Camille lifted the blown glass paperweight from the desk in Kyle’s room. A blue tang kissing a blue butterfly in a clear glass ball. After a long day, wandering the house and diving, she found herself drawn back to this room. A noise startled her from her memories.
“Oh pardon Senorita Camille, I just come to dust Senor Kyle’s room. He will be coming back and I want everything ready. Do you like the house?” Herlinda’s warmth was contagious, and Camille smiled as she put the paperweight back.
“Oh I think it is amazing. You don’t think he’d mind do you? That I’m in here?” Camille didn’t want to upset Kyle after all he had done for them.
“Oh no. I think it would make him happy,” Herlinda chuckled. She picked up the paperweight and looked at it with a fond smile, handing it back to Camille. “Senor Kyle had the artisan try 5 times to make the one he wanted. Such a bold little pío to kiss la miraposa. I think, maybe you know this story, he has never told me.”
Camille was glad for the dim water-filtered light to hide her blush. “Uh, yah. We, um, we went diving and there was this little blue tang that kept... uh... nibbling at my tattoo and bringing me little white pebbles and uh, dropping them in the front of my suit. He really was quite determined to woo my butterfly, and when we surfaced, he followed us all the way back to the boat. Kyle teased me that my tattooed butterfly broke his little fishy heart.” She smiled at the memory. “He was a cheeky little fish, just looking for love in the big blue.”
Looking down at the glass, she could remember so much about that day and the evening that followed. It had been a beautiful day for diving, that evening they had eaten a huge meal in town and danced in the square until the mariachi band finished. They had almost kissed but her fear had shouted at her that it was too soon and she looked away. Her hesitation then made her sad now.
She and Kyle had walked down the beach under the moon, just talking. He asked what she was afraid of and she vaguely described being attacked and her fear of intimacy. He revealed he’d ended a relationship last year with a beautiful model who just wanted his family’s money, and that she had hurt him really bad only a month before his father died. They sat on the veranda until midnight and talking about how much they missed their fathers.
Sighing, Camille put the glass orb back on the desk. When she looked around, she was alone. Herlinda was gone but a carafe of her delicious sangria and a wine glass sat on the small table by the couch. Beyond the glass, a pair of blue Tang danced around a nest of pebbles. Pouring herself a drink, she sat down to watch the fish. Camille envied how simple their lives were.
It was 3AM local time when Kyle wandered through the front door of his villa. He was mentally and physically wrung out. Benton was waiting for him.
“Good to have you home, son. But we weren’t expecting you till tomorrow or the next day.”
“Thanks, old man. I couldn’t wait. How... how does she like the house?” Kyle felt nervous like a school boy.
“I think she loves it, but she’s scared. Sometimes she’ll just stop in a room and pick some little thing up and stare at it. The pictures make her cry sometimes, and every time she does, she goes straight out to the pool, and jumps off that damned platform,” Benton reported. “Be careful with her, Kyle. She seems strong in front of the girls, but I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so fragile.”
“She’s been holding herself together for a long time,” Kyle sighed. He looked up at the moon through the blue skylight, as thoughts about his in-flight reading came back to haunt him. “Good night, old man.”
“Good night, youngin’.” Benton chuckled.
Kyle walked past the closed guestrooms and down the stairs to his room, he felt a tinge of disappointment that Camille had chosen not to sleep in the underwater room. His room was dark but the moonlight filtered through the waves overhead. He took a shower and was pulling on a pair of shorts to sleep in when he heard it. A faint murmur or moan, he walked to the back of the couch that faced the ocean reef and saw Camille asleep on her side.
In her curled hand was the glass paperweight he had made to remind of him of the day they went scuba diving. Just beyond the plexi was the pair of blue tangs he had seen the last time he was home. Kneeling down, he picked up the wine glass next her on the floor and sniffed, it smelled of Herlinda’s sangria. When he looked back at her, she was watching him with large glossy eyes. She blinked slowly and reached out to touching him. The tips of her fingers brushing across his shoulder causing him to catch his breath as they trailed up his neck.
“Why do you have to be so beautiful?” she murmured breathlessly, as half-lidded eyes gazed at him. “So wonderful?”
She propped herself up on one elbow as her other hand continued to caress him. Her expression changed from one of wonder to one of pain.
