Authors: Livia Ellis
Tags: #Erotic Romance
Bare In Bermuda
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Bare In Bermuda
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Livia Ellis
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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First Scarlet Rose Edition, June 2013
Print ISBN 978-1-61217-897-4
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-898-1
Published in the United States of America
The author of this work of fiction
acknowledges the following trademarks:
Corona: Cervecería Modelo, S.A. de C.V.
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Pilates: Chris Robinson Health & Fitness, Inc
Rabbit: Kemery, Scott T.
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Visa: Visa International Service Association
Henna waited as patiently as a woman with a plane to catch could. The recycled air, artificial lighting, and harassed airline staff at the San Francisco International Airport did little to alleviate her anxiety.
The line to check-in moved glacially slow, which, in one way, helped, since Simon, her best friend and travel partner, had yet to show. After a brief and ultimately disastrous try at dating in their first year of med school, they had mutually agreed they were better off as friends.
She didn't want to push to the front of the line, but if something didn't happen quickly, she'd never make her flight―with or without Simon. She craned her head, dancing from foot to foot as her eyes searched the crowd for Simon.
“Thank God,” she sighed when she spotted his brown head weaving its way through the crowd toward her. “You're here.” She took his hand when he reached her.
“Yeah, I'm here,” he moaned. “I'm dying.” Perpetually cheerful and pink cheeked, Simon had a ghostly pallor and dour expression.
“You don't look good.” She instinctively placed a professional hand to his forehead.
“I'm dying.” Like a surly child, he shook away her hand with a jerk of his head. “I'm sure I'm dying. I'm a doctor. I know terminal illness, and I have one.” Like most doctors, Simon was a hypochondriac. He'd been perpetually dying since they met on the first day of med school.
“No,” she said. “You cannot be dying. You need to be my plus-one at my sister's wedding. You owe me. I spent a week in rural Texas without the internet or reliable cellphone reception for you. I almost got bit by a rattlesnake, you shot me in the butt, and, as god as my witness, your grandmother's house is haunted. I swear I still have to sleep with the lights on. You owe me and today is payday.”
“I know,” he grumbled through clenched teeth. “This is the only reason why I’m here. Believe me; our friendship got me out of the bathroom this morning. If I didn’t appreciate you as much as I do, I wouldn’t be here right now. This is true friendship.”
“What are your symptoms?” She looked at Simon more as a patient than as a friend.
“You know that Chinese place that's open late by my place?”
“The one I swear should be shut down by the health department?”
“That would be the one,” he said.
“You didn't,” she sighed.
“I did,” he said.
A uniformed airline agent came through the line, asking for all passengers heading to Miami to step up to the counter, which had just been opened to check them in.
“That's us,” she said.
“I am not well.” Simon followed her, his head hanging down.
“Give me your passport and do not say you're sick,” she hissed quietly.
She put their tickets and passports on the counter and tried to smile at the stony-faced woman who stared at a computer screen. “We're heading to Bermuda through Miami.”
“Your flight is overbooked, but I've put you on standby.” The woman tapped her fingernails against her keyboard without bothering to look at them.
“Fantastic,” she grumbled. “Would it help if I said I have to get to my sister's wedding?” She smiled hopefully.
The agent looked up from her monitor and stared. “Only if she has a seat on this flight and is willing to give it up for you.”
“Perhaps if I explained the situation to you, you might be more sympathetic? Maybe you could work your magic in the reservations system?” She held her smile as the agent stared over her glasses. “My sister—my little twenty-four year old sister—is getting married to an equally juvenile twenty-six year old Colombian diplomatic intern— intern mind you, not even a paying job— she met in Italy three months ago.” She held up three fingers to emphasize her point. The agent stared blandly.
“Now, I love my sister. I truly love my sister. With all of my heart, I love my sister. She’s the human equivalent to cute kittens on the internet. Everybody loves Eden. Everybody doesn’t love me. Okay, they love me, but I haven’t been as wholly enthusiastic about this whole ridiculous—”
“You think your sister getting married is ridiculous?” The agent raised an eyebrow.
“Uhh…” Didn’t everyone agree with her that her twenty-four year old sister getting married to a twenty-six year old after knowing each other for three months was ridiculous? They were like kindergarteners playing bride and groom, and she seemed to be the only adult that didn’t find it adorable. Arriving at the decision to get married required serious consideration and planning. Not waking up one morning in a villa in Tuscany and saying let’s get married! And then give everyone two weeks’ notice to get to Bermuda for the destination wedding. “No.” Think. “It’s just that I’m thirty-four—”
“You’re thirty-six.” The ticket agent holds up her passport. “If it’s any consolation, I get it. I have an older sister who’s jealous of me and my husband. We married young. She’s a bitter old spinster, too.”
“Thirty-six is not a spinster. And I am not jealous.”
You are so jealous you’ve started grinding your teeth and growling, you naughty little liar.
“Really? You'll get your seat assignments for the Miami-Bermuda leg at the gate in Miami. You probably won’t have a problem getting a seat. Just try not to be too much of a drag when you get to Bermuda. It’s your sister’s big day.
