Mango Kisses Online

Chapter One

Miles floated on his back with his eyes closed. Waves lapped gently at his cheeks as the limitless power of the ocean swell rose and fell beneath his splayed limbs and torso. Calm this morning, too flat for surfing, perfect for floating and daydreaming. The outside world almost ceased to exist, the heat from the rising sun warmed his face, a salt tang on his lips, the soft slap of water against his body.

The longer he stayed out here the less he’d have to think about other things such as money; business; accountants; tedious paperwork and forms, calculations and numbers marching relentlessly across acres of pages. Topics that intruded regardless of his determination to ignore them, that were tiresome, meaningless and frustratingly boring. Things that led his thoughts unerringly back to that other topic, raw and painful, the inheritance and worse still, the reason for it.

Miles jack-knifed, flipped over on his stomach and began a steady crawl towards the horizon, head down, legs and arms working in a strong rhythm churning the angry bitterness into a foamy, white wake.

He slowed and turned, treading water as he scanned the distant beach. Still too early for most people. The swell lifted him momentarily and he glimpsed a small figure running at the far end near the rocks. It turned and headed back along the sand — too far away to see who, maybe a camper from the nearby ground. Not a local; he knew the regular beach-goers.

Miles sank his head in the salty blue and headed home, ingoing waves boosting his progress. He bodysurfed the last stretch until his feet touched sand then straightened in a rush of foam and waded ashore, panting from the exertion, water streaking from face and hair. His towel lay where he’d left it up on the white arc of dry sand, a patch of bright blue and yellow against the stark emptiness of the beach. The runner came padding by, a woman, her eyes fixed on the distant rocks.

‘Morning,’ he said.

She glanced at him, surprised by the greeting. A lot of city types were surprised by a friendly hello. Sad, really. ‘Morning,’ she called without breaking stride.

Wow! The word exploded in his head. He watched her retreat down the beach; her slim tanned legs pumping, blonde cap of hair shining in the bright morning sunlight, shapely bottom in white shorts moving beneath a midriff length, hot-pink tank top. Light, elegant, perfect.

That girl oozed city style and class. Self-confidence and success dripped from every pore in her lovely smooth, pampered skin. She’d be spoken for, had to be, a girl who looked like that. They didn’t roam about Birrigai alone, these beauties from the other world. Young singles went to island resorts or Surfers Paradise where the action was.

He squinted at the girl’s outline further down near the southern rocks, wondered if she’d be up for a weekend dalliance but quickly dismissed the notion. That’s probably why she was here in the first place. She’d enjoy a few days of sun and surf with her equally high-powered husband or boyfriend, not a scruffy local beach bum, which was how she’d viewed him. He saw it in her face. She’d stared briefly, but only politeness dictated her response.

Who gives a stuff what she thinks, attached or single? City women came complete with neuroses, ambitions and expectations he had no intention of either coping with or fulfilling.

Miles flapped his towel free of loose sand. The sun was rapidly heating his water-cooled skin, the salt drying hard and crisp. Time for a shower and breakfast. No time for fantasising about a jogger. After all, what would he do with a woman like that?

Women who holidayed briefly in Birrigai weren’t interested in the locals, neither the ‘real’ locals nor the New Age blow-ins who set up their ashrams, communes and artist colonies on the outskirts of town. There were plenty of them wandering about like leftovers from the sixties with hardly a functioning brain cell between them. The jogging girl wasn’t part of that crowd, she was too neat, clean and determined. She didn’t need to find herself the way he —if he was honest with himself — was studiously avoiding doing.

When Miles entered the surf shop later that morning, Boris was actually serving a customer.

‘That guy surfed in Mexico,’ he said in awestruck tones, when the tousled haired young man, Mambo t-shirt under his arm, had left the shop.

Boris leaned on the glass counter and stared at nothing. He did