Bokor slumped in the ratty, cut-velvet upholstered chair with the replacement leg that did not match. As far as she knew, the students were all still asleep. There were deep lines carved into her forehead. She was still worried. Her clothes hung on her frame, which was thinner than a couple of days ago. She couldn’t sleep or eat. The problem seemed to have no solution.
The crunch of dry foliage and gravel stirred her to sit up straighter and look out the window. Marilu and Maggie were walking toward the front door. What the hell was Maggie doing out there with the other woman? Bokor thought she had counted heads correctly. But then again, she had been so distracted she really had no idea who was upstairs. No idea, that is, except she knew Zoya was there.
Or was she? Bubbles of panic shot up from the pit of Bokor’s belly into the back of her throat. But before she could get up and go upstairs Marilu and Maggie were standing before her.
“Bokor, we need to talk about what’s going on here on this island,” Marilu said.
The two women looked at Bokor. She was looking back at them with a thoughtful expression on her face. She couldn’t leave the island – she had to control Zoya – but what about these two? No, not Maggie, she was an innocent – or part of Ralph’s world, Bokor wasn’t exactly sure…
“Yes, of course, Marilu. But,” she looked at Marilu and did a sideways glance and head tilt at Maggie. “You and I should talk. I need you to do something for me.”
Marilu got it. She and Bokor had grown up together – cousins who were like sisters. “Uh, Maggie, would you mind making breakfast? The others should be down soon and we’ll all be hungry.”
“But Marilu, I thought…”
“Please, Maggie, things will go quicker this way.”
“Oh, all right.” Maggie stomped toward the kitchen.
Bokor would have had a heart attack if she had gone into Zoya’s room.
Zoya paced up and down the beach, occasionally kicking up sand in anger. Her options were getting limited – there were fewer people on the island now, and there were some who she knew not to touch – for now.
But the hunger to kill was there nevertheless. She needed more than the few monkeys she had slain an hour ago. She kept pacing until something caught her eye. A boat. A rowboat with oars. And something else she hadn’t really paid attention to before. Another island off in the distance. Another island – more people – problem solved. She ran toward the boat.
She was almost there when a dark object flew toward her and made impact, knocking her off of her feet. She fell face-first into the sand, feeling the sharp claws of a large animal pressing down on her lower back. She turned her head and coughed out sand. Her nose caught a familiar scent and she knew that Ralph was her captor.
“Going somewhere?” the shape changer growled, his paws softening into large, male hands. Then she felt him shift. He lay on top of her, his stomach on her lower back, other parts hard on the crack of her butt. He was breathing heavily.
She reached her right arm up and pulled hard on the nipple of Ralph’s shirtless chest. He squawked and rolled slightly to his right, giving Zoya space to spring up and away from him. He looked at her balefully and started to rise so she kicked him hard in the groin.
The sound of his groans could be heard from the house. Bokor and Marilu stopped their intense conversation and went outside. When they saw Ralph rolling on the beach in pain, they ran to assist him.
“My God, is anyone upstairs where they are supposed to be?” thought Bokor as she ran.
Zoya sat in front of the canvas. A pretty blue rowboat was taking shape under her paintbrush. It was a simple work – finished in time for her to catch an hour of sleep. She was dreaming about warm salt water splashing gently on her face when Bokor looked in on her to call her for breakfast.