Two hours later, Torrid awoke. She was drowsy, but emerging from the blissful afterglow of making love to Drelica. Wow. She really needed a cigarette, but she had quit smoking. She stretched and yawned and rolled over and rested her head on one shoulder so she could watch her sleeping angel.

She reached out and ran her fingers through Drelica's hair and petted her softly. She smiled, and leaned in to kiss the soft angelic locks.

"Sweet dreams, baby girl." Torrid whispered to Drelica's sleeping form.  Nothing could have dragged Torrid out of the bed, except the overwhelming urge to empty her bladder.

Crap. I gotta pee.

Quietly, Torrid tip toed into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. Drelica slept on, having been spent thoroughly.

"So where is she?" Alexander Coburn asked as he checked his watch for the third time.

Rick looked up from waxing his board and shrugged. "Don't know dude."

"Well I don't like it."

"Dude, why do you care? They're lesbians. It's not like you're going to get any." Rick laughed.

"I wouldn't be too sure about that, Ricky boy." Alex smirked, as he popped open a can of beer.

"God Alex, you're kinda pathetic you know that? There's chicks fallin' all over you and you want to go for the dykes. Well, if you get your ass kicked, you sure will have earned it. Even I know better than to go messing around with that Torrid chick."

"You have no sense of adventure, my friend." Alex said with his usual smugness.

"And you have no sense!" Rick laughed.

Drelica woke to the annoying sound of a phone ringing. She opened one eye, and leered at the offending object.

"Fuck," she muttered as she reached for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Drelica Truman?"

"Yesh," she said still lying against the pillow.

"Oh hey, did I wake you? I'm so sorry!"

"Who'd thish?"

"Alex Coburn. You were at my party last night."

"Oh hey Alex, yeah, we were sleeping in this morning. You know...vacation and all?"

"Oh okay, sorry. Torrid had said she'd go surfing with us today and we're already on the beach."

Drelica growled to herself. She was a little annoyed that suddenly they were sharing their vacation with Alex Coburn. Who the hell was Alex Coburn anyway? She chastised herself for snapping at him, even if it was in her head, but she was tired and cranky.

"Hang on, Alex-I'll put her on."

"That'd be great!" Alex smiled.

Drelica went to the bathroom and knocked gently on the door. "Babe-your friend is on the phone."

"What? Who?" Torrid said from the other side of the door.

"Alex Coburn wants to know if Torrid can come out to play with him and the boys."

"Shit." Torrid sighed. "Tell him to leave a number and I'll call him back."

"Alex-" Drelica said into the phone.

"I heard, Drelica. But could you just ask her to talk to me for a second?"

Drelica rolled her eyes. This was getting ridiculous. "Babe, he wants to talk to you."

"Dammit, I'm taking a shit! Tell him I'll call him back!" Torrid barked, pissed off.

"Alex, did you hear that?" Drelica smirked into the phone.

"Yeah-uh-sorry. She can call me back at 555-346-8769. Sorry."

Drelica laughed as she hung up the receiver.  Just then Torrid emerged from the bathroom grinning. She walked over to Drelica and kissed her on the cheek. "Did it work?"

Drelica grinned back. "Yep. You were kidding?"

"Yep. I changed my mind. I don't want to go surfing with the horn dog and his pussy posse."

"What would you rather do?" Drelica asked as she sat back down on the bed.

"Do you really have to ask?" Torrid wiggled her eyebrows.

Drelica began to blush, suddenly feeling shy. She laughed nervously, "But we already did -that. What do you want to do for our outing today?"

"Ooooooooooh, you meant vacation stuff? Hmmmm. Volcanoes?" Torrid teased, "Unless you'd rather go see the pineapple groves or something like that?"

"Torrid, don't tease me, you know how much I want to see the volcanoes!"

Torrid smiled, she loved the way Drelica looked when she was being teased, it was downright cute. Drelica was a whole universe unto herself to be explored, and Torrid was greatly excited about the prospect. So this is love, huh? she thought, it doesn't suck.

