Chapter Twelve: Departure
I mostly owned work clothes, pencil skirts, and blouses. Because of that it was easy to pick out a few of my more holiday-ish, free-flowing dresses. A quick collection of my hair straighteners and make-up bag and I was already packed. My black leather travel bag strained under the weight. Maybe I had packed too much, but I wanted to be sure I would have what I needed on hand.
When I had told Cassidy about Damon’s plans yesterday, she had squealed before agreeing to feed the fish and Pudding on both nights. She had promised to give Pudding love and attention, things I wasn’t entirely sure he would welcome.
I dragged my bag out of my room. I had decided on an outfit at last: my tight denim jeans and white long-sleeved shirt, which showed off just a little cleavage. It was hard to dress appropriately when I had no idea where we were going. I applied a light powder to my face to give my skin a natural-looking glow, and then added a hint of mascara. I let my hair fall freely, and used only a small amount of gel to keep it contained. My mother had taught me the oldest trick in the book, and that was to pinch my cheeks to make them rosy. I wore the perfume my sister bought me for my last birthday. It was an expensive one I only wore on special occasions.
I was scared to meet Damon’s sister. I had only seen her briefly, but I could tell she was intimidatingly beautiful. She sounded like an amazing woman. I wondered what she could possibly have to offer me.
Damon was alarmingly quiet. Our small talk came to a halt as I finished packing. He grabbed my bag from my hand, leaving me to lock up my apartment. In the elevator there was a thick tension between us. I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. This was all so odd and unexpected, but yet I had packed my bags and followed him.
When we walked out to the early bustle of the New York morning, the chill of the day forced me to wish I had packed a scarf, never mind a bikini. With surprise I noted a black limo waiting out front. I thought perhaps it was someone else’s but when the driver saw us he rushed forward to greet us. After politely wishing me a good morning, he swept my bag from Damon’s hands and gestured that we should take a seat in the limo. Damon opened the door for me as I tried to hide my open-mouth. I didn’t think he had the kind of money for this, even with his lucrative work in escorting.
When I reclined onto the leather seat, I noted with surprise how luxurious the limo’s interior really was. Seats stretched the length of the limo at either side, and there was a large screen television near the partition. There was even a small minibar at the end. Ornate, glittering lights lined the ceiling. There were two small tables between the long leather seats. I could only imagine what kind of parties had been held here.
Damon crept in, closing the door behind him and sitting across from me. I now reassessed him, thinking maybe he was secretly a millionaire. He wore a light-blue long-sleeved shirt. The top button was undone. He wore stylish black pants like he always did, along with his well-polished, pointed shoes. His dark-brown hair was once again messy. His jaw tightened as he felt my eyes on him.
“What is it, Clover?” he asked, resting his elbow on a thick leather armrest. His closed fist held his chin up as he sat crossed-legged.
“Remind me who you are again? It seems like you are not quite the humble escort you pretend to be. You probably never even needed my money to pay for your services in the first place,” I scoffed.
“This isn’t my doing but my sister’s, she likes to go all out and live a more leisurely lifestyle than I do,” he said with a smile. He watched me calculatingly for any sudden movements as if I might attempt to roll out of the moving vehicle.
Surely he would understand my resistance to this. “Okay, well in that case, remind me who your sister is again, because I really don’t like surprises,” I said, feeling slightly overwhelmed. I looked down at my casual clothes and regretted them instantly. He had said it was a business proposal; perhaps I should have worn a pencil skirt and a blouse.
“But that is what makes it so fun for me. She didn’t explain to me in what way I had to get you to her. I can take you along for a ride, one that entertains me too,” he taunted.
“I can’t help but feel like I am your hostage instead of your sister’s,” I said, relaxing back against the comfy leather.
“So, you consent?” he said with a light smile.
I could only roll my tongue around behind my teeth. There was a lot I would consent to with this man.
“To you?” I asked out loud, surprising myself.
The sexual tension immediately rose around us and we both descended into silence. The limo was so dark, and there was something seductive about being in the back of a limo with an insanely attractive man. My body radiated with heat. I couldn’t help but wonder whether Damon felt it too, or if it were only me. It felt as if our body’s heat, our chemistry, mingled tangibly in the air. Desire lingered in an unspoken atmosphere of lust. I crossed my legs again, feeling hot and trying to distract myself from the savage want that tore through me.
Just a few days ago I would never have climbed into the back of a limo with a man I hardly knew, bound for an unknown place. But now, at his request, I was in a limo, gazing at the small screen that separated us from the driver. I didn’t know how Damon could have such control over me. An encounter with an escort for one night was quickly eventuating into something more. I felt myself being swept into his magical tension.
