This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Sydney and Philippe were nearing their twentieth wedding anniversary. She was just making the final arrangements for their trip to Las Vegas, where they planned to renew their vows. The doorbell rang as she clicked “enter” on the computer, finalizing their travel plans.
She would have been surprised to see the State Trooper standing on her front porch, but she had been overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness all afternoon long. “Are you Mrs. Santarelli?” the Trooper began to ask as Sydney was already shaking her head no. “You’re not Mrs. Santarelli?” he asked again.
“Yes, where’s Philippe?” she blurted out.
Almost an hour after the Trooper arrived, Sydney had learned all the details of the horrible car accident that killed her husband, her best friend, her soul mate.
Sydney and Philippe had been together more than half of Sydney’s lifetime. As the trooper was leaving, he turned and handed Sydney a plain gold wedding band. “Oh, I almost forgot to give this to you. I know how important our wedding rings are to my wife. I can only imagine you would feel the same.” That’s when Sydney realized the completeness she felt with Philippe was broken forever.
Looking at the gold ring in the middle of her palm, she could feel the blood rushing out of her face. Almost as if in slow motion, she descended to the cold tile floor in the foyer. The floodgates had opened and showed no signs of stopping.
While holding her hands to her face, she heard someone else pulling down her gravel driveway. “Oh my God, my kids are home!” she said frantically. The thought of having to live without Philippe had clouded her head to the point where she had forgotten that their four kids would also be without a father.
Their twins, Salvatore and Samantha, were already eighteen. Their middle child, Michaela, was just turning sixteen, and the youngest, Dominick, was almost thirteen. How in the world was she going to deal with this?
* * * * *
After six months, the kids seemed to be dealing with the fact that their father was gone. Sydney, on the other hand, was not. Most of her life had become routine; wake up, get the kids situated, go to work, take care of the house, feed everyone, chauffeur the kids around, go to bed. Then she had to start a new day just as the one before.
Her relationship with Philippe had been better than the average relationship. Yeah, they fought about the usual things, but at the end of the day, they were still just Sydney and Philippe. Their intimacy had still been going strong before his death. In fact, Sydney had always looked forward to the end of the day because she knew she’d crawl into bed and have all the day’s worries taken away just by being next to Philippe.
Her days had become mundane. Not an hour would pass without Sydney finding herself staring at a picture and crying, trying to figure out why her life had made such a drastic turn.
Nights were bearable until she would wake up, and after lying in bed for several hours, she would finally cry herself to sleep. The dreams she had almost seemed real.
In her dreams, she was naked in bed with Philippe as he held and caressed her. They always started out slow and passive, only to progress into a passion that would have Sydney seeing a spectrum of colors in her mind. There was never a time while Philippe was alive that she didn’t feel completely satisfied by their lovemaking. On several nights, she would awake to a spot of wetness on the bed, feeling complete satisfaction but still mourning the void in her heart.
The day before what would have been their twentieth anniversary, the phone rang. Sydney answered, figuring it would be Natalie, her sister. She had spoken to her almost every day since she had received the news of the accident. Natalie had become the one constant person Sydney could rely on for anything.
Surprisingly, it was the limo company calling to confirm the pick-up time for the Vegas trip. “Mrs. Santarelli, Buker Limousine calling to confirm your pick up, tomorrow at 5:30 am for two.” She had totally forgotten that all the trip plans had been made and paid for in full. Dazed, Sydney agreed to be picked up at 5:30 am the next morning.
Could she really go on this trip by herself? She had never really done anything by herself. Maybe she could use the next seven days as therapy to find some type of closure and come back home and be at least half the person she was before. Her children still needed a mother.
Coming from a large Italian family, Sydney was sure someone would keep an eye on the younger ones and the twins would be around to help. They had decided to put off going to college for a year to make sure they were around in case their mother needed them.
Sydney was going to Vegas. Away from home, she wouldn’t have to answer to anyone while she lay around and mourned the passing of the only man she’d ever loved.
With only several hours left before the limo arrived, Sydney packed some things. She didn’t plan to leave the room much. She’d have room service delivered when she got hungry. All she needed were sweats, t-shirts, and flip-flops, maybe a pair or two of shorts, in case she actually had to leave the comforts of the air-conditioned hotel. She wouldn’t even have to pack toiletries, as the five star hotel would be stocked with whatever she would need.
The only thing she packed was her Kindle Fire. It had internet capabilities so she didn’t even need to pack her laptop. She’d be able to access all the necessary sites from the Kindle. Facebook, not that she had anything exciting to post about her life, but it was her connection to everyone else. Pinterest, which would kill a few hours a day. Amazon - how else would she keep her Kindle loaded with books to read for the next seven days?
