*I am stuck in Jack&Jill mode.*
Jack led them to a bar on the beach within the resort. They chatted easily along the way, but avoided the obvious questions about what brought them there. Jillian continued to appraise the tall handsome stranger with the perfectly messy hair and warm eyes that seemed to change color with his mood. Right now those eyes were so light and playful they were almost golden. That’s what she was thinking when she saw him pull out a pair of aviator style sunglasses and slip them on. Even though they covered up those gorgeous eyes, she had to admit he looked pretty hot wearing them.
“Thirsty?” His question startled her. Had she been standing with her mouth open and her tongue out? She certainly felt that way as she stared at the man beside her. She knew she was awkward around men, but certainly it wasn’t that obvious. “We’re almost to the bar. Are you thirsty?”
Smiling with relief, she nodded. “Yes, I suppose I am. I’ll have a…”
“Wait let me guess. You want one of the tutti fruitti bahama mama frozen things with an umbrella on top.”
Jillian gave him a mock scowl. Truthfully, she had been about to order a strawberry margarita. It was the only thing she knew she enjoyed. Back home she didn’t drink that often unless it was wine with dinner. Then again, she didn’t go out for dinner very often either. “I’ll have whatever you’re having. Thanks.”
She found a seat at an empty table on the boardwalk built over the beach. The wind played off the water just enough to create a cooling breeze as she sat in the afternoon sun. Once again, she appreciated the form of the man buying her a drink at the bar. I am so out of my league here. This is not me. But then again, isn’t this what I came for? To get away from all the stress and worries of the last few years and have some fun before joining the “real world?”
Jillian had just graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with her masters in anthropology and an undergrad degree in physics. After starting college at 16, she fast tracked through undergrad work and finished her masters by 24. All of that, along with part time jobs and extra cirriculars had left little time for a social life. She wasn’t sure she even knew how to carry on a a social conversation with a man like this. Sure, the guys from class had always fawned over her, but she was a woman in a male dominated course. And none of them looked like the man sauntering toward her with two beers and two shot glasses in his hands.
He sat down across from her and lifted one of the shot glasses. With a look, he encouraged her to take hers as well. She eyed it warily, but he didn’t let her off the hook. “It’s a Saturday afternoon. You’re not at home. The view doesn’t get any better. Live a little.” After handing her one of the small glasses, he passed her a beer with a slice of lime sticking out the top. Picking up a salt shaker from the table, he asked, “You know the drill, right?”
“Of course!” Honestly, Jillian had never done a shot of tequila or any other kind of alcohol. She had seen them though and figured her genius IQ could fill in the blanks. Ducking her head to hide a blush, she quickly licked the back of her left hand and reached for the salt. Jack merely flashed her his crooked grin and grabbed her hand, adding the salt himself. With that, they clinked glasses and tossed back their drinks.
Jillian barely got the lime to her mouth before she found herself on the verge of coughing and ended up laughing self conciously. Quickly, Jack handed her the beer and enouraged her to take a drink. The cool crispness of the liquid helped soothe the burning sensation the tequila had left. He was smiling at her in a way that seemed more like laughter.
“Ok. Now that we’ve got the ball rolling, let’s just start with your basic, banal small talk. My name’s John Shepherd, but please call me Jack. Grew up in the northeast corner of Colorado.
Jillian replied in kind. “Jillian Reynolds, but I go by Jill. I have ever since I was a school girl in Vancouer.”
‘”Vancouver, Canada?” Jack asked incredulously.
“Vancouver, BC. Canada. Yes.” Jillian answered with a shy smile. Unsure what to say next, she picked up her beer to have another sip. Uncomfortably, she tucked her rich auburn hair behind her ear and stared into her lap. She hated being so uncomfortable around this guy. He was so handsome and so nice. It never failed, whenever she was around a guy she found attractive she saw herself as a gawky teenager again with bad skin and braces.
Thankfully, Jack rescued her from her own thoughts when he spoke next. “You’re a long way from home then. What brings you to the land of sandy beaches and cabanas?”
Glad to have been given direction for the conversation, Jillian looked up and answered. “Well, I just graduated at the end of last month and decided I owed myself a vacation before starting my job this fall.”
“And what job is that?” Jack asked, leaning back casually and comfortably in his chair.
“I’m taking an assistant professor position at the Central Washington University.” In spite of the sunglasses, Jillian could see Jack’s eyebrows raise in what she assumed was surprise.
“I see. That’s,” Jack paused as he searched for the right word, “unexpected.”
“How do you mean?”
“It’s just that I didn’t expect to find a book worm dancing the samba in Cabo. Most of the women around here have other priorities in mind.”
Jillian looked down again, unsure how to take this comment. After a brief yet uncomfortable silence, Jack spoke again. “What will you be teaching?”
Again relieved to be prompted into speech, Jillian looked up with a big smile on her face. She loved talking about her studies and her future career. “I’ll be assisting with an anthropology course with a personal focus on cultural anthropology.”
“Shouldn’t you be digging for bones and plates in Egypt or something?” Jack asked without guile.
“Close, but you’re thinking of archaeology. Anthropology is a broader field but they’re both focused on the study of man. What’s more, I’ve already been on two digs during college and I imagine I’ll go again when I get the chance.”
Now Jack really was impressed. The women he had met before here had been mostly shallow socialites looking for a distraction between spa visits. He found himself studying the pale complexion and dark blue eyes of the woman across the table. She was slender with the long lines of a dancer. Her words interrupted his wayward thoughts before they got too far. “Enough about me,” she said in a way that proved she really didn’t want to talk any more about herself. “What is it that you do?”