Chapter 2: From Baja to Bahamas - The first meeting

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 372

Chapter 2

 

The sign above the door read, “RESTAURANTE.”  The patrons inside were native Mexico, save for the couple in the corner booth.

Max sipped his coffee and grimaced, nodding toward Sam’s tea.  “Yours?”

“Same,” answered Sam as she sipped.  “Nothing a little condensed milk can’t cure.” 

“Sure.  Pick your poison.”  Max slid the creamer across to her.  “Why is it just when you need a good cup, you end up with the worst cup of all?”

“Conspiracy,” said Sam, looking reconciled to the fact that they were experiencing her worst enemy about now.

“Conspiracy?” questioned Max.

“Boredom, honey.  You know what I mean.  Boredom.”

“Oh, that.  Hell of thing to say on our Honeymoon,” quipped Max.

Sam poured the cream, looked out the window at the sand, dust and more sand that stretched as far as the eye could see.  “You know me.”

“I should.  You still don’t have to be so…”

Sam patted his hand.  “I’m sorry.  You’re right.  It’s just… it’s just the long drive.”

Max took back the cream and poured a dose into his coffee.  “I tried to get you to fly, but…”

“But I don’t trust Mexican airlines.  Right.”

Max took a deep breath.  “All because of a scare long ago.  You’re a grown up.  Let it go Sam.”

Suddenly, Sam wasn’t staring anymore.  The smile on her face was the kind of smile reserved for only the bravest of men, the kind that is at once seductive, powerful and controlling.  “My God, Max.  If I was grown up I wouldn’t have met you and fallen in love with you… and you… wouldn’t have such a terrifically boring wife of just 24 hours.”

Max reached across and gently touched her cheek.  “Boring?  Did I ever say you were boring?”

Sam removed his hand and smiled softly.  “Do you have any idea how much you mean to me?”  Her eyes were childlike, reminding Max once again just how frail and exposed she could be.  Suddenly, as if fully aware of her vulnerability, “I have a wonderful idea.  I’ll be…”

Max pressed his finger to her lips.  “Good idea?  I want to be with Sam.  Just Sam.  OKAY?”

“Oh, darling.  What would Sam be without Samantha?”

Trying his own form of seduction, he held his position, “She would be the person I married, not the person the public adores, the critics worship and your fellow actors long to play beside.”

Sam gave him a long look, then a loving smile.  “I need to powder my nose.  Be right back.”

As Sam got up and moved her curvaceous body toward the ladies room, a trickle of cold nerve impulses moved down his spine, at once pleasant and a bit frightening, like that first time he ever laid eyes on her—

 

—That day when the underwater world of the Bahamas was especially beautiful. It was the day five short years before when his brother, Roland Quinlan, took his vows with Ellen Brooks; the day sun, water and sand took on a new meaning.  There they stood, 18 feet beneath the surface of the water, the wedding party, family and a few invited guests, all wearing scuba suits and tanks, peering through their masks at the strange site of a man and woman taking vows.  It was even stranger to the schools of aquatic families gathered, holding themselves seemingly still for the moment of “I do.”  Max remembered standing proud next to him, wondering if he too might find the woman of his dreams someday.  The ceremony concluded and suddenly the waters above them were shrouded with orchids, lilies and rose petals.  The ushers—all professional scuba divers—escorted the wedding party to the surface where amidst the floral surroundings, everyone took off their masks and gave their good wishes to the bride and groom.  He remembered the ushers surfacing and one in particular.  That first moment would remain indelibly fixed in his mind—his first sight of Sam, lifting her mask to offer well wishes to the couple.  There she was.  That’s all he could think.  There was something special.It wasn’t just the radiance of her beauty and smile; he was past the age of infatuation.  No, it was something else—mystery.  There was a depth behind the smile and a special kind of disarming innocence. 

She swam to the shore. 

He swam to the shore. 

He never took his eyes off of her for the remainder of the wedding.

