50 Shades of Haze

Taos Plaza and Hotel La Fonda taken in June 2007

Taos Plaza and Hotel La Fonda taken in June 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rain beat down upon them as they barreled down the Interstate. They had a destination in mind but they liked keeping their options open. Where they ended up was anyone’s guess.

Life had always been mostly kind to them. They didn’t want for much and while not completely unscathed from life’s tragedies the bad things that happened never did much to deter their mutual sense of adventure.

As the rain resumed in varying degrees of torrential intensity, they occasionally glanced at one another with wry smiles. They were driving towards the city but just the right look, the right smile, the right twinkle in one of their pairs of searching eyes, and they would know instantly if they would embark on one of the many detours available to them along the way.

Jenn and Renaldo loved how their names seemed to remind their friends of characters in a romance novel. Jenn was whispery, blond, blue-eyed, with an outgoing personality that belied her strong need for privacy and alone time. Renaldo was Latin, dark-skinned and with white teeth he flashed regularly to all he encountered, their sheen alternating between friendly invitation and subtle warning.


Jenn was a successful business owner on vacation in Mexico when she met Renaldo, who checked her in (and checked her out while doing so) at the hotel she was staying. Jenn thought he was attractive, but she was there to decompress. Unlike many women, she had no qualms about traveling alone or going on holiday by herself. To the contrary, doing whatever she wanted whenever she wanted was appealing to her and overrode any concerns about being taken by the white slavery traders while she lay sunning on the beach.

Renaldo liked her vibe as soon as she said, “Jenn Robles. I’m checking in.” He noticed her legs, slim ankles, sun hat and dress, and thought he could easily fall for a woman like this. Renaldo often daydreamed about the impossible, but he was still a young enough man that he was coasting on all the favors his good looks could bring him.

Renaldo had shamelessly hit on women who stayed at the resort in the past. But usually they were traveling with other women, some of them looking for the adventure that the arms of a perfect stranger could provide. Renaldo knew women and respected when he was immediately attracted to one. He never thought of himself as a ladies man, but indeed he was just that.

Dining in the hotel restaurant the first night of her stay, Renaldo made it a point to arrange to be Jenn’s server. After being seated by the hostess and told that “Renaldo” would be her server, she briefly thought there were sure a lot of Renaldos working at the place. By the time she finished smiling about it, the Renaldo was greeting her warmly, smiling, “Hello Miss. I am Renaldo. I will be taking care of you this evening.”

Renaldo never cared about what came out of his mouth. He always thought life had more pleasures than lumps of coal to offer him. He was always himself, confident and this air was recognized by all he came in contact with, and especially so by members of the opposite sex. If Jenn was not aware of any attraction of her own for him when she checked in, it was becoming evident now.

“What’s good?” inquired Jenn.

“Everything,” replied Renaldo.

“Of course,” countered Jenn.

She could feel him assessing her. He dipped below eye level contact occasionally, letting his brown eyes briefly survey her before returning to her own deep blue orbs. The mutual attraction was now unmistakable. The dining room was not yet half full and servers in the wings were nodding in agreement that Renaldo and Jenn were enjoying themselves.


The road was bumpy, the ride uneven to put it kindly, like fruit in a blender to describe it more harshly. As they jostled along the highway, Jenn found her thoughts drifting back to that fateful trip to Mexico where they first met just a few years ago.

There was no way she was looking for love, trying to hookup, anything like that. She was just there to unwind. Work had been beyond stressful for the better part of a year leading up to that trip. Romance was not on her agenda. Rest was.

But love is a funny thing and on its own schedule as to when it arrives. She was thinking just that now, too, remembering how she struggled on various dating sites after her contentious divorce. She was swearing off men for a while after all of that was over.

Her husband had cheated on her with a co-worker. She was not that shocked when she found out. Their sex life had been non-existent for quite some time. She almost gave him a pass for that, finding herself partly to blame for losing interest in him entirely in the bedroom (and out). She allowed herself to be impulsive after the divorce was final. Her friends convinced her to give the dating world a try. Why couldn’t she find the love she once had with her now ex? Or even better, why couldn’t she find even better love than that?

Jenn’s adventurous side was on the prowl. She dated a guy for a few months but it wasn’t real so much as it was convenient. It permitted her the chance to rediscover her sensual side. For a brief period, passion and sex were at the forefront of her life again.

After living out her own version of 9-1/2 Weeks, Jenn left the dating world to throw herself back into her high-stakes, power broker job and all the stress that goes with it. She hit it hard for the next year, doing nothing but working, eating, sleeping and working out. Her professional success had never been greater and she didn’t miss the give and take, the miscommunications and the compromise a relationship with a significant other brings. She was, however, starting to feel a little burned out. When she felt like this, she would often take a long weekend, a drive somewhere without making reservations beforehand, too. Her mind appreciated not having things so planned out like when she was on the job.

When she was feeling especially fatigued, a long weekend was not adequate. She would book a flight to some unthought-of-in-advance destination and just be, leaving herself to do nothing, savoring the lack of structure. Even though she tended not to book accommodations in advance of these trips, she was glad she planned out the stay in Mexico where the universe brought her the gift that is Renaldo.


Renaldo and Jenn looked at each other. Three years later, still being the best of lovers and friends, their communication had evolved into predominantly a telepathic one. They didn’t have to speak to each other as much as other couples did in order to know what the other one was feeling. This is a rare ability they both recognized as being at the center of their ability to always remain fresh and playful with each other. Not constrained by the limitations of the English language as other couples, their words, when spoken, merely served to reinforce what their bodies and faces related.

“I’m hungry, need a stiff drink and you. Want to turn off at Taos?”

Renaldo briefly thought about issuing his trademark, “How did you know?”

Instead, he flashed his pearlies and with them the unspoken certainty that Taos would be a good call.




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