FURY:A Rio Games Romance(6)By: Alison Ryan
The impact was brutal, surfer and board both going airborne, board in pieces and Jack O’Connor leaking blood from a gash on his leg.
Defying fear, and maybe common sense, two sets of hands ferried Jack to the safety of the remote stretch of Malolo Island beach, dragging him from the water. She acted quickly, assessing the damage wrought by the razor-sharp teeth and deciding they’d missed the femoral artery.
The handsome American would probably survive his trip to the South Pacific, although with a nasty scar as a souvenir.
Once they’d reached dry land, the local girl had called for a friend nearby to summon an ambulance while she stayed with the strangers. She instructed Wyatt to press his towel on the wound to staunch the flow of blood, and she took hold of Jack’s hand and leaned over him, speaking softly. “Just hang on. You’re alright now. We’re right here with you.”
For his part, Jack couldn’t decide if he was alive or dead. He was in no pain, although he did feel cold, so he could be alive and going into shock, or, more likely, a shark had killed him. More likely, he thought, since he was clearly holding hands with an angel. When the girl looked into his eyes and smiled, his heart stopped and the breath caught in his throat.
He’d never seen such beauty.
She was dark, darker than the girls back home in Ohio who tanned in booths. This girl was golden. She had to be an angel. He managed to whisper his thanks to her as she placed a palm on his cheek. A flurry of activity swirled as the paramedics arrived, and suddenly she was gone.
Wyatt accompanied Jack to the medical center, where a doctor confirmed the girl’s diagnosis – deep, nasty gash, but Jack’s critical femoral artery was spared by less than an inch. He’d need many, many stitches, lots of pain pills, and plenty of bed rest, but he’d live. And he’d have a story to tell that would have the coeds back at The Ohio State University fawning over him.
Wyatt’s wealthy father financed the trip as a gift for the two friends before they headed off to grad school in the fall; symbolic since they had likewise planned to graduate from surfing American beaches to those in the South Pacific.
Wyatt had taken Jack along on beach vacations since the two were seventh graders, all over Florida and the Carolinas, with trips to California starting after high school ended.
During their college years, the pair became more serious about their surfing, spending chunks of the summers in Hawaii, all on Wyatt’s old man’s dime. Clearly, it was good to be the scion of the furniture king of southwest Ohio.
Wyatt and Jack could probably claim to be the two most accomplished surfers in Ohio by the time they left for Fiji, which as Jack would joke “is something like being the best tennis player above the Arctic Circle.”
“Welcome back, Jack-O! How ya feeling, buddy?” Wyatt was relieved to see his best friend’s eyelids flutter open, and he was eager to find out what he remembered from the attack and the aftermath.
There was only one thing, however, on Jack O’Connor’s mind. “Where is she?”
Wyatt did little to hide his delight. “That’s the Jack-O I know and love. Not ‘how’s my leg,’ not ‘thanks for the rescue,’ all you can think about is pussy. That’s my boy.”
“Shit, it’s not like that. She saved me. We have to find her. I know this sounds weird, but I swear I was dreaming about her.”
“Dude, they’ve got you hopped up on pain meds. I wouldn’t trust anything going on in here,” Wyatt rapped on his friend’s skull through his wavy blonde locks to emphasize his point. “At least not right now.”
Jack surveyed the damage to his leg, running his hands gently across the bandages, wincing when he hit the repaired flesh. “Any idea what kind of shark it was?”
“Probably a bull, but the water here is loaded with sharks, all kinds. Lucky for you, your board didn’t taste good enough to come back for seconds,” Wyatt replied.
“How long have I been out?”
“Four or five hours? Blood loss knocked you out initially, then they sedated you to patch you up.”
“Sorry to ruin our trip, bro, but I don’t think I’ll be back on a board anytime soon. Not that I have a board to be on anymore, anyway,” Jack offered.