: They will be still alive, promised!
: Yeah, we bet they are pretty relieved about the landing as well.
: Just when you think that… they will.
: Lol, ya know how it is with this Tess… she’s not always thinking before talking. But maybe a certain man can forgive her eventually.
“Hey,” Max bumped his elbow against Maria’s side gently, “you okay?” She had been quiet for over twenty minutes now, which was so unlike her under normal circumstances. Hell, under ANY circumstances – just about the longest he had ever seen her go without talking was when she was sleeping... and even then she still talked sometimes.
She tore her gaze away from the movement area outside to look at him. “Yeah, I will be,” she said with a forced smile. “I just need some time to get over it.”
“I know,” he hugged his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his side. Learning that the ex, who she had been crazy in love with, had cheated on her couldn’t be easy. “At least you have a reason now.”
“True,” Maria nodded her head against his chest, though she couldn’t feel the slightest bit of relief. Finally after a second or two she straightened herself up. “Okay, enough of this sad depressing shit!! This is supposed to be a happy vacation! So we’re gonna get us some righteous tans, frolic in the sand, drink way too many tropical cocktails with umbrellas in them and enjoy ourselves till we’re bursting at the seams!”
“Damn right we are!” He chuckled at her determined voice before a puzzled look crossed his face. “Except for the frolicking part. I don’t think I know how to do that.”
Laughing, Maria slightly punched her best friend’s arm. “I’ll teach you... just like I taught you how to dance back when we first met.”
A shadow fell over them and he looked up to meet the deep brown eyes of Liz.
“Welcome to the Maldives,” she smiled gently and her gaze dropped to Maria wordlessly.
The other girl forced a smile. “We’re finally here, huh?”
“Yeah. Get your stuff and we’ll meet outside, okay? Our boat will already be waiting at the small harbor outside the airport, so we should be able to kick back in no time.”
“Sounds good,” Max agreed and started to get up.
Liz made her way down to the gangway and stopped at each of her friends briefly to tell them the same as she had just told the other couple. Last in the row was Kyle, who didn’t look as pleased as he should considering they had finally reached their destination. “What’s up?”
“Nothin’,” he muttered gruffly and glared at Tess when she passed them with a bag in one hand and dragging a rather large one behind her.
“Think you could bury the hatchet for a week and try to enjoy yourself?” She hadn’t overheard what the two of them had fought about earlier, but whatever it was, it was still there.
“Why’re you asking me? I’m not the problem! Little Miss I-Still-Think-I’m-All-That is the problem!”
, Liz thought, amused at his stubborn face. She knew Tess could be stubborn as hell, but Kyle had developed a good load of self-esteem over the last few years too. He wouldn’t back off in a confrontation the way he had in high school. “Just do your best to ignore her for a bit and I’ll talk to her later when we get settled in,” she said anyway and glanced at the closed curtain that led into the back.
“You won’t convince him to stay. Just leave him alone.”
“Well, he has to get out if nothing else. The pilot is forced to take a ten hour break before he’s allowed to go back, so they won’t leave until tomorrow morning.”
Kyle whistled under his breath. “He won’t like that.”
“No doubt,” she agreed. “But maybe he’ll come with us for the night. A boat can bring him back tomorrow morning for the flight. Otherwise he’d be forced to sleep at the airport, which doesn’t offer much more than a few hard plastic chairs in an unconditioned area.”
“Want me to talk to him?” he offered.
Liz looked at him, surprised. “You would?”
He gave her a one-shouldered-shrug. “I doubt he wants to listen to any of you girls right now. He an’ I were always in some kinda neutral position.”
“Who am I to argue with that?” She lifted both hands, relieved she didn’t have to go in the back. “Just offer him the opportunity to stay at the resort for one night. He gets a little cabin all to himself and tomorrow morning they’ll pick him up again for his flight back.”
“Yeah, sure,” he got out of his seat.
“An’ hurry. They need to move the plane from the movement field soon.”
“Yeah, yeah, Parker.” He waved her off and walked towards the back of the plane, pushing the curtain aside and finding Michael sitting in one of the booths with his feet resting on the seat across from him. “Yo Guerin, time to get out.”
“Just give it up, Valenti,” he growled back. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”
Kyle stopped at the row of seats in front of him and rested one knee on the cushion while looking over the backrest to face him. “To be quite honest, I don’t care if you stay or go. Ain’t really none of my business.”
“But… I’m afraid you don’t have a choice. Pilot’s forced to take a ten hour break before his return to the US.”
Michael’s gaze snapped up and his eyes narrowed. “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding me.”
“Not my fault,” he reminded him. “I’m just telling you what Parker told me. You got two choices. Either you come with us to the island and spend a night in a nice furnished cabin at the resort or ya gonna have to camp out at the airport.”
The other man snorted. “Not goin’ to any stupid island.”
He had already expected that answer. “Ya sure? We’re not in the US anymore, man. I doubt this airport has much more to offer than a few uncomfortable chairs in the heat. Think about it, man. Bet your ass already hurts as much as mine and ya got the whole ride back tomorrow, which means a lot more sitting on it. Why spend the night here instead of having a luxurious cabin to yourself an’ enjoying room service that will supply you with food and a few beers?”
A comfortable bed and food were music to his ears, but it would also mean spending more time with this bunch and his ex. He was also desperately in need of a shower. “Fine, it’s not like I have a fuckin’ chance to get away earlier anyway.” Michael got out of his seat and grabbed his bag. He would just hide out in his room until tomorrow morning and see what the mini bar had to offer. He’d make sure Parker and her hoity-toity rich boyfriend got stuck with the mini bar tab seeing how she had a part in him getting suckered into this trip!
