Chapter 18. Page 3 Girl
When I woke that afternoon, the house was quiet. The clock read three in the afternoon. I reached for my hairbrush and brushed out the braids, then plaited them into one braid on the side of my head. Alex teases me about my ‘Jane Seymour’ look when I do this, but I know it’s because he thinks she’s hot and I already know his opinion of my body. From the sound of it, they were outside, so I drew the drapes and saw them out by the pool. All clad in their swim trunks, the four men sat out there laughing about something. I slid into one of my other bikinis, not the one that I bought for Alex because I figured I’d catch hell about that one with Brandon and Ryan.
When I had tied the top of the suit and pulled up the bottoms, I heard feet on the back stairs. Quickly I checked myself in the mirror and slid my feet into my sandals.
“Sleeping Beauty has woken to join the rest of the world, I see,” said Alex walking down the hall in a pair of sandals and swim trunks. He stopped at my door and had a frown on his face.
“What?” I asked, expecting a more jovial look on his face than what I got in return.
“Where’s the swimsuit I bought you?”
“That skimpy thing?”
“As if you would feel uncomfortable wearing it around anyone, you little show off.”
I laughed, “Well, no, but I didn’t want to catch it from Brandon and Ryan.”
“Leave those mother hens to me, Meg. Go on, change into it, I’ll wait out here for you.”
“You’ll have to lace up the back when I get it on,” I reminded him, which made him smile.
Alex had this way of restoring my confidence when I felt that it was totally depleted. I took out ‘his’ suit, the coral one piece, and slipped into it, then called him to come to tie it up in the back where it cris-crossed. I could tell that he loved doing that. Alex would check to make certain that my nipples were properly covered as he laced up the back, only tying it once in hopes that an ‘accident’ would occur on a dive. At least he hoped. When he wasn’t watching, I always double-tied it. Oh well, I supposed he could always hope for a fallout.
“You look lovely in that,” he said to me in the mirror’s reflection. His hands rounded my shoulder and he winked at me in the mirror’s reflection. “Get your towel.”
I did as he bade and followed him downstairs.
“Are you hungry?”
“No, not really. I think I’ll grab a Gatorade and a water though.”
“Great, I’ll meet you poolside then,” I replied, letting him walk out without me. I dawdled in the kitchen until Ryan came in to find me. He said he came in for a bottle of water, but I knew what he came in for. Ryan’s definitely one of those guys that makes women hit their heads against walls and yell, “Why, why why does he have to be gay?” The same age as Alex, but with a chest so chiseled and defined with an ass that looked so hot in those trunks, that I almost spilled the juice while I was pouring it. As Ryan spied my reaction to him, he walked behind me, and I could feel his eyes on my suit.
“Alex is looking for you.”
“I was on my way out,” I said, turning to him, since he wanted to see the front of it in the first place.
“Good,” he said, checking out my suit and raised an eye to it.
“I know it’s skimpy. Alex asked me to wear it.”
“He did, did he?” asked Ryan, who stood almost two heads taller than me, and when he looked down his Parisian nose, he truly did just that. I adored Ryan like Brandon, but getting Ryan’s approval was more difficult than motivating Alex on a bad day.
Ryan and I shared a special fondness for each other and had a unique bond that even Brandon couldn’t attain with me. Brandon was like my best friend, but Ryan was closer to me, like a special uncle or brother. No one could ever replace Billy in my life, but Ryan came pretty darn close. Old enough to be my father, I often wondered what my life would have been like if Ryan had been my dad instead of Howie.
“I had a perfectly acceptable one on when he found me upstairs.”
“When are you going to realize that Alex loves you?”
“He doesn’t love me. He lusts after me, Ryan. Alex does not love me. He’s still wrapped up in Bianca.”
Ryan sighed dramatically, and we walked out onto the patio.
“Well, Alex, I think you’re wrong about that suit,” said Sean. “It leaves nothing to the imagination. Wow, Meg, that suit is incredible on you.”
“She could be a page three girl,” boasted Alex. He motioned me to turn around like a model on the runway. My face must have been crimson when Alex, still seated, took me by the hand and directed me to the chair on the other side of him. Brandon smiled at me in a wicked way, as if he had some scenario churning in his skull.
