This is the start of my first romance novel - which I have decided to serialise here on my blog over the next two weeks. I will post one chapter at the same time each day (7pm Australian EST).
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it - and that you will leave me some comments to let me know your thoughts!
“I’m so sorry” apologised Laura in fluent Spanish, as she cleaned up the spilled drink that was slowly dripping from the table onto the immaculately dressed lady. “I’ll organise a round of drinks on the house for you, please accept my sincere apologies once more.”
What was happening to her? Laura never spilled a drink and never mixed up an order, yet tonight she had done both. It was of course because of the dark, drop-dead gorgeous stranger who was sitting at the table, on the edge of the decking overlooking the sea. He had not taken his eyes off her all evening, which normally would have flattered her, and she would have enjoyed the ensuing flirtation with a sexy man. Laura knew she was attractive to the opposite sex, and enjoyed the confidence it gave her in herself. However, tonight was different. She did not merely find this man attractive; she was drawn to him with a force deep inside her she had not experienced before. Every time she looked at him, it felt like every single cell in her body was buzzing with energy, her stomach churning, and her mind totally frozen on him.
He had arrived in the early evening, alone, ordered a drink and settled at his table with a sketch book. An artist maybe, Laura thought, she had noticed his hands, long slender fingers which she wickedly imagined stroking her arms, her back, her thighs. Stop it! She told herself. Normally she wouldn’t worry about her mind creating steamy scenarios with a sexy restaurant guest, it was all in her imagination and that’s where it stayed, but something about this man made her feel like he wasn’t just going to stay in her imagination. He was filling her with a feeling of excitement and anticipation that scared her. He was a tourist, here for some fun, then he would leave, like the rest of them, and she would remain here, safe in her perfect life. A good job, a beautiful place, the kind hearted man who was in love with her, and slowly, yes very slowly trying to woo her, and wonderful friends whom she could trust, and weren’t ever going to leave this town, or her. No, she was happy with her lot, and did not want to disrupt the status quo with some random stranger, no matter how sexy he was.
As she set the fresh round of drinks down on the table, once again apologising for spilling the previous drink, Laura looked across at the cause of her nervousness. He looked up from his sketchbook and smiled. When he smiled, it was not just with his mouth, but his whole face, his dark, almost-black eyes seemed to glint like polished stones and tiny lines creased the olive skin around them. He had small dimples just to the sides of his mouth, and his lips, oh his lips. Laura could almost feel them on hers as her imagination once again ran riot with what he could do with those soft, full lips. She shivered involuntarily and realised that she had been staring at him. He motioned for her to come over to him, and she felt herself walking towards him wondering if it was her, Laura the woman, he wanted, or just, Laura the waitress, to come and replenish his drink. As she drew closer to his table, she felt her heart racing and willed herself to not trip over, to remain calm and not appear to be a complete idiot.
“Would you care to join me for a drink after you finish work, Laura” he said to her, his Spanish fluent, but not native. Laura had a natural talent for languages, and in her year living and working in this small coastal Spanish town, had gone from a passable grasp of the language to full fluency, without even a trace of an accent to give away where she was really from. American, she guessed for this man, although she had to admit, his Spanish was very good. She enjoyed the way he used the Spanish pronunciation of her name which was displayed on the tag pinned to her white shirt, saying the au like the ow in owl, and rolling the r, deliciously on his tongue. He gazed directly into her eyes as he spoke. She could get lost in the deep black pools that were his eyes. She felt like she was connected to him by a flow of pure electric attraction, and found herself replying that she would love to have a drink with him. What? Had she really replied or just imagined it? What was she doing? She always enjoyed the flirtatious banter that went with her work as a waitress at the beautiful little beachfront restaurant, but she never let it go any further than that. She walked back towards the kitchen in a haze of confusion. She felt like her brain was being bypassed by the intense attraction she was feeling towards this man, and she had no control over her actions or responses.
“Are you alright Laura” she heard a voice beside her.
“Pedro! Yes, I’m fine. I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me tonight” Laura replied, trying to pull herself together in front of her boss. Pedro was more than just her boss; he was her friend and her rock. She had come to love the old man dearly. He had been there for her since the evening she had stayed to help out at his restaurant when his only waitress had stormed out. That one evening had now stretched to a year. Pedro had lost his wife just a few short months earlier, and as Laura was still dealing with her own loss, they had found comfort, both in each other’s company, and in putting their energies into running the restaurant together.
“I’ll clear up that last table, then start on the dishes” Laura sighed.
