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The sky was dark except for a crescent moon shining bright. Ada struggled to keep her eyes open. Brooklyn’s head was resting on her shoulder. After ten minutes or so, the vehicle rolled to a stop.

Arlo helped the driver unload. They each grabbed their suitcases and guided them up a short concrete driveway. From what Ada could tell, the house was a reddish brick with black modern trim. It looked like a cute, quaint home with a sleek black front door.

After taking a step inside, she realized the house was bigger than it originally appeared. Dark gray walls were covered in bright floral and abstract artwork. Oversized, gray tile floors spread throughout the home. They walked into a kitchen with white sparkling quartz countertops and contrasting dark wooden cabinets. She noticed a sliding glass door and peered out to the patio where she spotted a pool.

“Let’s get you to bed,” Arlo told Brooklyn as she rubbed her eyes. He pulled her suitcase as he led her to a room off the entryway.

Looking at Ada he said, “You should take the room to the left. It’s got a balcony so you can enjoy the view.”

She took her suitcase into the room he seemed to be referring to. Peeking beyond the curtains, she tried to see out. Clouds had begun rolling in, so the moonlight was now gone. It was pitch black. Giving up, she turned to examine her room.

A queen bed with a light green bedspread took up most of the space. There were two small bedside tables, a dresser with a TV on it, and another door for an ensuite. The bathroom had a similar design to the kitchen and seemed pretty standard—other than a huge rain shower head and picture window.

Ada wanted to explore more, but her body felt heavy. Rifling through her suitcase, she found shorts and a tanktop and climbed into bed.

Chapter 8

Ada - 5 Days until New Year’s Eve

Thenextmorning,Adarolled over only to be blinded by the sun.

Throwing the covers back over her head, she tried again. This time squinting in order to ease her eyeballs into the searing light.

Searching for her phone on the bedside table, she reeled it in. The screen showed it was 11:27 a.m. Suddenly she shot out of bed.Brooklyn, my job is to watch Brooklyn so Arlo can work. That’s the whole reason I’m here.

Throwing on some actual clothes and maneuvering her hair into a messy bun, she hustled to the bathroom. She quickly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and applied a light layer of makeup.

With her fingers on the door handle, she took a deep breath.You’d think I’d be used to waking up in a house with Brooklyn and Arlo after spending a few days with them in Big Bear, but this feels different. It’s only us… in Brazil—or rather a secret island near Brazil.

Turning the knob, she stepped out. She was stopped in her tracks immediately.The view. It was absolutely breathtaking. She’d never seen anything like it. Their house was perched above a golden sand beach with bright blue water glistening along the shore. The ocean stretched out endlessly. The sky was clear, and not a cloud could be seen.

“Do you like the house? It’s called Casinha com Vista. It means House with a View.”

Ada jumped at Arlo’s voice, not realizing anyone else was in the room.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” He walked over next to her and handed her a white mug. “Coffee?”

Ada took him in. He was wearing a black sleeveless shirt that said “Muscle Beach” in white font and black athletic shorts. His shaggy hair looked wet as it was slicked back. Ada had always found him good looking, but here against this beautiful backdrop, she realized he looked like a surfer that occasionally grazed the front covers of magazines.

“Thanks,” Ada said, taking the cup but paralyzed by wonder—and not just of the gorgeous seascape. Refocusing she managed to say, “This is… incredible. Where are we again?”

“Ilha de Segredos.” Arlo opened the sliding glass door that led to the pool.

“And you’ve been here before?” Ada asked, following him out.

He leaned against a black steel railing and stared out at the ocean. “Yeah, I… actually grew up here.”

Ada stood next to him and took a sip of her coffee. “And you moved to Los Angeles, why?”

Arlo looked down and then slowly up again. “Island life is great, but it can feel… cramped. This is actually my first time back in almost ten years.”

“Wow, so does your family live here?”

“Ah, yeah.”

Ada waited for him to expand, but he didn’t. Instead, he leaned his back against the railing and looked at her.

“Did you sleep okay?”

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