I looked at him, startled. For all his flattering, playful way, you should never underestimate Darius’ perceptiveness. I decided on ignoring him and going back to our first topic instead.
“Fine. We went pretty far off topic.”
Darius wanted to protest, but I shook my head and continued speaking vigorously. “Amie. Amie is my best friend. I love her like a sister. Darius, she isn’t like the other women you usually spent your time with. She isn’t a girl for just some nights and then bye bye… I don’t want you to hurt her!”
He just stood there, breathing slowly for a moment. It seemed like he finally wanted to say something, when he raised a finger with the intention of making time to think a little more. His expression remained serious.
Then he replied: “My beloved sis, as crudely pointed out by me before, your entanglement with James isn’t any of my business. Vice versa, I expect you to stay out of my love life. You shouldn’t forget, that Amie has already passed her 150th birthday and therefore she isn’t as naïve as you might think she is or make her out to be. Since you are her best friend and my favourite sister, I am adding the following, final fact: I know that Amie isn’t like the usual bimbos that I usually lay. That is one of the reasons why I feel comfortable near her. I’m not planning on hurting. My intentions are good.”
I looked at him with big, sparkling eyes and grinned like Santa and the Easter Bunny were standing right in front of me.
I replied in delight: “You are in love! I can’t believe it! Darius is in love!“
I had to pull myself together, not to jump around him like a small kid, shouting ‘Darius is in love’.
Now he replied shyly: “Not a word, sis! I know where you keep all your secrets!”
I had to laugh out loud. At that moment I heard Amie’s voice behind us. She was standing at the pool-house’s door, wearing a white bath robe and matching slippers.
“Are you coming, or is this going to be a veranda-party in front of the pool-house?”
I winked at Darius and made a gesture with my hand, as if I would zip up my mouth. Then we both went into the pool-house.
Originally I planned on talking to Darius about Adrian and yesterday’s unpleasant encounter with him. But when Amie was standing on the threshold, impatiently waiting for us, I took that as an excuse to postpone the conversation.
I wasn’t sure, how to interpret Adrian’s behaviour. He had never hurt me before. I couldn’t really believe, that he would have forced himself on me, would he? I shook my head to drive away the bad thoughts.
“Is everything okay with you?” Amie asked.
“Yes, everything is fine! I am going to quickly change. We are probably already being expected.
I hurried to put on my bikini, the bathrobe and slippers and left the changing room.
Darius had changed his clothes, as well.
“Let’s go, girls!” I said boisterously. “We will start with a manicure and pedicure, accompanied by a facial mask. I ordered Champaign and fresh fruit, as refreshments for us.”
Amie’s eyes sparkled in amusement.
I nodded my head and replied: “Yes, with cucumber slices!”
The two of us giggled like little schoolgirls, after playing a prank and Darius replied a little annoyed: “Funny. If you want me to be a girl as well for today: You can have that!”
He let himself fall on the middle armchair and put his feet into the bowl in front of him, in which a footbath had already been prepared. Then he looked at the girl, who was supposed to take care of his nails and replied: “French nails! Above and below!”
Amie and me held each other’s hands and supported each other, so that we didn’t fall over laughing. After that we also got comfortable in our armchairs.
We cackled wildly like chickens, drank Champaign and ate fruits. The following massage with lavender oil was so relaxing, that I almost fell asleep. When it was over, I sat myself on my cot, took my glass of Champaign, which was standing next to me on a small table and announced with a toast, that an aroma bath with blossoms was waiting for the both of them.
“What about you?” Asked Amie.
“I am looking forward to do some laps in the pool. This will help me clear my head before Malachy joins us and before somewhat drunk I fling my arms around his neck, again…”
Amie let out a loud breath and added: “Which wouldn’t be the first time!”
Darius looked curiously back and forth between Amie and me. When he wanted to reply something, Amie shook her head: “What is said at the SPA in a drunken state, stays at the SPA and won’t be questioned! Otherwise you will have another pedicure, but this time with a flex saw.”
Darius laughed and raised his hands soothingly in front of him.
Unladylike, I slid off by massage cot and it took me several tries to get my feet into the slippers.
Amie said slightly worried: “Are you sure, that you should go swimming by yourself in your condition?”
I looked at her with a face, I imagined an evil governess would look like and assured her, that I was only slightly tipsy. Then I reminded her of the large bath tub, filled with blossoms and fragranced oils, that was waiting for her and Darius to be used. This seemed to do the trick for her and I could convince her that I was perfectly capable of swimming on my own.
In the meantime it was much later, than I had originally planned, as the conversation with Darius at the beginning of our gathering, took longer than expected.
James was glad to be finally able to turn his back on Alexandre Rophos. This revolting person and his morally questionable idea of business practices rubbed him the wrong way.
