Just You and Me: A Beach Romance
"Loved this story that was well written by Jo Huddleston. Sweet clean romance. Well written romance and loved the characters."
-5-Star Amazon review
Panama City Beach, Florida
July 4, 1958
Driving at a creeping pace in the Starfish Motel parking lot, Allison Turner squinted through her sunglasses against the blaring late afternoon sun beating on the windshield. “I can’t half see with the sun in my eyes! Ginny, help me find our room.”
“There it is! Number 132. That’s it,” Ginny Palmer pointed and called from the passenger seat.
“Okay. Now, help me find a parking spot close to our door.”
Soon, Allison eased the car into an empty spot a few cars down from their motel room. She and Ginny gathered their smaller things to take inside. Allison closed the trunk lid and pushed her damp blonde hair away from her face. “We’ll come back for the suitcases later. I want to get inside our room and turn on the air conditioner.”
“Yeah, and I want to stand in front of it for an hour!”
The two friends stepped up onto the narrow sidewalk and turned toward their room. As they neared the door marked with the number 132, Allison picked up her pace. “Hey!”
Two men wearing T-shirts and Bermuda shorts huddled near the room door, baggage set at their feet. They looked up without speaking, then returned to their task.
The two guys continued their attempts to unlock the door. “Hey, you two!” Allison said. “You can’t go in there. That’s our room.”
The men stood shoulder-to-shoulder, preventing the girls from approaching their door. The taller one spoke, “Nope. Not leaving. This is our room. Says so right here on the key.” He swung the key above his head. It was attached to a green plastic fob bearing the motel’s name and a room number.
Ginny set her cosmetic bag and purse on the sidewalk and placed her hands on her hips. “We’ve been driving nearly five hours. We’re tired, sweaty, and hungry. We’ve got the key to that room. Get out of our way, or I’ll go get the manager.”
The shorter of the two guys had black hair cut military style and took a step closer to her. “I’m sure he’d really like to hear your complaint. He’s busy with that crowd of people trying to check-in, and besides, you’d have to go to the end of the line. By the time you got back here, we’d already be inside the room, calm, cool, and collected.”
His buddy also took a step closer and stared at Allison with the deepest blue eyes she’d ever seen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to gaze into those eyes every day?
“Ma’am, let me see your key, and we’ll settle this right away,” the taller guy said. “Ma’am, did you hear me? Ma’am?”
Ginny poked Allison in the ribs, and she jerked out of her trance. She looked again into those blue eyes, then lowered her own. “What did you say?”
“I said, let me see your key, check the number on it. We’d like to start our weekend instead of standing on this blazing-hot concrete in the sweltering heat. Come on, let me see your key.”
She quietly handed over her room key, all her fiery words stilled for the moment.
The two men examined Allison’s key. They looked at each other and then turned their glances toward the women.
“What? What is it?” Allison asked, hands again on her hips.
The men looked at each other for a second time. The taller one laid Allison’s key and his key in the palm of his hand to examine them side-by-side.
“The cat got your tongue? What is it?” Ginny asked.
Mr. Blue Eyes handed Allison’s key back to her then held his key at eye-level for them to see. They leaned forward to better decipher the numbers marked on the key fob. They read 232. “That key’s to Room 232 on the second floor!” Ginny said. “We told you this was our room.”
Both men stammered under their breath and shuffled their feet. “I guess we owe y’all an apology,” Blue Eyes said. “We were in a hurry to unload our stuff and hit the beach. Didn’t pay close enough attention to our room number. Sorry about that.”
“Apology accepted,” Allison said, making eye contact directly with Mr. Blue Eyes.
“Before we go upstairs, maybe we should introduce ourselves.” The taller, blue-eyed man nodded toward his shorter companion and said, “My friend is Hank, and I’m Jim, G-E-M.”
Both girls snickered at that last bit of information, and Jim gave them a smile.
His little-boy, mischievous smile produced a handsome dimple on each side of his face. “I’m Allison, and this is my best friend, Ginny.”
The four of them exchanged hellos.
“Where y’all from, and how are you so lucky to have ended up at the same place we are?” Ginny asked.
“We’re stationed at Eglin Air Force base near here,” Hank said. “We both got a pass for the long weekend, and here we are. How about you guys? Where you from, and why are you here?”
“We’re from Auburn, Alabama,” Ginny said.
“There’s a college there, right?” Jim, G-E-M, asked.
“Yes,” Allison answered. “Without the college and its students, the town of Auburn probably wouldn’t exist. The school’s about the only thing there.”
“If nothing’s there, how do you make a living?” Hank asked.
“We both work at the school—Alabama Polytechnic Institute,” Ginny said.
“Really?” Jim asked, raising an eyebrow. “Y’all teach at the college?”
“Do we really look like professors?”
“Well, no, you don’t. If y’all are professors, I’ll enroll at the college soon as I get out of the Air Force,” Jim said, smiling at Allison.
“No,” Allison said, “we’re not professors, but we do work on campus. We’re secretaries in the administrative offices in Samford Hall.”
“Look, y’all, I’m about to melt here,” Ginny said. “I need to get inside and turn on the air conditioning.”
“Me too,” Hank said.
“Y’all want to check out the beach later?” Jim asked.“We could walk over there together.”
Jim’s suggestion caused Allison to smile. “Sure. That sounds good. Give us about thirty minutes, okay?”
“Great, we’ll wait for you by the pool,” Jim said.
Once inside their motel room, the girls sat on the side of the bed closest to the door and let the air conditioner’s cold air caress them. Adequately cooled, they brought in their luggage from the car. They hung up a few items from their suitcases and placed others in the dresser drawers.
The empty counter in the vanity area soon filled with their hair and beauty products. As they placed their things on either side of the sink, Allison looked at Ginny’s reflection in the mirror. “Before we meet up with Jim and Hank to walk to the beach, let’s get something straight. I’ll be with the one who has the deep ocean-blue eyes.”
Ginny nodded at Allison’s mirror image.
“Wanted to make sure of that,” Allison said.
“I figured as much. The way y’all looked at each other, seems like you and Jim already have a head start on the fireworks display tonight. He is gorgeous. I think Hank is cute, so I’ll keep my hands off of Jim. No need to worry about me getting in your way.”
“Okay, so that’s settled. You know, ever since Jim introduced himself, I’ve wondered why he told us his name was Jim, G-E-M.”
Still standing before the mirror, Ginny ran a brush through her hair. “If you really want to know, just ask him.”
“I know that’s what you’d do, but I’m not that brazen.”
“No need to be brazen, it’s just a question. Go on and ask him. If Jim thinks you’re nosy, there’s no problem—you’ll probably never see him again after the weekend.”
“Oh, Ginny, I hope you’re wrong. I wouldn’t mind looking into his blue eyes every day.”
Ginny finished putting up her ponytail. “Are you serious? You just met this guy.”
Allison shrugged. “I know, but I’m really drawn to him. I mean, I’m really interested in him.”
“Uh-oh, be careful, Allison. Or are you already beyond the point of no return?”
“Maybe.” Allison turned away from the mirror. “Let’s get out of these pedal pushers and into shorts before we meet Jim and Hank. And we should tuck some money in our pockets just in case we might eat someplace before returning to the motel.”
When Allison and Ginny left their room and walked to the pool, the men were already there, waiting for them. They both wore fresh short-sleeve button up shirts. Jim’s shirt was blue, and as the girls drew closer, Allison noticed the blue of his shirt enhanced his dark blue eyes. She was sure her heart skipped a beat.
Copyright 2021 Jo Huddleston