I stood alone on a silvery dune, staring out to sea as I fidgeted with my finger. A cool breeze came in off the waves making the Palm fronds sigh and shudder and lifting strands of my wavy strawberry blond hair, which fluttered behind me like streamers. The sun was low on the horizon and sky was flecked with clouds, promising a magnificent sunset. I smiled in anticipation of my lover’s arrival and walked into the surf, letting the water cool my toes. Soon he would be here, and the perfect holiday romance would be consummated. –*– My adventure began 3 days ago when I flew to Jamaica and arrived at the luxurious Royal Plantation resort in Ocho Rios. Despite my excitement I had managed to sleep on the flight, so when I checked into my beautiful suite I only needed a quick nap before I was up and ready to explore. The first order of business was a visit to the on-site spa; I felt in the mood for a change. I gave my long, curly red hair a good trim and had it straightened out somewhat so that it hung elegant and wavy. I also lightened its color from its usual dark copper–red to a more playful and summery strawberry blond. Feeling like a new woman, I headed back to my suite and prepared for an afternoon on the beach. After dressing in a floral print bikini, matching cover–up and white sandals, I admired myself in the mirror. I was in great shape for 43 thanks to good genes, regular exercise and an aversion to direct sunlight born of pale Celtic skin. At just under 5 foot 4, I was not statuesque by any means, but everyone knows that smaller women age better, and I could easily pass for early 30s. My 35 C breasts, while not as pert as they once were, had resisted gravity’s relentless tugging and were still shapely and attractive and my legs were well toned. I quickly ran a brush through my newly lightened hair before slathering my freckly skin with sun block, putting on a fashionable straw hat and sunglasses. “Let the games begin!” I said to my reflection with a grin. Time to find some holiday romance! I strolled around the immaculate grounds, a true tropical paradise set on white sandy beaches that gave way to crystal clear turquoise water. After familiarizing myself with the layout of the resort I enjoyed a frosty margarita at an outdoor bar with a magnificent view of the beach and sea beyond. The clean sea air was cool and invigorating, almost intoxicating. Strolling out to the sand I found an empty beach chair close to a shady patch under the palm trees. I pulled it out into the sunlight and laid back as I tried to get some color into my pale Irish skin. Carefully timing my exposure I made sure I was not going to burn myself on the first day of my holiday, and I spent most of the time in the shade. Waiters in crisp white shirts and black shorts kept the drinks coming, and soon I was feeling very pleasantly buzzed. I sipped another margarita as I watched the other guests frolicking in the surf, riding rented jet skis and paragliding. Time passed as pleasantly as I could possibly imagine; soon the sun was getting low on the horizon and my belly was rumbling. I was trying to build up a good appetite before trying one of the gourmet restaurants on site at the all-inclusive resort. I went back to my suite and changed into a little green dress after a quick shower. There was a magnificent sunset, and I decided on the outdoor restaurant since the weather was so perfect. The Terrace Restaurant was exotic and beautiful, with strings of tiny white lights festooned over the trellises and umbrellas. There was no wait and I quickly grabbed a small table with a view of the sunset. I feasted on a delicious meal of swordfish and fresh local vegetables washed down by a delightful Chardonnay. Halfway through my meal, the dinner rush arrived, and I was soon surrounded by happy, tanned couples. I felt very conspicuous dining alone, and hoped that I would not be making a habit of it. I walked along the grounds as the sky grew dark and the hotel lights came up, watching the happy couples enjoying drinks at the many outdoor bars. It was becoming apparent to me that finding romance at the resort was a bit of a long shot. Although I received plenty of flirtatious glances, they were always the surreptitious looks of men who were with their wives or girlfriends. This place catered to happy couples looking for a romantic getaway, not singles in search of adventure. I resolve to go into town tomorrow and try my luck outside the confines of this luxurious oasis. I had one last drink at the Terrace Bar and watched the stars come out in the tropical sky before returning to my suite happy, full and more than a little tipsy. I was soon fast asleep and dreaming şişli escort of