Trying to force relaxation and happiness on someone is like trying to take a vegan on a hunting trip. It’s foolish, makes everyone uncomfortable, and is almost certain to end badly.
Yet your husband would not be swayed no matter the dire state of your mood or how opposed you were to this ‘second honeymoon’. To you it was little more than a last ditch effort from your marriage councilor to save your dying relationship. Your husband jumped at it immediately, but you would have much rather just stayed home.
That wasn’t to say that you didn’t want to work out the problems in your marriage, but you knew better than to think that two weeks on some island would magically fix everything. Especially when it came to things like communication, trust, and fidelity. Those sorts of things required a lot of work and effort from both sides. You’d put plenty of both into it, but Jim just wanted a quick fix. Which was why it always seemed to be one step forward and two steps back with the two of you.
It was hard to muster up any sort of happiness even with all the smiling faces and the general aura of celebration on the island. Your marriage was a wreck that had already crashed and was in the midst of burning. Yet you were the only one willing to admit that.
Some part of you wished that you could believe this trip would fix things. That you could be as optimistic about it as your husband, but that part of you didn’t survive very long. Not when you noticed the lascivious looks your husband threw at the young women of the island when he thought you weren’t paying attention.
Nothing was going to be fixed, because nothing was any different. Even thousands of miles from home your husband was just as untrustworthy as always.
Chapter One: Alone in Paradise
Jim never did give you much credit for your intelligence. He liked to think he was smarter, craftier, and better at keeping secrets. Most men were like that really, but Jim had quite the ego about it.
He’d given you that dashing smirk that used to make your heart flutter and said he had to go out to prepare your ‘surprise’. What he really had in mind though was spending his time surrounding by giggling, overly impressed girls that liked to stroke the egos of rich men. It was not at all a surprise however. His love of young, gold digging women was one of the biggest contention points in your marriage. He had absolutely no shame and no issue with stepping out behind your back. Never mind the fact that the main reason he was so popular with the ladies was the vast amount of money he had married into.
Money he was looking to keep by staying married, as your dearest friends and your instincts had mutually agreed.
Maybe if you had still been that young, naïve girl who had accepted his proposal you might have let him fool you. You might have even believed him when he said why he was going out, instead of following him in secret. Perhaps you would have run back to your room crying at the sight of his betrayal, rather than turning on your heels and doing the last thing he expected.
If only you could have seen the look on his face when he came back to the room and found it empty. To find that it looked as if you had never even set foot in that place. Just the thought of it made you smile over the rim of your fruity little drink.
It had been hours since you’d left and he’d already called four times in the last thirty minutes alone.
You hadn’t answered a single one of his calls either. Not when the bellhop in another hotel led you up to your room. Nor when you headed down to the bar along the beach on the opposite side of the island. Or any time since then. Every time the phone rang you smiled a little too yourself and delighted in the image of him pacing, swearing, and balling his fists like an angry little boy.
That’s all he ever was anyway: a boy pretending to be a man.
You let the waiter take your empty glass and replace it with another ‘island special’ while watching sun start to set atop the water. Leaving your husband had lifted this enormous weight and suddenly everything seemed surreal and beautiful. The world was somehow refreshed and you didn’t have a single care in the world to spoil the fun of enjoying it.
The phone buzzed against your hip again and you saw his number when you checked it. For a moment you were tempted to answer this time, to be all nonchalant and tell him with a laugh about how he could go fuck himself; but you were having too much fun ignoring him. Let him stew, rage, worry and bemoan his own stupidity while you enjoyed yourself for the first time in what felt like ages. You slipped the phone back into your pocket with a smile and a hum. He’d been all too happy to ignore you for some strange, so he could get a little ignoring right back.
You had put up with his disrespect for far too long trying to salvage a relationship that had been a mistake from the start. Your parents would be absolutely thrilled if they knew you’d left that lying sack of shit high and dry. They would probably throw a party as soon as you got back.
The thought was so amusing you couldn’t help laughing a little. You never imagined you would feel so free leaving your husband. In fact you always thought it would break your heart. Instead your heart felt fit to burst from the thrill of revenge.
You glanced around at all the other smiling vacationers and delighted in the fact that you could finally join them in their glee. Arriving on the island you’d felt very much the odd man out.
Out of place, out of touch, and lost amid a sea of smiles you could not return.
Suddenly you were very much in your element and apparently catching a little attention too. You caught the eye of another patron sitting on their own and seeing him gave you a little jolt of pleasant surprise.
He was very handsome and looking right at you, much to your delight. His smile caused this little flutter in your stomach that took you aback. There was something slightly rugged about his features, but not so much that it could put him in the ‘bad boy’ category per say. Though his smile tempted you with that image just a little. When he stood up you noticed he was slightly taller than you expected and the blue island shirt he wore seemed to accentuate his broad shoulders as he walked. It was a little too easy to imagine yourself being wrapped up in his arms, never mind the fact that you were still a married woman. Not that the marriage part had ever stopped your husband or anything.
It was pretty hard not to stare as he made his way over to you, especially when the wind kicked up ruffling his dark brown hair. He looked like he could have just stepped right out of your fantasies.
“Is this seat taken?” He asked with such propriety and unassuming kindness that you were more than happy at the prospect of having him join you.
“Nope and you are more than welcome to take it if you’d like.” You replied while trying not to sound too thrilled by his attention.
He returned your smile with one that made your knees feel a little wobbly and you were suddenly very thankful to have already been sitting down. “I hope you’re not out here all alone.”
“I am now.” You stated simply and when his brow raised questioningly you added a little more detail. “He was having a little too much fun with the beach bunnies.”
“Ah,” he smirked a little at your explanation. “Well, that is his loss and my gain.”
You smiled back at him over the rim of your glass. “You are very sweet, are you here alone?”
