I know you’re scared that I’ll soon be over it,
that’s part of it all,
part of the beauty of falling in love with you,
is the fear you wont fall
it hasnt felt like this before it hasnt felt like home…before you
-The Fear You Won’t Fall – Joshua Radin
Looking around the room I feel relief at seeing Elliot’s clothes strewn around. My moment of anxiety that he has been as good as his word about leaving passes and I rise quickly to see if he is still in the bathroom. No sign but I can hear the sounds of someone swimming in the pool below our balcony. I walk outside and peer over to see my dad doing laps. Back inside my room I put on my bikini and sarong, grab a towel and head downstairs. Nobody seems to be around in the villa except a housekeeper who is tidying up the breakfast buffet.
“Would you like some breakfast mam?” Her molasses accent, rich and thick momentarily stops me. Shaking my head, I pour a glass of juice from the jug on the table.
“No, thank you, this is fine.” Her frown is a reprimand I ignore with a smile moving out to the pool.
“Hi Daddy.” I call out as Dad surfaces in the water. “Where is everyone?”
Wiping his face, he treads water. “Your mother has gone shopping. Ethan and Elliot went down to the beach to check out the paragliding. They haven’t been gone long, you could probably catch up to them.”
I shake my head. “No, I am happy to hang here with you.” Dropping my towel and sarong I quickly dive into the pool and start swimming to mask the relief that whatever Elliot is doing is normal tourist behavior. The water feels cool and refreshing and I am reminded of how much swimming I don’t do any more. At one stage of my life I was one of those people who would be in the water by 5am and train for four hours. Then I would spend more hours in the gym performing endless tumbles and flips in between school work. Since trying to keep up with Elliot and his sexual prowess I am a little dismayed at how much my fitness and flexibility has dropped in recent years. I really should do something about that.
After a dozen laps I stop and join Dad in the loungers by the side of the pool. For a man in his late forties he is still trim and fit with European playboy looks. He reclines on the lounger with his Ray Bans on soaking up the sun.
“You need some sunshine Katie. You look far too pale.” He peers over his glasses at me.
Once more I am reminded that my father is the only other person besides Elliot who calls me Katie.
“All that study and working at the newspaper will do that.” I smile back at him, rubbing some suntan lotion on my skin. “Daddy, thanks for not making a fuss about Elliot coming along. It really means a lot to us both.”
“I don’t think I had much choice. Just make sure that he is worthy of you Katie.”
Worthy, I am not going to marry the guy? “I am pretty confident that he is.”
“Look, Katie, I like him don’t get me wrong. But we have discussed this, he comes with a lot of baggage and a history. I just hope that you don’t get hurt.” The serious tone of his voice is grating on my last nerve. I know this better than anyone and I am trying to protect myself. Why doesn’t everybody get this?
“You really don’t trust him, do you? Has our friendly stalker sent you any more information? Something that might constitute solid evidence. Because if you don’t have any then I think we should be giving Elliot the benefit of the doubt, don’t you?” I hope he is still speculating. I also wonder why I am so quick to defend Elliot when I keep pushing him away. My emotions are bubbling at the surface, threatening to break free.
“You know there are some skeletons in his closet. If you want to know more you really should ask him.”
“If you’re talking about Gia Matteo, I already know about her.” Not much but it is something.
“Mmm…Gia Matteo might be a gold digger but she is hardly a secret or a scandal.”
A cold shudder passes through my body. I still don’t really know if Elliot shares any of Christian’s inclinations. The link with Sirens and that bitch Elena still isn’t clear in my mind.
“You know Katie, I don’t think that Elliot has as much to hide as his brother. Your mother is pretty convinced that his feelings for you are genuine. You need to decide what it is you want to know and what you are prepared to live with. Otherwise you might have to do the decent thing and let Elliot go.” Are you reading my mind now? I glance over at him but he refuses to meet my eyes.
A tear comes unbidden and I quickly brush it away. “Daddy, I…I want to do the smart thing. I don’t want to be a doormat while he continues playing the field.”
“Sweetheart, anyone can see that boy loves you. And you are already too smart to be anyone’s doormat. He knows that.”
“Yeah, well even the best women in the world can become doormats.” I cannot keep the bitterness from my voice. Dad pushes up his sunglasses, sits up and grabs my hand, all but forcing me to look at him.
“I hope that you are not talking about your mother.”
“Daddy, I’m sorry… it’s just…” How do I say this without reopening old wounds?
“Katie, your mother is the most beautiful and gracious woman in the world. She didn’t have to take me back, she didn’t have to forgive me but she did and I will always be grateful to her for that. I adore her, even in those dark days I loved her. You have her in you, her class, her spirit, her beauty and intelligence. More importantly you and Elliot are of a different time, you are different people. History doesn’t always repeat itself.”
“Daddy, what if it does? What if I give him my heart and he breaks it?” Tears of desperation and frustration well in my eyes but I refuse to cry any more.
“Haven’t you already given it to him?” His hand strokes my hair and I lean into his shoulder seeking comfort and assurance. He is right, I already love Elliot with all of my heart and no matter what happens I will get hurt. It doesn’t matter any more.
“Resistance is futile.” I mutter into his shoulder with a sad giggle.
“Pretty much, baby girl. Talk to him. He has stuff he needs to tell someone. It might as well be you. Then you can decide what your future holds. Together.”
Just then I hear voices walking up the path towards the house and within moments Elliot and Ethan emerge from the bush path that leads to the beach.
“Hey, Dad, Kate. Bout time you got up.” Ethan grins and strips off his t-shirt before diving into the pool and splashing us.