I sipped my juice while Alex finished his lager. The Alex that sat here laughing at a stupid sexual inference on Brandon’s part wasn’t the same Alex that sang me to sleep last night. This Alex didn’t have the long hair anymore, highlighted blond on top of his natural black, feathered back as the curls hung down his neck, having to straighten them with a flat iron just to get the top to do that. This Alex had crow’s feet that danced on his temple when he laughed, the same temple that sported a few gray hairs that Alex would rid himself of the next time he’s in L.A. and saw his stylist. They’d be gone before he returned to me. This Alex had a bit of a tummy in the front, not the flat stomach of a time when a ripped T-shirt on stage covered in sweat would make me drool. No, the two Alex’s—the one in my ears and the one before my eyes—were not one of the same. They couldn’t be.
“I’ve been waiting for you to get up,” said Alex, touching my leg to get my attention.
“Oh? Why’s that?” I asked, taking another sip of the juice.
“To swim, of course.”
“Yes, we’re all too old for such tom-foolery as Alex in the pool,” replied Sean. Alex handed me the sunscreen and I began to apply it while we were sitting there at the table. Once I had it sufficiently where it was needed on my front, Alex took the bottle and led me to a chaise lounge where he sat behind me and put it on my back. Three pairs of eyes were on us.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Too well, I’m very stiff.”
“Well, then it’s a good thing we’re getting into the pool. I take it you didn’t have any more bad dreams?”
“Did you take your blood pressure meds today?”
“Yes, Mother, I most certainly did. You keep changing the subject.”
“You don’t have to worry about chasing my bogeymen away.”
“Did you take yours?”
“No, not yet.”
Just then, Anna came out to the terrace and set a bowl of fruit salad down on the table with bowls and forks to go with it.
“Anna, Meggy didn’t take her meds today,” Alex tattled.
Anna put her hands on her hips and cocked her head at me as if to say, ‘Well, why not?’
“What does she need?” she asked him as if I wasn’t there while standing in front of me.
“Never mind, I’ll get one in a bit. I need to wear off that other pill first.”
“Before dinner, you’re taking your pills,” she said, picking up my chin with her fingers bent from arthritis.
“Yes, Anna, I promise.”
Brandon followed her inside while I dove in the pool after Alex, who had watched for fall out and was disappointed again when my suit remained in place. He’d toss me up and around the pool trying to get it to fall off me, and I just wondered sometimes why I bothered double tying the suit in the first place. I wondered what he’d do if they fell out of the suit. Would he touch them? Caress them, or attempt to cover me while he retied the suit, feeling all embarrassed about it? Inconspicuously, I reached behind myself and I undid the double tie, just checking it to make sure it was tied well. We were in the pool messing around while Alex tossed me up and into the water some more, watching for fall out.
After the fourth toss, he got his wish and out they fell, breaking free of their confinement. While I should have been the one shocked with embarrassment, I reveled in the look on his face, one of complete surprise and utter embarrassment as I hoisted the suit up over my breasts, making Sean laugh, seeing the whole thing. I held onto the wall as Alex moved close to me and restrung the lacing in the back, and tied the bow at the back of the neck again. As Alex pressed himself against me, I reached behind him and stroked his backside through the nylon shorts.
“Hey,” he said, “beat you to the other side.”
I laughed and gave him a head start then beat him to the wall, only to be picked up and tossed back into the center of the pool again. Every time I looked up, I saw the three of them at the table laughing, rather amused by our antics in the pool.
Glad that they were so amused, as I was getting tired and Alex seemed like his motors had just gotten started.
“Time out,” I said, as he picked me up to toss me again. He stopped and lowered me into the water, where I hung about his shoulders and flirtatiously teased him. We were just getting comfortable there and Alex had just kissed my forehead, making me toss my head back and laugh at his teasing when Brandon walked to the side of the pool with a medicine cup holding my capsules and a bottle of water. With a pout, I left Alex for the side of the pool where I gave in so the mother hens would let me be and just took the pills, waiting for Alex to come up behind me and pinch me in the ass.
“C’mon you,” said Alex, getting a head start on a lap. I let him beat me to the opposite wall this time. He reached around me and held onto the side of the deep end with me sandwiched between him and the tiled wall of the pool. My finger ringed one of his stray peppered locks on his forehead and brushed it back into the wet mess of his hair.
