I listen to a song by one of my favorite rock bands, Linkin Park, on my earphones as I jog around the park, which is near my neighborhood. The earphones are connected to an iPod that’s inside my sweater pocket. My sweater is paired with jogging pants of the same color. Gray.
Seattle, Washington, is a new place for me but I already feel at home after a month since I moved in. I’ve inherited this new home from my spinster Aunt Marie, who left it in my name before she died three months ago.
It’s a peaceful environment. Maybe it is because of the usually huge houses around, which are owned by rich and powerful people.
I’ve managed to find a job at downtown area as a veterinary assistant before I informed my mom that I’d move to Seattle, after learning that I inherited the house. My mom has been worried about me since our home is originally in Ohio, so far away from Washington. However, I’ve managed to console her I’d keep in touch every week and in between, if she wants to. Somehow, that has eased her mind. After all, she’s Aunt Marie’s sister and I’m sure she knew that my aunt only wanted to give me a decent home, as my mother has a second family since my father died when I was young. I have always felt like an outcast there while growing up and having two half-sisters and a stepfather. Although I have never been maltreated or abused by him, I just feel that he is cold toward me.
I jog back to my house upon checking my wristwatch. It’s almost time for me to get ready for my duty at the clinic. I have to be there before ten.
As I turn into a shrubby corner, I actually don’t see the golden retriever that’s getting away from his master. Fast. But I am not as fast as the dog with great balance and agility as I try to avoid him. He manages to get away from me in time, before he hits me by the leg and dashes forward without stopping. His leash is dragged behind him as he runs away.
I whirl around and catch my foot with the other. I barely notice the man – the master of the dog – who is quick enough to catch me as I feel myself falling toward the ground, facedown.
“Whoa! Watch it!” he warns. His arms quickly catch me by the stomach, which breaks my fall.
If not, my pert nose would have been broken flat. What an ugly thought that is! I pant, my heart pounding so fast. I can feel the strong hold of his hands on my tummy. One of them touches the underside of my right breast – accidentally – as he tries to balance us. I feel the heat run through my cheeks.
Does he feel my breast underneath my sweater and bra? I sure do feel his strong and warm hand. It slightly caresses the underside of my breast as he helps me stand straight.
“T-thank you,” I stammer, trying not to look at him.
“You’re welcome,” he says.
I just notice that he has this kind of baritone voice, which is nice to listen to.
I then look up to see my savior’s face. He is quite tall. A good foot taller than me, that is. He has short, dark brown hair, not-so-wide forehead, green eyes like the moss, thick and well-shaped eyebrows, long, straight and slightly flaring nose, well-shaped mouth with the lower lip fuller than the upper one and slightly squared jaw. He looks in his early thirties. He might look average to other people but to me he looks gorgeous. Plus, his body is well-proportioned even though he is dressed just like me that autumn day.
Suddenly, I imagine how it would feel to be kissed by those lips. They seem exciting and inviting and sexy.
His eyes also give me a once-over. I try not to be so conscious of my sweaty face and forehead, strands of light brown hair that escape from my ponytail and without makeup. And who knows if I smell like a cow right now?
I look away first, embarrassed. I run away from him before he could say anything more. Besides, it is better that I left first than he did. It will somehow be a blow to my female ego. Also, I should not forget that he has a golden retriever to chase down the street.
I take a deep breath upon shutting the door as I step inside the house. I walk toward the refrigerator in the kitchen and take out a bottle of water. I drink it all without pausing, refusing to imprint his face in my brain.
I take a shower before I eat a sandwich and down it with fresh orange juice. I brush my teeth quickly before I change and apply some light makeup and lipstick. I also wear perfume before I pull out my bag in the cabinet.
This is my usual routine before going to work.
After less than an hour, I arrive at the clinic. I greet my black, plump boss who’s the veterinarian and owner of the clinic, Dr. Perry Goldman. The clinic provides care for cats and dogs. I’ve learned that it has been there since his father. Therefore, Perry is well known around here.