“Why can’t you see how ruined I am?” Her broken whisper was a knife in his heart.
A tear dripped down her cheek in the moonlight, as her hand drew him toward her.
“Can I just have a kiss before I wake up?” Her words breathed on his lips.
The orb dropped to the floor and rolled to the wall as their flesh collided in a slow motion frenzy. Kyle pulled back for a breath, Camille was drunk and she was making him drunk. He had to stop this before it went too far, but her lips on his jaw caused him to shudder with the painful consequences of desire resisted. Somehow he was on his knees between her legs, hands cupping her breast, with her sex rubbing against his hardness as she arched her back. He wanted nothing more than to carry her to his bed and make love to her till the world ended.
“Camille, we have to stop.” He forced himself to say, breathlessly.
Glazed eyes looked up at him, confused, “I thought... I thought this was what you wanted? Don’t you want me?” A single tear trailed down her cheek.
“Yes, I want you,” Kyle kept reminding himself to breathe, he could feel her heat and wetness through the two layers of fabric that separated them as he answered, “But I want you for so much more than this. I want you in every way forever, my beautiful miraposa.” He laughed weakly, shaking his head and thinking he must be crazy as the next words were spoken. “But you are drunk and we have to stop. I won’t have you regretting this in the morning.”
Kissing her before she could answer, he stood lifting her in his arms, her legs wrapped around his waist. Kyle carried Camille to the bed, laying her down. He crawled in beside her and tucked her against his chest.
“Good night, Camille.”
“I love you, Kyle,” she murmured sleepily and was unconscious again before he could answer.
“I love you, Camille,” he whispered into the darkness as he looked up at the moon with its wave painted wings glimmering above the water.
Camille woke in the underwater room, her head felt hazy, hungover. She was going to have to stop drinking Herlinda’s wonderful Sangria punch if she was going to survive Spring Break. As she stared out through the plexi, the fish had just begun stirring. The two blue Tangs were dancing over their pebbled nest and it made her smile as they flitted and darted around each other.
She must have crawled into Kyle’s bed at some point. She was amazed at how warm and soft the pillow behind her was, and started to snuggle back against it, then she realized it was breathing. She moved slightly, turning her head and froze as an arm tightened around her waist. She could feel only the thin silk of her chemise between her and Kyle. The hair in his chest tickled lightly as he breathed in and out, a slight snoring sound that he only made when he was deep asleep. His manhood was firmly pressed against her butt cheek and made her wonder if something happened that she didn’t remember.
Her mind began berating her furiously; Kyle wasn’t supposed to be here for a few days, so she thought it would be okay to sit up drink sangria and watching the reef at night. How could she be so foolish! He rolled over onto his back, taking the imprisoning arm with him. She resisted the urge to curl against him, and instead she climbed out of his bed.
Looking up at the water, she could see the faintest glow to the east. She needed to get back to her room before the girls woke up, before he woke up. Searching in the dim light, she found her robe on the couch where she had fallen asleep. Tiptoeing to the door, she froze when he rolled back on his side. Clutching the pillow she had used to his chest, he murmured her name. The stained glass door clicked shut behind her and she ran for the stairs.
Back safely in her room, she dealt with her mortification as she paced. Her dreams had disturbed her, now she wondered if they were really dreams. She hazily remembered making out with Kyle, but he said he didn’t want to make love to her. It was confusing because in all the years she had dreamed about him, never once had her dreams ended that way... Unless it wasn’t a dream. The more she thought about it, the more she was sure it wasn’t a dream.
She’d gotten drunk in his room watching the reef, she’d fallen asleep, he came back last night and she made a fool out of herself. She wanted to get on the first plane home rather than face the embarrassment that seeing him in the day would bring. Camille had the momentary thought that if the girls didn’t need her she would just swim out into the ocean until she couldn’t swim anymore.
Angrily, she pulled on a swimsuit and went out to the platform. Standing facing the lavender pre-sunrise, she let herself fall. When she punched the water, she just let herself sink, laying in the silence until the burning need to breath drove her to the top. She did this over and over until the sun broke over the undulating horizon in all its blinding glory, painting the sea in shades of waves. As she fell the last time, she felt like she could face Kyle, and whatever the day brought.
Camille surfaced and found him standing by the ladder. She couldn’t see his eyes behind his sunglasses. His expression was blank.
