He sat at the back of the car, gazing out of the window, his mind miles away, when he spotted her walking through the fields. What on earth was she doing there? He tapped on the glass partition. “Please pull over, Rodney.” The car slowed and then pulled over to the side of the road. “I’ll be right back,” he promised before he opened the door and stepped out.
Oblivious that she had been spotted and that someone was approaching her, she walked through the field dotted with bright yellow daffodils, her mind elsewhere. She had a fight with Tyson and after storming out of his flat, she decided to go for a drive in the countryside to let off some steam. It was quite by accident that she came across this field and on the spur of the moment, decided to stop her car at the side of the winding road and make her way through it.
It was very peaceful out there and it helped her to think clearly. It was no use remaining in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. She didn’t love Tyson and he didn’t love her. They were just prolonging the inevitable. She made up her mind then and there that they should go their separate ways.
“Are you lost?” A voice asked, startling her and she swung around to see to whom it belonged.
She found herself staring at a tall, athletic, extremely good-looking man, well dressed in an expensive dark blue shirt and black trousers. He had thick, dark hair, a swarthy complexion and classic features. He looked either Greek or Italian and in his late thirties or early forties. A quick glance at his hand told her that he wasn’t married. She realized that she was staring and that he was waiting for an answer to his inquiry. She shook her head. “No, I’m not lost. I was driving by, saw this place and decided to stop.”
“You’re trespassing, you know.”
“Yes, this is private property. Didn’t you see the sign over there?” he asked, pointing behind her.
She looked back and it was then she noticed a sign saying, Private Property. No Trespassing. She turned to face him again. “No, I didn’t see it.”
He was watching her with a suspicious expression on his face. “It’s hard to miss.”
Clearly he didn’t believe her and her lips pursed in indignation. “As I said, I didn’t see it. If I had, I would have turned around and climb right back in my car. I don’t want to get in trouble with anyone for trespassing on their property.”
“What’s your name?” he asked, surprising her.
“Do you want it so that you can report me?” she asked.
He smiled. “No,” he assured her quietly. “I’m asking out of curiosity.”
“Alexis,” he said, holding out his hand.
She shook his hand. “You’re Greek.”
He nodded. “Yes. What brings you all the way out here, Roberta?”
“I needed to get away for a while, to clear my head.”
“Are you in some kind of trouble?”
“No. I had a fight with my boyfriend, that’s all.” Why on earth was she telling her business to this perfect stranger? He was still holding her hand and his eyes were intent on her face. He was very disarming. Her pulse was racing and her heart was pounding.
“I’m sorry, Roberta. I didn’t mean to pry.” He released her hand.
“Maybe I should go—”
“No, please don’t. Stay a little while longer.”
“But, I’m trespassing. What if the owner catches me and—”
“Don’t worry about him.”
“You know him?”
“Yes, I do. He’s a reasonable man. Excuse me for a moment.” He whipped out his phone and walked a little distance from her. “Rodney, I won’t need the car for the rest of the afternoon. See you in the morning. Thank you.” He flipped his cell closed and slipped it back into the breast pocket of his shirt. When he joined her, he asked, “I’m going for a walk, would you care to join me?”
“We won’t go far. Just up to the hills over there.”
“Okay.” She fell into step beside him. The countryside was beautiful with its rolling hills and fields of yellow flowers. “Do you come here often?”
“Yes, I do, especially on the weekends.”
“I envy the people who live in the countryside. After working in the city it must be nice to get away and come home to peace and quiet. And the scenery is breathtaking.”
He was looking at her. “Do you love him?”
She glanced at him, confused. “Who?”
She lowered her eyes. “No. I think we’ve outgrown each other. We fight a lot and we’re not happy. It’s time we ended the relationship.”
“Ending a relationship is always tough but sometimes it’s for the best.”
“Tyson and I have known each other since high school. We dated on and off. Now that I think about it, when we were just friends, things worked perfectly between us but the moment we decided dating, things went downhill. Now, things have gotten so bad that I don’t think we can even be friends. When two people are not meant to be, it’s best they don’t force it. We should never have gotten involved with each other but remained just friends.”
He studied her, his eyes taking in every detail of her features, thinking that there was no way that he could be just friends with her. He was deeply attracted to her and the desire to see her again was overpowering. “Are you busy this Saturday?” he heard himself ask.
“The owner of this property is having a costume ball and I would like you to come…as my guest.”
She stared at him. He was serious. He really was inviting her to a costume ball. Immediately, her mind conjured up images of people dressed as kings, queens and fictional characters. She had never been to a ball before and the idea of dressing up thrilled her. “I’d like to come,” she said, smiling.
He reached into his pocket and took out a card which he handed to her. It was an invitation to the ball. “Do you know who you will come as?” he asked.
She considered for a moment. “I think I’ll come as Tiana from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. I’ve watched the movie with my niece and loved it. And it’s not every day that you get to dress up as a princess. What about you?”
