I am not totally alone in this world. He’s right. I need help.
"Wait!" My voice strained against the wind blowing off the Sea of Cortez. Mulberry was a slow-moving figure several yards ahead, solid looking in the hazy light of dusk, he took his time crossing the beach. I pushed through the sand, running after him. My dog, Blue, stayed by my side, his gait lopsided.
Mulberry didn't turn until I grabbed his arm. "Wait," I panted. "You're right. I need your help."
He grinned, pushing his crow's feet into sharp relief as his yellow-green eyes brightened. "I know," Mulberry laughed. "You're such a mess."
He wrapped me in a hug—one muscular arm around my waist and the other across my shoulders. Mulberry buried his head in my hair and pulled my face into his chest. At first, in that dark intimacy, I felt like I was suffocating. Almost immediately, though, relief washed over me. I am not totally alone in this world; my only companion a limping mutt.
Blue yelped, excited by our embrace, and circled us, churning up the sand. Mulberry smelled like clean laundry, sea salt, and carried an unmistakable scent that was all him. Pulling away, Mulberry left his hands on my shoulders and looked down into my face. He seemed so much bigger than me, so much stronger and smarter, and under control. I felt like a blurry image next to his stark silhouette.
"Come on, I'll buy you dinner," he said, throwing his arm around me. We walked back toward the Oyster Farm. I'd been living there for months, ever since we crossed into Mexico. I'd come for the oysters and stayed for the isolation.
"So, where've you been?" I asked. "It's been what? Four months?" After turning our treasure into money, which made us both rich, Mulberry left, and I stayed, despite his invitation to come with him. "You went to Paris, right?" I asked.
The sun was beneath the sea now, and the deep blue of the sky turned black at the edge. "Yeah, Paris, then London. Like I said, I've been setting up a detective agency."
At my plastic table, a couple of oysters sat in their half-shells. I righted the fallen bottle of tequila next to them, but did not take a sip. The passport, the same deep blue as the darkening sky and embossed with the American seal, waited next to my plate for me to pick it up.
For me to become a new woman: Sydney Rye.
P.S. The dog does not die.
**Beware: If you can’t handle a few f-bombs, you can’t handle this series.**