Jordan and I managed to make it back to the ship without getting killed, abducted or exploited, so I count that as a win. Especially since I had no cash, I.D. or cell phone on me – just my hot pink bikini and $3000 camera. Not one of my finest moments.
The negotiator in me had been running through scenarios of bartering off my Canon 5D Mark II in exchange for our lives. Or having Jordan bribe any would-be predators with the marijuana hidden in his swim trunks. Between my brains and Jordan’s brawn, I’d convinced myself we’d be okay. I’m glad it turned out to be the case, no loss of vacation photos required. Or worse.
D.J. (Daddy John, the orthopedic friend of Jordan’s) met us at the pier with his daughter Penny, who grinned and wrapped me in a plush blue towel, returning to me some of my dignity. “Welcome back,” D.J. greeted us, laughter dancing in his eyes. “Glad you made it!” He looked at me and said, “Your friends have your backpack with your I.D. and wallet. They’re going to meet you at the entrance to the ship so you can get on board.” Praise God for the kindness of strangers and the patience and benevolence of Verna and Marina!
Within the next hour, I’d been reunited with the girls and my backpack, gotten a hot shower and – of course – been quizzed unmercifully by my traveling companions. I admitted to the kiss but told the girls that nothing really happened, which was true, and I thanked them for collecting my things and meeting me at the ship entrance. Nice as the Bahamas was, it just wouldn’t do to be stuck on the island for the rest of my life.
Jordan hadn’t asked for my phone number or room number, so when we’d parted ways, I assumed that was the end of our tête-à-tête. Probably for the best, I thought. But over the next few days, I kept running into people from his group.
Penny was a sweet girl of just 14, and I passed her and her oldest brother Jonah in an elegant hallway on one of the upper levels, all of us swaying with the rough seas. “How are you?!” I squealed, giving her a big hug. She’d modeled for me on the beach, and I absolutely adored her sweet spirit and quiet confidence. “Are these boys treating you okay?” I raised one eyebrow playfully, but I was partially serious. I didn’t like that she was alone with such a rough group of boys.
She nudged her brother in the ribs. “Yeah, they treat me okay.” She smiled.
“They don’t get you smoking and drinking with them, do they?” I asked, still half-teasing, half-serious.
“Nah,” Penny gave a sideways smile. “I’m not into all that stuff. And actually, they tell me all the time that if guys like them ever come and hit on me, I should run as fast as I can in the other direction!”
Jonah nodded in affirmation, a big, silly grin on his face. I asked him, “And you, Jonah… Are you like your namesake at all?” I knew from Jordan that D.J. was a Christian, even as wild as his boys were, so I figured Jonah knew the story. “Are you running from what you’ve been created for?”
The 17-year-old boy shrugged, his mass of curly hair flopping with the movement. “Probably.” I gave him a look full of both challenge and affection. He squirmed and ducked his head, so I wrapped him in a hug and said, “You’re a smart kid, I can tell. You’ll figure it out.”
Shortly thereafter, I ran into their dad D.J., who stopped me in the hallway to ask (with thinly veiled curiosity) what I thought of Jordan. “You two make a handsome couple,” he told me. There was an intensity and weight to his words. He wanted me to know that he cared deeply for Jordan – had known him for decades – and wanted to see him married to a good woman.
“Jordan is a great guy,” I told the would-be matchmaker. “He’s got a lot of potential, but he needs to get right with God. He seems to have a lot of head knowledge – he knows a lot of scripture and facts about the bible – but I think we both know he has wandered a bit and has some healing to do before he’s ready for another relationship.”
D.J. nodded, understanding but still pushing. “Did you have fun at the beach with him?”
“I did,” I began slowly. “He is a lot of fun and very easy to be around. I love how laid-back he is. But, D.J., I’m in a season where I don’t date just to date. I’m dating to marry, and Jordan has a lot to work through before he’s ready for the kind of relationship I would expect.”
I found out later from Jordan that he was getting quizzed by the matchmaker, too. “D.J. likes you a lot,” Jordan told me. “He keeps telling me that you’re a catch. That you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. He says,
‘Don’t let this one get away. She’s got a smile that lights up the room.'”
Hopefully she’s got a heart that lights up some lives, too.