"Hit The Sand Running - A Duke Stevens Online Mystery-Romance - Chapter 1"

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    Hit The Sand Running ~
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    Hit The Sand Running

    By Duke Stevens

    ©Copyright - All Legal Rights Reserved

    Chapter 1
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         He saw her seem to fly off the pier and hit the sand running.  A whirl of pumping legs and windmill arms.

          To the man lying on the beach-towel, her face held an expression of fear.

         Quickly rejecting the idea, he wondered if her flight might not be anything more than a subliminal sexual fore-play being acted out in fun.   At any moment he might see her laughing beach-buddy leaping over the side of the pier in playful hot pursuit.

          No one came after her.

          The man lifted himself up in an effort to see the woman more clearly, his brain toying with a sense of unease.  Within seconds, he brushed off the feeling and returned his body full-length onto the beach-towel.

          His brain flashed seconds of summary examination through his mind.  It wasn’t as though she were yelling for help.  There wasn’t anything coming out of her mouth but short bursts of slightly labored breath as she ran.

          Whirling past him, her feet threw sand over the edge of his towel.  He saw her blue eyes flicker as though she recognized him.  He didn’t know her and told himself that he must have misread her look.

          She continued running for another ten yards up the beach.  Suddenly, without any indication of slowing her speed, she came to an abrupt stop, breathing deeply.

          Leaning over, her hands on her knees, she turned her head to dart a look toward the pier and then back toward where he lay.  Drawing in a deep breath, she pivoted on her left heel and ran back to him.  Throwing herself down alongside his body, she quickly burrowed her head near his right shoulder.

          Startled, but not moving away from her, he remarked calmly, “I thought you had forgotten our date.”

          He heard a half-smothered giggle.  Then she said in a low seductive breathless rush of words, “May-I-stay-here-for-a-minute?”

          Lying next to him, she snuggled as close to his right side as she could manage.  It appeared to the man, that she was attempting to hide her face from someone who might emerge into view to look over their side of the pier.

          Not giving words to his thought, he said, “Adverse possession takes five years in California.”

          She smiled, “I don’t want to own you, just use you.”

          He chuckled, “There was a time, I’d have said, ‘Please do...’”

          Her breathing slowed and she became silent, thinking rapidly.  She hadn’t missed the implications of the words, “There was a time...”

          He became acutely aware of the warmth of her body and the softness of her skin.  The fresh clean smell of her welled-up between them and began messing with his head, sending messages down into the interior of his body.

          Making the decision to not move, he wondered what was going on with this lady.  Fast minutes ticked by.  He glanced down at her, wondering aloud if she had sun lotion on her body.

          Astonished at such an ordinary question taking place at this moment, she moved slightly against him.  He punished the instant desire to draw her toward him and kiss her.

          She asked, “Is your speciality, cancer?”

          I'm not an M.D.”

          Seconds later he turned his face toward her and playfully whispered out of the side of his mouth, “You're not putting my life in danger, are you?”

          For the first time she saw his face lighten with a smile.  She looked directly into his face taking in the warmth of his welcoming but cautious reaction to her.

          Rushing another glance at the pier, she looked back into his brown eyes and asked quietly, “Do you scare easily?”

          "It depends.”

          “On what?”

          Wondering where she wanted the conversation to go, he asked, “Is this a test?”

          She didn’t reply and he asked teasingly, “Nobody dies if I don’t pass, do they?”

          A slow, fresh tension came into her body.  It brought back unwanted memories to him of Lynette just before the inevitable, unleashing of irrational verbal assault would erupt over his attempt to have a calm exchange of viewpoints.

         He suddenly didn’t enjoy the unusual encounter with the attractive blonde or their exchange of words any more.  Glancing around for a possible stalker coming toward them,  he moved slightly away from her, and then quickly shifted his position.

          Sitting upright on the beach towel he cast his gaze far out to sea in silence.

          The woman flashed a look toward the pier.  She slowly exhaled a breath she had been holding inside.  She moved to sit upright beside him but did not attempt to breach the space he had made between them.

