McGillivray's Mistress - By Anne McAllister
SOME PEOPLE called it “sculpture.” Lachlan McGillivray begged to differ.
As far as he was concerned, the monstrosity on the beach in front of his elegant upscale Moonstone Inn was—pure and simple—“trash.”
What else could you possibly call the nightmare—ten feet high and growing—that had begun to arise a month ago from the flotsam and jetsam that washed up on Pelican Cay’s beautiful pink sand beach?
“Delightfully inventive,” an article in last Sunday’s Nassau paper called it. “A creative amalgam,” the Freeport newspaper had said. “Fresh and thought-provoking,” the art critic from a far-reaching Florida daily claimed.
“Deliberate nose-thumbing,” was Lachlan’s opinion. It was just Fiona Dunbar having a go at him.
Fiona Dunbar had been a pain in the posterior—his posterior!—since he and his family had moved to the small Bahamian island when Lachlan was fifteen.
Life in suburban Virginia with its soccer leagues and its supply of cute blonde cheerleaders had been all he’d ever wanted back then. Being uprooted and transplanted to a remote Caribbean island just so his father could satisfy a need for wanderlust at the same time that he pursued his career as a family physician had infuriated Lachlan, though the rest of the family had come willingly enough.
In fact his brother, Hugh, two years younger, and his sister, Molly, six years his junior, had been delighted to trade their stateside existence for life in the sticks.
“There’s nothing to do there!” Lachlan had complained.
“Exactly,” his father had said happily, looking around at the miles of deserted beach and the softly breaking waves and then up the hill at the higgledy-piggledy scatter of pastel-colored houses, its 350-year-old rusting cannon, and the half-overgrown cricket field with its resident grass-mowing horse. “That’s just the point.”
Lachlan hadn’t been able to see it then. He’d thought it was the most boring place on earth, and he’d said so often.
“So leave,” Molly’s best friend, the supremely irritating Fiona Dunbar had said, sticking her tongue out at him.
“Believe me, carrots, I would if I could,” he’d replied.
And he had—as soon as his acceptance had come from the University of Virginia. He’d been gone four years, returning only occasionally to see his parents. Then he’d gone on to Europe to play soccer in England, Spain and Italy, and had come back even less often, and then only to regale family and friends with tales of life in the fast lane.
But oddly, the longer he was gone, the more he found himself remembering the good things about Pelican Cay. The more he’d awakened in the morning in this big city or that one and listened to the birds cough, the more fondly he’d remembered waking to island birds and island breezes. The more he moved frenetically from one place to another, the more he appreciated the slower island pace. He liked the autobahn and the Louvre and the centuries of European culture. He liked French cuisine and Italian delicacies and Spanish wines. But sometimes he missed a slow amble down a potholed road, a one-room island historical society, the 350-year-old rusty cannon, a plate of conch fritters and a long cold beer.
A couple of years ago, when Hugh had come back to start his island charter service, Fly Guy, in Pelican Cay, even though their parents had moved back to Virginia, Lachlan had thought his brother had the right idea.
“I’ll probably come back when I retire, too,” he’d said.
Hugh had raised dark brows. “And do what?”
Hugh had gone to college, then into the U.S. Navy where he’d been a pilot for eight years. But always a beachcomber at heart, he’d finally bolted the regimented world and was never happier than when he was lying in a hammock, drinking a beer and watching the waves wash up on the shore.
That was not Lachlan. Lachlan had always had goals. He’d made up his mind at the age of twelve that he was going to be “the best damn goalkeeper” in the world and he’d never swerved from his pursuit of that.
While his parents had scowled at his profanity, they’d admired his determination—and his success. He’d spent sixteen years as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. But even he couldn’t play in goal forever.
It was a young man’s game. A young healthy man’s game. Retirement had come last summer, at the age of thirty-four, when a serious knee injury had so compromised his quickness that Lachlan knew it was time. His mind was as quick as ever, his anticipation as great. But he would never get his edge back physically.