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By Linda Lee Chaikin, Cheryl Dunlop
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2011 Linda Chaikin
All rights reserved.
Hawaii October 1892
Honolulu's in for a storm, Rafe Easton decided. The ocean murmured restlessly. Silhouettes of fringed coconut trees bent into the rising wind, their tall, slim trunks standing stark against the deepening skyline. Clouds tumbled along as if in a race for time. The usual mild trade wind besieged the island, a sure sign of a tropical windbreaker.
Rafe left Aliiolani Hale, the government building housing the Legislature to which he now belonged, filling the seat of Parker Judson who was in San Francisco. He headed down narrow King Street toward the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where he kept a suite of rooms.
The long day in the Legislature had ended with a personal victory that allowed for the legal adoption of Kip. "Thank You, Lord, for Your grace and that victory," Rafe said, finding comfort in the certain answer to his prayer.
The political battle for Kip was waged behind closed doors. Despite legal setbacks, by means of influence and power waged by Parker Judson, Ainsworth Derrington, and a handful of other Hawaiian titans, Rafe signed the agreement with the legislative authorities, and was now free to adopt Kip. Soon, the newborn he'd rescued well over a year ago would become Daniel Easton—named after Rafe's great-grandfather, one of the first missionaries in the Islands.
The wind buffeted the trees and maliciously tugged at his hat and his jacket. With relief he entered the Royal Hawaiian lobby with its handsome carpets, chandeliers, and lush foliage, and took the stairs to his suite.
Rafe decided to leave the baby in San Francisco with his mother, Celestine, rather than immediately return him to Hawaii. Since his marriage to Eden would not occur for another year, and Celestine wrote to him of her intention to remain at Parker Judson's Nob Hill mansion, he saw no reason to rush Kip back to Hanalei. In his decision, Rafe also considered his upcoming trip to Washington D.C. Celestine would keep Kip safe and well cared for until he got his green-eyed beauty, Eden, to the altar.
As yet, he'd said little to Eden about the success he'd been anticipating in the Legislature, and what it would mean, not only for Kip, but for her. They would enter marriage with a child two years old. Of course, it would come as no surprise since she'd been fully aware of his plans about Kip from the beginning.
Rafe drew his dark brows together thoughtfully as he removed his fashionable jacket and unbuttoned the crisp white shirt from around his neck.
He had hardly loosened his shirt when a rap sounded on the door. He opened it to find Ainsworth Derrington, white hat and black walking stick in hand. He was clothed as fashion prescribed in Honolulu: in a dazzling white duck-suit. He stood there, nearly as tall as Rafe, but as slim and straight as a lamp pole. His sometimes mysterious expression was in place and his deep-set blue eyes under tufted white brows were keenly focused on Rafe.
"I won't keep you long," he said, striding into the front room as limber as a cat. Rafe shut the door.
"Don't bother with refreshments, my boy. I'm on my way to dinner." Ainsworth turned and faced him, lowering his voice. "Truth is, I came to give you the secret location for the Annexation Club meeting tonight. Six o'clock at Hunnewell's beachfront house on Waikiki. You're expected."
At Hunnewell's? Rafe wasn't pleased.
"If I may say so, sir, a more secure location could be arranged here at the hotel, or Hawaiiana."
"Oh yes indeed, quite so. However, Thaddeus is busy writing the manifesto we're bringing to Washington and doesn't feel inclined to leave the beach house. You know writers, my boy, a strange lot. Once they get onto something it's not likely a hurricane could make them leave their typewriters."
Rafe clamped down on his impatience. "That's my exact point, sir," he said, too calmly. "Since Mr. Hunnewell's writing the manifesto, he's likely to have his office desk cluttered with important papers and names best kept concealed. He's not one to give attention to risk." Rafe was being very polite with words. "A houseful of guests moving about freely is the perfect place for a spy."