We are busy as hours go by. A cat with a broken leg is patched up; a wounded dog hit by a car has undergone surgery and some others. Although quite tired, I enjoy my job here very much. I have much to learn from Perry who is very kind to teach me just about anything.
Next year, I am going to resume my studies to become just like Perry. I’ll be on my second year. I know I’m still halfway to my dream but I just know that I’ll get there someday.
When I get home, I am just surprised to see that somebody is already waiting for me at the kitchen with dinner served on the table. A short Asian woman in her late thirties dressed as a maid is smiling at me.
“Good evening, Miss Cara. Sorry for the intrusion. If you’re ready to have dinner, I’ll heat up the soup if you’d like,” she says.
I look around. It seems my place is cleaner than when I left it this morning.
“I’m sorry. Who are you?”
“I’m Nora. Master Ethan – that’s Mr. Jones, the billionaire who lives next door, the huge house if you may have noticed – sent me together with my colleagues to clean the house, do the laundry and cook for you from now on.” She says while her hands wave in the air.
I gauge her. She doesn’t seem like a threat or a con.
“Oh, that’s so sweet of him. But I should refuse.”
She smiled amicably. “Oh, that’s not for you or me to say, Miss Cara. You see, I’ll lose my job if I don’t do as he asks.”
“Oh!” I feel disappointed for her. I blink and look at the food she starts to uncover.
They totally look and smell delicious!
“Well, if that’s the case… then you can do all these things for me every weekend. I’d appreciate it very much. And… you can tell your employer thank you.” I sit down at the head of the table and she starts to fuss around to serve me.
“Wait. How did you get in here, by the way?”
Nora just smiles. Later on, I come to learn that my Aunt Marie used to keep a key under the third pot near the porch.
Well, this helping me thingy continues for another three months. To experience this in my twenty-four years on Earth, it’s really awesome! So, from then on, I never ask questions why he is doing this for me. I can just laze around especially in the weekend.
That is, if I don’t go out with my co-workers at the clinic. Sometimes, I go out to have dinner with Andrew, who obviously likes me. And I like him, too. He is a good friend as well. We have kissed once when we went out to watch a movie. He is so fun to be with. But somehow, I just don’t know why I don’t see us together.
Perry also asks us to visit his home as his wife Dinka – a beautiful ebony woman – likes to entertain guests. By this, I get to have new friends in such a short time since I arrived here in Seattle. It’s been great so far.
On the other hand, I never get to see who this billionaire Ethan is, who’s a very sweet and helpful neighbor of mine. I always hear Nora say that he’s very busy at work, which demands going out of town or country most of the time. Although I have heard from Nora and her co-workers that Ethan is based in Seattle, he always goes to some mysterious meetings in Panama. Their words though, not mine. Somehow, sometimes, I wonder why. Could it be some kind of illegal business he’s handling there or is it just some kind of household rumor or something? But I give him the benefit of the doubt, as I think of him as a good man.
He owns a huge company called Western Corp., which is a conglomerate in itself. It ranges from real estate businesses to home products.
Until now, I sometimes think of the day when that guy with his golden retriever is going to show up. I just find myself thinking of him from time to time – with a crazy smile on my lips. Maybe he is the reason why I don’t wish to date Andrew. But, why?
Damn it! I don’t even know his name. I never even have the chance to ask him or the courage to ask him, that is. I sometimes regret why I just ran away that day and didn’t ask him for his number, if not his name.
I sigh. I ponder if he lives around here or he just happened to visit that day, thus our accidental meeting. How I so wish to know the answer.
“What’s this?” I query, as Nora hands over an envelope to me one weekend.
The dinner table is already set but my attention is on the envelope that I’m opening. My mouth opens in surprise when I see a plane ticket to Belize. With it is a clear and masculine note written on a white paper. I read it with my eyes only.
I know you have a lot of questions that are still unanswered. If you’re going to join me in Belize, I promise that your curiosity will be more than satisfied before you get back home.
I am confused, surprised and curious at the written note. I am intrigued. Or maybe he merely piques my interest on who this mysterious billionaire that I’ve never met even once.
