Dear, patient S S & S readers,
I beg your forgiveness for dropping off the planet for the past several months. I have found it difficult to locate my muse, or the heart, to be honest, to want to write — especially about romance and passion. But. Slowly but surely I’m coming out of my sad fog enough to want to get back to this story about Audra and David. Here is the next, and I believe next to last, installment in “Interlude”. If you’re up to a refresher, please do go read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 once again. I hope you enjoy!
C. C. Cedras
Audra stood before the vanity mirror brushing her teeth as she readied herself for bed, but she was too keyed up from the night on the town with David to settle and not for the first time since she’d closed the door to her room, she wondered what would have happened if she’d invited him in for a nightcap.
He’d leaned against the wall outside her door, jacket dangling from a long, tanned finger over his shoulder, as she unlocked her door and turned on the interior lights.
“All safe and sound,” she’d said and he smiled at her. One of his real smiles, one that seemed to turn the color of his eyes to warm brandy. “Um…”
He stood slowly and cupped her cheek with his free hand. “Thank you, Audra, for a delightful evening. Monte Carlo is just too lovely to miss an opportunity to spend an evening like this with a beautiful and interesting young woman.” With that, he inclined his head and turned to retrace his steps down the corridor to the lift.
“David!” she called after him. When he turned his head, she added, “Can I interest you in coffee or breakfast in the morning? Nine o’clock?”
He hesitated only a moment, then said, “It would be my pleasure.”
She’d closed her door and immediately smacked her forehead, hissing, “You idiot! You just let him walk away?! How many chances do you think you’ll be given to spend time with a handsome, sophisticated man in one of the most romantic places on the planet and the best you can pull out of your tiny brain is, ‘Um’?!” What if when he’d touched her cheek she’d taken a little initiative and leaned forward for a kiss? Would he have kissed her? And then what? She toed off her sandals and flung them across the room.
She finished her nightly rituals, fluffed her new hair and admired how sexy it looked slightly tousled. Still annoyed with herself she decided she’d have a nightcap anyway and found small bottles of a good single malt scotch in her minibar. She tossed a robe on over the silky little nighty she’d bought in town that day and grabbed the ice bucket. She might be spending the night alone, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t treat herself like she deserved a little romance in her life.
When she opened the door, David Gray stood there with one hand raised, ready to knock.
“Hi!” They spoke simultaneously.
Audra gathered her wits and said, “I was just going to have a drink…” she raised the empty ice bucket.
“Might I join you, do you think?” David gave her a wry smile and pulled a couple of bottles of whiskey from his pocket. “I’ll fetch you some ice, but I prefer mine neat. If you have an extra glass.”
“Of course. And thanks,” she handed him the bucket and watched him walk away. He’d left his jacket in his room and his shirtsleeves were rolled up to his elbows as usual. The fit of his trousers revealed those firm, high buttocks and she couldn’t help an appreciative sigh. She firmly tied the belt of her robe and left the door on the latch while she retreated back to the little bar and set up glasses and liquor. She decided to throw her natural pragmatism out the window and opened a jar of 30€ macadamia nuts.
Drinks in hand, they decided to sit at the little café table on the terrace beyond Audra’s French doors. Even under the night sky, the view was magical – yacht lights twinkling on the water, that evanescent moonlight shimmering across the sea and the night sounds of waves lapping against the seawall.
“I can barely believe this is real,” Audra murmured, looking out into the velvety darkness. She was so entranced by the setting that she didn’t even jump when she felt the strong fingers close over her hand.
“I believe I know how you feel,” David replied. He stroked the soft skin of her inner arm with his fingertips, marveling at how small and fragile her wrist seemed, at how his fingers overlapped when he spanned her arm. He pulled her arm closer and leaned down to place a chaste kiss on her knuckles. Enjoying the intensity of her gaze, he slowly turned her hand and placed a less chaste kiss in the center of her palm.
“You know,” she said, “there were times tonight when I didn’t think you were particularly happy to have me around, but now…I don’t know. Maybe I’m a little confused. I don’t want to misunderstand.”
He continued to hold and stroke her hand as he considered his words, “You’re too perceptive by half, but it wasn’t that I didn’t want to have you around. Perhaps it’s closer to the truth that I find my reaction to you stronger than it should be and that’s not something I have the luxury to indulge in. Or the right to.”
“What is it, David? I’m only here for a couple of days – I’m not asking for anything. I just enjoy your company. And, my reactions, my attraction to you is pretty strong, too. I can’t seem to help it. Is it wrong to explore that attraction with a wickedly smart, handsome Englishman before going back to my boring Yank existence.” She ventured a smile and hoped it didn’t wobble too much. She’d never made a move so assertive in her life.
“Is it wrong?” He dropped his gaze to the graceful fingers he was toying with. “I’m sure that it is, but I can’t make myself care.” Without letting go her hand, he took a healthy swallow of his whiskey, put down the glass with a decisive gesture and stood up, pulling her up with him. Tugging her to him with the ends of the cloth belt holding her robe closed, he leaned down to murmur into her ear, “This is just an interlude, Audra, it can’t be anything more. Can you abide by that? If not, that’s totally fine. Just say the words and I’ll leave you now.”
Like iron filings to a magnet, her lips turned to his and gently pressed them with her promise. “I can abide by that, David. Please stay.”
During the night, they turned to each other. Sometimes taking, sometimes being taken – occasionally gentle, more often with a sense of desperation. When the first tender light of dawn filtered through the sheer curtains, Audra turned and reached out for David, finding cool sheets. She smiled and stretched luxuriously, her hand touched a folded note on the pillow where he’d lain.
Instead of turning on a light, she crossed to the French doors and, naked as a newborn, walked out onto the terrace to read his words by the pearly pink light.
The night. Ah, the night.
More than I ever expected and still not nearly enough. I believe you said something about breakfast…