          He could feel her relax.  He reprimanded himself for his immediate negative reaction to the renewed tension he had seen gathering in her.  He had imagined that she was angry at him.

          As rapidly as the thought appeared in his mind he accepted the only rational conclusion he could reach.  It was a ridiculous idea. “I don’t know her,”  he witnessed to himself, again.

         He told himself for the hundredth time that all women were not alike.  He felt, once again, a man divided against himself.  One place within his mind had increasingly accepted a negative impression regarding most women in connection to himself.

          Yet, he hadn’t seemed able to escape that other place inside his brain that seemed unwilling to allow an old hope die.  The earlier longings would struggle to emerge and he would yearn for a mind that could believe in the old dreams as though they were attainable.

          The woman watched him in quiet contemplation.  He now felt removed from their strange encounter and he allowed himself to swiftly experience the thing that he longed to forget.

          His youthful dreams had supported the belief that there would be a woman “out there” unique for him.  A woman able to share an exciting sexual and spiritual intimacy.

          The relationship he had once envisioned, would be founded upon mutual respect and rational exchange.  It was to be established between them by living life together on an ever-expanding landscape of experience, wherein they would play, laugh and become emotionally secure fellow-travelers, in a mixed-up often irrational world.

          It had been fun-loving often spontaneous Lynette who had pushed herself into that solitary space where he had most often lived who had provided that first glimpse of real hope for a genuine intimacy.

          The relationship had failed miserably.

          The woman watching him made up her mind.  She extended her right hand toward him, saying, “I’m Lucky.”

         He removed his concentrated gaze from the sea and looked directly into her eyes.  He slowly smiled.

          “Glad to hear it.”

          His look was so piercing, yet friendly, that she suddenly felt wonderfully pinned down.  He released her by looking away.  Surprised and internally shaken but relieved for the light response, she grinned.  Speaking within a momentary pause, she said,  “Don... a... van.  Lucky Donavan.”

          The man reached for her hand, “I’m Savage.”

          She allowed her eyes to hold a gentle mocking when she returned, “Really?”

          He finished, “Jack...  Jack Savage.”

          Their eyes met in the humor shared.  They laughed.

          Minutes later, the slender blonde had slowly walked away from the man who had remained on the beach.  Once out of his hearing, she had muttered softly, “Yes, Jack...  Mr. Jack Savage,  I think this is a possible beginning.”

          Jack Savage had risen to stand beside her when she had made the decision to stand up and turn toward the direction of the pier.  After brushing off sand from her lower legs, she had looked up into his eyes and thanked him for his availability for the few minutes they had shared.

          While she had surveyed her surroundings as though she were making a decision on which direction to go, he had the opportunity to examine all of her more closely.

          Taking in her blonde beauty, he had guessed her age to be somewhere in the mid-forties, maybe early fifties.  He concluded that his first impression was probably more correct.  The analysis was Jack being observant.  Age, for Jack Savage was no more than something that one places within the larger perspective of who a person had chosen to be.

          This woman had chosen to be physically fit.

         Her blonde hair falling against the sides of her chin had a slight inward curl to it.  She allowed the rest of her hair to hang freely to the shoulder shaped in a simple cut.  Her skin was clear of blemish except for a small scar near her left eye.

          He had already taken note of the light tan earlier.  His first impression had been that she resisted the health concerns now emerging everywhere in the culture regarding sun damaged skin;  her tan now appeared to him more cautiously watched over.

         She wore a graduated blending, greenish blue, swimming suit that covered her from a visually pleasing bust-line to lower hip with a slight V upward cut on each side of the upper thigh.  He had been stirred by the naturally rounded feminine hip and thigh line, so unlike the surgeon redefined feminine-muted, starved,  adolescent boy, hip-line of the modeling world.

          He had thought the suit did more for her in its modest restraint than any bathing suit he had ever seen on a beautiful woman.  She seemed draped in the soft material as though she were a live, supple sculpture of perfect womanhood waiting for the right man to slowly reveal her beauty only to himself.

