Tropical Trek – Part 8

Suzy dressed and got ready to head down to the restaurant after wrapping up work for the day. As she opened the door, she almost ran into Mark. He was about to knock.

“Oh, Mark!” Startled, she stammered, but her voice went flat. “What do you need?”

Mark’s stern look softened, and she could see worry only his eyes. “Can I have a minute?”

“Sure, can we talk while we walk?” She pointed down the hall.

He nodded yes, then slowly spoke, “I was out of line, so I came by to apologize. It’s none of my business how you live your life.”

She could see he was struggling with his words. She took in a breath, then forced herself to move on. “Mark, I appreciate the apology.” She surveyed his face and realized how much he had aged since losing Sarah a year ago. “I’m not Sarah, but understand why you worry about me, and the crew.” She searched for words to make him feel better; she abhorred conflict.

He seemed relieved, and his haggard breath released. They walked up to the restaurant and Mark nodded toward Steve. “Have a nice dinner.”

Suzy smiled at Mark sweetly. “Thanks, Mark. I will.” With that she turned and exhaled as she stepped away.

Mark disappeared back down the hall.

“Hey, is this seat taken?” She tapped her fingers on the back of the chair.

Steve looked up from his drink with a smile. He stood up and greeted her with a hug. “Well, I hoped you got my note!”

He pulled out her chair and slid it back in as she sat. “Sorry for the disappearing act this morning. The guys wanted to go down to Manuel Antonio for a full day and we headed out early.”

She nodded, “Yeah, no problem. It was an early day for me too.” She looked over the menu and figured out what to eat. “So, how was it?” She looked up to see him almost eyeing her.

“Oh, uh, good. We went to this plane themed restaurant…”

“El Avion?”

“Yeah, that’s the place. It poured while we were there. It was good to be out of the rain. Calming, even though the drinks were flowing.”

Suzy put the menu down and the waiter popped over to the table immediately to take their orders.

After he left, Suzy looked over Steve. He seemed nervous. “Hey, is everything okay?”

Steve played with his ring finger. Oh boy, she knew that look of guilt. She hung her head; another unavailable man wandered into her life. She sighed audibly.

He looked up at her. “It’s still fresh. I’m not married. Any longer. My buddies insisted on getting me out of my condo a few days. That’s why we were here.”

Well, at least she wasn’t a home wrecker! “No worries. Life just throws things at us at times. We’re good.”

She forced a smile through the knowing of the shoe about to fall. “Let’s have a nice meal and we’ll return to our lives each with a new friend.”

He didn’t seem satisfied, but let it go as the appetizer was placed on the table. They shared some more of the days events with each other as they enjoyed the meal although somewhat awkwardly.

Suzy watched out over the rainforest as the sun sank down on their final night. The sky illuminated with pinks and purples then gave way to navy.

Steve piped up, “Could we go for a walk before turning in for the night?”

She half smiled and nodded yes. He showed her the way to the beach path. They walked together quietly and found to beach chairs left out by the waters edge.

He softly spoke, “Suzy, I really am glad you found me at the waterfall. I’ll never forget seeing you come out of the forest, looking around with awe.”

Suzy blushed. She didn’t realize he saw her the whole time.

“I…I…” Steve stumbled over his words. “I hope we can keep in touch.”

Suzy knew tonight would be hard; it’s hard to walk away even when it’s necessary to continue on your own paths.

“Listen,” she grabbed his hand and her voice trembled, “I don’t like goodbyes. They feel final and I don’t want whatever this is to…”

She couldn’t get the last word out as his lips pressed into hers. His hand pulled her face to his and they ended up standing in a full embrace.

“Then, we won’t say it.” He stroked a stray curl from her face. “We will figure this out. I just need time, okay?”

He clasped her hand in his and walked with her back to the resort. He gently kissed her good night at her door. “You have no idea…” his voice trailed off. She opened the door, but he stepped back and softly touched her cheek, leaned in and kissed her once more, then turned and walked away.

The next few days were a blur for Suzy. She wondered how Steve was and busied herself with work. She didn’t know how long she’d wait, but for now, his kiss kept her hopes alive.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want even when everything seems perfect. But, one day, it will come together in the way it’s meant to be. Until then, easy daydreaming will have to do.

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