tagRomanceTwo Tickets to Paradise

Two Tickets to Paradise


I was running out of time, Christmas was fast approaching and I didn't yet have a present for Jenny, my girlfriend of almost 2 years. I wanted something that was perfect, something that made a statement but something that was most definitely not a diamond ring. It's not that I'd never thought of proposing to Jenny, we were at that age where our friends were starting to get engaged, but doing it on Christmas would have just been a bit too cliche.

I drove myself crazy scouring websites of stores like Amazon and every jewelry store I could find. I just could not find a present that I felt was personal and special. I knew there had to be a simple answer, but I was just not finding it. I decided I needed some outside help, so I called up one of my best friends in the world, Hannah. We had been friends since grammar school and if anyone could help me, she could.

"Hey, stranger," Hannah said as she picked up the phone.

"Hi," I said, "I hate Christmas shopping."

"I can give you my list if you want it," she laughed.

"No, you're easy to buy for," I smiled. "Anything with diamonds, right?"

"You know me too well," Hannah said playfully. "Preferably really big diamonds. I'm assuming you're obsessing over Jenny's Christmas gift?"

"Yeah, I just want something that stands out and is personal," I groaned.

"A diamond ring?" Hannah giggled.

"Don't start with me," I said. "I'm not quite ready to settle down yet."

"Maybe you just haven't found the right girl," Hannah said bluntly.

"I know you're not Jenny's biggest fan," I said, "but she's my girlfriend."

"I know, but if you're not ready for a diamond ring yet maybe you should be asking yourself why you're not ready to get her a diamond ring, Don," Hannah sighed.

"How do you know when you've found the right girl?" I asked.

"You just know, Don," Hannah said. "Do I have to explain everything to you?"

"Maybe, it could be helpful for an idiot like me," I laughed.

"It's different for everybody, but the one constant is that when it happens you know it happens."

"When what happens?" I groaned.

"It, love, dumbass. The universe has a way of letting you know when you're with the right person, Don. It can be fireworks, it can be a feeling of warm chocolate chip cookies or it could be the complete inability to speak. Whatever it is, you will know it when it happens," Hannah assured me.

"This time of year is just so stressful, I could really use a vacation."

"There you go," Hannah said.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"A vacation," she replied, "Go back to basics. You met her at a Valentine's Day party, right?"

"Yeah," I said. "Well, an anti-Valentine's Day party over at Joe's on Weed."

"That's right, you're a rebel," Hannah laughed.

"I am, thank you very much," I smiled as I pulled up a picture on my phone of Jenny and me from that party. She was wearing a grass skirt and I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. "Hawaii," I said.

"Hawaii?" Hannah asked.

"The party had a Hawaiian theme. I will take her to Hawaii over Valentine's Day, it'll be perfect!" I said as I started typing search terms into Google on my MacBook Pro keyboard.

"Perfect for you, yeah, it gets you out of buying her a Valentine's Day gift," Hannah laughed.

"No, not really," I groaned as I started looking up Hawaiian vacations. "But, thanks for your help, my dear. Now, I have to scour the Internet for a decently priced trip."

"You're welcome," Hannah said. "I'm always glad to help. Don't forget, I'll be expecting something with diamonds in my Christmas stocking, babe."

"You are worth every penny," I smiled. "Bye."

"Bye," Hannah said and then hung up the phone.

It took me a couple days of searching more travel sites than I can remember but I finally found a deal for a week in Maui at the Four Seasons that I could afford. The package had to be pre-paid and was non-refundable but I didn't care. My latest app was selling well in the iTunes Store and I had some money saved up so I pulled the trigger and made the reservations. With the click of a mouse I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders, of course, it came at a price of about $7000 being lifted from my bank account.

It was going to be perfect, celebrating two years together with Jenny in beautiful Maui. I couldn't help but think back to that anti-Valentine's Day party and how she and I met and how fate had intervened. I had been standing at the bar for a while when I saw an amazing blonde across the room. She was about 5'5" and wearing a red floral dress with a couple of leis around her neck. I tried to screw my courage up to go talk to her, but it took me a few shots of Jack Daniels to get properly out of my shy zone.