"Oh no, no. It's perfectly safe, Rafe. Perfectly. No need to worry there."
"If he leaves his writing lying about his desk the way he leaves legislation stacked on his desk at Aliiolani Hale, an opponent could find a gold mine of information. Again, sir, we're fortunate to have Hunnewell on our side, and I'm grateful for his influence on Kip, but you're well aware of his laxness."
"Yes, I'll grant you that one. One's discretionary habits do not always coincide with his intelligence."
"Perhaps if you advised that he at least lock his office door, he'd take the suggestion," Rafe said, keeping the bite out of his tone.
"Yes, I shall do so. No need to worry, Rafe, though your conscientiousness is commendable. Be assured there's no Benedict Arnold in the lot who will show up tonight; trusty men all."
It was no use. In some matters, Rafe found the rigid and experienced Ainsworth Derrington oozing with excess confidence.
"By the way, Rafe, I've been thinking of that lad, Keno. A good friend of yours, I know."
Ainsworth's mention of Keno was so far from the ordinary that surprise silenced Rafe. He stood looking at the patriarch, who stroked his silver goatee and watched him in return.
"I suppose he's taking the loss of my granddaughter Candace with painful heart."
"Assuredly," Rafe added with less bluntness than he felt. "He's in love with her. He has been for years." He added with a note of self-derision, "He and I share in common the fact that neither of us can bring the one woman we want to the marriage altar."
Ainsworth cracked a smile. "Yes, my sympathy about Eden. If I had my way she'd marry you now. I could still force it—" he looked at him evenly, "but as you've said, Eden must have her moment with Jerome and Rebecca on Molokai. Therefore, out of deference to your wishes, I've left matters with Eden alone, though I think Jerome's in error to want her working at his side."
"I do think it's necessary she participate, sir. It's for her good, not mine. If Eden's robbed of her moment with her father, as you put it, I know it will affect our future together. This is something she's got to learn for herself. I've known her since she was fifteen. She's been obsessed with Rebecca from that time on. You'll remember back, sir, when she believed her mother had been murdered."
Ainsworth winced and shook his silver head. "Dreadful. My fault, entirely. I've since repented of my silence about Jerome and Rebecca. I should have understood Eden better and seen where it would lead, and well—" He drew in an unhappy breath.
Rafe could see Ainsworth's emotions were genuine. "I bring it up to show that Molokai is crucial. I only recognized it myself recently. I don't want her to end up ten years from now believing I've cheated her out of something this important to her."
Ainsworth gave a nod. "Wise of you. You've a sound head on your shoulders. I've thought so for a long time. That's why I wanted you to marry Candace." Ainsworth's cool blue eye came up to meet Rafe's gaze.
Rafe remained unreadable.
"You could marry her sooner, and wouldn't have to worry about Molokai."
"Sir, there's only one woman I want."
"Eden, yes, an excellent choice. Noble at times ... and most beautiful. Well, so be it. About Keno ..." He walked a half-circle, one arm behind his back, a thumb and forefinger holding his chin thoughtfully. "I've been thinking. He is a fine young fellow. I can attest to that. One of the best. Yes," he drawled. "I do feel somewhat to blame for his unhappiness. I'd like to do something ... er, beneficial for him—something that might breach the broken bridge, so to speak, and make the future shine a little brighter for him. Not that I want him to know I've done it, you understand. He is young, and hearts have ways of mending. I'd like to benefit him. So I've been thinking...." He tapped his chin.
A faint stir of caution moved in Rafe's mind. Ainsworth was in many ways a man of strong and decent character. Why, then, did Rafe feel the need to be wary? You're just too cynical, another voice seemed to say.
"Do something beneficial?" Rafe repeated, watching him carefully.
"Land is what I was thinking about, Rafe. Sugarcane. A plantation of his own, cane workers in time."
Rafe looked at him with surprise.
