Sean had spent the whole afternoon driving around the local area in his hired blue convertible, after his less than satisfactory encounter with Laura at the restaurant. He had convinced himself that she must be working for one of his competitors, one that used underhand tactics like gaining the confidence of owners of buildings they wanted to buy, and then using that confidence to persuade them to sell far under the true value of the property, while all the time convincing them it was in their best interests. Yes, Laura fitted that role perfectly. She was clearly hiding something by pretending to be merely a Spanish waitress, when it now appeared that English, not Spanish was her native language. There was a clear intelligence behind those cat eyes of hers, and with her looks and body, she could easily be a model. No, for her to work as a waitress in a small town, there had to be an underlying reason, and this explanation fitted perfectly.
That evening he sat on the hotel veranda sipping beer, mulling over the whole situation. Laura may be working against him but angry that he was that she had tricked him, she was still the most attractive woman he had ever met, and he saw no reason that he couldn’t win her over and have her anyway. The attraction was clearly mutual, it probably wouldn’t take much to get her to fall for his charms, it never did, he thought grimly. Plus he added as an afterthought, money obviously had its appeal for her too.
“Sean, darling!” the bright voice of his old friend Dina, broke his train of thought.
“Dina, glad to see you arrived safely” he said as he embraced the tall red-head and kissed her warmly. “You look fabulous as always, have a seat and let me get you a drink”.
Sean sat down with Dina. She was his old and trusted friend, who he had gone to school with, and also an immensely talented designer with whom he always consulted on his new projects. He passed over his sketch book to her, eager to get her input on the design for the new restaurant. She leafed through the pages of drawings he had made showing a classy upmarket restaurant with a strong Mediterranean feel to it. “I made these sketches last night of my thoughts on how we can change the current decor and design of the place, although I have to say it’s very well set up and eye-catching for a small local restaurant”. Sean had been very impressed with the olive green table settings and how they blended in so well with the profusely coloured hanging baskets of flowers, trailing dark glossy leaves down towards the well maintained timber deck. The art work too seemed skilfully chosen to complement the setting; with several pieces having gold flecks though them which glinted in the bright Mediterranean sun. It was so well presented that he doubted the old man had done it himself, he didn’t seem the type. No, he had been thinking that maybe it was the work of Laura. She appeared to have far more vested in that place than just a waitressing job.
“Sean, are you listening to me?” Dina’s voice cut through his thoughts once more. “What’s wrong darling, something’s distracting you?” she said.
“Sorry Dina, what were you saying?” Sean snapped his mind back to the designs he had drawn, angry with himself for letting a woman distract him from his work.
The next morning Laura woke early. She was surprised to see that it was six o’clock, the sun was up and she had slept solidly through the night. When she had finally reached her small apartment last night, she had felt totally spent after the evening’s work, and the emotional upheaval of the whole day. She had expected to toss and turn for hours, running over things in her mind, but instead her mind seemed to have shut down. Laura suspected it had to do with seeing Sean with the beautiful red-head and that scene jolting her back to her reality, that dreams are too uncertain and risky for her. She had decided to stick with the familiar and safe Fernando, and her familiar, and unexciting, but safe life in this small Spanish coastal town.
Pulling on her running shoes, shorts and top, and tying her hair back in a thick plait to keep it from swishing around so much as she ran, Laura headed for the beach for her regular morning ritual. She tried to block out the image of Sean running, and the faint hope she still felt that he would be out running at the same time as yesterday, and set off jogging, feeling her muscles stretch out, and her mind settle to the rhythmical pounding of the sand beneath her feet.
Sean woke early, and was dressed and out before six o’clock, barely acknowledging the surprised Marie on reception who was just reaching for her phone to make his morning wake up call. She replaced the receiver with a loud bang staring after Mr Fenton with disappointment that he seemed oblivious to her existence.
