Excerpt for Seeking Vegas Part 5 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Seeking Vegas


Part 5







By: Sarah Warman









Seeking Vegas


By Sarah Warman


Smashwords Edition


Copyright 2017 Sarah Warman




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“Look at the time,” Danielle mentioned as she gazed at the watch. “I think we really need to get going to school before our students show up.”


“Oh. Wow. You’re right. I didn’t realize how much time this little chat was taking up,” Courtney grabbed her coffee and purse.


Danielle followed her out the door, “Okay I’ll see you over there.”


“See you there. Have a good day,” Courtney waved as she opened her car door.


Danielle walked to her car on the other side of the parking lot and unlocked the door. She carefully set her coffee in the center console of her car, and slipped into the driver’s seat.


As she drove away from the coffee shop and on her way to the school, she noticed the beaming sun overhead. That was the one great thing about Vegas; it always seemed like the sun was shining here. She was starting to feel better about her date the night before. The whole thing had just felt so awkward.


Part of her felt guilty for going on such an extravagant date and accepting such an expensive gift. On the other it didn’t seem the cost of these items mattered that much to Fletcher or that he even had expectations when he gave her the gifts.


Even so with that in mind, the interaction between them seemed odd. Did he give all his dates such expensive gifts? He did mention going on date with a lot of girls and that was a thought that Danielle just couldn’t shake. What exactly did a lot of girls mean? Ten? Fifteen? She wasn’t even sure how many girls she would consider to be ‘many’.


At least she wouldn’t have to worry about it for now. Fletcher was probably on his plane at the moment headed back to the East Coast. Hopefully she’d have some time to figure out how to handle this situation. After going through such a shocking breakdown she knew she definitely didn’t want to do anything drastic.


She pulled her car into the parking spot in the teachers’ parking lot. The busses were starting to arrive at the school with students. Danielle felt a bit unmotivated as she watched them walk into the school. Her students were also highly energetic and excited, while she felt terribly drained about life in general.


She reached for her phone to take one last look before heading into the building. She wasn’t even sure why she was looking at her phone. It wasn’t like anyone ever really contacted her. However, she was surprised to see a message waiting for her. It was Fletcher.


I can’t stop thinking about you. I had a wonderful time last night.’


Danielle dropped the phone back into her purse in disbelief. She felt her heart skip a beat. She never imagined Fletcher would text her so soon. She figured that she would hear from him sometime next week or even the next time he would be making a trip out West; not just the morning after their last date.


She wasn’t sure what to do. She didn’t necessarily feel the same way. She couldn’t stop thinking about him either, but it wasn’t for exactly great reasons. He was a horrible kisser. He just threw money around like it was no big deal. These things didn’t exactly seem like attractive qualities to Danielle.


But maybe she was being too harsh on him. At this point she had only known him for a few months. Maybe with time she would get to know him better. She pondered these thoughts in her car. Time was ticking for her to get inside to her classroom. She sighed heavily. She needed more time to think about her response. She grabbed her bags and stepped out of her car to go inside for the start of the school day.


“Hey!” she heard someone yell. She turned her head to see Courtney who was also making her way into the school. “Are you okay? You looked kind of zoned out in your car there for a minute.”


“Yeah. I’m fine,” Danielle countered.


Courtney looked unconvinced, with her unrelenting stare focused on Danielle.


“Okay. So I’m lying. I looked so spaced out in my car because Fletcher texted me just a little bit ago. He says that he can’t stop thinking about me after last night.”


“Oh. Wow. That’s deep,” Courtney replied.


“I know,” Danielle hung her head. “What am I going to do?”


“What do you want to do? What is your heart telling you?” Courtney asked.


“I’m not sure. I think it’s still broken. I don’t really want to pursue this relationship with him. But it’s here. It literally fell into my lap and I’m not sure how to handle it.”


“So are you going to tell him that?” Courtney asked.


“Are you crazy? Absolutely not!” Danielle remarked.


