#BlogBattle 67: Tea – My Cup of Tea

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

Recently a friend of mine was surprised when they found out I had begun writing. Since then, they have been encouraging me to continue participating in the blogbattles. Surprisingly, I found they have some writing skills of their own. This story is our collaboration.

This Week’s Word: Tea

Genre: Drama/Romance

My Cup of Tea

The whistle breaks the silence of the day. Patrick walks over to the stove, turns the gas off, and removes the kettle from the front burner. He walks over to the kitchen table, already having placed his last tea bag in his cup, he slowly pours the water filling the cup just below the brim. Returning the kettle and its remaining contents to the stove, Patrick finally sits down to begin his ritual of preparing his tea just right, when he pauses in mid-lift. He soaks in the quietness, as he recalls the bustling activities of the last few days.

His daughter, Jasmine, caught her flight back home this morning, making quite the fuss about wanting to stay longer, but having so much on her plate back at work. Just this morning alone, he assured her a dozen times that he would be fine. But would he. How could he be so sure, this was all new territory. The truth was, he had never buried a wife before. Never been forced to say goodbye to the love of his life. Never experienced this home without her lovely voice filling up the rooms. And he had never had his afternoon tea without her pleasant conversation as the main dish, but he was about to for the very first time. He lowers the tea bag back into his cup, as the first tear runs down the side of his cheek.

He had hidden this last tea bag, so that the guests in the house would not indulge in it. He knew he would need something special to get him through these first lonely hours. It was her favorite after all, Chocolate Chai Tea. Who was he kidding, he liked it just as much as she did; them both being chocolate lovers. Yet he always let her have the last tea bag. Every…single…time, until today.

He adds a splash of milk, and a little bit of sugar, finishing it just the way they both liked it. Raising the cup he allows the steam to dance around his nose, until the decadent smell of chocolate overtakes his senses. With the first sip of chocolate mingled with spice, he closes his eyes, and just like that, he is taken back to a few weeks before when they sat in this very spot planning their next trip. Actually, every trip they had ever taken had been planned at this very table over a cup of tea. She was the planner, the one who wanted to see the world. “So much good stuff to see Patrick,” she would tell him during the planning phase. He was the homebody type, he had seen more than he wanted at an early age. He became her designated driver, and went along with whatever she planned.

Taking another drink, the irony was not lost on him that he could now remain safely home, where he had always preferred. But now, she was on a long trip alone, without him.

Their next trip was to see their eldest daughter, and her kids. Angela was beaming with joy. She loved those grandkids, and loved spoiling them more. Now that they were teenagers, she knew they would be heading out on their own adventures soon, so this trip was going to be big!! She talked about the sights they would see, the things they would do. How she would take them shopping and what she would buy them. She understood the younger generation and what they liked, and she knew exactly where to look and how to find the bargains. That’s what he loved about her most, she didn’t have to worry about trying to stretch a dime, but she did it anyway. She once told him that was her contribution, he made the money, she made it stretch. With another drink, a smile crosses his lips, all he ever wanted to do was make her happy. After all, she was his angel.

That’s what he called her the first time he met her. The local Y hosted a Military Dance the night before a new group of young men, fresh from boot camp, were to be shipped out on their first tour in Vietnam. He recalls the moment he saw her, as she walked in, dressed in white, her reddish brown hair hanging down her back shimmering like silk. She was a vision, an object of desire by many of the boys in uniform who couldn’t take their eyes off of her. It didn’t faze her one bit, she was having too much fun with her group of friends. She politely turned down most of the requests for dances, and if she did dance with a soldier, it was always to an upbeat tune, never a slow dance. Patrick spent most of his time just watching her, talking and laughing, deciding which boy she would dance with next. He was smitten.

After a long set of more upbeat songs, the music slowed, the easy melody of “Something” by the Beatles filled the room. Without hesitation, yet with the grace of a dancer, she walked right up to him and said, “Hello Soldier, may I have this dance?”

