Welcome to this month's WEP challenge. There's still time to join the fun. Simply go here and sign up. You can share pictures, write a poem or short story or even share a memory. You can also view what others in this bloghop have done.
I want to thank the ladies who volunteer to help: Denise, Olga, Laura, Renee, Nila and Jemma.
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Tag line: When life is stressful, time off is everything.
Jessica leaned back in the rattan chair and shut her eyes. She breathed in deep the scents of tropical flowers, the smell of sizzling pork, and sunscreen. It had been five years since her life was free of stress. She shut her eyes and smiled. The waitress brought her a Piña Colada. She sipped the smooth coconut and pineapple drink. She’d never had it before but while in Hawaii, she thought.
“May I join you, Mademoiselle?”
Jessica opened her eyes to see a man, forty maybe, standing before her, straw hat in hand with brown hair and eyes. Suspicion filled her mind immediately. But his French accent soothed her fears as well.
Why not? “Sure,” she said.
He smiled and settled into the rattan chair next to her. “Is this your first time in Hawaii?” he asked.
“It is, and you?”
“Oui, a dream come true.” He played with his hat moving it in a circle.
Nervous, Jessica thought.” It is that.” She agreed. “Very relaxing.”
The show began, and they looked at the musicians and dancers in grass skirts.
Women have come a long way, Jessica thought. The French guy smiled, viewing the show. His drink came, champagne. The show ended, and they joined the line to help themselves to what the hotel touted as the traditional Hawaii dinner.
“I am Jules Cousteau, and you are?” He sat, once more, in the rattan chair, his plate on the table between them.
“Jessica Turner,” she said and cut into the pork.
They ate, and Jessica glanced at him. His light brown hair was neatly trimmed, and he had laugh lines crinkled beside his eyes. That was a good sign, she supposed.
“Where in France are you from, Jules?” she asked.
He swallowed, wiped his mouth, and said. “Ah, Paris.” He pronounced it with an ‘e’ sound at the end. “And you?”
“New York.” She didn’t have the classic Brooklyn accent. He lifted both brows. “Born and raised in Colorado,” she added.
“Colorado? Another destination someday. And you, will you visit France?”
“Maybe.” She looked away from him at all the couples, most retired, which surprised her.
“Are you here alone, Jessica?”
Her eyes pulled away from the couple she’d been studying. “I am, and you?”
“No, my daughters are in the pool.”
“In the pool?”
“Oui, they are teenagers.”
Jessica nodded, wondering where the wife was. Probably in the pool too.
“What are your plans while here in Hawaii?” he asked.
“I want to see the volcano for sure,” Jessica said.
“I plan to see it too. Would you honor me by coming with me?”
“I think your wife should go with you.” Not in this life, gigolo!
“She has passed. Cancer.”
She caught the sad note at the end of his sentence. Slight, but still there.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” she was glad she hadn’t spoken out loud about her earlier thought. “I’d be happy for the company. Will you bring your girls?” Jessica hadn’t planned on hooking up with a man, let alone a Frenchman with family. But, there was something about him that made her feel at ease.
“Shall we go into their lounge?”
Instant warning signs popped in her head. “Why?”
“They have a piano.”
“Do you play?”
Hmm…that was interesting. This was starting to be a lot like a Hallmark movie. They stood and walked toward the hotel lounge together.
“What do you do?” he asked.
“Me?” Her job rushed back into her thoughts, and she could feel her energy drain. “I’m a prosecutor.”
“Not exactly. I go after big-time criminals. Most of my work is tracking down witnesses, collecting evidence, and putting the case together for the New York DA.”
“I am impressed, Mademoiselle. I have never previously known anyone who worked in such an important job.”
“Thanks,” she said.
They entered the lounge and sat near the piano. A man was playing Elvis Presley. They ordered more drinks, she a wine cooler and he more of the bubbly. The atmosphere was beyond chill, with a Hawaiian sunset painted on all the walls.
“What do you do, Jules?” she asked. It was only fair, after all.
The pianist got up and left for a break.
“I will show you,” Jules said. He stood and went to the grand piano. Sitting, he stretched his fingers, shut his eyes, and began playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Jessica couldn’t stop her mouth from opening slightly. Jules seamlessly went from that song to another one of Beethoven’s classics. She loved classical music. So soothing.
When he finished, Jules stood and shook the hand of the piano man who’d returned. Then, he came back to his seat.
“That was beautiful. I love Beethoven.” Jessica smiled.
Jules nodded. “I thought you might.”
“So, you play the piano for a living?”
“I do. I am a member of the Paris orchestra and also visit other venues. I’ll be in New York next month.”
The remainder of her vacation was spent with Jules and his girls. All of them were excited to meet someone from New York. They peppered her with questions and begged their papa, as they called him, to take them when he was to have his concert.
Home and alone, Jessica flipped open her laptop and started her research on Jules Cousteau. He was a well-known and highly respected concert pianist and widow at forty-seven. It mentioned his three daughters too.
He hadn’t lied to her. Not even once. A huge plus since she was sick of liars. Warm memories of their Hawaiian adventures filled her with happiness. She pulled out the ticket and backstage pass he’d given her for his concert. In a month, they’d be reunited. For the first time in five years, she felt hopeful. Maybe life wasn’t as bad as she had come to believe.
Word Count: 973
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Coming, Nov. 30, 2022
Book 4 and the end of the series.