Chapter Sixteen: Why?
The day went by and I could feel my skin browning under the sun’s hot glow. Although having Damon as a companion was enjoyable, the intimate pressure between us was at times hard to handle. I couldn’t look at him without desire rushing through me. My heart raced at the thoughts, and my legs quivered. My mind wanted to grasp onto reality once again. But as the sun soaked into my skin, I became more dehydrated with each sip of wine that passed by my lips. I could not so easily spark conversation with him. I wanted so much more. I couldn’t fathom the pull; how and when did my body become so consumed by his gaze. When did our games take grasp of my heart and body?
We finished the afternoon with a walk. Damon talked about when the island was first found, and about the sponsor behind the island’s tourism, Mr. Lanter, who was also the owner of the villa in which we stayed. As we walked along the beach, we came across a hut where you could rent horses. To finish the afternoon, we rode on horseback along the beach. The sunset framed the ocean and bathed the whole scene in a warm glow.
There were two families and another couple who were further ahead of us. Damon and I held back slightly to admire the scenery and to take a few photos. The sun’s glow over the water caught my eye, as if reminding me that this really could be my fulltime job. It was stunning and I couldn’t help but admire Damon’s silhouette on horseback, the sunset creating a shadow on the white sand. His muscular frame was outlined, and the image took my breath away.
I laughed hysterically at him when he tried to pose in front of me as I held the camera. He leant far too back at an angle the horse didn’t appreciate and it threw him off. He was uninjured, but I hadn’t the time to ask him if he was all right before my mirth took hold of me.
“You think that’s funny, do you?” he said brushing himself off then guiding his horse toward me by its lead. I still snickered under my breath, unable to disperse the image. “What if I threw you in the water, then? And leave you for the crabs,” he shouted, stomping over to me.
I raised my leg to him, pushing him back in hysterics. “No, my horse won’t let you near me,” I said, still kicking him away. There was no way he could reach me whilst I was so high on my horse.
He managed to grab my leg. He kept his hand there as we both looked up at as birds flocked overhead. The effect against the background was stunning. We both looked on in awe of the beautiful Bahama waters and sun. I collected my camera, focusing on the top of Damon’s head.
“Damon,” I whispered. As he turned to me I clicked the photo, finally getting my first photo of him looking surprised. He had stockpiled far too many of these throughout the day.
“You’re sneaky,” he said with a smile. I once again erupted in laughter when I looked at his horse, recalling him falling once again.
“It’s not funny,” he tapped my leg. “I could have been seriously hurt, and then what? Would you have raced me to the villa on your horse?”
“Are you guys coming!” the instructor yelled back to us huffily.
I giggled under my breath. “I guess you will never know,” I teased, lightly tapping my horse so she would catch up with the rest. He watched me from behind for a while. And when I looked over my shoulder at him with a smile, I nodded my head forward to indicate, “C’mon!”
He jumped back onto his horse, speedily coming to my side.
After we had disembarked from the horses and thanked the irritable guide, we began to head back to the limo. We had to walk a fair distance along the beach, but we chatted happily about my work and the time passed too quickly.
When we arrived back Michelle was already waiting for us. She had changed clothes into a bikini top and a deep-purple sarong that was wrapped around her hips. When she walked out to greet us she was laughing and calling to Phillip, and opening her hands out to us to welcome us. There was a red wine in her hand as she yelled out. “Damon, you won’t believe the collection Mr. Lanter has offered us from his wine shed beside the ocean. Apparently the shed was meant to store his jet skis and things, but his ex-wife kept drinking them all, so he hid them there. He encouraged us to help ourselves,” she said animatedly, obviously already half drunk. “Come Clover; let’s partake in some wine tasting together.”
She linked her arm with mine, dragging me away without further hesitation. Michelle was so full of life, even though she had dark circles under her eyes from her busy working schedule. She was enjoying this beyond measures. “I have been waiting all afternoon! I even organized a few cheese platters,” she waved her hand around to swirl the wine before taking another sip. She guided me through the sliding doors to a spacious garden area with a large wooden table. Phillip offered Damon a beer, and they took a seat at the table, chatting amicably.
On our right were two lounge beds and a hammock. We both took a lounge bed each and settled back on the comfortable white cushions. She offered me a glass of red wine, encouraging me to drink as much as I could as there were another two bottles inside, and more in Mr. Lanter’s wooden shed near the beach.
“Phillip, could you whip us up a few snacks? It’s your night to cook,” Michelle called in a sing-song voice. He looked at her with adoring eyes and agreed easily, even when Damon made a quip about him being whipped. He came over to kiss Michelle on the forehead before walking obediently inside.
