The Enemy

lighthouse

Photo Credit Susan Spaulding

He watched them in bed together, his wife and the German soldier. Hatred rose in his throat like bile. He’d suspected that something was going on between them but didn’t want to believe it. He noticed that she slipped out of bed when she thought he was sleeping and returned hours later.

One night, after she sneaked out of the room, he went to the window. He saw her go into the lighthouse where the German was. They’d found him hurt on the beach and she, a nurse, insisted that they hide him in the lighthouse where she could nurse him. Against his better judgment, he’d agreed. He would have agreed to anything she wanted because he was besotted with her.

What a blind, trusting fool he’d been. All this time, she’d been sleeping with the enemy. His hands tightened on the door knob.  He could have shot them right then.

Hours later, alone, Dietrich radioed the message, “Komm um 21:00 Uhr. Wird am Strand warten.”

“Kopieren Sie das.”

Dietrich rose to his feet and turning, he froze. “Herr Camfield, what–?” The bullet hit him and he fell to the ground.

“That’s for sleeping with my wife.”

 

198 Words

 

This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

 

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The Invisible Seashell

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

“We are like seashells upon the beach, beautiful and unique – each with a story of it’s own to tell. ”

What kind of seashell am I?  What story could I tell?  I don’t think I’m beautiful or unique.  I’m best described as average and awkward.  I’m invisible when it comes to the opposite sex.  Boys hardly notice me.  Whenever I’m with my friend, Becky, they speak to her but don’t acknowledge me.  It hurts, of course.  I want to be noticed too.

Greg’s approaching.  My heart flutters…then my shoulders slump as he walks right past me–the invisible seashell.

98 Words

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details, visit Here. To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  The Wellness Hippie

Two Men

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Photo by Michelle DeAngelis

They were on the beach.  Overhead a brave person was parasailing.  Behind them were the sounds of voices, laughter and the tinkle of glasses.  A lone man stood some distance away, facing them.  They were oblivious.  They were lost in each other.

His eager hands caressed her back before they held her tightly against him.  She hugged him and closed her eyes when he buried his face in her neck.  His warm breath caressed her skin.

Ross swept her off her feet eight years ago when they met in university.  They dated until graduation.  Then he went away for two years.  Heartbroken, she tried to move on and she managed to with Kieran…until Ross showed up.

If Kieran found out that she was seeing Ross again, he would break up with her.  She couldn’t let that happen because she loved him.  And she loved Ross.  Was it wrong to love two men?

Kieran lowered the binoculars.  He turned and walked away, shoulders hunched.  It was as he feared.  She was back with her ex.

175 Words

This story was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy.  For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

The Burnses

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

 

Chuck and Millie Burns were enjoying another day at the beach.   The weather was overcast but it didn’t dampen their mood.  The cool breeze and the smell of the sea air felt really good.

An hour later, they pulled up in the driveway and were getting out of the car when several squad cars showed up. Startled, they looked around wondering what was going on.  “Chuck and Millie Burns, you are under arrest for torture and child endangerment”  Handcuffs were slapped on them and they were led away, faces red and heads hanging.  They were bundled into a squad car and driven away.

It turns out that the police were alerted when the couple’s 15 year old daughter escaped the house where she and her nine siblings were locked up and starved.  Neighbors were shocked.  “They seemed like such a nice couple,” one woman said.  “Their children didn’t say much or play with the other kids but we just thought they were shy.  It goes to show you that you really don’t know people.”

The Burnses are currently being held in custody on six counts of torture and eight counts of child endangerment.

192 Words

I read of the couple who had 13 children because they felt it was God’s calling but those poor children were subjected to torture, endangerment, neglect and starvation.  They gave the impression that they were a devout Christian couple who had all of those children because it was “God’s calling”.  I’m pretty sure that torture, confinement, endangerment and starvation weren’t His calling.

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Mirror

Encounter on the Beach

Tanya was rubbing sunscreen on her arms when she felt someone watching her.  Looking up, she saw Benjamin.  He was lying on his stomach in the sand, close to the water’s edge, his head propped up by his hand.  His glistening body was covered in sand.  She couldn’t deny that she was extremely attracted to him but he was younger than her.  She never went out with men younger than her.  They were either her in age group or older.

