Souvenirs (Chapter 5)
By David, United KingdomEditor's Note: Chapter 4 of this romantic novel appeared in last month's issue of Sweet Designs Magazine. The story continues next month.
Lily's options were running out fast, and she was all too aware of it. The other two girls had been literally carried off, and she was a heartbeat away from the same infuriating fate. Her clothes had been confiscated; she had been allowed to keep her underwear - for the time being at least - only because it hid absolutely nothing of her figure. She could try to escape up the steps by which she had descended to the beach, but the badly-maintained stairs were covered in small sharp stones. In her bare feet, she would be caught all too quickly by Gunner.
She glanced down the beach, where her two friends had been taken. Could she outrun Gunner and escape round the headland? She could run on the sand, and Gunner's great strength didn't necessarily mean he was fleet-footed. But, again, the stones and rocks of the promontory would be an impassable barrier to a girl with her feet and body unprotected by clothes. Also, she knew that a chase would excite him, and there was already a volatile sexual chemistry between them.
She snarled in exasperation. Her freedom had been so precious to her, the consolation for Carl's betrayal, a defiant challenge to male chauvinism. But now that challenge had been answered once and for all. A group of powerful, audacious men had come here and put an end to her liberty and that of her friends. Lily was a feminist, but the combined words of Camille Paglia and Kate Millett were no match for the invaders' muscles.
"This is abduction," she snarled. "There are laws, you'll go to prison."
Gunner wasn't perturbed. "We'll work something out."
"If my friends are hurt," she vowed, "I swear I'll ..."
She couldn't finish the sentence. How could she help her friends? She herself was a concubine, her skin oiled, her body perfumed and ready for love. Gunner smiled. "They're safe. Calm down and we'll talk about it."
She did, because it was the only thing to do. Few nurses are the man-hungry nymphets of male fantasy. But every nurse is a realist - their work teaches them that bad stuff happens and it cannot always be avoided. For all her principles, Lily was still a pragmatist. For the moment, at least, the men held all the aces. Hands on hips, she glared at Gunner, her breasts rising each time she inhaled as if in their own surging, futile bid for freedom, unable to escape the capturing, cupping brassiere.
"What are you going to do with us?" Her voice was sullen, resentful, yet both she and Gunner knew that the words were those of surrender.
"Talk, for a start." He sat down and patted the sand beside him. "Come here."
She hesitated, then obeyed. Standing didn't make her any less of a captive, and talking would at least give her a chance to vent her feelings.
As she sat, feeling warm sand under her bottom, she said, "You get off on humiliating women?"
"Whatever makes you say that?"
"If it isn't true, then give me back my clothes!"
"Why? Does your identity depend on that uniform?" he asked. "I came across a lot of guys in the Army who were like that. Their status, their dignity, was down to a tunic or a badge of rank. I bet you're a little dragon at work, aren't you? Ordering the other nurses around, making life a misery for the patients. Hoping nobody finds out about the other Lily - the one who wants to be kissed."
She blushed, remembering that moment when their lips had almost met.
"Ya, you're full of crap! You don't know anything about me," she retorted. But clearly he was no mindless brute; he was an intelligent man who was enjoying this battle of wits with an almost-naked girl.
"What about my friends?" she demanded. "What right does some muscle-bound oaf have to just walk off with them?"
"Paul and Steve are two of the greatest guys you'll ever meet. And they deserve to be happy." "My friends are not their therapy!" she yelled.
He was unmoved. "Maybe you should let Rachel and Claire speak for themselves. Just what is it with you anyway? Why the attitude problem?"
She sneered. "It's strange, but I always have a problem when somebody takes my clothes and abducts me and my friends!"
He shook his head. "Before any of that happened, from the moment we arrived, you were hostile. I reckon somebody hurt you to make you that way."
"Oh, I didn't realise you were a qualified psychologist!"
He smiled good-naturedly. "I left school with hardly a qualification to my name. But I've been around. I learned what makes people tick."
"You know damn all about me, and I'd rather it stayed that way!"
But her feelings were more complicated than the words revealed. Despite herself, she had a grudging admiration for the decisiveness and daring of these men. Their very chauvinism had in it a kind of honesty. Carl had promised her the truth, only to deceive her. Now she had encountered unmistakeable reality, though her freedom and her status had been lost in the process. Gunner might abduct her, might take her to his bed and make love to her.
But he would never lie to her. And despite her predicament, that seemed curiously, infuriatingly, reassuring.