tall dark strangers. –*– I had a nice lie in the next morning, finally rousing myself to order a shrimp omelet for breakfast by room service. I wrapped myself in a cozy bathrobe and ate breakfast on my balcony. The service was impeccable, and the breakfast delicious and mouthwatering, especially when accompanied by a tasty local hot sauce. After a decadently long shower, I put on a sexy floral dress, grabbed my Sun hat and purse and headed to the resort entrance. I hailed a taxi outside of the lobby and asked to be taken to downtown Ocho Rios. I spent the early afternoon exploring the craft market and marveling at the friendliness of the locals. Although persistent salespeople, they were not near as pushy as I had been led to believe. I eventually found myself at the “Island Village”, an open-air shopping center that looked like Walt Disney’s idea of a rustic Jamaican village. Just in time for a late lunch I came across one of Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” restaurants. A part of me was embarrassed to be considering going to such a touristy place, but I thought I would have more than enough time for fine dining and local flavor in the days to come. Besides, Jimmy Buffet was part of the soundtrack to my college days – and I was in the mood for something familiar. After a short wait behind a family of large tourists dressed in the way only large Americans tourists dress, I was shown to a table by the bar which offered a view of the sea – which was currently dominated by an enormous cruise ship docked at the harbor. I ordered a frosty margarita from an attentive young waitress, and took in my surroundings. The crowd here was very lively, much more boisterous than back at the resort. As I waited for my drink, my eyes scanned the tables full of tourists hoping to find some interesting looking single men. My choices here seem to fall into two categories; the drunk old–timers holding up the bar, and a group of about a dozen rowdy young men who looked like they were on a bachelor party outing. I made the mistake of glancing too long in their direction and caught the eye of one of their party, who grinned back and raised his eyebrow suggestively. I quickly looked away and studied the menu; I wasn’t in the mood for drunken frat boys. Then I saw him. Striding towards the bar was, well, a tall dark stranger! He was at least 6 foot 5, lean, and dressed neatly in a white linen safari shirt and khaki trousers. His hair was dark and wavy, a bit on the long side and peppered with gray. He wore a closely trimmed beard, looked to be in his early 40s, and was tan and fit. He stepped up to the bar and ordered a whiskey as I watched him over the top of my menu. I was wondering what his nationality was, when suddenly I realized he was looking right at me as I was staring at him. Smiling, he gave me an almost imperceptible nod of the head and raised his whiskey ever so slightly in a salute before downing it. My breath caught and I quickly turned back to the menu as I felt a blush bloom on my face. “Damn!” I thought to myself, “play it cool! You finally see an interesting man and you act like a flustered schoolgirl!” Just as I was getting my thoughts together and formulating a plan, I noticed two of the young men from the bachelor party were making their way around the bar, their eyes fixed on me. “Shit!” I muttered under my breath. “Talk about bad timing!” I buried my face in my menu, hoping the boys would get my hint and pass me by. After a few moments had passed I felt the presence of someone standing beside me. I sighed, and prepared my most gracious “thanks but no thanks” speech and looked up into the face of …the handsome stranger. Behind him the two frat boys seemed frozen in mid step, unsure of what to make of the situation. “There you are my dear!” The tall stranger said in a sexy baritone with a hint of a Spanish accent. “I’m sorry I’m running a little bit late.” Taken by surprise I could only manage to blink and nod. The stranger smiled and raised an eyebrow quizzically as he glanced at the seat opposite me. “Oh sweetheart!” I practically stuttered. “Won’t you join me?” The tall stranger settled into the seat across from me smiling mischievously, his piercing hazel eyes fixed on mine. The two frat boys beat a hasty retreat back to the other side of the bar, as the stranger and I shared a quiet laugh. “The most beautiful flowers attract the busiest bees.” The stranger said with a grin, before gallantly taking my hand and kissing it softly. “Miguel de Vallado, pleased to meet you.” “Kelly Branigan.” I said, batting my eyelashes. “Pleased escort şişli to meet you Senor Vallado.” “Please, call me Miguel.” He said with a smile as he signaled