Beyond The Masque Part II

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Chapter 21

We arrive at Spence’s house just before three and decide to kill a few hours relaxing by the pool before we have to get ready for the evening. It’s a beautiful and hot summer day, so I’m lying across a sun lounger soaking up a little sun in my teeny-tiny red string bikini that Spence bought for me, reading a magazine. Spence is doing laps in his pool. I put my junk reading material down and watch my fiancé. He’s really going at it today, lost in his workout.

His body could rival that of an Olympian. For a forty-three-year-old man, he’s in better shape than most of the guys I know who are in their twenties. Spence takes such good care of himself; I know he has many, many more years ahead of him. It brings me back to our very brief chat about having kids, and what Seth had said about his age. I wonder, idly, why Spence has never had any children with either of his previous wives. Rare to find someone who has been married multiple times without at least one child? I’ve never asked him why this is, and now he finally wants one with me?

Last night when he sprung this topic upon me, it had thrown me for a loop. It was not the time or place to lay that on me, but now that it’s out there, I know it’s an essential discussion that we’re going to have to have soon. It’s not like I don’t want children, it’s just that I’ve never really thought about actually having them before. It’s just another thing that wasn’t on my radar, something that I didn’t know I would need to worry about for a few more years to come. Just like if you had told me last year that, at this time, I’d be engaged, I’d have laughed at the possibility. Things change, and sometimes, you don’t know when that change will come.

Spence is such an amazing man. He’s romantic; he’s generous, caring, and smart, just to name just a few of his wonderful attributes. I’m lucky to have him, and I think that he would really make a good father — the thought of Spence doting on a little girl springs to mind. I could imagine him being wrapped around her little finger. Or even a little boy with golden hair and hazel eyes, just like his father. This makes me smile wistfully. Why should I be scared? I should be happy and maybe even honored that he has decided that this is a step that he’d like to take with me. Gone will be the days of hosting lavish and mysterious masques and other such parties, and in with diapers and family vacations. I picture Spence wrangling a fussy kid in his arms, and a small giggle escapes me.

“What’s got you so amused?”

Spence’s voice breaks into my mini-daydream. I look down into the pool, and he’s resting his chin on his folded arms on the edge of the pool, watching me with an amused smirk on his face.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I sigh.

He climbs out of the pool, and I nearly swoon at the sight of his wet, glistening body. Clad only in a pair of dark blue board shorts that hang tantalizingly from his hips. He reaches me in three long strides and then takes me by surprise by lying down on top of me. I let out a small squeal as he drips cold water all over my warm skin.

“Come on, Rox, let me in on your little daydream,” he coaxes, smiling down at me, his wet hair hanging over his forehead.

I smile back up at him and slick his hair back. I decide to tell him about it. It might just make his day.

“Well, to tell you the truth, I was just thinking about kids,” I say, watching for his reaction.

He keeps his face straight, and I know it’s because he’s unsure of where I’m going with this.

“And?” he prods.

“And…I thought that maybe I would really like to have kids with you someday.”

A slow grin spreads across his face then, until it erupts into his billion-dollar smile that could melt a polar ice cap.

“Really?” he whispers.

“Really, Spence,” I confirm.

“But you seemed so…so frightened by it when I brought it up last night.”
“Well, last night, that was just the wrong time and place to talk about it. Now that we are away from that whole situation, and I give it a little thought, the prospect doesn’t seem so scary,” I explain.

“Yeah, I guess last night wasn’t the right time for that discussion,” he acquiesces.

“Can I ask you a question, though?”

“Of course,” he nods.

“You’ve been married twice before, so why no children with either of those women…why now, why me?”

Spence sits up, and I follow suit, ready to hear this tidbit from his life. He holds my hand, and his face goes serious.

“The first time I was married, I was in my early twenties and just out of university. Jillian had been my girlfriend since high school and throughout college, and when we each graduated from our respective schools, we just figured that it was the next step since we had stuck it out for so long. So we ran off to Vegas and got married. Looking back now, I know that it had been a mistake. We had grown into different people, and neither of us was happy. We had just been together for so long that we didn’t know any different. After only two years of being married, we split up,”

Spence pauses to take a deep breath, then continues. I stay quiet, fascinated to hear more about his past. We had always just skimmed over the part about his past wives.

“So after our divorce, I threw myself into my career and started building my company into what it is today. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I decided to settle down again. That’s when I met Seth’s sister, Valerie. She was the daughter of one of my business partners, and we were introduced at a company function. She already came from money, so I figured that mine didn’t matter so much to her. She seemed to be what I was looking for, but I was very wrong. Before we got married, she had been a sweet and caring woman, but as soon as that ring was on her finger, she turned into a different person. So began divorce number two, and a nasty one at that if you remembered our discussion about it with Seth last year. If it hadn’t been for my amazing lawyer and an ironclad prenup, she would have taken me for a ride. I thank god that we hadn’t had kids, she would have just used them as leverage.”