He didn’t hide the fact that he was attracted to her.  Whenever they saw each other, he would ask her to go out with him and she would turn him down.  He was very persistent.  Right now he look so good lying in the sand.  Shaking her head and ignoring her body’s response, she dragged her eyes away from him and continued applying the sunscreen.

Several minutes later, he was standing next to her.  “Hi, Tanya.”

She had no other choice but to look up and when she did, she couldn’t prevent her eyes from traveling over his dripping body.  He had washed the sand off.  She swallowed hard when her eyes met his.  “Hi, Ben.”

“It’s always a pleasure to see you.  Are you here alone?”  He began to dry his skin, his eyes never leaving her face.  His lips twitched slightly when he saw her gaze follow the movements of the towel.

“Yes, I’m–I’m alone.  What about you?”  What did she have to sound so breathless?  And she wished her heart would stop racing.

“Yes, I’m alone too.  Do you mind if I join you?”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t.”

He finished drying himself, spread the towel beside her and sat on it.  His eyes left her face to slowly travel down her bikini clad body.  “You look amazing,” he remarked, his expression serious as he met her gaze.  “You’re easily the most beautiful woman I know.”

“Thank you.”  His eyes were caressing her and she sucked in her breath sharply when he reached out and ran his fingers down her arm.  A jolt of electricity coursed through her body and there were curious sensations in the pit of her stomach.  It was becoming impossible to breath normally.

“Why won’t you go out with me?” he asked.  “I know you’re attracted to me.”

“You’re younger than me,” she mumbled.  He had taken the sunscreen from her hand and gotten on his knees.  She jumped when she felt him smearing it across her back.  His fingers felt nice and firm against her skin.  She closed her eyes.  How was it possible for something as simple as putting on sunscreen to become so sensuous?

“There’s only a seven years age difference between us,” he pointed out.  “Don’t let something like that prevent us from having what we both want.”  He moved closer so that his body was touching hers.  His breath was unsteady now and unable to help himself he lowered his head and pressed his lips against her shoulder.  He felt her tremble against him.  He raised his head, his heart pounding.  “Tanya, please have dinner with me tonight.”

She was incapable of doing anything else except nod her head in assent and whisper, “Yes.”

“Thank you,” he murmured.  He set the bottle down.  “I think we should go and cool off in the water.”  He stood up and helped her to her feet.

Her legs felt wobbly.  After she regained her senses and composure, she followed him to the water’s edge.  Holding her hand, he led her into the cool water where they spent a good chunk of the afternoon.

Following that encounter on the beach and a night of dinner and dancing, they began dating and a year later they tied the knot.

Love and Friendship

Russell Wong and Vonetta Willimans attended the same high school and the same university.  And now they were working at the same company.  Her friends teased her, “It seems like the two of you are destined to be together.  Why don’t you go out with him?”

“He hasn’t asked me,” Vonetta informed them curtly.  Was it that obvious that she had a thing for Russell.

“We’re living in the twenty-first century, gurl.  Why don’t you ask him out?”

Vonetta’s heart skipped a beat at the thought.  “I-I can’t,” she stammered.

“Why not?” Gwen asked, rolling her eyes.  “It’s obvious to me that he likes you.  I’ve seen the way he looks at you.   Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”

“If that’s true, why hasn’t he asked me out?”

“Maybe he’s shy,” Sharon suggested.

“Or maybe he’s not sure that you would want to go out with him.”

“Why, because he’s Asian?”

“Maybe.”

“Have you and he ever spoken to each other?”

“Yes.  We’ve talked to each other many times.  You can say we’re friends.  He’s from Hong Kong.  He moved here with his family when he was three.  He has three sisters and one brother.”

“He’s very good-looking.”

“Yes, he is,” Vonetta agreed.  “And very reserved.”

“If that’s the case, how on earth did you two get to talking?”

“Well, we had a friend in common–Michelle Forbes and she introduced us.  I think she liked him but it never got further than friendship.  The three of us hung out for a bit and then it was just him and me.  We sat next to each other in class and had lunch together.”

“And was it the same in university?”

“Yes.”

“And neither of you dated other people?”

“No.”

“Then, why on earth didn’t you two go out with each other since then?” Gwen sounded exasperated.

“What about now?” Sharon asked.  “Does your workplace have a policy against co-workers dating?”

Vonetta shook her head.

