Fleur’s hazelnut eyes shimmered open and beamed at the profile of the man beside her. “Do you know, Charlie,” she breathed into his ear, “I’m beginning to appreciate sex all over again.”
Charles hated to be called ‘Charlie,’ except by her - she was privileged. Only her silky tone could bestow his name with such a sultry sound. “Thanks.”
She leant on her elbow and gazed down into his blue-grey eyes. “Why assume it’s you? I only see you once a year and after all, this is business. Remember?”
“There’s someone else?”
She replied with a wink.
Moving from the bed, she glided to the open window and glared down at the tourists shuffling around her courtyard.
Some studied the centre piece - the fountain. Others, more interested in the castle architecture, were surprised to observe a naked woman standing in the arched window. She was exquisite, a dark haired beauty, clearly in her early forties, yet retaining the firm and voluptuous figure of a girl half her age.
Charles, nestling into the pillows, was absorbed by the seductress who was picture framed by the window. She was long legged and her rounded hips and derriere were as alluring as the day he’d first seen them, sixteen years ago. She was a fair bit older than him and yet she, more than any other, was the one who excited him.
Fleur pirouetted and faced the man. “I’m going to sell up, Charlie. After five years of being the laird, I’m tired of it. I want out.”
“It’s a pity to abandon a goldmine. This year you’ve made even more profit than the last.”
“I know,” she said, “I don’t need your accountancy skills to appreciate that.”
She paused while she studied him; a gorgeous blond hunk of a man, wealthy and, although a thirty-something, unattached. Why did he continue to visit her - she was ancient, so old she’d retired from ‘the game’ long ago.
She opened a cupboard, extracted two objects and held them out for his inspection, one in each palm, book-ending her bosom. “Which do you prefer?”
His gaze caressed her breasts. “The middle pair.”
She giggled. “They’re no longer for sale. I’m retired.” She hoisted the potato bag high above her head. “These are on the market or...” She tossed the cellophane wrapped fruit onto the bedspread. “ ... there’s the apples.”
“I assume my selection of which business venture to advocate ought to be based on the financial returns. Not my preference for chips or apple pie.”
“I have the profit figures and balance sheets for your appraisal. I’ll take them down to breakfast.”
Fleur returned to the window.
Charlie joined her and encircled his arms around her waist and lulled his cheek into her long black hair. “You seem preoccupied. Are you alright?”
“Yes, of course,” she said, as she walked back to the bed.
He grunted. “I’m not convinced.”
Charles strolled to the music center, selected a CD, and inserted it into the machine. He pressed the play button and turned to look at her.
She was on the bed, head deep into the pillows while she studied his features.
He joined her and caressed her cheek. “This music. It’s good.”
“Yes, I’ve always loved the melody of Afterthoughts. It’s delicate and romantic ... and a little sad.”
“I’d never heard it - not until my seventeenth birthday. Nor have I heard it since.”
Her lips dried and her heart pounded like a bass drum. “I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, that was a special birthday, not least because I’d determined I would lose my virginity.”
“An unusual present.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Victorian men would visit the red light district to gain experience before they married. I had a different motive - simple lust.” Charles’s voice softened as he snuggled his head against hers. “I paid for this dream lady. She was pretty, baby faced with a cute upturned nose and a sensuous voice.”
“It’s evident she impressed you.”
His hand turned Fleur’s face to his own. “Your features ... she could have been your daughter.”
“Later, it turned out she was so much more than attractive. This woman was gentle and loving, not what I’d expected. She took me to a hotel bedroom where she undressed me and...”
He paused as he gazed into Fleur’s eyes, recalling the intimate detail.
“Please, Charlie,” she murmured. “Please go on.”
“I became self conscious, embarrassed. It was terrible ... I couldn’t do it.
“This wonderful creature was so tender as she helped me back into my clothes. She took me down to the hotel bar, bought me a large scotch and ferried me to a booth. It was secluded, illuminated with a gentle glow. We talked. For over an hour we chatted and, when I was ready, she took my hand and led me from the bar. I was entranced as I walked beside her. Several inches in the air, conscious of nothing except her presence and the pianist playing our tune.”
“Yes, you recall it - don’t you?”
“Yes,” she hushed. “I’ll never forget that evening ... didn’t realise you remembered.”
“Lingering, whispering ... afterthoughts. Catching at my sleeves like the autumn leaves, blowing in the rain.”
“And Fleur, I’ll forever recall the night that followed.”
She was flustered as she jumped from the bed.