With a smile on his face that he could not contain, she took him by the hand and led him to the dance floor. Yes, I am the luckiest guy in this room, he thought at the time. All eyes were on them as they found a clearing on the floor. She turned to him, took his hand, and placed it firmly on the small of her back. Together they began to sway to the music, their bodies brushing up against each other. He remembered how they had danced the entire song without a word spoken. When the next song began, they remained in each other’s grasp, but neither moved an inch. He introduced himself, gazing into her green eyes that sparkled with flecks of gold, “My name is Patrick, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you Patrick, I’m Angela.”

“Well Angela, that’s a perfect name. Dressed in all white, moving across the floor like you do, you look like an Angel.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any angel dressed in a mini skirt and go-go boots,” she tilted her head and laughed so sweet it filled his soul.

“Well, God does work in mysterious ways,” matching her laugh with one of his own.

That one song brought them together, and they remained inseparable the rest of the night talking, and dancing. The night came to an end with a long hug and a slow kiss filled with promise of a future, because if he did survive, he knew she was the one. It was a night he would never forget. His last night in the states, yet it was made special by a beautiful girl, who promised to write. A girl he knew he would think about to get him through his upcoming days.

She did in fact become his angel, by keeping that promise and writing him beautiful letters. Her words reminded him of the beauty that still existed in this world despite the horror that he was seeing daily. While he wrote of those horrors and the difficulty others were having keeping their human spirit intact, her letters bought calm to him at night and allowed him to get a few hours of peace in the middle of his hell. With each and every new letter, she talked about home, about making a home for the two of them, and about seeing all the beautiful places that still existed. She would always end those letters with the knowledge, that even she could not explain, that he would survive, and would come home, back to her. Her love scrolled across paper made everything better, she made him believe that he would be fine and they would have a beautiful future together. Her words cleansed him each time he read them, making him able to fully devote his life to her. For she had saved the boy in the war, and allowed a man to come home.

Laughter from outside stirred him back to reality. He turns towards the window and takes in the laughter as it passes and fades. He realizes that there will be no happy trip now, or ever again; at least not together. He takes a shallow breath in and slowly exhales saying, “Oh Angel, how will I ever get through these days without you here with me?”

He lifts his cup, another taste, another memory. A long missing laugh escapes his mouth. He remembers those letters, not hers this time, but his letters. He had always asked her that very question each day he wrote to her. “How will I ever get through these days without you here with me?” Her response was always the same, “You will, because I am there with you, I will always be there with you, right in your heart. My love will protect you and bring you back home.” He hears those words in his head as clearly as if she were sitting right there. He closes his eyes, and he sees her, just as beautiful as the day he met her. He leans his head as if listening to music He begins to softly hum “Something.”

He looks into his almost empty cup, bringing it to his lips, he closes his eyes to savor these last drops in his mouth. He reaches his hand across the table. A wide smile overtakes his face, as his out stretched hand gives a squeeze. He speaks out softly, “Yes, Angel, you already know don’t you, just like you always have. I will be just fine.” He gets up and takes his cup to the kitchen sink. “That is good to know.” He places the cup in the sink, “It has always been good to know.”

 © 2016

#BlogBattle 65: Bathtub – The Life of Vivian Buchanan

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This week’s word:  Bathtub

Genre:  Drama/Romance

The Life of Vivian Buchanan

The realtor is waiting for Mark and Jennifer on the front stairs as they approach the house. They are looking to purchase a house to renovate. Over the years, Jennifer knew which house was right for them, she could feel it and Mark always deferred to her. But this time it’s different. They are purchasing a house that they will renovate together. Mark is the professional when it comes to renovating, so Jennifer needs to defer to his knowledge this time, and not what makes her feel good.

The realtor introduces himself as Steve Ramsey and begins to rattle off facts about the house non-stop. He’s not an unlikable guy, but does have the aura of a used car salesman. The first thing that comes out of his mouth as they enter the home is, “I’ve got to tell you folks up front, the house could be haunted. Several people have bought it, and started renovating it, but just stop for some reason, and turn around and sell it.”

