Part Twenty Four
They collected his bag from the hotel the following day, but it was a late start, more lunch than brunch. Then they changed into beachwear and hit the sand. It was another hot day in Rio, but the Copacabana was quieter than other weekends, and they planted towels on the sand a few feet from the sea.
The sun was strong, and all too soon, Peter was dragging her into the warm blue Atlantic. She gasped as he grabbed her waist and snatched at the air before she was submerged under the surf. When she finally surfaced she was laughing, almost drowning, but laughing. With his hair swept back and water running off his body he stood in the waist deep water looking like some God from Greek Mythology, except for his blue eyes.
With a smile, she wrapped her arms around his neck, “anyone would swear you were trying to drown me!”
Peter looked down at her wet face, her hair scraped back from her eyes, and her delightful, perfect body in the most delicious cherry red bikini that set off her dark hair and tanned skin to perfection.
“No! I want to swim with you...well that’s the official answer.” She cocked her head to one side and he wanted to zoom to the unofficial answer! “Woman you kill me!”
His hands ran up her body, skimming over her rounded buttocks, fingers sliding over her skin, which was an instant mistake, “can we teleport home? I’ve got a sudden urge for something more active than sunbathing!”
Alexis laughed then turned and dived underwater putting distance between them before she felt him swimming alongside her. They continued until they were quite far from the shore, stopping to tread water.
“I’m going to miss this place when I’m finally back in Britain.”
He smiled, “but that’s the beauty of travelling, you can come back anytime and it’s instantly a holiday.”
She nodded, “I’m looking forward to seeing more of this country before I go back though, I’m trying to book a trip up the Amazon...then there’s the Iguaçu falls. Apparently they’re amazing!” She took a deep breath, “why don’t you come with me?”
He laughed, “This jaunt to Australia despite being work was more time away from my office than I could afford. It’s nose to the grindstone when I get back I’m afraid.”
She sighed, “one of the most beautiful places in the world?”
“Lex. I can’t! This weekend is an indulgence; I can’t do any more than that.”
She looked at him for a moment, wondering how things were going to ever work between them. “So what happens when I get back to London?”
Peter had turned away from her scanning the horizon, “we’ll have to play it by ear, do our best.”
She thought of the commitment a junior doctor position would require, the long hours, night shifts, weekends. There’d be no time to make a relationship work; him meeting her in the middle over this was the sign she was looking for that this passion, this desire, the love that she felt would survive. She wasn’t sure she had it.
With a sigh, she turned for the shore cutting through the surf as she went. Back in the beach, she slumped on a towel and watched Peter swim parallel to the shore, a strong determined stroke as he moved through the water. Day two and already it was awkward.
Half an hour later he slumped onto the towel next to her, his body glistening in the sun, her desire was as strong as ever, but for Alexis she was now concerned, that neither of them could make this work. Could she deal with heart break at the hands of this man for the third time?
“Come on Miss Carmichael! Can you get your arse out here? I said we were going out at eight and it’s quarter past!”
Peter laughed at the still closed bedroom door; she’d been in there for forty minutes, long after their shower, that in turn had followed their makeup sex. That reminded him of exactly what that entailed, and he sighed. He knew that she was stressing, that she wanted the future mapped out ahead of her, ahead of them. But he wasn’t that kind of man, his future was a muddle, but he knew what the next few weeks, maybe month entailed, that was how he rolled.
Finally the door opened and he knew that every minute of wait was worth it, Alexis stood there in what he knew was termed a maxi dress. How he knew he didn’t know. But it was blue, royal blue, and clung to her breasts, before cascading to her feet, tight, yet loose, provocative yet fairly conservative, and it did things to him that drove him wild. Her hair was scooped up into a tumble of curls, and her long, elegant neck was adorned with a fine silver necklace.
His breath caught in his throat, and he could only silently offered her an elbow, then lead her out of the apartment.
“You look amazing!” he offered as the elevator doors opened to reveal a carriage filled with her upstairs neighbours.
Glancing over her shoulder at him, she smiled, “really? Without underwear?”
For Peter it was the longest trip to the ground floor he’d ever experienced.
Dinner passed, the conversation light, the tone of promise and intrigue making the whole evening enchanted. Peter watched Alexis respond in her very basic Portuguese to the flirting waiter, everyone in the restaurant was aware of her she was such a vivid and vivacious presence, yet he was the only one who knew she was underwear-less. Peter knew he wanted more of her, but he wasn’t ready to give up his commitments to travel with her on a whim, he travelled more than enough, and his reliability meant everything to him. He had a business and a reputation that could be depended on. He couldn’t put off his waiting job, they’d agreed to hold on for their work until he came back from Australia, he couldn’t delay that anymore.
Not that a month back packing with Lex wasn’t a tempting thought.
They strolled back to the apartment holding hands, and he barely got through the door, her revelation when they left was still fresh in his mind, and had made him forget all common sense, all evening. So he had his revenge, dragging her into the bedroom and helping her forget common sense for a change.