The view of Kilauea was breathtaking. Being near the molten center of the earth was an experience neither woman was truly prepared for. It touched them on so many levels, not just intellectually but also emotionally and spiritually.
Torrid shed a tear at the amazing beauty of the island. Drelica reached up and wiped it away. She placed a kiss on Torrid's cheek.
"Amazing, babe. Just amazing."

"Yeah. I never ever thought it would be so cool. I can feel creation in the souls of my feet!"

"Why Torrid, I do believe there's a bit of a romantic hiding under all that ink." Drelica teased.

 "Just for you Dre." Torrid offered Drelica a beautiful island flower.  Drelica blushed as she leaned forward for Torrid to tuck the flower behind her ear. She looked into Torrid's eyes; the first time since they had made love. Beautiful blue crystals shined back at her, and she noticed she tiny crinkles in the corners of Torrid's eyes as Torrid smiled.

"I'm going to get some shots while you do your proctologist stuff, babe." Torrid teased, taking her camera out of its pouch.

"Hey!" Drelica said, giving Torrid a mock punch in the arm, but softening to a smile and a girlish giggle when Torrid stuck her tongue out in play.

The smell of ash, lava and the salt of the sea was a strange yet pleasant experience, Torrid noted to herself. She felt very close to creation, and rebirth. Suddenly all of the recent hardships and traumas began to fade away, and the stresses that impacted so heavily on the pair, also began to disappear. A new and refreshed awareness was taking root inside them both, and something told Torrid it was a direct result of their bonding.
Torrid sighed happily as she clicked the shutter over and over, taking photos of the breathtaking vista. This was a day she definitely wanted to remember.

"Alex, surf's up man, you coming or not?" Rick asked his brooding buddy.

"You go on without me, there's something I have to do."

"Oh no, not that Torrid chick again? Dude, let it go!" Rick sighed.

"I can't. There's something about the two of them. Something---I want."

"You're obsessed. This is getting weird, man. You better think this over, cause you're being a total buzz kill."

"Fuck you Rick, go surf, go get drunk, go get laid. We're in Hawaii-got play." Rick brooded.

"I will. I got better things to do with my time than hang with a drama queen." Rick laughed, not really kidding.

Alex sat back in his chair and sipped his beer. He watched his friends paddle out to the waves as he lost himself thinking about Torrid and Drelica.

It was late afternoon when Torrid and Drelica got back to their bungalow. They had spent a wonderful day together, and were about to shower and change and go out for a romantic dinner somewhere on the island.

Drelica gathered up her daypack and camera and moved her hand to open the door of the jeep when Torrid stopped her.

"Babe, wait."

"What is it?" Drelica puzzled.

"Something's not right." Torrid scanned the bungalow with her blue eyes, spotting something in the shadows on the porch. "Someone's up there---hiding. Stay here."

"Torrid-be careful!"

Torrid got out of the jeep and walked casually up to the porch. She stopped when she got to the top of the steps, and leaned against the porch railing, and folded her arms across her chest.

"I know you're there. Might as well come out---Alex." Torrid said coldly.

"Hey, Torrid. You didn't show up, and you never called me back. I was checking in to see if you two were okay." Alex said nervously.

"We're fine. Thanks for stopping by."

"Is there something wrong?" Alex asked.

"You tell me." Torrid replied, sizing him up.

"Well I thought we were friends. I invited you to spend the day with us, and to my luau last night, didn't I?"

"And we already thanked you. What more do you want?"

"I thought we were going to hang together---you know? Party all week. "

"Party?" Torrid said, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah, you know? Party."

"No. I don't know. We had dinner with you, we accepted your hospitality, but thanked you. If that's not enough, I am sorry. I don't know what you think you deserve in return, but I am here to spend the week with my partner. Not hang with the boys. No offense."

"Well, I am disappointed. I thought you were cool." Alex said, stepping into the light from the shadows. He looked really creepy.

"I am cool. But I am not a toy. Neither is my partner. So thanks for stopping by-as I already said."

"You know what you and your girlfriend need?" Alex said, getting angry.

"Let me guess---'a real dick?'" Torrid mocked.

