The sound of a splash awoke me with a start. I half opened my eyes, still suspended in the dream state I often found myself in when my sleep was disturbed prematurely. I was lying naked on the bed, a light sheen of sweat colouring my skin with a silvery glow from the moonlight slanting in through the open balcony. The light bed cover was pooled in a crumpled mess somewhere around my feet.
It was another hot and humid night and the scent of bougainvillea flowers swirled in the air, teasing my senses with their exotic aroma. For a moment I felt disorientated and strangely lost, the fog of sleep refusing to release its fuzzy grip on my tired brain.
Where was I?
I vaguely recognised that the window was on the wrong side of the room and the air was too warm. Then I remembered; I was not at home — I was in the villa.
My small travel clock told me it was midnight. By rights I should have been deeply asleep, so why had I woken up?
The soft sound of water splashing roused me again. It jarred my senses uneasily. I was alone in my villa and the pool was private, so why could I hear someone outside? It was with a sense of disquiet that I lifted myself from the bed and cautiously padded towards the balcony.
Half hidden behind the long sheer drapes, I glanced out carefully across the terrace towards the turquoise pool gleaming in the moonlight. For a moment I could see nothing; merely the pale outlines of the chairs and table strewn around the edge of the glistening water. I began to wonder if my overactive imagination was playing subtle games with me and I yawned heavily.
Tonight was not the night to be suffering from insomnia when I had arranged to join a coach tour tomorrow. This involved a depressingly early start and I had deliberately gone to bed sooner than I normally would have. Sightseeing local ruins seemed an essential part of the whole holiday experience and I was determined to play the tourist for at least some of the time. I needed to find my inspiration and this holiday was supposed to help.
I turned away and was about to head back to bed when another sound alerted me. As I gazed back out towards the patio, I was stunned to see a naked man poised at the far end of my pool, outlined in an ethereal glow. He dove into the water silently, barely making a ripple on the smooth glassy expanse as he swam beneath the surface. Eventually he emerged at the other end of the pool and climbed out, his skin dripping with moisture, his black hair slicked back sleekly.
The moon's glow caught his body in strokes of ghostly light, allowing me to admire the smoothly muscular definition of his chest, hairless and sharply delineated. I was mesmerised. My eyes swept lower and lingered on his cock hanging heavily between thick thighs. For a long moment he stood proudly like an Adonis, seemingly unaware of my illicit voyeurism.
Then he was gone.
The moon slid slyly behind a solitary cloud and when it reappeared my naked swimmer had vanished. I didn't know whether to be outraged that he had been swimming in my supposedly private pool — or aroused by his unabashed nakedness.
Right at that moment it was definitely the latter.
I arrived back at the villa the following evening exhausted, dusty, and extremely pissed off to realise I had no electricity. I had been dreaming of a cool shower all afternoon and now there was no chance. I felt like screaming, my disappointment was so acute.
Instead I decided to be proactive and walk down the hill to the home of Senor Velasquez, the owner of my villa. I presumed he would know why I had no power; or at least I hoped he would. Quickly I changed into a clean dress and squirted some scent on. My hair was already pinned up and although it was beginning to escape, I left it alone.
Once again I set foot outside wearily. It felt like I had been on my feet all bloody day, walking in and out of ancient ruined temples, listening to hair- raising tales of rape and pillaging. Playing the avid tourist was beginning to pall slightly — this was not the reason I had come to Malta.
Behind the villa the sky was streaked with vermillion ribbons of colour, as the sun dropped over the horizon and into the sea, like a red-hot coal. It was sublimely beautiful and for a moment I paused, entranced, to watch nature's display of fiery brilliance.
This was the reason I had come to Malta. I needed to be reminded that I was still a member of the human race. Simple pleasures like a brilliant sunset and glass of cool white wine were the things I craved after all the complications of the last year.
I allowed myself to smile as I slowly ambled down the stony track. It was a typically balmy night and I could hear the crickets chirruping from the thorny bushes lining the edge of the fields. Despite my irritation at the lack of electricity, I had no regrets about being here. It felt right and I needed to recharge my batteries.