"I've just the plantation land in mind, on the Big Island, actually, so that the two of you could be good neighbors.... I thought since you two are so brotherly that it would work out very well indeed. Perhaps you know of the section I have in mind, near Hilo."
Rafe did know, and agreed that it would grow productive cane.
"I can tell you, sir, that Keno would turn that section of land into a successful enterprise. He has it in him. He's dedicated, smart, and honorable. He wouldn't let you down." Ainsworth turned his gaze away and he did another half-circle on the rug, looking down as if he'd dropped something.
Rafe scrutinized the tall, dignified figure in white. "Now that you've brought Keno up, I'll admit to something," Rafe said. "The last few weeks I've been thinking about arranging with Parker Judson to have my partnership in Hawaiiana turned over to Keno."
He heard a surprised gasp from Ainsworth.
"I haven't mentioned it yet to Keno. I think I can convince Judson to go along with the idea. I promised Keno a year or two ago that as soon as I could handle the finances I'd back him in his own plantation. I was intending to bring it up to Judson in San Francisco. However, the sugarcane land on the Big Island is a better idea for a number of reasons. And I'll admit I'm not jubilant about giving up Hawaiiana. I've an emotional attachment to the place, since it was the first success I accomplished."
Ainsworth wore an expression that could only be read as shock, then dismay. He ceased his pacing and stared.
"I had no notion you had that deep of a bond with Keno!"
"He's a brother. We've been through it all together. The best, the worst. I want him to become successful."
Ainsworth was back to his habitual pacing, this time his slim hand on his forehead, deep in thought. Rafe watched him with another vague idea that caution was needed. He tilted his dark head.
"If you do this, sir, how would you arrange it financially?"
"Keno will know nothing of my involvement, or he would naturally refuse it."
Rafe considered. Would he? Because of Ainsworth refusing to let him marry Candace, perhaps he would.
"I think I could make him see reason," Rafe said.
That immobile façade was back. "I think it best I stay out of this altogether, Rafe. The land, the plantation, must all be arranged through a third party so that he will never know I had anything to do with his future success."
Rafe looked at him for a long minute.
"I was thinking you would make the best third party to bring it all to a successful accord. I'll have the land turned over to you, and you'll arrange for Keno to begin taking control of the property. Naturally, as my upcoming grandson through marriage to Eden, I can trust you explicitly. Plus, your friendship with Keno will guarantee his security in gaining control, and in time, ownership. We'll arrange matters with the lawyer, Withers, in the same way we handled the return of Hanalei. In due season Keno will marry a good Christian girl, have a family, and be a satisfied man."
After a perceptible pause Rafe responded. "Extremely generous of you, sir. However, Keno will naturally expect to know who the man is that's willing to give him such a bounty." Rafe added because of his own growing unease, "He's cynical. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus any more than I do." He looked at Ainsworth.
"Ah. He'll listen to you."
"I'm not so sure, not over a bounty that comes so magnanimously with no name attached."
"He trusts you, Rafe. If anyone can convince him to go through with this generous offer it's you."
Rafe began to worry. Keno did trust him, and he probably would go through with the offer if Rafe wanted to convince him. If it was indeed a genuine blessing, well and good. But if there was some shrewdness behind Ainsworth's generosity it would likely ruin Rafe and Keno's friendship.
* * *
Twilight ... In the Hawaiian Islands darkness descended rapidly. A sky wracked with angry vermilion splashed the distant steel-blue horizon of the Pacific.
Keno walked the dirt road leading away from the beach. He took the path inland toward a familiar cluster of ancient palms. In their midst stood the Bible mission church topped with a white cross, first founded by Dr. Jerome and Rebecca Derrington and now pastored by Ambrose Easton.
As Keno expected, a soothing glow of golden light burned in the front window. Aunt Noelani, always faithful to her tasks, large or small, lit the lamp in the front church window. For as long as Keno could remember she'd lit that lamp every evening. "Who knows?" she would repeat when he was a boy. "That light might be just what someone needs to remind them that Jesus is the Light of the world. And the world we live in is getting darker with time."
