Her skin tasted like salt, and she was several shades darker than when he’d first spotted her four days before at the registration desk. She’d been swimming in the ocean, she said, and tanning every morning on the deck attached to her room. On the day they met, her milky complexion seemed fresh and ready to burn. But it had turned golden and exotic, and it excited him as he ran his fingers over it. Her name was Casey, and she was from Nashville.
For his part, John had spent his entire vacation under the grassy, thatched roof of the beach bar, sucking down mass market paperbacks and Bahama Mamas with equal enthusiasm. The trip had been his wife’s idea – a mid-winter getaway to celebrate their new status as homeowners and escape Denver’s chill for a few days. Once a week for two months, she cornered him at the dinner table with brochures and articles about second honeymoons she had printed off the internet. He insisted they couldn’t afford it and suggested that perhaps they should wait another year. But he knew from the start he would eventually agree; she was persistent and he loved her like mad. Three months after her first pitch, they boarded a non-stop flight toward the equator. On his second day on the island, Casey sat next to him at the bar and ordered a Mai Tai.
She had come for quite a different reason, but with the same reluctance. She was there to spread her father-in-law’s ashes into the ocean – a task which was left entirely to her when her husband won Super Bowl tickets off the radio. He chose to take his brother to the game as a “tribute” to their father, who had been a rabid sports fan. They had gotten in a loud argument the night he told her she would be going on the trip alone; he broke a lamp when Casey suggested taking the old man’s remains to the game and flushing them down a toilet.
“Why don’t you shower after you swim?” he asked as he pulled on a sock.
“I don’t know,” she yawned, “I guess I just like how my skin feels. And my hair.”
At her mention of it, he turned and ran his fingers through the dyed blonde. He bent down and kissed the corner of her mouth.
“It doesn’t feel like this in Tennessee,” she said as he continued dressing.
The day they checked in, John’s wife was giddy with the possibilities the resort offered. As he unpacked his suitcase and changed into shorts and a t-shirt, she rambled off the activities they could do as a couple: snorkeling, yoga, paddle boarding, photography…the list went on. She was rambling about a Jeep tour across the island when a knock came at the door. She sprung to get it and was greeted by Francisco, the Activities Director. The short, round Mexican was overly friendly, but beamed with sincerity when he invited them to play in a volleyball tournament. John had only half-finished making an excuse before his wife was out the door on her way to the court.
“Have you ever done this before?” Casey asked, still lounging on the bed naked.
“Done what?” he asked.
John hesitated before answering. He’d done it many times before – enough times that he knew they wanted it to feel special. Each one of them had asked the same thing, wanting to hear that only they could have made him do it. He was tired of the game.
“No. Never,” he said, pulling his shirt back over his head.
She was telling the truth – or at least a form of it. She had never slept with another man apart from her husband, but her life recently had been dedicated to doing exactly that. When her husband traveled, she spent time at concerts and at bars, dancing with strangers and collecting phone numbers like baseball cards. Occasionally, she even followed one to his house where she gladly accepted wine and a hand up her shirt, before pushing away and returning home to her dark and echoing house. She hadn’t planned on her trip south being any different. It was after she unceremoniously dumped her father-in-law in the water – urn and all – that she went for a drink at the closest bar.
“Hey there. I’m John.”
And she knew she would not push this one away.