“No. You’re the one who just said it isn’t going anywhere.” Courtney rebuked.


“Well that was probably a bit harsh. I don’t really know what I want to do,” Danielle admitted.


“You’re still confused then?”


“Yes.” Danielle shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure how to handle this.”


“Well just think about it. You don’t have to send a message right away. Are we still going to meet up on Wednesday to shop for our Halloween costumes?”


“Oh my gosh! I completely forgot about that. Yes, of course. Let’s do it.”


“I figured you completely forgot. See what happens when you start thinking about boys! Don’t flake out on me okay?” Courtney teased her as she walked towards the front entrance of the school.


“Don’t worry. I won’t.” Danielle smiled a little bit, but her smile left when she thought about Fletcher’s text. It was really bothering her. She dug into her purse rummaging for her phone. She stared at the screen and began typing.


I had a great time too. Looking forward to the next time.”


She hit send and watched the message be sent out. It was the best she could come up with. Hopefully it didn’t sound like she was too involved, but also didn’t just leave Fletcher thinking she had no interest at all. Hopefully it was a good go between. He was probably flying back right now too, so there shouldn’t be a reply message anytime soon. At any rate she couldn’t bear to look to see what he would write back so she quickly placed her phone in her purse. She didn’t want to take any chances and see a possible reply. She felt a lump in her throat, but then a bit of relief washed over her. Hopefully she could stop thinking about Fletcher for a little bit now.


The text seemed to have worked. A few days passed without any news from Fletcher. And while Danielle thought it odd to not hear from him, she also felt relieved to have some time to ponder things. Even though it seemed like a causal relationship, her dates with Fletcher were starting to consume all of her thoughts.


On Wednesday evening she met up with Courtney to shop for Halloween costumes. Danielle couldn’t remember the last time she had bought a costume for Halloween. When she dated Brian, he never wanted to shop for costumes or go to any Halloween parties so she had no reason to pick out a costume. She was looking forward to dressing up again and picked out a few costumes to try on in the Halloween store.

“What do you think about this costume?” Danielle came out of the dressing room twirling in a long skirt.


Courtney looked up from her phone and her the expression on her face changed to being puzzled. “Um. Aren’t you a single women?” Courtney asked. “I mean, excluding Fletcher showering you with lavish gifts, of course?”


“Yes. You don’t like it?” Danielle asked.


“You should show some leg! Not wear a skirt to the floor. Besides, do you really want to be dragging that long dress around all night? Everyone will be spilling their drinks and that dress will just get disgusting from dragging around on the floor anyways.”


Danielle sighed while staring at her reflection in the mirror, “I see your point.”


“Maybe you should wear that to school instead?” Courtney asked.


“That might be a good idea,” Danielle responded. “Although I hate spending all this money on Halloween costumes.”


“Same here,” Courtney agreed. “Hey! Maybe we should just do body paint?” she chimed in excitedly.


“Body paint?” Danielle was aghast.


“Yeah. Some of my friends had it done last year. It looked amazing!”


“You’re nuts!” Danielle had heard enough.


Courtney busted into laughter.


“What’s so funny?” Danielle inquired.


“I can’t believe you actually thought I wanted to do that. Plus we are teachers. We’d be fired for sure if anyone ever found out!”


Danielle let out a laugh, “Well thank goodness you don’t actually want to do that! I was starting to think that you had totally lost it!”


“I haven’t totally lost it. But I do know that long skirt isn’t going to do you any favors when we go clubbing. The next costume you try on better have a skirt above the knee.”


As Danielle turned to go back to dressing room, she spotted a cat woman costume out of the corner of her eye. She snatched the costume and headed back to the dressing room, eager to try it on.


The costume was completely black. She pulled the black spandex up over her legs and up to her waist. She then lifted the spandex shirt overhead and put her arms through the sleeves. The sleeves were short and cuffed exposing most of her arms. Lastly she placed the mask over her face. Her piercing brown eyes were highlighted by the black sparkles on the mask. The outfit was skin tight but Danielle was pleased with how it showed off her physique.


