Flying to and landing at Miami International Airport took about three hours and some change. I was relieved that Jinx, my cat, who hadn't stirred in his carrier since leaving New York, now let out a large toothy yawn, ruffled his back and curled back into place-so much for a chatty travel companion, that little beast.
As I stood, looking very much New York, in a backdrop of tropical hues, leafy palms and coral stonework, a car met us at the curb. Shedding a black Dries Van Noten cardigan, now tied around my waist, I grabbed my vintage train case and Jinx and jumped into the backseat.
We drove out to Biscayne Bay, to the bungalow that would be my new home, which sat only steps away from the smooth sandy beach. The quaint aqua and stucco facade faced the sun, giving a worn, muted tone to the whole house. A row of similar little homes dotted the whole length of the shore. The view of skyscraping hotels and downtown lay just behind this stretch of paradise.
Paying the driver with a tip, as my luggage found the front steps, I was greeted by a kind hello.
"You must be Joey." His bright eyes seemed to glow under a bronzed tan. He stood in his flip-flops, his red shorts hitting mid-thigh and showing off a muscular set of soccer legs. "I'm Dante," he said. "Jaden called me to make sure you arrived okay."
" I work at the magazine downtown," he added, with a warm smile.
I was glad my over-sized shades hid my disdain when he mentioned that name-oh, and a bit of blatant ogling as well.
"Well that was nice of him," I said, trying to hide any hint of sarcasm. "I have to fix up his litter box," I said, pointing down to the bundle of cat and carrier I was holding.
"I don't have to be back at the office till later," Dante told me, as more of an offer than a random comment. I liked it.
"I'll take the cat, you grab a bag," I said jokingly. Miami might be so bad, I thought, as I watched both of his strong arms lead the way into my new home.
Luke Yates, Grady Wilson, and Will O'Neill, my three best friends, boarded the noon ferry to Fire Island. The season hasn't started full throttle just yet, as most of the shareholders prepped and worked on their houses. The island was quiet, the calm, you might say, before the storm.
"I still think we should have told Joey," Grady griped.
" What?" Luke shot back.
"That we actually got last-minute deal on a house for the summer while he is away in Miami."
"Alone," he frowned.
"Come on guys, let's just get to the house," Will said. No one spoke for the rest of the walk...
Dante and I sat on the small porch watching my first Miami sunset. Even Jinx, my cat, teetered along happily, sticking his nose into the tall grasses that waved in the evening breeze.
"I think I should get going," Dante said, reaching for his flip-flops.
"Thank you for meeting me here and giving me the low down," I smiled.
"See you at the office on Monday," said he. For a moment he hesitated, stretching out his stay a bit longer. I wished he would just leave. Oh, not because I wanted him to go, or 'cause the view of his handsome face and conversation was less than perfect, but 'cause, if he stayed any longer, it would be a sin not to kiss him...