(If you missed chapter one - click here to read that first!)
Laura woke to her alarm early in the morning, feeling exhausted. Her encounter the previous night with Senor Sean Fenton had thoroughly disturbed her, both physically and emotionally. She had not been able to stop thinking about him all night. Every time she closed her eyes, his face seemed to swim into view, smiling his invitation to her. He had a spark of life about him that she recognised as something she once had herself. As a child growing up, she had always been the one ready to give anything a go.
Her mother encouraged her to try everything, and not to be afraid. Her mother, who had sacrificed so much of her own life and dreams to provide for Laura. Her father had not even stuck around until she was born, being too young to want the responsibility of fatherhood. But her mother had put everything on hold when she found she was pregnant at 18 years of age. Not having any family to support her, she had worked all kinds of jobs and crazy hours in order to bring up her daughter. Laura had never wanted for anything, her mother had loved her enough for two parents, and nothing had been too hard, or too much for her where her beloved daughter was concerned. She had taught Laura to grab life with both hands and reach for the stars. They had spent so much time together weaving their dreams for the future, and Laura had never doubted she could do or go anywhere she wanted to. That was, until the accident. One moment had changed her life forever, and the path she had subsequently chosen had led her to this small Spanish town where she had settled for being just the pretty waitress at the local restaurant. But Sean Fenton had appeared, and for the first time in four years, Laura found herself feeling dissatisfied and wanting more.
She sat up and reached over to stop the alarm that was still beeping, trying to bore into her thoughts and wake her from her dreaming. Laura had been tempted by the dreams all night, but in the end had decided that she just couldn’t bear to open up herself to being hurt again. She needed to forget Sean Fenton, he was gone. After how abrupt she’d been with him last night he wasn’t likely to return to the restaurant again. Well, that suited her just fine.
Laura pulled on her fitted black shorts, red top and laced up the running shoes she had bought herself as an early birthday present. She swept her long hair up into a high pony tail and went out for her regular morning run along the beach. She always found running on the beach helped clear her head, and the morning sun glittering across the ocean reminded her how much she loved this place and what she had here.
The phone next to his bed was ringing, and Sean Fenton fumbled his hand out to pick up the receiver. He hadn’t slept much either. After returning to his hotel the previous night, he had tried to take his mind off Laura by switching on his laptop and trying to work. Nothing seemed to be able to distract him. In the end, in the early hours of the morning, he had finally given up trying, took a long cold shower, and managed to get a little sleep.
“Good Morning Mr Fenton, this is your six o-clock wake-up call” a bright female voice said as he answered the phone.
“Thank you” muttered Sean as he replaced the receiver and swung his legs out of the bed. Awake now, he cursed under his breath when his first waking thought was about Laura. He pulled on his clothes and strode out of his room to exercise his frustrations away. As he passed through reception, the pretty blond standing behind the desk spoke, “Good Morning Senor Fenton.” fluttering her long eyelashes as she smiled at him. He recognised the voice from the telephone wake up call.
“Good Morning, erm, Marie” replied Sean more than a little distracted. He always made a point of using people’s names wherever possible, and to take the time to ask them how they were. In business, people were the most important, and the most uncertain factors, and Sean had found the best way to deal with them, was to make them feel as important as possible, and make it seem like he was genuinely interested in their dull little life stories. But this morning, he was too tense to make time for the pretty blond receptionist, who had been flirting with him since the moment he’d arrived at the hotel. Yesterday he had been much more interested and responsive to her advances, but now another woman was filling his mind. The blond pouted haughtily as he strode out of the hotel doors, barely seeming to notice her.
Laura could feel her mind calming as her feet pounded the firm wet sand rhythmically. She felt her resolve strengthen as eyes roamed across the sand to the start of the small town she had come to love. The people here unaware of her past and had no expectations of her. They accepted her for who she had chosen to be, and she felt safe. She began to relax as she felt her muscles stretch out. Turning her head back to face along the shore, she suddenly felt as if she’d been punched in the stomach, hard.