          He had briefly felt the desire for her to remain with him and then suppressed it, responding to her,  “Thank you” by nodding his head in a, “You’re welcome” manner, replying that it had been his pleasure.

          She had smiled and had slowly turned as though she had made the decision to walk back toward the pier.

          During the time he had watched her movement toward the pier from which she had leaped in such a furious rush only a few moments ago, he thought her familiar in some way he couldn’t pin down.

          He wondered why he hadn’t asked her to explain her behavior.  Perhaps he should have been pointed and simply asked if she had been running from someone.  He hadn’t seen anyone who appeared looking for her.  The beach was unusually clear of people.

          Puzzled at her behavior, he surveyed once again, both sides of the beach.  He saw four children near the pier being watched over by a white-haired couple following their play.

          His eyes scanned in a semi-circle but no one caught his attention as having been particularly focused on them.

         Telling himself there might have been someone viewing the beach, centering attention on them that he hadn’t noticed, he once again looked up and down the beach then toward the hotel.

          Perhaps there had been eyes watching from under the pier or from one of the hotel windows or an apparent casual stare of surveillance from someone standing on the cobblestone walkway leading to the hotel’s outdoor luncheon area.

          He examined the possibility that an approach by someone toward them had been restrained by her choice of coming back to where he lay.  He wondered what had changed so quickly within the environment during those few minutes of contact that had allowed her to suddenly relax and then within too short of time, move casually away from him.

          He turned back to face the ocean waves and lowered himself, once again, telling himself to let it go.  He had come here for relaxation, why complicate the effort, he told himself.  It is a beautiful day he decided.  A little hotter than he liked, but the breeze brought a certain refreshing relief to the sun-heated air rolling along the top of the sand, toward him.

          Lucky had taken the pleasant feeling of the firm grip of his hand with her when she had walked away.  She thought to herself, “Yes, he is attractive.... Very.”

          Her mind went back over the remembered photographs of this man, Jack Savage.  Her father had sent her several pictures of Lynette’s new husband and she compared them with the man she had found here on the beach.  Her father had written that Lynette had nailed a tall, dark and handsome man.

          In the six year old photos, Jack had appeared to be have been in his forties, at least six feet tall, perhaps taller,  strong and fit.

          In the picture, his brown hair with sparse streaks of gray, shoulder length, had been pulled back.  The slightly curled ends of his hair were gathered into a rubber band and could be seen in the photo.

          What she had seen at today’s encounter revealed to her a body wonderfully firm, inviting touch.  His hair, free from restraint, had fallen sensuously against his chin during their exchange.  She smiled sorrowfully to herself, thinking, “Lyn, you just couldn’t resist this one, could you?”

          She noted to herself that the photograph had not revealed the strong masculine “presence” which she had experienced a few moments ago.  He had a seductively welcoming manner, residing within an outwardly studied, yet unassuming male exterior that no picture had conveyed.

          Refusing to focus longer on the sense of pleasure that was her unexpected reaction to him, she was half-way to the pier when she abruptly changed direction and began moving toward the hotel’s cobblestone back terrace.

          Moving up the walk toward the hotel’s back entrance, she allowed herself to be distracted from thoughts of Mr. Jack Savage to momentarily, admire the multi-colored plants and flowers, pinks and fuchsia dominating the scene, interspersed with shades of green leaves and other tropical foliage.

          Sections of the professional planting held examples of luxurious and delicate flowers, cleverly protected from the coastal winds by various sculptures, water falls, large rocks and strategically placed, wind-barriers.

          She walked through the back entrance of the hotel.  Entering Room 416, she spoke to the man sitting in the large over-stuffed chair that had been moved near the window so that he could see the beach more clearly.

          “I hope your idea works,” she said as she walked toward the bathroom.

          The man’s brows came together in a slight frown, “Your choice. We didn’t think he would be easy to approach if you were not willing to announce your relationship with your step-sister to him. He’s a smart man.”

