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Ormond Beach, Florida

    After giving her deposition to Jake Bryan and Sandy had explored two of the inexpensive attractions in Orlando, first taking a leisurely stroll around Lake Eola during the late morning and then heading over to the City Art’s Factory just after lunch. Sandy had called her mother and said that they’d be up in Gainesville on Saturday and hoped they could get together for her birthday. Hester had been noncommittal but as the woman hadn’t flat out refused they figured that there was at least a chance of her seeing them.

     Realizing that they were unlikely to be in the Orlando area until the following weekend Bryan had firmed up a dinner date at Jake and Mandy’s place for Friday the fifteenth and then he and Sandy had decided to head north east. Sandy had been anxious to be closer to her mother should she consent to see them but had also wanted to spend as much time at the ocean as was reasonable. She found a Days Inn that was in Ormond Beach that she booked for fifty nine dollars per night, a price that was only a third more than they had paid for the same hotel in Orlando.

     “Beach space is at a premium,” she had said when Bryan asked. “Supply and demand. I’m just glad we found something safe and convenient for as little as we did.” The hotel was unassuming but the key features were price and location. Sleeping and other bedtime activities were the only things the couple planned to do in the hotel itself.

     The remainder of Thursday and all day Friday had consisted of playing in the surf, running on the beach and relaxation. The couple had selected a restaurant called the Bonefish Grill because it was within walking distance of the hotel and wasn’t a chain- except it turned out that it was. Their online information indicated that the Bonefish served until 11:30 Fridays and Saturdays and just before ten they walked south about four blocks to the restaurant.

     The food was fine, Sandy ordered tilapia and white wine while Bryan got lamb chop lollipops and a Blue Moon. The highlight of dinner was their server, a friendly, vivacious young black woman named Miss Nevae who was both an entertaining conversationalist and an excellent server. When Sandy asked her if she was from Florida she had responded, “Oh no, child! I hail from Iowa, little town called Waterloo.”

     Bryan and Sandy were both on their third drink of the night and had nearly given the poor girl a beer and wine shower at this news. Sandy had exclaimed, “You are kidding! We’re from Rapida Cedro. How long have you been down here?”

     “Just about six months. I only work here to pay the bills. I’m a singer. Here,” she had said, digging in her apron and pulling out a business card, “That’s my card. Go to my webpage to see where I’m performing next. Thank you two for coming, always great to see folks from back home!”

    After leaving the restaurant they had walked east to the beach and then after removing shoes and Bryan rolling up his pant legs they’d walked hand in hand southward along the ocean’s edge. The waning moon was more full than new and the sound of the waves, warmth of Sandy’s hand and the alcohol they had consumed made for a dream like stroll along the beach. “I could get used to this,” Bryan had said, slipping his hand out of Sandy’s and letting it slip down to her curvaceous hip where he toyed with the top of her skirt.

     “Hmmm,” she had responded quietly, slipping her hand into his back pocket. “It is nice. Don’t you think you’d miss the change of seasons?”

     “I don’t know. Do you want to stay a year and find out?”

     “Tempting. One thing though.”

     “Yeah? What’s that?”

     “Money. I don’t think we’d last very long with how much money we have,” she had said, pulling him closer as they walked. “At least not staying in hotels, even cheap ones.”

     “The Days Inn is pretty basic, isn’t it?”

     “Hey! Free breakfast? What more could you want?” she replied.

     “You,” he said, stopping, facing her and kissing her in the moonlight.

    “Done. But I’m kind of expensive too you know. You’ll have to keep me in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed.”

     “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll buy if you pay, as my Aunt Moira likes to say.”

     The gamboling stroll southward had continued for about twenty minutes when Bryan had again stopped, pulled her close and pointed out to sea, “Wow! Did you see that? Like two falling stars right in arrow!”

     They had stood and watched the sky, holding each other close and pointing to the meteors as they burned in the sky until Bryan had finally said, “Hey? That 24 hour thing? It’s been like two days. What do you say we head back to the hotel? The Days Inn has nice beds at least.”

     “Two days?! We made love yesterday morning!?”

     “Uh, uh, uh,” he answered with a wink. “Better check your watch, it’s after midnight. Happy birthday, beautiful.”

     “Trickster. Forty two. Where does the time go? Well, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have turned 42 with. Nobody alive at least. What if I don’t want to make love tonight? It’s my birthday, don’t you think I should get to decide?”

     “Absolutely. Sorry! Was I being pushy again?”

     “Not at all, sweetie. If I get to decide then I say we turn around now and hightail it back. I expect big things from you tonight.”

     The walk back to the hotel was far more brisk than the stroll south had been. There was purpose in their steps and a mutually desired reward at the end of the trip and their pace indicated that both were anxious to be alone together. “You know,” Bryan said as the chugged along, “we used to stay in hotels like the Days Inn when I was young but when I started middle school we went more upscale. I never thought of that before. I wonder why.”

     “Probably more money. I know that when Jon and I married we’d go pretty low budget on the vacas but by the time George was ten or so we’d drive to Colorado and stay in a rented condo for a week of skiing or fly to the Caribbean for a long weekend at an all-inclusive. Pretty typical for upwardly mobile middle class folks; work, save, enjoy. Of course a lot of them forget to save!”

     “Yeah, I guess. I guess I’m lucky my folks saved, that means a house for me. What do you want to do for your birthday tomorrow?”

     “Tomorrow? You just said it was today. I thought you were going to be my love slave because it was my birthday. Huh. Guess we can slow down, I’m waiting until it’s my birthday and my wish is your command.”

     “Ha, ha. Today then, Miss smarty pants. Or no pants once were back. Fine. What do you want to do later today for your birthday? After we get some sleep?”

     “I’d love my mom to call me and us to go see her. Now that I’ve passed the ball to super Jake I kind of hope I never see my father again but I’d like to tell my mother what I know and what’s about to happen.”

     The hotel room was delightfully cool and Sandy walked into the bathroom and slipped into the most sexually enticing negligee Bryan had ever seen outside of a video. When she exited the bath she left the light on and the door ajar which allowed enough light for them to see one another but was dim enough to add ambiance to the room. When Bryan saw her standing backlit before their bed the only response he was capable of was a subdued moan.

     “Thanks,” Sandy replied.

     Sandy was peeling the covers back on the bed in preparation of using it as a platform for pleasure when her phone rang. Though he had never heard the particular ringtone that played from Sandy’s phone it was vaguely familiar to Bryan who said, “Wow. Talk about timing! And it’s late. Let it go, sweetie.”

     Sandy had let out a pathetic whimper and then replied, “I can’t. It’s my mother!”