Bumpy Waters

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Mel and her daughter had been through their storm, so perhaps she could hope for calm seas and sunny days…

Do we need a passport?”

Mel glanced at her thirteen-year-old daughter, who’s eyes were alight with excitement, and a smile curved her lips.

“No. We don’t need one for the Isle of Wight. But you will need your sea legs for the ferry.”

She watched Libby’s face fall at the thought of travelling over water. Her last experience hadn’t been a good one and she’d been ill. Luckily that was several years ago now, and Mel was hoping it had been a one-off.

“A ferry?” Libby sounded doubtful.

“Yes. It will be fun!” Mel crossed her fingers behind her back in hope. “It won’t be a long ride, and you’ll be fine with the travel band I bought you. Just keep an eye on the horizon.” She knew that helped some people.

“Can’t we fly?”

“Not unless you own a private plane I don’t know about. I believe there are only two small airfields there. So, unless you want to swim and carry your suitcase on your back like a turtle, it’s the ferry.”

Her stab at humour worked and Libby giggled.

A holiday was just what they needed, as things hadn’t been easy the past few years since her divorce from Paul.

Libby rarely saw her dad since he’d emigrated to the other side of the world. So, finding an affordable flat to rent in Shanklin had been ideal.

Anyway, she’d always wanted to return to the beautiful island; somewhere she’d not visited since going camping with friends some fifteen years ago.

Reaching the ferry at Lymington in Hampshire, they lined up with the other cars ready to board the vessel once it docked.

“Do we have to stay in the car on the way over?”

“No. After we’re parked, we can get out, and either go to the lounges or open deck.”


Once topside, Mel sat back and inhaled the fresh, briny air, sipping a coffee. She’d always loved the sea, finding it relaxing watching the ebb and flow of the water.

As she watched the seagulls dip and dive, screeching across the cloud scudding sky she wriggled her shoulders, feeling the stress melt away. The stiff breeze began to whip up the waters and feeling a thrum underfoot, she realised they were now underway.

Libby dashed to the rail to watch the harbour with its array of sailing vessels gradually slip further away.

“Don’t forget to keep your eye on the horizon,” Mel called.

“Good idea. Always helps manage seasickness.”

Glancing up at the sound of the deep baritone voice, Mel met deep blue eyes. But it was his warm and friendly smile that really drew her attention and she gasped.


She’d not seen him in years. Gosh. She still remembered his kindness after she’d wrenched her foot when out walking. The rest of the group had gone on ahead, but he’d offered her his arm and walked at her slower pace.

His smile grew wider.

“Fancy meeting you here. May I?”

He pointed to spare seats next to her.

“Sure. You travelling with family?”

“Just me and my son, Zac. I’m divorced. You?”

“Same. It’s just me and my daughter, Libby now.”

“Did you end up marrying … um…?”


“That’s it. You two were quite the item.”

Mel laughed. “No. That fizzled out soon after. Did you and Nina stay together?”

“No.” Jordan shook his head firmly. “She knew I wasn’t really interested in her. Only one girl I had my eye on, but she was already taken.”

“Do tell. Who was the lucky girl? Did you end up marrying her?” Mel took another sip of her coffee, grateful of the warmth against the cool nip of sea air.

A strange look fell over Jordan’s face. “Not yet.”

“Oh. Well, Fate moves in mysterious ways. So…”

“Mum, quick! Dolphins!” Lib cried, interrupting their reminiscing.

Pleased to see her daughter’s exuberance, with no sign of seasickness, Mel smiled.

“Excuse me. Back in a mo.”

She joined others flocking to the rail in excitement.

Returning moments later. she saw a boy of about Libby’s age sitting next to Jordan.

“Zac, this is an old friend of mine. Mel and her daughter, Libby.”

“Hello,” the boy said shyly.

“Hi. Want to stand by the rail?” Libby asked. “We’ve just seen dolphins and you can see the Isle of Wight now. Come see!”

With the rest of the crossing flowing as well as the conversation, Mel felt almost disappointed when the announcement was made for them to return to their cars.

“It’s been fun catching up,” said Jordan, looking equally crestfallen. Or was that her imagination? “Where are you staying?”


“Us too. Maybe we can meet up? Be nice for Zac to have someone other than me to chat to.”

“I’ll give you my number,” Mel said warmly. “Give us a ring when you’re settled.”

“It’s a date then,” Jordan said lightly, though Mel saw his eyes flash with feeling and her breath caught. Weird. She’d not looked on him as boyfriend material all those years ago, but now she could feel her blood warm and her pulse quicken.