“You too, Damon,” Michelle demanded, waving him off. Damon followed but not without shooting her a warning look first. “Finally, time for some girl talk!”
And that’s what we did; we talked about our lives, how we came to be who we were, our work ethics, if I enjoyed my position at Candice. It felt like an hour easily slipped by and we still had not yet seen the guys. I turned to look in the kitchen, but neither of them were there.
“I wish it was so easy to command them to cook,” she laughed to herself. “I bet they have driven across the island to Phillip’s favorite restaurant to pick something up.”
“How long have you been married?” I asked, now feeling the red wine bubble to my head. Everything became comical. She poured more wine into my glass. This was now my third of the hour.
“Nine years, and it’s been the best nine years of my life. Don’t believe the rumors that marriage is all hard work,” she said with a smile. “So whilst the boys are away, what do you really think of my brother?”
A small rush of air gushed through my lips as I stifled a chuckle, and she giggled in response, as if we were young high school girls. The wine was obviously hitting us hard. I stood up to feel the effect of how tipsy I was. I staggered as I walked; the sun must have dehydrated me a lot more than I had thought. I sat on the hammock as Michelle cut a small piece of camembert cheese and spread it onto a cracker.
“How did he become an escort?” I asked. I tried to retain some dignity by sitting on the hammock, but I quickly realized it was far more comfy to lie back. I swung slightly in the breeze and gazed at the stars as I took another sip.
“He hasn’t spoken to you of that yet?” she asked in surprise. I gave her a pointed look to indicate that he hadn’t. She looked at me for a moment longer before looking up at the stars thoughtfully. She was reluctant to say anything; in fact, I thought she maybe wouldn’t. But then she looked behind her to confirm the kitchen was still empty. “That was my idea, actually. You see, long story short, he was with a woman, Anabelle, they were high school sweethearts. She was my best friend at the time,” her tone took a bitter edge. “She fell pregnant, and they were excited, as they had been together for six years. When he found out, he proposed to her, and everything was fine. Until I found out it wasn’t my brother’s child. It was his best friend’s. So, cutting it short, Damon has never looked at another woman since.”
My mind raced over this, pitying him instantly for what he had went through.
“I started to worry about him. He refused to go out and meet anyone new. One of my friends had no one to take her to some clichéd event, so I suggested he take her. I thought it would do him good to get out of the house, and, well, I thought he might meet someone eventually. My friend insisted that she pay him, and after that it slowly started becoming a regular thing. I didn’t much understand it either. In fact, we even got into a fight about it once. But he was only escorting them and nothing more. But mostly, he was doing it for his writing.”
“Writing?” I asked, looking over the hammock at her.
She gave me a queer smile. “He really hasn’t told you anything, has he? Well, he builds the websites and handles the I.T. operations for Be True magazine. When our mother was diagnosed with cancer, my father wanted to be by her side, so he offered the CEO position to Damon. This was all happening about the time he and Annabelle split, so he declined, and I was given the position. But he continued doing the nerdy I.T. stuff I don’t much understand. But he was always a writer; you might have seen his work before. He titles them under ‘Anonymous.’”
My jaw dropped. Damon was Anonymous? My mind raced over the thought. All those years I had admired the writing, the sensitivity of each topic, and I had assumed the articles to be written by a woman’s hand.
“Well,” Michelle continued. “He said that experiencing these events, and being by a woman’s side when not distracted by romance, helped him become more sensitive as a writer. He said it was beneficial to him. He wasn’t leading anyone on, it wasn’t a date, and they paid for his services. And in return he was having an in-sight into so many women’s lives. I was against the idea, but the results quickly showed within a few months on our online magazine. A lot more people were asking for his identity. Other magazines were enquiring if he was a freelancer. I think we even got one offer from Candice. Sales increased within those six months by eight percent. My little brother, always the genius,” she said with a smile, taking another sip of her wine.
“To be honest,” she interjected before my mind could focus on any one thing. “That is why I was so surprised when he spoke of you. He never mentioned any of the other women he escorted. I was starting to worry that Annabelle scarred him so much he would never find another woman again. But you...you have piqued his interest, that’s for sure.”
My mind swallowed that thought. Could she mean that the feelings I was having for him were mutual? Damon was the writer I had admired for so many years. Never would I have thought, with all his cockiness and taunts, that he had been so hurt in the past. I thought of the moment when we had first stared at one another in my apartment when he was helping me with my website page. Did he leave so quickly because he felt something too?