As I started out across the room, the blonde looked right at me. Her crystal blue eyes were amazing and her smile was warm and inviting and it seemed like something out of a movie as our eyes locked from across the room. For a moment it was like the bar was empty except for the two of us. That changed abruptly when a tall, beautiful brunette literally fell into my arms. I looked at her and then heard the commotion, I quickly realized that a fairly large fight had broken out in the bar. I looked back up but the blonde was gone and the brunette was pulling me through the bar and out the back door into the alley.

"Hi, I'm Jenny," the brunette said with a grin as I heard police sirens closing on our location.

"Hi, I'm Don," I said.

"We should get out of here," she smiled. "Pancakes?"

"Yeah, sure," I said, in a bit of a daze. Jenny grabbed my hand and we ran through the alley until we were a couple of blocks from the bar. We walked another block and came to a little hole in the wall restaurant called Maxine's Cafe. It looked like a cross between a typical take-out joint and 1950's cafe. We sat at a booth in the corner and Jenny smiled at me from across the table.

"That was wild," she said as I looked into her brown eyes, her long wavy hair fell down around her flushed face. Her full lips were covered in a deep red lipstick.

"Yes, it was," I grinned. "What happened, exactly?"

"Honestly? I saw you standing at the bar," Jenny smiled. "I was about to come say 'hi' when it looked like you were headed for the door. I was making my way through the crowd to get in front of you when a fight broke out, a guy got hit, he fell into me and, luckily for me, I fell into you."

"Lucky for me as well, I guess," I smiled.

It was at that point that Jenny and I started dating. I never told her about the blonde girl across the room, I didn't want to ruin her story of how we met. According to Jenny, it was fate that brought us together. She'd go on to tell the story, again and again, saying she wasn't quite sure she would have said anything to me if she wasn't literally pushed into my arms.

I smiled as I thought about how excited that Jenny would be when she found out that we were going to Hawaii to celebrate the second anniversary of that day we met. I printed up our itinerary for the trip along with some photos of the hotel that I had found online in a nice little packet that I wrapped up for her to open on Christmas.

I felt like a weight had been lifted with Jenny's present finally bought. I was imagining our trip to Hawaii and even started considering if it was about time to pop the question. I thought how cliche it would be to get engaged over Valentine's Day, but thought that might be forgiven considering the stunning tropical venue. Hannah's words kept echoing in my mind though and I wasn't sure I'd ever felt anything like she described with Jenny. I decided not to overanalyze things too much and just let the fates dictate what I should do.

It was the first time in a while that I enjoyed the days leading up to Christmas. Sure, things were still quite busy and there were a lot of demands for Jenny's time so we didn't see each other as much as I'd liked but knowing we would have some time together in a Hawaiian paradise made it all seem worthwhile.

We spent Christmas with her family and everything just seemed a bit off. Jokes that would normally land with Jenny were being met with just a smile and her parents seemed like they were trying way too hard just to be nice to each other. I couldn't help but wonder if they were having problems but that's a topic that would have to wait for another day. I was counting down the minutes until Jenny would open her gift, hoping the trip would excite her as much as it did me.

When the time finally came for Jenny to open her present, she seemed way less than enthused. The excitement she did show seemed forced and I was disappointed that the gift wasn't having the effect I had hoped. I wasn't about to get into anything in front of her family so I didn't say anything. I told myself that she might have been expecting an engagement ring or maybe she thought that I was spending too much money on a vacation.

I was going to say something when we got back to our apartment, but Jenny immediately said that she had a migraine headache and was going to sleep. I thought it might be good to give it a little time before broaching the subject and since I would be off bright and early the next morning for my annual outing at my buddy Frank's family cabin in Michigan for a day of football, barbeque and beer with a bunch of guys from high school, I figured Jenny would have some time to get over whatever was bugging her.

Once I got to the cabin the next day I texted Jenny a few times, just to see how she was feeling. She never replied to the texts so I tried calling her and the calls went right to voicemail. I started to get concerned that something was seriously wrong and eventually decided after a few more unanswered texts that I should go home and check on her.

When I got back to our apartment, I quietly unlocked and opened the door. If Jenny was in bed with a migraine I didn't want to wake her up. When I walked into the foyer I immediately heard Jenny moaning from the bedroom. I smiled for a moment, thinking that without me there that I'd find her playing with one of her toys and getting off. I was about to tell her what a naughty girl she was as I walked into the bedroom when I realized that the reality of the situation wasn't even close to what I'd imagined. I found Jenny naked on our bed, her legs up over some guy's shoulders as he kneeled on our bed and fucked her hard.

