Coral stepped out of the taxi as soon as it stopped in front of the resort. The driver smiled holding the door open for her “one of the best resorts on the island.”
“It is” she agreed. He friend had said the resort had undergone extensive renovation in last few years. Turning to the driver she gave him, what was to her a lavish tip. His grin of appreciation was thanks enough.
Taking a deep breath she pulled out the handles on her suitcases. This excursion outside her comfort zone might be the answer to her dreams. Her family had been opposed to her traveling to meet her online friend. That same friend happened to be the owner of a popular boutique. They started chatting online and had gotten along well considering Coral had always found social situations difficult. She preferred to be left alone with her books.
Mustering her courage she stepped forward ignoring the flutter of butterflies in her stomach. She glanced around the lobby hoping to see where the boutique was located. There were several tourists milling around enjoying their afternoon siesta. Taking a deep breath Coral approached the receptionist at the front desk. “Excuse me” her voice squeaked “could you tell me where the boutique is?”
A huge grin brightened the woman’s face “that boutique is quite popular with the younger crowd. My daughter’s shop there all the time.” Picking p a brochure the woman pointed at a small map of the resort “this is the lobby where we’re at right now.” Looking she made sure Coral was paying attention to her.
Nodding Coral was amazed at the variety of shops and services the resort offered. It was like a being on a cruise ship without the need for motion sickness pills. “Is that the boutique” she asked putting her finger over an area that was nearby the resort but was a separate building.
“Sure is” the woman nodded happily “take the brochure. The resort has many amenities for the public and guests alike.”
Taking the brochure Coral held it up smiling “thank you for your help.”
“Have a nice day” the woman said turning her attention the next person in line.
Coral followed the map to the boutique. She stopped to stare into the store front windows. The colors were eye-catching. The fashion was what most young women were looking for. Classy with edge. Modern but fun. She could see several young girls helping customers throughout the store. Pushing the door open she was greeted almost immediately by one of the employees “may I help you?”
Coral self-consciously ran a hand over her wrinkled outfit wondering if the girl could sense how out-of-place she felt. “I’m here to see the manager Mindy “_”
The girls eyes grew large otherwise her smile remained as brilliant as ever. “Follow me please” she said turning expecting Coral to follow.
Knocking on a door marked Manager Coral they waited a moment before a clear musical voice called out to them to come in. Coral found herself staring at a young woman in an animal print outfit that actually suited her. “May I help you” the woman asked pushing away from her desk to stand behind it.
The teen girl slipped from the room closing the door behind her. “I’m Coral “_” You invited me to visit…”
“Coral” the woman frowned trying to place the name.
Coral could feel her heart sink as her mind raced. “I should have called first. I mean we’ve only ever talked in online. I should have known you really didn’t mean it.”
The woman grinned “why didn’t you tell me you were coming a day early?”
“What do you mean a day early” Coral asked frowning. “I told you I was flying in today. It’s right there on your calendar.”
Turning Mindy glared at her wall calendar. Sure enough in large bold ink was the time and day of the flight. She had even drawn a large star on the calendar to mark the day. “I’m sorry. I forgot.”
Coral’s shoulders rose and fell beneath her over sized sweater. “It’s alright. You’re a busy lady. I mean look at the place.” She couldn’t keep from gushing. The more nervous she became the worse it got.
Staring at the floor behind her young guest Mindy said “you came right here from the airport?”
Nodding Coral sighed “I know I should have dropped my things off at the hotel. I probably left scuff marks all across your beautiful floors….” Her voice faded remembering the excitement she felt coming here. Too bad Mindy wasn’t as excited to see her. If she had been she wouldn’t have forgot.
“Let me check on the girls then we’ll go out to lunch” Mindy offered moving towards the door.
“You don’t have to do that” she protested her words jumbling together. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll get something to eat on the way to find a hotel.”
“Don’t you have a hotel already” her eyes narrowed behind her glasses.
“Well yeah I mean….” she bit her tongue to keep from rambling even more. “The hotel double booked. So I um…”
“Don’t have a place to stay” Mindy finished for her.