She emerged from the dressing room and Courtney looked amazed, “Wow!”


“Is that a good ‘wow’ or a bad ‘wow’?” Danielle inquired.


“It’s a good ‘wow’ for sure. I just never expected you to wear something like that. But wow you look amazing! Maybe you should wear that outfit every day.”


Danielle laughed, “It would be pretty awesome to wear this every day. I feel like I can conquer the world in this outfit.”


“You should totally get it. You make one fine catwoman.”


“Thank you. Now what about your costume?”


“This might be an impossible task. I never like anything on me,” Courtney admitted.


“Why do you mean?”


“I just feel self-conscience about my body.”


“But you’re in awesome shape. That doesn’t make sense.”


“Well I wouldn’t say that I’m in awesome shape. I mean, maybe in general, but for Vegas its ‘okay’ shape. The one summer I was a cocktail waitress one of my coworkers told me that I needed to lay off the burgers. I swear I didn’t eat for like a whole week after that and I was in better shape then, than I am now.”


“That’s so mean!” Danielle felt sorry for her friend.


“Such is the world, my friend.”


Danielle’s phone vibrated. She quickly pulled it out of her pocket, wondering if it was Fletcher returning her text from earlier in the week.


It was Doug.


I’ll be in town this weekend. Would you want to meet up for lunch on Saturday?’


Danielle looked up from her phone with a surprised look on her face. “It’s Doug.”


“Doug! What did he say?”


“He wants to meet up this Saturday for lunch. What do you think I should do?”


“Have you heard back from Fletcher?”


“No. I haven’t heard anything.”


“I’d say go for it.”


“You don’t think it’s wrong after that date I went on and the earrings Fletcher gave me?”


“No. Not at all. You’re nothing serious. You didn’t ask him to buy you expensive jewelry did you?”


“No. I definitely didn’t do that.”


Danielle looked back at her phone and began to type.


Sounds great. I would love to have lunch with you on Saturday.


She sent the message.


I can’t wait. I’ll pick you up at noon.


He almost immediately responded.


“What did he say?” Courtney asked, surprised that he had responded so quickly.


“He’s picking me up at noon. He says he can’t wait.” Danielle answered.


“Ah girl! You’re getting all the men.” Courtney exclaimed.


“Oh! That’s so not true. Besides he is just an old friend.”


“That’s what they all say,” Courtney devilishly grinned as she walked into the dressing room with her assortment of costumes.






A PICNIC IN THE DESERT


“Hey!” Danielle greeted Doug as she walked down the stairs.


“Hey there!” Doug couldn’t help but smile when he saw Danielle. She was stunning in a simple pair of jeans, and a flannel shirt. The sun gleamed off her dark brown hair. Doug felt a bit taken aback by her beauty. He had always thought that she was beautiful, but for some reason she appeared so much more striking right now.


“How was your drive in?” Danielle reached for a hug from Doug.


“It was good. The desert looks the same as it did the last time. It hasn’t changed much,” he said trying to hide a smile.


“So, where are we going for lunch?” Danielle asked enthusiastically.


“Well, I thought since this is such a beautiful day that we would go for a picnic,” Doug declared.


“A picnic?” Danielle was pleasantly surprised. No one had ever planned a picnic for her.


“There is a state park about an hour from here. I heard it’s beautiful. Want to head out there?” Doug opened the car door.


“Absolutely! Thank you,” she stepped into the passenger side of his Jeep.


Doug shut her door and jogged to the driver’s side of the car. “Okay. Let’s go have a picnic,” he said as he put the car into reverse.


“I’m so glad we are doing this!” Danielle said excitedly. “I always wanted to take a drive this far out of the city, but I got scared thinking about doing it on my own. I mean, it is the desert out here!”


“True. Plus this is where they use to bury all the bodies.”


“Ew! I didn’t even think about that!”


“See, aren’t you glad that you have me to drive you out here then?”


