“Now boarding passengers in first class!” the Bahamasair attendant at the gate announced on the speakers. Nathan stood up from his seat, his duffle bag in hand, and leisurely made his way toward the small line of early boarders standing at the gate waiting to board the plane. He’d pitched a fit when his father’s assistant booked him a first class seat, but after a long week of boring board meetings, that his parents insisted he attend on a regular basis because he was next in line to take over the family’s multibillion dollar business, Jewel Resorts International, he was now looking forward to relaxing in the comfortable, leg room seating on the two hour or less flight back home to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale by stretching his legs and possibly catching some z’s.
Spending money frivolously was a pet peeve for him. It burned him to see people just foolishly spend with no regard for the less fortunate. People allowed the pressures of the world to consume them too much. After spending some time in parts of Haiti and Africa, even seeing how some of his own Bahamian people lived – he hated waste! So spending a few hundred more dollars for a first class ticket didn’t make sense to him when he could get where he needed to go by flying coach. Although he occasionally indulged if his travel was extensive, he also refused to waste the expensive fuel costs necessary for him to fly on his family’s private jet. But moments like this he did enjoy the privilege of money – his money. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews thirteen verse five was a verse he’d memorized to heart – even though he wasn’t a highly religious man. But that was one of a few bible verses he had not forgotten over the course of his life.
“Enjoy your flight Mr. Cooper,” the attendant said after she checked his ticket and passport.
“Thanks!” Nathan replied with a warm smile, then headed down the corridor to the entrance of the plane.
After getting settled into his seat, Nathan went about pulling out his cellphone to plug in his head phones and listen to some music until it was restricted.
“I think this is my seat.” Nathan heard a soft melody of a female voice. It made him look up into brown eyes covered by stylish frames. The lady then turned to a man standing behind her. “Looks like we’re not sitting together,” she told her companion.
“I thought the agent at the desk said our seats were together,” the man stated angrily.
“Excuse me sir,” the lady spoke to Nathan. “I’m sitting next to you.” She pointed to her seat.
“Oh, yes,” Nathan responded, getting up from the aisle seat to let her slide in to sit by the window. He caught a whiff of the floral fragrance that lingered around her. After she sat Nathan took his seat.
“Ah, would you mind exchanging seats with me?” the lady’s male companion asked Nathan. “My assigned seat is right behind you, if you don’t mind.”
Nathan didn’t mind particularly, but he was already comfortable in his seat, and he couldn’t lie, the woman now seating next to him was a sight for sore eyes – no way was he giving up his seat.
“Sir, I’m going to need you to find your seat. You’re holding up passengers that need to board the plane,” a flight attendant said, preventing Nathan from answering.
The lady’s male companion grudgingly moved ahead and took his seat behind them.
“Hi, I’m Riley,” the lady next to Nathan said with a beautiful smile. Nathan couldn’t help but to return one to her. She had a mocha complexion and her natural hair flowed bountifully in curls to her shoulder. Her face was free of makeup, except for a hint of red on her full lips. Nathan was mesmerized by them as she spoke.
“Nice to meet you Riley, I’m Nathan.” He extended his hand in greeting. She placed her well-manicured hand in his and he couldn’t help but to notice the softness of them compared to his calloused hands. He felt something else too, a current from her touch that seemed like it jolted throughout his entire body. The heck?
Riley pulled her hand away from his, having noticed the spark too. The man sitting next to her was gorgeous as all get out! When she saw him sitting in the seat next to her assigned one, she almost jumped out of her skin in excitement. His six foot height, muscular built frame, mahogany dark skin and midnight black eyes were made to be showcased on the cover of GQ Magazine. And the fact that he was ruggedly dressed in black jeans, dark polo shirt and Timberland boots only added to the intense attraction she suddenly had for a complete stranger. Girl, get it together! She snapped at herself. Watch it before your tongue starts hanging out your mouth like some puppy dog. He’s just a man – not God! Her inner voice scolded her.
“Here’s that paperwork you wanted to work on during the flight,” Brad, her male companion and coworker, said interrupting her thoughts as he reached over the seat to hand her the stack of papers.
Riley knew it was intentional. Brad was the Deputy Managing Director at the Bank of the Bahamas, or B. O. B., where she worked as a bank manager. For the past year or so he’d made it no secret that he was romantically interested in her. He’d never crossed the line and did anything to be considered harassment, but it annoyed her that despite her letting him know she wasn’t interested in taking their working relationship beyond that, he still persisted. Brad was good looking in his own right. Caramel complexion, light brown eyes, six foot two, well built, always dressed nicely in designer outfits and suits, and he drove a brand new Jaguar. But she just wasn’t into him in that way. Her girlfriend Trina thought she was all types of crazy for not giving Brad a chance, but it was what it was – he just didn’t have the “it” she was looking for in a man.
