Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre, and I’m back again talking about Luki Vasquez, Sonny James, and their latest adventure in fiction, Finding Jackie. Yesterday, I started a contest: tell me what kind of shirt Sonny wore to his wedding, and you’re entered to win a copy of Finding Jackie!. Today, the contest continues, and I’m adding a second way to win: comment here, and tell me what Luki gave Sonny as a Wedding present. The info is in the excerpt posted at Dreamspinner, at this link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3812
In yesterday’s post I showed you some stuff about Sonny’s origins. Today, I’m going talk about Luki. In case you werent’ sure, he’s the badass with the gun on the cover. Here’s a close up of his lips, his hands, and his weapon. What else would you want?
You know Sonny’s marriage proposal I recalled from Delsyn’s Blues in yesterday’s post? It was sweet, characteristic of Sonny, right? Well, Luki’s reply is sweet too, and characteristically badass, since he’s just been shot:
“Shit, Luki, he shot you!”
“Don’t worry, sweetie. It’s just a flesh wound. And… um… yes.”
“Don’t give me lip, Luki.” Sonny had taken some of his always handy silk strips out of his pocket and bound the wound, tight. “Besides, you sound like you’re in a John Wayne movie. Flesh wound or not, it’s bleeding way too much. Does it hurt?”
“Sorry for the lip. Shallow wounds bleed. And hurt. And yes!” The last words came out halfway between a shout and a grunt, in response to the extra pressure Sonny was applying to the wound with stronger-than-usual hands.
Luki’s lips had begun to feel a little thick. He worked them into the shape of words, but he thought he sounded a bit like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. “What did you do when the shooting started?” he asked, then added, “And yes.” He tried to enunciate that last very clearly.
“I did what any brave badass would do. I rolled over behind the wood rack and put that Maryanne on top of me. I figured nobody could shoot me without shooting through her.”
“Huh! Good tinkin… thinking. Yes, Sonny. Yes.” He took a few breaths, closed his eyes to clear them of sweat. “Listen, serious… people tied up… guns, I’m… shot. He opened his eyes wide, forced himself wide awake, needing to make Sonny understand. “We have to call the law—”
Footsteps charged Luki so fast he would have rolled and come up fighting—or tried to—if Sonny, who seemed to be getting stronger every minute, hadn’t held him down. “It’s just Ladd,” he said. Meant to be reassuring, Luki thought, but he caught the distaste that Sonny reserved for Ladd lately.
“Luki.” Ladd was breathing way harder than he should have been.
Luki had started to fade again, but he had to comment. “Gettin’ out o’ sape… shape.”
“Truth. Margie’s cooking. But listen, Luki, wake up a bit. This is important. I’m going to take these people off your hands. You can’t afford to bring the law in here—they’ll have you and Sonny in prison so fast you won’t hear the bars clang until after you’ve seen the light. I’ll take them out of here, call Katie. She’ll help work it out. That’s just a flesh wound—”
“It’s still bad—”
“Yeah, Sonny, but—”
“And he’s got a fever, makes it worse.”
“Good, good.” He must have caught the glare Sonny blazed his way. Even Luki felt he was melting in the heat just by proximity. Ladd back-pedaled a bit. “What I mean is, take him to the hospital, and he can say it was an accident. The fever will make it more believable. Truth, otherwise they might not believe he could be that clumsy. Right, boss?”
“Fuck you, Ladd.” Luki was proud of his clear enunciation.
“In your next life, perhaps. For now, though, I’ll take that as agreement and get started.” He stepped away so fast he kicked debris from the rotting cedar into Luki’s eyes.
“Shit, that hurts,” Luki said. The sting had rolled back the haze a bit. “And yes, Sonny.” He brought his hands to his face to wipe the grit away.
“Not like that,” Sonny said. “Your hands are filthy; they’ll only make it worse.” He brought another pair of long silk strips out of a pocket and gently wiped Luki’s tearing eyes.
Where does he put all those silk strips? He never seems to run out. “You’re like a magician, Sonny. And yes, damn it.”
“Thank you. You definitely have a fever. And why the hell do you keep saying ‘yes’?”
“I do have a fever… wish… cigarette… doesn’t matter,” Luki said. He felt cold now; he’d started to shiver. He felt like he was drifting but sinking fast. Wait! He doesn’t understand! What if I die before I can tell him? Drama queen, Vasquez. Despite his self-scolding, he thrust himself forcefully back into consciousness, latched onto Sonny’s arm so fast and hard Sonny went as wide-eyed as if he was in a scene from The Exorcist. “Yes. Sonny, I will! I’ll marry you.”