Suddenly Damon and Phillip came through the doors with a few hot food platters in hand. Michelle had been right—they had been too lazy to cook.
“Ah, just in time,” Michelle said, swallowing the last of her wine. “We just ran out. Damon can you grab some more wine from the shedy thing near the beach?”
“Don’t you think you have had enough to drink already?” Damon asked as he placed his platter on the table.
“Don’t you talk like that to your older sister,” she pretended to scold. “Clover is out as well.” I looked down at the few mouthfuls still left in the glass. She gave me a glance that suggested I drink it, and quickly too. Under her watchful gaze, I drank it and then presented the empty glass in front of everyone. The bitter red wine tasted stale in my mouth.
“Fine, what are you after?” Damon relented, placing his hands in his pockets.
“I don’t know. Clover, I chose the last two bottles, can you go down and choose something nice for us?” she asked with a sly smile. Damon and I looked at one another, knowing what his sister was trying to pull.
I was slightly amused by her directness. Much like Damon, she liked to play her harmless games. Damon waited for me as I struggled to get out of the hammock. “This hammock is like a trap,” I thought to myself, trying to twist out of it. When I placed my feet on the ground, my head felt dizzy.
I walked over to him, trying to keep my steps steady. I allowed myself a small smile in triumph when I succeeded. When we were no longer in hearing distance from Michelle and Phillip, he commented on my walking.
“Are you staggering?”
“I am not,” I slapped his arm, tripping over a branch and losing my footing. He caught me and I held my breath, startled by my near fall. “I can’t see a thing out here!” I lied. His hard arms still held on to me as I stood again, his touch creating a wildfire sensation all down my arms.
I looked at him and saw the moonlight shimmering in his dark-brown eyes. I resisted the urge to brush my hand along his stubble. He had once been so hurt, and when I looked into his eyes, I could now see that sadness.
“Sure,” he said in a sarcastic tone. A smile pulled at his lips.
In heavy silence we continued walking toward the beach. Like Michelle had said, it wasn’t too far from the sea and the rolling of waves could be heard. The moonlight was shining along the dark surface of the water.
A small wooden shack came into view. We walked in and pulled on the small hanging string, which flicked on the light. The light was swinging gently as the breeze crept in, creating moving shadows. The light highlighted neglected, dusty shelves. I couldn’t help but find amusement in the whole situation when I thought of the older wooden shack in comparison to Mr. Lanter’s villa. No wonder his ex-wife never found the wine. I doubted she would have ever come to such a place if she was used to the splendor of the villa. On our right was a large rack of exquisite wines. On the left was a dirty old bench that could have once belonged to a handcrafter.
The air was still, and for a few seconds we stood in the semi-darkness, listening to the sounds of the waves. I saw that a few of the wine bottles had dust on them. I unsteadily looked over a few of the titles just as Damon did beside me.
“So, what were you and my sister talking about?” he asked casually, placing one of the wine bottles back into the rack with studied disinterest.
“Just girl talk,” I smiled lightly. “What was that one?” I asked, reaching out for the bottle he had just put back. I stood closer to him to read over the label.
“This is a good one,” I said, looking over my shoulder and up at him. He was staring intensely at the thin strap of my silky white dress that had slipped down my shoulder. His brown eyes consumed me with hunger, like they always did. I slowly turned so that I was facing him.
My mind told me in so many ways not to do it. But my body held a thirst that would not be quenched until I kissed him. “Just one kiss,” I thought. I moved slowly, watching his eyes to see if he would pull away. His eyes flickered over my own with uncertainty.
My lips brushed his. I wanted to consume his hot breath. I brushed my bottom lip against his top one, encouraging him to take the lead. His hand slowly rose to my cheek, cupping it. I could see by the shimmer of his dark-brown eyes that he was tentative. I brushed my fingers gently along his collarbone and wrapped my hand behind his neck to pull him closer to me.
The tension built as we gave in to the chemistry that pulsed in us. His lips pressed onto mine, spreading a fire through my whole body. I tightened my grip on the back of his neck, pulling him into me. My grip loosened on the bottle of red wine and it dropped to the floor. It didn’t smash as it fell onto some sacks of wetsuits, but I barely even noticed it leaving my fingertips anyway.
He pulled my body to his and then twisted me slightly before pushing against my hip and pinning me to the wine rack. I savagely kissed him, my tongue wanting far more than what he was offering. His kiss was like no other. He slowly created a flame I could not put out. It made my legs quiver as his arms pulled me closer to him. His hands pressed hard against my body. I pushed my hands though his hair, now biting his lip. I was teasing him to let him know what I wanted. His lips pulled from mine and I opened my eyes, conscious of the sensation that quivered in my entire body. My nipples were now perked and the sensation ran up my legs, thumping heavily in a region that only he could please.