“We need to talk,” Kyle said calmly, holding a towel for her.
Camille almost groaned as she climbed out of the safety of the water. Maybe she wasn’t ready, her voice and eyes couldn’t hide her hurt, “Why did you build this place?”
“Because I had too,” his answer honest, even if it was strange. He had needed to build it.
Her eyes held confusion, curiosity, and doubt. “But why?”
“It was the only way I could get out what I was feeling. I longed for you, Camille. I grieved for us, for what we lost. I didn’t even realize what I was building until it was almost done. Things went sideways so fast and left nothing but despair. I needed something beautiful. I needed you but you were gone, I’d lost you, and all I had left was my memories. So I made this place to keep them in.” His truth was brutal.
He wrapped the towel around her, instead of handing it to her and pulled her into the cage of his embrace. She couldn’t have resisted if she had wanted to, his statement had frozen her body while her soul felt like it was on fire. Her heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to break her ribs.
“I... I...” She could barely breathe enough to make words come out, not that she’d know what she wanted to say in that moment, so she stupidly mumbled, “I’m getting you wet and I’m sorry about last night.”
Suddenly he grinned and kissed her nose, “I don’t mind now, and I really didn’t mind then. Come on, breakfast is making and I was thinking we’d take the girls to see the ruins and go on adventure today.”
“We couldn’t impose,” she blushed, looking down, wishing she’d had the strength to pull away, but her body was still refusing to move.
“I’m several million richer today. Why not spend it on my favorite people?” He sounded cavalier about it.
“What?!?! I don’t understand.”
“I sold my Greek holdings. I am outing Sophia as a liar and a stalker to the media she is so fond of using to claim we are an item. So to keep her father from ruining my businesses there, I sold them to a friend very reasonably. He really did get a deal, both resorts made the top 10 wedding destinations in the Mediterranean. Unless you wanted to experience them first hand and marry me, then I could put the sale off...” His smug confidence and the mention of marriage reminded her of the first day they met and also gave her the will to make her body move away from his.
“I don’t do weddings.” She said quickly stepping out of his arms, and stormed toward the house.
She didn’t hear him say, “Yet.”
Moments later, squeals of teenage girls echoed out of the house and Kyle laughed to himself as he walked back in. It was going to be a good day.
“Are we really going to see the ruins?” Willow blurted out.
“And the place to swim with the dolphins?” Tiana added.
“Are the butterflies there too?” Gracie squeaked as all three hugged him and bounced.
Kyle looked narrow-eyed at Sheridan, “Really, you told them?”
The burly bodyguard shrugged, and then answered in a high voice, “Sheri can’t keep anything from her home-girls.”
Tiana laughed as she sat back down, “Sheri needs to get her eyebrows done.”
“Oh no,” Sheridan continued in the falsetto voice, “I like my caterpillars au naturale, it makes it easier to hide in the jungle.” He held his hand flat below his eyes and wiggled his brows.
The girls cracked up as Benton grumbled something about being too old. Kyle just chuckled while Herlinda set a plate in front of him and ruffled his hair like one of her own sons. Her next question had him choking on his chorizo and eggs.
“Senorita Camille fell asleep in your room. Will I finally get to be abuela to your bambino?”
“No. Nothing happened, she drank too much sangria and slept,” Kyle realized he was blushing as Gracie and Willow groaned.
“Awww, no swim buddy for tadpole.” Tiana smirked at Kyle’s embarrassment.
“What’s the matter, wouldn’t BabyBrother.exe download?” Willow demanded waspishly.
“Now, chicas, stop teasing Senor Kyle. He had a long night coming back from Colorado. He is not a young man anymore. He will work harder tonight.” Herlinda assured them and Kyle didn’t know what to say or if he should just go throw himself in the ocean.
“Ohhhh Herlinda, no. You need to let Kyle and Camille work things out at their own pace.” Then Benton leveled the girls with a grumpy old man look, ” And that goes for you three as well.”
They just grinned at him sweetly and chorused, “We love you, Mr. Benton.”
Sheridan and Kyle almost fell off their chairs laughing.
Camille came in, dressed in shorts and a floaty floral top, “What’s going on?”
