He sat back in the chair, arms over the sides, his long legs crossed, watching her as she did her stretches on the deck. He watched her, wanting her and kicking himself for it. His attraction for her was like a fever, burning him up inside and a sickness that seemed to grow worse. At nights it was torture. He would lay awake, thinking about her and wishing that she was lying next to him instead of Moira. When Moira and he made love, he imagined that it was Yasmin and felt like a heel afterwards.
Yasmin noticed Adam sitting there and that he was alone. She wondered where Moira was. The strawberry blonde was constantly by his side. However, today, he was by himself and she could feel him watching her and it thrilled her. He looked sullen as usual but she wasn’t going to let that bother her. She finished her exercises and went over to him. Smiling, she greeted him, “Good morning, Adam.”
She saw his gaze travel over her slim figure clad in a red tank top and black capri leggings. He looked like a preppy dressed in a navy blue jacket with a handkerchief in the pocket, a pink sweater over a blue and white striped shirt and green shorts. It seemed like too many colors to be wearing at once but he managed to pull it over. A pair of expensive looking brown loafers completed the look. His thick, silky dark hair was off his forehead as he had a habit of combing it back with his fingers.
“Good morning,” he replied, his expression guarded.
She sat down. “Where’s Moira?”
“She was here on the deck with me earlier but began experience motion sickness so I took her back to the cabin. I gave her some Gravol and she’s having a lie down. Colette is with her now.”
Yasmin took a couple of sips of her water before she replied. “I hope she feels better. It’s a good thing that we are at sea all day today. It would be a shame for her to miss any of the sightseeing.” She leaned back in the chair. “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it?”
“I suppose it is,” he conceded, somewhat reluctantly. He was trying not to stare but he couldn’t help himself. The face that haunted him, intruded upon his dreams and thoughts was right in front of him. Part of him wished that she would go away and leave him alone and the other part wanted her to stay.
“What do you plan on doing now that Moira is indisposed?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps, I will stay here for a while, then return to the cabin and stay there until it’s time for lunch.”
“Do you mind if I keep your company?” she asked.
He shook his head. The part of him that wanted her to stay was stronger. This was the first time that they were alone together and opportunity for him to learn more about her. “Is this your first cruise?”
She nodded. “Yes, it is. I was so excited when Colette told me about it last year. I’m looking forward to visiting Italy and France.”
“It’s a pity that Le Havre isn’t one of the ports we will stop at when we reach France. You would have been able to see Paris. Do you know why it’s really called the ‘City of Lights’?”
She shook her head. It was so pleasant being with him like this and actually having a conversation, the two things she hadn’t been able to do until now.
“It was referred as the City of Light, not the City of Lights because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment and it was one of the first European cities to light its boulevards and streets with gas lamps.”
“So you’ve been to Paris before. What other places have you been to?”
He told her about the different countries he traveled to and she listened, enthralled. The way he described the various places was so vivid and detailed that she could almost imagine herself being there. She could have sat there and listened to him talk for ages but he turned the conversation over to her by asking questions about her.
Her life sounded so ordinary compared to his and when she learned that he was a barrister, she smiled as she pictured him wearing the white wig. Intrigued, she asked him what it was like to be a barrister. As she listened to him talk about the 12 month training, what it was like shadowing his supervisor and when he was able to practice, her job as an editor for a fashion magazine seemed dull. They talked for a long while and then it was almost time for lunch.
He walked her back to her cabin and while he went to his to see if Moira was up for going to lunch, she went to change and freshen up. Colette was there. Together, they went to Adam’s cabin and found Moira and him waiting. “You’re feeling better, I see,” Yasmin commented.
Moira smiled. “Yes, the Gravol helped. I’m hungry.”
Colette put her arm around her. “Good. You got your appetite back.”
Adam and Yasmin followed them. As they walked beside each other down the corridor, he looked at her the same time she looked at him. Their eyes were locked in a steady gaze for a several minutes and then she looked away. He turned to look straight ahead of him, a muscle throbbing along his jawline and his eyes dark with the emotions that were raging inside him at the moment.
The four of them had lunch together and afterwards, Adam and Moira went back to the cabin while Yasmin and Colette went to the boutique. “They have a suite,” Colette was telling her as they went on the deck where they planned to relax for the rest of the afternoon. “I felt as if I were in a hotel. They have a balcony too.”
Yasmin was thinking about Adam what had transpired between them in the corridor a while ago. The look they had exchanged. It was charged. Is that why he went back to the suite with Moira instead of hanging out with Colette and her? “How long have they been dating?” she asked.
“About three years.”
“Do you think they will get married?”
“I don’t know. Look here’s a nice spot.” Colette went on to talk about other things and then she leaned back and covered her face with her hat.
Yasmin sat there, her mind muddled. The last thing she wanted to do was fall for a guy who was already in a relationship. She resolved then not to be alone with him for the rest of the cruise. That night at dinner, she tried to act nonchalant around him and spent most of her time talking to the two brothers who shared their table. The next day when they stopped in Gibraltar, Colette and she accompanied the two brothers to the summit of the rock and the four of them stood there admiring the spectacular views. She was aware of Adam standing close by and when she came down from the rock and walked past him, she could feel him watching her.
It was hard avoiding him but she felt that it was the sensible thing to do. When they were on the sandy beach of Costa Blanca, he managed to get her alone. The others were walking along the stretch of white sand, taking photos, dipping their feet in the water. As she would have walked past him, he caught her by the arm, forcing her to stop and look up at him. “Why are you avoiding me?” he demanded, his eyes smoldering as they met her gaze.
“Am I?” she asked.
