Kyle and his family are on vacation on a cruise. At dinner their first night, they meet a beautiful, but obviously ill, young woman named Emily Geraci. Kyle recognizes the signs of a woman whose body was ravaged by Cancer.
They made polite dinner conversation. Kyle found her quick witted and nearly as sarcastic as he was. He enjoyed her scathing critique of the drive over from Orlando.
“Did you drive yourself over?” Carmelita asked.
“Not quite up to that yet. I took the company shuttle. Not the most comfortable trip, but at least I didn’t have to worry about the traffic. People in Orlando are idiots on the road.”
“True of any big city,” Kyle replied diplomatically.
“I guess, but it seemed like everyone in Orlando was completely insane.”
Kyle chuckled. “I guess it seems like that sometimes.”
“We’re from Orlando,” Mindy said. “Daddy says Mickey Mouse lives there too.”
“Really? Have you seen Mickey?” Emily replied, eyes big with wonder.
“Lots! Mommy used to work for Disney. We went all the time.”
“What fun! I’ve never been. It’s on my list after I skydive and rappel down a mountain.”
“Any particular mountain?” Kyle asked with a smirk.
“Any that presents itself. I figure I’ll have to go out of state, however. There aren’t too many mountains in Florida.”
“Not any I’ve ever seen,” Kyle replied with a smirk.
Dinner was cleared and Carmelita took the kids back to the cabin to change and watch a movie.
“Don’t be too late, Mr. Scott,” Carmelita reprimanded. “You need to come tell the kids goodnight.”
“Thanks, Lita. I won’t be long.” He frowned at her behind Emily’s head.
When they were gone, he and Emily took a stroll along the deck. Strains of music lured them to a lounge where there was a dance floor. The music was a Latin jazz blend that made Kyle’s blood race.
“Do you like to dance, Emily?”
“Me? Wow, I don’t remember the last time I went dancing.”
“Would you like to?”
“For a little while. I’m just getting my strength back.”
“Best exercise in the world.” He held the door open for her.
The music washed over him in a sultry cloud. They draped Emily’s shawl and his jacket over a couple of chairs before hitting the dance floor. Kyle held her gently, moving smoothly to the music, his body following the subtle beat of the drums. Laughing happily, Emily threw herself into the dance, giggling when she missed a step. She was thoroughly enjoying the moment. They danced until they could hardly breathe, taking a well deserved break when the band did.
“I haven’t had this much fun in ages.” Emily giggled, fanning herself with the wine menu.
“Where did you learn to dance like that?”
“My mom. She had a dance studio in West Palm until the trifecta of hurricanes back in 2004. Totally destroyed the building. What Charley didn’t take out, Frances and Jeanne did.”
“What a pity.”
“She lived with us for awhile, but decided to move to Tampa instead.”
“Does she like it there?”
“She loves it. The kids miss her though.”
“I imagine so. You have wonderful children. So smart, funny…. Your son is a character.”
“Yeah, he gets that from me, I’m afraid. Their mom wasn’t nearly as sarcastic as me. I hope the girls got her temperament.”
“How long ago did she die?”
“It’s that obvious, huh?”
“Well, you’re on a cruise ship with your housekeeper, you’re speaking of her in the past tense, dancing with me and you didn’t seem the least surprised to see a woman with no hair. Did she die of cancer?”
“Yeah, five months ago.”
“I’m so sorry.” She took his hand, squeezing the fingers gently. “I just found out I’m in remission after nearly eighteen months of fighting.”
“You’re a very lucky woman.”
“Which is why I’m on this trip. I’m celebrating a new chance at life. I realized I’d lived in a shell for the last thirty years. I’m determined not to anymore.”
“Hence the skydiving and rappelling?”
“I may never do either, but it’s nice to have a goal. Don’t you think?”
“I do.” He kissed her fingers. “You’re a brave woman, Emily Geraci.”