“Oh nothing Senorita Camille. Senorita Sher-rie was just saying he likes his caterpillars natural,” Herlinda placed a dish and cup of tea in front of Camille. “So, are you looking forward to visiting the Ruins of Tulum and the Xcaret eco-park?” She picked up the empty plates, “Do you know, chicas, the Maya believe that butterflies are the spirits of warriors who died in battle. They gave all the strength they had in life and that is why they are so fragile now? At the Xcaret, there is a... Merle, Que es pabellon en ingles?”
“Pavillion, my dear,” Merle answered. “There is a huge building filled with butterflies and tropical plants from all over.”
“We aren’t going to see where the butterflies winter?” Gracie sounded disappointed.
Kyle shook his head, “Not this time, they are already moving north. Spring is coming early. But I promise, next winter.”
Willow scowled suddenly, “How am I going to swim with dolphins? I can’t get my stitches wet.”
Sheridan smiled at her, “I got some stuff we used in the Marines. It will keep them dry.”
Willow hugged his neck, “Thank you, Senorita Sheri, you’re the best.”
The girls were bouncing with excitement as they rode to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. They climbed up and down the authorized areas, and gawked at the museum. Kyle, Camille, and Sheridan were hard pressed to keep up with them. Benton refused to leave the shade of the cabanas. By the time they arrived and checked into their bungalow at the Xcaret, Camille was ready to have a nap. She flopped across the end of her bed, then squeaked when Kyle flopped next to her.
“I’m so tired,” he groaned.
“They aren’t,” Camille announced, “They will be going for at least eight more hours and then too excited to turn in because they have to talk, text, and tweet all about today for another two hours.”
“Benton said none of that. It might give away where we are.” Kyle reminded tiredly and yawned.
“Then you better find something for them to duo until Midnight.” Camille announced.
“Do they sleep?” Kyle asked from under his arm.
“Eventually.” She bumped his shoulder, “Hey Kyle?”
“Welcome to parenthood.” She announced flatly, then squealed when he rolled over on top of her.
“Thank you,” Kyle said huskily, but before he could kiss her, teenage giggling came from the door. They both lifted their heads and looked.
“Now downloading BabyBrother.exe,” Willow grinned. Gracie nodded rapidly.
“Kyle, get off me,” Camille said in a deadly tone. “I need to go kill our children.”
He chuckled looking down in her amused eyes, “I’ll help you.”
Gracie and Willow ran screaming down the hall as Camille and Kyle chased them outside toward the beach.
The dinner show had been amazing, but afterward Camille insisted Tiana needed to rest. Willow had declared she was days from being tired so Kyle talked to the owner and they got to do a moonlight swim on the hidden river. Sometime around midnight, Kyle and the girls got back to their bungalow. Benton was sitting on the porch with a cigar and book.
“You girls need to be quiet, little mama is in there sound asleep and don’t let her overdo tomorrow either, you understand?” Benton grumpily scolded them.
“We love you too, Mr Benton,” both nodded, then impishly hugged him before running inside giggling. Kyle just shook his head.
“One of these days, you’re gonna have to learn to say no to them two,” Benton chuckled.
“I don’t think I could ever do that.” Kyle admitted, every day around them was better than the one before.
“It’s easy... NnnnOOOooo. Now you try,” Benton insisted.
“Nnnnn-Yes. See? I just can’t do it,” Kyle joked.
“You better learn,” Camille’s voice interrupted them. “I am not going to be the bad parent every time.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to still be awake,” Kyle smiled at her, his teeth gleaming white in the moonlight.
“The stampede of teenage feet woke up me up,” Camille said tautly.
“Good night, youngins,” Benton walked inside, chuckling.
“You’re beautiful in the moonlight when you’re angry,” Kyle grinned.
“Oh good grief,” She turned in a huff go back inside but he caught her arm and tugging her so quickly she fell into his arms. “Kyle!”
“Go for a walk on the beach with me,” He murmured, his eyes intense. “You said you still like walks in the moonlight.”
“Do you know you’re incorrigible?” She sighed, tempted to kiss him just to shut him up.
“It’s a talent.”
“Mmmmm,” she hummed, pulling away.
“Uhmmm, you’re still in your robe.”
She raised her eyebrow with a smirk, “Private beaches have privacy, and you said you wanted to go for a walk.” Strolling away toward the beach, she glanced back at him over her shoulder.