It’s amazing Jennifer gets a word in edgewise, but she insists, “Maybe it’s not haunted, maybe the right people just haven’t bought it.” As they continue to look around each room.

“You might be right. Story goes that something tragic happened in this house, there are all kinds of urban legends floating around, ranging from a jealous husband, to jewels being stolen, to just about anything you can imagine. If you Google it, you’ll be swamped with results. But one of the previous owners has compiled some factual documents that you’ll get if you happen to purchase the house.”

Mark walks up to Jennifer and rests his hand on the back of her neck, leans in and says quietly in her ear, “Sounds like the makings of a good story.” With that he kisses her on the temple, takes her hand and gives it a squeeze as they go into the next room.

Steve does get quiet at some point as they move from room to room. Just pointing out all the things that sell a house. Most of the rooms are not done, and the ones that are renovated are not complete. It’s like in the middle of the workday, the workers just dropped everything and ran out.

They make it up to the top floor, half the area is taken up by this lavish bathroom, or at least it was at one time. The old claw foot bathtub sits under a huge stained glass window. Steve chimes in, “Pretty extravagant huh? Story goes the husband built this bathroom just for his wife, Vivian, to have a place to pamper herself so that she would stay young and beautiful just for him. He supplied her with the finest of soaps, lotions and perfumes, and allowed her the time every night without interruption to pamper herself.”

As Steve tells the story, Jennifer walks over and runs her fingers over the porcelain of the tub. The energy coming off of it is very strong, and it fluctuates from positive to negative. She doesn’t let on to her husband what she has felt. Just then he looks at her and says, “This would make a nice space for you to write, what do you think? Or…we can restore it and keep it as a lavish bathroom just for you, so you can pamper yourself and keep yourself young and beautiful just for me.” Waggling his eyebrows.

She gives him a playful push, laughing at the very thought of pampering herself, and knowing he is teasing her, she replies, “Oh yeah, right.”

“Well if you folks do buy it, you can restore it any way you want, and it will be beautiful, it’s a real gem.”

“I know it is.” Mark replies, knowing that they will be buying it. His wife has spent the last half-hour, touching and looking at every detail. Now she is standing in the middle of this bathroom, with her arms folded across her midsection like she’s giving herself a hug. Yeah, she’s home.

“And yes, we will be buying it.”  He adds.  When she hears that, she looks at him, and gives him the smile that is just reserved for him. As she walks towards the window she gives her hips an little extra sway just for him to show her appreciation, knowing that neither one of them are listening to the realtor as he goes on and on about how happy he is.

~ * ~

One day during demolition, Mark calls Jennifer upstairs. The walls have been demoed down to the studs, with the removal of the plaster and lath, half the floor is removed. She walks in and he is standing over a hole in the floor, right in front of the tub. He points down, and says, “Thought you might like to see this.”

“Mark, it better not be anything creepy.” She walks over, hesitantly peeking into the hole. But what she sees, she gasps, and falls to her knees and begins pulling out several old dusty journals. She opens one and skims over the first few pages. “Mark, oh my gosh, this is incredible. These are hers!! These belonged to Vivian.”

As she proceeds to get up, she cradles the journals in one arm, and rests her other hand on the edge of the tub to help herself up, but the energy is so strong that she has to pull it away. Mark asks, “Are you alright honey?”

“Yes. Uh Sweetheart, I need this tub to stay in one piece when you remove it, can you do that?”

He knows the look, rubs the back of his neck, and hesitantly says, “yes…and what would you like us to do with it?”

“Put it on the back screened in porch, please.” The two other guys working with him give him a look, and he just says, “You heard the lady.”