          From the door of the bedroom, an angry male voice interjected,  “This whole damn thing is crazy!  I should never have agreed to this insanity.  Why did you accept my wife’s check?  Isn’t there some professional code of ethics that requires you to deny your services to women who are out-of-their-depths?”

          The man stood ramrod straight.  His body bore the look of commitment to its strength and his jaw looked as solid as if it had been formed out of concrete.  The man’s features fit the look of his jaw, strong and no flabbiness on this man anywhere that Mr. Evans could see.

          Ron Evans, Private Investigator, cleared his throat, pushing down the feeling of irritation that had risen.

          Resisting the impulse to tell Dan of the men he had refused checks from because they were out of their depths, he replied, “Mr. Donnellan, your wife came to me.  We have gone over this in length.  You agreed it was worth a try.  I told you both of my reservations regarding her involvement.  It appears that your wife isn’t easy to dissuade from doing something once she makes a decision.  Isn’t it better that a professional investigator is involved, if she is going to do it?”

          Dan shot a glance of frustration at his wife,  “You can say that again!”

          He looked back at Evans, “Okay! -- Okay!”  The snap of the two short words bounced off a wall.  Daniel Donnellan appeared to surrender.... again.

          Entering the bathroom, Lucky closed the door.  Drawing the thin straps of her swimming suit down over her shoulders, she felt the released material slide down the contours of her body.  She stepped out of the soft material, now lying in a silken mound on the floor and stepped directly into the shower.

          While the warm water flowed over her,  the memory of Jack Savage's tall, strong body near her, swept through her.  She arched her back, running her hands upward from the pubic firmness of her lower body toward the fullness of her breasts as a sense of fresh pleasure brought forth an almost unfamiliar sensuality.

          Stepping out of the shower, she listened for a moment.  She could not hear the men talking.  The long silence indicated that they had stopped the earlier discussion.  Apparently, they were going to wait for her to shower and dress.  She explored the best way to approach Dan about going home.

          Lucky Donnellan,  in accepting that she couldn't use her real name when activating a meeting with Lynette’s ex-husband, immediately had chosen the surname, Donavan.  It still felt strange to hear the name emerge from her own lips.

          She wondered if her hesitation when giving it to Jack Savage had triggered a question about its authenticity.  Dan had not agreed to the use of another surname.  Consistently, he had challenged every aspect of the suggested outline of her movement into Jack Savage’s life.  Long ago, she had realized that Dan was never comfortable whenever she made a decision that did not include him.

          In the early years of their marriage, his need for control almost finished the relationship.  For a long-time, he had believed that she used decision-making to isolate him and to limit his power.  The angry memories between them came at her as though they were a single photo-shot of experience.

          It remained difficult for her to go back through the fifteen years of their marriage without cringing.  It had taken five intense years of counseling for Dan to accept that who she had chosen to be, included the right to make her own decisions, based on rational examination of information that dealt with facts.

          Her childhood docile acceptance of assumed authority had long been questioned and removed as an automatic response to anyone or anything.  She had become convinced that what Dan resented most was that he had no veto power over her decisions, once made, in disagreement with his own conclusions.

          In spite of the fact that she had often agreed with his viewpoint and had conformed to his preferences, he found it difficult to let go, during any situation when she couldn’t agree with his final decision or viewpoint.

          In time, Dr. Bowman had been able to persuade her that Dan had worked hard to overcome the idea that her choices, especially when disagreeing with his point of view, did not mean she was dismissing his ideas or conclusions as worthless.

          During the first years of their marriage, the issue regarding most of her decisions had been an almost constant battle between them.  Today, in spite of those assurances from Dr. Bowman,  it had been brought into question again, whether or not, Dan had actually won that battle.

          She reached for the white towel and dried her body.  Putting on brown slacks and a light blue shirt, she opened the bathroom door and entered the room where Dan was waiting for her.


          On the beach, long moments had passed.  Finally, Jack Savage stopped resisting the desire to turn and look in the direction she had gone.

