Is that the last bag?" Raphael asked his driver, as he handed it to one of the flight attendants.
"Yes sir. You're all set for your flight" David smiled at the man he's called his boss for the past six years. They weren't exactly 'friends' per se, but they got along quite well.
Raphael was even a bit bummed that he wasn't coming with him. But David had his wife and kids here in Puerto Rico. He wouldn't take up his life and leave his home, no matter how well Raphael paid.
Raphael understood completely. When his parents separated when he was just seven years old, he had to move from country to country to be with either his mom or his dad, despite the fact that they didn't give a flying f**k about him. It had been a lot to bear.
So, he wouldn't ask David to take up his family and move them to another island. He simply had to find a new driver, or drive himself.
"It was good working with you David. I wish you all the best" Raphael expressed truthfully, giving the smiling man a firm handshake.
David had always been such a happy man. It was one of the reasons why Raphael kept him so long, despite the fact that he drove a little slower than how he preferred. It almost made him sad losing the only 'somewhat friend' he had.
"Was a pleasure sir. I hope you find what you seek in The Bahamas. I hear it's a lovely country."
"That it is." Raphael's lips tilted up for a quick second, but not because of the island he was moving to, but because of a certain girl he met sixteen years ago on that very island.
Raphael didn't smile. Like ever. But the only time someone would catch a glimpse of a ghost smile, was whenever he thought about a curly haired girl with the brightest eyes and cutest little nose.
"My accountant should send your final payment within a week, and a little bonus for all the trouble. I knew my departure was sudden." The grim-looking man explained, but David didn't look hurt at all.
"Gracias, sir. It was no trouble really. All the best-uh again" David beamed, knowing when Raphael said 'bonus' it was indeed a generous amount.
They exchanged handshakes once again before Raphael climbed the stairs to his jet. The door closed behind him, and he saw the flight attendant, Lacy, he believed his name was, pushing a duffle bag in a corner.
"Give that one to me," he instructed, his voice booming through the space like a sonic.
The woman yelped in shock as she quickly spun on her heels. She blushed crazily as she handed him the bag, tucking away a lock of hair in the process as she twisted the thighs together.
A perfectly arched brow was what she received in response, as Raphael grabbed the bag beside him and threw it on a nearby seat.
He'd had women flirt with him all the time, but he wasn't in the least interested. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd been intimate with a woman. It was solely a phase of young adult flings here and there.
But when two different women claimed that they were pregnant with 'his' baby, he stopped the reckless act. He knew he'd been careful enough to use a condom, and being in and out of court for nine months was something he grew sick of.
These women would do anything for money. One woman even went as far as using her nails to try and break the condom. Raphael had left her in bed that day, checking out of the hotel and going all the way home. He had never been intimate with a woman in his own house. That was his private quarters.
The woman pouted from behind him, not sure as to why he hadn't acknowledged her. She was sure that she caught him eyeing her earlier. Was he playing hard to get?
"Lucy?" She heard him call, and she immediately perked at this.
"Yes?" She answered a little too eagerly. "Well it's Lacy but-"
"Can you check if Mrs. Garcia needed anything? Maybe you can stay with her too. I'm all set here" It was more like he was kicking her out than simple asking her to check on the lady in the cabin next door.
Yet, she did her job, smiled and simply agreed. She watched way too many movies with hot private jet sex with rich men, and had hoped it'd become a reality. Maybe next time.
"Yes sir. Will you need anything else?" She asked out of politeness, the disappointment quite evident in her voice.
"Privacy" He stated flatly without even looking at her. "I mean, that's why I got the plane in the first place right?" He met her eyes with a cold glare, which only sent her scurrying away.
With a sigh of relief that the annoying woman was gone, Raphael watched as the asphalt rushed by as the plane took off. He was finally leaving Puerto Rico.
He loved his country, and he'd forever be a Jibaro by heart and blood. But after his mother's death two years ago when he was only days away from turning twenty-three, he had to get out of there.
His father had also died when he was seventeen, leaving him to inherit all his wealth and take over his business once he turned eighteen.
Raphael was never close to any of his parents, so he barely felt the loss. When he was with his father whenever he visited Grand Bahama, he would barely give him a glance. His father only spoke to him when he was talking about the business he'd inherit one day, since he was his father's only heir. And it wasn't much different with his mother either.
His parents started their business together while they were married. It was successful indeed, but they hadn't planned to have a child. When they did and it drove them to divorce, Raphael's father moved to The Bahamas, taking the business with him. His mom was forced to turn her share of the franchise into her own thing. And successful she was.
She did a fine job at being a 'single mother CEO', and the headlines would praise her for such 'strength'. Yet, Raphael would only laugh at those headlines, knowing she was indeed a 'super CEO', but never a 'super mom', as they'd put it.
He never knew what motherly or fatherly love felt like. He never had siblings, and he wasn't even allowed to get a freaking dog. The only love he knew was from Mrs. Garcia who practically raised him. But even she he'd isolate himself from most times.
He'd often believe that she was kind to him simply because it was her job to do so, being his nanny and one of the house keepers. But after time, he noticed that the old widow actually cared for him. And so even now, she was the only staff he'd brought along with him.
After his mom's death, being on the front of every paper and all, he decided to get somewhat of a fresh start. Hence, he'd spent the last two years in the process of selling his mother's franchise, but still kept his late father's.