"Yeah! That's exactly what you need!"

"Alex, if you don't leave now, I'm going to kick the living shit out of you." Torrid said as cold as ice.

"You can't touch me-I'm Alex Coburn. I'll have you arrested if you lay a finger on me. I have a lot of friends on this island!"

"Aparently, we no longer fit into that category, since now you want me in jail. Leave."


"Excuse me?"

"Make me."

That was it. Torrid stood up and took a step toward the very drunk, and very stupid man. He took a step backwards, then emerged again from the shadows with a diving knife.

"Bitch, I'll slice you wide open!"

Torrid laughed.

"What's so fucking funny?"

"You. Get out of here before I stick that toothpick up your virgin ass."

Alex lunged at Torrid swiping at her with the blade, but she avoided him easily, and offered up an elbow to the center of his back at the base of his neck, causing him to fall forward and down the steps onto the gravel.  Alex stumbled to his feet, really angry and disoriented. He staggered to the jeep, forcing the door open, he grabbed Drelica into a headlock and raised the blade to her throat.

"I'll cut her throat!"

"Alex? What are you doing?" Drelica plead.

"Shut up!" Alex hissed at Drelica.

Torrid stepped closer to Alex, silently closing the distance while Alex screamed at Drelica. Torrid was as calm as a pool of water, as focused as a lazer. She knew that if she didn't do this perfectly, the woman she loved would be hurt or killed.  She was tired of people trying to hurt her and those she loved.

"Alex, what is it you want?" Torrid asked.

"Don't move, bitch! I'll cut her wide open!" Alex dragged Drelica out of the jeep, and pushed her down onto the ground.

Torrid skipped forward and disarmed him with a crescent kick sending his weapon flying off to the ground. Alex lunged for the knife again, but as he moved, Drelica grabbed his legs in a scissor lock with hers, and pulled him back down to the ground. He grabbed her hair, but before he could inflict any further harm to her, Torrid broke his wrist with a knife hand strike, and struck his jaw with a back-fist punch, knocking him unconscious.

Torrid rushed to Drelica's side, and helped her up. "Babe? You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Shook up...pissed off....but I'll be fine." Just then Drelica burst into tears and Torrid held her close.

"It's okay babe. We're okay now." Torrid soothed. "I'm so sorry Dre...I am so sorry."

Torrid held Drelica, but her eyes were on the unconscious form laying in the gravel.

Alex Coburn, Torrid thought to herself, you picked the wrong dyke to fuck with.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Elvis has left the building


Torrid took Drelica inside and laid her on the bed. She soothed her till she fell into a light sleep. It had already been a full day for them both, and they were looking forward to a quiet evening wining and dining in the tropical romance of the islands. Torrid scowled when she thought of their spoiled plans. She had unfinished business with Mr. Alex Coburn.


Alex Coburn woke up with a killer pain in his jaw. His head was throbbing, and he could taste metal and salt in his mouth; blood.

"Oh shit," he groaned as he rolled over on the gravel where he fell.

"Wake the fuck up, Casanova." A cold female voice cut through the haze and the sudden chill of ice water splashing on him shocked him fully awake.

"Fuck! Are you crazy??"

"Quit whining college boy. You and me are going to have a little talk."

Torrid crouched down near Alex. She reached down and took him by the ear jerking him up suddenly causing him to shout in pain.

"Ow! Fuck!"

"What the fuck is wrong with you? Huh?" Torrid asked calmly.

"Fuck off, bitch. I'll see you in jail for this. You know who I am!" Alex spat.

"I only know you like throwing your name around, punk. But you know what? I don't give a shit who you are. You threatened me and my partner, and now---we're going to settle this shit, one way or the other."

Torrid grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head back, exposing his throat. She pulled Alex's diving knife from her boot. His eyes widened with fear as he felt the cold steel against his skin.

"Oh shit, Torrid---please! I was just trying to scare you! I wasn't really going to hurt her! I swear!"

"But you did hurt her. And now I'm going to hurt you." Torrid's voice was ice cold.

"My dad-he'll press charges. I'm the son of Dirk Coburn! He'll have you arrested!"

