Gigi was lounging by the pool, soaking up the Key Largo sun and enjoying her family’s antics, when she thought she heard a familiar voice. Swiveling her head around, she saw a young man heading toward one of the poolside bungalows carrying several suitcases. A sudden bolt of recognition shot through her, causing her to clutch her chest, but then Gigi then saw a bosomy, botoxed bottle blond follow close behind.
She shrugged the episode off to wishful thinking. The man she thought she had seen would never have tied himself to a woman like that. No, no. Shake it off, girl, Gigi thought. It must have been the hot sun causing her to imagine things.
Turning in her chair, she watched her cousins roughhouse in the pool, playing an improvised game that was part water polo and part keep-away. She removed her over-sized sunglasses and baseball cap, and rose from her lounge chair to jump in the pool, joining her cousins’ horseplay. Still, Gigi turned around in the water and stared at the bungalow the couple had entered. The voice had sounded so familiar. For a split second she was sure it had been someone she used to know.
“Watch out!” yelled a cousin as a ball flew through the air, bouncing off Gigi’s head.
“Ouch, give a girl a heads up,” she complained.
Her cousin, Boomer, shot her one of his signature ear-to-ear grins and said, “I told you to duck. Get in the game, Cuz! Where were you?”
“Right here, Cuz!” cried Gigi as she attacked by splashing water and jumping on her boisterous cousin while pushing him down into the water. She then gave Boomer a ferocious noogy on his head. “You’re such a dweeb, Boomer,” she squealed as he pushed his way back up and effortlessly threw her into the deep end of the pool.
Other cousins joined in the fun.
Defending herself against an onslaught of attacks by her playful cousins, Gigi forgot about the man who had been struggling with four suitcases as he entered Bungalow Seven.
She was too busy having fun.
The pool activity died down, and most of the relatives had retired to their bungalows for a little rest.
Gigi and Boomer still had plenty of energy and decided to go kayaking. While Boomer went to purchase drinks, she headed for the kayaks, which were tied up at the pier. Gigi strode into the turquoise water, struggling with one of the kayaks.
“Here, let me help you,” offered a masculine voice.
Once again Gigi had that glimmer of recognition, but shrugged it off. Without looking up, she replied, “Don’t bother. I think I’ve got it, but thanks.”
“Gigi? Gigi, is that you?”
Gigi swung around as if she had been struck by lightning. She cupped her hand over her eyes, but still couldn’t get a good look at the man standing before her, as the brightness of the sun blocked his face.
“I can’t believe it. I mean, what a coincidence. Gigi, it’s me. It’s Nathan!”
“Nathan?” echoed Gigi, stunned. “Nathan, is it really you?”
In one quick, athletic move Nathan jumped into the water and retrieved a drifting kayak. “Oh my gosh, how long has it been?”
Gigi wanted to say twelve years, two months, three days, and five hours, but squeaked out, “Oh, I don’t know. A long time.”
“This is unbelievable. What brings you to Key Largo?”
Gigi turned around and pointed to the pool where some youngsters were still swimming. For a few seconds, she couldn’t make any words come out of her mouth and finally stammered, “Family reunion.”
“Really? Are your parents here? I’ve got to say hello.” Nathan stretched his neck to check out the pool.
Gigi remembered the task at hand and took the kayak’s rope from Nathan’s hand. She had regained her composure enough to allow herself to get a good look at Nathan. Oh gawd! He was still gorgeous, even more so. Gigi swallowed. “Why are you here, Nathan?”
Nathan’s face broke into a big toothy grin. “I’m here with my fiancée. We’re getting married this weekend.” He slapped his forehead. “This is wonderful. You’ve got to come to the wedding. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
Gigi felt her stomach drop and her mouth go dry. She found it hard to breathe. She tried saying something but couldn’t manage the words.
Fortunately for her, Boomer arrived, carrying several bottles of water. “Nathan, is that you, man? Nathan! You old dog. Son-of-a-gun, it is you!”
Boomer dropped the water bottles and gave Nathan a big bear hug. “How long has it been, dude?”
“About ten years,” answered Nathan, beaming at Boomer.
“Twelve,” murmured Gigi.
Boomer swiveled around. “What was that, Cuz?”
“Nothing,” replied Gigi.
“Whatcha doing here, Nat?” asked Boomer.
“I’m getting married.”
“No way. Getting married. Can’t believe it.”
“Now that you’re here, you’ve got to be my best man, Boomer. Katie and I are here by ourselves.”
Boomer flashed a quizzical look at Gigi and saw that
her jaw had dropped. “Well, I’d, um, geez, I’d be honored, bro.”
Gigi stumbled away and found a chair to fall into. The two men followed, not noticing that she was mumbling to herself–of course, Boomer, why don’t you be his best man, like you were supposed to be when Nathan and I were to be married–remember?
Boomer nudged Gigi’s chair. “Isn’t this great, Cuz? Like old times.”
Gigi waved her hand listlessly. “Sure is.”
“What are you lovebirds doing tonight, Nathan?” asked Boomer.
“I thought I’d take Katie to a place across the road called Aussie Jack’s. The owner of the motel suggested it.”