“And even if they did, what they do outside of the office is their business,” Gwen said.

“Gwen’s right,” Sharon told Vonetta.  “I think you should ask him out.”

Vonetta swallowed hard.  “I’ve never asked a guy out before,” she protested.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Gwen quipped.  “Do it over the phone if it’s too much trouble for you to do it face to face or better yet, text him.”

“Yes, text him.”

“Do it now,” Gwen urged.  “You might not have the courage to do it when you’re alone.”

“Yes, do it now.”  Sharon was beginning to sound like a parrot.

“All right,” Vonetta acquiesced.  Heart pounding, she took out her cell and flipped it open.  Taking a deep breath, she texted a short message.  “Hi Russell, it’s Vonetta.  Are you interested in going out with me?” She quickly pressed the button to send it before she chickened out.

“And now we wait for his reply.”

“What if he doesn’t reply right away?” Vonetta asked.

“Don’t start panicking if you don’t hear from him.  Maybe he’s busy or he doesn’t have his phone with him.  If you don’t hear from him today, text him again tomorrow.”

Vonetta’s brow creased and she sighed.  “I probably shouldn’t have texted him,” she said.  Just then her phone rang.  She looked at the display.  Her heart skipped a beat.  “It’s him,” she announced.

“Wow, he didn’t waste any time,” Gwen remarked, impressed.

Vonetta answered the call.  “Hi, Russell.”

“Hi, Vonetta.  I got your text.  I would love to go out with you.  I wanted to ask you out for a very long time but wasn’t sure that you would be interested.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that,” she admitted.  “I was thinking that we could go to this tapas restaurant that recently opened and has gotten very good reviews.”

“Sure.  When would you like to go?”

“Is tomorrow evening at seven good for you?”

“Yes, it is.  Vonetta, are you free later?”

“Yes, I am.”

“How would you like to go to the Starlight and watch the latest Mission Impossible movie?”

“That sounds great.”

“We’ll grab some take-out before we go the the drive-in.”

“All right.”

“I’ll see you at six.”

“See you at six.”  She rang off.  “We’re going to the drive-in later and to dinner tomorrow,” she announced excitedly.

“Wow, two dates in a row.”  Gwen was thrilled.  “Well, have fun and give us all the juicy details the next time we get together.”

Vonetta laughed.  “I will,” she promised.

That evening when Russell went to pick her up, she was waiting on the steps in front of the entrance to her flat.  Her heart leapt when he stepped out of the car, looking really good in a black tee shirt and a pair of faded jeans.  He smiled and held the door open for her, his gaze traveling over her small frame clad in a red tee shirt and denim capris.  “Are you in the mood for Thai?” he asked as they drove off.

She smiled.  “It’s funny you should mention Thai.  I’ve had a craving for Mango Chicken all week.”

He picked up a Mango Chicken for her and a Ginger Chicken for himself.  The food smelled so good in the backseat that her mouth was watering.  As soon as they were inside the drive-in, he reached for the bag and they took out their containers.  After saying Grace, they dug into the food.  It was every bit as delicious as she remembered.  Afterwards they had Lychee Cheesecake.

“That was really good,” she remarked leaning back in the seat.  The trailers were showing now.  It had been ages since she came to the drive-in.  The last time was with her family and when she was in primary school.  They were chewing gum to get rid of the taste of the rich food.

He turned to her.  “Yes, it was.  That’s the great thing about a drive-in.  You can bring your own food.”

“I used to come to the drive-in with my family when I was a child.  It was a treat for my sister and me.  My favorite snacks were Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars, Pimento cheese sandwiches and Sweet Potato Hummus.   What about you?  Did you and your family come to the drive-in?”

“They came only when there was a Jackie Chan movie.”

She laughed.  “I’m a big fan of his too and Jet Li’s.  Actually, I think Jet Li is kind of cute.”

Russell stared at her, his expression serious now.  “And what do you think of me?” he asked quietly.

Vonetta’s heart skipped a beat when she saw the expression on his face.  “I think you’re gorgeous,” she said, sounding a tad breathless now.

“And I think you’re beautiful,” he muttered before leaning over and kissing her, his going about her waist.

Vonetta closed her eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. 

