Chapter Fourteen: Leaving an Impression
Michelle continued light conversation and kept the awkward silence at bay. Thankfully, the journey was a short one and very soon we had arrived at our destination. We parked outside a pale-yellow, two-story villa, which had two large bay windows on the front and side. On the second floor there were two small balconies which I imagined to be attached to two bedrooms. The ground was surrounded by rich foliage and a manicured lawn.
The limo driver began taking our bags. Phillip and Damon thanked him and took theirs as well as Michelle’s and mine. Damon looked at me intently. I diverted my eyes, crossing my arms over my chest uncomfortably. They both began walking ahead toward the villa. I could smell that the grass had been recently mown. We followed a small pebbled path that led to the front doors through palm trees. The smell of salt lingered in the air, the beach was near.
“I am sorry about my brother; obviously he took you by surprise. But my offer will stand and if this is all forced on you far too quickly, I understand. I only ask you to have a good time,” Michelle said as she caught up with me. Her arms were casually crossed over her chest, and she watched her feet as we walked.
“I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. It is a wonderful opportunity,” I admitted, now feeling bad about my obvious displeasure. “I just wasn’t expecting any of this. In fact I didn’t really know what I was thinking. I wouldn’t normally leave my home with the click of a finger.”
“Ah,” she said, lifting her head as if something had clicked into place. I looked at her. She was certainly someone I could respect. We were much the same, her and I. When listening to her on the phone, I recognized her brisk efficiency. We had the same work ethic. Perhaps she was also a woman who was not accustomed to dropping everything without notice. She too was used to being in control.
We paused on the path. The men were already inside, but she lowered her tone. “My brother can be at times a little bit direct, but I think we both get that from our father,” she explained. “He must like you though to ask a favor of me in such a way. I read your work and was impressed by it on its own, but never in his three years of escorting has he given a second look to any of the women. Except you.”
I looked past her long lashes and into her dark eyes, eyes that reminded me of Damon. Did she mean to say that Damon was interested in me?
“How did he become an escort?” I asked, still surprised that a Brogardt son would resort to escorting.
Before Michelle could reply, Damon stalked out of the villa. He sidled over to us casually with his hands in his pockets.
“How about we talk about it tonight over a few wines,” she said with a light smile before she squeezed my arm in reassurance. Both of us silenced on the topic as Damon reached us. Michelle smiled happily at him before walking off to admire the grounds. She spotted Phillip on a balcony and walked over to it with excitement.
“What do you think?” Damon asked, gesturing at the villa.
“I think I am a little annoyed,” I said crossing my arms. He looked to the ground like a child being lectured. As surprised by all of this I was, I had to admit that most women would swoon over such an opportunity. I was being ungrateful. “I mean I wore my jeans, long shirt, and everything.”
He gave me a small smile, realizing that I was letting him off the hook. As out of my control as the situation was, I couldn’t resist the sense of adventure he had afforded me. I had always loved travel.
“Well then, let us get you changed,” he said with his hands still in his pockets. “And then I will show you the gardens.”
“The gardens?” I echoed, as we walked together toward the villa.
“Apparently there are some gardens nearby which are popular amongst both the locals and the tourists. I want you to experience as much as you can whilst here, and write about it, of course. We are sightseeing for the purposes of work, remember,” he raised his eyebrows at me as if I had already forgotten. I was surprised by how quickly the idea grew on me.
As I inhaled the scent of the sea and the beautiful trees of the Bahamas I couldn’t find my loyalty to Debra anymore. “Working...well, so I have been told,” I jeered. I stalked forward, thought for a second and then spun on my heel before advancing toward him, my finger pointed at him like he was a naughty schoolboy. “You are never to do that to me again! I don’t like surprises.”
“All right, Clover,” he beamed, stroking his hand through his messy dark-brown hair. “You win.”
I was satisfied with that.
