An Involuntary Spark
There are so many questions in life that need answers that aren't always readily available. Questions like, what percentage of our experiences are happenstance and what percentage is fate? Why can't we sometimes tell the difference? And if we could, what would that change? Amiira Barnes was wrestling with this very notion as she sat idly at her desk in her immaculately decorated office.
So much of her day to day exterior she prided on her backbone, her tenacity and her hard work. But sometimes certain things would fall into her lap that she didn't necessarily want, wasn't aptly prepared for and didn't quite know what to do with. This had been her unfolding dilemma over the past couple of weeks. While her professional life was thriving, her personal life was in a bizarre and tenuous place.
She'd just broken it off with a man whom she'd been relatively crazy about, when she had found out one perplexing and deal-breaking fact about him: he was married. Amiira shivered against the thought every single time she recalled it. She'd always thought highly of herself for having immense integrity and strength of character. So the fact that she had been carrying on with a married man for months, until she had found out the truth, made her invariably distressed and upset.
What made it all the more jarring was how hard it had been for her to break it off with him.
Especially considering that they worked together, and his position at the company was decidedly more cemented and his pay grade was exceptionally higher. Granted, he wasn't her direct boss, which Amiira was thankful for and had made completely cutting things off, a bit easier; he was still one of the board members of the consulting company she worked for, and had much esteem throughout that building and in those halls.
It was difficult for her to be at work sometimes because she found herself riddled with trepidation that she'd see him turning a corner and they'd lock eyes. No need for awkward run-ins with ex-lovers while she was at her highly prestigious job.
Sometimes her choices, especially in the love department, left much to be desired.
This was part of the reason that she sat, gazing at her sleek computer, and racking her brain on ideas to get herself out of her own self imposed rut. She thought about taking a vacation. Just up and booking a flight to Spain. But she didn't want to run away from work, per say. She had too much pride for that. Amiira just wanted a distraction. A distraction that would serve and heal her. Something that would balance her life back in favor of some kind of normalcy, that she had inadvertently lost when she'd allowed herself to be swept away by the much older gentlemen whose office resided two floors above her own.
It didn't help that Amiira had a very puzzling and disconcerting history when it came to relationships, and at 32 years old, she was starting to feel the societal pressures to actually get it right and settle down. The trouble had never been in finding someone to spend time with and to enjoy. It was finding the correct one; that she struggled with endlessly.
She was to the point where she was becoming a bit doubtful and a smidgen of bitter. She'd never let on to this with any of her friends or her family members, who were all practically lining up to set her up with a slew of guys whom they deemed worthy. Amiira had been on enough unsuccessful blind dates to detest the option altogether.
So yes, her love life was a heaping pile of rubble, and too much of her focus had been on it lately. She just wanted to go somewhere where she could relax, and unwind and have a good time.
Or maybe she just needed a hobby.
Either way, something had to give because her threshold for her own displeasure and unhappiness was becoming increasingly low.
Amiira fiddled with her keyboard as she typed a few things into her search engine. Her long and agile, perfectly manicured fingers grazing over the keys in a quick and expert manner.
She attempted to search for options that sounded exciting, foreign and interesting. She was still on the fence about packing up and taking off for a complete vacation because she didn't want to take any time off.
Something caught her eye on the screen, as she moved her cursor towards the link that read something about a vacation home for the summer. Coincidently enough, the location was only an hour and a half away from her current residence in Santa Monica.
Amiira read the listing briefly, before clicking through the pictures. What she saw was stunning. She'd lived in southern California for most of her life, so she was no stranger to gorgeous views and pristine expanses. But the layout of the beach house was particularly breathtaking; that coupled with it being right by the water and near some of the most spectacular cliffs in that area, increased her excitement about the prospect. There were six rooms total in the expansive beach home, each one with its own adjoining bathroom. The owner was renting out five of the rooms for the summer, as that was the peak time for tourism. Although with the exemplary weather year round, the region was already frequented consistently.
Amiira clicked back on the original section of the listing and continued to read about the specifications and amenities. It seemed like the perfect fit. What sealed the deal for her was the last bit of the text at the very bottom.
Must be an established adult. No college kids. Fully vested with a job type grown up. Late 20s/30s preferably.
Amiira smiled at that and silently nodded her appreciation. If she was going to spend potentially every weekend around people in a palatial beach house, they'd need to most definitely be of the mature and autonomous variety.