But should I go? How will I know this is not some kind of sick joke he’s playing? How would I know what’s waiting for me in Belize? I am not even sure if Perry will let me take leave indefinitely. I’m just new at his clinic. I don’t want to lose this job before I even get the chance to resume my studies at the university next year. Besides, this job is my only bread and butter at the moment. I can’t really just let it go if something turns out bad in Belize. That is, if I am really going there.
“Are you alright, Miss Cara?” Nora seems to be worried when I haven’t said a word after I read the note from her employer.
I blink before I look at her. “Yes. Sure, Nora. I’m fine.” I give her a forced smile.
My mind is in royal rumble. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if I have to tell my mother about this.
Should I ask perhaps Dinka for an advice regarding this matter?
I look down from the window to see buildings, houses, vehicles and trees that dotted Belize. The water below, which is part of the Caribbean Sea, has different shades of green and blue.
The cotton-like clouds are spread out beautifully in the sky when I step outside the arrival area of Belize airport. A white car is waiting with its chauffer standing beside it, holding a white paper with my name written in bold letters on it. Cara Smith.
I walk toward him purposely.
“Miss Cara?” he asks to confirm. He is a fat brown man with eyeglasses. He looks kind and jolly.
I nod at him with a toothless smile.
“I’m Nicanor, Señor Ethan’s driver. Nice to meet you!”
I shake his fat hand. Then, I adjust my sunglasses, while he quickly takes away my luggage to place it inside the trunk. He opens the backseat door for me before he positions himself in the driver’s seat. He maneuvers the wheel and the car slowly speeds away from the busy airport.
“So, what’s this hotel called? I mean, the place where we’re going to?” I ask as I fish out my cell phone out from my handbag.
He quickly looks over his shoulder with a smile. “It’s called Villa Palmera. It’s owned by Señor Ethan and it is right next to the largest hotel in the area.”
“Oh!” I am surprised by this revelation. “I see.” It hasn’t even occurred to me that I’m going to stay in his property in Belize. I have just presumed I’ll be housed in a hotel or a resort.
I am not too sure what to feel right now. I feel excited and afraid. I don’t personally know the man but here I am. Just because of a note and a plane ticket, I am thousands of miles away from home. Besides, this is the first time that I am traveling out of the country. This is an adventure in itself.
I send a text to my mom, telling her the address of the place where I’m going to stay in a week. Perhaps. I don’t know until when. I plan to tell Ethan that I’ll only stay for a week at most. Then, I have to go back to work. I’ve promised Perry it’ll not take long. I know how busy he is at the clinic from time to time. Besides, I might just miss some important cases, which I can possibly learn from.
When the car halts inside a compound, I look around. Short and tall non-fruit-bearing palm trees, coconut trees, bougainvilleas, roses and other flowers are well tended. The lawn is well manicured. The pathway is made up of colored stones and cement, which leads up to the front porch of the huge villa that is made up of bamboo, wood and concrete.
Nicanor takes my luggage as he leads the way toward the interior of the villa. I take off my sunglasses and stare at the familiar man who has his back on me as he talks with the driver.
That voice is so familiar that my heart jumps to my throat. Is this some kind of a dream?
He slowly turns toward me and gives me a warm smile of welcome. He steps toward me as I just stand there, frozen. Like a damn idiot!
“Good to see you again, Cara,” he says with familiarity.
I swallow to wet my suddenly dry throat.
He gives a welcoming embrace, which I never expected. His scent overwhelms me. It makes all the cells in my body respond to his nearness and his being a male species. My heart just seems to be taken away right there and then. Again. It is just like the first time we met, that fateful day with his golden retriever.
He holds my shoulders as he looks at me. “You don’t seem to be thrilled to see me. I’m quite disappointed.” He tries to ease my discomfort. And perhaps my, well, shock.