Staring at her feet Coral felt the hot sting of tears. This was not the impression she had wanted to make. The one time she stepped outside her comfort zone and it’s one catastrophe after another. She couldn’t imagine what Mindy thought of her. A successful business woman no doubt wouldn’t have made the same mistakes she had. At the very least she should have verified her reservations.
Without saying a word Mindy took one of the suitcases from Coral’s hands and walked swiftly from the room. Given no other choice Coral followed her into the salesroom. She watched as Mindy approached the two young girls running the registers and checking customers out. When the last customer had been taken cared of she smiled at the girls. “Excellent work” she complimented them. “I’ll be stepping out for the afternoon. I’ll be back to close up at three. Until then London’s in charge.”
“The best restaurant on the island is right here at the resort.” Mindy informed her walking at a swift pace her heels clicking on the floor as she lead the way. “We’ll stow your things in the car then come back inside to eat.”
“You really don’t have to go through so much trouble” Coral protested jogging to keep up.
“You came all this way to see me” Mindy said “the least I could have done was pick you up at the airport. Failing that, lunch is on me.” She pressed a button on her car releasing the trunk “this is going to be fun” she enthused “I could us a break from work.”
“But you have that new line coming out in the few weeks” Coral objected “maybe I should have chosen a different time to visit. When you were less busy.”
“Nonsense” Mindy waved the idea aside. “It’s not like I’m never not doing something. Designing and fashion are my life. I eat, breathe, sleep my work.”
“Don’t you do anything just for fun” Coral bit her bottom lip realizing how judgey her words sounded. “I mean if you enjoy your work maybe it’s not work to you.”
Shaking her head Mindy laughed at her question. “Believe me you’re not the only one who has asked me that. I’ve lost more than one girlfriend over it I’m afraid.” She sighed somewhat wistfully gazing off in the direction of the ocean. Her long hair blowing in the wind. “You must be starved. Let’s eat.” She clapped her hands together. “The chef here is to die for. People travel all over the world to eat her cuisine. She’s the granddaughter of the famous Ferrari from Monte Vista.”
Coral nodded her head as if she knew exactly who Mindy was talking about. She seldom if ever paid much attention to what she ate not to mention know anyone who cooked for a living. She made a mental note to google this chef when she got the chance. “I can’t wait” she enthused finding herself just enjoying the way Mindy’s voice sounded. Kind of like a lilting bird. It made her stomach tingle a little inside. She could listen to it for hours and never tire of it.
Once they were seated in the crowded restaurant Coral gasped. The prices lining the pages of the exquisite menu were astounding. A mini fortune for an entrée “I um….” she dropped her eyes to the tablecloth “this is kind of expensive.”
“It’s my treat remember” Mindy said “order anything you want. It’s all delicious. This place is my weakness.”
Tentatively Coral picked up the menu searching for something that didn’t leave her breathless at the price. Even though she wasn’t paying her eyes continued to search out the dollar signs. “What would you suggest” she asked fearing that she was taking too long.
“The calamari is excellent” Mindy said closing the menu “that’s what I’m having.”
Once the food was ordered and served Mindy dabbed the cloth napkin over her mouth hiding her amusement. “You don’t like it do you?”
“It’s not that” Coral objected setting her fork aside. “I’m not sure what to think.” She knew it was a lame response. “I’ve never had it before.”
“I see I’m going to have to sophisticate your palette” Mindy chuckled.
“Oh” Coral cried tossing her napkin aside “I knew I’d embarrass you.”
“What? No” Mindy cried “it’s not that at all. I was teasing you. Not very well but teasing nonetheless. I like you. We’ve had a million chats on-line and I still have no idea you never had calamari before.
“I guess we have a lot of things to figure out about each other” Coral murmured.
“Which brings me to my next idea” Mindy took a sip of her Perrier. “Instead of staying in a hotel why don’t you stay with me. I have plenty of room.”
Coral stared wide-eyed at her companion “you want me to live with you.”
“Well for the summer at least” Mindy nodded “please say yes.”
Feeling like this was a scene from one of her favorite books Coral nodded “yes I’d like to very much.”
“Great” Mindy said waving over the waitress to pay for the meal. “I could either take you to the houseboat right now or you could hang out at the store until I’m done for the day.”