“Ready to go again?” he asked, as he panted there with me. I was always ready, but his heart had me more concerned, so I feigned exhaustion and flirted with him a bit longer.
“Not yet, give me a few more minutes,” I said, toying with his shoulder, “the water is very nice today.”
“You’re getting dark on me,” I said, hooking my arm over his shoulder so I could tease the back of his neck with my fingernails.
“You hide in the office too much,” he said, kissing me on the forehead.
“I know,” I said, moving the strands of hair on his chest about with my fingertip.
“You seem better today.”
“Good, are you ready yet?”
“Depends on what you want me ready for,” I asked with a flirtatious smile and a tease of my finger that lined his neck to his shoulder.
“In a minute. What did you guys do this morning?”
“We ate breakfast, talked about the foundation, messed around on the computer with some figures, then we decided the weather was too nice to stay inside, so we had lunch on the terrace and changed for a swim.”
“Oh, well, I’m ready if you are.”
We must have swum for an hour before Alex and I got out the first time. Sean seemed rather jet lagged, so he and Ryan excused themselves for an afternoon nap while Brandon was on his cell phone talking with his assistant, Philip. Alex wrapped a towel around my shoulders, and then reached for one for him. After spreading them over the chaise lounges, we opted for some sun time. Before he could tap the seat, I sat on his chaise with him so he could spread the lotion on my back, then we traded chaises and I did likewise to him. I loved having Alex sit there in front of me, and I took my time spreading the lotion on him just so I could have him there a little longer. I wanted to feel his back against my front, shielding me from the rest of the world for a few minutes. If I had the guts, I’d feel him up about as much as he did me. My hands moved around to his chest and I hugged him. A gentle chuckle rose from his throat as he tapped my hands. I planted a string of kisses up his spine before he moved to the chaise next to mine. As I lifted my legs onto the chaise, and the two of us lain on our bellies, he smiled at me and slid his sunglasses on while I picked up my own from the table between us.
We didn’t talk much that afternoon. It was always fine for us to be silent. In my opinion, I think Alex preferred it when I said nothing, so I have learned to keep my mouth shut whenever I could. At the same time, there were things I wanted to share with him, but I was still afraid of what he’d think.
We lay there silent for a while, not talking. I heard Alex snore and decided to let him be for a bit until it was time to turn, then I’d wake him up. The shade was starting to move in on us too. Damn, I never get out in time to do myself any good in the sun. By the time we should have turned over, the shade had set in and we were almost completely covered by it all. I watched him sleep and didn’t hear Brandon come up to my side.
“Meg,” he said, startling me, “sorry, didn’t mean to shock you. Anna says that dinner will be in a half hour. I know Alex will want to get a shower and dress before then.”
“Right, I’ll wake him in a minute.”
“I’ll be inside, Ryan and I are working on dessert.”
“Okay, we’ll be in soon, I promise.”
I reached over and touched Alex’s hand. As I stroked the back of it, he didn’t seem to waken, so I stood up and bent down next to him, teasing his temple and cheek with my hand.
“Hi there,” he said, turning his face so he kissed my palm.
“Anna says dinner will be ready in a half hour.”
“Good, I’m starved,” he said putting his feet at each side of the chair. As he sat up, I sat down in front of him, straddling it.
“Hmm?” he asked me.
I shook my head and smiled at him. He reached for my face and kissed my cheek very sweetly before I moved against him and rested my head on his shoulder, wrapping my arm around his neck, while both of his arms held me tightly against him.
“Are you all right?” he asked, teasing the laced back of the suit with his fingertips, strumming them like guitar strings.
“Fine, really,” I replied, leaving a kiss on the side of his neck and settling back against him. For the first time in my life, I recognized what security felt like from another human being. The whole warmth and comfort of security felt foreign to me and there were times in Alex’s arms when I broke free, not certain if he actually cared or if he only wanted my body.
Right now, this warmth felt wonderful and if I could, I’d sit in his arms all day, but that wasn’t possible with dinner soon. So reluctantly, I sat up.
“Yeah. We best get showered and dressed for dinner, don’t you think?”