They board a ferry and some minutes later they are walking about the tiny island Hovedoya. The sea is blue, the sun is bright, and her summer dress dances in the breeze. She feels like leaving behind all that happened until now and start afresh like two teenage sweethearts holding hands, running towards the sea, disrobing and swimming together into the beginning of an adventure where life is easy and love pure joy.
“There are rather interesting monastery ruins dating from the 12th century you might like to visit.” Vincent offers engagingly and she knows that the monastery is just a pretext to flee the danger of getting too close.
“You are an excellent tourist guide, Vincent. I think about engaging you on a lifelong basis, of course only if you aren’t otherwise engaged. Would it be indiscreet to ask you what you are doing when not escorting Alex’s go-betweens?”
“It’s so banal that I’m embarrassed to voice it. I am a writer.” He says avoiding her eyes.
“Great! It’s what I intend to be! Tell me more about it!”
“You foolish girl, I hope I can dissuade you from it. Writing your first sentence is deadlier than lighting a crack pipe. It hits your brain, it poisons your blood, and without it you are a walking dead. Slowly but surely your feelings degenerate into a feed for your fiction. You try your best not to let it show fearing to lose your human material as that is what the people around you become; you sacrificing to your writing all, yourself included. The reason why I am with Alex is to be supplied with new sensations bedding his recruits. I dissect them and throw them overboard once they have lost their writing value. There is something that puzzles me. This is the first time Alex has been resentful to offer me my fair share of you. Do you remember the first time we met? He used to make his prey drink and take drugs to lose their inhibitions. The three of us having then fun was my compensation to participate in his usually risky projects.
“Not this time, sorry, Vince!” He stopped me at the door of his bedroom. Do I regret to have been deprived of making love to you? Not so sure about it, Nathalie. You are a highly incendiary device and quite sincerely I prefer not to get burnt. So let’s do our best to enjoy the innocent pleasures of traipsing about the Hovedoya Island and don’t complicate our lives.”
“I wish I could follow your advice, Vincent! These flimsy slippers Alex put into my luggage were not meant for hiking. I’d prefer to have a swim. Are there some beaches around?”
“Of course there are! We are on an island, silly girl! Though there are two hindrances. Firstly the lack of the swimming suits. Secondly the water is ice cold.”
“You surprise me, Vincent. Isn’t a skinny dip in an icy sea the ultimate IT for a freak of new sensations?” She grabs his hand and drags him ahead.
“Slow down, girl! It’s the opposite direction. OK, I surrender. Let it be as you wish. But don’t complain you haven’t been warned.”
The beach is empty. She lets her clothes fall on the sand and shivers in the wind.
“Won’t you disrobe, Vincent?”
“I don’t think so.” He refuses firmly, his eyes fixed on the glittering sea.
“What if I’d be drowning and you’d have to rescue me?”
“Then I’d sacrifice my clothes for you.”
She runs into the water. Her skin burns, she gasps for breath. Yet she perseveres refusing to admit Vincent was right.
“Nathalie, there’s a call for you!” Vincent saves her from avowing her defeat.
“Everything is fine, Alex, except that I am freezing.” She mutters between her teeth.
“No need to blame Vincent for it. He was absolutely against that ghastly swim. Give me a moment to dry myself up.”
She mops herself up with Vincent’s T-shirt he wordlessly proffers to her and takes back the cell phone from his hand.
“I know that the swim was a foolish idea. I just felt like it.”
“Of course I took my clothes off before entering the sea.”
“No need to be shocked. There is not a living soul around.”
“How dare you tell me what I can and can’t do?”
In a fit of rage she hurls the phone into the sand and starts to dress.
“Do something, Vincent! Hug me to make me warm! Use your imagination how not to let me freeze to death!”
Not giving him a chance to refuse she falls upon him scavenging on his warmth. His body is astonishingly smooth and accommodating. She shuts her eyes and clings to him with the force of her desire wallowing in the overflow of delight this man can give her.
“Stop it, Nathalie!” He pushes her away from him gasping for breath.
She lies in the sand her desire burning in her like an open wound rubbed raw with salt.
“Nathalie!” He touches awkwardly her shoulder.
“Get up! We have to run for the ferry, go back to the hotel and warm you up. I beg you! Be reasonable! If we gave in for a moment of reckless sex we’d pay dearly for it. You can’t imagine Alex’s revenge if we made love! He is a psychopath. He is merciless.”
“At least you’d have something sensational for your next story.” She says meaning offence.
“Don’t, Nathalie! It isn’t worthy of you.” His mouth screwed in a parody of smile he grabs her hands and pulls her up.
They caught the ferry at the last moment. He hailed a cab and sat down mutely by her side. Even when keeping their distance his bodily presence was reassuring. Once back at the hotel he ordered tea. She drank it in her bed. She fell asleep.
When his phone call woke her up later she dressed up and joined him in the lobby.