Gigi had a feeling she knew what Boomer was going
to say and shook her head, trying to get his attention.
“We’re having a family luau tonight, right here.”
“Oh, no,” whispered Gigi, hanging her head.
“Why don’t you bring your little lady and join us? We can catch up and you can see the rest of the family.”
Nathan slapped Boomer on the back. “That would be great. You can meet Katie. We’ll be happy to join you.”
Boomer beamed. “Awesome, dude. See you tonight then. Well, now that is taken care of, Cuz, you ready to take off?”
“Oh, yeah, Boomer. I’m ready to shove off all right,” replied Gigi lethargically. She was wondering how much worse this vacation could get.
“We’re headed out on the kayaks,” explained Boomer.
Nathan declared, “Don’t let me keep you. I’ll see you two tonight.”
“Righteous, dude,” spouted Boomer as he pulled Gigi out of her chair and pushed her toward the kayaks. He turned, waving goodbye to his family and then to Nathan, chuckling as he made his way to the kayaks.
Nathan watched Boomer and Gigi as they paddled around the mangroves and out of sight. He was thrilled to see his old friends again. And they seemed happy to see him as well. At least, Boomer did.
He wondered why Gigi seemed so standoffish and somewhat reluctant to meet his gaze. She didn’t even give him a hug. If anyone should have been glad to see him, it was Gigi. After all, they had been tight for many years. Yet she didn’t seem happy to see him at all. She seemed stunned.
Nathan made his way slowly back to his bungalow. Yep, Gigi’s reaction was a puzzle.
“Okay, Gigi, we’re out of sight. Feel free to cry now,” prompted Boomer, pulling up on the beach of a small island. “No one will see.”
“Cry? Why would I cry?”
“Come on now. This is Boomer you’re talking to. I saw how surprised you were to see Nathan. Hell, I was too.” He noticed that her eyes were watering up just a bit.
Gigi protested, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You were rendered speechless, Gigi. You acted as though you could barely remember your own name, you were so rattled.”
“Well, if you noticed that I was panicking, why did you invite him to the luau?”
“Because a good offense is better than a defense. Acting all bothered and hurt won’t help one bit. Remember, he dumped me too. We were buds.”
“He didn’t dump me,” growled Gigi. “Nobody dumped anybody.”
“Ah, is that the version we’re currently going with?”
“We simply went to different schools and lost touch. That’s all there was to it.”
“I seem to remember that the two of you were planning on getting married after you both finished college.”
Gigi sat her paddle down. “That was a long time ago. We were kids then, making kiddie plans. We grew up and grew apart. Happens all the time.”
“I remember trying to get in touch with Nathan after his parents moved away and nada–nothing. He didn’t return my calls or emails,” complained Boomer, looking at the expanse of light blue water gently rocking the kayak.
“He wanted to move on, so let him.”
“Come on, Gigi. I loved Nathan as a brother, so if I can reconnect with him, I’m going to,” declared Boomer.
“Oh, great. So where does that leave me?” accused Gigi. “He’s getting married this weekend to someone else.”
“It leaves you out in the cold, I guess. Just like you said–things change and people move on. Right?”
“You can be such a jerk sometimes, Boomer.”
Boomer nudged Gigi. “I know, but hey, that’s what cousins are for. Hey, don’t be angry, Cuz. Like I said, I was a little mad too.”
Gigi reluctantly smiled. “Boomer, I’m not mad. I’m jealous.”
“Am I still your favorite cousin?” Boomer asked sheepishly.
“NO! I hate you!”
Boomer wrapped his arms around Gigi’s shoulders. “I know you still love me.”
“I do, you little creep, but sometimes you make me so nutty.”
“I knew it! Be a brave soldier this week. Who knows what can happen in five days?”
“You crazy jerk!”
Boomer pushed Gigi into the bay water. Gigi lunged upward and pulled at Boomer only to catch his bathing trunks and–ooops!
Laughing, Gigi yelled at a red-faced Boomer jumping into the shallow water and splashing around while pulling up his swim trunks, “Don’t worry. There’s nothing of yours I haven’t seen before. Wow, the cold water really does shrink stuff, doesn’t it?”
Boomer wouldn’t speak to Gigi for the rest of the kayak trip.
Serves him right for inviting Nathan to our family luau, thought Gigi, happy that she had served some deserved retribution. Why should she be the only person to feel uncomfortable in this farce?
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Gigi Meade is a thirty-something veterinarian who is attending a family reunion at the Last Chance Motel in Key Largo. To her surprise, her high school sweetheart, is also a guest at the motel. For Gigi, Nathan Bradshaw is her great love that she let slip away. Gigi had always regretted losing Nathan, but now she has a chance to rectify the past. Maybe!
Gigi is horrified to find out that Nathan has come to the Last Chance Motel to get married. Katherine, Nathan’s fiancée, is an 11 on the gorgeous scale. How can plain Gigi compete with her? Realizing it is too late for them, Gigi wishes only the best for Nathan. She believes she doesn’t stand a chance to win Nathan back. Or does she?
Can the Last Chance Motel work its magic and rekindle the fire that Nathan once had for Gigi? After all, the Last Chance Motel may be the last chance for Gigi to find true love again.