Zoe’s divorce was final and so too was shy, sad Zoe. She wanted to live again. She wanted to find fun Zoe. It had been years since she threw caution to the wind and got on a plane alone. She wanted romance and knew France was the only place to be. She loved everything about France, even the French. She decided the only way to properly experience France was to speak French every chance she could. She ordered something different each day. "Je vais prendre un café americain noir ?"or was it "un café amercain et noir?" Zoe couldn't keep her thoughts straight. She came here for the chocolate croissants and ambiance but now she longed for him. She wasn’t sure if she had even pronounced his name correctly and that made her smile. So too did last night. This impromptu trip to France had turned out to be a trip she wouldn’t soon forget. She had come here to find romance and he had shown her passion. Filling her heart with flutters, her stomach with butterflies and her post box with love letters, Olivier was just what she needed. He had asked her before he took his first kiss. Once she said yes, he took his time exploring every inch of her body. His touch was soft and deliberate. As she smoked another cigarette on her balcony, Zoe felt a chill. Her thoughts were of him and not of the silk sheets now flying down the street, leaving her naked.
Simone never felt nervous. She had never let a man consume her thoughts and yet, the thought of seeing her ex was making her crazy. She took a breath as she walked inside. She had been here before but had forgotten how much she missed him until this moment. She hoped soon they would recreate that Christmas they spent here in the Alps. It had been years since they saw one another and now that they were both single again, he was the only person she wanted to see. Paul was her first love and no matter how many mistakes the two of them had made, and there were many, he was the only one for her. She hoped he felt the same way. But their connection was unwavering and he had suggested they meet. She ordered another drink and reminded herself to breathe as she saw him step out of the lift and walk back into her life.
Tabatha put on a little make-up but she didn’t need much. Her glow was radiant and she felt alive again. She walked through the little Italian town but always seemed to find herself back at the fruit market where she had met him; hoping he would be there waiting for her. Time had been kind to her. Her olive complexion kept her out of the sun. The Italians thought she was a local, Americans thought she was Italian. She had broken off her relationship with Guiesseppe but regretted it almost immediately. He had been the only one able to awaken her soul. He had shown her how to love herself without any filters, without any extras, without judgement. When they first met, he spoke broken English and her Italian, rusty. But that’s the beauty of being ingulfed in a country, you pick up the language quicker. And she considered herself to be as fluent as you could be as a foreigner. She bought a basket of fruit and waited. She had hurt him and she didn’t mean half of the things she said to him. His feelings for her had taken her by surprise and now she needed to show him how lost she was without him.
Lily woke up rested. She had slept all night, her first full night’s sleep in months. Cramming for finals had taken its toll and she was exhausted. But Lily’s hard work had paid off. She graduated with honors and shouldn’t have a difficult time finding a job. Much to her parent’s chagrin, instead of job-hunting, she decided to take some time to herself. She bought a ticket to Spain and after only one month in Barcelona, she was in love. She hoped she woke feeling this happy every morning. It must be the fragrant aroma in the Spanish air that made her think of the flowers he had sent her. Javier had lived here his whole life and was the DJ for the local nightclub she stumbled upon her first night in Barcelona. She blushed as she recalled that first meeting. He couldn’t take his eyes off her and she was flattered. He was exactly her type – tall, dark and handsome. And, he was interested in her. They met for coffee the next morning and had been inseparable ever since. Every date night with him was more romantic than the last. Her time here was running out and Javier wanted her to stay. She didn’t want to leave. Her parents were coming in next week and she was sure they would not be happy to hear that she had decided to stay in Spain with Javier, her fiancé.
Caroline was an adventurer. She had always acted first and thought later. Her job as a Travel Writer had taken her all over the world. She wrote about all of the wonderful sights and Mexico did not disappoint. She had decided many years ago not to fall in love, not to complicate things. She much preferred to be in charge of her lovers, although there hadn’t been many. Caroline understood how she was always in jeopardy of losing her coveted job to a younger model so she had kept her feelings for her Photographer to herself. In fact, it had been him that made the first move. Ben had worked with her for years and she felt a closeness with him that was undeniable. She chose her spot on the plush sofa and closed her eyes. Thoughts of their time together last summer in Zihuantanejo brought her solace as she dreamt of him. Their friendship had turned romantic, into their own lifelong spa day and she hoped he would see she was willing to fight for him, fight for them.
Celeste was happier than she had ever been. She had never felt so at ease with her life. Her move to Belize to be with him brought a slower pace. Timing had been ideal to stop and smell the flowers. She had finally found her soulmate. But it hadn’t been a typical courting. Celeste’s mother had fallen last Spring and she had stopped everything to take care of her. Her mother had always been her rock and when she was week, Celeste felt she needed to be stronger. She didn’t show her fears or tears as she spent hours helping her mother with her physical therapy. Dr. Faris had been her mother’s doctor and he was there when Fatima’s mother walked on her own, as well as to be the bearer of the news that she’d never be able to ride her horse ever again. He was kind and gentle, gorgeous even but Celeste knew he would leave eventually. Eli, Dr. Faris was on lend from Cabarete, Belize. His expertise had brought the local rehab hospital much needed exposure. Celeste’s father had passed so it was important that her mother would walk her down the aisle.
Alex spent her twenties and thirties working; moving her way up the corporate ladder. She was confident and had been on plenty of dates but had never met “the one.” She was beautiful but she didn’t realize how stunning she was. She had dared to dream about climbing Kilamanjaro but until she saw the climbing course advertised, she wasn’t sure it would ever be a reality. She was brave but had never done anything like this before. Every friend tried to talk her out of going but she was ready. Every weekend for the last six months, she had trained with a local guide named Peter. Today was her fortieth birthday and she wanted to make it one she’d never forget. She didn’t think she could do it and yet here she was at the summit. After climbing Kilimanjaro, the world was literally at her fingertips. Still, all she could think about was how he wouldn’t let her give up on her dream. Peter. Peter. Alex and Peter, Peter and Alex. Life wouldn’t be ordinary anymore. She had survived the climb and he was there, smiling. God, he had a great smile.