Their Hawaiian conclave was exclusive, a really wonderful present from Eddie, and they should have been alone, completely alone, so naturally Madison was surprised when she felt the air and the sand stir. Someone was approaching them.
She glanced up. Bogie was coming along the beach; he looked as if he was ready to film the sequel to The African Queen.
Jenny walked beside him, close, but as a daughter would be close.
“Hey!” Sean said, standing and dusting sand from his swim trunks. “I thought you hated to travel. This is a very long way. You’re welcome here, of course,” he added huskily. Madison knew that Sean believed Bogie had saved her life, far more than he had himself. And he was grateful.
“We’re ready to go,” Bogie said.
“Go?” Sean asked him, puzzled.
Jenny smiled, slipping an arm through Bogie’s. “I think Bogie’s right. We stay for a reason, a purpose. No matter how long it may take for that reason to come along, or what that reason may be. We’re almost sure we’ve fulfilled our purpose. So we came out to be with you until the sun sets, and then…well, there’s nothing like a Hawaiian sunset. We decided that might be the time to see if…if there’s another light.”
For a moment, Madison thought Bogie would argue. But he didn’t. They were spirits, visible to no one but them. Then again, they were alone on a beach, so what was real and what wasn’t didn’t seem important.
Sean spread another blanket, and Bogie and Jenny joined them on the sand, and they spent the day talking about good things, Bogie laughing about incidents on set, Jenny enthralled by his tales of the past. Sean and Madison listened eagerly, as well; they’d never hear these stories again.
Then the sun began to fall in the west. The sunset was striking and beautiful, shot through with what seemed like a hundred shades of gold and red and mauve.
A light seemed to burst brilliantly as the rest of the sky faded.
Bogie turned back to Madison. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Tears sprang to her eyes as Bogie reached for Jenny’s hand, and they walked toward the light. Then they walked through it and were gone.
Sean pulled Madison close and touched her cheek gently. “And now,” he said softly, “to life.”
“To our lives,” she agreed.
They walked through the sand and the softening breeze of the night back to their cottage, and the time they could seize together before the journey that lay ahead.
Before the journey and during it. Now and forever.