“This is so nice and relaxing,” Elspeth murmured as she dragged her foot in the cool water. Titus and she were at the marina on a beautiful Sunday morning. After having breakfast, they came here to spend a few hours. She loved the way the sun glimmered on the water and the sounds of the seagulls flying overhead. She wished she could stay there all day but she had a fashion show to go to. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me to the fashion show this afternoon?”
“No. I’m not into those kinds of things. Besides, I have some work I need to finish up for tomorrow’s board meeting.”
“Brooke will be very disappointed. She thinks you’re drop dead gorgeous.”
He chuckled. “She obviously has good taste, like you.”
Elspeth laughed. “Yes, she does.”
“And she’s a good looker too.”
“Hey! You’re not supposed to notice other women when you’re with me, especially not Brooke.”
“Don’t worry, I have only have eyes for you.”
“And I for you.” She turned her head so that they could kiss. Then, she leaned against him, thinking this was a picture perfect moment. It would be an ideal time for Titus to propose. She smiled. If he were to ask her to marry him at the very moment, she would shout yes at the top of her lungs.
“What are you thinking about?”
“How romantic this is and how I wish we could stay here all day.”
He smiled and kissed her on the side of her neck. “There is something else we can be doing right now which is romantic and extremely pleasurable.”
She blushed. “Your flat or mine?”
“Yours. It’s closer.” He stood up at once and helped her to her feet. She slipped her feet into her shoes and followed him to his car.
Hours later, Elspeth was at the hotel where the fashion show was being held. She was sitting in the front next to Brooke. After they exchanged hugs and pleasantries, the show began. The models strutted their stuff to pulsating music. The clothes were fabulous. “I’ll introduce you to the designer after the show,” Brooked promised her.
“Who’s that?” Elspeth asked.
“That’s Marius. I have known him for about five years now. He’s originally from the Dominican Republic. After his parents died, he came here to live with an aunt. Every summer, I have him appear in my fashion shows for extra money to help to pay for his university tuition until he graduates and finds a job. He’s a really sweet guy.”
“Does he have a girlfriend?”
“Not as far as I know. Why, are you interested?”
“Of course not. I was just asking.”
“So, how’s life with that gorgeous man of yours? Any wedding bells as yet?”
“Life is good and no wedding bells as yet.”
“Do you think Titus will ask you to marry him?”
“I don’t know.”
“If he does, will you say yes?”
“You don’t sound very sure. Is it because of your family?”
“It doesn’t matter what they think. It’s my life and when I want a man badly enough, there’s nothing they or anyone else can do about it.” She was staring at Marius when she said that. She wanted him. The thought both terrified and thrilled her. She had to meet him after the show.
“Well, Titus is a terrific guy and it seems rather foolish to me that your family would have a problem with him just because he’s black.”
“Well, my parents don’t have an issue with us dating. They like him. It’s the rest of the family.”
‘Well, to heck with them. At least you don’t have to worry about inviting them to the wedding, right?”
Elspeth nodded. She watched as Marius walked confidently along the runway. He looked to be in his early twenties. Very handsome. She hoped he didn’t have a girlfriend.
This was crazy. Here she was, ogling this guy she had never seen before or even knew existed until now and she was in a four year relationship with an amazing man. Snap out of it. She resolved not to pay too much attention to Marius the next time he appeared but she found herself anxiously looking for him and when she saw him, she couldn’t help herself.
At one instant when he paused directly in front of her, their eyes met and held for several minutes before he turned and continued walking. Her face felt hot and her heart was racing. “I’d like to meet Marius,” she told Brooke.
“When is his next fashion show?”
“Two weeks from now but it’s in Paris.”
“Are you going to be there?”
“It has been ages since I’ve been to Paris.”
“You’re not seriously thinking of going there just for the fashion show, are you?”
“I didn’t say anything about going, Brooke. All I said was that it has been ages since my last visit to the city of lights.”
Brooke didn’t look convinced but she kept her promise and after introducing her to the designer, she introduced her to Marius.
Up close, Marius was even more handsome and although she was wearing heels, he still towered over her. They shook hands. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said, smiling nervously up at him. He had such beautiful dark brown eyes. They were framed by long dark lashes. His skin looked very smooth. His lips parted to reveal even white teeth, making her catch her breath.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” he said. His voice was deep and pleasant. “I hope you enjoyed the fashion show.”
“Yes, I–I did. Very much. Brooke told me that in a couple of weeks, you will be going to Paris.”
“Is this your first trip to Paris?”
“I bet you’re very excited about that.”
“I am. I have always wanted to see Paris. Have you ever been?”
“Yes. More than once. It’s an exciting city. Lots to see. Maybe I can tell you more about it over a cappuccino?”
Brooke smiled at Marius. “Would you excuse us?” She grabbed Elspeth’s arm and led her some distance away, out of earshot.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m taking him for a cappuccino, what’s wrong with that?”
“I know you, Elspeth and I know that you’re attracted to him.”
“Yes, I find him very attractive but that’s all. I’m just going to have a cappuccino with him and that’s it. There’s no harm in that.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing. I care about Marius like he’s my son. I don’t want him to get hurt.”
“Brooke, what kind of a monster do you think I am?”
“I don’t think you’re a monster but I have seen what lust does to good people.”
“You think I’m lusting after him?”
“I have been noticing the way you look at him and I’m sure he has noticed it too. I don’t think that you and he going alone for a cappuccino is a good idea. As your friend and the voice of reason, I will tag along.”
Elspeth shrugged. “The more the merrier.”
The three of them went to a cafe nearby. They had a pleasant time. Brooke offered to give Marius a ride, much to Elspeth’s chagrin. She smiled to hide her disappointment and frustration. Perhaps it was just as well. She would have been tempted to give Marius her number. She and he exchanged smiles and lingering glances before she turned and walked to her car.
That night she couldn’t sleep. She was restless. Her mind was racing. Whenever she closed her eyes, she saw Marius’ face, his amazing eyes and incredible smile. And felt guilty because of Titus. Titus. He was such a good man. She would be a fool to throw away what they had. Rolling on to her stomach and burying her face in the pillow, she resolved to forget about Marius. Titus was her past, present and future.