“Wow, well, now I understand better,” I murmur, and Spence nods.

Although this makes me wonder why Spence was the one to help Seth build his business if his own family had the money to help him.

“But now, with you, Roxanne, I can see it as a real possibility. I’m no longer young and naïve, and I know for certain that you’re not with me for my money. I know I’m getting on the train a little later in life, but better late than never. I want to have a family with you. I want you to be the mother of my children.”

My heart swells at his words. I’m touched, and I can feel happy tears forming at the corners of my eyes. I blink them back and smile broadly at Spence. His eyes pierce mine, holding me in place, waiting for my response. I don’t know what to say exactly, so I lunge forward and wrap my arms around his neck and plant a big wet kiss on his lips.

“So does this mean that you’re in?” he breathes, holding me against him.

“I’m in,” I nod.

Spence smiles again, and taking me in his arms, lays me back down on the sun lounger and kisses me deeply.

“Should we start now?” he croons, grinding his hips suggestively against mine, and I let out a nervous giggle.

“Um…how about we wait until after the wedding?”

“Oh, all right, but until then, we can just start practicing,” he chuckles, kissing my throat, sending goosebumps across my skin.

“I think we should cool it for now. We’ll need to start getting ready for dinner soon,” I breathe, clutching his shoulders and wiggling underneath him.

My body is betraying what my mouth is saying.

“Cool off, huh?” he says darkly.

Uh oh! Abruptly, Spence stands up off the lounger, and bends down and scoops me up in his arms.

“Eek! Spence! What are you doing?” I giggle.

“We’re cooling off,” he tells me with a mischievous gleam in his eye, and with that, he jumps into the pool, with me still in his arms.

“So, shall we tell Chris about the apartment tonight?” Spence asks me as he slathers aloe vera lotion on my back after having a quick shower.

My touch of the sun had turned into slight sunburn. With my fair skin, I really try to be careful, but all of the sunscreen I had put on, washed off when Spence took me into the pool with him, and I had forgotten to reapply because we were having too much fun splashing and fooling around.

“I guess so, but we shouldn’t tell him in front of Lena in case he wants to keep it a surprise,” I tell him.

“All right then, you distract Lena, and I’ll discuss the rest with Chris.”

“It’s my apartment, shouldn’t I get to tell him?” I argue lightly.

I don’t really care who tells Chris, I just like to mess with Spence sometimes, and he knows it too.

“We can tell him together if you like,” he replies, not taking the bait.

“No, it’s okay, you can tell him. Besides, you’re the one giving him the funds that make it a possibility, and who knows? He might decline, maybe they like my little, old house.”

“I guess we’ll find out tonight,” Spence murmurs, as he slides his hands around and rubs the lotion on my chest and the top of my breasts.

“Are you trying to cop a feel, Manfredi?” I tease him.

“Is that a problem?” he asks, amusement in his voice.

Slowly, he slides his hands lower until my breasts are completely enveloped in his hands.

“No,” I answer simply.

I enjoy it when he caresses me. He gently gives them a playful squeeze and then lets them go.

“I had better not get too carried away as you said, we have company coming soon.”

“Awe shucks darn,” I giggle.

“We can continue this later, darling,” he says, planting a kiss on my shoulder.

I turn in his arms and wrap my arms around his neck. I look into his deep hazel eyes.

“I feel like I can never seem to get enough of you sometimes,” I tell him.

“That makes me glad, Rox. I hope that feeling never goes away. It just so happens that I feel the same way about you too, but I think that’s pretty evident,” he says softly.

“It’s definitely evident,” I smile, looking downward at his growing erection.

“Not quite what I meant,” he corrects me as he adjusts himself.

“I know, babe, I’m just teasing you,” I smile at him.

“You know, it’s just a shame that you didn’t see it last year after our first night together. It could have saved us all a lot of trouble.”

“Well, back then, I just figured you were only interested in sleeping with me. Hell, you didn’t even seem all that disappointed when I broke it off with you.”

I remember that day in the conference room, having to tell Spence that I wanted to concentrate on Seth, then I ended up going home with Lucas instead. How stupid was I? So naïve, so blinded by Lucas’s good looks and charm that I completely ignored all of my better instincts.

“Oh, I was extremely disappointed, Rox. I just didn’t want to show it, that’s all. I do have a reputation to uphold,” he says, the corners of his mouth pulling up infinitesimally.

I think he’s serious about the first part and only half-serious about the latter.

“I’m sorry that it took me so long to see it,” I tell him, “all that lost time and heartache could have been avoided.”

Spence sighs and pulls me over to his bed, taking a seat on the edge. I sit down next to him and hold his hand.

“You had to take your own path to get there Rox, and it helped you see what you wanted. Although if it weren’t for Lucas, you’d probably be with Seth right now, so he helped me out more than he’ll ever know.”

Wow! At first, I think he’s joking, but the look on his face is earnest. I suppose he’s right, though; I probably would be with Seth right now. However, I don’t want to dwell on it too much.