“I’d like to watch you work if you don’t mind” Coral said.
“I hope you brought something along to read or something” Mindy said getting up and leading the way to the exist. “Once the store is closed I spend a few hours working on my designs.”
“I’m covered” Coral patted her bag “I downloaded several books to read. If you allow me access to the internet I could work on my book blog.”
After 3 o’clock the girls changed in the small apartment Unity’s parents kept at the resort when one or both of them had to stay several days. When they were all in their swimsuits they headed towards the beach. Spreading their beach blankets on the hot sand Aubrey asked. “Is Coral Mindy’s new girlfriend?”
Landon shrugged “they could be just friends.”
“I suppose” Aubrey sighed “it’d be nice if she met someone new after the last one.”
“We could always set them up” Unity suggested excitement making her eyes bright. “Unless you’re hoping she’ll still be single this time next year.”
Aubrey’s cheeks flushed crimson. It was a running joke amongst them that she had a crush on Mindy. Thankfully Mindy herself didn’t seem aware of all the times Aubrey stared dreamily at her or said something stupid. It was like her mouth couldn’t form words or coherent thoughts when she was around the older woman. “She doesn’t know I exist” she sighed wistfully.
“It’ll happen one day” Kaia said “my mom says there’s someone for everyone. We just have to be patient.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight” Landon asked the group. She always thought she and her childhood crush would get together. But now that Justice was eighteen he treated her even more like a kid then he did before and there were only two years between them.
“I don’t know about at first sight” Kaia said “but I do think if they’re the one for you there will be some sort of connection. Kind of like your souls will recognize each other.”
“What if you think you’re in love with someone and they’re in love with someone else?” Unity wondered aloud. It was something she always wondered about. She’d heard the stories about her grandfathers and how they met. It was a fairytale story at first until things changed. Now they were divorced and married to someone else. They both seemed happy but for some reason it bothered her.
“Sometimes I think people confuse like each other with being in love.” Kaia said “I don’t understand it myself. Some people are lucky the first time around while others have to keep on searching until they get it right.”
“OMG” Temperance cried interrupting her “look at that hunk.” Catching the other girls attention they all looked around trying to find the guy she was talking about.
“I don’t see anyone” Kaia said frowning. The only other one more mystified than her was Aubrey and that was because she wasn’t into guys.
“Him” Temperance nodded with her chin “the guy in the green striped shorts. The one who looks like he could be a lifeguard. Man look at those abs.”
“Eew gross” Kaia cried gagging.
“He’s awfully old” Unity pointed out.
“Who cares” Temperance enthused “that guys hot. Just look at him.”
London was holding her sides trying not to laugh “don’t you know who that is?”
“No” Temperance shook her head “should I?”
“That guy” Kaia cried sounding like someone was strangling her “is my dad.” She ducked down trying to hide when she saw him walking in their direction.
“Your dad’s hot” Temperance giggled.
“Please stop” Kaia begged. “How you like it if I said your dad was hot?”
Shrugging Temperance laughed “go ahead. He’s hot for an old guy. At least mom seems to think so.”
“Gross” Kaia said “I don’t look at men my father’s age like that.”
“I certainly hope not” a deep voice said above them.
“Dad” Kaia cried her face turning red.
“What are you girls doing today” he asked scanning the beach as he talked.
“Just hanging out Mr. Tovar” Unity supplied frowning when he stepped over to her holding out a kerchief.
“Here take it” he insisted “your nose is bleeding.”
“Oh” she cried taking the small square of cloth from him.
Temperance moved over to help her lean back. “Have you told your mom yet about the nose bleeds?”
“Not yet” she mumbled “it’s just the air is so dry. It’s not a big deal.”
The girls looked at each other than towards Mr. Tovar as he asked “have you been having a lot of nosebleeds lately?”
“Well…a few” she said. She had two while already that day while she had been working. She almost ruined one of the expensive displays. Thankfully Aubrey had noticed before she had bled all over it.
“I think it’s something you should have checked” he said “it could nothing” he sighed seeing the instant fear in each of the five girls eyes. “It’s better to have anything out of the norm checked out. I’m sure it’s probably nothing.”