Midnight Moonlight Mystery

by James Foley

Copyright© 2018 by James Foley

Romance Story: Midnight on a moonlit shore: a young lady in trouble. She is undecided between two guys: a shy professor and a bold drifter.

Tags: Drama  

At the Carolina Coast Hotel, some guests, bewitched by the full moon, still lounged on the lawns in the wee hours. That September weekend was ending. The sweet summer of 2017 was bidding goodbye. Meanwhile, Conn Franklin, a James Dean lookalike, was coming up the beach from his boat, ignoring Stefanie Ryan waving to him. But Conn’s friends, Wyatt Graham and Cooper Peterson, were admiring fair-haired Stefanie.

“If you like them brainy,” Cooper said, “she’s a math fanatic—the best kind, the kind with Helen of Troy’s legs and Isaac Newton’s calculus.”

“She’s an intellectual?” Wyatt said. “So even a world-class loser like myself can hope?” Now softly, somewhere far off, a harmonica was playing an old dreamy melody, “Midnight Mystery”, as Conn joined them. Conn’s lost-soul wildness generally captivated women. But he said to Wyatt, a reserve Navy officer, “Stefanie’s for you, lieutenant.”

Wyatt laughed. “You get all the girls, Conn.”

“Not all. She’s out of my galaxy. Go talk to her, Wolf Boy.”

Wyatt’s fear of doing that made him do it. “See you in a minute, guys,” he said.

“Not if Wolf Girl likes her, you won’t,” Cooper said. “I mean Bianca, your pet wolf.”


Facing Stefanie’s beautiful face, Wyatt started stuttering: “This m-m-moon’s opalescence is as g-gorgeous as you, Ms. Ryan.”

Damn! That sounded pompous, pedantic and presumptuous. But Stefanie smiled and said, “Did you actually say ‘opalescence?’”

“Uh-huh. Or ‘oboe lessons.’ I forget which.”

“You’re Wyatt,” Stefanie said. “a friend of Cooper’s friend Conn.”

“Uh, actually, Conn’s a friend of Cooper’s friend me.”

Stefanie’s smile broadened. “Cooper said you have an imaginary pet wolf named Bianca.”

Wyatt nodded. “She’s a white wolf: albino. So she needs friendship.”

“That’s amazing. A white pet wolf’s extraordinary. But an imaginary white pet wolf seems unique. There’s something else Cooper mentioned about Conn and you: I wonder if it’s true.”

“No. No way. Not anything Cooper says.”

“That Conn takes all your girls from you.”

“Not all of them. Only the ones he wants. And just in my unlucky season.”

“Which one is that?”

“Fall through summer.”

Stefanie smiled, but hesitantly: “And yet you’re still friends?”

“We were friends before birth. My mother and his mother were best friends.”

Embarrassed, Wyatt glanced at the moon dazzling the black sky above black water.

“Actually, I think I need to meet Conn,” Stefanie said. “He charters boats, doesn’t he?”

Wyatt nodded. “Uh-huh. Among other things.”

“Oh, other things? Interesting things?”

“I guess so—if you’re interested in those things.”

“He seems interesting himself. He’s a professional boat captain, isn’t he?”

“Conn? I guess you could say he’s a professional dropout.”

“Dropout? Dropout from what?”

“Whatever you’ve got going.”

“He sounds like someone adventurous who might help me. Here’s my problem,” Stefanie said. “My uncle Ben’s dying. He’s offered to leave me his old broken-down boatyard where nothing works. It’s worthless, loaded with debt and mortgages. But Ben hopes I can make it profitable again.”

Now Stefanie touched Wyatt lightly as she said, “Wyatt, my life’s been reckless—with no occupation. My mother supports me. When she’s gone, I’ll have nothing except the boatyard, if I can save it. But I’d need some guy as a partner, and Cooper told me about Conn’s adventurous spirit.”

“Ms. Ryan, any man would be eager to help you. I’d be enthusiastic about it myself.”

“Call me Stefanie, please. Cooper said you’re a university professor. I doubt if a rotting boatyard is your milieu. Excuse me.”

Wyatt followed her as she joined Conn, saying abruptly, “I’ve been wondering if you’d help me with something that’s incredibly difficult?”

Conn turned, smiling his lazy smile. “Sure.”

“Don’t be glib,” Stephanie said. “Would you do that? Something important to me—that maybe you alone can do?”

“You’ve got it.”

“I doubt it. Anything?” she asked again. “Are you sure?”

“Anything.”

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