There ahead, running straight for her, was none other than Sean Fenton. This wasn’t what was meant to happen. Hadn’t he left? She didn’t want to see him again. Her feet faltered and lost their rhythm, then stopped moving completely as he closed the gap between them. Dear God, how was she supposed to resist him now? thought Laura, panic welling up inside her. Sean Fenton was every inch a man. He was wearing only shorts and running shoes. His bare chest and stomach, sculpted like some kind of Greek God. The muscles in his washboard stomach rippling as he ran, rivulets of sweat caressing the outline of his muscles as they trickled down his perfectly bronzed skin.
As the pair reached each other, both came to a halt, eyes locked together as the ocean gently pulsed against the shore at their feet.
“What are you doing still here” Laura demanded.
“I’m sorry, I thought this was as public beach” he retorted, immediately angered that she was still trying to get rid of him. He never usually had a problem getting the women he wanted. On the contrary, they usually came to him. It irked him that this girl seemed immune to his advances, and it made him all the more determined to pursue her. He let his gaze travel down over her perfect body. With his eyes he traced the outline of her breasts, delicately outlined by a moist line of sweat showing on the fiery red running top she was wearing. Down over her flat, toned stomach where he let his gaze linger on the perfect circular dip of her belly button. His gaze then dropped down the seemingly endless length of her shapely legs. A groan escaped his lips with the intense arousal she enflamed in him.
Laura felt as if she was naked under his unashamed appraisal. The caress of his smouldering black eyes felt as real as a physical touch, and left her breathless and speechless.
“How about we run together?” he suggested, “or don’t you think you could keep up?” he added with a wry smile. He could see she was fit, and thought it more than likely she could keep up with him, and then some.
“No thank you, I’m ready to cool down now, you go on, don’t let me interrupt you”. Laura prayed he would just run off out of her sight. She would not let herself be drawn in to him. The thought of what it might awaken in her, had already begun to, terrify her. She was not ready to let those feelings escape, not now, not ever again.
“Well, I think I’ve probably run enough myself, if you don’t mind I’ll just walk with you while we both cool down.”
Laura did mind and very much wanted to say so, but the good manners and politeness her mother had instilled into her could not be ignored, so she merely nodded, and turned to walk back along the beach in the direction she had come. Sean walked alongside, the mere fact that he was close to her, arousing her every sense as she fought to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.
“So, do you run every morning?” asked Laura, telling herself she was just making polite conversation, she didn’t really want to know anything more about this man.
“I try to, it was one of the few things my father and I did together outside of work. He used to say starting the day with a run helped him get his mind ready for the day ahead. I’ve found he was right, it certainly helps me keep a clear head.” At least it usually does, he thought darkly, until today.
“You no longer run with your father then?” Laura asked.
“He and my mother were killed in a plane crash several years ago.” Sean replied emotionlessly.
“Oh, I’m sorry” said Laura, sincerely feeling for him, understanding the pain of losing a parent.
“I was left to run the family company, alone” he said. Not that he’d really ever been anything other than alone before his parent’s death, he thought bitterly. They had always been too busy chasing the next deal to bother spending time with their only child. He’d been brought up by a string of nannies as he was dragged around the world, following the whims of his parents. Running had literally been the only real thing he’d shared with his father, and he kept it up because it made him remember that single thin bond with the man who taught him how to be a shrewd and successful businessman, but failed to teach him to be a normal emotional human being.
“Don’t you have any brothers or sisters? “Laura asked.
“No, I’m an only child, as were both my parents. I am the only Fenton left”. Laura saw a hint of sadness in those dark eyes of his, gone as quickly as she had noticed it. She understood all too well what it felt like to be left all alone in the world, and her heart reached out to him, as Sean Fenton’s pain seemed, in some way, to soothe her own heartache.
“I have no ties, and I like it that way,” Sean stated. And Laura wondered if he was trying to convince himself of his own happiness, just as she often did.
