I winced at the pain, but nothing could stop the smile that broke out over my face.
He'd booked a flight earlier in the day. It was for three weeks time, but at least it was something to look forward to.
"So, do you think you're going to give a relationship a go?"
Georgia caught my eye in the mirror, a hopeful look on her face.
"I love him, Georgie. I don't know what's going to happen in the future, I just know I'm not ready for it to be over."
We were both quiet as she finished doing my hair.
"There you go! You look gorgeous, Soph. James won't be able to keep his hands off you."
I smiled and reached for her hand, squeezing it gently.
"Thanks for everything. You're a star. I can't find the words to tell you how grateful I am."
She shook her head, her eyes tearing up.
"I'm just relieved to see you so happy. Anyway, I can't take credit for my fiancée having a brother you find irresistible."
I laughed, and she leaned down to hug me, careful not to mess up my hair. It had been a long time since I'd felt this happy, and I owed a lot of that to my best friend.
"Come on, let's get dressed and head out."
I nodded, my heart already racing at the thought of seeing James.
It had been three hours since he'd left, but I was already missing him like crazy. Richard had insisted they had to attend a business acquaintance's yacht for dinner. Georgia and I had an invitation to the cocktail party afterwards.
I pulled off my bathrobe and stepped into the dress Georgia had chosen for me. It was silver and had a beautiful open back with thin spaghetti straps.
As I dressed, my mind drifted to James. If I was missing him this much after three hours, then three weeks was going to be agony. A liquid sensation swooped through my stomach as I remembered our kiss before he left. His hands had cupped my face, pulling me close till I couldn't tell where my mouth began and his ended.
"Ow!" I yelled, jumping as I felt Georgia's elbow in my back.
I turned to frown at her.
"Why did you do that?"
She sighed, turning around to show me the back of her dress.
"Did you not hear me? I asked several times if you could do my zip up."
My cheeks flushed as I hurried over to her, mumbling an apology.
"I can guess what you were thinking about!" She teased as I yanked it up.
There was no point denying it. She wouldn't believe me, anyway.
I stepped back and smiled as she did a small spin. Georgia's dress was emerald green, and it hugged her figure perfectly.
"Wow, you look incredible. I know it's traditional to get married in white, but that colour is gorgeous on you."
She turned to face me, pushing her hair behind her ears.
"God, my mother would die if I suggested getting married in any colour but white. She wants me to wear my grandmother's dress."
I smiled as she reached for her phone, scrolling through it quickly.
"She sent me a photo of it earlier. Apparently she's been keeping it safe in the attic for me."
I bit my lip as I looked at the lace covered dress. It was hideous, and not something Georgia would ever consider wearing.
"Uh, I guess it could be ok." I said, trying to muster some enthusiasm.
She arched her eyebrows at me, and I sighed.
"Look at the positives, at least she is coming around to the idea of you getting married."
"Yes, but in a hideous dress. Be honest, would you get married in it?"
I swallowed, my mind taking me back to my wedding day.
"No, I guess I wouldn't."
I walked over to my glass of wine and took a fortifying sip. Fuck, I didn't want to remember, but that was exactly what I was doing.
"Oh, shit. I'm sorry, Soph. I didn't think." Georgia sighed, walking over to me.
I shook my head, tightening my grip on the stem.
"It's ok. I just hadn't thought about it in a long time."
My chest tightened as I remembered the butterflies I'd felt as we'd said our vows.
"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, I just wondered… Did your mom help with your dress?"
Georgia's voice was soft, and I smiled as I remembered my mum's excitement.
"I don't mind. She actually picked it for me in the shop. It was a massive ballgown, and the skirt was tulle. I felt like a princess."
"I bet you looked stunning." Georgia said, walking over to pick up her bag.
I still remembered the words Tommy had mouthed to me as we stood at the altar.
"You're beautiful. I can't take my eyes off you."
My phone vibrated on the table, making me jump. I marched over to it, relieved for a distraction. Thinking about Tommy never ended well.
When I saw James's name on the screen, I smiled, my heart racing.
"I wish it was just you and me tonight. I don't want to share you with anyone else."
I exhaled slowly, heat and warmth replacing the cold chill of my memories. I typed out a reply quickly, keen to leave and join him.
"Me too. I'm going to miss you so much."
"Oh man, you definitely didn't need any blusher tonight. I'm guessing James has sent you something filthy." Georgia asked, peering over my shoulder.
I locked the screen, my smile hurting my mouth as I walked over to put it in my bag.
"That is none of your business. Come on, let's get a move on."
She picked up her bag and pushed in front of me.
"Wait, let me see you."
I turned around, my suspicions increased by the ridiculous smile on her face.
"What is it?" I asked.
She shook her head.
"Nothing. I just wanted to make sure you looked perfect."
I frowned, suddenly self-conscious.
"Is it my lipstick? I told you it was too dark."
She sighed, stepping forward to squeeze my arm.
"Stop being silly. You look gorgeous. James is a very lucky man."
"No, it's definitely the other way round."
"Quit that crap!" She said, opening the door. "Tonight is about having fun, no more putting yourself down. Ok?"
I stared out of the car window. We seemed to be travelling away from the marina, and I was getting paranoid.