The white two-door entrance was stunning. It led into a room with a white marble floor and a magnificent glass chandelier overhead. It glimmered in the sunlight that crept through one of the windows. On my right was a room with white couches, an ornate coffee table, and an antique green vase with vibrant yellow flowers. A small wall parted it from a spacious, modern kitchen with a blue marble counter. Three bar stools were arranged underneath it. An enormous, double-door silver fridge hummed soothingly beside a small wine rack and, to my delight, an expensive-looking coffee machine. Large white cupboards occupied the walls.
When looking through the open wall, I could see the large window and sliding doors, which were from floor to ceiling. Outside were trees and in the distance I could make out white sand and the green sea. In front of me were long white stairs that stretched above the marble floor. A few elegant touches were provided by vases of exotic flowers on display.
On my left was a dining room with nicely polished wood and steel candle holders along the table. Further past the stairs looked like a sauna of some kind and next to it was an in-door swimming pool that was surrounded by a tasteful glass wall.
“Your room is upstairs, Clover,” Damon said, his hot breath brushing on the back of my neck. The feeling startled me and broke me out of my awe-struck state; the villa was just so large and beautiful. I looked over my shoulder and up at Damon. He was standing so close to me. He shuffled as if he was thinking the same.
He gestured up the stairs, breaking the spell. I followed his hand and started up the stairs. The carpet on the stairs was of a similar blue to the marble on the kitchen benches. When I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a pool table and a few white couches. On my right there were two bedrooms with the doors opened. They looked like guest rooms when I compared them to the larger room on my left. With a glimpse I took in an attached bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, and king-sized bed. Beside that room a white marble bathroom with a spa was fitted with a mirror that lined an entire wall.
“Which room would you prefer?” Damon asked me, walking me to the two rooms on the right. I looked over the two and saw that they were the same. Both had white walls and luscious white carpet. They were each fitted with a small white couch in the corner, next to a wide bed. Whoever owned this villa definitely liked the color white.
I selected the first one; I was not overly picky about it. When I walked to the window, a breeze of salt swept through, refreshing me instantly as it brushed on my face. I felt my skin tingle as the air revitalized my pores. Damon left my bag beside my bed, watching me as I enjoyed the breeze. This was what I had always wanted—to explore somewhere new, and then to write about it. And it was Damon who helped me achieve it. Although he had his own creative way of getting me here, I now had an amazing opportunity because of him. Although I wished that my talent alone had afforded me this chance at success, I also knew that it wasn’t wrong to accept a helping hand. I was grateful for the confidence he had in me to suggest this to his sister. Who would have thought that one rushed, uninspiring article I had created in less than twenty minutes would lead to a job interview, and in the Bahamas, no less.
A small smile passed my lips as I brushed my hand over the smooth wood of the exquisite four-poster bed. The clean and fresh look was completed with crisp white sheets. “Isn’t it funny how because I didn’t sign that check, all of this has happened. Perhaps it is fate,” I thought idly, looking at him. I held the post firmly, my nails slightly digging in to the material as I reeled with desire for him. Especially now, now alone in this room, my desire made me feel feverish. Suddenly the expansive space seemed hot and small. His arms flexed beneath his pale blue shirt when he placed my luggage on the ground, and standing tall once again, the room seeming to swirl around him as I took in his strong body and dark eyes.
The breeze swept gently through my hair, startling me back to reality. “Thank you, Damon,” I said. I tightened my grip on the solid bed frame, stopping myself from acting on the hunger that rose from my stomach and spread down my legs.
“Does that mean you are impressed?” he asked in a low voice.
I poked my tongue inside of my mouth, feeling flushed by his charm. “It means you left a slight impression, yes,” I admitted breathlessly. The room was getting too hot again and my legs were beginning to feel heavy. “You need to leave so I can get changed.”
His eyes widened briefly as he looked down my body before taking a few awkward steps back. I could see the lump in his throat as he swallowed hard. He stuck his hands into his pockets before quickly leaving the room with a small shy smile.