Laura walked around the streets of the small town for a while before deciding to head towards the beach. She always found the ocean soothing, which was just what she needed now. She was an emotional wreck. Too much of her energies had been put into Sean Fenton. She needed to start thinking of herself, and only herself. But forgetting Sean Fenton was not that easy.
When Sean walked away from the restaurant, he was seething. This woman just seemed to frustrate him at every turn. He had thought they were enjoying their lunch together as much as each other. Her lively intelligence and quick wit had delighted him. She seemed to have an opinion on everything and was willing to discuss any topic he threw at her. She was far more than a beautiful woman, and he scarcely remembered when he had enjoyed anyone’s company more. And then wham! She was angry with him again because he said he was leaving in a few days! Much as he was beginning to dislike the idea of leaving her, he had to get back to work. What was it about her that kept on drawing him back to her despite her outbursts? He had no name for the emotions he was feeling towards her, it was beyond his experience, and he wasn’t sure he liked feeling something that made him disregard all logical thought. He just could not get her out of his head.
Suddenly, Sean realised he had been walking in the same direction for a long time and had no idea where he was. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his mobile phone. Glancing around him, he quickly described his location to the very helpful reception lady at the hotel, who promised him a taxi would be there within a few minutes.
Once back at the hotel, Sean was too restless to stay in one place. Laura would not leave his thoughts. He headed out along the beach, hoping the sea air would help clear his head. About halfway along the beach, sitting back up on the soft sand, he saw a familiar figure. It was Laura. Without conscious thought, Sean headed up the beach and sat down beside her. For a few minutes the two of them stared out to sea, neither knowing what to say, but both taking comfort in the closeness of the other. Sean was the first to break the silence.
“I’m sorry if I upset you Laura.”
Laura just nodded, but did not look directly at him. Sean continued, feeling a strong urge to explain himself to her.
“I really like you Laura” he began. Oh here we go thought Laura despondently, here comes the “but,” but, to her surprise there was none.
“and I want to get to know you more,” Sean continued. “I can’t just abandon my work.” He stopped, unable to find words to continue.
Laura studied his face and saw then that he was struggling with his emotions too. “Then how can we get to know each other more?” she asked, her heart skipping a beat at the hope rekindled by his frank admission.
“I can come back here for a visit whenever I get the chance,“ he said.
“How often would that be?”
“I honestly don’t know Laura. My work keeps me pretty busy. I don’t have a lot of time on my hands.”
Laura’s heart sank, she didn’t want to wait here while he went off around the world, and just came back to her when he had time for her.
“It’s not enough Sean. I want to get to know you, spend time with you, not just see you for the occasional holiday. Don’t you feel the connection we seem to share too? Is it not enough to make you want to find out what it really is?” She had turned to face him now, every inch of her becoming more alive by the second as her body reacted to his just because he was there. He didn’t need to say or do anything to arouse her and make her want to be with him.
Sean looked back at her, the sea breeze gently blowing tendrils of dark wavy hair around her beautiful face. He was undeniably attracted to her more than he had ever been towards any woman in his life. But the plain fact was that he was incapable of sustaining any kind of personal relationship. He had already tried that and failed. He felt he owed it to Laura to explain that to her.
“I was engaged once, eight years ago. I thought I was in love. She broke it off on the morning of our wedding.”
Laura regarded him with compassion. His eyebrows were creased together in a frown as he recalled the painful memory.
“She said I had no room in my life for anyone else besides my work. And I saw she was right. I never spent any time with her, only when it was a work function or the obligatory weekly family meal with my parents. She made me realise that I don’t have enough time to devote to a wife. I don’t have time for a relationship with a woman, my work won’t allow it.”
“Your work won’t or you won’t Sean?” asked Laura.
Sean bristled at her comment, she didn’t know the first thing about how hard his work was, how demanding. There were so many people depending on him, and his time.
“What do you expect me to do Laura?“ he asked.“ I run a large company, and that work takes me around the world, constantly travelling, it’s what I do.
Laura’s stomach twisted. Was there really no hope for them? What Sean was saying was making sense. She couldn’t expect him to stay in this small town just for her, forsaking his job, his company. He had made his mind up after a broken engagement years ago that his career was the most important thing in his life. She understood well, how hard it was to break through those self limiting decisions we all made, which seem like the only possible way ahead at the time. Was she not a victim of her own limiting choices following heartbreak? The last flames of Laura’s short lived hope for her future flickered and died inside her as her heart sank lower than she had thought possible, especially considering how full of happiness she had been just an hour earlier.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Each lost in their own thoughts, neither seeing a way forward. The waves lapped against the shore, the beach almost deserted at what was siesta time. Laura turned to Sean, no words able to express her thoughts. She took his hand and looked straight into his eyes. She felt like they had reached the end of their path together, and wanted to drink in the last of him while she had the chance. His thick, dark, wavy hair, those extraordinary black eyes and the square cut of his jaw. Her eyes ran over his features, trying to etch them on her memory forever.