“I don’t want you to go!” She announced as she came out of the bedroom to see him packing his bag in the lounge, his flight was VERY early the following morning. “It’s too quick.”
He turned and pulled her into his arms, kissing her nose, “I don’t want to leave, it that’s any consolation. But I have to. Work, the bane of my life, hey?” He spotted her suck in her cheeks and sighed, “look, it won’t be long and we’ll be back in Europe and we can sort things out, we’ve waited eight bloody years for this, we can wait a few more weeks. Can’t we?”
Lex hated that she was on the verge of tears yet again, but she was, so she turned away from him.
Peter sighed, “Lex, please. You have to put trust in me. Because this is all I can promise at the moment.”
Her bottom lip quivered and he fought the urge to comfort her, he was serious about this, "I can hardly just drop everything and bum around for weeks!" he was too aggressive, he knew it and saw her eyes flare.
Attack was her best form of defence, “I do not plan to bum around, but I want to take a few weeks enjoying a country I’ve not seen a lot of. Shoot me for wanting to share those moments with you!"
She stormed back out to the kitchen.
He joined her a few minutes later, "I want to spend time with you, but I have commitments."
"Sure you do, and one of them you said was me! Surely some things can be put on hold?" She turned to him, "you put your career before me, commitment to my father before me...maybe you need to prove that you do actually want this relationship to happen."
"Alexis, please. Don’t be irrational. I came here thinking you were having another man’s baby, so don’t make out that I don’t show you I care. I want this to work more than anything, but I have got some work things that have been lined up for a long time..."
"More than eight years?” She hated how childish she sounded, but she was facing fear and pain at the thought of him leaving, and it was bringing out an ugly side of her, but she seemed powerless to resist. “As you said, that’s how long I’ve been waiting to spend time with you! Call me irrational if you like, but that is the least you could do for me!"
He shook his head in frustration, “you think I want to leave? You think I want to go and not spend tonight with you? Is that what you honestly believe? Look Alexis! I would so anything to stay here tonight, but I have a class of students who need me back tomorrow, and I also have a successful business. Please Lex, just try and see this from my point of view."
She smiled at him, but there was sadness in her eyes, "sorry, I shouldn’t have expected so much. I am going travelling though Peter, so we will have to meet up when I return."
He sighed, hating how this had disintegrated, around them, "When will that be?"
She shrugged, "a few weeks, a couple of months? I don’t know. I just know that after spending six months helping people for no reward, I need some ME time!"
That night, Peter followed her to bed, and whilst they made love, he knew that she was already distancing herself from him. He felt like hitting a wall, she was being unreasonable, and he couldn’t drop everything on her whim, and couldn’t believe that she didn’t understand that.
When he’d left for his flight, the apartment was suddenly felt empty. She knew she had been unreasonable, bordering on childish, but she was fed up of being overlooked, used. She needed to be overindulged with attention and love. She deserved that, after all she’d been through. Didn’t she? Her family depended on her, her patients depended on her, all she wanted was someone to look after her, to devote time and attention to her. She knew he’d come out, the second she needed him he was there, but she’d been in this position twice, being away from him, watching him leave, waiting for him, and it was hell.
As she lay in bed that night, she thought about all that had happened. Peter’s main fault was loyalty, to her father. When they both realized that this could work after all, he’d dropped everything to fly to her. Was it reasonable to expect him to do that again?
It was afternoon in Rio, and middle of the night in Australia, when she called. All she knew was she had to say sorry, had to tell him how she felt. She had come home from work, Boris had told her she was like a zombie.
Peter sounded so sleepy when he answered, “Yep?”
"Peter? It’s me!" she spoke quietly and was pleased to hear him sigh with relief.
"Lex, it’s three am, are you ok?"
She chuckled, "and there was me thinking you loved me waking you up in the early hours! At least that’s what you told me on Saturday."
It was his turn to chuckle, “A kiss on the cheek and a hand snaking...well you know where it was going, is a little different to a phone call!"
Alexis took a deep breath, "This isn’t just any phone call. This is someone realising she was childish and wanting to apologise, and deciding that she can wait to go travelling or on a nice extended holiday until you’re free to join her, and that she’s happier getting to you as soon as she can rather than choose to spend time apart!"
Silence met her for a few moments, "Really?"
"Definitely. I’m sorry. I was so grouchy, so angry, but it was because I didn’t want to think about how much I’d miss you, how empty this apartment would be without you."
He blew out a long breath, "I did wonder if you’d ever get over this! I thought you were going to push me away."
"Am I that unreasonable?"
"Oh yes!" he laughed. "Sometimes! But I do love that stubborn streak. So what are your revised plans?"
This was the bit she still wasn’t sure of, “Well I was thinking that I could maybe fly home to London via Geneva? If you’ll be home by then?”
“I will make sure I am, and I’ll send you a ticket, for any date you want. OK?”
Relief spurred her sigh, and she laid back on the pillow and closed her eyes, “That sounds like a great plan. Now, about being woken in the middle of the night...is there anything I can say to help you get back to sleep?"