She barges in here like she owns the place, mouth working silently as she scans everything with wide, keen eyes the color of topaz.
The first thing I notice is that she is spell-bindingly, ridiculously gorgeous. Cammy neglected to mention that part, though my little sister has never been one to appreciate flamboyant beauty. Cammy is quiet and shy, pretty in a subdued sort of way. This woman is none of that. She is all splashed out glamor. I have never seen anyone look so flat-out sexy in such a simple dress.
The second thing I notice is that this doesn't matter. I want her gone, out of my space. I promised Cammy I would be good. No, not good. I promised her I'd be okay.
I offered to host out of guilt, and Cammy knows it. She was still trying to change my mind, even as she called me after meeting Sanniyah Jones two days ago. But she wants to have the wedding here, I can tell. And my baby sister deserves to have the wedding she wants.
"If you like her, then that's all that matters, Cammy," I told her over the phone, keeping my voice nice and light and even.
"I like her." My sister's voice was crackly, like she was farther away than she really was. Like there was more than just a couple miles of water between us. "She...she didn't ask questions about it, Carter." I remembered pressing my lips together, fighting the urge to fill in Cammy's words for her. She is over her stutter, but it still crept back sometimes, and hesitation is a way she tries to mask it. "She didn't ask questions about...you."
I could feel myself nodding, even as I was gripping my phone more tightly than I meant to. "Well then that's settled," I said tightly, hoping I sounded more sure than I felt.
Shit, she wasn't fooled. "Yeah Cam."
Her voice was so soft I could barely hear it over the crackle on the line. "You don't have to do this."
I had sat bolt upright in the deck chair, that evening, as if Cammy could see me somehow. "You're right, I don't have to. I want to Cam. My gift to you." I swallowed. "Start the happy new chapter of your life off right."
"I know how you feel about letting people in, Carter."
I tried to laugh it off. "I'm not letting them in, I'm just feeding them. Besides," I clarified, "they aren't just anyone. They're your people. I trust you Cam."
"I hope you do for real, big brother. You don't have to make up for what happened. I've told you this a million times, it's not your fault."
I stood up from the deck chair then, and stalked into the house. "Yes, you've told me," I repeated.
Cammy waited for me to say something further. When I didn't add anything, she sighed a sigh that came through the line as clear as if she was standing right here, watching me pace. "Be kind to yourself, Carter," she said, sadly. "Mom and Dad would want you to."
"Well, since they aren't here to tell me that themselves..." I swear I tried to catch myself before I said anything else, but it was too late. Cammy's voice caught in a little sob. "Shit, Cam, no, don't cry, okay? Look, I'm okay. I'm just going to go for a swim, now. I'll meet with your chosen wedding planner Friday and everything will go smoothly." I looked down at my hand and forced myself to unclench it. "You're getting married, Cam," I said, as gently as I could. "Be happy."
"You too," she swallowed. "I love you. Bye Carter."
"Bye Cammy." I lingered until the line went dead. Then I turned and hurled the phone into the couch. It bounced slightly, not nearly the effect I wanted. I whirled and grabbed a decorative piece of crap the decorator had stuck on the shelf and hurled that to the floor. It shattered into a million pieces and I felt marginally better.
I can still see one of those pieces glinting in the corner as I sit here now. It winks at me like an accusation. "There is a gorgeous woman in your house...aren't you going to say hello?"
Fuck. I turn around and start to rise, just as she makes a beeline for my deck. I make to follow her, and then stop short.
The sight of her standing there, leaning against the railing, her ripe, round ass swaying slightly as she stares off into the horizon is enough to drain all of the blood from my brain. Her elegant profile is highlighted in the setting sun, and I am suddenly thinking about goddesses and deities and idols from ancient times. Her forehead curves over elegant brows that swoop above her eyes like gullwings. Her cheekbones strain against her caramel skin, showing off her perfect bone structure.
But her lips.
Her lips are going to be the ruin of me, I can see that already. I want to kiss them. No, I want to devour them, claim them. I am so hungry for them right now, that I swear I cannot remember what my life was like before I saw them. For one, strange moment, I move out of my shattered head and am the Carter Easton of old. The impulsive risk-taker who always got what he set out for.
I’m ready to be me again…
I’m ready to meet Sanniyah Jones.
"Oh!" I cry, my jaw dropping open in fright. I snap it shut quickly, but as I see him, it slowly falls open again as he approaches. He lopes casually across the deck, his strides soft and easy with an innate, athletic grace.
Carter Easton smiles at me and extends his hand. "You must be Ms. Jones," he says. The way he says my name, the way he tastes it on his tongue as it passes his teeth, sends a shiver down my spine that is wholly out of place in the warm sun.
"Mr. Easton," I smile, "Thank you so much for welcoming me to your lovely home." Professional poise takes hold of me, guiding me past my goosebumps and rapidly beating heart.
I've seen his picture, read the articles, "researched" him quite thoroughly. But none of that could prepare me for the sight of him up close. In all of the pages and pages of internet hits, there was no mention of the magnetism, the easy, quiet confidence that radiated off of him in waves. That was something I had to blushingly experience for myself, and the effect was quite disconcerting.
He's dressed in
a white linen shirt, casually untucked, sleeves rolled to bare his toned, tanned forearms. The whiteness of the shirt is blinding, and the contrast with his skin makes his tan seem burnished and golden. There are streaks of sun in his dark blond hair and his eyes are the exact same shade of blue as the sea that surrounds us. I could drown in them just as easily.
Carefully, I wrap my fingers around the railing of the deck. I need something to hold on to. Otherwise I might float away. I've never had such a strong reaction to a white man, to any man, before.
He's wearing khakis, and my eyes wander down to see that he is barefoot. It's strangely personal, seeing him this way.
Like he is naked.
The thought makes my cheeks flame and I turn quickly to look out over the water. I wrack my brain for something safe to say, something that won't betray the lascivious direction my thoughts are turning. "Are you aware of how sexy you are? You look really good in those clothes, how about out of them? Can I see your bedroom...ceiling?"