Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Sam currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two children, where he continues to write, produce, direct and work as a creative consultant for a number of Independent Productions and Artists.
What inspired you to write your book?
This book was inspired by frustration. Frustration in the books I was reading at the time, frustration in my own life, and frustration that the world around me seems to be overly consumed with superheroes and zombies and supernatural fairy tales of escapism which either out of age or ignorance I can not find myself to succumb to. I was looking for something real, and so, I set down to write something that felt real. Something that felt honest and relatable because of its’ bluntness. And, perhaps at times it’s too blunt. But, at least for me, here is a more realistic take on the modern day romance, for a couple lost souls in Paradise, one in particular who finds themselves embarking on a whole journey of self-discovery before re-immersing into a relationship, consequences be damned. Because when it comes to love, hell, everybody’s been there.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I tell her I’m on vacation. Vacation sounds more like adventure. Work is like… well, you know what it’s like. Fuck. Work’s not sexy. Adventure is sexy. Everyone likes adventure. She does. I can feel it.
She smiles out of the corner of her mouth as she places a cocktail napkin atop the bar, and then my drink; the sweat from the cold contents within beading up on the glass, soaking up and sticking to the napkin beneath it for dear life the same way her T-shirt clings to her torso on this hot, muggy night. I put the Mai Tai to my lips and imagine it’s her… Mmmmm… So cool… Refreshing… And I watch over the curved rim of the glass as she greets her next patron further down the bar.
It’s usually dead this time of year, but something’s different now. Maybe it’s her. Or maybe it’s the convention of sales morons who mill about aimlessly when they’re not in session or not taking up more than their fair share of the barstools at this overcrowded establishment. Or perhaps it’s the busload of Japanese tourists I saw unloading from the pineapple airport earlier this afternoon, now wandering the resort looking for all the designated smoking areas in preparation for any unpredictable nicotine fits they might succumb to, I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that I picked this hotel because they pride themselves on privacy. They claim it’s the quietest hotel on the island. It says so right on the website. And last year it was. Yet here I am, standing in what is quickly becoming the deep end of a pool of shouting corn-fed fraternity boys and I can’t turn around without drowning in a sea of red jersey material and white stenciled numbers.
All I see are numbers circling me afire, and mouth breathers screaming at a small man in a matching jersey and a helmet running across a field of green plastic, all displayed on a sixty-two inch LCD monitor like he is the last hope for this nylon sect of the human race, legs outstretched, arms tight around an unseen object, no doubt something precious, sacred to human existence, like the Cup of Christ or a Dead Sea Scroll or something of monumental importance, racing onward in a swift display of athleticism and masculinity, up until that moment when he’s blindsided by an opponent and dropped to the turf with a heavy blow and a raucous cheer from the other colored team. The corn-fed folk go wild over this, screaming and spitting in each other’s faces. This must be what hell looks like.
The island hosts the tournament every year, but the teams can only come out every five years or so, like the Olympics, or the World Cup, or something like that, which is great because it keeps the number of cornhusks from the mainland down from year to year, and away from quiet establishments such as this. At least it used to. I had heard rumors, like drips from a leaky faucet, that the tournament would grow from eight teams to twelve, or was it sixteen, which would certainly explain this asshole she just served down the bar with Greek letters stitched across his chest like he’s celebrating the proliferation of Latin by doing keg stands with all of his meat and potato friends.
My insecurities surge through me and I pause to take a deep breath. I shouldn’t let him bother me. I’ve got a decent stipend and nothing to do for the next four days but watch college age children compete in sporting competitions so I pick up my glass and knock back everything but the ice and flash my winningest smile down the bar until at long last she glances my direction, and like a light switch turns on inside of her, she grins.
“That was fast,” she notes.
I can’t help but smirk. “Long day.”
“You fly in today?”
“No.” I say it so convincingly I almost believe myself.
She swipes the glass away like a card dealer collects cards. Swiftly. Neatly.
“You ready for another.” She delivers the question as a statement, as if she’s insinuating now’s my only chance to convene with her, and if I don’t, I may never get the opportunity again.
She holds my gaze for a moment of consideration, then snaps another lowball from a clean rack, and quickly splashes it with ice, light rum, Curacao, pineapple, grenadine, something I don’t recognize, and the topper- My favorite. Myers dark. I could drink my weight in the stuff, and quite possibly have over time.
I spent an entire week in Jamaica a couple years back covering a championship for the Caribbean Basketball Confederation and I fell in love with the local sugarcane while I was there. The darker the better, the sweeter the juice. I’d only been on a few of these junctions at that point, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, or maybe getting myself into is a better way to put it, so when I dipped my toes in I was extremely cautious… At first. But now… Now I’ve learned. Everybody else is doing it, so why the hell not? When in Rome, right?
She brings my new drink over, ice still clinking inside the short glass, not yet melted beneath the warmth of the liquor, and replaces the soggy napkin with a dry one. She sticks the glass on top, and I reach for it, maybe a little too eagerly. The napkin clings to the glass as I draw it to my face, dangling there like a ship set to sail, and her smile widens beyond the quiet pleasantries of the norm to a point of real expression. Intrigue and desire, I’d like to think.
“Long day indeed,” she quips.