“A date?” Libby asked questioningly as she and Zac joined them.

“As Jordan and Zac are also staying in Shanklin, we thought it would be nice to all meet up,” Mel said, realising that the idea of her dating hadn’t come up before. She’d had offers, but with work, the house, and taking care of Libby, she’d put romance on the back burner.

Meeting Jordan again made her realise she’d missed the attentions of a good-looking man. She was attracted to him, and from the look he’d just given her, she was sure he felt the same way.

But how would Lib feel about her dating someone other than her father?

She ran a hand haphazardly through her hair. Hmm. Maybe for now it was best to just treat this as it was: a friendly encounter with an old friend.

Besides. Jordan was right. It would be nice for the kids to have someone their own age to hang out with. The fact that it would be nice for her too was neither here nor there.

Getting into Jordan’s car a week later to drive to Alum Bay, Mel glanced at Libby. “Got your camera?”

“I’m gonna use my phone.”

“Well, don’t drop it down a cliff.”

“Mum – as if!”

Mel looked at Jordan. “My daughter is the only person I know who’s ever dropped her phone into a watering can!”

Libby shrugged good-naturedly.

“Hey, it was almost empty and slipped as I was reading a text. Anyway, we dried it off in the rice so it was fine.”

Jordan laughed. “Well, don’t drop it from the speedboat as I haven’t got any rice on me.”

“Speedboat?” Libby’s eyes widened in anxiety.

“No worries if you don’t want to go. Jordan can take Zac, and we’ll stay on the beach,” Mel said quickly before changing the subject. “I’m sure the views from the chair lifts will be spectacular.”

“Did you know that there used to be four rocks making up the Needles?” Jordan added. “The name actually comes from the fourth rock which was more needle-shaped and known as Lot’s Wife. You can see the gap clearly if you look at pictures.

“Apparently, this rock was the tallest of the four but collapsed in a great storm of 1764.”

“Wow.” The kids looked impressed – as was Mel, who was enjoying Jordan’s company.

They’d spent a lot of time together the past few days, either on the beach at Shanklin, or exploring the rest of the island.

He was a lovely man; kind and thoughtful with a sense of the ridiculous which made her laugh, just like he’d used to all those years ago. In fact, the more time she spent with him the more Mel realised she was falling for him.

But what would Lib think?

Once parked the children ran ahead.

As Jordan took Mel’s hand, his thumb gently caressed the inside of her wrist, and Mel felt her heart miss a beat. This seemed so right…

The sea looked like a jewel of infinite blue, shining in the sunshine, with the Needles and lighthouse standing proud like guardians of the white chalk cliffs. Seagulls lazily circled like flashes of silver overhead, and the warm breeze drifting off the ocean felt like a gentle kiss on her suntanned skin.

“Hurry up, Mum!” yelled Libby. “I’m going down with Zac, ‘cos I know how much you like Jordan and that you want to sit with him.”

Her voice held a teasing tone and Mel felt a flicker of apprehension. Was her attraction to Jordan that obvious?

Quickly looking his way, she saw his eyes twinkle.

“Nice to know! I’ll go get the tickets.”

She took Libby to one side as Jordan and Zac went to the kiosk.

“Um…what you said about me and Jordan. Are you OK with that? Only I was just… well, we’ve never spoken about me dating and…”

Libby interrupted her.

“Don’t sweat it, Mum. I know you like him. And it’s OK. I like him too. And Zac’s also cool with you two getting together.”

“You spoke to Zac?” Mel was sure her eyes were out on stalks.

“Of course,” Libby said matter-of-factly. “We knew you fancied each other. Now can we please go on the chair lift?”

Mel’s eyes misted. Looked like she had nothing to worry about after all.

Taking a seat next to Jordan, he looked at her.

“Everything OK?”

“Yeah,” she said, feeling an excitement that had nothing to do with the aerial ride.

Admiring the view on the way down, and feeling the chair sway slightly, Mel glanced at Jordan, immediately seeing his worried face.

“Are you all right?”

“I’ve not done this before. It’s quite high, isn’t it?”

Realisation dawned.

“Oh, of course – you walked down before, didn’t you? Do you not like heights?”

Jordan swallowed.

“Not much. Thought I’d be OK now. Silly, huh?”

“Not at all,” Mel said clasping his hand. “We’re all scared of something. I’m terrified of spiders, actually.”

