Adventures of a Salsa Goddess (31 page)

Twenty-six

Black Sand Dreams

The waiter smoothly traversed over the black sand beach carrying a tray with another round of daiquiris. He was built like a bullet train, but none of us were paying him the slightest amount of attention.

“I’d like to propose a toast to Dr. Victoria Huber,” I said, holding up my glass.

“Who?” asked Lessie and Elizabeth in unison, leaning forward on their beach chairs, both with blank looks on their pretty faces.

“The woman who said it couldn’t be done,” I said. “That sociologist who said a never-married, over-forty, professional, single woman has a better chance of winning the lottery than ever getting married. We’ve all done it.”

“But I’ve been married before,” said Lessie.

“Yeah, but you’re forty-three and you’re getting married again,” I said.

“Marty and I haven’t picked a date yet, remember?”

“Why don’t you get married here, in Hawaii?” suggested Elizabeth.

“That’s a great idea!” I said.

“Well, it’s not a bad idea,” Lessie said. “Let me talk to him about it.”

We each sampled our drinks.

Lessie put her drink down and
stood up. She shouted to a red-haired, heavily freckled man, sitting in the sand. He was making a sand castle with an eight-month-old girl wearing a flowered sunbonnet. “Honey, can you put some more sunscreen on her?”

He flashed her a thumbs-up.

“Marry him, Lessie. He’s in love with your daughter,” I said.

“And with me,” she said, gazing at the two of them.

Elizabeth sat up and waved to a tall man walking parallel to the ocean and carrying a surfboard. He waved back and then waded into the water, flopped down on his board, and paddled out.

“That’s my husband the surfer,” said Elizabeth.

Lessie and I laughed. Elizabeth had made a point of referring to Doug as her husband at every opportunity. But they’d only been married for eight weeks so I guess I couldn’t blame her.

“Sam, I just remembered
, do you know what today is? Besides my
husband’s
birthday,” said Elizabeth.

“October fourteenth I think?”

“It was one year ago today that your boss fired you on national TV,” she said.

I groaned at the memory of the worst day of my life.
Tres Chic
had finally folded three months ago. Elaine Daniels was getting divorced from her sixth husband and had filed for bankruptcy. I supposed she was feeling the same way I had on that horrible day last year when it felt as though my life were over. But she’d brought it all on herself. I didn’t feel like gloating. If anything, I felt sorry for her.

“So when is your book going to be done, Sam?” asked Elizabeth.

“Next month, as soon as I go over the galleys,” I said.

It wasn’t the gossipy tell-all about Elaine Daniels that the publishers had wanted. My book,
Lessons in Love
, was about what I’d learned about myself over the past year. It included plenty of my awful but humorous dating experiences as the Mystery Woman and my discovery of salsa, but also the struggle I’d gone through trying to fit into a mold just to please my boss and my mother. I was uncomfortable exposing my insecurities and incredible immaturity in prior relationships, but I knew that I needed to share an honest and personal account of everything that had happened.

“Hey, that reminds me, you guys know you’re my best friends. But I was thinking of dedicating the book to my mother,” I said.

“Really, why?” asked Elizabeth.

“Well, I’m hoping it might improve our relationship,” I said. After Javier and I had eloped in Las Vegas on New Year’s Day, we’d planned our real wedding for this past June in Milwaukee. My mother had wanted it in New York, but Javier and I wanted it where we’d met. I suggested having another ceremony in July in New York, but she was hurt we weren’t doing it on her turf first. She’d come to my wedding in Milwaukee, but wasn’t happy about it. But it seemed like she was finally starting to come around. She’d actually begun referring to Javier by name and was helping us decorate our apartment in New York.

Lessie and Elizabeth were chatting and laughing when Javier slipped up behind me.

“How’s my salsa goddess?” he asked, kissing me on the neck.

“Did you have a nice nap?” I asked him, smiling.

“It was lonely without you,” he whispered into my ear. Javier looked out at the beach at Rachel, Lessie’s daughter, who was thumping a little red shovel against the sand.

“When are we going to have one of those?” he asked me.

“I don’t know. But I’m willing to start trying.”

“Me too. How about now?”

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