The Distant Shore
The Stone Trilogy Book 1
by Mariam Kobras
Independent Publisher Book Award for Romance
Amazon #1 Bestseller – Contemporary Romance
There’s nothing like receiving a letter from a teenage son you knew nothing about, but that’s what happens to international rock star, Jonathon Stone. He drops everything to find the boy, and his mother—Naomi, the girl he loved so many years ago who left him when his rock n’ roll life became too much for her to bear.
Seeing her is like falling in love all over again, and everything seems perfect, until someone sets out to destroy their idyllic life.
The flight will be a little rough,” the pilot informed him, “I’ll take you along the coast so you can see something of the landscape, all right?”
Jon was not quite sure he liked his cavalier attitude toward the miserable weather. Fear was weakening the drive that had pushed him this far around the globe, afraid that he was doing something incredibly stupid and that the outcome would be too much to bear. And now, coasting along the shoreline of this rugged country, past soaring snow-covered mountains, over dark gray water that was capped by white breakers, an Atlantic storm buffeting the plane, this fear poured over him like icy slush.
He regretted not having brought Sal, at last seeing the sense in his admonition to take someone with him who would keep a clear head.
The wing of the plane dipped as they passed through a gap in the high hills, past a couple of small islands, and into the bay with a village at its end.
“There.” The pilot pointed, but Jon had seen it already.
There was a yellow wooden building with a red gabled roof and white trim. It sat right on the water, and behind it, rising into the gentle swell of a forested hillside, the little town itself. A white church with steeples sat nestled among greenery above the houses, looking down on the pier. To the right, just beside the hotel, a small inlet separated the town from a fishing wharf, just big enough to hold five trawlers and a sort of depot.
The landing was not as bad as he’d expected.
Using a cigarette as an excuse, Jon lingered in the cold. Here he was, on her doorstep, and now, after many hours of travel, his courage failed him.
The entrance to the hotel lay right on the corner of the pier, the small square of red tiles separated from the water by a wooden railing and a low wall following the curve of the bay to the dock where a couple of yachts rested. From where he stood he could see along the deck at the side of the hotel. There were some folded deck chairs, forgotten now in deep winter, but a reminder that even here there would be days to sit outside and enjoy a semblance of warmth.
The sun had come out, and the wind was not as rough, broken by the surrounding hills, but the temperature was just as vicious, just as bitter. It was so quiet. A bell was ringing somewhere, a single car passed by, two men strolled down the cobbled street along the pier, the collars of their thick woolen jackets turned up, a flock of seagulls swirled over the choppy water, but that was all. The air was so tart, it stung his nostrils, the light so clear it made him squint. At long last he tossed away the butt.
Seventeen years had changed him from the young man who had just made his first big step toward stardom and into the music icon he was now. Yet here he was, just as pathetic as he’d been then, pleading for love from the same woman.
They began at last to talk about music, about Joshua’s studies and the band he played with, the composition he was working on, and his daily life at Oxford. Telling Jon about all this seemed to make him forget his misgivings.
Jon felt his heart turn over at the joy in his son’s face when he described how he had walked in on the orchestra, purely by chance, because he was looking for a book he had forgotten in the auditorium, and they were practicing a piece he had written.
“Can you imagine,” he said, his eyes glowing and his cheeks flushed, “how that felt? There was this whole group of adults, all of them excellent musicians, and they were playing my music. That was the first time I’d heard it played, and it sounded just as it had in my mind when I wrote it.”
Jon wanted to cry. He wanted to cover his face with his hands and cry for the lost time, for the moments they had missed when they could have had these conversations and shared the joy that music brought to both of them.
“I’m sure,” he replied, and he heard his voice crack on the words, “I know how you felt. It’s the instant when you realize you have created something that others appreciate. And it just feels so good. It’s all you need to make you go on, and it makes the struggle worthwhile.”
Joshua, the corners of his mouth turned down in a way that made him look just like his mother, shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. “Oh, it’s no struggle. The melodies are just there. All you have to do is write them down.”
And here, Jon realized, was true talent. His own son was more of a composer than he himself could ever hope to be. For the first time ever, he knew how it was to feel proud of a child.
A waitress came to clear away their plates and bring coffee and pastries.
Joshua began to ask questions. How did it feel to perform in such huge venues? What was it like to be so famous and live in Los Angeles? Could he meet his musicians sometime? And, “Are you going to be my father from now on?”
“I’ve always been your father,” was Jon’s reply. “I just didn’t know it until I got your letter.”
He wandered over to the desk and looked down at it, clean and orderly in a way it had never been when he had inhabited this room. He moved his hand across the wood. “I used to sit here staring out the window, and instead of studying my Latin I’d be scribbling disgusting, sentimental lyrics, a young boy’s fantasies of his one perfect love, the one you would recognize in an instant, one glance, and know for sure she was the right one.”
“As far as I can see, you’re still doing it today,” Naomi murmured, but he heard her.
“Of course!” He turned back to her with a smile. “Of course I am, because it still confounds me that such a thing is possible. I’ve never overcome the miracle of our first meeting. That is a bone I’ve been chewing on for years now, and I’ve still not found the marrow. It’s irrational and confusing, but there it is: it has never left me alone, this thought that I’m not entitled to receive this special grace. And maybe there’s some truth to that because I lost you soon enough, wasn’t able to hold on to you. I knew it had to be you, and yet I did nothing to make sure of you. My punishment and I accept it.”
“Here you go again.” She sighed. “You are such a hopeless fool. A romantic, hopeless, and wonderful fool. Let’s go back down. I want to meet the rest of your family. I love your mother, by the way.”
“Told you.” His grin was wide and quite smug.
Naomi lay in his arms, toying with his shirt buttons, opening them one after the other, softly touching his skin under the fabric, her fingers lightly brushing the hairs on his chest.
“You had better stop.” He shifted restlessly. “You might end up on the carpet after all, flat on your back, with a starved, wild male on top of you. But at least I can kiss you now, can’t I? Is this terrible scene over?”
She didn’t answer, just sighed in tired resignation.
“Say you’ll marry me, Naomi. Say it. Tell me you are still mine, tell me you aren’t going to rip our lives into shreds again. Tell me we can go back upstairs in a little while and your terrible father and his Viking brother won’t chop off my head in their fury for causing you sorrow? Will I have a bride, walking up to me in a lovely gown and standing beside me? Will I?”
She freed herself from the hand entangled in her hair and climbed from his embrace, even though he was unwilling to let her go, protesting that he had not gotten that kiss yet.
“And you won’t get that kiss,” Naomi replied, “because I know where it would lead, and there’s no time now. I need to change and do my hair, you mussed it all up. And then we’ll go meet the crowd upstairs. We’ll put a good face on this disaster, Jon, and we’ll get married. I’m not going to send them all away again and waste all the food and flowers. Only…”
“Don’t frighten me anymore, Naomi. Tell me you’ll marry me because you want me, not because you can’t see a way out of it. Because if that’s the reason, I think I’ll pass. I don’t want you as my duty wife; I want you for love alone.”
He watched her walk to the wardrobe, buttoning up his shirt again, the feel of her soft fingertips still on his skin, the promising, gentle touch that gave him the hope that all would be well in the end.
“You’re getting me as your wife, Jon,” he heard her tired voice say. “Let that be enough for now. I’ll have to find a way to deal with my imagination and my guilt. It may take a while.”
Three-time Independent Publisher’s Book Award Winner, Mariam was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Growing up, she and her family lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia before they decided to settle in Germany. Mariam attended school there and studied American Literature and Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen. Today she lives and writes in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband, two sons, and two cats.