Sandra Harris sat in the hospital cafeteria reading the resort brochure that she had read the umpteenth time by now. “Come get away from those cold weather blues to our blue skies and water just waiting for you to lay back and take it all in. Hear nothing but the waves of the gulf washing softly upon the shores of the white sand beach.” The brochure went on to describe the many amenities of the Grand White Shores Beach Resort. Sandra looked across the cafeteria and her eyes were assaulted by a bright streak of sun glancing off three feet of Minnesota snow outside. “Hey girl” A tall willowy man in blue hospital scrubs brightly said to Sandra and plopped himself down in a chair aside of her with his hands across the table toward her. Sandra looked at his neatly manicured fingers lightly polished with clear nail polish, barely detectable.
“Hi Tim” Sandra said and smiled lightly. She was bone tired and majorly burnt out. Sandra was a registered nurse on the cardiac wing of the Twin cities most notable hospital. It had been a couple years since Sandra had taken a break as there had been layoffs due to the economy and a decrease in private donations. They were short on staff. Sandra often worked two shifts in a row and it was taking a toll on her. Tim said “Let me see that. I heard you are going on a little vacay” He indicated the resort brochure pointing his long tapered finger. He opened all three panels of the brochure to obtain the full affect. “Um-um” “Just look at that” “It’s Pina Colada Time for sure!” Tim exclaimed dramatically with a laugh and looked at Sandra with wide eyes and with further dramatic and hushed tones followed by another laugh Tim said “Girl…you just might meet Mr. Right! I have a feeling about these sorts of things.”
Sandra sat buckled into her coach class seat thinking about some things she hoped would get done at work while she was gone and she noticed these thoughts and told herself to stop that right now. She took a deep breath as the plane taxied out to the runway. Then she heard this tapping noise. “What was that noise?” The noise Sandra heard appeared to have a rhythm to it and it was coming from right behind her. There she found the culprit. A man about her age in his early thirties was drumming on a pad of paper with headphones on totally oblivious to those around him. He appeared lost in the music that was turned up so loud it sounded like a buzzing fly in Sandra’s ear. “He’s rude and annoying!” Sandra thought angrily. As soon as the plane reached altitude she was going to say something to the man as he had to be annoying others as well as her.
As soon as the seat belt light went off so she could unbuckle Sandra stood up and leaned over the backseat and spoke directly to the main drumming with his pencil and said “Sir, would you please stop drumming on your pad … you are annoying people who are trying to relax.” “Oh Hi, I’m James” the man said cheerfully. “I love vintage rock music like CCR, you know, Credence Clearwater Revival!” James continued “I’m sorry if I bothered you. I get carried away with good rock music” “Don’t you?” he asked. Sandra thought the only thing she would get carried away with right now would be eight hours of sleep. Sandra looked at James with a blank stare. James said to her of course I’ll stop, that’s cool…what did you say your name was?” Sandra continued her blank stare. “I didn’t say.” She sat back down but now her adrenaline was up and she could not sleep on the flight.
Sandra looked over the folder the travel agent had given her with the information about the Grand White Sands Resort. Sandra would not have taken this trip if it had not have been for the bargain the travel agent had with the resort. The suite was fifty percent discount for first responders. There were also percentages off drinks and food at the resort. The resort had three restaurants, two lounges and a Tiki bar, five pools and hot tubs. The suite had a small kitchen and living room with a balcony, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms with shower tub combinations Sandra didn’t know why she would need two bedrooms but she wouldn’t complain. All the suites must be built the same way she thought. Sandra was planning on getting to the suite and ordering food to the room and relaxing in front of the television in her pajamas and then bed. She was tired. Tomorrow she’ll get some drinks, snacks and fruits from the grocery and explore the area a little.
The Uber took Sandra from the Tampa International Airport to The Grand White Sands Resort at Saint Petersburg Beach. Sandra inched the window down and was surprised as warm humid air filled the car. Not unpleasant but she had just been in subzero weather. The Uber driver said that they have been having a cool spell. The temperatures were in the 60s and 70s but today it got up to 85 degrees and everybody was happy. Sandra felt herself beginning to perspire with the window cracked so she raised it. The Uber drove around the circular driveway of the Grand White Sands Resort and stopped at the entrance and the driver helped Sandra unload her baggage. The building was immense, painted light peach with white trim embellished with Rococo ornamentation.