“Laura” Sean groaned, as he returned her longing look. As if drawn together by an unseen force, their faces slowly merged into one, their lips tasting each other, tongues exploring as they succumbed to the mutual want and need that had existed between them since their first meeting. Laura wound her fingers through Sean’s hair, the sensation shooting arrows of fire down her fingertips and into her very core. She felt him draw her body tight against his as he held his arms around waist. Never had she felt so alive as she did right at this moment, with this man. She could not bear the thought of him leaving so soon.
Laura forced herself to pull back, her breath ragged, tears flowing freely down her cheeks, “I can’t” she said desperately in answer to the look of loss on Sean’s face.
Sean felt intensely frustrated by the yo-yo of emotions both of them were experiencing. He looked at Laura, and his heart felt as if it would break seeing her distress. He wrapped her in his arms, laying her head against his chest. He simply could not see how he could offer her any more than a few stolen days here and there as and when his work allowed.
“What will you do Laura?” Sean asked, not wanting it to end like this, but unable to see a way forward.
Laura sat up and blinked, “What do you mean?” she asked, confused by his question.
“The restaurant will soon be closing for refurbishment. Will you look for another waitressing job in town?”
“I...I don’t know” she answered, looking even more confused than ever. She had begun to think that Sean might feature in her plans, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen now, and what those plans were anyway she had no idea. Pedro wouldn’t be around, he would be off on his boat; and she had already pushed Fernando away. What was there to hold her here now? She loved this town, but suddenly felt like she didn’t belong here.
“What do you want to do Laura? You must have dreams, ambitions, things you want to do?” Sean asked, trying to coax something out of her.
Laura felt cold inside as she remembered all the dreams she had once had. Hours spent discussing them with her mother, and laying the foundations for the adventure that was her future. But she didn’t allow herself to do that anymore.
“I don’t have any dreams or ambitions.” She replied emotionlessly. “I just need to find another job and I’ll be fine.” No I won’t be fine she thought hopelessly. But what was the point in saying that now. He wasn’t going to stick around to make her feel fine. He already had an exciting life, in fact, she thought, he was better off without her.
Sean gently rubbed his thumb across Laura’s scar. “It has something to do with this doesn’t it?” he asked finally understanding that whatever had happened in her past had caused her to limit herself to a simple life with a simple job. She was as emotionally dysfunctional as he was, he thought, and pulled her tighter to him.
When he touched her scar, linking that to her current emotional state, Laura felt like he had reached into her very soul and exposed her darkest secret. Panic flowed through her as if a dam had burst sending that which had been held back for four years out into the open. She sprang to her feet, eyes darting around wildly, like an animal caught in a trap. She felt a desperate need to get away from Sean. Laura felt utterly exposed by how Sean had read her so easily. She had to get out of here.
Sean stood up, shocked by how the colour had drained completely from Laura’s face. He reached for her, grasping her arms with his strong hands and putting his face directly in front of hers. “Laura” he said, “look at me”. But he could see she had lost focus and would not face him. With surprising force, Laura wrenched herself out of Sean’s grasp and fixed him with a look of pure terror, “Get away from me” she yelled, lashing out at his arms as he tried to grab hold of her once more to calm her down.
“Calm down Laura, you’re going to hurt yourself” Sean said in a firm voice, trying to take some kind of control of the situation.
“Let go of me Sean, I don’t need your help. You’ve done more than enough already. My life was just fine until you came along, and now....now.” She sobbed as she fought to steady her breath. “Now I have nothing again! Everything I have worked so hard to build up, you have destroyed. I never want to see you again.” She turned and fled up the beach.
Sean stood rooted to the spot, shocked and frightened by her extreme reaction. He had hit a raw nerve when he touched her scar. The hurt she was feeling was so strong it seemed to be destroying her. And she now felt that he was to blame. Sean slumped back down on the sand and ran his hands through his hair. What on earth was he to do now? He couldn’t leave her like that, but then again, she wouldn’t let him near her. He sighed in frustration. Laura clearly felt he had turned her life upside-down, but she didn’t seem to realise that she was having an equally devastating effect on him.
The story continues tomorrow....