Sean had done several lengths of the beach when he saw the striking figure of Laura jogging towards him. He had decided to get the papers signed by Pedro for the purchase of the restaurant before turning his full attention to Laura. Be civil, he told himself, don’t provoke a reaction; it was time to wait her out.
“Mr Fenton, Good Morning” said Laura, as she slowed to a halt clearly expecting him to do the same.
“Miss Knight” Sean replied curtly, remembering their last conversation the previous day, and how Laura, the waitress, had told him to leave!
Laura felt his cold black granite eyes boring into her accusingly, as they stood facing each other, less than a half a metre apart, their breathing heavy after the exertion of running. Desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of control, Laura consciously slowed her breathing and spoke, “I wanted to apologise for my outburst yesterday, I was just taken by surprise at your plans to buy the restaurant, I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.” Those manners her mother taught her still winning over all the other emotions welling up inside her again, now she was near him again.
Sean regarded her slowly, her apology seemed genuine enough, but he knew she was an expert at deceit. “Apology accepted,” he nodded stonily, never once moving his eyes off her. He still could not shake the odd feeling that he wanted to protect this woman. Despite her confident appearance, she seemed somehow vulnerable and hurt.
The two of them stood inches apart; eyes locked together, their breathing still uneven although neither was now out of breath from running. Laura felt her pulse quicken as Sean took a small step towards her, narrowing the gap between them to almost nothing. The sound of the small waves lapping at their feet seemed to recede into the distance, her senses filling instead with the man standing before her. The scent of his sweat mingled with the faint tinge of his distinctive spicy cologne seemed to envelope her like a wave, as his black stony eyes melted into glistening deep inviting pools. She could hear his breaths coming in perfect time with her own, creating the impression they were no longer two separate people, but somehow a part of each other. He reached his hands up and with a gentle touch that sent bolts of electricity coursing through her body, cradled her face as his lips reached hers. Then she was lost. Laura lifted her arms up and twined them around the back of Sean’s neck as she kissed him back with a passion that threatened to overwhelm her. His tongue expertly exploring her soft mouth, but in doing so awakening sensations in other parts of her body which were much more intimate. She worked her fingers into this thick black hair, tugging gently as the kiss deepened even more, and Laura teetered on the brink, feeling herself about to let go and free fall into the unknown as the last of her defences against this man crumbled.
But before she let go of that final piece of doubt, Sean drew back, swearing under his breath, and leaving Laura shaken and confused. He cursed himself for his lack of self control as he heard his father’s voice sternly warning him in his head, “Pleasure is the reward you allow yourself after you have finished your business. Never mix the two.” He had had every intention of waiting until the papers were signed and the restaurant his, before pursuing Laura, but one look at her had sent all sense flying out of the window. He had to get a grip on himself; this woman had once again gotten the better of him. Stiffening his resolve, Sean took a step backwards, raking his fingers through his hair to try and calm himself. He felt like an idiot. He could be jeopardizing his business deal by allowing his emotions, or was it his libido? to get the better of him. Abruptly he spoke, “I need to be getting back, I have work to do.” His eyes hardened once more as he turned and jogged away back towards his hotel.
Laura was too stunned to move. Had she not decided that Sean Fenton was too much of a risk, and she was much safer to stay with the known, safe life she had, with the reliable Fernando by her side? All she had done was apologise to Sean, and he had kissed her with unbelievable passion she had been ready to throw everything away and succumb to him completely. Shocked at finding herself thrown back into the whirl of confusion she had thought she had lifted herself out of yesterday, Laura turned to walk back to the restaurant.
She looked up towards the place she regarded as her safe haven at the end of the beach, and froze as she saw a figure watching her from the deck. It was Fernando. How long had he been standing there? Had he seen her kiss Sean? She felt physically sick as she grappled with the feeling she was slowly destroying her own life with her reckless actions. As she watched, Fernando turned away and panic filled every part of her as she broke into a run, desperate to save something.
The story continues tomorrow....