The way you feel when you kiss him for the first time. Like fire within … Like every part of you that came from a dead star is alive again – Nikita Gill

The kiss lasted for several minutes but when the movie started, they forced themselves to stop and watched it.  But, their minds were on other things and she felt her body react when he held her hand, rubbing his thumb against the back, making her skin tingle.   She could hardly concentrate on the movie.  When, it was over and they were on their way to her flat, she turned to him. “Thanks for an incredible first date,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.

“Would you like to come up for a while?” she asked.

He looked at her.  “Yes,” he said simply.

When they got to her place, he parked his car underground in her space–she didn’t have a car and they held hands as they walked to the elevators.  Her heart was racing as she unlocked the door and as soon as they were inside and the door was locked, they reached eagerly for each other, aching to continue what they started at the drive-in.

Russell ended up spending the night.  The next morning they had breakfast on the terrace before he went home.  Dinner at the Tapas restaurant was romantic and they went dancing afterwards.   They became a couple and they met each other’s families, a nerve racking experience for both of them initially but in time both families accepted the relationship.   The following year they got married in a lavish ceremony thanks to their parents’ extravagance.

And now they were on their honeymoon in Algave, Portugal.  As they stood on the balcony of their room overlooking the beach and the royal blue waters, Russell put his arms around her waist and drew her against him.  “This is paradise,” he murmured.

“Yes,” she agreed and she owed it all to Gwen and Sharon, her bridesmaids and the best friends a girl could ever have.  Thanks to their persistence and encouragement, she was here in “paradise” with the guy she had been madly in love with since high-school.  She raised her glass.  “To Gwen and Sharon, the best friends a girl could ever ask for.”

Good Friends don’t come easy…Friends come and go..but Good Friends are Treasures you find..Treasures you keep! – Midge Gonzaga

 

Sources:  Wikihow; The Knot

Unfinished Business

When Irina, the managing editor of Eye on You, decided that it would be a great idea to dedicate a big chunk of the summer Issue to eligible bachelors, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  The magazine was female skewed so they knew that their readers and subscribers would get a kick out of these, especially as they received many letters asking if they could feature stories on men who were looking for love.

After wading through scores of submissions from all over the world, they narrowed the entries down to twenty-five.  Sheree got the enviable job of interviewing the lucky ones that would be featured in Eye on You. Irina’s daughter, Carly, the magazine’s Photographer was to accompany her.

The interviews were to be done over a period of five days on the beautiful island of Jamaica.  In such an inviting and scenic backdrop, the men would be completely relaxed and open up to her.  She had no reason to believe that anything would go wrong.  The weather was pleasant—sunny every day and blue, cloudless skies.  She hadn’t been to the island since she moved to the United States with her parents when she was six years old.  She was looking forward to going although it was a working vacation.

Carly and she were to arrive a day before the bachelors whose expenses were paid by the magazine.  They were to scout the place to see where the interviews could be conducted without any interruptions or distractions and the locations where their photo shoots would be taken.  As they boarded the plane, they began to feel both Nervous and excited.  It wasn’t every day that they were going to interact with twenty-five gorgeous single men.

The men would have leisure time when they were not being interviewed or photographed but they were not allowed to fraternize with any of the female guests staying at the hotel.  It went without saying that Sheree and Carly could not get involved with any of them.  On the last evening there, they would have a celebratory dinner before parting ways. They were to each receive a complimentary copy of the summer issue of the magazine and other gifts, courtesy of Made for Men.

The hotel where they were staying was amazing and the staff was really quite friendly and helpful.  Sheree found quiet spots on the beach and around the hotel where she would do the Interviews and Carly was excited about the locales for her photo shoots.  After they finished getting ready for what would be a busy tomorrow, they spent a couple of hours on the beach before heading back to the hotel for dinner.

After dinner, they both decided that they would turn in early.  The next morning, Sheree got up bright and early and headed down to the café to have breakfast.  Carly joined her a few minutes later.  Over coffee, fruit, scrambled eggs and toast, they went over the day’s itinerary. There were going to be five interviews and five photo shoots–two in the morning and three in the afternoon.  While she interviewed the first Bachelor, Carly got busy taking photos of the other bachelor before his interview. The morning went very well and quickly.

Over lunch Sheree and Carly compared notes.  They both agreed that the two guys from Sweden and Brazil were really, really nice.  “I’m looking forward to meeting the guy from Australia,” Carly said.  “He’s absolutely gorgeous.  I can’t believe that he’s single.”

