It was in the crowded Miami airport on the very first day of their honeymoon, when Seth Blanchard’s impetuous new bride Yasmine changed the plan. At first, he couldn’t understand why she brought it up. It was too ridiculous to alter the destination now, even if the flight to the Bahama’s was going to be delayed several hours. True, it was a major inconvenience to now have to wait until the end of the day to board their connecting flight just because the airline changed the plan on them, but things like this happen with travel. But Yasmine was an impatient spirit and the idea of sitting for hours in the stale air of an airport only to arrive to their honeymoon hotel too late in the night to do anything, sparked her to rethink things.
“We are already in Miami!” she exclaimed. “It’s just as warm and they have beautiful beaches. Plus we’ve never been here either. We can get an Uber and get a hotel on South Beach. It’ll be awesome!”
Seth wasn’t so sure. “Yaz, Baby, we’ve already paid for our entire honeymoon.”
Yasmine’s eyes widened as if he’d made her point for her. “Exactly, Seth! We’ve paid for seven days in the Bahama’s. We were supposed to arrive early enough to actually go out and do some things today. Now we won’t arrive till dinnertime. We’d just eat in the hotel and go to bed. We’ve already lost a day. But if we here, we still have the entire day ahead of us. Our full seven days of vacation.”
Seth couldn’t help but smile at her idiotic logic. “Yeah, but Yaz, the Bahama’s are already paid for. We don’t even have a room in Miami.”
“Oh, that’s nothing,” she said dismissively as she scrolled through a booking app on her phone. “Look! Here’s a room at a place called The Victor, right on Ocean Drive with the beach at our feet. It looks perfect! I’m booking it.”
He almost argued with her over how wasteful it was to let the already-paid-for trip go unused and now cough up thousands more to stay in a different city. But then he realized he would sound way too much like Aunt Artemis if he did so. Besides, Yasmine was rich. Really, really, rich. If she wanted to stay in Miami, it was no skin off his back or money out of his wallet. He didn’t even have a wallet.
When they arrived at The Victor, Seth was thrilled with the decision. Miami was unlike anything he’d ever seen. The buildings along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue were authentically vintage art deco. Each painted in its own unique pastel or kept pure white with specifically colored fluorescent lights adorning the architecture to give it its hue. He loved it. It was like stepping into another age, except for the skimpily dressed people strolling around. The air was filled with the hums of sleek, expensive muscle cars rolling down the boulevards with music blaring.
Their room was very nice. Large with a king bed, glass shower, and their own private seating area through the glass doors to the pool. The pool, located on the second floor, looked out over Ocean Drive to the beach just beyond. It was an epic view. He took his wife into his arms and kissed her. “This was a good idea. I admit. You are genius my dear Yasmine.”
“Remember that throughout this marriage, Seth,” she giggled. “I am always right.”
He squinted his eyes at her, “You are not always right. But as long as I get my way sometimes, you can be in charge of all our life plans. Just let me have my own way on occasion.”
“I can’t promise that.” Yasmine teased. “All the ways belong to me.”
Seth laughed at his silly wife. Wife. My wife. It sounded strange. But nice. Very nice. And that was only because it was her. No other girl would have worked out. Yaz was the only one in the world for him. And it had taken far too long for him to realize that. He kissed her again. This time they weren’t being playful. This kiss was the kiss. One like the first they shared, when they both knew everything was going to change forever. Seth laid her down on the bed. She clutched at his strong muscular back, then traced his arms with her fingertips before pulling his shirt over his head. She’d seen his chest a million times and always admired the definition, but now that he belonged to her, the sight of him drove her wild. For Seth, things were a little different. He caught himself staring at her. Every turn of her body was exactly as it should be. He never could understand why she sometimes felt self-conscious of what she saw in the mirror, because he wouldn’t change a thing about her. Every perfect curve and any imperfect flaw were what made her the woman he loved. He placed his hand against her cheek. She flinched ever so slightly at the gym callouses scratching her skin. He eased up on his touch but kept his hand in place. Mesmerized by her face, he didn’t notice he was staring. She asked him if he was all right.
“You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen in my life.”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, as if being placated to.