Torrid laughed.

"Dirk Coburn, the international male adventurer and arctic explorer? You're going to tell him you got beat up by a girl?"

She let go of Alex's hair and pushed him away. He scraped his palms on the gravel as he stopped himself from falling on his face. He looked up at Torrid who stood over him laughing. He cowered from her long shadow.

"Alex-it's over. Just go." She couldn't stop laughing, "Go before you piss yourself---again."

Alex sat there crying.  Torrid turned to see Drelica standing on the porch of the bungalow arms folded in front of her. Shit.

"Torrid Duncan!"

"Dre-he tried to hurt you. He's lucky he's not dead."

Drelica went to Alex's side and checked his wounds. His hands were scraped and his nose and mouth were bloodied.

"Babe-we're better than this. Get me the first aid kit."

"What? You're shitting me?"

Drelica furrowed her brow and pointed to the bungalow. "Go."

Alex looked up at Drelica who wiped away the dirt from his cheeks with the hem of her skirt.

"Why are you being nice to me? I don't deserve it." He asked, confused.

"No. You don't. But like I said, we're better than this."

Drelica accepted the first aid kit from a very stoic and silent Torrid who said nothing but remained on vigil in ass kicking mode. She did not like Drelica being in such close proximity to the man who just moments before tried to hurt her, but she could not help but be moved by her lover's compassion.

"Alex," Drelica said, "You deserved to have your ass kicked for what you did."

"I know." He relented. "I'm sorry, Drelica."

"I believe you." Drelica answered as she cleaned and dressed his wounds. "Now go inside and clean yourself in the smell like pee."

Drelica stood up and went to Torrid. She hugged her close, but Torrid hesitated to put her arms around Drelica. She was slightly peeved for being second guessed, and her pride was wounded. Drelica made her appear whipped.

"Torrid? I'm sorry."

"It's cool." Torrid said, but Drelica knew she was being all dark and brooding. It really wasn't cool.

"Babe, I love it that you're my hero. But I don't want you to be my tool for vengeance."

Torrid looked down at Drelica, and as their eyes met, she softened. She understood.
Torrid wrapped her arms around Drelica and kissed the top of her head.

"Well, what should we do about dinner?" Torrid asked.

Just then Alex Coburn emerged from the bungalow wrapped in a beach towel, holding his urine-stained pants in his hand.

"Let's cook him." Drelica said smirking.

"Great idea." Torrid said, putting her arms around Drelica and kissing her forehead.

e lei ho`oilo i ke aloha.

"Love is worn like a wreath through
the summers and the winters.
Love is everlasting."


"Welcome to AIOLI'S " the waiter said, as he seated Torrid and Drelica at their table.

"Thanks," Torrid said, taking the menu from him and winking, "We could really use some drinks, so if you could start us a tab and keep them coming, I'll make it worth your while."

"No problem, I'll take care of it. Enjoy."

Drelica played footsy under the table with Torrid as she eyed her menu. "I thought we'd never get here! I am starved!"

Torrid grinned, "So what else is new?"

"Hey!" Drelica said, playfully swatting at Torrid with her menu. "I worked up an appetite. It's been an eventful day, or hadn't you noticed?"

"That's true. It's not every day I get to kick a playboy's ass." Torrid chuckled.

"Torrid-that's not funny. What if you'd injured him seriously?" Drelica scolded.

"What if I had injured him?? Dre-he threatened you! He's lucky I didn't kill him." Torrid said, not joking this time.

"Babe, I don't want to argue about it, but I want you to know that I appreciate you being there for me. God knows you have been there for me like no one ever has. I don't know what I'd do without you-I-" Drelica paused as the waiter approached to take a drink order.  Torrid frowned. She was not happy with the constant interruptions they had been experiencing since their arrival on the big Island. Drelica hid her frustration behind her menu.

"Are you ready to order?" The waiter asked.

"Uh...bring us a pitcher or mai tais and an appetizer. I don't care what---just surprise us." Torrid said, eager to get back to her conversation with Drelica.

"Very good."