The woman looked past her to Simon, who had started moaning and clutching his stomach. “Sir, are you okay?”
“He's fine.” Henna smiled so wide her jaws ached. “Just a nervous flier. Right, sweetie?” She propped up Simon by putting her arm around his waist. “He's perfectly fine.” She patted him on the stomach. A retching noise rose up from inside his body.
“He doesn't look fine,” the woman said. “He looks the opposite of fine. He looks like he's going hurl.”
Simon grimaced as his skin turned impossibly pale. He shrugged off her arm and rushed to the nearest trashcan. The sound of loud vomiting nearly turned her stomach. The people in line collectively grimaced.
“So...” Her smile faltered ever so slightly. “He's just a nervous flier.”
“And I'm Michelle Obama,” the woman said. “He's not getting on that plane.”
Henna pushed her way through the crush of humanity waiting on the next move of Hurricane Delores as she wound her way from her gate at Miami International Airport to the bar. After managing to secure a vodka tonic, she pulled her phone out of her bag. Simon answered after four rings.
“How are you?” she asked when he answered.
“I'm dying,” he groaned. “I'm staying at your place.”
“Why?” She scanned the bar, more out of habit than any real belief there might be something worth seeing in the overcrowded sports themed oasis of booze. On her second visual lap, her gaze landed on a man. A foxy, foxy, foxy man. He fiddled with his phone as he finished the contents of a rocks glass.
“Because nobody loves me and I had your spare keys in my car.” She didn't mind Simon staying at her place; so much as she didn't like anyone in her house. It had taken thought and consideration to arrange everything just the way she liked it. Before she left town, she had her routine for closing up the house, and when she returned, she'd know if anything had been disturbed. She'd become a creature of peculiar habits. The downside to having lived alone for so long.
“Elaborate,” she said. “Then I get to tell you about the evil gate agent and then the very hot—how do you say very hot man in Spanish? Because my eyes are feasting on one foxy Latino right now.”
? I don't know. Ask me how to ask someone if they've had a tetanus shot in Spanish. I can do that.”
“You're useless. You're the only person I know from Texas who doesn't speak Spanish.”
“Who else do you know from Texas?”
“Nobody. Never mind. What's up with Waverly?” Her foxy Latino ordered another drink from a female bartender who seemed oblivious to the fact there were other patrons. Easy to understand. He would have her undivided attention given an opportunity.
“Waverly finds me unpleasant. I went home, and she told me to get a hotel room until I wasn't foul anymore.” Simon's girlfriend was, in a word, a bitch. She wanted to marry a doctor, not the man.
“I'm sorry sweetie,” she said. “You can stay at my place for as long as you like.” After their brief flirtation, Simon had moved on into a relationship with a determined woman who worked to change him into her perfect man. Waverly would eventually push him down the aisle whether he wanted to go or not unless he somehow managed to escape. To his credit, Simon had resisted all of her efforts on every front for nearly five years. If he needed a place to stay, he could stay with her.
“I'm pathetic. My girlfriend won't let me in my home because I'm vomiting and crapping, and she's more worried about my fouling up the place than she is about my health and general well-being. I'm so afraid of being alone I've settled for that.”
“Stay at my place as long as you want.”
Leave Waverly. You're too good for her.
“How was the flight?” Simon asked changing the subject.
“Voyage of the damned,” she said. “And it's still not over. I ran across Miami Airport like my ass was on fire only to get to my gate and find my flight is delayed. Understandably upset, I had a conversation with the gate agent that didn't go precisely how I would have liked it to.”
“The gate agent threatened to put me on the no-fly list. He's an evil little troll.” She looked over her shoulder to the gate area. The agent stood at the desk staring blankly as a woman with a baby gesticulated and waved her arms as if threatening to throw the baby at him.
Please do not stick me next to the baby.
“I'm almost sorry I missed it. I haven't seen a good Henna flip-out in months. Word of advice…do not mess with the gate agents,” Simon warned her. “They have just enough power to make your life a temporary hell. They're like DMV people or the IRS. Just don't pester him or your luggage will end up in Bolivia.”
“That is why I have my dress for the wedding in my carry-on.” She lifted her hand to her mouth and started gnawing on a dry cuticle.
“You realize spending two thousand dollars on a dress for your sister's wedding is a symptom of a larger problem? I think you just need to admit you're taking Eden getting married before you a bit harder than you're acknowledging.”
The moment she caught herself biting her nails, she forced herself to stop. Eden's wedding had done what medical school couldn't do. It had turned her back into a nail biter. “It's stupid. This whole wedding is stupid. Who gets married after knowing someone for three months?”
“Lots of people that have very happy and loving marriages.”
“Would you marry someone after knowing them for three months?”
Waverly couldn't get Simon to marry her after years of consistent pressure. No one would get him down the aisle in three months. They were too much alike. Every stone needed to be unturned. Every possibility explored. It had taken Simon nine months to pick out his car and another three to decide on the paint. These were qualities she admired in him.