Authors: Vivian Winslow
By Vivian Winslow
Text copyright © 2014 Vivian Winslow
Dahlia can barely register the sound of the music coming from the other side of the door. A wave of nausea overwhelms her. She steadies herself on a white flower stand, nearly knocking over a cheap vase full of red carnations.
It’s just nerves
, she reassures herself. After all, she’s getting married today. She never thought this day would come so quickly.
She takes a deep breath as a woman opens the door. The sight of the empty room startles her. Not once did she imagine that Lily would miss her wedding. But they had promised each other to keep things low-key. The idea of eloping somehow made it all seem so much more romantic. Dahlia looks down at the ring on her finger—a silver ring they found while traveling in Costa Rica, inscribed with the words,
Every step forward brings Dahlia a new sense of freedom. She’ll finally shed the Baron name, a name she’s come to associate with only misery and shame. Not that anyone in her family has ever done anything dishonest, as far as the public knows. But Dahlia knows that wealth and power come at a high price, and she wasn’t prepared to live the life that was laid out for her by marrying someone from her New York social circle.
Her heart thunders to the beat of the
. She wants to roll her eyes at the convention of it all. She almost decided against getting married, but deep down she had to admit she didn’t want to have a child born out of wedlock. The expectant and happy look on the groom’s face assures her she’s making the right decision. Their child will be born to loving parents. They can make this work.
As the officiant drones on about commitment and marriage, Dahlia stares into the groom’s eyes, searching for any doubt that may be reflected in them. Instead, she sees only love and excitement. She swallows back her fears as he places a simple gold band with three small diamonds on her finger and speaks the words, “With my body I will worship you. Until death do us part.”
By the time she hears the officiant say, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” Dahlia’s assured he is her
happily ever after
At those words, the groom pulls her close and whispers, “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world, Mrs. Walker.”
“You really must visit Miami sometime soon, Mrs. Baron,” Rodrigo says smiling. “I’m sure you and my mother would get along very well.”
“Oh, please, Rodrigo, call me Poppy,” Dahlia’s mother replies with her usual hand flip, the light catching on her 5-karat antique diamond and sapphire ring. Her mother always believed that looking understated was an under-statement—a philosophy Dahlia could never adopt herself.
Dahlia eyes them warily over her untouched Niçoise salad.
One lunch at Balthazar and they’re on a first-name basis with each other?
Poppy takes a tiny bite of her steak tartar and daintily dabs her lips with her napkin.
“You two must’ve had a wonderful time in Aspen. Dahlia and Lily were both glowing when they returned. Shame I haven’t met your brother . . . .”
“Alejandro,” Rodrigo offers.
“Right,” Poppy pauses and scans the room. She politely nods at a corner table where three women are seated. Dahlia recognizes them as mothers of her high school classmates. Total bitches who enjoyed spreading lies about her to gossip magazines, but she politely waves as would be expected. Naturally, her mother and Dahlia having lunch with a handsome Latin gentleman at Balthazar will be news at the club by afternoon drinks—which commence at three o’clock.
Her mother continues, “Well, I’m sure if Alejandro is as charming as you, it’s no wonder my two beautiful daughters were unable to resist you both.”
Dahlia fights the urge to roll her eyes. She can tell by her mother’s tone that the flattery is disingenuous. Of course her mother wouldn’t approve of her and Lily dating new money—from Miami no less.
“Well, Mrs. Baron, I mean Poppy,” Rodrigo quickly corrects himself, “Dahlia is the one who charmed me. I love her energy and creativity. Everything she does just amazes me.”
Dahlia smiles, her heart soaring at his words. Rodrigo tells her everyday how important she is to him, but it means so much more to hear him declare this openly to her mother.
Her mother offers a weak smile and sips her wine. “Yes, well, hold onto this one because she can get a little slippery if you get too serious.”
Dahlia’s jaw drops. “Mother, that’s really unfair.” She should’ve known better than to introduce Rodrigo to her mother. But he insisted, saying that if they were serious about moving in together, he wanted to know her family better.
“Is it now?” Her mother replies impassively.
Rodrigo reaches across the table and takes Dahlia’s hand. “Perhaps it’s because she hadn’t met the right person, Mrs. Baron.”
“Right,” Rodrigo pauses, “Dahlia and I are interested in planning a future—together. To us that means living in Miami near my family. We’ve both had relationships before we met each other. What matters most to us is the future, not the past.”
Dahlia smiles proudly. Few could ever stand up to her mother the way Rodrigo just did.
Her mother narrows her crystal blue eyes on her daughter. Dahlia pushes her salad aside and takes a long drink of her wine. She knows what her mother is thinking. And even if Dahlia doesn’t want to admit it this time, she knows she’s right. Dahlia’s past could ruin her future with Rodrigo.
“Baby, you okay?” Rodrigo asks, tucking a stray strand of blond hair behind Dahlia’s ear.
“You’ve been quiet since lunch.”
Dahlia stares vacantly at the painting in front of her:
A Woman in the Sun
—one of her personal favorites by Edward Hopper. She remembers taking a private tour of the Whitney Museum with her mother and sister Lily when she was six years old, and falling in love with his works. Something about the subject’s gaze filled her with a sense of curiosity and instilled in her a desire to know the world through the artist’s eyes. That day, she picked up a sketchpad and didn’t put it down . . . until seven years ago.
Rodrigo runs his fingers down her cheek and gently lifts her chin to draw her gaze to him.
“Is it what your mom said?”
“We don’t need your mother’s blessing. I thought it would be nice for her to get to know me, but in the end what she thinks doesn’t matter, does it?”
Dahlia shakes her head and smiles at Rodrigo. Any other man would’ve been intimidated by her mother or run off by her comments about Dahlia’s commitment issues. Ironic since it was her mother who brought them out in her. Besides, since meeting Rodrigo that day on Miami Beach, she knew in her heart he was the one for her. She firmly believed he was her second chance at love.