          Sorry now that he had not continued to watch her full retreat, he picked-up his beach towel and headed for his hotel suite.

          Once inside his room, he showered and dressed.  Entering the communal space, he pushed the large beige armchair close to the window overlooking the beach.  Sinking down into its comfortable cushions he placed his feet on the low window sill.

          His mind kept going back to Lady Luck.

          Jack Savage had resisted being stirred by any woman for over two years.  A few times burned, a thousand times shy, he told himself.  He couldn’t escape the reality that he had been burned more than once in a relationship.

          He had asked himself often, since Lynette, if that had been the reason their failure had been the most devastating to him.  Inevitably, the haunting question of the cause behind the failure of their marriage would always come back to himself.  Was it his fault the relationship failed?  Did he have something dark and allusive within himself that wouldn’t allow him to sustain an intimate relationship?  Over and over, he had pursued these questions.  He had found no answers.

          He began to concentrate on the strange encounter on the beach.  “A Dish!” he thought, remembering his father’s muted expression when he acknowledged an attractive woman in their presence.  He chuckled at her audacious retreat to where a stranger lay and the memory of her body snuggling next to his.  He felt warmth rush into his lower body.

          His mind brought back the pleasure of her smell and the feel of her skin.  He wandered back onto the territory of their encounter.  Had he merely been in the right place at the right time for her?  Would she have back-tracked to another man lying on the beach, if there had been that option?

          Asking himself if she been responding to him through an internal biological or psychological antenna, he felt as a viewer might feel when examining a compelling work of art inside an incompatible frame.  He felt uncomfortable, restless and unauthorized to harmonize the slight off-balance of the thing he was looking at.

          The sun was sinking into the ocean before Jack realized how much time had moved past his awareness.  Glancing at the clock, he lifted himself from the chair, stretched, then walked over to the lamp-stand and picked-up the room card before going to the hotel dining room.

          “Evening, Mr. Savage.” the maitre d’hotel spoke quietly.  Jack smiled and responded,  “I enjoyed the table overlooking the ocean yesterday, is there one available this evening?”

          In the subdued but authoritative tone of a past century English butler, the maitre d’hotel replied,  “Yes, it is. I've held it for you, Sir.”

          Briefly questioning if the table had been held for him, he looked around.  Sitting down, Jack could see how sparsely peopled the dining area had turned out to be, tonight.

          Handing him the menu, the maitre d’hotel leaned toward him,  “I suggest the porcini dusted skate.  It is expertly boned, an elegant wing of fresh white fish crusted with porcini dust and laid beside truffled chive potatoes.”

          Jack raised an eyebrow and the maitre d’hotel winked and turned back toward the waiting customers.  Jack laughed.  "He knows I’m an ordinary man," he thought.

          In a few minutes, the waiter approached him to take his order.  She heard the soft sound of the laugh and knew instantly that it was his.  Looking around slowly, Lucky spotted him at a corner table, handing the menu back to the waiter.  He turned his head slowly to gaze out the window toward the ocean.  She sat motionless for a while watching him.

          The pianist began to play Gershwin’s “That Certain Feeling.”  The gathering dinner audience softly clapped their pleasure.  Lucky remembered her step-sister's father playing the song, over and over, with a young Lynette quietly listening, humming the tune.  She felt a rush of sadness and a deep sense of betrayal.  Placing her hand to her forehead, she briefly felt foolish and inept, wondering if she had what it took to stay the course she had chosen for herself.

          A beautiful black woman in a softly clinging red dress, walked up to the piano to lean against it.  She reminded Lucky of the early photo's of Lena Horne.  The woman began singing; her voice expressing a sultry seduction,  “That certain feeling...  The first time I met you.   I hit the ceiling...   I couldn’t forget you...”

          Lucky closed her eyes, “How complicated life can be.  How cruel!  How unfair!”  The words whirled through her mind.  She wanted to scream.  It took all the strength inside her to not rush out of the room, hurrying past the tables that held friendly chatter just under the lyrical words of the vocalist, and run as far away as possible.

