Chapter 13 - Favour Returned
They walked a good mile in silence.
Laurie’s mouth opened several times to draw in a conversation but quickly decided against it, fearing that she had gotten herself in enough trouble as it was.
So instead, she tilted her head up and gazed at the stars that had now filled the evening sky.
“Hmmm.” She sighed wholeheartedly, doubting the idea that she would ever forget how beautiful it was out here.
“Beautiful, isn’t here?” Tomas muttered softly.
“Yes, it is.” She admitted, a warm smile spread over her lips.
It really was. It still took her breath away at how untouched this place was from the destruction of human hands. The sand was white, sea crystal blue and the fauna flourished and sea creatures felt safe and secure enough to swim along the coast line. At night it was even more quite, tranquil. Crabs would run up and down the beach and she had been lucky enough to witness a turtle coming out of the sea to lay her eggs.
She turned around to spare him a glance, her breathing immediately stilled and her heart nearly stopped when she caught Tomas staring at her as if he had been doing it for quite a while now - and for a brief moment she wondered whether he had meant her that was beautiful and not the stars.
Stop it Laurie!
She quickly averted her eyes from him, blushing at her very own thought that he might have called her beautiful. Which in any incase, he probably wasn’t even talking about her.
And why did it even matter anyways?
“Perhaps we should rest awhile.” Tomas offered.
“Of course.” She nodded, “We can sit here if you like.”
He gestured to the sand and Laurie was the first to sit.
The soft breeze blew across the beach, tickle at the leaves as it made it way past them. Laurie brought her arms around her, silently regretting that she had followed him without at least grabbing a cardigan.
“Where are from you Ms. Slade?” Tomas’s smooth masculine voice broke through her thoughts.
A tight smile formed on her face.
“Hmmm, why do I get the feeling that you already know the answer to that?”
You’re right,” he smiled back at her knowingly, “I do but I thought we could talk about something less...”
“Upseting?” She interjected with a raised brow.
“You really do tend to catch on quick, don’t you?”
“I guess, I do.” She replied, then bent her head back down to avert that look in his eyes that made her heart leap with joy.
“Then why don’t you just humour me?”
“I would but unfortunately, I don’t really like to talk about myself or my family, that is.” She said, mumbling on the last part.
It wasn’t that she hated her parents, quite the contrary, she loved them. It was just the way that they treated her that she despised.
“Why is that?”
She shifted her eyes from soft crushing motion of the waves to Tomas. A light frown appeared on her face.
“The same reason why you are running around in circles at whatever is upseting you, I guess.”
Tomas scoffed, stretching his legs infront of him.
“Are you saying that you are running away from it all? Is that why you are here?”
“Can I be honest with you Mr.Carsingni?”
“I would expect nothing less.”
She gave way to a defeated sigh, “My family, they --,” she paused, feeling slightly ashamed,“They see me as an object.”
“An object?” He asked, his brows creased. “How?”
“Imagine being seen as means to an end.”
Tomas’s frown deepened.
Laurie huffed in annoyance. Did she really have to spell it out?
“An arranged marriage, Mr.Carsingni, to secure their future.”
“Really.” She confirmed. ”The funny part is that even after I told them that I wouldn’t do it, they still carried on with the wedding plans behind my back.
“Can you please say something else?” She said tightening her arms around herself. She hated the idea that he might pity her or even much less think that she was from a gold digging family. But he had asked.
“I’m sorry, it’s just a little hard to believe that people still do that.” He explained.
“Apparently my parents still do.”
“Well, you can rest assured that our situation differs immensely.”
“Oh, does it?” She said throwing him a condescending look. Remembering how Silvia had told her something of the sort happening to him.
The corner of his lip drew up in bitter sneer but his eyes with saddest that she had ever seen.
“In so many ways imaginable Ms. Slade.” Tomas answered.
“Do you - uh- wish to talk about it?”
“Not yet.” He simply said, closing his eyes as if trying to bloke everything out.
He wasn’t ready to talk about it. Not yet.
“Well, that’s okay.” Laurie said, wanting to lighten the mood, “But I mean I did just tell you something about so I thought --”
“That I’d return the favour? Ms.Slade, it’s been forever since I’ve sat down with a woman and hold an actual conversation. I think that the favours been returned.“He countered, getting up from his spot.
Laurie looked at him, bemused. Wondering what he had meant by that. They were getting along fine, weren’t they? Or at least she thought so.
The unusual croak in his voice told her that whatever it was that he was holding on to must be really terrible, tragic even. And that haunted look in his eyes pierced right through her chest and tugged at her heart and made her wonder.
What is it that could make a man that has so much to live for feel so deprived, so cheated, that he had to wear a smile to mask his pain?
Tomas swatted his sandy palms against his pants and breathe in deeply. His head tilted slightly to the side, regarding her under his lashes as he addressed her.
“You can go back inside now, Ms.Slade,” He told her, his finger began to unbutton the white opal shaped buttons of his shirt, one after the other. “I’m going for a swim.”
There wasn’t a time when Laurie thanked her lucky star that it was dark and he couldn’t see her face, because he would have seen evidence of her innocence illuminating on her cheeks and she wasn’t quite sure that he wanted him to know that the mere act of him undressing affected her.
Her feet quickly jolted her body up. He didn’t have to tell her twice.
“Well,” she said, clearing her throat all the while ensuring that her eyes remained glued to his feet. “Goodnight, Mr.Carsingni.”
There was a mixture of a scoff and a chuckle that came from Tomas as made Laurie’s head jut up to meet his eyes.
“I wasn’t sure if you were addressing me or my feet, Ms.Slade.”
Colours filled her face once more and she quickly tore her eyes away from his, stealing a glimpse of his well built chest.
“You, Mr.Carsingni.” She swallowed, as thoughts of wanting to know whether his skin felt as smooth as it looked. “I was saying goodnight to you.” She muttered.
Tomas took a step towards her and Laurie held on to her breath.
He drew up a hand and as gentle as his movement were, her lips trembled lightly at the warmth of his fingers as it touched her chin, tilting it up until her eyes rested on his.
“Then you should say it like this.”
She was sure that she was going to choke on her on breath. He was so close with his skin touching hers and her heart was doing something like a somersault but mixed with a feverish beat.
Her lips slowly parted as she begged herself to just say the words and be done with it.
“Goodnight.” She whispered lowly, mesmerised by dark gleam that flickered through his eyes.
Seemingly satisfied, he gave her a nod and release hold of her.