"Georgia, we're going the wrong way." I whispered, glancing at Michael.
He'd been our driver most of the holiday. I had no reason not to trust him, he'd been nothing but efficient and helpful. I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.
"Relax, it's probably a shortcut. Here, have some more champagne." She said, refilling my glass before I could answer.
I sat back in my seat, taking a sip of my drink. She'd dismissed my concerns a little too easily…
"It's going to be a beautiful sunset tonight." Georgia exclaimed, staring out of the window.
The car slowed, and Michael turned off down a narrow road.
"Ok, this can't be the right way! What's going on?" I demanded, grabbing her arm.
She groaned, draining her drink.
"Just wait, Soph. I can't say anything. It's supposed to be a surprise."
Nervous excitement bubbled up inside me, my blood racing to my head.
"Oh my God, tell me now. You know I hate surprises."
She raised her eyebrows.
"Did you really think I'd let Richard drag James to some boring meal on your last night here? You're my girl, I wasn't going to let that happen."
I lunged forward and hugged her.
"Thank you! Oh, and you Michael! Gracias!"
He nodded at me in the rear-view mirror, a small smile spreading across his face.
We finally stopped outside a gated entrance. After a few seconds, the gates slid open, and we were making our way up a short driveway.
I stared at the beautiful garden and building in surprise. It was like a small paradise, closed off from the rest of the world.
"This is stunning." Georgia sighed, her face pressed to the window.
I nodded in agreement. The villa was smaller than the one we were staying in, but I preferred it. All you could see for miles was the ocean. It was perfect.
Then I saw James and it became better than perfect.
He was stood by the entrance, the sun highlighting his chiselled jaw. He'd lost the suit jacket he had on earlier, and the top few buttons of his shirt were undone.
I shrugged my shoulders, trying to feign disinterest.
He pulled me into his arms, lifting me up so our faces were level.
"No, but it's just us. What could be better than that?"
"Nothing." I breathed, moving towards his mouth.
His tongue traced the outline of my lips, teasing me before finally making its way through my open lips.
"Hello, guys? I'm stood right here."
We reluctantly came apart at the sound of Georgia's voice.
"Thanks for your help, Georgie. I couldn't have pulled this off without you." James said, recovering far quicker than me. I was still breathless, let alone capable of speech.
"You're welcome." She replied, holding up her phone. "Now let me take a picture of you both. You make such a gorgeous couple."
I hated having my photo taken, but James nudged me before I refused.
"Come on. I'd like a photo of us together, and you look really fucking fit in that dress."
I rolled my eyes, secretly pleased by his compliment.
"Has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful way with words?"
He pulled me to his side, gazing at me with a sexy smile.
"Hmm, I've been told I'm pretty skilled with my mouth. Does that count?"
"Ok, that's my cue to leave." Georgia sighed, "I'll send you the photo later on."
"Thanks." I grinned, "And I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
She nodded, turning to wink at us.
"Have fun, don't do anything I wouldn't do."
We watched as she got into the car and it drove away.
"Come on, let me show you around." James said, grabbing my hand and pulling me forward.
"Do you own this villa?" I asked, as he led us inside.
"Yeah, the sale only completed last week. I've wanted to buy a place here for ages. What do you think?"
I looked around in awe. The windows ran from the ceiling to the floor, opening out onto a terrace. I walked over to them, noticing the infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
"Uh, yeah. It's amazing." I stuttered, feeling overwhelmed. "If I owned somewhere like this, I'd never leave."
He pulled me into his body, wrapping his arms around my waist.
"Why don't you stay and keep me company then?"
I exhaled slowly, resting my hands on his chest. I couldn't pretend I wasn't tempted by his offer.
"I'm a terrible housemate. You'd get annoyed with my messiness."
He shook his head.
"I doubt that very much."
The intensity of my feelings was too much. I had to look away before I said something stupid.
"I made us dinner." He announced, walking towards the kitchen.
"Anything I can do to help?"
He shook his head,
"Just grab a bottle of white from the fridge. I've set the table up outside."
I nodded, going over to kiss him first.
"I can't think of a better way to spend my last night here. Thank you."
He turned, grabbing my face in his hand.
"It doesn't have to be your last night. I meant what I said about coming back to London with me. Or we could stay here longer, I can do some of my work online."
I swallowed, his touch piercing me to the core.
"Wow, you and your brother don't hang around when it comes to women."
He shrugged his shoulders.
"We both know what we want. No point in wasting time. That's why we run such a successful business. I should warn you, though, I'm pretty good at getting my own way."
He gave me a cheeky wink, and I placed my hand over his.
"Well, a relationship isn't a business deal. I have a life in New York. I can't just leave that to be with you."
No, it was too soon.
"Well, I guarantee a life with me will be ten times more satisfying than being in New York." He whispered, moving his hands down my waist.
I didn't doubt that for a second.
"I'll take the wine outside. I want to check out the view." I muttered, moving away from him.
I needed some space to pull myself together. I couldn't think logically when I was around him.
"You're tempted, I can tell." He sang, a satisfied edge to his voice.
I grabbed the bottle of wine from the fridge and hurried outside. The fresh sea air instantly helped me feel calmer.