          She remained seated.

          Lucky told herself to concentrate on what she had come here to do.  She looked away from Jack Savage, allowing her eyes to sweep the room periodically, wondering when Evans and Dan would enter it.

          When the waiter brought her meal, she focused on it.  She ate slowly, taking longer than usual to finish the meal, temporarily withholding the enjoyment of the wine as a means of extending her time at the table.

          Jack Savage almost missed seeing her.  Finished with his meal and moving through the room toward the exit, he spotted her sitting at a table alone, almost directly under a tall, decorative palm tree.  A dart of hesitation flashed through his consciousness.  He kept walking in her direction, the caution melting.

          When Jack approached her table, she looked up.  Their eyes met.  He became aware that the vocalist had begun Gershwin’s, “Embraceable You.”  He presented his hand and said, “It's a Gershwin night.  Will you dance with me?”

          She smiled, looked up and said, “Is there a dance floor handy?”

          “Let’s find our own.”

          His touch on her shoulder was light and gently inviting.  She stood up.  He reached for her hand and led her out the exit toward the spacious hotel patio.  The music floated through the crisp evening air.  They were able to make out the words, “I love all the many charms about you... above all, I want my arms around you... ”

          Jack turned her to face him and she moved into his arms.  They began to dance.  “Don’t be a naughty baby... come to mama, come to mama do... My sweet embraceable you....”

          The words drifted out to them.  They held each other, moving to the rhythm of the music.  He could not feel a wedding band on her left hand held firmly pressed against the back of his shoulder.  A memory of early man-hood embarrassment rushed through him.  A flash of irrational pleasure shot through him.  He was no longer the man to pursue another man’s lady, he told himself.

          Now past her movement into the invisible circle that held his waiting for her to enter his space,  now moving to the rhythm of the music,  Lucky felt as though her brain had temporarily dispensed with her environment.

          She was mesmerized by the experience of their uniting in dance. Unexpectedly, she felt a single part of a complete whole.  The music seemed to compel the unfolding and remolding of the two of them as a single expression of musical poetry in motion, over and over again.

          Moments later, she became aware that she was enjoying the experience far outside her commitments and felt a rush of guilt sear through her.  She moved slightly away from him.  Instantly, she was aware that his hand had gently increased the pressure against her lower back drawing her once again toward him. She felt a portentous pleasure. She remained once again in the place where he had brought her, offering no resistance to his decision.

          Jack, absorbed in the music, the soft, yielding feel of her body against his, slowly felt the rest of the world slip away and he wondered why time had not disappeared like this with any other woman. “Just who are you, Lucky Lady,” he asked himself.

          The vocalist entered the song’s final refrain, “Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you... Embrace me, you irreplaceable you... Don’t be a naughty baby... Come to mama, come to mama do.... My sweet embraceable you.....”

          They slowed to a stop.  She looked up at him.  The warmth of his smile had traveled deeper into his eyes.  A light clapping began and they turned to face a small audience that had gathered to watch them dance.  Smiling their thanks,  they began to walk toward the beach.

          When the crowd began to break up, a sharp, but muffled, “No!” could be heard.  Turning to see where the sound came from, Lucky saw Dan angrily react to the urging of Mr. Evans to calm down.  Lucky felt caught and angry at the same time.  Glancing down at her, Jack commented, “A disagreement of some kind.  It doesn’t look too serious.”

          They turned their backs to the ruckus already quieting and walked toward the sound of the surf.  She couldn’t forget Dan’s angry outburst.  She would have to find a way to do this without Dan pacing every step.  He was still angry.

          They had gone over the options that had seemed open to her.  Dan had not approved of her intentions.  He had been adamant she was not going to involve herself, when she first brought the idea to him.  He had insisted that nothing would bring Lynette back, so why focus on a situation where she had no hope of making a positive impact.

