“I’m so damn sick of hearing about this!” Mariah sighed, exasperated and winded, as they climbed the steep hill. The vast blue ocean below stretched out toward the sky, welcoming the sun as it dipped into the water. A brilliant array of red, yellow and orange hues surrounded a single bright patch of light, near blinding but breathtaking. 

She barely noticed.

“We can’t keep discussing her, Steven. This is ruining our honeymoon.”

“I can’t ignore her Mariah.” As they meandered, he took in the rolling waves, appreciating the glory with which they crashed against the rocks. This was a place of wonder. With the slightest hint of sadness, he clasped his new wife’s hand. “The view here is incredible.”

It was beautiful, far beyond her expectation. Guilt weaved a dark path through her heart, eroding her frustration. She hunched her shoulders forward and offered a small smile. It added spark to her chestnut eyes.

They walked in silence, hand in hand, to the overlook. The world before them dissolved their tension. Mariah released her anger, letting it blow away as a cool breeze kissed her skin. Waves crashed onto the rocks in a jagged line far below them. Lush trees growing at odd angles created a canopy from the shore to the top of the cliff. 

Here, at the edge of an untouched paradise, it was easy to forget petty arguments. Mariah dropped her head on Steven’s shoulder. “Who told you about this place?”

“The concierge. He said only locals know it. He said it would be romantic. And isolated.” Steven ran his hands through her long, blond hair. He twirled the strands in his fingers, creating ringlets that lifted in the wind. “Let’s get a closer look.”

Mariah gasped at the view as they leaned over the edge, then pressed her body against her husband as he planted soft kisses on her bare shoulders. One arm circled her waist; fingers danced along her skin. She sighed into him as he swung her around in a move that was part dance, part need.

“It’s just us up here,” he whispered in her ear, enjoying the rising heat in her eyes. He pressed his mouth to hers, their embrace tightening. His hand roamed her back, resting on her backside. She dug nails into him, pulling him closer. As he squeezed her bottom she lifted one leg, wrapping it around him with a coy grin. The fury of new love caught between them, generating heat.

It was Steven who broke it off, planting one hand on each of her shoulders to meet her eyes. “I can’t ignore her Mariah.”

“Then you shouldn’t have married me.” The words, and her decisive tone, surprised them both. A moment passed, just a hair of a second, where neither of them breathed or moved. Then Steven’s grip on her shoulders tightened, and Mariah’s jumble of emotions twirled and twisted in her stomach until they formed a singular sensation: fear.

“Perhaps you are right.”

He didn’t have to push hard. She flew backwards, not even able to stumble or grip with one leg on the ground. He watched as she landed on the rocks that, only moments earlier, had filled her with awe. He watched as her broken body, now twisted and still, poured deep maroon blood into the foamy blue water. He watched as the waves crashed over her, nudging her from side to side, until they washed the rocks clean and bits of her drifted away.

The sun buried itself in the ocean, surrounding him in darkness. The stars erupted into a brilliant display. Steven reached into his pocket for his cell phone and dialed the number he knew by heart.

“Mother? You were right.” He took one last look around, then began his descent. “It’s done.”