“You know you are,” he hissed. “And I want to know why.”
“Please, let’s join the others before they start to wonder—”
“By others do you mean Tom? You have been spending a lot of time with him lately.”
She turned her head away. If she continued looking at him, her resolve would crumble. “Unlike you, Tom isn’t in a relationship. Now, please let go of my arm. They are looking at us.” She tugged at her arm and he released it. She hurried away, almost running, anxious to get away from him and the feelings he stirred in her.
He watched her go, his heart pounding wildly and his breathing harsh. How he longed to go after her and tell her how seeing her with Tom pained him. Frustrated, he ran his fingers through his hair and closed his eyes as the struggled to compose himself before he joined the group.
That night at dinner and subsequent night after that he sat there, watching her with Tom and wondered how much more he could endure. When they were in Rome, he was distracted by Tom taking photos of Yasmin in front of the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. He hardly noticed his surroundings with their rich history and stunning architecture. Every place they visited was a blur for him. He was actually thankful when it was the final night on the cruise.
The group decided to go to the nightclub that night after dinner. He wasn’t in the mood for dancing and preferred to sit at a table and nurse his virgin daiquiri. The four of them chatted, reminiscing about the different places they had visited. Then, Tom and his brother came over to the table and asked Yasmin and Colette to dance. Yasmin hesitated for a second and then she got up. Adam watched her go. Jealousy tore through him as he watched Tom put his hand on her waist and they moved to the music. His fingers tightened around the glass.
“It’s late,” Moira said. “I think we should turn in now. We have a very early day tomorrow.” She stood up.
Adam finished his drink and stood up as well. After casting one last look at the dance floor, he followed Moira out of the nightclub. Back in their suite, not much was said and when Moira turned in, he went out on the balcony and stayed there for a while, staring at the ocean, wondering if Yasmin was still at the nightclub with Tom. It was late when he finally turned in and even then, he didn’t fall asleep for a while.
At breakfast, Moira and he sat with Yasmin and Colette. Colette did most of the talking while Yasmin toyed with her breakfast, her eyes downcast as she avoided looking at Adam. When they said goodbye to each other, she managed to smile but inside she was hurting. She didn’t feel right hugging Moira so she just squeezed her hand and then walked away. She and Colette were going to spend the day in Southampton before taking the train back to London.
When they were in the car that would take them from Southampton to London, Moira said to him, “I know that you don’t love me, Adam. You care for me but you don’t love me. You never did. I realize that now. I want to be with a man who loves me the way I love him.”
Adam looked at her, his face pale. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.
“I’m sorry too,” she said and looked away. A few moments of silence passed and then she turned to him. “It’s Yasmin, isn’t it? I saw the way you looked at her.”
“Yes,” he admitted. It was no use denying it now. He was hopelessly in love with her.
“It explains the recent cacophony between us. You were acting differently toward me and I couldn’t explain why until last night on the ship. I saw your reaction to Yasmin dancing with Tom. You were jealous. You couldn’t hide it. It was there on your face. What I would have given for you to look that way for me.”
Adam reached out and covered her hands as they lay clasped in her lap. “I’m so very sorry, Moira” he said again. “I never meant to hurt you.”
“I know,” she said. “You have no reason to be jealous of Tom or any man. It’s obvious that Yasmin is in love with you too.”
Adam stared at her. “Thank you,” he said.
“For what?” she asked, not looking at him.
“For being so kind to me when I really don’t deserve it.”
“I still love you,” she said. “And I want you to be happy even if it’s not with me.” After that she said nothing else for the rest of the drive. Her face was turned to the window so that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes. When the car pulled up outside her building, he came out and they hugged. “Goodbye, Adam.”
Adam got back into the car and after he watched her disappear into the building he told the driver to take him to his flat.
Hours later, Yasmin was in her flat. She had just finished taking a shower when the doorbell rang. She hurried to the door and peered through the keyhole, her heart skipping a beat when she saw who it was. She unlocked the door and opened it. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
Adam’s eyes were restless on her face. “I have something I need to say to you.”
“I think I said all I needed to say where we were on that beach.”
“May I come in?”
She stepped aside to let him in and then she closed the door. Leaning against it, she asked, “What do you have to say to me?” She tried not to notice how handsome he looked in the white shirt and dark jeans. His hair was slightly tousled.
“I love you, Yasmin,” he muttered thickly. “I love you and I want to be with you.”
She swallowed, her heart racing now. “What about Moira?” she asked.
“Moira and I are no longer together. She figured out that I am in love with you.”
Yasmin tried to process what she was hearing. “How did she take it?”
“She was heartbroken but bore no grudge toward me. She is a fine woman and I hope that one day she would find a man worthy of her.” He moved closer, his hands aching to touch her. “She told me that I have no reason to be jealous of Tom or any man.”
“She’s right,” Yasmin told him. “I love you, Adam. Tom knew that too.”
He groaned, reaching for her and pulling her into his arms. “You have no idea how seeing you with him has tormented me. That day on the beach, I was almost out of my mind with jealousy because you were spending so much time with him and avoiding me.”
“I had to stay away from you because of your relationship with Moira.”
“There’s no reason for us to stay away from each other now,” he muttered before he lowered his head and kissed her.
As his mouth moved furiously and feverishly on hers, she moaned, closing her eyes and kissed him back. She reached up and buried her fingers in his thick, silky hair, the nails digging into the scalp as they exchanged hungry kisses.
That morning, when she said goodbye to him, she thought that it was the last time she would ever see him. Yet, here he was, in her flat and in her arms, as much in love with her as she was with him. The bleak future which, moments ago, she had foreseen for herself had turned into a very bright one.