After thirty long minutes of raw tension we finally stopped moving. The cab driver was quick to open the door for us. Damon waited until I stepped out first. A small private airport with a jet was waiting. This time my mouth did widen but I was powerless to hide my shock. “You have your own jet?” I demanded to know. The words repeated in my head. You have your own jet.
“Don’t be silly. We are flying to a resort belonging to one of my sister’s sponsors for our business. It’s a tourist destination, and this is his jet. He was more than happy for us to use it,” Damon said simply, taking our bags from the driver.
He acted so casual about it all, but flying on a private jet was not something I had exactly planned on crossing off my bucket list that day. “You need to tell me where we are going now,” I said, no longer feeling calm.
He smiled in response and rested his warm hand on my arm. “It is okay, Clover,” he said reassuringly before walking toward the jet.
The driver was already leaving in the limo, so, with no other choice, I hurried after him. The door of the jet was already open for us, and the pilot was waiting to collect our luggage. The stairs were thinner than I had imagined. I felt disorientated as I climbed them. Perhaps it was because of my shaky legs.
Inside was warm and a lot of white leather decorated the room. The room was finished with expensive wooden paneling and gleaming white leather. A seat ran the length of one side of the jet, and three modern-looking tables with gold stems were positioned in front of it. On the other side were two sets of paired reclining seats for landing and takeoff. A couch took up the back left-hand corner of the jet. In front of it was a large-screen plasma television alongside a large sound system. The interior was breathtaking. Someone actually owned this and used it at their leisure.
Damon gestured toward a seat. I took it, looking at the few magazines that were nicely arranged on the table in front of it. The jet had even been stocked with recent editions of all the magazines on display. Our recent edition of Candice was there, amongst a few other mid-ranged magazines. But the real star of the magazine industry was Be True, and it claimed a frontal position on top of all the other magazines on the table. The lights above our chair cast a shine on the magazine’s gold lettering. This was the edition where they were able to contract the famed ice-skater, Sarah Hine, for the front cover. The headline promised that an exclusive interview was contained within, page twelve. I picked it up. I wanted to read the interview, but first I flicked to Anonymous’ column.
“Do you read Be True magazine even though it is a rival magazine?” Damon asked as he settled into his seat beside me.
“Not as much as I used to,” I admitted. “But I try to follow the work of a columnist in it, Anonymous. I am very envious of her work.” I didn’t need to check the contents page. I found her two-page spread where it was always positioned.
“If they are called Anonymous, what makes you assume it is a woman?” Damon asked whilst stretching to grab one of the other magazines.
“Because there is a raw sensitivity in her voice. I have always just assumed it was a woman,” I explained. I felt a connection to her and her words. Maybe the fact that I had never felt such a connection with a man influenced my thinking. I wasn’t about to voice that thought to Damon though.
“Have you read her work?” I asked instead.
“A few times,” he said without interest, flicking through his own magazine.
I stared at the strong fingers that handled the pages. As if he felt my gaze on him, he stopped and looked up. His eyes caught mine and lingered there. My grip tightened on my magazine as my thoughts ran wild. I was gripped by a sudden, strong urge to lean forward, to press my lips hungrily against his. I wanted to know everything about him. So many things could happen, and yet, I couldn’t do anything. I still didn’t know if I was reading into it all wrong.
I blushed red, looking away as the engines of the jet stirred. I badly wanted him. It was a pull that I couldn’t fight, despite the fact that we had only known each other days. Fate seemed to throw us together, but at the same time, it felt like something was holding us both back.
I made a concerted effort to redirect my attention to the magazine. I knew that I should enjoy my time away from work. Often Debra managed to manipulate my weekends as well as the workdays by burdening me with some impossible task or another. I flicked through to the back of the magazine, and my eye was caught by my star sign. “Would you like me to read out your horoscope?” I offered.
“Why not,” Damon smiled. “I’m a Scorpio.”
My hand once again tightened on the corner of my page. “Of course you are,” I thought, “One of the greatest and most passionate lovers out of the twelve signs. Of course.”
We both squirmed uncomfortably as I read out an embarrassing passage about temptation and an encounter with a new lover. I didn’t read anything else out after that and we both read our respective magazines in silence.
Neither of us attempted conversation over the next twenty minutes, and when I eventually gathered the courage to look at him again, I saw that he had already fallen asleep. His lips were slightly parted and his expression was one of melancholy as he slept. It made me wonder about the person beneath his charming mask. I didn’t really know anything about him. Maybe he wasn’t as happy as he liked people to think. I felt myself slowly slip into dreariness too. I let the flight take its toll on me and I relaxed back into the luxuriously soft leather.