I knocked on Senor Velasquez's battered looking front door. For ages nobody answered and I was just about to give up when I heard footsteps and the sound of a bolt being drawn back.
The door creaked open and a young man appeared wearing nothing but a pair of scruffy denim shorts. For a moment we stared at one another, both of us waiting for me to speak.
"Si?" he said eventually, his lips curled upwards in a sardonic smile.
I suddenly found my mouth was as dry as the dusty step beneath my feet. I felt flustered, standing here under the scrutiny of this beautiful young man. And he was beautiful. His blue-black hair hung just above his deeply tanned shoulders and his eyes were dark pools of sin I fervently wanted to dive into. It had been too long, I suddenly realised. Not that a man like this would possibly be interested in a woman like me.
Oh no. He would in all likelihood have dozens of girlfriends patiently waiting for a morsel of his time. No doubt they were queuing up down the street, as I stood here at his door speechless.
"I'm Meredith Black," I managed to spit out eventually. "I'm staying in Villa Rosa up the hill. For some reason I have no electricity?"
"Papa eez not 'ere. I'm Paulo, his son," the young man explained in surprisingly good English. No doubt he had plenty of practice sweet-talking the tourists, I thought with a slight twinge of jealousy.
"If you like I come and see what ze problem eez?" He smiled encouragingly and I realised that I really had no choice. It was Paulo or nobody. There was no damn way I was sitting in the dark all evening.
"Okay, if you could that would be helpful," I conceded slightly reluctantly.
"I just put some shoes on," he said, glancing down at his bare feet ruefully. That was a mistake. I automatically followed his gaze and found myself lingering on his naked torso, smooth and muscular. Unwillingly my eyes trailed further south and brushed over his faded denim shorts.
Very big mistake... all this sun must be going to my head.
I looked back up again to find him grinning at me knowingly. Damn him. Not only was he fluent in English, he was also a mind reader.
"Right, I'll head back up to the villa and see you there." It seemed prudent to make my escape before he hypnotised me any further. Without further ado, I shot off back up the track towards my temporary home, the setting sun casting a further red tinge to my already burning cheeks. I felt sure I could hear a faint laugh as I left Paulo behind, watching me from the doorway.
The rooms were steeped in long purple shadows when I unlocked the door once again. The peace was soothing after my hectic day of playing the polite tourist. My jaw still ached from all the insincere smiling I had been forced to do. I desperately wanted to pour myself a glass of cool wine, but I realised it would be stupid to open the fridge and risk warming it up any further.
Instead I opened the french windows and stepped out on to my patio to wait for Paulo to arrive with his tools. That thought made me crack a smile. The loud knock on my door soon wiped it off my face again. My nerves jangled unexpectedly as I hurried back inside to let him in. I felt like a teenager waiting for her first date. Ha! If only he knew...
"Hallo again Mrs Black," Paulo grinned engagingly, a small tool bag held in his hand.
"Please call me Meredith," I said, stepping aside to allow him to enter. I hated being called Mrs Black — it held too many memories.
Paulo headed straight for the cupboard under the stairs where the electrics were apparently situated and I left him to it. I felt flustered when he was near and I needed to cool off outside. Not there was much chance of that — it was still incredibly hot even though the sun had almost set. With the electricity off the air conditioning was not working and the villa was stifling.
The water in the pool was cool and inviting. For a blissful moment I contemplated thoughts of stripping off and diving in naked. I wondered how Paulo would react to such a show of hedonism. Would he be shocked, I mused idly as I sat down on the tiled edge and trailed my feet in the water.
Or would he join me?
I half closed my eyes and imagined swimming languorously across the pool, the water caressing my skin with sensual fingers. I heard a splash and felt a warm pair of hands grip my waist, pulling me underneath the surface. It was Paulo, his eyes black and enigmatic in the gloom of our silent underwater world.
.... There is more of this story ...