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Saturday they spent looking at the available property. Much of thebeach-front from Ft Walton to Seaside was taken up by the large resortsand high-rise condominiums. The individual houses were few and at agreat price.At about three o’clock, they walked into ‘the house’ - a Spartanmodern affair with low ceilings and severe white walls. The rectangularwindows made the Gulf view into a series of paintings in simple frames.The horizon cut the paintings exactly in half. Down below the high frontdecks were the dunes, which must be preserved, it was explained tothem, as they were the protection against the high waves when thehurricanes came.By means of a long pier they walked out over the dunes and then wentdown weathered wooden steps to the beach itself. In the dazzle of thesun the whiteness was again unbelievable. The water was a perfectfoaming green.Far, far down the beach to either side the high rises broke the vistawith their white towers, seemingly as clean and geometric as this littlehouse itself. The cliffs and crags and trees of California were utterly726
absent. It was a wholly different environment — suggestive of the Greekislands, in spite of its flatness, a cubist landscape of blinding light andsharp lines.He liked it. He told her that immediately, yes, he really did like it, andthis house would be just fine.Above all he liked the contrast to the lushness of New Orleans. Thehouse was well built, with its coral-colored tile floors and thick carpets,and its gleaming stainless steel kitchen. Yes, cubist, and stark. Andinexplicably beautiful in its own way.The one disappointment for Rowan was that a boat couldn’t be dockedhere, that she would have to drive a couple of miles to the marina onthe bay side of the highway, and take the boat out through Destinharbor into the Gulf. But that was not so terribly inconvenient when onemeasured it against the luxury of this long stretch of unspoiled beach.As Rowan and the agent wrote up the offer to purchase, Michaelwalked out on the weathered deck. He shaded his eyes as he studiedthe water. He tried to analyze the sense of serenity it produced in him,which surely had to do with the warmth and the deep brilliance of thecolors. In retrospect it seemed that the hues and tints of San Franciscohad always been mixed with ashes, and that the sky had always beenhalf invisible beyond a fog, or a deep mist, or a fleece of unremarkableclouds.He could not connect this brilliant seascape to the cold gray Pacific, orto his scant awful memories of the rescue helicopter, of lying therechilled and aching on the stretcher, his clothes drenched. This was hisbeach and his water, and it wouldn’t hurt him. What the hell, maybe hecould even get to like being on the Sweet Christinedown here. But hehad to confess, the thought of that made him slightly sick.