I try to respond, with quick lips and quick wit, my own smile widening to match hers for instinctual reasons I can’t explain, but that asshole down the bar screams at the TV like a general to his unruly army and before I can retort she turns around, back to the bar, her back to me, back to her limes and her lemons, her maraschino cherries and blackberries as she arranges the sweet berry flesh into the garnishment tray. I set my glass down, defeated, and look around at all the hopeful and optimistic beer bellied nylon jersey’s that surround me.
Long day? Who am I kidding? It’s gonna be a hell of a long week. Just thinking about it gives me heartburn.
I peer over the glass, sneering at the crowd as I swill the Myers off the top before it drips complacently to the bottom of my drink and loses potency. A quick slug of tart squeezed lime stops me from downing the whole thing and I acknowledge the pungent blend of alcoholic refreshment with a receptive “Whew!”
I think they painted since last time I was here. Or planted something. It’s definitely different. I mean, besides the noise. Besides her. I definitely don’t remember her. She moves about the bar quickly, quietly, easily juggling multiple tasks at a time for her countertop full of deprived patrons. Tourists. Salespeople. Fans. Imbeciles. I stare with contempt at no one in particular. They all hate me. And I them, so I narrow my focus back to the petite wonder of a woman pouring libations behind the bar, who without the faintest hint of acknowledgment casts her eighty-proof spell over us all.
She’s shorter than me. Much shorter, with straight bleach blonde hair pulled up into some rat’s nest on top of her head, and bright blueberry eyes and tan leathery skin from too many days under the radiant sun. Her boobs, practically visible under her loose V-neck T, are all natural and prematurely saggy, most likely the result of a strong bra intolerance. I’m trying to make out the logo on her designer grade poly-cotton blend when she catches me and I look away. My eyes dart for something else to focus on, landing on nothing in particular, and I can only hope I moved in time. Though how long I had been staring I cannot totally be certain, as momentarily, all time has been lost. My gaze dances around the hut, slowly landing back on her as she resumes work, and I sit back and wonder what it would be like to peel away that rolled and knotted T-shirt from around her waist which barely exposes the dainty piercing in her belly dangling over the soft flesh where women get that mysterious darkened line when they’re pregnant, as well as the stamp on her lower back acknowledging what an independent, free-spirited young person she is. A slave to no one but her own misguided attempt to be unique. If I had the chance, I would roll that t-shirt up so fast, right over those droopy b cups, up around her narrow head and her soft lemon locks and I would drop it right in the muck under our feet and let it soak up the beer sludge clogging the drain on the slick bar floor as we stand over it and kiss.
A kiss, two lips touching, softly, then gathering breath and momentum like a steam engine plowing forward, opening only to absorb the moment between one another, slowly stealing away the breath of the other, as soft pillow pecks turn wet and slimy and arms curl around bodies like serpent’s tails, constricting around one another until tensions peak and muscles stiffen.
My sugar-coated head grows cloudy with fuzzy passages of half-memories and unfulfilled desires left unspoken until now. Not in words, but in warmth and emotion does this feeling permeate me from my brainstem to my belly and into my feet, and like a star struck child, toward the sun I gaze.
She’s beautiful, I whisper to myself. Maybe a little too loud in my rum cloud haze, as the old man next to me smirks and smiles, granting me a ‘good luck’ wink before patting a five spot on the bar and emptying himself off the stool and back across the lighted path to the bridge. It’s dark now. How did that happen? The asshole’s still here, still staring at the TV, but now it screams at him, and nearly everyone else is gone, and she’s left wiping down the bar and handing me my tab and asking me if there’s anything else I need.
“A lift?” I chuckle like I was trying to be funny. I’m trying too hard. I always sucked at being funny.
She made that last one really strong. I can feel it now. Not to mention I literally just wrote my room number on the ticket. Room 1352. The ink’s not even dry. I hold the pen in my hand as evidence. This does not go unnoticed.
“Aren’t you staying at the hotel?”
I smile, leisurely. I probably look hammered.
“Oh, right.” I should ask her to come over. Or is that too forward? I think that’s probably too forward, so I scribble something on the bottom of the tab that resembles my name and hop off the stool like the old man before me, only I trip, stumbling headlong into a bougainvillea planter. I grab the bougainvilleas for dear life and turn, and she’s there, laughing at me, ear to ear, grinning with the widest smile I’ve ever seen. All teeth. And those starry eyes.
“Are you okay?”
I stand, brushing the fallen petals off my shoulder and head. A flood of warm nervous energy storms my gut, rising into my chest, and flushes through my face, making my skin tingle from ear to ear.
“Alright. Well… Have a nice trip.” She can’t say it without snickering. I must be quite the show. I smile as demurely as I can muster.
“I intend to.” And with that, I abruptly turn and leave.
I didn’t realize it before, but I’m drunk. Dangerously so. And I‘m not interested in going to my room. Not yet. I just got here. Besides, it seems early. I look around the quiet resort and consider my options. The tiki hut is surrounded by a pool on most sides, and a rock fountain on the other. A bridge over a narrow river leads to a winding path lit by small torches on either side, all of that lined with ornate little plants, of what variety I have no clue. The landscaping here is truly impeccable. Not a blade of grass is out of place. A warm breeze waves the palm fronds above, drawing my attention out the back lawn, all the way out to the darkened coast. It’s only a few hundred yards to the water, and I can see a boardwalk down the ocean with more tiki lanterns leading the way. And with that, I decide to explore further.
The last thing I remember is her tender voice calling after me as I cross the bridge.