Melanie leaned her forehead against the door. The taxi was stuffy and smelled like a pile of sweaty tube socks. She rolled down the window. With a pleasant whoosh, the wind replaced the smell with fresh air. She was beginning to feel more at ease now. Closing her eyes, she let the warm summer sun lick her face. Lost in thought, she didn't notice the tendrils of auburn hair swirling around her head.
This was the first vacation she had taken, well....ever. But it isn't really considered a vacation if you just quit your job and walked away from everything you've ever known. New Orleans would be the perfect place to spice up her mundane existence and tan her pale skin. Years of working in an office had left her with ghostly pale skin and a mild case of carpel tunnel.
Jazz music floats to her eardrums over the honking cars and screaming children. Opening her eyes, the buildings fly by in a blur. Noticing without really seeing the passing view, she nibbles her lip nervously. Nana had always been furious with this habit. "As a woman, you must never show weakness. People can be snakes, and snakes strike at the first sign of weakness." She may have been difficult to handle, but Melanie really missed her. Night Flights were a horrible idea. Jet lag had her taking a trip down memory lane.
Prying herself back to the present, she turned to the cab driver. "How much longer?" Hoping her anxiousness had not come through in her voice.
"We'll be pulling up in just a few minutes" he said, in an accent that Melanie could not determine.
Melanie nodded and hitched forward. The Honeysuckle Inn. It was what had drawn her to this part of the country. Rubbing her palms on her jeans, she thought, this moment will determine where my life will go from here.
She fidgeted like a child who had to go potty, not the 29 year old woman she was. Catching herself on the verge of bouncing up and down, she attempted to calm her growing excitement. The cab slowed and made a right turn. Traveling almost in slow motion, she noticed the sign for the Inn and held her breath.
Coming to a full stop, the driver noisily clicked the car into park and said "Here we are. That'll be $30."
Melanie couldn't budge. Awestruck by the beauty of this place.
Popping the trunk, the driver exited the car to unload the luggage. Jarring her from her trance, she stepped onto the wide sidewalk. It was much warmer than she had initially thought. Carlos, a tall man with dark chocolate skin, set her bags at her feet. She dug through her purse and came out with exact change. before she could get her wallet back in her purse, the cab was squealing down the road. No turning back now.
The Honeysuckle Inn was more than she had expected. Gathering her bags, she made her way through the wrought iron gate and up the cobblestones pathway. Honeysuckle grew along the gate and around the perimeter of the veranda. Pausing before heading up the stairs, she leaned over to smell the flowers. The scent was delicious and almost dream inducing. For a moment, she considered sleeping right there on the lawn. She hurried up the stairs.
The two-story Inn was painted the color of sunflowers. The porch wrapped around two sides of the building and had an array of white wicker furniture that gave it a country feel. She hesitated as she approached the large white door with a stained class window. Reaching out, Melanie rang the doorbell. Setting her luggage down, she ran her fingers through her mussed hair in an attempt to subdued its unruly nature.
She tapped her foot in anticipation. Reaching out, she rang the bell again.
"I'm coming!!" a rough masculine voice called.
Imagining an elderly widower, the door flew open. A man stepped out, wiping his hands on a towel. "Sorry about that. I was just getting dinner ready. I'm Luke Devon, you must be Melanie Caswell. Welcome, I was expecting you for a couple more hours. Would you like some help with your bags?"
The elderly man she was expecting was 30 something and extremely attractive. He was about 6'2", ice blue eyes and skin browned by the sun. His short brown hair made her reach out and touch it. Luke smiled at her, her legs turned to melted butter.
He picked up her bags and headed inside. "Let's get you settled, dinner will be ready shortly." Even with his lose black shirt and cargo shorts, she could tell that he was not your typical innkeeper. This man was a real slice of heaven to look at. Melanie followed him inside, not paying attention to her surrounding, just the man leading the way. She couldn't help herself, the view was definitely fantastic. Smiling, she thought, this was definitely the right decision.