Before she leaves, she walks up to him, and kisses him on the lips. Not just a peck, but a passionate kiss filled with so much love and gratitude, it makes one of the guys let out a slow whistle. When she steps back she looks him in the eye, caresses his cheek and whispers, “Thank you.”

She spends her days poring over the journals while she sits in the bathtub. The energy that flows around her from the tub allows her to absorb every detail, she feels every emotion pulling at her heart, as she reads the life of this woman. Sometimes it is so overwhelming, the sadness, that she doesn’t know if she could give this woman’s story justice. But the nudge on her conscience makes her realize this story must be told.

As the renovation continues, they encounter some trouble as the inspector threatens to shut them down, on an unmerited violation, even though they have completed more work than most.  It doesn’t make any sense to Mark, but he sees what he can do to comply.

Jennifer has read some of the documents that were provided by the previous owner, which confirms that the inspector is one of those treasure hunters. This turn of events leads her to believe that there is, in fact, treasure here, and that they must be getting close.

While reading the journals one day, she falls asleep but is awakened with a start as one of the journals falls from the table, next to where she is sitting, and opens to a page. She begins reading, and everything is explained.

What she finds is that Vivian was in love with someone else, and planned to leave her husband. The other journal entries alluded to a narcissistic man, but he was pure evil. He lead everyone to believe that he inherited a handful of 2-carat blood red rubies, 6 of them to be exact. One night Vivian got him drunk and somewhat seduced him into telling her the truth. As his great-grandmother was nearing her end, he coerced her into changing her will, appointing him the sole heir of the jewels. Then he killed her. When any one of the rightful heirs tried to disprove his theory, he made their lives miserable.

Vivian planned her escape by taking the jewels and hiding them in the library, She wrote the whole plan in her journal. On the night of the escape, she secured the journals under the floorboards in her bathroom, in the event something happened to her the truth would be known.

Jennifer closes the journal and grabs the folder with the documents in it. She sifts through them until she finds a newspaper clipping folded in half. When she unfolds it the headline reads Tragic Accident at the Buchanan Home. She scans over the article to where it says Vivian Buchanan was found dead in her bathtub. With a hand to her mouth, she gasps, and whispers, “then that means….” She drops the paper, and rushes into the house calling for her husband, “Mark!!”

© 2016 Carrie Ann

#BlogBattle 63: Hero – A Hero Isn’t Just a Sandwich

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This week’s word:  Hero

Genre:  Contemporary

A Hero Isn’t Just a Sandwich

This trip is long overdue. The last time we took such a trip was five years ago, right after I graduated college. It’s our thing, my dad and I; we are in search of the perfect Hero Sandwich. Oh, we currently have a top five, but each trip we take changes that, we haven’t found one yet, to hold the top spot for any length of time.

It’s a perfect weekend; the weather is beautiful. This is a two-fold trip. Since I will be moving to New York City to start my new job in the next couple of weeks, we are going to check on my new apartment, and take a few things down there. While we’re in the city, we’ll also check out the local delis for that perfect sub. It’s only a two hour drive from our home in New Haven, Connecticut, but that’s long enough, now that dad is getting older. Since we both enjoy driving so much, we split the time evenly; dad is taking the first leg of the trip. During our trips, sometimes we talk, other times we just enjoy the scenery. The radio is on, quietly tuned to an oldies station. Every so often I glance over at my dad, the look of contentment on his face makes me feel calm and secure. Always the proud military veteran, his ever-present Marine Corp hat rests on his head.

In spite of his stringent military persona, he has always been there for me, comforting me, encouraging me, pushing me when I wanted to give up. It’s who he is, the inner honor and valor radiates from him, so much so that you can’t help but admire him. He truly is my hero.

***

The ride was very enjoyable. We talked about our favorite sports teams, current events, and what this new job will entail. Once seated at the Deli, we continue our discussion.

“Addie, I want you to know, I’m very proud of you. You set out to reach a goal, and you accomplished it. This job is exactly what you need.” My dad says his voice full of pride.

