Blooming in the Wild


If she’d been awake, of course she would never have jumped.

But in the dream, she stood on the edge of a cliff. The mountain fell away below her in a cascade of misty green. Down between the tall trees, a wild profusion of shrubs and vines clung to the rich soil.

Standing on the brink, she tipped back her head and lifted her hands, palms upward in a hosanna of joy to the misty clouds above and the warm rain pattering down. Her island drank, and she was grateful.

At her gesture, the trees stretched out their branches to her. She laughed, and they leaned farther, obeying her summons, their leaves caressing her bare skin. Delight filled her. They were hers, all of them. And she was theirs.

She wore nothing but a brief kapa skirt, crown and lei of fragrant plumeria and red hyacinth, their petals soft against her forehead and bare breasts. Odd but right.

A cry slashed the quiet—a scarlet ‘I’iwi bird, swooping from an ohia tree to call a warning.

She frowned in displeasure as a motor growled through the quiet forest. Reaching out her hand, she commanded the trees to part. Below her, a large vehicle rumbled along a narrow road. She couldn’t see the occupants behind the shaded windows, but she knew they’d come to do harm to those who dwelled here.

Rage sprouted inside her, an explosive growth that must be released.

She beckoned, and a long vine slipped down from its supporting tree and twined through the air into her hand. Without hesitation, she launched herself out and down, swooping through the rain like an avenging angel, supported only by the vine. Around her, the forest came alive, the trees swaying, branches lashing, rain flying in silver streams from their leaves. The shrubs and plants lining the ground shivered, as if they would follow her.

They were all hers, and they would obey her, help her destroy the intruders.


She wasn’t a killer. The forest had hypnotized her. Lulled her into believing she belonged to it, that she must fly to the rescue of those in it.

But she couldn’t fly. She wasn’t a creature of the forest, she was…

No! She couldn’t remember who she was. Was she this wild wahine, or her quiet, everyday self?

Bereft of belief, she began to fall, plummeting toward the ground below. The speed of her descent sucked the breath from her lungs, branches slashed at her, the hard dark lava of the road bed rushed up to meet her.

She woke with a strangled scream of terror, her heart pounding, skin damp with perspiration, to find herself sitting upright in the middle of a strange bed. Struggling to steady her gasping breaths, she peered around her in the shadows. A tidy hotel room, with a desk, a chair, a lamp and a suitcase, open on the rack. Her suitcase, her business suit hanging in the open closet beside it. Her tablet computer, ready on the desk.

This was her reality. She was Bella Moran, businesswoman.

She was here on Maui, Hawaii, for a meeting with her company’s financial officers and local manager, ready to open DelRay Sporting Goods’ first Hawaiian branch factory and store.

In a day and a half, she’d be leaving by boat for the wild stretch of coastline south of Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, in charge of a photo shoot to showcase the new summer line of outdoor products. She was in charge of making sure the expedition went smoothly, that everyone got along and worked well together.

She was Bella Moran, from Portland, Oregon. And she was afraid she was losing her mind.

Blinking at the hot tears that filled her eyes, Bella crawled through the tangled sheets to the edge of the bed and reached out to grasp her cell phone. She swiped her wet cheeks with a corner of the sheet and peered at the bright little screen in her palm. Four thirty in the morning, local time, but she had to talk to someone, had to hear the voice of someone who might understand.

Finding a name, she hesitated, and then tapped it with her thumb. She lifted the phone to her ear and waited until a male voice answered, rough with sleep.

“It’s Daro. What’s wrong, nani, pretty one?”

“I’m sorry to wake you,” she managed, her voice trembling. “But I need to know. Do you ever have…dreams?”

Chapter One

To Do: Organize one group of pampered divas, a boatload of camping equipment and gourmet provisions. Escort them into the tropical Hawaiian wilderness.

God save him from the princesses of