“Them I can deal with. It’s just…” His other hand gripped the bar across their knees, his knuckles turning white.

“Does Zac know?” Mel asked gently.

“No. Ever since the divorce, he… well he kind of relies on me and I want to be strong for him.”

“You are. You’re a brilliant father. Zac’s a lucky boy.”

Jordan swivelled his head and Mel saw not just the gentleness in his eyes, but also something else. Something that made her impetuously lean towards him and kiss him gently on the lips.

As they parted, Jordan’s eyes blazed with emotion.

“Can you please do that again when we’re on the ground so I know I’m not dreaming?”

Mel chuckled. Catching Libby’s gaze, she saw her give her the thumbs-up and a smile tugged her lips. It came to something when her teenage daughter was giving her the green light for romance!

Sitting on the shingled beach later Mel saw Libby giving nervous looks towards the rib that was thundering across the waves, laughs and odd screams being the only noise, bar the wash as it rushed up the beach after a wave had broken.

When the kids walked down to paddle, she rested her chin thoughtfully on her palm. “Penny for them?”

“Just wondering if Lib will go on the boat or not. Looks like she’s trying to make up her mind.”

“Do you think she’d enjoy it if she did?”

“Well, she’s always been a bit of a daredevil so on balance yes. I’m not sure what set off her seasickness a few years ago, but she’s now got it into her head that boats mean she’ll be sick. I want to cure her of that if I can. She was fine on the ferry chatting with Zac.”

“I know he wants to go, and I’d really like you and Libby to come as well.”

“Me too,” she said softly squeezing his hand. “Let me talk to her.”

Rising, she walked over to where Libby was splashing Zac.

“Gerroff!” he yelled. “I’m soaked!”

“You’ll be even more soaked after a ride on that,” Mel said pointing to the rib.

“Will he?” Libby sounded keen for the fun to continue so Mel pressed the point.

“Yeah. It’s a bit like a fairground ride, you’ll get bounced all over the place, but then they’ll stop, as you can see, so people can take pictures before coming back.”

Libby shifted her weight from one foot to the other, swishing her toes in the foam thoughtfully. “I like fairground rides.”

“I know,” Mel said with feeling, remembering times of being flung round on the waltzers, or garnering her courage to go on the roller coaster, something she’d never been keen on. Talk about motherly love!

“What like a really bumpy fairground ride?” Zac asked, his expression hopeful.

Mel nodded.

“From memory, yes. I last went on one when I was here with your dad and some friends years ago. It felt like I was flying across the waves, we were going so fast.”

Libby looked at her. “Do you want to go, Mum?”

“I’m happy to do whatever you want to do,” Mel countered.

Libby looked at the rib that was bumping over the waves towards them before she looked at Mel again.

“I really don’t want you to miss out. Maybe I won’t get sick?”

“Well, if you’re concentrating on the fun I think you’ll be OK, but it’s up to you.”

“I guess…” Libby’s voice wavered before becoming firmer. “Maybe I could give it a go.”

“You sure?” Mel scrutinised her daughter’s face.

Libby nodded, before mischievously splashing her.


“Hey, you said we’d get wet on the boat anyway!”

Laughingly, Mel splashed her back. Another turnaround. Could this holiday get any better?

Getting on the rib, after having put on their lifejackets, Mel and Libby sat side by side, with Jordan and Zac in front.

As they took off across the water, bouncing up and down across the waves, Libby screamed in delight. She gazed at Mel, a smile on her face.

“This is the best!”

Mel felt relief wash over her. “Yeah.”

She’d forgotten how the rolling swells of the sea could rock the boat to almost tipping point, and laughed as she felt her hair blow across her face, and the fine spray of the salty water soak her. The wind whipped up the water like an orchestral conductor sending the waves crashing over the boat.

As they reached the tip of the Needles, the boat swung to one side so they could all take photos. Seeing the lighthouse that bit closer, Mel realised how strong it had to be to withstand the vagaries of the ocean, being buffeted in all weathers by strong seas. It was a protector of all, its light a shining beacon of hope.

Maybe that’s what being a parent was all about?

It had been hard after Paul had left and she’d tried to be strong for Libby’s sake. Now the storm had passed, and it seemed she was sailing into calmer waters.

At least she hoped so. With Jordan. Perhaps. Someone who could be strong, but also show his vulnerable side. Someone she knew she’d already fallen for and hoped to still see after their holiday was over.

As they sped back towards the shore, Mel felt like she was about to start a new journey and she was very much looking forward to seeing where it led.

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