was nervous, but he didn't want to let on that he was. He was hoping she wanted to stay regardless of what had happened in the last two weeks, "Whatever you want."
"I guess, staying it would be fine. Just don't let me anywhere near the water..." Millie said, taking a gulp.
"I won't let you anywhere near it, unless you tell me otherwise," Liam said comfortingly, "Is there anything you need? Anything I can get you?"
"Actually, there is one thing," Millie asked.
"And what's that?" Liam looked at her.
"Could you give me a hug and tell me that everything will be okay?" Millie asked.
She didn't need to ask, he just did... he was so worried about her, that was what he had been wanting to do but was afraid that his actions would be seen as aggressive. And as he hugged her in his arms, and she held on tight, he wanted to tell a great deal of things but there would be a time and place for that. He would put off his next project, even his career, for her and her recovery. Because at the end of the day, she was all that mattered to him.