Sandra walked through the automatic sliding glass door onto a marble floor. An attendant came to aid almost immediately pulling a baggage lorry with him. He hoisted Sandra’s bags and followed to the check in desk. Sandra pulled out the folder from the travel agency to retrieve her reservation paperwork. As she was standing there waiting patiently while the desk clerk checked her in Sandra heard that sound of a fly buzzing her ear again, her right ear. She turned quickly and there he stood the annoying man from the plane. “What’s his name John or Jacob, something like that?” Then she heard him say in that overly cheerful voice. “Hi again, I’m James, from the plane, remember?” Sandra was not pleased at all but she said quietly, “Oh, Hi.” The clerk was finished checking Sandra in and handed her key card to her room. Any other questions she could ask Randy her attendant.
Sandra opened the door with the key card. A good sign of a clean room Sandra thought a fresh scent rolled out. She turned on the lights and on the dining table was a basket of fruit from the travel agency. “That was nice.” Sandra thought. Just as Sandra was rolling her bag to the bedroom she heard a sound at the door. Someone was coming in! As Sandra turned and looked at the door, James entered. His six foot three frame took up most of the door.
“What the hell!” Sandra said almost screaming but most certainly startled. It was bad enough he was going to be at the resort let alone in her room right now. “What are you doing in my room?” “Whoa now, whose room, this is my room!” James confidently stated in a firm voice. “No, it isn’t” Sandra quipped “My reservations were made at a special rate for first responders by Northern Express Travel Agency!” James retorted, I’m a first responder and I made my reservations through Northern Express too!” Sandra sounding a little snide now says “Just what kind of first responder are you?” “I’m a Minneapolis EMT District 32” James responded. “Well, what kind of EMT listens to CCA?” Sandra stated. James said that’s CCR and a damn good EMT listens to CCR and ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers and a whole lot of other rock that pumps you up and keeps you going. The irony of it was that her hospital emergency room was one that served District 32.
Sandra thought “This is all I needed”. She said “Let’s go down to the desk and get this straightened out.” They both headed for the door at the same time looking like Laurel and Hardy for a minute as they squeezed through the hallway shoulder to shoulder. Sandra was determined to get out of the door first. “Damn it.” James said under his breath. “Let me get the door for you.” “My Mama raised me to be a gentleman.” Sandra felt foolish but he didn’t need to hold the door for her she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. Sandra was sure to be the one who pulled the door shut and locked it. She was marking her territory. James raised both his hands in the air at Sandra’s gesture and chuckled. His chuckle irritated Sandra further.
Sandra and James came off the elevator and walked with a purpose meaning business to the hotel front desk. The clerk saw them coming and looked at the ceiling then snapped his head down and plastered a fake smile on his face. “May I help you?” He asked them in a very eloquent tone. Sandra and James began talking at once shaking their reservation paperwork in the clerk’s face. The clerk batted his eyes and pleasantly said “One at a time please.” “I see you two have met.” “So the clerk was in on this mistake and allowed it to happen!” Sandra thought James said with dullness in his voice. “Yeah, we’ve met.” “You knew about this and you let this happen?” Sandra angrily asked the clerk. “Why yes Ms Harris you have signed the roommate agreement in order to receive the fifty percent discount on the suite.” The clerk said calmly but awaiting another outburst. “I did no such thing!” Sandra shouted. “I didn’t either.” James added.
The clerk picked out a pen from the container on the desk that had a long white plume of a feather that jiggled provocatively attached to the end of it. It ridiculously whisked about as He proceeded to direct them to a small print paragraph above their signatures on their reservation forms. The paragraph was very small and Sandra did remember reading it but thought it was regarding if she were to bring a guest with her to share the suite because of the poor wording in the disclaimer. The poor wording made it sound like she could give the second bedroom to a friend but there is was in that small print “assignment of guest roommate once you arrive to the resort will be arranged.” Sandra and James reached this part of the contract at the same time and they both read it out loud. Now, the usual calm and laid back James was about to blow a gasket. He was almost ready to ask about other rooms and rates when Sandra spoke up.
Sandra thought maybe she could make a deal with the clerk. “Well can you get me into a single bedroom for the same price?” James looked over quickly at Sandra and thought she’s quick on the draw and found himself admiring that trait to make decisions quickly. As an EMT he did it every day. James let Sandra take over and he would listen for a while. The clerk very much the actor feigned a frown and stated “Ms Harris, this is the highest rated resort on the beach and every room is booked. Sandra knew that she only had the budget for lower priced and possibly poorly maintained accommodations but she asked anyway. “What about some of these other hotels I saw on the way in?” Sandra asked “Ms Harris I’m afraid with the Gasparilla festival going on everything is booked. Places have been calling us for rooms!” The clerk lamented.