“Move your ass, Valenti,” he grumbled at the other man when he just stared at him “There’re cold beers calling my name!”
“Sure,” the other man nodded, surprised that it hadn’t take as much effort as he had thought to get the other guy off the plane, and he turned to make his way towards the exit.
The whole gang was waiting outside and their expressions were stunned when the two men walked down the small staircase to the movement area.
“Told ya I can handle him,” Kyle winked at Liz.
“I see,” she mumbled and tried to smile at Michael, but it failed when he just stared at her with a pissed off expression.
The heat was creeping into him, making the sweat break out on his back. Normally he would enjoy sunny weather like this, but right now he hated it. He hated the smiling faces of everyone around, he hated the blue sky, he hated the smell of the nearby ocean and he especially hated the guy standing next to his ex with his filthy hands all over her. “Are we planting roots here or what?”
Liz remembered that they needed to walk the few yards towards the airport quickly before anyone got pissed off. If airport security was anything like home then she’d rather not have to deal with any problems. “Let’s move,” she called and followed an awaiting native along a required path.
“Oh, look at that,” Isabel stopped at a small window of a shop in the airport and pointed at a little tee shirt that said: ‘I love the Maldives’ and under it was a picture of a small island with the sun hanging between two coconut palm trees. “It would look so cute on Maya.” Just the thought of her daughter caused tears to spring into her eyes.
Alex stepped next to her and gave her arm a little squeeze. “Wanna go and buy one?” It obviously hurt her to be separated from her child for such a long time and at such a distance, so he’d do anything to help her over the pain.
“Can we?” She glanced over her shoulder to look at Liz.
“Well, if everyone’s okay with waiting,” the brunette answered and glanced at the others, not surprised to see the less than excited faces.
“Isn’t there a later time when you can satisfy your shopping needs, Evans?” Michael asked, voicing what everyone else was thinking.
“Shut up, Guerin,” she snapped back, although she knew it wasn’t fair to make the rest of them wait after a long journey like they’d just had.
“Hey, Liz,” Alex took a step forward to act as a buffer between the tall blonde and her friends. “Is there a possibility of taking a later boat to the resort? We could stay here for a bit an’ join you guys later.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Isabel put a hand on his shoulder. “I know you’re exhausted and-”
“I had some sleep during the flight,” he interrupted her. “We can always kick back later.”
Besides, getting to hang out alone with a beautiful woman was a whole lot better plan than being cramped up in a small transport with a whole bunch of strangers he still didn’t know that well.
She smiled, touched by his kindness and shifted her gaze towards Liz.
“I don’t know about the private transport from the hotel, but you can always book a transport over to the resorts from here. I’m not sure about the price though.”
“Ahhh,” Alex assured her with a nod and a wave of his hand, “I believe I can cover us on that front.”
“Well, okay then. You guys stay as long as ya want,” she agreed and fumbled around in her purse to pull a flyer out. “This’s our resort. I’ll tell them you’re going to check in later.”
“Thanks,” Isabel beamed, her eyes shifting to the small shop again as she grabbed Alex by the wrist and took off.
“Poor bastard,” Maria snorted as she watched her friend drag the young man into the first store. When she noticed Max’s confused expression she explained: “When it comes to shopping, Isabel is a gold medal Olympic champion. She can shop for HOURS in just one store! The poor guy will probably be insane with boredom by the time Evans is done with him.”
Amused, Liz gestured for the rest of the group to follow her down the open hallway. At the far end, a small street could be seen and right beyond it, the Indian Ocean.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Maria asked and leaned against Max’ side. She was well aware of the glances her ex gave them and she was doing her best to look happy with her new boyfriend.
“It is,” he kissed her head. “We’ll have a good time.”
Tess, who was hampered down by all her luggage, hurried up her pace the best she could in order to catch up with her brother.
“I’m not talking to you,” he informed her shortly and moved past her.
She huffed, annoyed, and followed him, trying to adjust her carry on bag that was slung around her shoulder, while dragging her main heavier bag on rollers behind her. “I told you I was sorry, I didn’t do any of this-”
“Shut the fuck up, Tess.” He glared at her. “I mean it. I don’t wanna hear one fuckin’ thing from you, understood?”
She went to open her mouth, but closed it when Michael stormed off. One day he had to forgive her, right?
Huffing, Tess tugged on her bag in order to follow the others. There was only one slight problem – she damn near pulled her shoulder out of socket when the bag wouldn’t move.
“What the hell?!” she grumbled as she yanked on the bag’s handle harder. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, the bag still refused to move. It seemed like the wheels on her secondhand garage sale bought luggage had decided to lock up on her. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” She wanted to cry in frustration.
She was about to give the bag another pull when a muscular arm suddenly reached down and yanked the bag up into the air. Spinning around she found Kyle standing there, holding his bags and now her biggest one.
“Thank you.” Tess went to put on her best smile, touched he’d help her out after her slipup in the plane
Apologize for what you said to him,
her brain was shouting out to her. “Um, Kyle… hey, I just want to say I’m-”
“Save it.” His eyes narrowed a bit. “I’m only doing this so you’ll hurry the hell up and we can get on with this vacation.” With that Kyle took off with her bag leaving Tess standing in the airport hallway all alone.
Watching as yet another angry man stormed away from her, Tess pulled her other bag closer to her like a shield and sighed. This supposedly fun vacation was looking like major suckage.