Vanessa double-checked her suitcase, mentally going through her packing list. Sunscreen, bathing suits, cover-ups, flip flops, books, everything was there. She zipped the suitcase shut, excitement building. Tomorrow she was Jamaica bound for a two-week vacation at an all-inclusive resort villa. 

She couldn't remember the last time she took a real vacation. Probably her honeymoon in Greece fifteen years ago, she realized. The phone rang, jolting Vanessa from her thoughts. She saw it was her cousin Drea. 

"Hey, Drea! I'm all packed and ready to go for tomorrow," she said.

"Look at you being all organized," Drea teased. "I'm still helping my mom plan your 'cousins-only' welcome home dinner for when you're back. She insists on going all out."

Vanessa smiled, touched by her family's kindness. This trip was a big deal for her. She hadn't done anything just for herself since her husband Harrison passed away two years ago. 

"A welcome home dinner sounds amazing," Vanessa said. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all. It was a dark time after Harrison died. I'm finally starting to feel like myself again."

"We're just glad to see you looking happy and taking this trip," Drea reassured. "You deserve this Vee. It's going to be great."

Vanessa nodded, taking a deep breath. She glanced at the framed photo of her and Harrison on their wedding day. He would want this for her, she knew. 

"Part of me feels guilty for being excited," Vanessa admitted. "But mostly I'm ready to relax, read on the beach, and get some much-needed time off work. No expectations, no set plans."

"Exactly! Enjoy that wine and those trashy vacation reads," Drea said with a laugh. "Have a steamy island fling! You're a vibrant, sexy college professor. Make Harrison proud and live it up!"

Vanessa rolled her eyes playfully at her cousin's advice. "I'm not going there looking for a fling or romance. But I won't turn down a mojito from a handsome local bartender," she joked. 

They chatted more about the details of the resort and Vanessa promised to send photos. After they hung up, Vanessa snuggled up in bed with her tablet, pulling up the villa brochure. She scrolled through the pictures of the sunny beaches and inviting pools. For the first time in a long time, she felt a genuine, relaxed excitement.

This trip marked a new chapter for her. She loved Harrison and the life they built together. But he was gone, and she owed it to herself to enjoy this new chapter. No, she wasn't going to Jamaica to fall in love. But she was open to the possibilities - good food, new experiences, spontaneous adventures, and moments of joy. 

Vanessa set down her tablet and turned off the light. As she drifted off to sleep, she imagined the sound of the ocean waves and the warmth of the Jamaican sun on her mocha skin. Her solo trip wouldn't heal all her grief, but it was a start. A start of moving forward and living again.


Bryce rubbed his eyes as he finished updating the last patient chart. It had been a long day at the office. His partner and friend, Dr. Miles Boyd, poked his head into the exam room. 

"Heading out soon?" Miles asked. "You've gotta be ready for Jamaica tomorrow, get your mind right."

Bryce smiled tiredly. "That I am. Two weeks of sitting on the beach not looking at charts or X-rays is exactly what I need."

Miles plopped down on the rolling stool. "Can't say I blame you, man. You've been grinding nonstop since the divorce." 

Bryce nodded slowly, his smile fading. His ex-wife Tasha had left him last year for another man. The humiliation of her affair still stung.

"It'll be good to just unplug," Bryce said. "Although Tasha's wedding is next weekend in the middle of my trip. That stings a bit."

Miles shook his head. "Forget about her, bro. You need this vacation. Tasha wasn't right for you anyway."

"I know, I know," Bryce sighed, running a hand over his close-cropped black hair. "Not how I envisioned my life at 48, suddenly single again."

"Look at it this way. You're successful, in decent shape, and the ladies at the resort will love that salt and pepper beard," Miles joked. 

Bryce chuckled, rolling his eyes at his friend. "Believe me, I'm in zero rush to get back out there. Just want to drink rum on the beach and not think for a while."

Miles stood and clapped him on the back. "You deserve it, man. Have fun, don't overthink it. And for God's sake, at least consider a little one-night stand!"

They shared a laugh as they walked out to the parking lot. Bryce did feel ready to let loose and not burden himself with expectations on this trip. As he drove home, his mind wandered to memories of his carefree college days once he and Vanessa officially broke up. 

Maybe parts of that old Bryce remained. The Bryce who knew how to charm the ladies and live freely. Divorce had hardened him, but Jamaican sun and rum would thaw that shell. 

At home, Bryce triple-checked his suitcase and scanned his itinerary. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough. He needed this chance to rediscover himself beyond being a sports medicine doctor and ex-husband. 

Two weeks to relax without constant work stress or dread of Tasha's wedding back home. He was grateful that Miles had convinced him to book this trip. Otherwise, he'd be wallowing instead of lounging poolside with a drink in hand.

Bryce smiled thinking about strolling the warm sand, diving into crystal waters, and gazing at the stars by the villa pool. He was long overdue to focus just on his happiness. No Women, no ex-wives, no expectations except tranquility.

He set his suitcase by the door and headed to bed early, eager for his tropical escape. Bryce knew this trip marked a new beginning. A chance to heal and embrace the possibilities ahead. He drifted off dreaming of swaying palms and crashing waves.