“Don’t you worry about the dishes tonight Laura, you get yourself a drink and go and sit down and get to know Senor Fenton a little bit” replied Pedro, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
“Fenton?” asked Laura, momentarily at a loss
“The man whom you’ve not been able to take your eyes off all evening” chuckled Pedro. Laura flushed, Pedro could always see right through her. She turned her attention to the mirror behind the bar. Laura was always grateful for her dark hair and olive complexion; she hated to wear make-up, particularly in the summer heat. Fortunately her long dark eyelashes did not need any assistance in drawing attention to her iridescent green eyes. A touch of lipstick was all she ever bothered with. She’d always felt her lips to be too thin, and liked to try to emphasise them with rich coloured lipsticks. Around her neck she wore a silver necklace set with rows of tiny shining stones. Not diamonds, but Laura just liked the way they sparkled and caught the light. She reached up and removed the clip from her hair, releasing the long, dark tresses that tumbled down in waves over her shoulders. She assessed herself in the mirror. She certainly had the Spanish look, which together with her language skills enabled her to pass herself off as a local waitress. She was happy to do that, and so avoid any questions about her past.
“Now that you’ve let your hair down, shall we have that drink?”
Laura started as she heard the voice right in her ear. Canadian not American, mused Laura, hearing the foreign inflection in the Spanish he spoke. Mr Fenton, as she now knew he was called, was standing right next to her. He was a little taller than her, she stood at six foot, and wasn’t used to looking up to many people. Standing so close to him, she could feel the sexual tension crackling in the air between them. Her legs felt like they were about to buckle underneath her and she reached out to the bar to steady herself. His cologne, which she had caught tantalising whiffs of throughout the evening, now seemed to engulf her senses with its rich exotic spice scent. She took a deep breath, enjoying the shiver it sent down her spine and just for a second, forgetting herself, and the safe life she had built for herself. She smiled at him, and revelled in the exotic and erotic dream that he was.
“I’ll be right there, I’ll just pour us some drinks” she answered and quite deliberately brushed past him as she moved behind the bar. The physical contact shocking her as electricity seemed to course through her body right to every nerve ending, where it lit a million tiny fires that brought a deep flush to her skin she could not hide.
As Laura poured the drinks, she took deep calming breaths. This man’s presence was awakening feelings in her she had long forgotten and more she didn’t even know existed. The excitement she felt when she looked at him and wondered, who is he? Where does he come from? Where is he going? Was something she had not allowed herself to feel since she was a teenager, preferring instead, to focus on the here and now and not get carried away by the excitement of the unknown. The sexual feelings were something totally unknown to Laura. She had had boyfriends, and felt attraction, but never anything like this. It was all consuming, and the fact that it was a distraction rang large, loud warning bells in her mind. She shook herself back to the present, and told herself, she would just have one drink, polite conversation, then say goodbye to Mr Fenton, as she would with any other restaurant guest at the end of an evening. She had chosen her path in life and was going to stick to it.
Sean Fenton was a patient man. He knew what he wanted, and he always got it. So far he was pleased with the way his latest business proposal was shaping up, and this stunning waitress, Laura was going to be the perfect pleasurable aside to this particular business trip. This Spanish beauty was dark and exotic, her green cat-like eyes, glinting like emeralds when she smiled. She was tall and clearly athletic, the muscle definition clear but not stark on her arms, and her long, shapely legs were well toned and tanned to perfection by the Spanish sun. Watching her throughout his evening at the restaurant had been most pleasurable, although for some reason he couldn’t quite fathom, this woman was a little more distracting than those he usually chose. He felt an intense attraction between himself and Laura and was looking forward to spending time with her during his week of business of here. Perhaps he could persuade her to show him some of the local sights, but then again, he thought hungrily, as he watched her gently swaying hips as she walked towards him, maybe their time would be better spent in his hotel room.
Laura placed two iced Mojacars down on the table and sat opposite Sean, “So, Senor Fenton, what brings you to this part of the World?” Laura asked in Spanish. She knew that English would have been the obvious language to speak, since it was both their mother tongues, but was happy to play the pretty Spanish waitress for now.
“I see your boss has already introduced me, but please call me Sean” he said, one eyebrow lifting in amusement, the formality of her address in stark contrast to her relaxed and sexually charged aura. Knowing she had spoken with Pedro, he wondered how much the old man had told her about his motives, but decided to assume nothing and enjoy the verbal jousting for now. “I’m here on business, but I always allow time for pleasure too” the invitation was obvious in his choice of words, but he backed it up with a look into her eyes so piercing and full of desire that Laura couldn’t prevent her tongue from moistening her lips in anticipation of his kiss.
“What kind of business is it you’re in, Sean? Some kind of art?” she motioned at his sketch book, which now lay closed on the table beside his drink. Several times during the evening she had tried to surrepticiouly walk behind him to see what it was he was drawing. She had been unsuccessful and her curiosity was eating away at her. His eyes darted around the restaurant and out to the beach as he drew, not resting on one thing in particular, that is except for Laura.
“No, I’m not an artist, I just use my sketch book like some people would a notepad. I find it easier to draw my ideas than put them into words.” He lightly dodged her question about his work, and as a further distraction leafed through his sketch book looking for a particular page which he now turned around to show Laura.