Drelica smiled at Torrid and reached out to take her hand as the waiter exited toward the kitchen. She sensed Torrid's tension, and wanted to calm her lover down. She understood that they needed some time to bond, talk and get to know each other. And she also sensed that Torrid needed some reassuring as to the state of their relationship.

Do they have a relationship? If so, what is the nature of it? Drelica's head began to swim the instant she filled it with all those thoughts.

"Oh man, I totally need that drink!" Drelica said, half to herself, and half to Torrid.

"I'm feeling it too." Torrid said. "We need to talk, but every time we start, someone butts in. It's driving me fucking nuts. What were you about to say before we were interrupted?"

Just as Drelica was about to open her mouth, the waiter returned with drinks and a seafood appetizer of coconut shrimp. Torrid began to laugh at the irony, and Drelica joined in.  Smiling a thank you to the waiter, Torrid poured them each a drink and offered a toast.

"Here's to-finishing a conversation"

"Before we are both retirement age!" Drelica added.

The touched glasses and took a sip. It felt good going down; smooth and fruity with a little kick of heat. 
Drelica smiled back at Torrid who sat watching her with fascination as she devoured the shrimp.

"What?" Drelica asked, feeling a bit shy about being stared at so intently.

"I was just wondering-" Torrid teased.

"Wondering what?"

"Do you have a small dog in your lap? Or a hollow leg?"

"What? Oh that's not funny!" Drelica pouted.

Torrid chuckled. She was of course, just playing with Drelica, and flashed her a sheepish smile. Torrid continued to stare at Drelica. She couldn't take her eyes off of her.

"I love you." She said softly, almost whispering.

Drelica smiled. She felt warm inside, hearing the words spoken to her, and she knew them to be sincere. She was overcome with emotion, and her eyes misted. "I love you too, Torrid."

"Are we ready to order?" Asked the waiter who stood over them, with is order pad in hand.

Torrid sighed, but caught a flash in Drelica's eye, as she turned to the waiter. "Yeah, I know what we want-show us your take-out menu." Torrid winked at Drelica.

"Perfect." Drelica purred. "You read my mind."

Torrid flashed a wicked smile.

Torrid and Drelica arrived back at their bungalow with take-out and a bottle of coconut rum. It was a beautiful night, and they decided to light the tiki torches and sit in the hammock on the porch. All in all, it was a beautiful night, it had been a fun day at the lava fields, and aside from the shit with Alexander, Torrid had enjoyed herself.

"Dre, we have a few more days, " Torrid said quietly, as she poured them each a shot of rum. "What do you want to do next?"

"Hmmmmm-I don't know." Drelica pondered, sipping her shot of rum. "How about we catch a buzz and get busy?"

Torrid raised her eyebrow.  "Busy doing what?"

"Busy being naughty." Drelica said seductively.

"Why Doctor Truman, I'm shocked." Torrid teased. "Sounds like a plan." She added as she clinked her shot glass to Drelica's and downed her drink.

Torrid then leaned over and kissed Drelica softly on the lips. Torrid loved kissing Drelica. Her lips were so soft and warm, so soothing to her soul. She craved Drelica's touch, and the wet warmth of her mouth.
"I love kissing you, " Torrid confessed.  "Kissing you is like slipping into a warm bath of velvet and silk."

Drelica looked deep into Torrid's eyes, and lost herself in the blue pools. "'re such a romantic, babe."

"Only for you." Torrid whispered, kissing Drelica once more.

 The kiss grew in intensity as the passion flames waxed, and the take out sat forgotten as they couple retired inside to explore the fires of love.

Fire and water melded, making steam and hot embers glowing as passion flames raced, and were quelled, and ignited again, waxing and waning as the pair made love over and over. Consumed by desire, powered by want and need, and tempered with love, Torrid and Drelica mingled their bodies, minds and spirits in perpetual bliss til the sun awoke on the horizon and sleep had finally come to claim them with the dawn.  The great volcanic flow of the night had bled away to a restful bliss in the afterglow.
Drelica, laying in her lover's arms, feeling needed, wanted, loved and safe allowed her mind to wander as she faded into the dream world.