“Thanks dad. I hate that I’ll be farther away from you though.”

“Oh, nonsense. I’ll be fine; your brothers are still around. Plus it’s actually a nice little trip to take.” He argues.

“I’ll be sure to do that as often as I can.” Realizing how much I’ll miss him.

“You just concentrate on you, sweetheart, and while we’re on the subject…I also want to let you know that I am so glad you aren’t dating that musician fella anymore.”

With a laugh I say, “Uh, dad, I don’t think we were on that subject.”

“Of course we were.”

“OK dad, but you know, civilians really aren’t that bad. The chances of me ending up with a military guy are pretty slim.” I try to convince him, but know it’s no use.

“I can always hope, sweetie.” He says with a smile. “It’s just that those musician types have lofty goals. You need someone in your life who has a good work ethic, he doesn’t have to be military, it would be nice. But you know yourself, how hard work and dedication pays off, look at what you have accomplished. I just want you to be happy Addie.” He says stating his case.

“I know dad, and I am. Can we change the subject now?”

“Sure. How about dessert? What shall we try today?”

Just as we look over the dessert menu, a man approaches our table, and addresses my dad with a quiet, yet confident ‘Semper Fi’, as he extends his hand to my dad. My dad reaches out, and gives him a firm shake, echoing the ‘Semper Fi’.

As many times as this scene has played out in front of me, I am still in awe at the unspoken camaraderie between soldiers. Gives me goose bumps every time. Or maybe it’s the tall, handsome man standing in front of me. Not that I notice his strong physique, his sun kissed blonde hair, or the way his jeans sit low on his waist. My lascivious musings are interrupted when he speaks.

Introducing himself with a salute, “Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Stevens, one tour in Afghanistan, two tours in Iraq” My dad follows suit, “General David Morgan,Vietnam. At ease. Why don’t you join us.”

“Oh, I’d hate to interrupt anymore than I already have.” Ryan replies politely.

“No interruption at all, we were just going to order dessert. This is my daughter, Adelaide Morgan, she’s starting a new job working in the Chrysler Building.” My dad says not withholding his fatherly pride.

We both reach out to shake each other’s hands, holding on a second longer as I get lost in the dreamy pools of his eyes. Ryan speaks first, “Pleasure to meet you Adelaide. What a beautiful name.”

“Thank you, it’s nice to meet you too, Lieutenant Colonel.” I say respecting his position, but really trying to get a grip, because good gravy, the man is gorgeous.

“Oh, just call me Ryan, I’m retired now. Entering back into the civilian world. Believe it or not, I also work at the Chrysler Building.”

“You don’t say,” my dad replies before I can. I look over at him and see the subtle yet satisfied grin on his face, and can’t help but think, what a great idea this trip was.

 

© 2016 Carrie Ann

#BlogBattle: Photograph – Week 62 – The Truth Will Set You Free

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

This is a story that I started as part of a writing exercise created by the illustrious Candice Coates.  The original was just a thought, hope this revised edition is an improvement.

This week’s word:  Photograph

Genre:  Drama

 The Truth Will Set You Free

I thought if I could just keep moving forward. Focus on the future and not dwell on a past that I couldn’t remember. There was a part of me that I knew nothing about. I tried to not let it bother me, but it did sometimes, all on its own. I just don’t know where to find the answers, but I need to find them. It isn’t just affecting me, but it’s affecting the people around me as well. After another failed relationship, resulting in me needing to move out, I find myself today, packing up my things, again. My cousin Joseph is here to help me, I will be moving in with him until I can find a place of my own.

“Hey, Alex, I found this box in the basement with your name on it, what’s in it?” He carries the box over to me and sets it on the table.

“I don’t know, I never looked, it’s from Grandfather.”

“He’s been gone for five years now, why haven’t you looked at it yet?” Joseph questions.

“It’s probably just a bunch of the stuff he collected thinking I’d want it some day, I just never got around to it.” I say as I continue to box up some books.