Silence. Sweet and warm. Sonny’s strong, beautiful fingers lifted his head away from the log, dropped St. Christopher’s medal over it, then cushioned his skull as he let it fall back. He placed a cool hand on Luki’s forehead, then on his chest, a welcome weight pressing St. Christopher’s silver promise over his heart. Quietly, maybe even tenderly: “You’re going to pass out, Luki.”
Once again he forced consciousness into a narrow focus, this time only as high and wide as Sonny’s eyes. “I am,” he said, “I know. But can we have the wedding in Hawai’i?” His vision had narrowed down to a speck of light by the time he heard Sonny’s answer.
See? Sweet. And they do of course have that wedding in Hawai’i, you can read all about it in Finding Jackie. As I mentioned yesterday, however, Luki’s pre-wedding talk with his uncle Kaholo can’t be found in the novel. Read it right here! I was able to shimmy up a palm tree and sit in the fronds on top, and record their conversation from my perch. (The firemen had to get me down after dark, but that’s neither here nor there.)
They are sitting on the beach—on their surfboards—soaking wet and letting the breeze and sun dry them off.
Luki says, “I didn’t know you could surf, Uncle.”
“Aw, Mili. This ain’t much. You should have seen me when I was young. Had half the island watching me sometimes.”
“Giant waves? Why do you call me Mili?”
Kaholo gave Luki a puzzled look. “It’s your name, boy! I think you know that!” It wasn’t nearly as stern as it sounded, and he broke out into his deep, bass laugh at the end. He reached over and actually ruffled Luki’s hair—something many might try and not survive.
Luki actually laughed, too. “Yes, Kaholo, I know that Mililani is my middle name. But most people don’t think of me as anybody’s “heavenly embrace”—
“And nobody else has ever called me that.”
“Your mama did.”
Luki looked away, racking his brain. Finally he shook his head and turned to look at Kaholo again. “I don’t remember that.”
“Well,” Kaholo said, pursing his lips. “I suppose she called you Mili, or Mililani, more when your were really small. Before school age. Your dad didn’t like it.”
Luki chewed his lip for a moment, studying is old uncle—the man that had done more to raise the child Luki than any other person, truth told. He asked a question he’d wondered about many times but never asked. Now, in Hawai’i, seeing how Kaholo remembered himself—even surfing like he’d last done it yesterday—he couldn’t make himself not ask. “Why’d you stay, Uncle? After my mom died, why did you stay all those years? You never went home once.”
Kaholo shook his head, dismissing, Luki thought at first. But maybe he was just lost in his own memories. “I just couldn’t make myself leave you, and your dad wouldn’t come to Hawaii even for a minute—his heart never healed after he lost your mom, you know. And he wouldn’t let me bring you here, either. He was afraid I’d lose you, somehow.”
“So you stayed for me?”
“Well, partly. The other part—I stayed for me. Don’t even go off into this guilt thing I can see rising up in you. I stayed with you and your dad because I loved you both, and I wanted to be there. Your dad loved you, Luki, whether you believe it or not, but there wasn’t any… softness, no give in him. A child needs more than a full belly, a bed to sleep in, and a passel of rules and scheduled activities. Especially after you got cut, I thought you needed me.”
Luki ran his hands through his curls. Now that they were mostly dry, he thought they should be set in something close to order. He stood up to dust off the sand and, not facing his uncle, said, “I’m sorry.”
“Being your burden.”
“I told you not to go there Mili, and that’s a lie. You were never a burden. You were, and still are, a gift.”
After a few minutes, Kaholo laughed again. “Besides, who would have taken you to halau and made sure you danced on stage wearing your flashy malo.”
Luki smiled, quietly. He remember the drives with Kaholo to Lincoln for his classes and practices at the halau. Sometimes they drove all the way to Omaha for competitions. “I liked dancing,” he said. “But I don’t think I was very good. My kumu was kind of mean.”
“Your kumu grew up with your mama and me, and he wanted to marry her. He never forgave her for marrying a haole. He was mean, but it had nothing to do with your dancing. He also got angry because he wanted to take you to Hawai’i for the Merry Monarchs festival to dance, but your dad said no.”
“Oooh. I could have watched those men.”
Kaholo rolled his eyes. “Well you can come back and watched them now.”
“Good idea! No wait. Sonny will want to watch them, too…”