"You have got to be kidding me," I shouted. Jenny opened her eyes and screamed as the guy jumped to his feet.

"Shit," Jenny said as she tried to pull the bed sheet over her naked body.

"Sorry, man," the guy said as he quickly pulled his clothes on. I recognized him as one of Jenny's co-workers named Matt.

"Don't be, you can have her," I said, pissed off at myself for being such an idiot. "I don't have time for cheating skanks."

"It's not like that," Jenny said, starting to cry.

"Look, I don't care what the story is," I glared at her, "We are through. Cheating is a deal-breaker for me. I'll be back for my stuff tomorrow." With that, Jenny and I were done. I temporarily moved in with my buddy Frank and tried to get my life back on track, cursing the day I bought the non-refundable Hawaiian vacation. The thought of ample sunshine, white sand beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and crystal clear water for snorkeling would normally excite me but they were all now seriously pissing me off.

I called my credit card company to see if they could help since they offered trip insurance. The nice agent that I spoke to assured me that having a cheating ex-girlfriend was not covered by their plan and told me to have a nice trip. "Doubtful," I said as I hung up. I called the airline to see if I could have Jenny's ticket transferred to someone else and was told that was impossible. I asked if I could turn both seats in towards one first-class or business-class ticket and was told that was also not possible. I tried to find someone to go with me, but with so little time before the trip and with airfares from Chicago to Maui being outrageously high, I found no takers.

"Just go by yourself," my buddy Frank said as we sat having lunch in a big booth at Hooters feasting on wings and a pitcher of Killian's Red. "You're 25 and single, the world is just out there waiting. Besides, you already paid for it, just go and relax. You don't even have to talk to anyone if you don't want to."

Frank and I go back to grammar school and he knows I am not normally comfortable approaching and talking to strangers. He is on the other end of the spectrum and he seems to talk to just about anyone that comes into earshot. He is always looking to get a reaction from people so you never really know what he's going to say.

"A week in Hawaii by myself? I don't know about that, you know me, I hate to even have a meal by myself," I groaned.

"I know, I know," he chuckled. "I've never been able to figure you out, once you know somebody it's hard to get you to shut the hell up."

"Thanks," I said wryly. "Do people even go to Hawaii alone? It just seems like it is such a couple's kind of trip."

"I don't know," Frank said as he put down his beer mug as the waitress came over, picked up the pitcher and refilled our glasses. "Can I ask you a question?" Frank asked the beautiful, young blonde with big, brown eyes.

"I don't know, can you?" she replied with a wicked smiled and I laughed so hard that I nearly had Killian's Red come out my nose.

"Let me guess, you're an English major?" Frank asked her.

"Something like that," she smiled.

"May I ask you a question, Suzanne?" Frank asked reading her nametag.

"Yes, you may," she smiled warmly.

"Would you go on a Hawaiian vacation by yourself?"

"No, I don't think so," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"My friend here has a round-trip ticket and hotel already paid for but he doesn't want to use it because he said Maui is a couple's trip," Frank said motioning at me.

"It kind of is," the waitress said. "But, if it was a trip I'd already paid for I'd go, for sure."

"See?" he said to me.

"You can't find someone to go with you?" the cute blonde asked me.

"I've tried, at this point tickets to Maui are about $1000 round-trip," I said looking into her brown eyes.

"Ouch, that sucks," she smiled. "How did you get stuck with just one ticket?"

"His girlfriend cheated on him," Frank blurted out before I could speak.

"That bitch!" Suzanne said.

"Oh, she was a piece of work. Do you want to go with him?" Frank asked smiling as I shot imaginary daggers at him with my eyes.

"Want, yes," Suzanne grinned, "But, I'm in school and I can't miss that many classes."

"You don't have to placate him," I smiled at Suzanne. "Just roll up a newspaper and hit him on the nose."

"Does that work?" she laughed.

"I don't know, but it's worth a shot," I grinned.

"Go on your trip, I've heard Maui is paradise," Suzanne said, her hand on my shoulder. "It might be mainly for couples, but I'm sure there have to be some single women around. If not, drink some rum and get a tan."