 

“And that’s why you stared at me, because you couldn’t help it?” said Samantha flirtatiously.  Dressed in a tailored pale aqua dress, she sat poised and elegant across from Max on the veranda overlooking the clear blue waters of the hotel’s private harbor.

“That’s why I was staring at you,” replied Max.  He re-crossed his legs and nervously adjusted the sleeves of his ill-fitting tuxedo.

“I’m flattered, Dr. Quinlan.”

He leaned forward and tried to make a surreptitious adjustment of his suspenders.  “Why do you think men buy their own tuxedos?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Because other men’s bodies always fit the rented ones better.”  He leaned back and took a deep breath.  “Look, I don’t think I’m going to be very good at this, but…” He squirmed and shifted his weight.

Now Samantha leaned forward, “The tuxedo?”

“The libido.  I’m not good at libido management.”  Max straightened up and apologetically said, “ Look, I think we are going to meet again, and the thought of it Samantha…”

She rose and extended her hand.  “If we’re going to meet again, I prefer Sam.  Would you like to walk?” 

“That’s probably a good idea,” said Max as he took her arm in his and guided her down the stairway to the dock. “It was a lot easier under water.”

“Libido management?”

“No.  The suit.  The wet suit was easier to move in.”

Sam laughed.

Max smiled.  They were beginning to relax with each other.

 

That night after the reception, they slipped away to town and walked off the elaborate wedding dinner and their more than fair share of Dom Perignon.

As they rounded a corner and headed toward the center of town, their laughter brought the heads of two mongrels up from their search for scraps.

“You dance pretty awful, you know?” said Max.

“At least my feet hit the floor on the down beat,” joked Sam.

“ I had to give up my concentration once in a while just to keep my armpits from ripping open.”

“Your brother just wanted all you guys in the wedding party to match.”

Max stopped, took her by the shoulders and with stern face, jokingly chastised her with, “My tux was small.  My tux was tight.  My tux is still killing me!”  He lost his straight face and broke into more laughter as she reached up and in one continuous movement whipped his elastic bow tie over his head, popped his shirt studs and pulled his coat down to his elbows.

“There.”

“There,” he laughed back.

“Better?”

“Better.”

“Here.”  She took his coat the rest of the way off, tucked it under his arm, and took the other, continuing a dance-like skip down the street like Scarecrow and Dorothy.  “Now, you were saying…”

“I was saying… what was I saying?”

“About my dancing.”

“Oh, that.  Your dancing was… was…”

As he continued rambling in between bursts of laughter, Sam pulled him off the sidewalk into an Italian Ice and Espresso shop. 

“At least you know when to sit down.  My God, my brother and Ellen… I thought they’d never stop.  Is it natural to dance that long on your wedding night?”

“Well, it was their wedding after all,” quipped Sam.  “Espresso?  LATTE?”

“I suppose you’re right.  Espresso.  But, ten… fifteen, it must have been fifteen minutes of waltzing.  Even her grandparents were yawning.”

 

Their shared laughter drifted out into the now empty streets and sidewalks.

The dogs paused once again and glanced down the street at the coffee shop.

The only other sign of life was the hum of the mercury vapor street lamps and the occasional sizzle of a moth getting too close.

A lone, brightly colored cab rolled over the cobble stone road and disappeared into the darkness of day’s end.

As the laughter became distant, the mongrels returned to their quest for food and the street returned to its quiet self. 

Beneath the neon sign, Max and Sam sat at their small table, sipped espresso and continued to talk quietly about their chance meeting and whether their paths would cross again.  For Sam, it was disarming to find herself somewhat captivated by this man who challenged her chameleon nature with his own brand of duality; one moment with boyish innocence and the next expressing fatherly charm.

For Max—Max was still a doctor, the kind of doctor who was trained to know the difference between fantasy and reality. 


Submitted: November 15, 2006

© Copyright 2021 Odin Roark. All rights reserved.

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