Laura looked down at the page and was shocked to see her own self staring back at her. It was an amazing likeness of her, flattering even, as she noticed how full he had drawn her lips. It gave her a thrill of pleasure to realise that he had paid her enough attention that evening to draw her in such detail. He had even drawn the small scar that cut high across her cheekbone. She lifted her hand to the scar and brushed it lightly, unaware that she was doing so, it had become a habit for her, when she was reminded of the accident.
“How did you get that?” Sean asked curiously. He had noticed immediately the small mark on her otherwise perfect face, the scar only adding to her exotic mystique.
He saw a fleeting wave of pain pass across her emerald eyes before she gave an emotionless reply, “It was cut with a piece of glass. Now why are you avoiding telling me what your line of business is?” she asked, expertly deflecting the line of questioning away from her past, as she always did.
Sean paused, staring searchingly into her face. It was clear she was hiding something there, something to do with that scar on her face, but it was equally obvious she did not want to talk about it. He was surprised to feel protective of her. Someone or something had clearly caused her a lot of pain, and he wanted to offer comfort. He shook his head and told himself not to get involved; she was just another pretty girl.
“I’m in property” he said vaguely, not particularly wanting to get into the details tonight. He would rather enjoy the pleasure of her company, and her sexy body, before she found out he was going to buy out the old man’s restaurant. He would of course offer to keep her on as a waitress, but the staff mostly decided to leave the places he took over, amply compensated financially of course. He wondered if Laura would decide to stay or leave. Take the money of course, he told himself. Who wouldn’t? He was more than generous, and could afford to be with the profits he made.
Why was he avoiding the question? Laura mused while she sipped her mojacar, a refreshing drink filled with crushed ice and mint, with a twist of lime to mask the harshness of the rum. She had discovered it on her first trip to Spain as an exchange student five years earlier. Laura remembered how excited she had been then, at experiencing new things and places, and full of the promise and dreams of what the future might hold. She eyed Sean across the table, he was reawakening that same excitement in her, and she ached to let herself succumb to the possibility of dreaming again. Maybe she could. He obviously had his reasons for not telling her about his business. She had her secrets too. Perhaps she could let herself go, just this once. After all, he was only here temporarily, she could dream for a while, then return to her safe life at the end of it all when he left. No strings attached.
Sean reached out his hand and touched Laura’s sending shock waves through her body, “Let’s get out of here“ he said.
Laura was shocked to feel the word yes rise up in her throat. Again it was like someone else was possessing her and she had no control over what she did or said. It was with a supreme effort that she managed a quiet, “No thank-you”. This man was just like any other she had encountered. They saw her as a pretty girl, no more. She sighed, knowing that that was exactly the impression she had chosen to give of herself. She returned her focus to the present, reminding herself of the life she had built here in Spain, the security it afforded her. This man made her feel dangerously out of control, but alive with anticipation. A few years earlier she would have relished this feeling and the promise of adventure it held. But now she reigned in those emotions and wrapped herself in the security of her simple life. “Thank you for the drink, I hope you enjoyed your meal. Goodnight Senor Fenton”. Laura dismissed Sean with her words, picked up their empty glasses and turned to walk back towards the bar.
“Hey, wait up, what did I say?” Sean was slightly bemused by Laura’s sudden cold shoulder. He thought the attraction was mutual; she certainly had been flirting back with him. Maybe he had pushed too soon. She was, after all a small-town girl, probably nervous. Maybe he needed to get to know her a little first, make her comfortable with him. “Laura, wait.” He stood and took two steps after her, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to rush things. I like you, and I’d like to spend some time with you. Are you free tomorrow morning, perhaps you could show me a little of the town?” He flashed his most winning smile.
Laura turned to face him. Damn him, why couldn’t he just go. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could stop this voice inside her from screaming out Yes! Yes! to Sean Fenton. She had to nip this in the bud now before she lost her control completely. “I’m sorry Mr Fenton, I’m very busy tomorrow, perhaps if you asked at your hotel they could recommend a guide for you. Goodnight again.” Laura walked away now, past the bar where she dropped off the empty glasses, and through into the kitchen, where she shut the door behind her and took a deep breath. How could one man make her feel like this?? She was shaking from head to toe, and her palms were slick with sweat. For the first time in three years, Laura was beginning to question whether or not she had made the right choice in life, choosing security and safety, over the excitement of dreams and the unknown. Tears burned her eyes as the thought took her back to the very last time she had taken her eyes off the present to dream of the future, and the terrible price she had paid. Her legs buckled under her and she held her head in her hands and wept.
Outside, Sean Fenton, raked his hands through this thick black hair, then swore under his breath, grabbed his sketch pad and strode down the wooden steps onto the beach and away towards his hotel. This waitress had really gotten under his skin. He had to have her. Tomorrow, he thought, I’ll come back tomorrow, discuss the business offer further with the old man, and then focus on winning over Laura. Sean Fenton was not a man who gave up on something he wanted. Ever.
The story continues tomorrow..........