“I am,” Danielle turned her head to smile at Doug.


The further they drove from Vegas, the more desolate the scenery become. Neighborhoods, sidewalks, and streets just ended. The only thing next to the highway now were power lines and a railroad. Danielle turned her head back to look at Las Vegas. It surely did look like a mirage rising out of the desert floor.


“Wow! Look at that! Vegas looks crazy from here.”


Doug glanced into his rear view mirror, “That does look pretty awesome.”


“Oh I forgot! You probably already see this when you drive in from LA,” Danielle felt a bit embarrassed for being so excited about the view.


“It still looks awesome. I don’t think that view is something that you can really get sick of.”


Danielle smiled. It was nice that Doug appreciated the view the same way she did. She could see the road stretching for miles ahead of them without anyone in site except the desert and rock formations. It was unlike anything she had ever seen before on the East Coast which seemed to just connect from one city to the next city.


Several miles later they made a right hand turn onto a two lane road. The only sign of civilization was located on the corner. It was gas station that also had a restaurant, sold fireworks and, of course, it also contained a casino. As they drove by, exploded fireworks could be seen in the parking lot next door. The road winded and weaved through the desert, adding to the suspense of what they would see next. Large rocks jutted out of the ground. They were looked like they were painted in white, orange and red. It was breathtaking.


“Let’s stop here,” Doug pointed to a pull off along the side of the road.


Danielle grabbed her camera as she stepped out of the car. The rock formations looked like something out of travel book.


“Doug, will you take my picture in front of this rock?”


“Sure. Move slightly to the right,” he directed her. He kneeled down to capture the shot. “That’s perfect.”


“Thank you so much. It’s just so beautiful. I needed proof that I was here.”


“Actually I want proof too,” Doug declared. “Let’s get a selfie.”


He reached out his arm attempting to capture both of them in the photo, but it was to no avail as there was quite a height difference between them.


“Okay. Looks like I need to get much lower,” he stooped down to include Danielle.


Danielle pushed herself up on her tip toes, “I never realized that you were this tall.”


“Don’t worry. We’ll make it work.”


Snap. Snap. Snap.


“Hey, those look pretty good!”


“Shhhhh!” Doug told her to quiet down.


“What?” she whispered.


“Do you hear that?” he whispered back. “It’s so quiet here.”


Danielle stopped and listened. There was complete silence. No cars were passing by. No planes were flying overhead. There wasn’t even the rustle of a western wind. She couldn’t remember the last time she had heard complete silence. They made eye contact in the midst of the silence. She blushed staring at his handsome face.


He reached out his hand, “Are you ready for lunch?”


“Yes, I am.” She grabbed his hand. “I can’t wait to see where we are going.”


They drove a few more miles until they reached the gate for the official park entrance. They paid the park fee and drove down the open road, lined by rock formations, cactuses and sand.


“This is supposed to be the spot,” Doug points at a driveway as he turned left. The short driveway winded up to a picnic area. “Looks like this is it.” he excitedly announced.


“This is amazing!” Danielle delighted. Doug put the car in park and reached into the backseat to grab a cooler.


They walked the short uphill to the picnic table. Large, puffy clouds floated in the bright blue sky above them. The jagged edge of rock formations pressed against the sky. The midday sun was highlighting the details of each rock. Green vegetation was sporadically seen across the desert floor.


Doug smiled at Danielle. Did she even realize how beautiful she was? He wondered to himself. Her outfit was unremarkable and appeared effortless, but there was just something about her that stood out. Her dark brown hair glowed in the sun. Her faded jeans formed perfectly around her legs. Her flannel shirt was untucked with her sleeves casually rolled up. The beautiful landscape reflected off her sunglasses.


“What are you smiling about?” Danielle noticed Doug’s glance.


“Nothing. Just thinking about how beautiful of a day we have,” he casually replied. “I brought water. It’s important to stay hydrated in the desert,” he set two bottles on the table. “I picked up these sandwiches from this sub shop in town. They are supposed to be really good.”