So this is paradise.

Drelica woke up to the sun peeking through the blinds and hitting her in the face. Her nose scrunched up in disapproval of the sun's unwelcome intrusion. She rolled over and hugged her pillow in an attempt to thwart the invasion of UV rays. Damn. I gotta pee.

She lay there for a long moment debating whether to hold it and enjoy the soft sheets, and laziness she felt, or to get her ass up and go pee. She rolled back over to look at her sleeping Amazon, but frowned to discover she was in the bed alone.

Where'd she go? Drelica pouted and begrudgingly rose to go to the bathroom.

After freshening up and putting on her bathing suit and a pair of cut offs, she stepped out onto the porch of the bungalow to find Torrid laying in the hammock.  She smiled at the sight of her dark warrior asleep in the hammock wearing an undershirt and a pair of weathered cargo shorts.

She leaned over and kissed Torrid on the forehead. The softness of her lips caused Torrid to stretch and smile in her sleep. 

"So how much?"

"How much what?" Aaron Brown asked, as he sipped his beer.

"How much will it cost me?" Alex Coburn asked as he leaned back in his cabana chair.

"Dude, I am not a hired gun. Go hire a thug." Aaron said.

"I'm telling you this bitch almost killed me. I need a body guard. You've got a black belt, and you're supposed to be an expert in that chop sake shit-I'll pay you. All you have to do is hang out, party with me and keep that psycho bitch away from me."

"Alex, there's more to this than you're telling me. Who is this chick?" Aaron asked bluntly.

"Her name is Torrid Duncan. She's a nobody. A dyke ink pusher from Texas."

Aaron froze at the mention of Torrid's name. He put his beer on the table and leaned in close.

"Torrid Duncan?"

"Yes, that's her name."

"From Houston?"

"You know of her?" Alex asked, curious.

"I've heard her name mentioned in a few circles. Alex, what aren't you telling me?"


Aaron folded his arms over his chest and cocked his head to one side. He knew Alex was lying. 

"I swear!" Alex plead.

"Bullshit. But I'll do it. I want to find out for myself what it is you're not telling me."

"Perfect!" Alex smiled.  "Let's go to the beach."

Torrid woke up to find Drelica petting her hair and humming to her. She smiled and reached up and pulled Drelica into her lap in the hammock. The two snuggled In the webbed netting for a few moments.

"Wanna go to the beach?" Torrid asked.

"I'd love to! I can't get enough of this beautiful place."

"I can't get enough of you." Torrid said quietly, looking at Drelica with intent.

Drelica felt suddenly shy and she blushed and shrugged her shoulders, grinning. "Baby..."

"What's the matter? Are you shy?" Torrid asked, smiling softly.

"I feel shy all of a sudden. I'm not sure why." Drelica whispered, still ducking her head.

"It's cute." Torrid said, leaning in to kiss Drelica's forehead. "Let's go to the beach! We can make a sand castle."

Drelica beamed "Yeah!"

Within the hour, Torrid and Dre were frolicking in the surf and sand. Having set up a nest under a beach umbrella with a cooler of drinks and snacks, Torrid went to work on building the mother of all sand fortresses, while Dre went to collect exotic seashells to decorate the castle walls with. Great fun was being had by all; all except the two men who watched from the near by beach bar.

"That's her?" Aaron asked, indicating the figure of a lovely woman walking along the shoreline collecting seashells. "She kicked your ass?"

"No, asshole. That's her girlfriend." Alex scolded. "Over there-that's her."

"Wow. That's a lot of ink." Aaron said.

"Yeah. Too bad it's going to get all bruised up." Alex laughed, wickedly.

"Yeah, good luck with that." Aaron said.

"What do you mean?"

"I said I'd stick around and watch your back. I didn't say I'd hide in the bushes and spy on tourists and pick fights with them because you got the hot for a couple of lezzies who wouldn't put out for you."

"You're going to go over there and kick that bitch's ass." Alex said, as he pulled out his money clip and put $1,000 in cash down on the table.