After a brief hesitation, he slammed me harder against the wine rack before collecting my lips again in his. His hand brushed along my shoulder and swept off one of my silky straps. I held firmly onto his belt, trying to rip away the buckle that was now my greatest enemy. His hands wrapped around my bottom, grabbing me firmly. He lifted me and wrapped my legs around his waist. He began kissing down my neck savagely. Every kiss lingered like a flame.
My legs gripped around him harder. Only the material of our clothing came between what we both throbbed for. He lowered me onto the bench; everything beyond him seemed like a blur to my heightened senses. As he moved each jolt only stirred me further into need. I could feel him rising near my inner thigh.
As he bent over me I ran my hands along his shirt buttons, desperate to feel his body against mine. His naked chest was beautiful. There was a small amount of hair that trailed further down past his belt. I kissed his chest, loving the taste of his skin and the smell of his cologne lingering on my nose. I continued to kiss down his chest, my lips brushing over the chiseled abs of his stomach that I could right now claim as mine.
I could no longer control myself. I wanted Damon entirely. He pushed me back so I was lying flat and then he lowered his body over mine. I savagely ripped at his belt as he kissed me. One hand on the bench above my head supported his body as he used the other to gently move my hands away. I froze as he ran his hand up my inner thigh. The silky material lifted as he ran his hand underneath. His thumb brushed past the lining of my underwear.
His lips kissed over my collarbone and down toward my breasts; his hand simultaneously caressing me over my underwear. I could feel the breeze sweep past my hot skin as he then pulled my dress down over my purple silk bra. His fingers then traced over my bra straps as he continued kissing down my chest. A moan crept past my lips as his fingers that brushed over my skin triggered an exquisite reaction within.
I could sense the hotness come from his shaft, and I wanted to grab it as I raised myself on my elbows, kissing him again. His wet tongue was pushing against mine firmly. His hand tightened around my shoulder as he pulled away from my kiss, both of us breathing in heavily as he looked at me with distant eyes.
I knew then that I had lost him. Instantly I felt shattered as I collected the silky straps of my dress, glancing to the ground in utter shock. “He is pulling away,” I realized to myself in alarm and surprise. “But I thought...”
“I’m sorry, Clover,” he said under his breath. “I just...I...” His hard chest rose and fell quickly. Panic spread across his face as he extricated himself and struggled to his feet. He looked shell-shocked as he buttoned his shirt. “I’m sorry.” He turned his back on me, collecting the red bottle of wine from the ground before he walked out.
I panted hard, my mouth open in shock. A tear began to slide down my face. I was still perched on my elbows, my dress around my hips. My face contorted in pain as I realized I had been a test for him. Maybe he wanted to see if he was up to the challenge, and I was his guinea pig. He was too broken to fulfil the hunger I was after.
“How stupid of me to kiss him,” I thought, covering my face with my hands.
I glanced down at my disheveled state. The humiliation made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach. I combed through my hair and straightened myself before storming toward the villa, wiping away tears as I went.
I heard Phillip and Michelle laughing with one another as I approached. Their smiles disappeared when they saw me.
“Clover, what happened?” Michelle asked, panicking when she saw my face. Phillip was searching behind me, obviously looking for Damon.
I wrapped my arms around myself insecurely, conscious of the tears that still lingered on my face. “Thank you for this opportunity, but I would very much appreciate it if your driver took me to the airport now,” I asked, almost in tears.
“Of course,” Michelle said, instantly seeming to sober up. She understood and immediately turned to her husband. “Phillip, can you grab her bags please. Call Richard and ask him to get the limo ready.”
“Clover, I am so sorry,” she said, coming toward me to hug me.
I smiled at her lightly, trying to show that I was fine. I raised my hand to her, knowing if she hugged me I would only cry all over again.
“I really am appreciative,” I said, my voice cracking and a few tears spilling over. “But I just want to be at home right now.”
She nodded and stepped aside in silence. Phillip had already collected my things and had handed them to the limo driver, who waited for me out front.
With no exchange of awkward goodbyes, I walked out to the limo. As we pulled away I registered the shock on Michelle’s and Phillip’s faces as they watched from the door. Phillip put his arm around Michelle to comfort her.
In the back, now alone in the darkness of night, I cried into my hands, embarrassed by my urges. I had let my body take control, and for that I had faced the ultimate humiliation.