A few years ago, I spent six weeks in Europe. Yes, it was a trip of a lifetime. But more importantly, it opened up my world to many new opportunities I never envisioned.
One of them was the concept of a book.
I diligently wrote down all my thoughts and ideas as we meandered through Spain and Italy. And once I was back in the states, the concept of a book was formed. I started asking questions:
- What would happen if a woman traveled to an exotic location in the heart of midlife?
- What would happen if a woman said YES to a trip of a lifetime?
- How would it change her?
- How would it energize her?
- Could you find love in one week? Somewhere far from home?
I started writing. Eventually, that idea morphed into a series – The Choice. It was filled with women that said YES to Destination Roulette.
Travel changes people. For the better. It makes you look at the world in an entirely new manner. And I wanted to capture that in my Destination series.
I even wrote about how Destination Roulette was formed in Destination Vancouver, Ann and MJs story:
“I want to tell you about an idea I’ve been playing with. I mentioned it to Liz and Kate earlier while you were out of the office. They both loved it, so I wanted to spring it on you too before I move ahead.”
MJ motioned with his hands to head back into his office.
They settled into two leather chairs in the corner. With the sun sinking in the west, a soft glow filtered across his room, making it the perfect place to get lost in conversation.
“What’s the one thing almost everyone wants more of?” she asked
“Travel,” he shrugged, knowing it was the answer she expected.
“Travel. But why don’t people travel more?”
He thought for the moment, then answered, “A lot of reasons. But I would say the two biggest are they’re too busy, and they can’t afford it.”
“Exactly. I am willing to bet those two groups of people make up the majority of readers for today’s travel magazines. Buy a magazine, and you can travel anywhere in the world, and see it all in several hours from the convenience of your sofa. It’s cheap, and it doesn’t interfere with life-stuff.”
Ann moved her iPad to the table. She scooted forward, then continued. “But out of the two reasons, I would say that cost is probably the bigger of the two. How many people would love to leave everything behind for a week and travel to France?” She motioned out towards the cover they’d just finalized.
“Everyone, precisely. Leave your world behind for a week. Go to someplace new, like France. Who hasn’t daydreamed about that from time to time? Then reality sets in when you have to look at your checking account as you slap down your credit card for an unexpected car repair, or have your kids whine for new shoes. So you climb into your car and go back to work.”
“Such a romantic, aren’t you?” MJ chuckled at her description.
“Just the truth. That’s life.” She scrunched her shoulder in agreement.
She moved forward in her chair, closer to MJ. “But what if you were given a trip for free? What if someone came to you right now and offered you an all-expense-paid trip, let’s say it was to Provence. Here’s the ticket, your flight leaves in an hour. Would you do it?” She held out her hand to him with her pretend ticket.
He surprised her by grabbing her hand, pulling her up and heading for the door. “Hurry, let’s go.”
She laughed as she was thrown off guard, falling into him. He righted her in his doorway, but somehow couldn’t quite let go of her. He lingered, hands on her hips. Staring.
His hands zipped up her sides, across her arms, settled on the sides of her face for just a moment, before realizing his actions and dropping his arms down. Still, his eyes never wavered. “I think it’s safe to say I’d say yes.”
Her breath caught, just a little. Okay, then.
Her brain did cartwheels picturing the two of them sitting at that little cafe in Provence, eating croissants, smelling the flowers, basking in the sunshine underneath that bright blue sky. After a phenomenal night together, of course.
She recovered. She looked at him, smirking in the way only he could. Caught.
She shook her head. Yes, she had every intention of continuing this game. But first, her idea. So she continued, “What if we give people a chance for free travel?”
She went back to her chair, grabbed her iPad, pulled up her whiteboard and motioned for him to join her.
He sat, moved forward and glanced at the tablet balancing on her knee.
“So I thought we’d call it Destination Roulette. The premise is we set up computerized game boards in airports, giving people a chance to jump at traveling to a new destination. The only catch is they have to leave within the hour. No thinking. No planning. They have to act immediately.” Ann scrolled through photos she’d found to represent different ideas. She filled in details as necessary, added comments when he had questions.
The idea was simple enough, and it didn’t take MJ long to see the possibilities. He dropped back into his chair, brought his hand up to his chin, contemplating.
Ann watched his eyes, judging his reaction.
He turned, eyeing her. And broke into a full-out grin. “Brilliant.”
Her grin matched his. “So you like it? Think it’ll work?”
“I don’t see why not. It needs tweaking. But the premise is there.”
“Of course. I just came up with it this week.” She tapped her screen to get out of the app. Flipped it off.
“It’d be a great addition to what we already have in place with the magazine.”
“The social media possibilities are endless, aren’t they?”
He chuckled. “Remember when I first started? You quizzed me all the time on who the hell used Twitter in the first place and why we needed an account.”
She nodded. “I’ve grown.”
“That you have.”
They were so comfortable together. Like brother and sister.
Scratch that. Ann looked at the five o’clock shadow forming across his face. He wore it well. He wore everything well. His shirt, a deep green that accentuated his eyes. His pants, tan, hugging his hips impeccably. His shoes, classy.
His hair, the ideal length to run her fingers through, hold onto while they …
He was searching her face. She knew she was an open book by the look in his eyes.
“MJ, why did you grab me and run a few minutes ago?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Why did you do it? When I asked you if you’d drop everything and leave for Provence, you grabbed my hand and ran. Why?”
He scrubbed a hand over his face, clearly buying time while he considered his words.
He moved forward, moved closer to where she sat.
“Because you’re all I think about. And if we’re talking about wishes, about daydreams or fantasies, you’re mine. If I won a trip, I’d want you with me. If I had the chance to explore a place like Provence, there’s no one else I’d want along.”