“Remember how him and Uncle Charlie would play cards all Sunday afternoon? With a bottle of Smirnoff perched in the middle of the table to be shared between them.” Joseph laughs at the memory.

“Oh, but when they brought out the bottle of Wyborowa Blue Vodka, things got real interesting.”

My grandfather always told stories, he had such a vivid imagination. His stories always entertained us, we never knew if they were true or not, or if they were the mutterings of too much vodka and longing for home.

When the bottle of Wyborowa was empty, it was then that they would sit quietly and talk between them, speaking only in Polish, knowing we couldn’t understand them. I rarely heard the foreign language, it was just how it was, once your feet hit the shores of America, you left your old life behind, and painstakingly learned the English language, never indulging in your foreign tongue…unless your soul held secrets.

“Well, I guess it’s time I should see what’s inside.” I slide the box over in front of me and opened it up.

“Yeah, maybe there’s something important, why else would he give only you a box of stuff, I didn’t get a box.” Joseph grumbles.

I open it up, and just as I thought. Several decks of cards, some shot glasses, the pocketknife he always carried with him, that could be useful, I take it out and slip it in my jeans. At the bottom are two envelopes, one holds some kind of journal and the other has photos and newspaper clippings. I hold up the newspaper article and show it to Joseph, “It’s in Polish, that’s just like grandfather to give me something I can’t even read.” I shake my head.

I pull out some of the photos, the pictures were old, possibly foreign, one drops to the floor. I pick up the photograph and hold it in my hand, I can’t take my eyes off of it.  It seems familiar.

“Alex, what is it? Do you recognize these?” Joseph inquires eyeing me strangely.

“It’s…it’s almost like déjà vu…but stronger. Joseph, I think I took this photograph, but how? Why?”

“Look at the journal, see what it says. Let’s hope it isn’t in Polish.” Joseph says in jest as he hands me the envelope. I pull out the journal, there’s a lose piece of paper tucked in between the pages. I unfold it. It’s an official document from Poland. As I look closer I realize it must be a birth certificate. In large letters it reads: Alesky Zwierzchowski, and I recognize the date, it’s my birth date. Could this be my birth certificate?

I skim through the pages, I recognize my grandfather’s handwriting. I begin reading one of the entries.

Today is not such a good day. Those men demanded that Alesky give them the photographs that he took, but he refused. I love that boy more than life itself, but he knows no fear, and thinks he can change this evil world we live in with his camera, but it is not that simple. Alesky left the house before I returned home, he went to meet with these men. I knew where they would be, just as I got there, I saw one of the men strike Alesky on the head with a metal pipe, and when he fell to the ground the sound of his skull as it struck the concrete is something I will never forget. He was in and out of consciousness, I knew this was bad. I had no choice but to defend my grandson. I only meant to injure the man, but he dropped to the ground lifeless, the other man could not run away fast enough. I then took Alesky home, and called the doctor.

I turn the page to read another entry.

Alesky’s head injuries were severe, even though he is completely healed, the doctor said that he would not remember anything. My father told me to take him to America, where my brother already lived. He explained that when we enter at Ellis Island we give them our names in Polish. When they record our names in the manifest, they will be spelled the way they sound in English, which does not resemble our name in Polish. The Polish language has it’s own alphabet. It will be like we are given a new identity. It is a perfect opportunity for us to start a new life and never be found. We leave tomorrow.

My mind is reeling after reading this, I look at the photograph again and the memory and images all come flooding back. The two men demanding the photographs, I can feel the pain from each blow that I took, as well as the final jolt as my head hit the pavement. I subconsciously rub my head as if to relieve the pain, in my mind’s eye I see the man fall lifeless to the ground.

I look up at Joseph, he is speechless. I hand him the journal for him to see for himself. I examine the birth certificate again. They were right about the recording of the names, this has to be mine, my American birth certificate reads Alex Wiscoski, close enough.