“Ethan, shit!” I shriek as the water hits me. Elliot laughs and moves to sit on the end of my lounge chair. He leans over to give me a quick peck all traces of last night’s mood gone.
“Hi gorgeous. Have a good sleep?” He brushes my face with the back of his hand and stares into my eyes.
“Great, thank you. Where were you? I missed you.” My arms thread around his thick neck.
“We went down to check out the beach. It’s beautiful if a little crowded. Perhaps we can head back down there after lunch.”
“Mmm, I’d like that.” I look over at my father who is trying desperately ignore us. I can’t decide if that bland expression is really a smile or a frown.
After our swim we go up to our room to shower but decide instead to take an outdoor bath. Lying against his muscular chest is reassuring, his arms firmly around me as he tells me about the para-gliders. We are very studiously making small talk, avoiding the big issues for now and enjoying the peace of being alone together. After a while we move back into the air conditioned bedroom and lay on the bed, resting from the midday heat.
“Have you heard from Ana?” Shit, with everything that has been happening here I haven’t thought much about Ana except to wish that she was here to talk to.
“No, I got a text yesterday to say that she had arrived in Georgia safely but since then nothing. Why?” His fingers are laced with mine as we resume our pose from past night, facing each other on the bed. Too hot to cuddle.
“Jason sent me a text this morning. Christian is on his way to Georgia. I gather he will be there later today. I just wondered if you knew what was going on.”
“Wow, do you think I should call her?”
“If I know Christian, then Ana doesn’t know he is coming. I am not sure we should ruin the surprise.”
“He takes stalker to a whole new level, doesn’t he?” A thunderous look passes over Elliot’s face and he is up off the bed and pacing.
“Jesus, Kate, did even occur to you for one tiny minute that the guy might be in love with her? Does that not even register on your list of possibilities for men? Are we all going to get tainted with your image of your father?”
“How dare you? What the hell do you know about my father?”
He storms into the bathroom and slams the door. Fuck, are we ever going to get through more than half a conversation without tearing each others eyes out. And how the hell does he know about my dad.
I lie back on the bed and slam my arms down repeatedly throwing myself bodily into the mattress with frustration. I get up and walk to the bathroom door.
“Elliot Grey get your ass out here now and stop being so goddam childish.” I bang my fist on the door to get his attention. “This is no way to conduct an argument. If you want to throw this family history crap at me then you better man up and get out here face to face or I swear I will break this door down.”
The door swings open as I go to pound my fist on it again and he grabs my hand pulling me into his body. His lips crash over mine and his tongue is like a tidal wave sweeping through my mouth. Our hands are everywhere and I jump to wrap my legs around his waist which takes him off balance and we fall through the door onto the bathroom floor. He has landed with a real thump on his back and he groans.
“Shit, Elliot, baby, I’m sorry.” I scramble off him and try to check his limbs, his back, his head. I feel his body convulsing with laughter under my touch and he emits another groan.
“Ow, Katie, stop, I’m okay. Just winded. Just…” He stills my movement with his strong arms and I peer into his pained face. “Shit, you really pack a punch Miss K. Fuck. Remind me not to get on the bad side of you when you’re really angry.”
“What do you mean? I was really angry.” I pull back and tuck my knees up to my chest in a sulk.
“I know, I know. And I deserve it. Your Mom told me about your Dad this morning. We were down at the beach and she was…helping me with something.”
“Oh.” I think about this for a while. “I am sorry for calling Christian a stalker.”
“No, you’re right, he has no idea about relationships so he probably comes across like a stalker. He has never acted like this about anyone. That’s how I know he is in love.”
“Is that how you know you are in love?” Did I really ask that?
“Yeah. That’s how I know.” His voice is sad. I offer him a hand and help to pull him up to a sitting position. He leans against the opposite wall to me. We look at each other as he tries to work through getting his body to function properly again. I feel guilty about hurting him. And talking about his brother that way. Mostly I feel guilty for holding out on him.
“I have never fought like this with anyone before.” My voice is no more than a whisper, my eyes on the ground. I wait for this to register. After a long gap of silence he finally speaks.
I shake my head. “No one.” Our eyes lock and I can see that he gets this but I have put him through so much. I guess he has to ask.
“Does this mean…?” Fear, longing, love are all there in his eyes. I want to close mine and shut him out for a moment while I gather my courage but I don’t. Instead I hold that gaze as a way to say that every single word is true.
“You love me?”
“Yes, I love you.” Shock turns into the biggest, sexiest, most genuine Elliot Grey grin.
“She loves me.” He shakes his head and runs his fingers through his tousled wet hair.
I move forward on my knees and straddle his lap. Taking his arms and placing them around my waist, I run my hands through his hair and hold his face.
“Elliot. I. Love. You.” My softest most sincere kisses land on his eyes, his nose, his mouth between each word just so that I know he understands me.
His eyes shine with love and happiness but then a cheeky look washes over him.
“So how do I know I can trust you. I mean last night you said…”
“Elliot!” I lean back and punch him in the ribs playfully but he is still sore and he doubles over in pain again. “Baby I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you, I promise, I love you.” I am feathering kisses all over his face and his chest and it takes a only a moment for playful to become passionate.
“Katie, I need to seal this. I need to be inside you so bad.”
Quickly I am on my feet and dragging him up. I race through to the bed stripping off as I go and he is right behind me. Our lovemaking is slow and tender and throughout we continue to look each other and declare our love and we know that right now we have never been more honest with another person in our lives.