by Ryshia Kennie
It wasn’t there.
Her sneaker clad feet squeaked as they stuck to the concrete floor, the sound echoing through the airport terminal as she paced beside the methodically slow luggage carousel. Any moment she expected that her suitcase would appear. But except for a duffel bag and a beat up bag, the carousel was empty. Like Dave, her suitcase was gone.
She swallowed back grief and was surprised that the edge was gone. The raw pain at the thought of him, the tears, were missing. He’d been dead for four years. It was getting easier.
A smooth male voice broke into her panicked nostalgia. She glanced up into an espresso-tinted gaze. Dark hair, framed a face that hinted strongly of Spanish genes.
At first she didn’t understand what he was saying. Maybe he didn’t speak English. Spanish probably. This was Mexico. He looked, while not exactly Mexican, foreign in a deliciously exotic kind of way. The smile was killer but not killer enough to relieve her anxiety. Maybe it was the thought of Dave or the mild panic that was setting in, but her voice caught and for a moment nothing came out.
“Your suitcase didn’t arrive either?”
“No. Is there a lost and found?” she asked. Finally finding her voice.
“Not that I know of.” This time his smile was slow and easy. A smile that said he just might know what he was doing. “Hang on. I’ll see what’s going on.” And he hurried away, a not overly tall man with a commanding presence.
She tried to forget her panic. Except that she was in Mexico sans her belongings. A frightening thought for someone who had never traveled. She’d never done anything impulsive until this trip. People like her, people who organized their sock drawer were not meant to be impulsive. This had been a bad idea. But despite her doubts, she wanted so badly for it to be a good idea. If her suitcase would just miraculously appear she’d take that as a good sign.
“They’ve unloaded all the luggage,” he said when he returned. “Ours might be mixed with another flight.”
“Great. Now what?”
“Yes,” he said. “Been here a lot. I’m from Dallas.”
“You thought I was from here, didn’t you?”
He laughed when she nodded.
“Honest mistake - the tan and the Spanish. Throws everyone.”
“I’m from Austin,” she said hesitantly. She wasn’t used to sharing information with strangers. Actually, since Dave’s death she wasn’t used to sharing information with anyone.
He held out his hand. “Seth Baker.”
“Cara,” she returned, withholding her last name. This was still a foreign place and he was still a stranger, fellow Texan or not. She shook hands and noted he had a strong grip. Reliable, Dave would have said.
The conveyor belt ground to a halt.
“That’s it.” She bit back panic. “What am I going to do?”
“Wait,” he replied cheerfully parking himself on the edge of the carousel.
“For what?” She stared at him in disbelief. There was no one left around the luggage carousel but them.
“My bus is out there,” she said nervously, watching the man still waving the sign for her resort as the last stragglers headed for the terminal exit and waiting buses.
“Mine too.” But he didn’t appear inclined to get up.
“I’ll be back in a minute.” She rushed over. Only one bus was left outside. “How long before the bus leaves?”
“You’re going to Sunset Cove?” said the sign waver in perfect English.
“Yes, but my suitcase hasn’t arrived. I’m not the only one waiting for a bus.” She waved a hand to where Seth still sat on the edge of the carousel. If it started up, he could be injured. Cara returned her attention to the tour guide. Her life had become so staid that she considered sitting on the edge of a stopped conveyor belt an unacceptable risk.
“Senorita, you must board. Your luggage will be delivered within the hour.”
Cara sighed. She’d heard of Mexican time. She didn’t even have a change of clothes with her.
“No luck?” It was Seth.
She flushed as her heart did double time.
“No. They’ll deliver the luggage directly to the resort. In an hour.” She sighed. “I assume that could mean a day or two.” She glanced outside. People were filing onto the last bus.
She glanced back at the silent carousel.
“It’ll be fine,” he assured her. “This happened the last time I was down here. The luggage actually beat the bus. Don’t ask me how, but it will get there.”
She smiled tentatively. “Thanks. This is my first time to Mexico - actually, anywhere.
“Traveling alone?” he asked.
“Me too,” he replied.
Alone. The word had an edge.
“It’s tough being single,” he said. “At least for the first little while. That’s what I found. I got over the divorce but it was the being single that took longer. What about you?”
He was warm and guileless, he could be a friend if only her heart would calm down long enough to let that happen. Who was she kidding? For the first time in a very long time she was attracted to a man.
On the bus, she found herself telling him about Dave.
And when they arrived at the resort, the luggage was there, waiting for them in the lobby. Suddenly, things didn’t look so bad.
“Would you like to meet for an espresso after we check in?” he asked.
She glanced at her watch. It was seven in the evening. Coffee would keep her awake. Take a chance, the little voice in her head said. “I would love that, Seth.”
Maybe taking a chance was not such a bad thing she thought tentatively. In the meantime, there was an entire tropical resort to enjoy and she was going to make the most of it - hopefully, with Seth.
About the Author: Ryshia Kennie is a published author of an historical romance "From the Dust", as well as the author of a number of travel articles. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and an affiliate the Romance Writers of Calgary. Visit her at her website.