I drop it on the table and put my head in my hands. I rub my temples trying to alleviate the ache that is trying to take hold. All I can think of is all these years…all these years, the truth was right here.

Joseph closes the journal and returns it to the box and says, “Well. I guess that answers a lot of your questions.”

I drop my hands and look at him blankly, “Yes. But it sure brings up a bunch more. Maybe it was better not knowing.” I reply.

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts. This is just a piece of the truth, find the whole truth, and I bet it will set you free. At least that is what they say.” Joseph shrugs.

I mumble to myself, “That is what they say.” Trying to convince myself that this is a good thing, as I put everything back in the box to be explored another day.

© 2016 Carrie Ann

Check out Candice’s Blog here.

#BlogBattle: Surfer – Week 61 – Ride the Wave

🙂 Tuesday = #Blogbattle

#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration.  Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey.  Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.

The frequency of the BlogBattle has changed to twice a month.  I have missed out on quite a few, and this is coming in under the wire.  Even though I had more time, I still waited to the last minute 😐  So good to be writing again, after such a long break from it.

This week’s word:  Surfer

Genre:  Romance

 Ride the Wave

After a long day in the Salon, Nita finds herself in the break room finishing up a sandwich she started several hours earlier. With pen in hand, she goes over her list of things to pack for her trip, when Michael walks in.

“So tomorrow’s the big day, you excited?”

“Sure, who wouldn’t be excited to go on a beach vacation with a handsome guy.”

“mmm-hmmm…not buying it. I know that look. Stop over thinking Apple Slice. You’re allowed to have fun, and you deserve this get-away. You’ve been busting that little tushie of yours since Cosmetology school.”

“I know, you’re right.” Nita laments

“Of course I am. But you’re not convinced. Spill it, what’s bothering you?”

“This is kinda a big deal don’t you think? I mean Jason is wonderful, and I enjoy spending time with him, but it’s a vacation. We’ll be in a gorgeous place, right on the beach, being able to do whatever we want to. Not having to deal with any day to day pressures.”

“Yeah…so…that’s what a vacation is.” Michael nods his head.

“Ugh Michael…Do I have to spell it out?”

“Uh…obviously.” He holds his hands out palms upward and shakes his head.

It won’t be real. This isn’t a glimpse into what our life would be like. How do I know that I can trust what I feel, or that he’s being genuine?

“Oh Sugar Plum, you cannot compare this to what your sister went through. Not all guys are jerks. There are quite a few of the good ones left. Stop thinking and just enjoy yourself.”

“I know, I know. I guess it’s difficult since we haven’t really defined our relationship. Do people actually do that? I feel like I’m in high school, like I’m waiting for him to “ask me out” she says punctuating the last part in air quotes. “I mean, I know he isn’t seeing anyone else, but he hasn’t actually referred to me as his girlfriend.” Nita explains.

“I think it is safe to say you’re his girlfriend. You’ve been together for like what…five months? He’s taking you to his Class Reunion, and you’re staying on a beautiful beach with his friends, AND you’re flying in the private jet, a perk from his job.”

Nita let’s out a quiet groan. “I forgot about that, one of the conditions of that perk is that he has to attend a meeting while we’re there. What I’m I going to do while he’s at his meeting?”

“Nothing…sit on the beach, read a book, listen to music, watch a movie. I give you permission to have fun Sweet Pea.” Michael pleads.

He stands in front of her, takes her by the hands and lifts her off her chair, then says, “Now go, finish packing, get some sleep. Me and the Salon will be here when you get back.” He wraps his arms around her and gives her a reassuring hug.

She hugs him back, and steps away from him. She is about to walk out the door, but turns back with a finger raised in question.

Michael stops her with a raised hand and closes his eyes. He nods and says, “I know, I know you’ll miss me, but resist the urge to text me. But…if you need me Gingersnap, I’m just a text away. You’ll be fine…Go!! Have fun!!