As a ten-year-old fatherless boy, who was half haole, the offspring of a British father, Keno felt isolated among unnumbered Polynesian aunts, uncles, and cousins while growing up. He regarded Ambrose as the true spiritual patriarch of his life. He knew Rafe felt the same.
Even so, his deep-seated struggle for acceptance and belonging continued. Disappointment in an earthly father, or the loss of one beloved, seemed to haunt more than himself. Zachary Derrington was the emotionally disturbed son of a murderer, while Eden Derrington's father was so preoccupied with his personal quest that he'd all but forgotten that he had a young, vulnerable daughter who longed for parental strength ... until he'd returned to Hawaii a few months ago. Even now those tattered emotions affected Eden's relationship with Rafe Easton. And Rafe was not immune either. His anger over the injustice done to his father burned deep, though under heavy restraint. And the cool and beautiful woman Keno was in love with, Candace Derrington, lost her father at sea when a small girl, so that her grandfather Ainsworth was directing her future— mainly for his own cause.
Then this little church with its smiling haole pastor came into Keno's boyhood and drew him into the embrace of the great Creator God. It was through his pal Rafe Easton that Keno learned he could know God as Father because of the redemptive work of the blessed Son of God, Jesus. It was the same spiritual lesson Rafe learned after the death of his father, Matt Easton—that God has adopted us as His sons through Jesus Christ.
Keno paused on the sandy path to the church, a stone's throw from Ambrose and Noelani's homey bungalow. No mansion, this, but the warmest place in all Honolulu when someone needed a friend to trust. Ambrose was that friend.
Keno looked up at the dark sky. Even with a heart filled with gratitude, he mourned. No friendly stars shone tonight, only clouds and thick darkness.
Oh God—Father—I don't think I can live without Candace, he prayed in agony. What am I to do?
This evening he felt he needed every drop of hope and grace he could drink from the Monday night men's Bible study.
Rafe was usually in attendance, but tonight—well, he hoped Ambrose wouldn't ask him where Rafe was.
Keno entered the bungalow through the back kitchen door. He didn't notice Noelani anywhere about, though she couldn't be far. Something was cooking on the stove that made him hungry; it smelled like oysters from the pearl bed. And Rafe's favorite coconut cake was on the counter, as well, a sure sign Noelani expected him to drop by after the meeting. Noelani had loved Rafe as a boy and defended him whenever she could from the bullying of his stepfather, Townsend Derrington. Keno remembered how upset Noelani was when Rafe's lovely and gentle widowed mother, Celestine, married Townsend after Matt's death.
"She'll live to regret her choice in a man. Handsome, Makua Townsend is, but his heart needs washing and mending—better yet, he needs a new heart."
Noelani's "mama" love for Rafe caused her to take on the task of being Kip's nanny until Rafe smuggled the baby out of the Islands.
Pastor Ambrose stood in the middle of the sitting room with his Bible under his arm as though prepared to walk over to the mission church for the men's meeting. A man strong in the emphasis of the Bible, a soldier of much prayer, he stood with a solid frame and wide shoulders. Nonetheless, a heart problem kept him from the rugged Hawaiian-style kayak fishing he'd loved in earlier years. Throwing and hauling in the big nets was now hard on him. Years earlier he had been the one to encourage Rafe and Keno in their swimming and diving feats.
At first Keno thought Ambrose was praying, for he stood still, his head bent. It always amazed him that Ambrose prayed as much as he did. He even kept a prayer list he actually used! He would go for long walks on the beach and pray for the ones he'd written on a card. Keno often hoped he was on that list. Knowing Ambrose, he probably was.
Excerpted from Hawaiian Crosswinds by Linda Lee Chaikin, Cheryl Dunlop. Copyright © 2011 Linda Chaikin. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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