“Have you been here before, to this park?” Danielle inquired.


“No, but it was recommended online,” Doug replied.


“It’s perfect. Thank you so much for bringing me here, and for lunch as well. It’s delicious.”


“I’m glad you like it. So is Vegas still going well?


“It’s getting better. I’ve made a friend, Courtney. She’s a teacher at the same school. We get along pretty well.”


“That’s good. It’s always good to have friends, especially in a new place.”


“It really is. I don’t think I realized how lonely I could be until I moved out here.”


“I know what you mean. If I don’t leave my new apartment in LA I might not say a word to anyone all day,” Doug chuckled.


“Yes! I thought maybe I needed a pet just to keep me company.”


“So have you jumped back into the dating world here in Las Vegas?”


Danielle blushed a little bit, still feeling guilty over the date she had the weekend before. In that moment she decided just to be honest with Doug.


“Yes, well, sort of. I see this guy every once in a while. He’s not from here, so we just go out when he flies into town. Did I tell you that I saw my ex, Brian, in the casino here in Las Vegas, of all places?”


“What? You saw Brian out here?” Doug was stunned.


“Yes! What a mess that was. He was her with his new girlfriend, you know, the one he cheated on me with. Well, apparently they got engaged on a trip out there. I can’t believe I saw him that night! I even yelled at him! It was so unlike me.”


“Probably felt good to get it off your chest though,” Doug offered. “That’s pretty crazy that he was here.”


“It was crazy! And you’re right it really did. I had wondered for a while what he was up to or how he was doing but after seeing him that night I haven’t really thought about it. It’s so weird. He just seemed so different from what I remembered. Just not even someone that I could really see myself being with.”


“Maybe the separation gave you some perspective,” Doug replied.


“You’re right. It probably did,” she admitted.


“You’re ever hear from your ex?” Danielle turned the table on Doug.


“She called me few times. Not to sound stuck up or anything, but I think part of her regrets breaking up with me,” he told Danielle.


“Oh why’s that?”


“Well, I treated her really well, waiting on her hand and foot. But in her mind, we didn’t want the same things. She thought I was too much of a dreamer or a traveler. But I think she’s realizing it’s hard to find someone that will put up with all her demands like I did.”


“So she broke up with you?” Danielle pressed for more details.


“Yes. She did.” Doug offered.


“I’m sorry. Getting dumped sucks. I would know. Maybe she’s figuring out she lost out on a really great guy,” Danielle told him.


“Maybe.” Doug paused for a bit and then continued, “Well, I’m over it. That’s for sure. She was probably right to say that I’m a little bit of a dreamer. Look at me. I brought you to a picnic in the desert!” He chuckled thinking about their lunch date.


“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Danielle smiled at him. “I’m very much a dreamer too.”


“I would say so. I don’t know many people that went on vacation and just decided to stay.”


“Very true. I can’t deny that. But you know what I find that is so funny? It was so unlike me. I’ve been so prepared my whole life. I’ve planned my life out in spans of five years.”


Doug let out a chuckle, “I think we all tend to do that.”


“Do you know what I’m talking about? People would always say to me, ‘Where are you going to be in five years?’ I would have this all planned out in my head; go to college, get an amazing job, climb the corporate ladder, get married and have a huge family,” her tone change to a more somber one. “Then it all blew up in my face.”


Doug studied Danielle’s face. There was sadness in her eyes. The look of someone who had their heart broken.


“Is it so bad? Sitting here in the desert, on a picnic with me?” he said with a charming smile.


“Oh no! I didn’t mean it like that. This is very nice! I’m very glad you brought me here,” Danielle reassured him.


“I’m really just teasing you a bit.”


“Okay. That’s good. I was worried. That didn’t come out the way I meant it.”


“Well, I can relate to what you mean. Things really haven’t gone the way I expected either, but I think the key is to really enjoy what life brings you instead of being angry at it.”