Before she knew it, her large Vera Bradley duffel bag was packed and waiting by the front door. She even contemplated packing Philippe’s pillow. She hadn’t changed the pillowcase since he died. It still smelled of his body wash and was the only thing left of him she had to comfort her at night. The duffel bag had plenty of room in it. Syd, really? What are you, four, packing a security pillow? Grow the fuck up already.
Standing in the foyer, where she had been told about her husband’s accident, she stared at the wedding picture hanging on the wall. Memories of conversations that she’d had with Philippe while planning this getaway had her second-guessing herself.
It took all her strength to walk out that door when the limo arrived. There was nothing holding her back. The house was already empty, Salvatore and Samantha were staying with friends, and Michaela and Dominick had left the night before to stay with their aunt. It was all planned so that Sydney wouldn’t have to do good-byes in the early morning.
The limo ride was quick and uneventful. The driver never even made eye contact with Sydney. Why would he? She was just an average woman. On a good day, she felt five feet, five inches tall, when she actually only measured five feet. She was medium build, about 130 pounds, with long brown hair and big brown eyes. There was nothing special about her.
Sydney spent most of the ride to the airport thinking about all the features that made Philippe special: his full head of wavy, black hair and those gray eyes that always made her heart skip a beat. He had the softest lips that always knew how to make her feel good everywhere.
He wasn’t too muscular but had enough muscle to hold onto. He was slender, except for that little pot belly, which told her she was doing her job as a good Italian wife by feeding him well. His ass was just the right size for her to cup her hands around while making love. He was pretty well off in the equipment department, so she never had a complaint. Between his tongue, and his penis…Philippe always seemed to find just the right spots.
It wasn’t until she began to feel a little wet between her thighs that she realized the limo driver was holding the door open for her to get out. Nonchalantly she checked herself before exiting the limo. She took her bag, tipped the driver, and entered the airport.
Although she hadn’t traveled much in the past twenty years, Sydney was no stranger to the airport. She knew exactly what needed to be done in order to get through security and board the plane with no hassles. She already knew she wasn’t going to check her duffel bag. All she had to do was find a Kiosk where she could print out her boarding pass and proceed to the gate.
Was the entire trip going to be a constant reminder of her loss? Hadn’t she realized that when she began to print out her boarding pass, two passes would print? The original travel plans had been made for both her and her husband. She hadn’t changed a thing before leaving.
Arriving at security, she removed her sneakers from her feet, took her keys and cell phone out of her jeans pockets, and placed everything in the bucket.
After a short wait, they started boarding the plane. That was a good thing. It meant she didn’t have much time to reminisce about the last time she’d been with Philippe at the airport. It had been the day after their wedding when they left for their honeymoon.
She was glad to be heading out so quickly.
After finding her assigned row, and again realizing she had the choice of her seat or Philippe’s seat, Sydney decided to sit by the window. This left an empty seat between her and whoever would be sitting in that row with her.
It didn’t take long for memories to flood back about how uneasy Philippe had felt about flying. She remembered holding his hand and rubbing his new gold wedding band most of their flight. She instinctively grabbed at the chain around her neck and pulled out that very gold band. By habit, she began to twirl the ring around the tip of her finger.
Sydney had never removed her wedding rings and had no intention of ever removing them. By having his ring on a chain around her neck, she felt she was able to keep him close to her heart.
Startled by the husky voice that came from over her, she yanked the chain around her neck. “Ouch!”
“Excuse me.” The voice came from an Adonis of a man. “I believe you’re in my seat.” He lifted up his opened hand to her. “But as long as nobody else shows up, you’re welcome to stay if you prefer the window.”
Sydney immediately replied, “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was in the wrong seat, but no worries, nobody else will be coming because I actually paid for two seats.”
The handsome young man looked confused. Sydney began to explain, “The extra seat was for my husband. He was supposed to be traveling with me. I don’t need the extra room. I’m more than comfortable in a single seat.”
Now his look of confusion was for a totally different reason. He couldn’t figure out why her husband had decided not to travel with her, or why she would think he thought she was too fat to fit in one seat.
He would have instinctively apologized, but he was too busy admiring her big brown eyes, petite nose, and full lips. “I wasn’t implying that you were fat,” he clarified. The only thing plump on you is those luscious lips. “I’m sorry. I’m just surprised that your husband would decide not to travel with you.”
Quick to defend her husband’s honor, she said, “It wasn’t his choice. He was killed six months ago in a car accident, and I never canceled our travel arrangements.” Now she looked confused. Why did it matter to him?
Realizing that continuing the conversation would only make the situation weirder, he took the aisle seat, but he couldn’t stop wondering why she would have such low self-esteem. There was something about her that he just couldn’t put his finger on, other than those lips. He felt the absolute need to run his finger across them.