"Alright," I said. "I guess it could be worse."

"Yep," Suzanne smiled. "Do you guys need anything else?"

"He could use your number," Frank smiled.

"No, we're good," I said as I tried to non-verbally apologize for Frank's behavior.

"You don't want my number?" Suzanne said feigning sorrow.

"Want, yes," I smiled. "But, I know you get hit on by just about every guy that comes in here. I'm not that guy."

"Which guy are you?" she asked with a sly grin.

"I'm the guy that leaves you wanting more," I chuckled.

"Good to know," Suzanne smiled.

"I'll take your number," Frank said with a shit-eating grin.

"Don't make me get a newspaper," Suzanne said as she winked at me and walked away to tend to her other tables.

"You are such an asshole," I said laughing.

"I know, but she totally wants me," Frank chuckled. "Anyway, even the cute Hooters girl thinks you should go to Maui. That's like a sure sign you need to go."

"I guess it will beat spending my vacation sitting and home and hanging out with you," I laughed.

"Hard to argue that," he laughed as he raised his beer. "To adventure."

"To adventure," I said as I tapped my mug against his then took a drink of the beer.

Suzanne brought our check to the table and told me to have a nice trip. Frank and I both threw down enough cash to cover the bill plus a generous tip. We put on our jackets and headed for the door when Suzanne ran up to me and handed me a crumpled up dollar bill. "You dropped this, sir," she said as she pushed the bill into my hand and quickly walked away.

"What was that all about?" Frank asked as we walked to his car.

"No idea," I said as I opened the bill and saw what was written on it and smiled.

"Hey Maui Guy, if you're still single when you get back from your trip, give me a call. Suzanne 708-555-1256," is what the note said.

"Don't tell me she gave you her number," Frank laughed as we got into his black SUV.

"She did," I grinned like a kid in a candy store.

"They can get fired for that," Frank said with raised eyebrows. "She must really like you."

It was just the ego boost that I needed. Since Jenny and I had broken up, I wasn't having much luck meeting women so having a gorgeous young blonde give me her number made my day. It also gave me something to look forward to in case my Maui trip sucked. As much as I hated the thought of traveling alone, I decided to do my best to make the best of a bad situation.

My departure day finally arrived and I headed to O'Hare Airport with my suitcase, my carry-on, and constant reminders to myself that I was going to try and have a good time. I was already beginning to dread the long, nearly 9-hour, flight. I had brought my Kindle loaded up with plenty of books and I had loaded up my iPhone with enough music and podcasts to keep me occupied.

I hate flying coach, actually I despise it. I am 6'6" and airline seats are torture devices as far as I am concerned. My knees always wind up jammed into the seat in front of me and neither I nor the person in seated front of me enjoy it. Upgrading to a first-class ticket was just not an option due to the cost so I went onto the Internet and read some travel sites about getting free upgrades to first-class. All the sites basically said the same thing, it was getting harder and harder to pull off a free upgrade but I figured I'd try just about anything to avoid sitting in coach for over 8 hours. My one saving grace was that I still had Jenny's ticket so I knew I'd have an empty seat next to me if worse came to worst.

I arrived at my gate early, dressed in my best suit and tie so I would look the part if I was able to get an upgrade. I sat at the gate for about 30 minutes before I saw the two gate agents walking up to the podium. They were both female, one was a blonde in her 20s and the other a brunette in her 40s. They both looked agitated and from what I could discern from what I heard them saying, they were complaining about a problem passenger at the previous gate. I couldn't help but smile as I waited for them to settle in and then I walked up to the podium.

"One moment," the brunette said without looking up as I got close to the podium. The blonde looked up from her computer screen for a moment, gave me a blank stare and then looked back down.

"No problem at all, take your time," I said, making sure to sound genuine and not like a sarcastic asshole. I stood there patiently for a minute or two until the brunette finally looked up from her computer terminal.

"What can I do for you?" She asked tersely.

"May I ask you two something first?" I smiled.

"Sure," the older agent said with a bit of a scowl as the younger one looked up at me.

"Are you two having a bad morning?" I asked with a smile. "My favorite aunt worked for United for years and she said the worst thing about working the gate was when she had an unreasonable passenger the first thing in the morning, it ruined her whole day."

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byTallMarriedMan© 37 comments/ 60689 views/ 190 favorites

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