There was more beautiful male flesh on the estate lawn than you could see in a month of Fridays in any club in Atlanta. Cherry Roman had heart palpitations just looking at their bodies glistening in the dwindling sunlight on a white sandy beach. Sheri would weep when she found out what she'd passed up.
The horizon was beautifully striped in gaudy colors in every hue. The setting sun perched above the golden sea like a ball of fire, clouds rippling out from its center domination of the sky in bold streaks of scarlet. A breeze carrying the scent of salt and sand swept across her damp skin, offering some relief from the nearly unrelenting humid heat of a Southern summer. Though she was nearer to the equator here than in her apartment in North Georgia, the air coming off the water made the weather seem cooler than it actually was.
Her skin itched slightly from sea salt and dried perspiration, making her long for a shower. She could forget her discomfort though, gazing upon the scene laid out before her.
She hefted her overnight bag on her shoulder, leaving the dock and retreating ferry behind as she strolled up the pathway to the hotel that looked more like an enormous private beach house than a commercial property. There wouldn't be another ferry until Monday--no going back now, not that she particularly wanted to. She thought perhaps Sheri was right in passing off her own invitation to Cherry--a weekend at this retreat would certainly put the hideous outcome of her life into perspective. Or, at the very least, there was plenty of eye candy to distract herself from her problems. She didn't have to worry about work. She'd been laid off from her job indefinitely due to severe cut backs, but at least she had enough severance for this little vacation.
Cherry tried not to think about how dumb it was to spend any of it. She shrugged the disturbing thoughts off, determined to enjoy herself while she could.
She lost sight of the glittering beach and half naked men as she progressed up the hill to the lodge. The trees stooped and curled over the path like tired, noble sentinels, twisted from the heavy caress of ocean air. Traversing the lane, she could see a pine forest lay beyond the hill, and could make out the edges of a concrete patio and pool spread at the back clearing around the building. There, a buffet of undeniably male forms lounged, as well, soaking in the dying rays of sunlight. She frowned and quickened her step, cresting the rise to the hotel's entrance, eager to check in and get started relaxing.
A large screened in porch, decked with padded, wrought iron chairs faced the view of the ocean. Ferns ascending the stairs in urns rustled in the shifting breeze, touching her leg as she passed too close. A porch swing hanging at one end creaked and slowly moved on its chains, as if recently vacated, but she saw no one enjoying the picture perfect view from the top.
Strangely enough, she hadn't noticed any women on the island. Then again, she hadn't come across any of the guests, just from afar. Of course, she and Sheri had assumed this invitation was to one of those parties where they tried to sell you expensive condos, so it could be the women were off touring while the men lazed about. Who knew?