“You’re right, it doesn’t,” Dahlia says emphatically. She reaches up and caresses Rodrigo’s stubble that inevitably grows in every afternoon. Her heart skips a beat as she gazes into his dark eyes, and her desire begins to pool in her core. She stopped looking for her mother’s approval a long time ago. No reason why she should care now.
Grabbing his hand, she says, “Come with me.”
Dahlia leads Rodrigo up a wide flight of stairs and through a small photography exhibition with a sleepy guard standing by the entryway. They cross the empty room to an unmarked door. She produces a key card and swipes it.
“How?” Rodrigo begins to ask.
She replies with a wink and closes the door behind them. “This is where they keep the pieces waiting to be sent to the storage facility,” Dahlia whispers as they walk past rows of cloth covered paintings and wooden crates. As they reach the end of the corridor, Dahlia pulls Rodrigo into the last row.
Without hesitating, he draws her mouth to his, their kiss all-consuming. His hot tongue finds hers and takes the kiss so deep it sends electricity through her body. He always knows what she needs in the moment. Today, she wants all of him. She needs his reassurance.
He cups her face with his hands and gently tugs on her lower lip with his teeth. The desire in his eyes leaves her core throbbing for him. She moans as she feels his generous erection press up against her.
Rodrigo’s hand moves under her skirt, grabbing and kneading her ass before hitching her leg around his waist. Without missing a beat, she leans back against the wall to allow him better access to her snatch.
He smiles seductively, licking his bottom lip as his hand goes exploring, palming her clit. He presses his lips hard against hers, and she relishes in the heady feeling his kisses give her. Her hips begin to move to the rhythm of his fingers, as he glides them in and out of her wet, hot love tunnel.
Dahlia gasps as he begins to move faster. “I want you inside me,” she whispers, her breathing strained by the excitement of the moment. She can’t get enough of him. “Love me now.”
Dahlia playfully bites and licks his neck as she runs her hands through his thick dark hair. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else, baby.”
Rodrigo brusquely lifts her by her ass, and she wraps her legs around him. He moans as he sinks his hard cock into her.
He moves slowly at first, enjoying the tightness of her cunt. Dahlia closes her eyes as he plunges deeper into her core. She likes that he takes it slow with her, his fullness becoming all that she can feel, overwhelming her senses.
She encircles her arms around his neck and pulls his lips to hers, their tongues dancing as he begins to pick up his pace. Dahlia begins to feel her muscles tighten around his cock as he thrusts faster and faster. She digs her nails into his arms, throws her head back and cries, “I’m going to come.”
“That’s right, baby. Come for me,” he murmurs, pushing his hard shaft into her a few more times before stilling and emptying himself into her as her muscles continue to tighten around his swollen cock.
Rodrigo leans into her as they both try to catch their breath. The sound of footsteps stir them from their blissful moment.
“Oh shit,” Rodrigo whispers, pulling up his pants and quickly closing the zipper. Dahlia can barely stifle a giggle at his nervous reaction. “Relax,” she says quietly, adjusting her skirt and stockings, “No one cares.” She plants one last kiss on his tender lips, before lacing her hand in his and guiding him out of the room.
“Do you have to leave so early?” Dahlia whines, covering her head with her pillow, the mid-winter sun already coming through the floor to ceiling windows in her loft.
Rodrigo pulls back the pillow and kisses her cheek. “It’s eight a.m. That’s only early for you, baby,” he chuckles. “There’s coffee in the pot when you’re ready.”
She rolls over and watches as he continues to dress. “Here, let me do that,” she says as she gets up on her knees and buttons his shirt. Seeing his gloriously chiseled body in the morning is certainly a good reason to get out of bed.
“Don’t look at me with those sexy blue eyes,” he warns, as she runs her tongue over her top lip. There doesn’t seem to be a moment when she doesn’t want him. “I’d love to have you again, but I’m already running late for my flight, and the car is waiting downstairs.”
“Tell Alejandro he can wait,” she says, as she begins to undo his shirt. He grabs her hand and kisses her fingers.
“I wish I could. I’ve already pushed back this trip twice. He’ll have my
if I postpone again.”
Dahlia sinks back onto her bed and props her head on her elbow. “What’s so important that he needs you back in Miami?”
“He wouldn’t say. Just that he wants the whole family to meet this afternoon.”
“Did he mention my sister?”
“You know Alejandro better than that. He never talks about his relationships.”
Dahlia shrugs. “I know. It’s just Lily hasn’t said much since Aspen.”
Rodrigo tucks his belt through a loop and bends down to kiss Dahlia. The gentle kiss quickly turns deeper as she wraps her arms around him and presses her chest to him.
He laughs. “I know what you’re trying to do, my sweet Dahlia. Any other day it would work. But I fear my family’s wrath more than yours.” He pulls away and runs his fingers down her cheek and over her pulpy lips. She loves how caring he is toward her. “Besides, I know your loving heart will forgive me.”
She nods and follows him downstairs to the front door. Before opening it, he says, “You promise to come to Miami this time? The cold weather is beginning to freeze my balls off. Besides, I was thinking we could start looking for a place, maybe something on the Beach.”
Dahlia grins and nods. She’d go to the ends of the earth to be with him. Just thinking that makes her miss him already. “I just need a week to take care of some business,” she says quietly, running her hands through her hair.
“Everything alright?” He asks.
She nods quickly. “Yeah, I’ve just been so busy with you that I neglected to take care of some Baron business. You’re not the only one with a demanding family. No big deal.” She smiles, her heart beginning to beat faster. This is the one lie she will tell him, she promises herself. After this, there will be no more secrets.