Sheree’s heart leapt at the mention of the one guy she couldn’t stop thinking about. “I’m looking forward to meeting him too.”

After Lunch, it was time to meet the bachelors from France, Argentina and Australia. The French guy was charming, the Argentinean was a little flirtatious and then it was the Australian’s turn.  Her heart thudded when she walked into the lobby where he was waiting for her.  He was tall and athletic and a sharp dresser in a white linen suit with a Royal blue silk shirt underneath.

The first thought that came to her mind when she saw him was that his picture didn’t do him justice.  She remembered how she had stared at it, unable to look away from those incredible eyes and face.  He was the one she had looked forward to meeting and interviewing but now that they were face to face, it was going to be a problem.  It was going to be hard to act professional with him when she found him so extremely attractive.

Taking a deep breath, she smiled and held out her hand.  “Hi, I’m Sheree Wilson.  I will be interviewing you, Mr. Jones.”

“Please call me Ryder.”  He shook her hand, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sheree.”

The feel of his warm palm against hers sent all sorts of shivers up her spine.  And it took a moment before she could say, “We’ll be doing the interview in the gazebo”

He smiled, releasing her hand.  “Sounds good.”

She could feel him watching her as they made their way to the gazebo and it made her nervous and excited at the same time.  He waited until she was seated before he sat down.  When she crossed her legs, she noticed that his eyes dropped to them momentarily before returning to her face.  Clearing her throat, she began the interview.  “Why you’re still single?”

“I think it’s because I have a tendency to put my career before relationships.  I spend so much time and energy building up the marketing company that I haven’t had time to look.  My sister and some of my friends think I’m picky and they have tried to set me up on dates but I just couldn’t seem to find the time so they gave up until my sister saw your magazine’s search for eligible bachelors and she managed to convince me to send in a bio and photo and was thrilled when I got the call saying that I was one of the twenty-five chosen.  She took me out to celebrate.”

“What about you?  Were you thrilled that you were chosen out of more than one hundred entries?”

He shrugged.  “I guess I was.  It helped to put things in perspective.  Although I like being single, it would be nice to get back into the dating game and meet different types of women.”

“What are you looking for in a woman?”

“Well, I like a woman with character, someone who is genuine and real, who’s not afraid to be herself around me and doesn’t take herself or life too seriously.  She must be affectionate, intelligent, confident, ambitious and humble.  As you can see it’s not about looks for me.  For me true beauty is what’s on the inside.  What matters to me is who a woman is not how she looks.”

She tried not to show how impressed she was with his answer.  The other men she interviewed placed more emphasis on the woman’s looks.  “What is your dream date?”

“I would say, having dinner on the beach, watching the sun set over the ocean and then going for a walk, barefoot in the sand, holding hands.  And at the water’s edge, I take her in my arms and kiss her”

Was it getting a little hot in the gazebo?  She asked him more questions and then she got to the trivial ones.  “Which do you prefer?  Sports or Arts?”

“Both.  I love working out at the gym and playing soccer.  I enjoy going to museums and the opera—when I have time.”

“Boxers or briefs?”

“Boxers.”

“Are you kid or pet person?”

“Both.  I love kids.  I enjoy spoiling my nieces and nephew.  Rover, the family dog and I were thick as thieves.  I was devastated when he died.”

“One last question.  What is the one thing that you think women should know about men but don’t?”

“We like to snuggle too.”

“And that wraps up our interview.  Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.  It was a pleasure getting to know more about you.” She switched off the recorder, sorry that the interview had come to an end.  “I must admit that I enjoyed that very much.  And now, it’s time for you to go and see Carly for your photo shoot.”

“Do I have to go right now or could I take a five minute break?”

She glanced at her watch.  “I guess five minutes wouldn’t hurt.”

“How long have you been working at Eye on You?”

“About two and a half years.”

“Are you married?  Single?”

“I was married but my husband died in 2014.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  If you don’t mind me asking, how did he die?”

“He was a surgeon in Sierra Leone where he was infected with the Ebola Virus.  When I got the call that he was being flown from Freetown in a specially equipped air ambulance for treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center, I made arrangements to take go there.  By the time he arrived in the United States his kidneys weren’t functioning and he was unresponsive.  The doctors worked really hard to save him but it was too late.  The disease was already in its advanced stages.  By the time I got there, he was dead so I never got a chance to say goodbye or tell him that I loved him.  A couple of weeks after the funeral, I sold our house in Maryland and moved to New York.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss.  Do you have any children?”