          Lucky had questioned his sense of justice.  Dan had taken this rebuff as a personal assault and wouldn’t examine the implications of his remarks.  Eventually, he had agreed not to attempt to stop her, if she wouldn’t try to gather more information about her step-sister’s case, alone.

          Ron Evans had agreed to take her check in spite of coming up empty after further inquiry about the case.  He had expressed doubts they could do what the police had failed to do.  Evans wanted her to understand that he felt there wasn’t anything more to go on.  Lucky hadn’t brought any information that wasn’t already in the police files.  She had convinced him to provide her professional support for at least three months.

          Lucky cast an upward look at Jack Savage, wondering if she might be wrong about him.  She internally shook her head against the suggestion.  She had stopped suppressing the possibility that Lyn had been murdered long enough.  Two years after her death and the police had nothing.

          The detectives had not been able to find anyone who had a strong enough motive to kill her.  At least nothing they were willing to share with her.  Lynette’s ex-husband had seemed the most reasonable and closest target for Lucky’s beginning focus to find out why her step-sister had died.

          The police had been reluctant to label Lynette’s death a murder in the first place.  Lucky couldn’t understand why.  The short hand-written note had not been enough evidence for Lucky that her step-sister had committed suicide.

          Lucky had become convinced that if it had not been for a lack of finding the cause of death within any clear forensic evidence the police detectives would have written her death off as a suicide from the beginning of the investigation.

          What had apparently been taken as a suicide note by the police, wasn’t enough for Lucky.  The words on it read, “I’m sorry for leaving such a mess.”  The bottom portion of the note had been ripped off.

          Lucky had read the note, shuddered and thought, “The words could have been written to the housekeeper, referring only to having left the kitchen an unusual mess.”  She was certain Lynette would not have killed herself.

          There had been no marks of abuse on Lynette’s body and the usual forensic tests provided no compelling clues for why her major organs had failed.  After examining the police report, Ron Evans had used the word "crashed" in his reference to the major failure of her body's organs.  What would cause her step-sister's organs to crash that couldn't be found by the forensics, Lucky had asked herself many times.

          She quickly thought of Lynette’s financial situation before her death.  Lucky and Lynette had always known that their grandfather’s trust stated that upon either sister’s demise, the trust monies would go directly to the survivor sister and not to a husband or to a child born to them.  Lucky asked herself, “What would have been a motive for Lynette’s ex-husband to have killed her?”

          The police inquiry had slowed.  The lead detective ultimately suggested that perhaps Lynette had given herself an over-dose of whatever killed her in the hotel restroom before she had gone to her room to lie down on the bed.

          By the time she had been found, the hotel restrooms had been cleaned.  Nothing had been found in the room that could explain what she might have consumed before she died.  The only finger-prints found were Lynette’s and the maids who had cleaned the room before her entrance into it.

          The earlier frustration swept over her.  Lynette and her husband had just divorced.  Her death didn’t seem possible to have provided a mess for him.  He knew of the trust-fund monies and knew he wouldn’t have gotten them.  What Lucky had been able to learn, so far, is that Lynette had agreed to leave the marriage with no financial hold over him.

          Why should he have killed her?  He didn’t appear to be in a financial crisis.  If he hadn't killed her, who else would have wanted her dead?  Was he one of these habitually angry men who end-up destroying those he loves? 

          Lucky had reviewed these questions often and after each reexamination had concluded that there must be something material to Lynette's case that the police had not uncovered in connection to Jack Savage.

         Lucky found her mind returning to the suicide note.  From the first moment of reading it, she had not been able to accept it as expressing a suicide intention.  She could not believe her step-sister would indicate that she was leaving a mess, if she had decided to kill herself.  It would be more likely for Lynette, in a rage, to have left a letter out of spite, blaming the husband who had asked for a divorce.

          Lucky sighed inwardly.  Lynette had long been working on various emotional problems.  She had often expected those around her to ignore the negative effects of her personal problems that had spread into their lives.