“I’m not just saying words to be sweet.” Seth went on. “Yaz, you are everything. Even if you don’t see it. You are perfect to me. Maybe that’s all that matters.”
He hovered over her, his eyes locking to hers. She saw through to his soul and knew he meant what he’d said. Seth was paralyzed for a second, caught in the prism of her eyes. He’d been with other women. Not many, but more than just Yasmine. And a couple of those women were magazine-perfect. Yet none of them, not a single one, ever made him feel what he felt now. Yasmine was all he breathed. They broke the hold of mutual awe and commenced the honeymoon--melding together completely on every level. It was about twenty minutes after they were finished with each other when they realized they never shut the hotel room door. Whoever went by during that time must have caught quite a show.
The cool gray moon hung over the sea like a giant pearl freed from the depths. The warm breeze wafted past blowing strands of Yasmine’s long brown hair across her face. Through the doors of bars and restaurants, beckoning music drifted out to the streets hoping to draw people in. They walked slowly along Ocean Avenue taking in all the sights and sounds which were purely Miami. Seth and Yasmine felt as if they were the most in love couple in the world, yet now keenly aware of the love existing all around them. Walking up ahead, a bit slower than they, went an elderly couple. Seth watched them from behind as he and Yasmine inched closer in their youthful strides. The man, long bald with a scalp withered from the Miami sun, strolled with his arm around his wife’s waist where she clutched it with her own. The years they must have had between them. Clearly, they had loved one another a very long time. Seth smiled to himself thinking about all the years he’d live loving Yazzy like that. Beyond the elderly couple, two men in their forties sat together on the half wall between the sidewalk and the beach. They sat close together, facing one another with their legs each tucked behind the other. The men were both eating an ice cream cone, periodically offering the other a taste of their own. One of the men lifted the waist of his shirt to dab his husband’s chin where chocolate mocha was dripping. It seemed as though everyone was in love that night.
Of course, Seth and Yasmine being who they were, their dynamic often shifted from romance back to the bickering stepcousins they’d grown up as together. Much the way all their arguments usually began, it started from something inconsequential and borderline ridiculous. A derelict man happened by staggering over the even pavement as if it were riddled with cracks. He was shouting obscenities to some unseen companion. For a few moments his bizarre behavior occupied everyone’s attention, abruptly ending the romance in the air. As he passed Seth and Yasmine, she flinched from apprehension he might interact with them. He didn’t. He simply continued his ferocious shouting match with his imaginary adversary.
“Well, somebody is crazy,” Seth remarked.
“Do you think he’s dangerous?” Yasmine asked with a slight shiver. “I’ve heard Miami can be dangerous sometimes.”
Seth laughed at his nervous little bride and tossed his arm around her shoulder for reassurance. “Baby, if that strung out bum scares you then I don’t know what to say.”
“Crazy people hurt innocent people all the time, Seth. If you’d watch the news even once, you’d know.”
He shook his head. “Yaz, didn’t I just fight off two werewolves to save you, not even a week ago? Do you think we have any reason to be afraid of some random homeless man raving to himself?”
Funny how that slipped her mind. It really had only been just a few days since her long-lost brother, now a werewolf, kidnapped her and planned to change her into such a creature. Seth and the family valiantly battled and destroyed Patric and his minion Lana, as well as a pack of wild wolves under his control. “True,” she admitted. “But he’d become a monster. It’s okay to kill a monster. This is a man. You can’t just kill some random man.”
Seth shrugged as if not understanding the point. “Why not? I mean, if some crazed violent person tried to hurt you, why couldn’t I kill him?”
Yasmine shot him a stern look. “Because he is a human being, Seth.”
“Lots of every day psychopaths are human beings but if they were to attack my wife, I’d totally kill them and never once feel guilty about it.”
“Well, yes if it came down to that, I agree. But you have to admit there is a big moral difference between killing a man and killing a werewolf or some other kind of supernatural monster.”
Seth didn’t see her point. “A monster is a monster whether he’s human or not. And if anybody approached us threateningly, here in Miami or anywhere else in the world, I think I’m within my rights to kill them.”
“You just go straight to kill,” Yasmine scoffed. “Not subdue or restrain. Just kill.”