She shook her head.  “No.  He couldn’t because of an injury.  We talked about adopting, though.  He would have been a terrific father.”

“He died just four years ago which is still fairly recent.  I guess you still haven’t gotten over losing him.”

“I still miss him but my job keeps me busy and I have Friends who are always inviting me out somewhere.  I don’t think I would have fared well if I had remained in Maryland.  I couldn’t stay in the house because it seemed so empty without him.  I think moving to New York was the wisest thing to do.  It made the grief a little more bearable and each year it gets better.  He will always have a special place in my heart.”

“I wish we could stay here a while longer but I think my five minutes are up,” he said regretfully.

She glanced at her watch.  “You’re right.  I’d better take you to Carly now before she begins to wonder where you are.”

After putting her notes and recorder away in her bag, she stood up.  He got up too and for several minutes they stood there, just staring at each other before she walked past him.  He fell into step beside her.

“What are you going to do now?” he asked.

“I am going to interview the Italian guy and after him, the guy from Indonesia.”

“And afterwards?”

“I’ll probably relax by the pool or go up to my room and take a nap.”

He wanted to ask her to meet him for mock-tails after dinner but decided that it would be premature.  They had just met and she was still carrying a torch for her dead husband.  “I guess I won’t see you until tonight at dinner,” he said.

“I guess so,” she said.  She was looking forward to seeing him again.   They were in the lobby now and her next interview was waiting for her.  Turning to Ryder, she held out her hand.  “Thanks for an enjoyable interview.”

He clasped her hand, his eyes riveted to her face.  “It was my pleasure, Sheree,” he said quietly.

She swallowed hard, her heart racing.  “Enjoy the rest of the afternoon,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Thanks.  You too.”  He released her hand and after a lingering gaze, he turned and walked away.

She stood there until he disappeared from view before she went over to the Italian guy.  After introducing herself, she took him to the meeting room where they were to have their interview.  As they walked down the corridor, she couldn’t help thinking about Ryder and how much she was looking forward to seeing him again.

That night at dinner, she couldn’t help glancing surreptitiously over at the table where Ryder was and each time, she found him already looking at her.  There was an attraction there but nothing could come of it.  He was one of the bachelors which meant that under no circumstances could she become involved with him.

All through dinner, she tried to focus on what Carly was saying but she was aware of Ryder at the next table and found herself wishing that she could be alone with him.  Is it wrong for me to feel like this?  Am I betraying Alan and our life together by having feelings for another man—a man I just met today?

“A penny for your thoughts.”  Carly’s voice intruded upon her thoughts, startling her.  “You look like you were miles away.”

“I was just thinking about something.  It’s not important.”

“All right.  I won’t pry.  Do you feel up to going to the beach and watch some limbo dancing?”

Sheree shook her head.  “No, I think I will have an early night.”

“I’ll see you in the morning, then.  Have a good night.”

After dinner, she went up to her room and after spending several minutes on the patio, gazing out at the ocean, she went to bed.  It took a long time for her to fall asleep because all she could think about was Ryder.  She kept reliving the moment when they had stared at each other in the gazebo.  The look on his face…she closed her eyes, trembling at the memory.

She didn’t want to admit it but when she met Alan, she wasn’t attracted to him at first.  It wasn’t until she got to know him that she began to have feelings for him.  With Ryder it was different.  From the time she saw his photo, she was attracted to him and it got very intense when she met him face to face.  He stirred emotions in her that she had never experienced before and that terrified her.  She didn’t want to lose her head over a man she hardly knew or would never see again after this was over.  The best thing for me to do, she decided, is to stay clear of Ryder.  Easier said than done because the next morning, when she was got up early and went down to the beach, she bumped into him…

He was coming out of the ocean, dripping wet when she saw him and immediately, her heart began to pound and her mouth felt dry.  Unable to help herself, her gaze swept over his magnificent body clad in red swimming trunks.  His hair was glistening wetly in the light and rivulets of water were running down his broad chest and flat stomach.  “Good morning,” he called, startling her and her eyes flew up to his face.  “What a pleasant surprise.”