Sandra was exhausted. “Well, at least there are two bedrooms. She didn’t like it but she needed sleep and would have to take this issue up tomorrow which she hated carrying it over into another one of her vacation days. Sandra’s plans for ordering food to the suite and relaxing in front of the television were ruined. It was too late and she was too tired. Sandra allowed James to use his key card to open the door to their room. She began to pull her bag to her room. As she stepped into the room she was shocked and appalled. It was a single bedroom with a California king sized bed. The suite was a one bedroom! What else could happen tonight? Sandra walked back out to the living room and James was just standing there looking blankly at her and said in a monotone. “I’ll take the couch. I think it’s a pull out bed.” At this point Sandra could care less whether or not James was an axe killer. Sandra just nodded and turned around and walked back in her room and shut and locked the door.
Sandra woke up to the aroma of frying bacon, eggs and coffee. It was ten in the morning and James had already been to a nearby Food Mart for some staples. “Good Morning” He said in his back to normal cheerful voice. It was a little too much for Sandra, but hell, the whole trip was too much. “How about having a good breakfast?” James asked. Sandra was still taking offense at James and did not want to cave in but she was starving having missed dinner last night and the food smelled so good. James didn’t wait for her to answer. He took two plates and served up scrambled eggs, bacon and buttered toast and brought them to the small dining table in the living room. Sandra thought she could at least be civil and sit at the table. The man did cook. The food was delicious and the coffee hit the spot. Sandra glanced across the table a time or two and saw James in the sunlight from the open drapery. His hair was dark brown and was the kind of hair that looked good tossed about especially with a day old beard just shadowing his jaw. His dark velvet brown eyes caught her blue eyes a few times but there was that smirk on his lips and that annoyed Sandra.
“What’s so funny?” she said with some irritation in her voice. “Oh, I was thinking about you yelling at that poor clerk last night.” James laughed out loud. ‘You think this is funny buddy?” Sandra growled. “My hard earned money didn’t pay for the likes of you..you…you rock and roll EMT!” Sandra yelled and stomped off to the single bedroom with the California king sized bed. James was still laughing after Sandra slammed the door to the bedroom. He had never been called a rock and roll EMT but he liked the sound of it. He also was beginning to think Sandra was an attractive young woman and wondered why she wasn’t hitched yet. Probably the same reason he wasn’t married. His life was his job. There was little time for a girlfriend or a family but on his days off he felt lonely and wished someone was by his side.
James heard the shower running as he put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. Sandra soon emerged from the bedroom wearing a skirt and top which surprised James as he expected sun or beach wear. “I’m going downstairs and I’m going to talk to the management and see what can be done.” Sandra sounded if she meant business. James had already resolved himself that having the sullen Sandra for a roommate for his vacation was going to be a reality. He’d work around that detail and find ways to have fun. James put on his swim trunks and decided to rent an adult sized boogie board. As James passed the desk he saw in the office behind the desk Sandra talking and shaking the contract in front of her. James felt the ocean take him completely and wash away all his woes. He slathered on sun screen where he could reach and he remembered to reapply when he came out of the water. All except for his back.
Sandra spent hours on the phone negotiating with Northern Express Travel Agency regarding the misleading paragraph and Sandra’s dilemma of sharing a one bedroom suite with a man who was a stranger. Then all of a sudden a two bedroom suite opened up and immediately Sandra jumped on it feeling like her persistence and being at the hotel desk hearing everything going on allowed her to catch that suite the minute it became available. She also negotiated twenty percent would be taken off the final resort fees. Sandra felt proud of herself and wanted to celebrate. It was late in the afternoon. Why didn’t she and James move to their new suite and Sandra would invite him for a drink to make up for her lack of cordial behavior. Sandra opened the door to the one bedroom suite.
James stood there in his wet swim trunks. His skin was pink all over but he turned around and his back was flaming red. Sandra took a deep breath. He had terrible sunburn on his back where he could not put sunscreen. “James! What did you do?” It was the first time she had ever used James’ name when she spoke to him. James realized it as well and their eyes met. Sandra saw that smirk on James’ face again but this time she was not annoyed. She thought it was kind of cute.