Trying to occupy his mind with something other than her, he readjusted himself and settled into the seat. After fastening his seat belt, he noticed the bulge in his pants. This was going to be one long flight.
* * * * *
Sydney hadn’t been one to stare at guys other than
Philippe. She just couldn’t help herself from sneaking peeks at the Adonis sitting in her row. He had to be at least six feet tall, very muscular but not overbearing. He was completely bald, which was surprising, because he didn’t look much older than thirty.
However, he did have the most astonishing mustache that covered a barely visible upper lip. It was kind of like a Fu Manchu but didn’t go all the way to his chin. Either way, she couldn’t stop admiring his mouth.
Several times, he caught her staring at him. Sydney had the strangest feeling that every time she got caught staring, he was actually staring back at her. She noticed he had the biggest gray eyes. She had only known one other person with gray eyes, and that was one of the things that first attracted her to her late husband.
Every time she glanced in his direction, Sydney noticed something extremely exciting about him. He wore a smoke gray V-neck t-shirt with short sleeves. He was oozing ink, but she could not make out anything because just the tips of the tattoos showed through the hems of his sleeves and neckline.
She tried not to look but her curiosity got the better of her a couple of times. The strain in her neck from trying to look into his shirt was really starting to annoy her. Why was she so fascinated with his body? Even the black rope braided survival strap he wore on his wrist intrigued her.
It wasn’t until the flight attendant began to talk to him that she felt all tingly inside. It was an unusual feeling for Sydney. She’d never been a jealous person and she hadn’t felt the tinglies since college. What the fuck? I go from wanting to bring a security pillow to having impure thoughts about a total stranger. What the hell’s wrong with me?
This was the first time in the last six months that she wasn’t totally preoccupied with memories of Philippe. Maybe this trip was exactly what she needed. She needed to take this opportunity to turn her life around.
When the plane finally landed in Nevada and began unloading, Sydney didn’t waste any time. She retrieved her bag from the overhead compartment and took one last glance back to witness him bending over to get his own bag. He had the tightest ass she’d ever seen.
Enough was enough! She hustled to the front of the aircraft. She just wanted out at this point. She couldn’t continue to wonder about the mystery guy who hadn’t spoken to her since she explained her seating arrangement. After all, Philippe had only been gone six months.
The temperature difference outside was more than Sydney could handle at this moment. She was totally feeling hot and bothered. Hailing the first taxi she saw, Sydney flung open the door and began giving instructions to the driver before she was even seated.
* * * *
So many times, he had wanted to introduce himself but couldn’t get his mouth to move in sync with his brain. There was something in her eyes that paralyzed him. If he didn’t get her name and where she was staying he would spend his entire trip trying to find her.
He bent down to grab his own bag from under the seat, and before he knew it, she was gone. That empty feeling he didn’t realize he’d had before the flight was back.
CurlyRed: I read this entire book in just under 4 hours I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! i found myself emotionally attached to the characters and making personal connections that i had never experienced before while reading a book! I was constantly wanting to read more, every chapter left me on a cliff hanger tha...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
Books17: This is my first book review.I found the story to be very intriguing.The beginning of the story starts and you are immediately thrown into wanting to know what will happen next, The action, or intrigue is established early, so there isn't the feeling of the story dragging on, or thinking about wh...
Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...
Alex Rushmer: Chapter One: Not much is happening in this chapter, but I was absolutely fascinated by the depth of your character development. I love how you just sat there with the reader and explored Eddward. Usually, that sort of thing gets boring very fast, but this was actually really cool! He's so unique ...
zoheusher20: What more can I say? The writing style and little details drew me into the book and for the entirety of the story I was Juliet. I felt her turmoil and emotions and every trouble or triumph as they arrived. This story was very different and had quite a few little but unexpected twists that made it...
spec4huff: Thank you for creating this world. I am a 6'3" veteran that thinks himself tough. But the piece of literature you have created made me misty eyed on a number of occasions. I want a love like this. Thank you again, I would totally buy this book and hopefully the sequels to this ever enchanting lov...
Elise Faith: I found this story sensual, captivating and honest. I enjoyed the use of crude language, it made me able to relate to the character more. The idea, however unoriginal was well executed and the story is delivered clean and crisp as the characters themselves are.
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
diabolka: This book is a fascinating twist on mythology, fantasy and romance genre. The author has done a fantastic job combining Greek mythology with a modern day twist, tying in a plot that offers twists and turns that are both expected and unexpected. The hero, Ross, and heroine, Antara, are complex, ...
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
the unedited writer: It's a guilty pleasure. The characters are brought to life and you find yourself loving them worrying for them and so on. The plot was serious but at the same time it had a light tone that didn't make you depressed as other drama genres. 5 stars for me