to the bartender. Our drinks soon arrive together, mine a frosty margarita and his a bottle of Negra Modello Dark. As he reached for his beer I noticed his hands were clean and well manicured; a big plus in my book. I do love a well-groomed man, and Miguel looked as if he just stepped out of a spa. We placed our food orders, and although my heart had been set on the “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, my vanity got the better of me and I ordered a Caribbean shrimp salad while Miguel ordered the curried chicken. As the waitress left with our orders Miguel sat back in his chair and smiled at me. “I am curious as to why such a lovely lady as you is alone in this place.” He said. “Well, I won a week at the Grand Plantation resort on a radio call-in.” I said, as I fidgeted with my finger. “And I’m between… boyfriends.” “I know the Grand Plantation.” Miguel said, nodding. “It is a very romantic place.” “What about you?” I asked. “Are you alone in this romantic paradise?” “I am here on business.” Miguel answered. “Can I ask you what you do?” I said as I sipped my margarita. “I am an… antiquities dealer.” He replied, somewhat evasive. “Oh, like Indiana Jones?” I said with a grin “Not quite that exciting!” He chuckled. “Although…” Miguel said, leaning close after glancing around the room carefully, “I once barely escaped with my life from a client who was a cartel chief. He thought I was working for the CIA.” “Were you?” I asked quietly, my eyes wide with excitement. “I am not at liberty to say.” He said with a serious expression. “But I can tell you that there was a very exciting car chase.” I snickered into my margarita and smiled at him coyly. “I am…” he paused dramatically, “the most interesting man at the bar.” I giggled girlishly. He was a charmer, and with a good sense of humor. I was well and truly smitten. We talked and laughed and soon our food arrived. Miguel was fascinating, sexy, and a true gentleman. He was descended from minor Spanish nobility who had chosen exile after the Civil War, and he currently lived near Mexico City where he runs an antiques store specializing in medieval weapons and armor. I was definitely falling for his charms, and was beginning to hope that this would lead to more than just a holiday fling. Time seemed to fly by, and soon it was nearly 4 o’clock. Miguel glanced at his watch with a pained expression. “I’m afraid I have a meeting with a client coming up Kelly.” He said with regret. “It was a delight meeting you.” “It was a pleasure meeting you to Miguel.” I said, trying to hide my disappointment at his imminent departure. “If it is not too forward of me to ask, may I meet you for dinner tonight Kelly?” Miguel asked as he took my hand in his. “Well, I had been invited to a kegger,” I said playfully as I glanced over at the Bachelor party, “but your offer is more tempting. Yes, I’d be delighted.” Miguel smiled and kissed my hand. “I’ll meet you in your hotel lobby at 7 o’clock.” –*– Heart pounding, I made my way back to the resort and took a short nap before preparing myself for the evening with the handsome Miguel. After trying every outfit I brought at least twice, I settled on a sparkly green mini–dress that clung to my body like a coat of paint and matching high heels. I made my way to the lobby quickly, not wanting to be late. I arrived with ten minutes to spare and discover Miguel was already there waiting for me. His face seemed to light up when he saw me, and I smiled nervously like a teenager meeting her prom date on the big night. Miguel approached and let out a breath of air through pursed lips as he took my hand and gracefully spun me about. “Like the moonflower, you blossom at night Kelly.” Miguel said in his delicious Spanish accent. Miguel looked dapper in a light khaki suit, blue shirt and dark tie; he was definitely working the James Bond/safari chic look. Stepping out of the lobby, we walked to the parking lot to his rental car, a dark green Jeep Wrangler. We drove out of Ocho Rios and headed inland, up into the hills. He drove confidently; aggressively enough to thrill me, but not so dangerously as to make me ill at ease. After about fifteen minutes of twists and turns, we pulled onto a drive, which looked like it led to an old farmhouse. I was beginning to wonder if we had made a wrong turn when I suddenly saw the sign for the restaurant and a parking lot full of fancy cars. “Not a lot of tourists know about this place.” Miguel said, as he guided the Jeep into a parking space. The interior mecidiyeköy of the restaurant was incredibly cozy, done up like a plantation home from the colonial period. The guests were a mixture of very well dressed tourists, and important