She tried to act nonchalant which required a lot of effort.  “Good morning.  Do-do you usually go for a swim this early?”

He was standing in front of her now and she saw the way his eyes traveled over her.  “Yes.  I like to come to the beach before it gets crowded.  It’s nice and quiet at this time.  How come you’re out here at this hour?”

She shrugged.  “I-I just wanted to take a walk before breakfast.”  She tried to keep her eyes fixed on his face.

He walked over to where his clothes lay in the sand and picked up his towel.  As he dried his skin, he walked back to where she was.  “I’ve never been to Jamaica before but I can see why a lot of my friends come.  It’s a beautiful island.”

“Yes, it is.  I was born here in Montego Bay before I moved to US with my parents when I was six years old.  This is the first time since I left that I have come back here.”

“How come you haven’t been back before now?”

“I have been so busy but I guess I wanted to see other places first.  Alan and I had planned to go on a cruise the following year after he returned from Sierra Leone.”

“I’m sorry that your husband’s untimely death left so many of your plans unfulfilled.”

“Me too.”

“Do you mind if I accompany you on your walk?”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t mind at all.”  Surely, there was no harm in them going for a walk together.

He finished drying his skin and tossed the towel on the sand next to his clothes before they walked along the water’s edge.  “How did you meet your husband?”

“We met at a mutual friend’s wedding.  We sat at the same table at the reception and when we were the only two people left there because everyone had gone dancing, we struck up a conversation.  He was a nice man and when he asked me for my number I didn’t hesitate to give it to him.  We started going out and then a year and a half later, we got married.”

“Were you happy?”

“Yes.  We were happy.  He was a good man and husband.”

“Do you think you will find happiness with someone else?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Before you settled down, did you date a lot?”

She shook her head.  “No, I dated only five men.  They were all nice but I couldn’t see myself being married to any of them.  Over the years, I’ve met all sorts of men.  Some of them were great but I wasn’t attracted to them and others were only interested in one thing.  So, after my relationship with the fifth guy ended, I stopped looking and then I met Alan.”

“My sister has given up trying to find someone.  She told me that she broke up with the last guy because she couldn’t deal with his narcissism.   She felt like she was competing with his ego.”

Sheree laughed.  “Yes, I’ve met guys like that.  Tell her not to despair.  Somewhere out there is the man for her.”

They walked and talked some more and then it was time for her to head back to the hotel, have breakfast and get ready for the first interview of the morning.  When they were standing where his clothes were, he turned to her and asked, “Can we do this again tomorrow morning?”

She knitted her brow.  “Ryder, I don’t think—”

“Please,” he insisted.  “We will just walk and talk like we did today.  I enjoy your company, Sheree.”

“I enjoy yours too,” she admitted.  “All right.  I’ll meet you here tomorrow morning.  Have a good day.”

He smiled.  “Thank you.  You have yourself a good day too.”  He reached for his shirt and pulled it on.

After a lingering glance, she turned and walked away, feeling his eyes on her.  She couldn’t resist turning around to wave at him.  She was looking forward to being alone with him tomorrow morning.

They met the next morning and every morning after that.  Each time, he would be coming out of the ocean after a swim, dry himself off and then they would set off down the familiar stretch of beach where they usually went for their walks.  They talked about all sorts of things and she laughed at some of his stories about his family, friends and dates gone wrong.  She enjoyed being with him and looked forward to their morning meetings.

On the last morning before they were to leave the island, they went for their usual walk.  This time the mood was heavy.  After today, she was never going to see him again.  The reality of this thought filled her with despair and her feet dragged in the sand.  When he stopped and they stood there at the water’s edge, the water lapping at their feet, he turned to her, his expression tense.  “I’m going to miss this,” he said tightly.  “I’m going to miss our walks on the beach and our conversations.”

She swallowed hard, thankful that she was wearing sunglasses so that he couldn’t see her shiny eyes.  “I’m going to miss them too.”

“Sheree, you must know by now that I’m extremely attracted to you.”

She nodded.  It was no use pretending that she didn’t.  She could tell by the way he looked at and acted around her.  She was sure that her feelings for him were obvious to him too.  “Yes, I—I do.”

“And I know that you are attracted to me too.  I can tell from the way you look at me and I can feel it.  Oh, Sheree,” he moaned and reaching for her, he pulled her against him, his eyes darkening on her face.

