...Now, as he lay there feeling the gentle rise and fall of the Erin Go Bragh and the lovely weight of La’iki’s head on his stomach, Adam wondered why he had become so different since the boat washed up on that little beach and he had found himself thinking he was dead and that the lovely face above him was an angel. Since he’d arrived, he’d hardly been flip at all, hardly sealed himself away from reality with a cage of what-the-hell.
God, he’d even allowed himself to fall in love with La’iki! And that, come to think of it, was a risk he’d never taken with Erin…Good thing, too. That way there were “tygers,” as the old maps said.
But since his renaissance on the beach, he’d faced every “tyger” that the world had thrown at him…storms, near-drownings. And he’d taken it all seriously…not without humor, but without the kind of sardonic humor that attempts to give the lie to reality. Earlier, before the beach, everything was a source of equal and cynical amusement…or perhaps bemusement. He remembered his mother once saying, “Unless you start to take life seriously, Adam, you’ll never make yourself rich and successful.”
And he had answered with something to the effect of, “I don’t want to make myself rich or successful. In fact, I don’t even want to make myself. That’s lonely. I want to make Jessica Brandt.”
She was a cheerleader and the sexiest thing Adam had met to that point. And, of course, far beyond any possibility of Adam even having coffee with her, let alone sex.
What was the difference? La’iki?
No…it was more…
And suddenly it hit him.
The difference was that he was dead.
Remember, he taken La’iki for an angel earlier? Well, that is exactly what she was.
And if he needed further proof. The first week out he’d been taking an increasing number of those damnable horse pills and it had come to the point where even a dose of five a day wasn’t stopping the cancer pain. But, since he’d awakened on that beach, he’d had no pain at all.
Also, he’d had sex—wonderful sex—on a regular basis, every kind of sex you’d ever dreamed of. Erin had never given him a moment of that. So if that wasn’t being dead, what was?
So that was why his whole attitude was different!
When you’re alive, everything is so important and serious that you can’t possibly take it seriously or you’d go mad. But, once you’re dead, you can afford to be involved in your afterlife. Either things can’t possibly get worse or—as in Adam’s present case—things couldn’t possibly be any better.
Was this heaven then, this ocean, this island?
No, more likely it was just a temporary state, seeming prolonged because he was as beyond time as he was beyond pain. This was the Delicious Delirium of Dying. It seemed your life didn’t flash before you—that would be pretty gruesome—but all you had ever dreamed of did.
La’iki. Her body against his. Her tongue…
Sex without pain…
His personal hell—whatever that was—would come later.
So, for now, Adam told himself, relax and enjoy the joys of dying, of entering into a world where was pain was no more.
His gut had been pain-and-pill free since that first storm. What greater proof could there be that he was dead?
Slowly he lifted La’iki from his groin and raised his head to stare down at the lovely face of his personal angel.
And that was when the old familiar pain stabbed him like a firebrand in his belly...