"I'm not your whore, Coburn."

"Oh I think you are. This is a thousand bucks. If you want to pay the back rent on your karate dojo, you'll take it and do what I asked."

Aaron frowned. He lowered his head and considered.  His honor hung in the balance. But so did his business, his dreams and all of his students. He needed to keep the school open.  Reluctantly he reached for the money and put it in his pocket.  He stood up and walked toward Torrid.

Torrid reached for her sand shovel, as the sun was blocked out by a long shadow. Looking up Torrid saw the massive man standing above her, and was quick to land on her feet in a ready position.

"Torrid Duncan?" The man asked.

"Yeah. Who's asking?" She said dryly.

"Alex Coburn just paid me a thousand dollars to kick your ass."

"You don't seem too thrilled about it." Torrid said, noticing that the man seemed to be ashamed of himself for accepting the job.

"I need the money." He said, in all honesty.

"I understand." Torrid said. "You're welcome to try, and when I kick your ass, you can keep his money and your honor."

Aaron raised his eyebrow at her comment.

"What makes you think you can kick my ass?" He asked in all sincerity.

"It's not a question of thinking. I know I can. So you want to get this over with or what? I am a little tired of my vacation getting interrupted."

Aaron bowed politely and took an on guard position.

Torrid smiled, and returned the bow as she too took an on guard position.

Aaron made the first offensive move, but before he knew what hit him he was face down in the sand castle that Torrid had labored on all morning. She stood over him offering a hand up.

He slapped her hand away and flipped himself up onto his feet and sprung at her with a front kick which she deflected with an "X" block and countered with a spinning roundhouse kick to his kidney. However, before she could put her foot down, he managed to land a center lunge punch to her solar plexis sending her falling backwards onto the sand pile with a thud.  This time is was he who offered her a hand up, but as she reached for his had she also swept his legs out from under him with her right leg, and down he went landing on his ass.

She got to her feet first. "This could go on all day."

"Yeah." He said. " Got any beers in that cooler?"

Torrid nodded.

Aaron reached into Torrid's cooler and pulled out two cold beers. He tossed one to Torrid.

"Thanks." She said as opened it and took a sip. "Mind if I ask you a question?"

"Go ahead."

"Why are you doing this? You're better than this."

"I need the money. My dojang is behind on rent."

Torrid frowned. "There's other ways to make money, dude."

"My students are counting on me."

"Well you're setting a poor example for your students."

Aaron hung his head. "I know. I am at my wit's end."

"Tell you what-I'll give you two thousand dollars if you go throw Alex Coburn's money back in his weasly little face."

Aaron considered. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because a tiger can't change her stripes." Torrid said cryptically.

Aaron started, but stopped and put his feet together and offered a sincere bow to Torrid.

"I'll do it." Aaron smiled.

"And you'll pay me back by doing one hour of community service for every $10. You owe me." Torrid added in all seriousness.

"Community service?" Aaron puzzled.

"Yeah-start a martial arts after school program for underprivileged kids in your area, and we're even."

Aaron smiled. "You are fair and wise, Torrid."

"Yeah, yeah, now get the fuck out of here before my girlfriend comes back and gets all worried about me fighting again."

Aaron smiled and turned to go. He spied Alex Coburn watching nervously from the shadows of the beach bar.

"What happened?" Alex asked nervously.

"Not much. She's a good fighter." Aaron said, sitting back down in his seat and finishing his beer.

"What the fuck does that mean? What happened? Why did you stop fighting?" Alex was getting excited.

"Oh here-" Aaron tossed Alex's money back in his face. "I don't need it. "

"What? What about your rent?"

"That's all taken care of." Aaron smiled.

"What? How?"

"Well, you see, Torrid offered to pay me two thousand to come over here and kick your ass."  Aaron said with a wry grin.

"Now wait a minute-you can't do that!"

"You got till I finish my beer; then if I see you, I'm going to skin you alive you little weasel!"

Alex stood up and walked out of the bar at a brisk pace. When he got to the beach he started to run. Aaron sipped his beer and chuckled.  "Aloha, Alex."

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