They walked together in silence for a while, each caught up in their own thoughts. Sean felt confused. He had never openly spoken of his parents since their death with anyone. Yet he felt compelled to open up to Laura, whom he didn’t know at all! He was more than just physically attracted to her, he felt like he fitted her. Like she was exactly what had been missing from his life until this moment. But that was ridiculous. He was unbelievably rich, could buy anything he desired; enjoyed his business, and was never lacking in the company of a beautiful woman. In short he already had everything anyone could possibly want.
He did not need an emotional relationship; his failed engagement several years earlier had proved that to him. His fiancée had broken off their engagement saying he treated her like a business deal rather than a future wife. Then there were the women who only wanted him for his money. No, he had managed on his own growing up, and he could manage on his own just fine. Only this woman here, walking next to him on the beach, made him want so much more, and that was an emotion he didn’t know how to deal with.
A shout from further up the beach broke their companionable silence. They both looked up. Sean saw that they were almost at the end of the beach, where the restaurant Laura worked at jutted out over the sand. A young man was standing on the decking waving his arms and shouting, “Laura!”
He felt Laura tense next to him as she returned the wave, “I have to go” she said looking levelly at his face. She hesitated, seemed about to say something more, then turned and jogged the remaining distance to the restaurant. Sean watched as she climbed the steps, walked towards the young man who embraced and kissed her on both cheeks with a familiarity that Sean did not like. He knew he had no right to feel possessive of Laura, but he felt it anyway, wondering who this man was to Laura, and if he was the reason that Laura was refusing his own advances.
Laura made herself smile as she ran lightly up the steps to the restaurant and hugged the man waiting for her there. Fernando was the local baker. He supplied the restaurant with the delectable pastries they sold copious amounts of to both locals and tourists who came for coffee and cakes in late afternoon after waking from their siestas. He was also in love with Laura, and had been since her arrival a year ago. Laura was flattered by the attention he devoted to her. He was a good man, not bad looking, slightly shorter than Laura, with sensibly cut short hair, calm blue eyes and had stability and security to offer Laura. He had been slowly wooing her these past months, and Laura was beginning to weaken and had begun to believe that eventually she would settle with Fernando, whom she didn’t love, nor feel any passion for, but knew she could rely on him to always be there for her, and to Laura, that meant more than the passion and excitement of love, or so she had thought, until yesterday and the arrival of Sean Fenton.
“Who was that you were running with?” asked Fernando. Laura could see the worry in his face. He knew she didn’t love him, but was ever hopeful he could change her mind. Every time another man paid her attention, she saw a little piece of Fernando’s hope die. He would never openly admit he didn’t want her spending time with any other men, he was a timid man, but reliable, Laura reminded herself. There was none of the energy between herself and Fernando that she felt when she saw, no, even just thought about Sean Fenton.
“Just a tourist wanting to know what there was to see in town” she replied. Feeling guilty at the lie, but then again, she didn’t really know who Sean Fenton was, so there really was nothing to tell Fernando. “Come on, I’ll make us a coffee and then I can sample one of your delicious cakes for today!” she smiled her brightest smile and motioned to the nearest table for Fernando to sit, while she busied herself making coffee.
She always enjoyed Fernando’s company, but this morning was different. She felt as if a window had just been opened with the most magnificent view, but she had to remain inside. This was her choice she reminded herself. She had built up the walls around herself, to keep her safe. She sighed, once again beginning to wonder at her choices, and whether or not they had been wise.
Laura picked up the two coffees she had just made, and carried them over to where Fernando was waiting patiently. The dependable, reliable and oh so patient Fernando, with his amazing cakes. He had never pushed her to tell him of her past, although she knew he was curious. Instead he accepted that she preferred to keep that part of her life to herself. She knew he would accept whatever she was willing to give him, and never expect anything of her. This is the life she had chosen, and it was enough. She placed the coffees down at the table, and smiled as Fernando leapt up to gallantly pull out her chair for her to sit down. She knew he loved her, and she supposed that in time she would learn to love him.
The story continues tomorrow.........