Panicking, she struggled against him, her eyes wide as they met his.  “Ryder, please let go of me.”

His grip tightened as he tried to hold her still.  “Stop fighting something that is stronger than both of us.”

“Ryder, we can’t get involved with each other,” she protested weakly, her heart pounding heavily in her chest but the hands that were supposed to be pushing him away were gripping his shirt.  She watched, mesmerized as his face got closer to hers and her eyes fell shut when she felt his lips on hers, teasing them and tormenting her.

Desire surged through her like a wild fire and she was kissing him back like a mad woman.  They stood there exchanging hot, searing kisses for a long time before he broke it off to bury his face in her neck, breathing heavily.  She clung to him, trembling like a leaf and gasping for air.

After a few moments passed, he raised his head to gaze down at her.  “When this is all over, I want us to finish what we started,” he muttered thickly.

“But you’ll be in Sydney and I’ll be in New York.”

“As soon as I sort out my business back home, I’m taking the first available flight to New York.”

“You would fly all that way just-just to see me?”

“Yes!  I would fly to the end of the world if I had to.  Now that I’ve met you, I can’t let distance keep me from you.  I will come to you.”

“And I will be waiting.”

He bent his head and kissed her again before they continued walking along the beach, his arm around her shoulders and hers around his waist.  They parted ways on the beach and she was in her room when he left for the airport.  On the flight back to New York, she told Carly everything and she was thrilled.  “I suspected that there was something between you two,” she said.  “Don’t worry about Mom.  I will sort it out with her.  It won’t be the end of the world if we end up with twenty-four bachelors instead of twenty-five.”

Sheree squeezed her hand.  “Thanks, Carly.”

Carly smiled.  “I’m a romantic at heart.”

As soon as Sheree got home, she sent an email to Ryder letting him know that she had arrived safely and waited eagerly to receive a reply which came the following day.  Over the next several weeks, she busied herself putting together the feature in the magazine.  Initially, Irina wasn’t thrilled that they were minus a bachelor, especially, the hottest one, in her opinion but, she didn’t want to stand in the way of Sheree’s happiness.  Sheree learned that once Ryder had been notified that he wouldn’t be featured in the magazine, he reimbursed them for the travel and hotel expenses.

Ryder and she exchanged emails every day and occasionally spoke on the telephone.  It had been several weeks since they last saw each other and she kept wondering when he would eventually come to New York.  Weeks turned into months and still no sign of him although they kept in touch via email.

It was Christmas Eve and she was about to fix herself some lunch when the doorbell rang.  She dried her hands in the towel hanging on the oven handle and went to see who it was.  Her heart somersaulted when she peered out of the keyhole, bursting with excitement and joy, she unlocked the door and tugged it open.  Her eyes slipped eagerly over his tall frame in the black winter coat with the fur trimmed collar and hood.  “Hello,” she greeted him.

He smiled that smile which made her knees go weak, pulled her into his arms and kissed her.  “Sorry it took so long for me to come,” he said after a while.

“You’re here just in time to celebrate Christmas,” she said.  “Come in and warm yourself.”  She opened the door wider so that he could go in.  She took his coat and hung it up while he removed his shoes.

“Where’s your luggage?” she asked.

“I dropped it off at the corporate apartment where I will be staying before coming over here to see you.”

Taking his hand, she led him into the living-room and invited him to sit on the sofa.  “I was just about to have lunch.  Are you hungry?”

He nodded. “A little.  Do you know what time it is now in Sydney?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“It’s two in the morning.  We’re 14 hours ahead.  It’s one of the things I had to factor in my decision to move here.”

She gaped at him.  “Move here?”

“Yes.  I’m going to be living in New York now that I am the new Director of our office here.”

“When did you decide to move to New York?”

“On the morning we said goodbye on the beach.  I knew then that I couldn’t go back to my life in Sydney when the woman I wanted to be with was in New York.  So, I made all the necessary arrangements and here I am to finish what we started in Montego Bay.”

Her response was to put her arms around his neck and kiss him.  Two years later, their unfinished business ended in marriage and their honeymoon was in Montego Bay where it all began.

Sources:  The Guardian; Just Mommies; Prokerala; The Washington Post; The 416 Magazine; Elite Daily; Thought CatalogHalf Moon;