He gives me a tour before he shows me to my room where I’m going to stay. The villa has two stories. The ground floor holds merely the kitchen, a bathroom, a dining room, a living room and an entertainment room. The second story has guest rooms. Maybe ten of them. Plus, each has a bathroom, built-in cabinet, a decent living area and huge bed. There is also a big balcony where the gorgeous beach can be seen from up there. Also, from there, the neighboring hotel looks so huge and beautiful, and the villa’s own beach-facing swimming pool looks inviting.
“You like this room? You can see the beach from the window,” he states.
I smile at him as I nod. “Yes! Thank you!” But my expression changes when I turn to look at him again. “But I am not sure why I am really here.”
He smiles with a hint of mystery. But it looks sexy and charming to me. “You’re so direct to the point. But, we can discuss that later. Perhaps over dinner in some evening, that is. Dinner is every seven, by the way. My staff members do their job like clockwork.”
I glance at the wall clock in my room. I exactly have three hours and ten minutes until dinner.
“Why don’t I walk you to the beach before dinner time? That is, if you don’t mind. In the meantime, I’ll let you rest. I’m sure you’re tired from your nine-hour flight.”
Aww. He’s not only gorgeous and sweet but thoughtful as well.
I totally enjoy my time being with Ethan. Only a few days with him as he shows me around, snorkeling, diving, swimming, hiking, talking and dining, everything is so perfect! Still, he hasn’t told me the reason I’m here.
One night, he decides to bring our dinner outside, at the balcony, where we can freely see the Moon. It feels heaven. I am with a perfect gentleman, perfect dinner and perfect ambience.
Oh, God! Why does it feel like I want to just stay here forever in this paradise where I can be with him?
I am busy looking up at the Moon, entranced by its beauty when he comes up beside me.
“It’s so beautiful!” I exclaim with a smile pasted on my lips.
“You’re more beautiful,” he whispers.
I turn my head to look at him. My smile starts to fade away. His head blots the light coming from the Moon as his lips come nearer to descend and land on mine.
I gasp at the butterfly kiss he gives me. It’s unlike what Andrew and I shared weeks ago.
Ethan’s green eyes look so dark at this moment. I close my eyes as he claims my lips once again. This time, it is more coaxing, demanding, hot and wild. I don’t know how but I keep the pace.
I feel like my world is spinning right this moment. However, it is also like the time stands still. I am only aware of Ethan’s lips, his hands groping my body and his body hard against mine.
Suddenly, I feel like I’m floating as he carries me toward my bedroom. He closes it with his foot and settles me in the bed. We both waste no time but undress each other.
It is like the drought in my body wants to be quenched. So badly.
I moan as I feel his hand cup my womanhood. Then his fingers work there like I’d never known before, making my body arch and wriggle. His lips and tongue make me feel like a quivering leaf in the wind and rain.
Ethan’s knee gently nudges my legs wider apart and he settles in between them. He looks into my eyes as moonlight bathes the room.
“I’ll take care of you, Cara,” he murmurs.
Oh, my! He obviously knows that I’m still a virgin.
I slowly nod my head as I drink the sight of his naked body. His hot and long rod looks so proud, massive and mighty. He slowly takes my hand to guide it to tough him more intimately. He gasps and grunts softly as I move my hand to stroke him. My mind is in great wonder how magnificent a man could be.
He dips his head to kiss my lips again. Then with the same hand that touches him, he guides it to his chest where I caress him adoringly. My other hand joins there, enjoying the sinewy chest that is matted with curly dark brown hair.
I whimper when I feel the tip of his rod run up and down my womanhood. It teases the clit and spreads the labia. For a few seconds, I feel more excitement building up my body from within. Then I feel his hot rod slowly bury deep inside me.
My scream is muffled by his kiss. Hot and wild. Wet and deep.
He begins to pump slowly, carefully, until my body adjusts to his. With this, the pain simply goes away and the pleasure takes over.
His hands roam up and down my body as he continues to increase the pace of his thrusts. I cry with pleasure until I feel my body is going to burst into flames.
Then, it happens. My body shakes in the aftermath and I hear his sexy grunt in the end, as well.
We both sigh as he limply lies down beside me, cradling my head in the crook of his arm. He kisses my forehead and I close my eyes with a smile on my lips.
