‘Well, I’m a firm believer that nothing is impossible, and I’ll help you if I can. But I want you to be two million per cent sure this is exactly what you want to do.’
‘I am. I think. But if it doesn’t work out, I can always come back. It’s not as if I’ve nowhere to stay back in Oxford. I’ll keep the house.’
I try to give myself good reasons why I could come over here for good. The fact that Cindy is here to listen is purely coincidental. I need to talk myself through this madness.
‘And you are sure you want to do this on your own?’
‘I won’t be on my own, not really. The whole thing will be Lisette’s project. I’ll just help out.’
‘I know you just want something to do and a justification for being here. I really don’t think you need one. You’re old enough to decide what to do with your life. Lucy is independent, Ben is in New York. I’ll just miss you like crazy, and I’ll need to find other clients over here so that I can come to visit often.’
‘You can just come on holiday, you know, and I’ll come back occasionally, just to say hello.’ I tilt my head and give her a cheeky smile.
The idea of coming over permanently to help Lisette run her guest house has taken form rather quickly. I really don’t have much to lose, and the prospect of being here with Kiri makes me warm inside. I haven’t told him yet. Somehow the thought of leaving tomorrow feels a lot less daunting.
We meet after he finishes work. He is a sad version of himself. I’m not too cheerful myself. We sit at one of the tables, the lights are all off. We just hold hands, looking at the infinite ocean glittering in the starlight.
‘I’ll miss you, Mad. I don’t think I can live without you.’
I bring his hand to my lips and kiss it.
‘I’ll be back for you.’
‘You are the only important person in my life.’
He is not listening to me. He is away in his head, somewhere in the dark places of his past.
‘What about your aunt and uncle, what about your cousins?’
His smile is sad and lop-sided. ‘They only wanted the money. My dad left an insurance. They got the money that was meant for me, because they pretended to look after me. They didn’t do it out of love, but out of greed. I had to work to study, and I had to work to eat. I was never given anything. Never.’
I’m shocked by these truths. I feel his pain and disappointment as if they were a lead weight inside of me. His sadness is palpable. He continues to reveal experiences that make me shiver inside. I can’t talk, and all I can do is hold him while he speaks.
He tilts his head to look straight into my eyes.
‘Maddy, you’re all I’ve got.’
He leans forward, pulls my head to him and kisses me lightly. I circle his neck with my arms. His hand is on my top. His kissing becoming stronger. His tongue more demanding. His hand travels under my top, caressing my skin. I start going weak at the knees, I feel the now familiar electric shock shooting through me and that urgent sensation between my legs. His hand is there, soothing my urgency, making me gasp. I run my fingers through his curls and reach down. My hand is inside his trousers. He is ready. He slides his trousers down and pulls me onto him. He eases me on him, and I cry out my pleasure. His hands on my hips give me rhythm. I follow it until I can’t stop myself from speeding up. He arches up so he can reach even deeper inside me. I can feel the rush of pleasure engulfing me, and we cry out together. I hold on to him as tight as I can. My breath still laboured, my chest heaving. We are still one body.
The night is giving into the day, and we are still at the restaurant, lying side by side on one of the sunbeds. I need to make my way to the hotel before Cindy sends a search party for me. Holding hands, we walk silently down the little road.
‘I’ll be back later, I’ll see you off.’ He kisses me on the forehead and walks off.
My eyes follow him, and I can feel them stinging. I’m repressing the tears that are fighting to be heard. I don’t want to break down. Not here, not yet. I will have plenty of time for it later. I turn and walk to the room, ease myself in and lie awake on the bed. I’ve made up my mind. I want to make this happen.