“Thanks Brad!” she said, accepting the papers from his hand.
“Hmmm, a working flight,” Nathan said, looking at her.
“Yeah,” she rolled her eyes in disdain at the papers in her hand. “Spent the whole week in seminars, which only left me with mountain of paperwork to finish up.”
“What do you do, may I ask?” His Bahamian accent wasn’t as thick as the one flowing through her lips. With his international travels he’d learn to have a neutral tongue so others could understand him clearly – although once among other Bahamians his native tongue began to kick in.
Riley secured her seatbelt and leaned back comfortably against the leather seat. “I’m a Bank Manager at Bank of the Bahamas.” She turned her head to look at his gorgeous dark face. “Are you a Bahamian? I can hear a hint of an accent,” she asked curiously.
“Yes,” he responded with a nod. “I bank at Bank of the Bahamas – which branch do you work at?”
“Main branch on Shirley Street.”
“Ah, I’ve been in there a few times. I’ve never noticed you before.” Because I wouldn’t forget ever meeting a beauty like you. He kept that thought to himself. No need in bodyguard behind us hearing me say that.
Her bright smile quickened his heart. “Maybe because I was behind a mountain of work,” she grumbled more so to herself. She looked at the papers in her hand again. She reached into her purse which was placed under the seat in front of her and retrieved a pen. “So. What do you do?” She needed a brief distraction from the headache of work she knew was piled up on her desk back at the bank and what she needed to look over during her flight.
Nathan never revealed what he did to strangers. . He didn’t like people knowing who he really was, as in being groomed to take over a multibillion dollar hotel chain. He’d learnt early that wealth almost always brought false love and friendship from others. They used him instead of giving anything in return to the relationship other than selfishness. Nathan did work, however away from the corporate office, despite his parents’ insistence that he focus his efforts solely on being CEO one day. He knew at thirty he had some time before that became a reality. His dad wasn’t ready to relinquish his power just yet. Nathan figured the best way to run a multibillion dollar hotel chain was to work with the people. Know how the inside worked.
“I’m a maintenance worker at Jewel Resorts International on Paradise Island.” Jewel Resorts International was second in ranking to the well renowned Atlantis Resort on the island. It brought in the wealthy, celebrities, and the likes, just like its closest competitor.
Behind them, Brad scoffed at Nathan’s response.
“Oh that’s cool. A lot of employees there have their paychecks direct deposited to their B. O. B. accounts,” Riley replied.
They were interrupted by the flight attendant going over the safety rules. Nathan noticed Riley pushing her glasses firmly up on her nose as she began to read through the papers on her lap. He decided to shut his eyes for a bit to bring some relief to his exhausted body. It was Monday and he was scheduled to work the morning shift the following day.
The flight to Nassau, Bahamas was smooth. After he was able to get a quick shut-eye, Nathan and Riley chatted some more for a while about basic things like the government, their favorite Junkanoo group and which restaurant had the best conch, with annoying interruptions from Brad.
After they deplaned. Brad quickly stepped in to assert that he was the man traveling with Riley – not Nathan. Riley and Nathan said their goodbyes, as two strangers who sat next to each other on a flight would do, and went their way. Nathan watched as Riley and Brad walked ahead of him, along with other travelers returning home or starting their tropical vacation. He was under the impression that the two were co-workers because of the way they conversed between the seats occasionally during the flight about the papers Riley was reviewing. But seeing how possessive Brad was toward Riley – Nathan could only guess they were dating. At least I got to sit next to a cute chick during the flight. He shrugged off the feeling of loss he had for not being able to get to know her better and walked toward ARRIVALS so he could go through customs and immigration. He stepped into the long line for “Returning Residents,” his passport and forms in hand. The sound of steel drums and calypso music wafted through the air in greeting to the international arrivals. He was home – his Bahama-land.
He could still see Riley and Brad ahead of him. Her five foot five, slim built frame already was like a magnet to him. He tracked her the whole walk from the plane to ARRIVALS. He was now able to fully appreciate seeing her dressed in skinny jeans that hugged her slim but curvy body. She wore a simple yellow tank against her mocha complexion, gold hoop earrings, bangles, watch and wedge heels to complete her ensemble. Just his luck she was with dude.
His staring must have pulled on her because she was now looking back at him. She gave him a shy smile before turning her head at whatever crap Brad just whispered in her ear. Nathan suddenly felt an unfamiliar feeling stir within him – jealousy. He couldn’t remember the last time he was ever jealous over a woman. He certainly didn’t lack female company; he had an annoying ex-girlfriend to prove that. But not even with his ex, Nicole, was he ever jealous. Now here he stood jealous over a woman he spent no more than two hours sitting next to on a plane. I think being in those boring meetings all week has really messed with my psyche. He shook his head to get the image of Riley and her floral scent that he swore he could still smell, out of his head. He turned slightly so she and dude were no longer in his view.