looking Jamaicans. Miguel discreetly pointed out the minister for tourism at a table across from ours. The meal was heavenly and everything was perfect, the ambience, the service and the food. I ordered nut–encrusted red snapper while Miguel ordered a spicy dish of a local favorite, jerked chicken, prepared with a French twist. We fed each other tidbits, and the conversation flowed wonderfully; I was completely at ease in his company. Our next destination was a resort on the other side of Ocho Rios from where I was staying; Miguel said that a very good jazz quartet from Brazil was playing there tonight. It was exactly what an exotic jazz club should look like; dark well padded leather furniture, soft lights and candles, and a slight haze of cigarette smoke. We danced through the night as the band played a variety of Brazilian jazz standards, including my favorite Stan Getz numbers. Miguel was an excellent dancer, graceful and strong. I managed to keep up with him thanks to the ballroom dancing classes I had taken years ago. It all came back to me, and we moved together flawlessly, drawing admiring looks from the other couples. Even with heels he was almost a full head taller than me, so during the slow dances I snuggled my face against his warm and muscular chest and inhaled deeply his musky aftershave. We danced together till after midnight; I didn’t want this romantic night to end, but I was becoming sleepy. Miguel asked me for one final dance, and then we slipped away into the night. Miguel dropped me off at my resort, and although I toyed with the idea of inviting him up for “a drink”, I didn’t want him to think I was just looking for a quick holiday fling. Although that was my original intention, I was falling hard for this elegant stranger, and felt a deep connection between us. Parking his Jeep in front of my resort, he gallantly opened my door, helped me out and kissed my hand tenderly. I felt myself blush and, taken by a sudden impulse, slipped my arms around his strong neck, stood on my tip toes and gave him a goodbye kiss with just enough tongue to let him know that I was interested in more. He kissed me back, and like everything else that night, it was perfect. I hadn’t kissed a man with a beard since college, and it tickled delightfully. I nearly swooned in his arms as I clung to him like a vine for support. “Kelly,” he whispered softly in my ear, “I would like to see you tomorrow. Would that be possible?” “9 o’clock?” I asked. Miguel gazed at me with adoring hazel eyes and smiled. “I’ll see you at 9:00 my lovely lady.” With that he grinned, spun me and danced a few samba steps while I giggled. He kissed my hand again, bowed, and returned to his Jeep. He waved at me and I blew him a kiss as he drove off into the night. I took a deep breath and tried with little success not to look too annoyingly happy. As I walked back to my suite, I did little dance steps when I thought no one was looking. I was like a teenage girl after her first real date. –*– My alarm woke me from a wonderful dream at 7: 00, but my grumbling was silenced as I recalled how wonderful last night was, and anticipated how exciting today could be. I once again called room service for breakfast; it soon arrived, accompanied by a beautiful bouquet of flowers that the waiter said had been delivered early this morning. A small card attached had the following haiku; “With bright emerald eyes my smiling queen beguiles me, as she claims my heart.” M. V. As soon as the waiter left, I sighed deeply and fell back into the sheets, clutching the card to my breast with a dreamy expression on my face. After breakfasting on the balcony again and having a quick shower, I prepared for the busy day. Not knowing what to expect today, I dressed as practically as possible in a white blouse, khakis skirt and tennis shoes. I brought my largest handbag, packed with bathing suit, towel, flip-flops and sun block. As giddy as a schoolgirl, I practically ran down to the lobby. Seeing no sign of Miguel, I stepped outside by the taxi rank and soon saw him approach in his Jeep. Miguel was dressed in a casual khaki suit, wearing a jaunty Panama hat. He grinned at me as I clambered into the Jeep, leaning forward to give me a good morning kiss once I had settled. “Where are we going today?” I asked, not really caring what the answer would be. “Today my lovely Kelly, we shall escape the luxurious confines of Ocho Rios and explore a bit of the real Jamaica.” He said with a smile as he pulled away from the hotel. Heading southeast, we headed for the Blue Mountains, an area famous for its coffee. His jeep was the ideal vehicle for the day’s excursion, as the roads were rather primitive and treacherous.