Once it was all settled, he grabbed a map and started his search. Every place he had chosen, and every advice he'd gotten from his travel advisors didn't seem to entice him. He had travelled to numerous countries for business, yet he just couldn't find the place where he'd be at 'peace'--or at least what he could get from it.
However, two days ago when he saw that Instagram post of the woman he'd loved all these years, he just knew. He hasn't been to The Bahamas since his father died eight years ago, and living there never crossed his mind. But he knew, when he saw that smiling beauty, that that was the place he could call home.
He didn't know if he'd see her again, since she now lived in Nassau, and he was going to Grand Bahama. But that island was where he met the one person who could do wonders to his world with just a smile. It was the place he met the girl who sparked some sort of happiness in his cold, dark mind on random days.
It was home, because it held his best and probably only happy memory--summer camp with Tami Knowles.
Raphael cried for the first time in years that day when the final day at camp rolled around, because he knew he would never see her again. They'd grow up and forget each other. He surely didn't, but he was sure she did.
He ran his finger over the wrinkled pink ribbon that he had tied to his duffle bag so that he doesn't lose it. Sixteen years, and he still had the broad pink ribbon.
Though now pale, it was still bright with the memories of the first time he saw her, and she wrapped this very ribbon around his bruised knee until they were back at camp.
He secretly kept it with him, though she never noticed its absence, and it was by far his most prized possession. Out of all the things, all the mansions, cars and assets he had bought in his life, this was the one thing he treasured the most.
His phone vibrated in his back pocket, and he checked it with confusion, since he had no friends, and it was a Sunday, so it was least likely work related.
However, he relaxed when he saw that it was a notification. Tami had posted another picture, and he immediately tapped the small icon. The spot where his heart should be tightened when he was met with her beautiful smile on his large phone.
She was standing on the beach, with her curly tendrils flowing over her smooth shoulders, and a pair of dark glasses perched on her cute nose.
Oh that cute little nose.
Raphael always dreamed of kissing her on it, and running his fingers through her hair again. He remembered how she hated having other people's hands in her hair when she was eight.
He couldn't help but wonder if she still had that pet peeve. Even from the videos she made with her younger sister where she would let her do her hair, Tami's face would sometimes scrunch in annoyance if her sister tugged it too hard.
She had allowed him only one chance to touch her hair that summer, and it was only because he caught her a pretty butterfly.
He double-tapped the picture, seeing the heart pop up as he exited her profile. He then checked in his notifications, seeing the request she had sent on the day of her graduation that almost sent him yipping like a damn kid on Christmas day.
Yet, he had yet to accept the request. What was he afraid of? He had no clue. Wasn't this what he had wanted from the minute he left camp? Didn't he always wish they'd find their way back to each other? So why chicken out now?
Deep down, he knew the answer.
He was afraid that she'd actually message him. As dumb as it sounded, he was afraid that she actually remembered him. What if she doesn't like the man he'd become? Yes he was successful and rich, but he was so dark inside, so...empty.
She was so full of life and happiness, chasing her dreams and becoming a wonderful young woman. He was ashamed that he hadn't fulfilled all those dreams they talked about on the last night of camp under the stars when it was far past bedtime. He knew that she'd achieve each and every one of hers, but he had only told her that he wanted to be happy, find a woman to be his wife and have them living in a perfect house because he knew that was what she'd wanted to hear him say--that he was going to be happy.
But he wasn't.
With a sigh, he pushed back the phone in his pocket with the request still pending. He rested his head against the head-rest as it started to throb with a familiar pain.
"Don't be sad Raph. One day in the future, we will meet again and we will sit and talk over drinks, or whatever adults do" She had said in her own humorous way that night. He waited on that day for sixteen years, yet it never seemed like it was coming.
'This could be it', his subconscious poked, but he quickly dismissed the thought. What will he tell her when she asks if he had achieved those dreams? Or worse, what if she didn't even remember him?
'Then tell her the truth', the man in his head spoke again. 'Tell her you haven't known happiness from the day you parted, and you need her to save you'.
Yea right. And look like a freak? Besides, maybe she had changed too. Maybe she wasn't the same Tami she was years ago. People grow up right? It'd never work. Ever. Case closed.
But still, Raphael found himself taking out his phone again, this time to make a call.
"Yes. Can we detour to Nassau instead?" He asked, well aware that he sounded crazy. Yet, no one ever questioned him.
"No sorry sir. We have to disembark in Grand Bahama. There are no-"
"How soon can we leave again for Nassau?" He wasn't interested in the details, and everyone knew that, unless it was with his business.
"6 pm, sir"
"Okay." He checked his watch, seeing that it was only 9 am, and the flight wasn't meant to be longer than two and a half hours. "Be ready"
And with that, he ended his brief call. He decided that he'd get Mrs. Garcia settled in at the house and ensured everything was settled before he left again.
What was he planning to do? He had no idea. How was he going to even find her? Not a clue.
Yet, he felt like he needed to at least go there. If it's even to simply grace the land she'd been living on for over a decade, he was sure it'd grant him at least a little joy.
So as he wrapped his finger around the ribbon and leaned his head back with a small smile. All he knew was that whatever should happen on that island, will definitely change his life.