“Yaz, I’m not sure in that kind of situation there’s much time to deliberate what tactic to take. You just act.”
“But what if you were mistaken and the guy wasn’t even planning to harm us? Then you’ve just killed a human being based on an assumption of harm.”
Seth stopped walking and faced her. “Yazzy, why the hell are we even arguing about this? This is the stupidest conversation.” Seth’s words struck her as hilarious. It really was a ridiculous topic to have landed on. She looked around at the other couples now watching them bicker. The onlookers had no way of knowing this was so totally them. Fighting was their love language. Though no shared bloodline ran within them, Yasmine and Seth had grown up as cousins—more like siblings— the love came later. Fighting, for them, was as natural as breathing.
The next day was breathtaking. The bright sun sent its warming rays cascading down across the avenues of South Beach in all directions. It was difficult to even find a shadow. Yasmine had to shield her eyes as they walked due to light reflecting off the white painted buildings. She felt snow-blind. Seth darted into a shop to buy her a pair of sunglasses since she’d left hers in the room. The weather was such a contrast to what they’d be experiencing at home right now. Miami felt like it belonged to another country rather than their own. At home in Alabama, just one state above them, the weather was not like this. The light from the sun would be toned down from cloud cover and a grayish sky. Cold breezes would necessitate the wearing of jackets. And their grandmother Olympia would definitely have the fireplaces burning. But in Miami, it felt like summer. Yasmine loved it.
Seth guided her down Collins Avenue to the Essex House Hotel. Yasmine marveled once again at yet another piece of striking art deco architecture. The streamlined shape of the building with its porthole windows and metal spire on the top corner where the street met the avenue struck enough of a chord within her to snap a picture of it with her phone.
Escorting her up onto the hotel porch, Seth opened the door and guided his wife inside. Inside was a totally modern funky restaurant. Hip music rang out from ceiling speakers and the vibrant plush décor gave the impression you were in a nightclub. Two rather beautiful women were working the counter. They both looked almost the same. Dark hair pulled into tight ponytails. Both women wearing black tee shirts with white letters across. Seth walked up to the counter and much to Yasmine’s embarrassment, shouted, “How are you two Bitches doing today?”
Yasmine, mouth open in shock, reached out and slapped her husband’s shoulder. “Seth!”
One of the women presented a playful smile and replied, “I’m doing great, Bitch. How are you and this Bitch doin’ today?”
Yasmine had no idea what was happening in front of her.
“We are great,” Seth answered. “Can I get a Juicy Bitch? And give her a Classy Bitch. And we’ll take two Drunk Bitches.”
“You got it Stud Bitch,” the girl said walking away.
Yasmine pinched Seth’s forearm. He turned around to her. “What in the world just went on? You called those woman bitches! A lot!”
Seth laughed out loud and placed his strong hands against Yasmine’s cheeks, leaning down to plant a soft kiss of amusement. “Baby, the name of this place is Bacon Bitch. I read about it online. Every menu item has the word Bitch in the name. And you are supposed to refer to staff as Bitch and they do the same back to you. Didn’t you see their shirts? One said Manager Bitch and the other said Drink Bitch.”
“Oh!” Yasmine exclaimed. “For a minute I couldn’t believe you were talking to a woman like that! That’s funny! So, everything here has Bitch in the name?”
Seth smiled down to her and said, “Yes, Wife Bitch.”
“Wife!” the Drink Bitch waitress exclaimed returning with their cocktails. “You two are too young to be married long. Is this your honeymoon?”
Yasmine grinned proudly as she sipped the delicious fruity drink. “Yes. We were married three days ago.”
The waitress gave them a hearty congratulations and told her coworker when she approached with the food trays. “Well, Happy honeymoon! How did you two lovebirds meet?”
Slightly blushing because it always brought strange reactions, Seth replied, “We grew up together.”
“Oh, next door neighbors? School mates?”
Yasmine replied in her playful way of messing with people, “Cousins.”
As the two waitresses exchanged puzzled glances, the honeymooners took their trays off to a table to enjoy their lunch, laughing to themselves at how they’d managed to befuddle people again with their backstory.