Still, he had to keep up with the charade, to lull Alexandre into a false sense of security, which seemed to work out quite well for him. He needed the next few days, to set the wheels of his plans into motion.
Earlier than originally planned, he left the official study and meeting room, knowing quite well, that the company of good cigars and whiskey will make the old Rophos at least as happy as if he were to keep him company, if not even more so.
Glad, that the official part of his day was now behind him, James went on his way to the pool-house at half past four. He wanted to make good use of the time, swimming some laps in the pool and burn off energy, while Maggie and the others were enjoying their SPA treatments.
When he arrived there, the pool was still empty and the cots were unoccupied as well. His plan to swim in peace for some minutes worked, until he had the feeling of being watched after swimming some lengths.
Having arrived at the end of the pool, he turned around and noticed Maggie, who was standing in a white bathrobe at the pool’s edge. Her hair was tied up in a high bun.
He swam to her to the edge of the pool, smiled at her and said: “Maggie! Do you just want to watch, or would you like to join me in the pool?”
I replied slightly embarrassed “So, if you were to let me choose…” and blushed.
Malachy laughed and grinned impishly. “You aren’t embarrassed now, are you?”
I replied jokingly: “Me? No, I am not embarrassed!” Meanwhile I shook my head violently, which resulted in the pool-house slightly spinning around me.
Okay, maybe it would have been wiser to drink half a glass of Champagne less, or better skip the last glass entirely… When my surroundings stopped to spin, I bravely raised my chin.
“Just let me get rid of my bathrobe and then I will join you.”
“Great” replied Malachy, crossed his arms at the rim of the pool and put his head on top of them. Then his curious look followed my every move.
He made me so nervous.
Without the ‘power of Champagne’ I probably would have fallen over the cot and broken both my legs. But with the ‘power of Champagne’ I winked at him coquettishly, before I turned around, moved towards the cot and only took off my slippers, before letting my bathrobe slowly slide down my back.
When I stood there with my back to him, wearing only my leopard bikini, I could hear an appreciative whistle. Now that made me laugh. The Malachy that I remembered from the Collosseum, was back.
I turned around and said: “Ready?”
Malachy laughed. “Whenever you are.”
Then I moved to the side of the pool, from which a large staircase led into the deep water. Malachy swam into the same direction and stopped at the lowest step, to offer me his hand gallantly.
My heart was pounding like after running a marathon.
I took his hand and let myself be pulled into the water by him. When the water was covering my hip, I slowly started to swim.
Malachy stayed next to me. So we quietly swam side by side for a short while. The cold water made my heart beat faster – or Malachy – and lifted the fog, that was clouding my mind.
I turned to him: “Why are you here, already? I thought you had an important meeting, that lasts till 4 p.m.”
Malachy replied in amusement: “That is one of the advantages of being the one that makes the rules. I had simply decided, that the meeting ends earlier. My intention was to do a few laps in the pool on my own, while you are enjoying your treatments at the SPA.”
“That was my plan, too. I booked Amie and Darius an aroma bath with the sole purpose, of giving them alone time and in the meanwhile, do a few rounds in the pool by myself.”
I looked at the big watch on the wall, opposite of the pool and added: “But then, I’ve lost track of time while talking to Darius and drinking one less glass of Champagne, would have been beneficial for my plan as well.”
Now I blushed again. Before the whole Aristocracy and Romanov thing, I had never been a heavy drinker. As soon as I entered this world, my liver seems to have turned into a minibar…
We had reached the other end of the pool and I decided to take a short break and supported myself by lying my forearms on the pool’s rim.
Malachy swam next to me. He got back to my comment on Amie and Darius: “So this means, that we still have some minutes, where we are undisturbed? That pleases me very much.”
“Why” I asked dully.
Malachy laughed, moved closer and started to carefully kiss my shoulder.
As soon as I felt his lips on my skin, I turned a bit closer towards him. He let his lips wander along my shoulder to my neck and into the direction of my mouth.
At first I was surprised, but quickly my body decided to take over.
When he carefully kissed my lips, they parted, allowing him to deepen our kiss. I leaned on his shoulder with my hand and pulled myself even closer to him, to be able to return his passionate kiss.
Malachy put an arm around my waist and hugged me tight. Time seemed to stand still and my surroundings seemed to vanish more and more, because I was only able and willing to concentrate on him.
We were interrupted by a startled giggle.
Malachy reluctantly let go of me and we both looked into the direction where the sound was coming from.
Amie was standing kind if embarrassed next to the cots and said: “I was worried about you, because you wanted to swim alone, being tipsy. Now I see, that my worries were completely unfounded.”
I released myself from his embrace and replied slightly embarrassed and ambiguous: “Thank you, Amie!”
Malachy laughed amused.
In that Moment, Darius arrived at the pool area.