“Me? Oh, no.” He laughed. “I’m actually here with two beautiful ladies.” His boasting statement took you by surprise as he pointed out towards the beach.
You followed his arm to see a pretty little red headed girl in shorts and a tank top walking arm in arm with a very richly dressed woman who you were assuming to be the girl’s grandmother.
Seeing them made you smile even more. So he was a charming family man with the added bonus of being incredibly handsome. Your day really was looking up. “Your daughter and mother?”
He nodded while beckoning over the waiter. “Yep, the loves of my life.”
That statement made you melt a little on the inside. “Lucky ladies.”
Butterflies erupted in your stomach from the way he smiled at your admission. You hadn’t even meant to say those words out loud, but suddenly you were thrilled that you had. His smile made you feel like a school girl with a crush and it felt like floating. You were weightless from the way he looked at you.
You couldn’t even remember the last time someone had made you feel that way.
“Would you like to meet them?” He asked though before you could respond the waiter arrived.
“May I help you, sir?” The man asked politely right off the bat. Then, however, he did something that took you by surprise. He stared at the charming man across from you with ever widening eyes as his jaw slowly dropped. It was the kind of look you would expect from someone who was coming to the realization that they were speaking with someone very famous, though the man’s face was not at all familiar to you.
You watched as he started mouthing words he wasn’t actually saying and your companion just continued to smile amicably, as if this happened all the time. If he actually was famous though, you figured it probably did happen a lot.
“Y-y-you,” he stammered out finally and he sounded winded when he did so. As if he’d been gut-punched by the sight of the smiling man. “I can’t believe–you’re so–I’m such a huge fan!” He said in a rush and started digging frantically through his pockets. “Can I please have an autograph!?”
“Of course!” Your companion replied with a laugh as he took the pen and paper to sign it for the overtly thrilled man.
The guy was practically bouncing on the spot at getting the signature too and when he pulled it back his jaw dropped even further. He then said something that was very hard not to laugh at. You actually choked on your drink when he said it.
“How did you know my name?” He asked in awe. Obviously this great celebrity that you didn’t know had personalized it for the guy and he was so thrilled that he totally forgot he was wearing a name tag.
Thankfully the waiter was spared the embarrassment of having that pointed out.
“Richard!” A woman’s voice interrupted whatever response the famous man had come up with.
The three of you looked over to see the older woman and the red-headed girl he’d been pointing at before. Both of the women were looking more at you than either of the men though.
“Who’s your new friend, darling?” The woman asked and you weren’t entirely sure what to make of her smile. It was like predatory glee, which was very strange and more than a little amusing. You got the feeling she might be a little too happy that her son had female company that he wasn’t related to.
“I hadn’t gotten a name yet actually.” He stated and gave you this sheepish smile that made you feel weak in the knees all over again.
“Neither have I.” You replied back smartly, though with a smile to let him know you were being playful.
In turn he looked playfully taken aback. “You mean you don’t know who I am?”
“Should I?” You asked with a ring of sincerity that seemed to floor him.
He must have been really famous.
His mother scoffed at him as she and his daughter pulled up chairs on either side of him. “Now, Richard, this is why you never assume these sorts of things. Just because you’re a best selling author doesn’t mean everyone knows your face.”
She said this in a scolding sort of way, but she also had no small amount of pride in her tone when she added in ‘best selling author’. Now, you may have been out of practice when it came to courting or dating, but you could certainly tell when someone was trying to set you up. Especially with how blatantly obvious she was in going about it.
Richard exhaled heavily as he frowned at her. There he was being all charming with you and then his mother gets in the way. You could just see those thoughts flash across his face. They were almost tangible.
Meanwhile his lovely daughter extended her hand to you in greeting. “Hi, I’m Alexis.”
You smiled at her as you accepted the gesture and replied in kind.
Richard looked further putout; perhaps by the fact that it was his daughter who got your name and not him. Regardless though, the look was utterly adorable.
His mother drew your attention when she said your name, though not just your given name as you had stated to Alexis. She knew your surname as well, though this wasn’t entirely surprising. Your family had its own fame, though you tried to personally stay out of the tabloids as much as possible.
Richard looked between you and his mother with no small amount of confusion. Obviously he wasn’t much for idle gossip, which was really about the only time your name came up these days.
“Mind if I ask which magazine you know me from?” You questioned teasingly with a smile to let her know you didn’t mind.
She waved it off a little with a smile of her own. “Dear girl you are in quite a few over this second honeymoon.” She glanced around and you got the feeling she was looking for your husband. “Though, if you are down here on your own it must not be going too well.”
You shrugged, not at all put off by this though Richard looked like he wanted to say something on your behalf. “It’s probably gotten to the tabloids in rumors that my husband isn’t exactly faithful.” You lifted your glass in a toast. “So here is to the joy I feel in having dropped his cheating ass like a rock.”
She lifted her own glass with a smile. “Good girl. Men are terrible, aren’t they?”
Richard turned to scowl at her a little while Alexis snickered.
“Not all of them, thankfully.” You stated softly and smiled when Richard caught your eye.
“Yes, my Richard is truly rarity.” She stated with no small amount of warmth.
“Thank you mother.” Richard replied sounding both pleased and a little relieved.
“Although, he does have terrible luck with relationships sadly.” She added almost like an afterthought and he was back to looking uncomfortable as his mother spared no detail about his many failed relationships.
You were torn between feeling sorry for him and being incredibly amused by his plight as the girls poked fun at him. Alexis, after all, was more than happy to get in a few playful jabs at her father’s expense.
It was really nice though sitting there with them. Even if Richard was embarrassed by their antics, it was so easy to see the love the three of them shared. It even made you a bit envious.
However, the best part about it was that you didn’t think of Jim even once for the rest of the day.