“I was angry for a while. I was really angry at Brian and then I just got angry at life. I mean, I did everything I was supposed to do. I was the supportive girlfriend. I always did things to please him, but it just didn’t seem to matter.”


“Do you miss him?” Doug’s questioned surprised Danielle a bit.


“No. I don’t think I do. I mean, I think I miss the idea of being in relationship, having someone to call or go to the movies with, but I don’t really miss him. It’s actually a little bit of a relief. I felt like he would put a lot of pressure on me.”


“How so?”


“Well he was always saying how I should climb the corporate ladder at work even though I really didn’t like my job very much. I would tell him that I didn’t like it and he would just keep pushing me no matter how much I said I hated it! Once I got out here, I realized I didn’t have to hear his input anymore. It was really refreshing to be honest.”


“Do you like teaching?” Doug inquired.


“I do. I mean it’s totally different than what I was used to. I can’t show up late for a meeting or slowly get my coffee in the morning. I’m on their schedule, not mine anymore. The first few weeks I was so exhausted every night. It really kicked my butt.”


“I bet. Well it’s a very brave step to make a career change like that. I really respect that,” Doug complimented her.


“Thank you. It was scary and at times. It still is. Now I know for sure that I made the right choice. How about you? How is your career?”


“It’s going well. I really can’t complain. I go to a job site everyday so I’m not in the office. That definitely has its perks.”


“So what are you working on right now?”


“We are building a new school. It’s a good project but a stressful one because it’s expected to open next fall and the community is counting on that.”


“Oh. Wow. That sounds like it might be tough.”


“Well I get a lot of pressure put on me to keep everything running smoothly. But I’m just glad I don’t have to go to the school board meetings. My boss does that. He says thing get heated at times.”


“I can imagine,” Danielle agreed. “What happens when that project is done?”


“Then I move on to the next one.”


“In LA?”


“It could be there or it could be San Francisco. It could be anywhere really.”


“Well that’s exciting.”


“It is. There is always something different around the corner for me.”


Doug gazed into Danielle’s eyes. They were dark brown, deep and had a twinge of sadness about them. She blushed, looking away for a brief moment. When she looked back at him he was still staring at her.


“What?” she asked feeling somewhat embarrassed by the attention she was receiving from Doug.


“Can I kiss you?” He sweetly asked.


Danielle was a bit taken aback. No man had ever asked if they could kiss her before. They had just gone ahead and kissed her without asking.


“Okay,” she whispered as they leaned towards each other.


He kissed her on the lips. A slight charge surged through her body. An awkward silence followed. “That was nice,” Danielle blurted out in an attempt to make the situation less uncomfortable.


“Just nice?” Doug seemed taken aback, “I haven’t heard that one before.”


“No. I mean-it- was great. Really great! I just don’t really know what to say. Gosh I’m screwing this up,” Danielle threw her face into her hands.


Doug placed her hand on her back, “Danielle, you’re not screwing anything up. I’m having a picnic with a beautiful woman in the middle of the desert. Nothing could screw this up.”


“Thank you,” Danielle gazed at him. His demeanor was sweet and comforting. She felt at ease with him.


“You know when I was a kid I would see pictures of Las Vegas, all the lights and tall buildings. I was kind of memorized by them. Now that I’m an engineer I understand better how they work, but back then I just thought they were amazing. When I was a kid Las Vegas just seemed like a million miles away. It was something that I never thought I would see. But here were are, two kids from Philadelphia, hundreds of miles away from home.”


He reached her hand. They sat in silence, holding hands.




####



Thank you for reading my book. Like it? Love it? Please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer!


Thank you!


Sarah Warman


About the author:


Sarah grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania, raised by her parents who met in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Technology she moved to the eastern shore of Maryland so she could take walks on the beach whenever she pleased. After spending five years as a migrant, Sarah and her husband returned to their native Pittsburgh where they reside with their rescued cat. Her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post and her personal blog, Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes



Connect with Me:


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