“There’s no point in rehashing the past,” I say quietly.

“I know, but I just want you to know that I wasn’t only interested in you for your body. If that were the case, I would have been gone after that first night. I wanted to be around you as often as I could be. Why do you think I took such a personal interest in the restaurant? That part of my company is not something I generally focus on Rox. I have people who take care of that stuff for me.”

“So, if you had wanted me for my body, I wouldn’t have gotten the job as head chef?” I ask him, curious now.

“No, you probably would have gotten it anyway, but I wouldn’t have been around as often as I was. Heck, I even took a personal interest in Chris to get closer to you. Luckily I found out that he’s a great guy, and I genuinely enjoy his company.”

“Chris is pretty great. I’ve considered asking him to be a bridesmaid at our wedding,” I tell him, and Spence chuckles.

“I’m sure he’d be beautiful in a bridesmaids dress, but how about he stands up for me? I really don’t have anyone besides Victor that I’m close to beyond business.”

“Okay, so I’ll have Casey and Lena, and you’ll have Victor and Chris?”

“If that’s all right with you?”

“Sounds good,” I agree, “but back to the original conversation.”

“What part?”

“You had told me before our first date that you were only interested in having fun, so naturally, that’s why I assumed you were only interested in sleeping with me. Maybe if you had told me that you were interested in more…”

Spence holds up a hand to cut me off.

“Roxanne, at the time, you were so mixed up with Seth and Lucas, I don’t think it would have helped things to tell you otherwise. I think it would have just confused you even more, and I was also protecting myself. So I stepped back so you could figure it out. And you did, eventually.”

“You’re probably right,” I nod.

“I suppose I could have just threatened Seth and Lucas to stay away from you, or bribed them, but I don’t think that would have been fair.”

“Now I kind of wish that you had,” I murmur, and Spence raises his eyebrows.

“Yeah? I should have offered them each a few million dollars each so I could have had you all to myself?”

“Could have saved us all a lot of trouble,” I smirk, and Spence starts to smile, but then it’s gone.

“Although the only one that would have accepted that deal would have been Lucas. Seth has proven that he’s not as intimidated by me as I thought.”

“Oh, he’s still pretty cowardly,” I blurt, then cringe.

Spence frowns.

“Why is that?” he asks, and I sigh; now I have to say it.

“If he weren’t, he would have picked up the phone when I tried to contact him. If Seth really felt the way he thinks he does, he would have tried harder. But instead, he just decides to show me how he feels now that I’m spoken for.”

I expect this statement to annoy or anger Spence, but instead, he just nods.

“I agree with you completely, Rox. I’m glad that you finally see it too.”

“That doesn’t make you mad?”

“Why would it make me mad?”

“I don’t know…”

“Hey, it would annoy anybody. Personally, I think that he’s acting like a whiny child who doesn’t know what he wants until he can’t have it anymore. It’s like when you told me about how you ultimately ended up choosing Lucas over him because Seth kept holding back until the last minute to show you how he really felt, and it was just a little too late. Maybe if he just manned up…No, it’s better this way, because if he had, you’d be with him right now.”

“Maybe not,” I argue.

“No. That’s how it’d be, and you know it, no need to deny it, Roxanne. If Seth had stepped up to the plate, then you’d probably be marrying him, not me. I’ve known Seth for a long time, and I know deep down that he’s a good guy. I used to consider him a good friend until he tried to swipe you out from under me. When he does open up and let his guard down…” Spence trails off.

Now I can see why he considers Seth to be such a threat. It’s because he knows him well enough to know how he can really be.

“Spence, I know Seth is a good guy, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to worry about him. You are who I want. Can I ask you a quick question though; it’s more just curiosity. When you told me that his family comes from money if that’s true, then why didn’t they help him start his company instead of you?”

“Seth and his father don’t exactly see eye to eye. Seth wanted to make his company his own, and his father wanted to be the one in charge. So Seth came to me, knowing that I could give him that freedom. He wanted to make it without his family's influence. He was also on the outs from them for being on my side during my divorce from his sister,” he explains.

“Yeah, I was surprised that he wouldn’t side with his own sister,” I say.

“He didn’t like what she was trying to do to me. It really showed me his character, and that’s why I was all the more willing to help him out. He took a major risk in siding with me instead of his family.”

“Are you still in business with his father?”

“No, that partnership was terminated along with my marriage to his daughter. It had been an ill-conceived plan to try and take over my company. I’m still surprised that I hadn’t seen through it. It’s part of the reason I have such a hard time truly trusting people sometimes.”

“Including me?” I whisper.

“Not anymore,” he says, and I know it’s the truth.

“I’m glad, Spence. I don’t want you to doubt me.”

“Neither do I.”

“If it makes you feel better, you can put whatever you want on our prenup. I’ll sign it.”

“What prenup?” Spence replies, flashing me his megawatt smile.

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