“I don’t know as yet. I guess you’ll have to wait and see”
She glanced at her watch. “I really must go now.”
“I’ll walk you to your car.”
When they were standing beside her car, she held out her hand. “It was nice meeting you, Alexis.” He had the most amazing eyes—they reminded her of rich, dark chocolate.
He grasped her hand. “It was a pleasure meeting you. I look forward to seeing you at the ball.”
“Thanks for inviting me.” It was hard to keep a clear head when he was holding her hand and staring at her. Her heart was racing and she seemed to have a little trouble breathing.
He released her hand and watched as she climbed into her car, waving as she drove off. The sun was beginning to set, casting an orange glow on the field. He cut across it to get to the manor.
All the way home, Roberta thought of nothing else but about Alexis and the ball. She couldn’t wait to see what costume he would be wearing. She could see him as a dashing count or a Greek warrior or even a gladiator. She had just pulled into her parking spot underground when her cell rang. It was Tyson. “I’m sorry about today, Roberta. I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have. It’s obvious that we don’t work as a couple.”
She sighed. “I’m sorry about the things I said too. And you’re right. We don’t work as a couple and it’s time we parted ways for good. I wish you all the best, Tyson. There’s a woman somewhere out there for you.”
“I wish you all the best too. Take care.”
“Goodbye, Tyson.” She ended the call and slipped her phone back in her bag. It was finally over between them. They were both free to move on with their lives. As she got out of the car, she thought of Alexis and her heart skipped a beat. Tomorrow after work, she was going to get her costume for the ball.
Saturday came and she was beside herself with excitement. Every time she thought about seeing Alexis again, her heart somersaulted. She took her time and put on her costume and then examined her reflection when she was done. The dress hugged her slim figure and the wig with the few curls cascading about her face while the rest was pulled back suited her. She smiled as she adjusted the tiara, quite pleased with how she looked and hoped that Alexis would be impressed. Drawing quite a number of curious looks, she made her way to the garage.
When she drove up the graveled driveway, she couldn’t help marveling at the impressive Victorian mansion that loomed above her. A parking attendant came to take her car. Nervously, she climbed the steps to the large doorway where two footmen stood. They reminded her of Cinderella. Music, voices and laughter filled the air. There was a man at the door who asked for her invitation. She showed it to him. Heart pounding, eyes wide as they scanned the large room where the guests were, she walked slowly through the doors. She recognized Queen Elizabeth I, Mata Hari, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and a host of others but there was one person she was just dying to see. Where was he?
“Hello there,” a voice said behind her and she swung around, her expression brightening when she saw Alexis. “You’re not wearing a costume!” she exclaimed. He looked incredible in the black suit, black shirt and no tie.
He smiled. “The host isn’t required to wear a costume,” he replied and saw her eyes widen.
“You mean this estate belongs to you?”
He nodded. “Yes. All of this was left to me—the only son of Demetrius Yannos.”
“Demetrius Yannos was your father?” Demetrius Yannos was the media mogul who was listed among the world’s richest people and was featured in TIME Magazine as person of the year. At the age of three, the self-made millionaire from the town, Galaxidi, migrated to England with his family. At the age of forty he married a beautiful English model half his age and they had two children—a boy and a girl. Five years ago, Demetrius died of a heart attack while vacationing in Mykonos with his wife. The story was all over the news.
“Why didn’t you tell me who you were when we met?”
“I wanted you to be interested in Alexis, not Demetrius Yannos’ son.”
“I would be interested in you regardless of whose son you are,” she assured him.
His expression became serious as he returned her gaze. “After meeting you on Monday, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you,” he confessed. “I’ve been looking forward to this evening all week.”
She swallowed hard when he reached for her hand. “It’s—it’s over between Tyson and me.”
“So, you’re free to date?”
“Good. Let me introduce you to some of the guests and then, I’ll get you something to drink.” Still holding her hand, he took her over to different people and introduced her. Some of them were people who worked for him, friends and relatives. She met his younger sister, Diandra and her husband, Thomas. They were dressed as Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Diandra was fair like her mother and very pretty.
After making the rounds, meeting new people, Alexis got a non-alcoholic Sangria for her and they went out on the terrace to enjoy the mild evening. “You look very beautiful tonight,” he told her. He was leaning against the balustrade watching her as she gazed out at the sprawling grounds below.
She smiled at him, feeling a little self-conscious. “Thank you.” Her hands were feeling hot in the long white gloves so she removed them and draped them over the balustrade. Her heart leapt in her throat when he took her glass from her hand and set it on the ground. He took her hands in his and drew her closer to him.
“I want to be with you, Roberta,” he told her quietly. “From the moment I met you and we started talking I knew that I wanted to be with you. Do you feel the same way about me?”
She nodded, her heart thudding. “Yes, Alexis,” she murmured breathlessly.
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Freeing her hands from his, she wound them around his neck, kissing him back. In the back of her mind she thought how true the words that, One day you will meet someone who will make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else.