          Lucky had always wanted to maintain a friendly connection to her step-sister.  Her sense of family always had been that regardless of the early battles between herself and Lynette, there would be a strong sisterly bond kept in place, if it were up to herself.  She had deeply regretted the parting argument that hadn’t healed before Lynette’s death.

         It angered her that her step-sister had probably been murdered and someone was apparently getting away with it.  She was convinced that if Lynette and she would have been able to overcome their estrangement before she and Dan left for Paris, Lucky wouldn’t be coming back so empty of information regarding her step-sister’s marriage to Jack Savage; or for that matter, so ignorant of any situation that might have caused Lynette to feel powerless and despairing which had always triggered an intense rage in her.

           Lucky couldn't shake the feelings of guilt that tormented her.  She should have made a greater effort to make-up with Lynette before she had left for Paris.

         Lucky couldn’t understand the apparent lack of interest in finding what had killed her step-sister.  The forensic department seemed stumped.  Lucky had become convinced, that if she hadn't been so adamant that Lynette would never take her own life, Lynette’s file would have been closed, classified a suicide, long before this.

          Her lack of professional investigative skill was a risk-factor that Dan had held over her head.  From the moment she had made the decision to try and find out more about Lynette’s death,  he had ridiculed the idea she could do anything that the police hadn't been able to do.

          Dan had insisted she introduce herself to Jack Savage as Lynette’s step-sister and ask him to go over the case with her.  According to Dan’s view, Lynette’s husband would allow Lucky access to her sister’s things and would be willing to explore their recent marriage breakdown experience with her.

          Lucky couldn’t agree.  If Jack did have something to do with Lynette’s death, this approach would put him on alert that she doubted that she had committed suicide.  Lucky would learn nothing from him or get close enough to examine the damaged intimacy that had become the primary part of the remainder of their married life before Lynette’s death.

          Lucky had reasoned, that the one thing going for her, was that Jack Savage had never met her during his four-year marriage to Lynette or after their divorce.

          The thought that kept entering Lucky’s mind was the notion that she might be able to uncover new information regarding Lynette’s death.  She argued that living in Paris for the last seven years might turn out to be of primary importance in the last analysis of her step-sister’s case.

          In spite of understanding her limited investigative abilities, she had made the decision;  she was not going to look the other way any longer and remain uninvolved in her step-sister’s case.  It was at this moment of acceptance that Lucky Donnellan, had made the decision to become Lucky Donavan, for several months.

          Strolling toward the surf alongside Lucky, Jack wondered what she was thinking about at this moment.  She now seemed distant and aloof from the pleasure of the dance.  Briefly uncomfortable, he released her hand, continuing to walk quietly beside her.  Coming back to the present, she summed up her thoughts that her husband had to go home.

          The words floated up through her brain with a fresh force of acceptance.  She knew it was an important step, but it would be more difficult to accomplish than merely wishing for it to take place.  Emerging out of her concentration, she became aware that their stroll had come to a stop where the cobblestone walk met the sand.

          The low swishing sounds of the incoming and outgoing of the surf could be heard above the now-receding human chatter.  The music retreated from their hearing, as though being gently scolded by the breeze, that it had not been invited here.

          Removing her shoes, Lucky suggested that he do the same.  Jack smiled and took his shoes off.  Shoes in hand, they moved closer to the water.  Jack took off his jacket and asked her sit on it.  She resisted and he said, “Please.”  After she had seated herself carefully on his jacket, he lowered himself on the sand close to her.

          They continued talking within a casual, friendly banner, choosing subjects that ranged from tomorrow's weather outlook to past vacation experiences.  The night became longer.  The couple on the beach seemed mutely indifferent to the passing of time. 

          Becoming aware of the lateness of the hour, Jack turned to her, “When may I see you again?”

          Her throat felt dry.  Swallowing, she looked away from his gaze to reply, “Tomorrow?”

          He lifted his face to the darkened sky, experiencing a wonderful sense of relief flowing through him, and smiled.

    You have finished Chapter 1
    Of Hit The Sand Running
    By Duke Stevens

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