Could this be the reason why he invites me to have a vacation here in Belize? I really want to think this way. But somehow, in the back of my mind, it is not the sole or the main reason. There is something else.
As I come down the stairs the next day, I hear an oddly familiar voice talking to Ethan.
“D-Dad?” I immediately recognize my father. Although it has been many years ago since I last saw him, I still very much remember him from the pictures that my mom showed me.
How can this be happening right now? I must be dreaming!
I want to wake up from this unpleasant dream. He is talking with Ethan, who seems to look so different right now. It seems that he has a blank expression while he looks at me.
I see them at the living area with some men guarding by the door. Now, the two of them look at me.
“I-I don’t understand,” I continue to say. “What’s the meaning of this, Ethan?” I turn to ask him.
“Cara, let me explain,” my father tells me with a firm tone.
Ethan takes a step closer to me. “Yes, listen to him first. And then, I’ll tell you my reason later.”
I shake my head. “How could you make me a fool? Somehow, I trusted you that’s why I’m here, Ethan! But I’m an idiot!”
I turn away but my father holds my hand. So, he’s real all right.
I can feel him. He’s not dead! He hasn’t been! But how could my parents lie to me?
He signals the guards to get away. He hasn’t opened his mouth until they’re out of earshot.
“I am risking my life to come here. For you, Cara. So, please listen to what I have to say,” my father says, with his eyes imploring me.
“Huh! Isn’t it ironic? You’re supposed to be dead years ago!” I point out. “You left me as it turns out, letting me believe that you were dead! How could you do that to your only daughter?”
“Your mother and I couldn’t tell you the truth. You won’t understand, Cara. You were so young. I got mixed up with this mafia and I couldn’t risk yours or your mother’s life. I faked my death. Your mother knew about it. She had no choice. I went to Panama to hide with the help of a trusted friend. Ethan’s father.”
I look at Ethan with my jaw dropped open. He looks at me, nodding, to confirm my father’s story.
“Is that why you always go to Panama, having some kind of secret meetings?” I ask Ethan.
“Yes. From time to time, I visit John to talk to him and give him updates about you, your life, your job, everything. I couldn’t risk talking to him on the phone. Instead, in the pretext of real estate business deals in Panama, I let the mafia believe that my family has got nothing to do with you, your family and especially with your father. But they don’t seem to believe that your father was really dead.”
“So why are we in Belize?” I ask.
“I have a legit business here to take care of as well, which is in reality yours. After all these years, your father’s money is merged with my late father’s to create legal businesses around the US continent.”
“You mean the Western Corp.?”
“Yes. The two of us are the real corporate owners. With it, we’ll take down the mafia so that your father can live again like a normal person.”
I blink, trying to process all this information I just learned. “But it’s blood money! I want nothing to do with it!”
Ethan and John look at each other.
“And why do they want my father dead?”
“He simply rats out everyone and their deals. Everything,” Ethan explains. “But it turns out that he rats on the wrong cop who’s in the payroll of the mafia boss, he didn’t realize at the time even after all holding some evidence of the mafia payroll. And about the blood money… although we used it as a capital, we gave it away to some charities when it became a return of investment. Technically, we got rid of the blood money, Cara.”
I close my eyes for a moment. I don’t know what to believe and what to do anymore. I don’t think I can absorb all these in just a matter of minutes.
I talk to my mother about all the things I learned. She asks for my forgiveness and understanding. No matter how I try to hate my father, I still miss him. My heart just melt away as days pass by after knowing him. But I hate Ethan for keeping all this from me.
“Aren’t you going to talk to me ever?” Ethan corners me one evening, after my father left to go back to Panama.
I give him a sharp look. “I’m going back to Seattle tomorrow.”
His hips grind mine and I can feel his arousal pressing against my abdomen.
Oh, God! How does he know his body affects me like this?
I try not to moan but it still escapes from the back of my throat. Then I see his lips slowly lift up into a smile. He doesn’t waste time but captures my lips with a punishing pressure. My mind just gets lost to his kisses and the way my body craves to get down with him naked…