“Yes, this might be just the thing I need.”
Amiira finished applying her mascara as she contemplated her new adventure. She'd have a couple more days in the week to work and then come Friday, she would be headed south on the freeway, to her new home away from home for the summer. She was pleased that she had found something right up her ally. She could spend her weekends laying out on the beach, drinking Mai Tai's or playing cards, working on darkening her already naturally caramel tinged complexion and going shopping. She'd be completely rejuvenating herself in order to face the work week ahead.
A change of pace and scenery was all that she could think about and she couldn't wait for it to be a part of her reality. She'd be in a different city, while not incredibly far away, she'd be surrounded by people that she didn't know and who didn't know her. It was the perfect medicine for what was ailing her. Some fun was most definitely necessary.
Although the weekly price for the room had been a bit steep, she took the plunge because she felt that she truly deserved it. A change in speed and direction, a different vantage point. So even if she did have to dip into her savings a bit, it'd be worth it. After all, that's what she got for choosing a place that was directly on the water. Paying for a view and accessibility to the ocean was common place.
Amiira considered herself relatively financially stable; she had an amazing position at one of Los Angeles' top consulting firms. But she wasn't necessarily earning as much as she thought she deserved, and she wasn't moving up the hierarchical chain of command in her company, as fast as she would have liked. There were also days when she doubted if this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Amiira had always been ambitious ever since she was a wee little girl, and that characteristic, which had been instilled in her since birth by her parents, both from very different backgrounds, was something that was etched into her being.
She was persistent and she was tough.
Her position in the firm had led to one of the reservations she endured when she started seeing Eli. He was older, but that maturity was what drew her to him. That and he was incredibly aware, she felt safe and tended to in his care. But she'd experienced many doubts when she started to see him consistently because she didn't want their relationship to come out and for people to start questioning her motives. Even though he wasn't her direct boss, she still knew people would talk.
But that turned out to be the least of her worries. Two months in, she'd overheard one of the other higher ups refer to someone as his wife and that was the beginning of the end. She'd never felt so duped and blindsided.
It was still emotionally taxing for her to look at him or even be in the same room as him.
She'd known better than to date someone from work anyways, but she'd gone against her gut. All because he was gratifying and made her feel indescribably special. But it turned out he was also a massive liar and pathological.
Amiira slipped into a high waisted, teal pencil skirt that hit her mid shin, and paired it with a thin, crème, long sleeved sweater, and black heels. Although it was relatively warm in LA for only May, her office had the propensity of being naturally cool. She put on some understated and simple diamond earrings, and took one more look at her naturally wavy, thick hair, which her Haitian and British mix of ancestry was responsible for, before grabbing her purse and walking towards her front door.
Before she had even reached the door, her phone was buzzing in her purse. Quickly plucking it from the side pocket, she glanced at the caller ID before sliding her finger across the glass to answer it.
“Hey girl,” Amiira offered cheerfully. It was one of her dearest friend's, Naomi, who was undoubtedly going to attempt to talk her ear off about something.
“What are you doing?” Naomi asked, her voice tempered with interest, almost like she was going to ask a more pressing question, once the initial one was answered.
“On my way to work, why? What's going on?”
“Nothing much. You wanna do lunch today.”
“Yes, lets. I have something to tell you.”
“What is it? You got a man?”
“Girl, all exciting news needn’t come with a dick attached.” Amiira said evenly as she rolled her eyes, thankful that she got onto an empty elevator so that she could continue her borderline inappropriate conversation.
“Sometimes it does though. You know I just can't wait for you to find him. I almost think I'm more anxious for you to meet the one, than you are.”
“That's quite possible at times. I'm just off this thing with Eli and the last thing I'm thinking about is a man, or meeting one.”
“Ugh, I warned you against him. I knew there was something off about him. You two were always at your place, you guys never really went out. I just had a bad feeling.”
“Well, clearly now we know why,” Amiira relented, with a bit of irritation in her tone. Remembering how she had agreed that they not go out, so no one from work would see them. This wasn't how she wanted to start her day. Talking about one of her biggest mistakes in the last year, hell maybe in the last decade.
She wasn't sure what trumped carrying on with a married man.
“It's not about a man, Nae,” Amiira went on, walking swiftly through the parking garage to her car. The sound of her high heels hitting the concrete emitted throughout the underground structure. “I'm gonna be MIA on the weekends this summer.”