Nita smiles, waves her farewell, and heads home.

~~~

The plane was incredible, Nita was so out of her element. But Jason made her feel comfortable and at ease by telling her stories of his High School days, and all the trouble him, and his friends got into. They’ll be staying with Jason’s friend Jack and his wife, Emma, in their summer home.

They pull up to a fairly large, beautifully landscaped Spanish style home. Nita takes in every detail of the house, the stucco walls, the tile roof, the arches around the doors and windows, once the beauty of it all registers in her brain, she stops on the sidewalk and closes her eyes, letting the sound of the ocean waves wash over her. At that moment, all her stress and worry evaporates in the salty air.

Jason had kept walking towards the front door, when he realizes Nita has stopped, he turns around and just looks at her for a moment before he quietly says, “Nita, you ready to go inside?”

A little embarrassed at her reaction, she nervously laughs and enthusiastically says, “Yes…sorry, it’s all so beautiful.”

He takes her hand and says, “It is. Don’t apologize, I enjoyed seeing your reaction, I guess growing up around this I take it for granted, I need to stop and enjoy it more. Come on, I can’t wait for you to meet Jack and Emma.”

They enter the house, boisterous greetings and introductions are made in the midst of affectionate embraces, that includes Nita as if she has known them all her life as well. They spend some time relaxing and catching up before Nita and Jason head upstairs to get ready for the Reunion dinner. Jason showers quickly, and takes his clothes with him downstairs to change into later, giving Nita time and privacy to get ready. Before he leaves, he wraps his arms around her waist and says, “I’m glad you’re here with me.” Giving her a kiss that is filled with appreciation and desire.

Reluctantly Nita pulls away, looking into his eyes she replies, ”I’m glad to be here.” Smiling she says, “Now go, so I can get ready.” She gives him a playful push.

As Nita admires herself in the mirror, there’s a tap at the door, Jason slowly opens it as he steps in the room, he inquires “Nita, are you ready?” Not quite articulating the last word. Nita turns to face him with her arms spread, her gesture asking what do you think?

“Nita…wow…you look….wow.” With his hand on his chest, Jason stammers as he walks into the room.

Laughing, Nita closes the gap between them and says, “You don’t look too bad yourself” as she straightens his tie and smoothes the lapels of his suit coat. “Shall we go?”

“Yes. But first, so we’re clear, I will introduce you as my girlfriend tonight, there will be no mistaking who the most gorgeous woman in the room is with.” He brushes the hair from her eyes and says, “I really want to kiss you right now, but I don’t want to ruin your lipstick.”

With a mischievous grin she says, “I have no problem with you ruining my lipstick,” then whispers, “just don’t ruin my mascara.” With that she lightly touches her lips to his; a prayer sealed with a kiss.

~~~

After a late night filled with great food, good friends, music and a whole lot of reminiscing, their morning starts with, “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!!” Jack is leaning over Jason, lightly slapping his cheek.

Jason grabs his wrist to stop him and growls, “Dude.”

Jack replies, “Dude!! It’s time to ride the waves…be down in 10.”

By now Nita is awake, “What was that all about?”

“Surfing. Jack wants to go surfing. Sorry about that. You and Emma can meet us there later, if I don’t get down there, he’ll come back…even more annoyingly.”

Emma and Nita make it down to the beach, they spread out their blankets and watch as Jack and Jason expertly ride a wave. “Wow, I didn’t know Jason was a surfer, they’re pretty good.”

“Yeah, they actually are still pretty good. That’s all they did the summer after our senior year, I loved to watch Jack surf, still do.” Emma says wistfully. “But I have to say, I like to watch this part even more.” She nudges Nita and nods her head towards the water. Just then Jack and Jason jog out of the water, surf boards in hand, drops of salty seawater dotting their tanned skin, as they walk towards the girls stretched out on the blankets.

Nita replies, “You know you’re right.” They both laugh as Nita thinks to herself, Best. Vacation. Ever.

© 2016 Carrie Ann