Love Notes: Swept away by love

Marc Collins was a carefree, 28-year-old Brit looking to blow off some steam when he and a buddy decided to fly to the U.S. for a week's vacation in May 1991.

"My friend (David) and I wanted to take in the sights, so we flew to Miami," recalls Marc, now 50.

When David's feet became sunburned two days into the trip, they had to slow down. That's how they landed in that oceanside bar to drink rumrunners.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old Madeline Garcia and her friend Pam decided to drop into the same spot, en route to a nightclub.

"I was trying to kill time before I met a guy I was seeing down in Florida," says Madeline, now 46. She was in Miami, vacationing with her family.

As Madeline and Pam drew attention from other men at the bar, Marc decided Madeline was out of his league.

"There was a tile convention going on in town and she was getting hit on by the men from the tile convention," says Marc.

"I didn't care about those convention guys," Madeline says. "I thought you liked Pam because you were talking to her!"

Marc decided a good way to stand out was to speak to Madeline in a different language. "I spoke to her in French and she responded in French," he recalls. "(I was) really intrigued. And we just sat there and talked from midnight until about 4 a.m. — pretty much in French the whole time."

Madeline, who had studied French in high school and college, said she didn't believe Marc when he finally revealed he wasn't from France but Nottingham, England. "I said, 'Nope. Prove it.'"

"So I had to pull out my passport," Marc said, "and then she believed me."

Not wanting the date to end, Madeline and Pam invited Marc and David to come back to her parents' condominium.

"My parents are Cuban — they're very strict," she says. "I walk in and my dad's waking up. So Marc and David slept out by the pool. My friend and I went inside to take an hour nap and then we woke up and all went to Denny's for breakfast."

Breakfast went fine, but what happened next took their up-to-now charmed relationship in the other direction.

"Marc and David had shorts on, but they both rip them off and they have their Speedos (on)," Madeline recalls, "and Pam and I were, like, 'Ewwww!' "

"I still have that Speedo — that's like a memento," Marc adds, still amused.

"Well, it was almost a deal breaker!"

Swimwear aside, Marc and Madeline were inseparable for the rest of the week.

"We had dinners and walked on the beach," he says. "It was very intimate — not in a physical way, but with talking and getting to know each other. We probably each got 18 or 19 hours of sleep the whole week."

As their time together drew to a close, and with it Marc's return to Europe, he realized he didn't want to leave Madeline. "My friend knew that something was up on the flight back," he says. "There was a look in my eye and I was done.