I can’t wait to bury my toes in warm white sand.
Peering out the window, I watch as the clouds buoy the private jet in its journey across the sky.
Sighing, I tear my eyes away from the peaceful view and marvel at my luck.
The last two weeks flash through my mind as I take in the opulence of the plane that is transporting me from little old Tennessee to Turks and Caicos.
Spacious leather seating, wood-grain trimmings and a gracious stewardess to cater to my every need.
Everything is at my fingertips all because I randomly entered a contest on a social media app that Winnie couldn’t stop raving about.
After downloading the Discover Travel app, I entered the contest by answering a simple question: How has traveling changed your life?
Sticking to the truth, I instead shared how the absence of travel had shaped my life. All the flights I never booked. All the adventures I’d never had. As well as how much I wanted to change that.
Now, it’s happening.
I could kiss Winnie on the forehead for her pesky insistence.
As if she can sense that I’m thinking about her, my phone vibrates as a new message comes through. Thanks to the complimentary WiFi on the flight, I’m still able to utilize my phone’s cloud messaging feature.
Don’t forget about my shout out!
When I land, I’m set to meet the creator of the app, Bash Something-or-other. What kind of name is that? Cameras will be present to capture him giving me my prize of one-million dollars, as well as the keys to the private house I’ll be staying in for the duration of my one-week stay on the southernmost island of Turks and Caicos.
I have dinner tonight with the creator of the app as part of the contest, then the rest of the week is mine to fill with whatever I want to do.
The meet and greet is set to stream live on the app as well as Good Morning America. The thought of so many eyes on me is nerve-racking but at least I’ll be fashionable while I’m sweating bullets.
With Winnie’s help, I went shopping earlier this week and nearly maxed out the one credit card I had.
Grinning, I tap out a reply to my best friend.
Couldn’t forget it for the world. I’m so freaking excited!!
I followed the exclamatory text with a string of emojis to further convey my excitement.
I’m excited for you, sweetie.
I type out another message.
I wish you were here with me.
The original plan was for Winnie to act as my plus one for the duration of the trip. However, her boss overturned his approval for her vacation request at the last minute when a big project came up.
So I’m flying solo. Literally.
I’ll make it up to you, doll. Just relax and soak it in. You deserve this break more than anyone I know. Enjoy every second.
My heart squeezes at her sweet words.
Thanks, hon. See ya in a week! Kisses
Seconds later, my phone buzzes in my lap. I laugh looking down at the screen.
And don’t forget to tell me all about your island fling. I want to hear every detail.
Snickering, I return my gaze back to the window and get lost in my thoughts.
For some reason, Winnie is convinced that I’m going to find a handsome stranger and engage in all sorts of lewd acts during my short stay. She claims I can use the “release” and an island fling is the perfect way to get my feet wet again after such a dry spell.
I haven’t dated anyone seriously in years.
Not since my ex, Jordan, who failed to mention he’d been planning his wedding the whole time we were involved. One morning, I’d logged into my Facebook account during a break at the nursing home and nearly lost my breakfast.
Posted for all our friends to see were photos of Jordan from the previous night, dressed in a tux and looking lovingly at a woman who was not me as he exchanged his wedding vows.
To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. Shattered was more like it.
Of all the shitty things in my life, I had considered Jordan to be my bright spot. But apparently, I’d only been a distraction from his true love.
The whole ordeal devastated me for months. I’d been so humiliated that I shut down, emotionally and physically.
I’d ended up quitting my job and sleeping on Winnie’s couch for a month. Her tough love had brought me back to life and given me the boost I needed to get back on my feet.
She told me that I was welcome to stay with her as long as I needed, but I had to at least try. She wouldn’t stand by and watch me deteriorate into nothingness.
She was the only person rooting for me and I couldn’t let her down.
So I’d gone out and landed my current job as a live-in caregiver for my eighty-year-old patient, Arnold.
His son, Gavin, hired me because his aging father has dementia and requires around-the-clock care.
The only catch is that I had to move in to the home and make myself available twenty-four seven.
Since I wasn’t dating and led a pretty boring life anyway, I jumped at the opportunity not realizing the physical and mental toll that the long hours and demanding work would take on my body.
I can’t remember the last day I’ve had free time to do more than grab a quick coffee with Winnie, let alone escape my hometown for a week-long vacation.
I’m counting on this trip to revive me in more ways than one. This is the first time I’ve ever left the country and I can’t wait for the adventure ahead.
It seems the universe is finally working in my favor.
A ding sounds and the stewardess appears near my seat seconds later, wearing an easy smile.
“We’ll be landing soon, dear. Is there anything I can get you before our descent?”
“No, thanks,” I answer with a smile of my own.
As we descend, I check my face in my compact and make sure I’m camera ready.
As ready as I’ll ever be.
Moments later, we’re on the ground and I expel a shaky breath.
This is it.
Gathering my purse, I stand and make my way to the door near the front of the plane.
My steps nearly falter when I see the man waiting for me to join him on the tarmac.