Souvenirs (Chapter 6)
By David, United KingdomEditor's Note: Chapter 5 of this romantic novel appeared in the June issue of Sweet Designs Magazine. This is the concluding chapter to the story.
Partly furious at what had happened, partly intrigued and excited, Lily asked, "Why do they call you Gunner? It can't be your real name. Were you in the Army?"
He nodded, not taking his gaze from her figure. "Iraq, Afghanistan. It didn't leave much time for the family. My wife got fed up waiting, met someone else, and took our son with her."
"I'm sorry," Lily said, then was angry at herself for expressing sympathy with a man who was probably planning to kidnap her. Looking down the beach, she saw Rachel arguing hopelessly with Steve, who was clearly unmoved by the sultry beauty's demands for freedom. Further off again, Paul and Claire were not arguing, outstretched on the sand - they were kissing passionately. Lily was annoyed but unsurprised. That useless boyfriend of Claire's paid her no attention - she was a ready, sweet, ripe fruit that had fallen into Paul's eager hands.
"Not your fault my marriage failed," Gunner smiled. "It's going to be different next time around, though. This business that me and the guys have got - it's really going places. The next woman in my life will have everything. The kids too, when they come along."
"It's none of my company," she said haughtily, or at least as haughtily as her tiny black panties and brassiere allowed.
"Yes it is," he said. And then he took her in his arms and kissed her. She didn't resist because there was a rightness to it, an inevitability - she may as well have resisted a sunrise or a tide. The longing she had denied for so long, ever since Carl, was raging now. His hands were on her body, caressing, holding. She gripped his arms, his shoulders, sighing to herself. The rays of the sun touched her skin as if they wanted to be included, but the sun was a pale, weak, insipid thing against this heat that was taking them closer, closer to the point of no return. She drew back a little; it took every atom of her willpower. "Gunner, please, my darling, not here ... please wait ..."
He nodded, smiling.
"You soft, sweet woman," he said.
Then he picked her up and carried her down the beach, as Steve had carried Rachel, across his shoulder. She could hardly comprehend what was happening. Lily, the capable staff nurse in charge of any situation, the assertive feminist, was a mere package, Carl and her career and plans of no more relevance than some piece of driftwood on the ocean they were approaching. Was it some erotic dream? No, the feel of Gunner's hand on her bottom was all too earthily real. Facing backwards, she saw the flight of steps receding, and with them any chance of the freedom she no longer really wanted.
She couldn't see what was happening, but she heard Gunner's voice. "Come on, you guys. Let's move! We know we're going to do this. Andy, Nick, get that boat off the beach and let's get aboard."
Paul's voice. "I'll help." He knew, as did Claire, that there would be no bid for escape. The lovely blonde girl had already kissed away her freedom. Like Lily and Rachel, she was now a mere souvenir.
Then willing hands were lifting Lily on to the boat. With Andy at the wheel, they were heading away from the shore. She was standing on a wooden deck that was warm to the soles of her feet. She stood on the railing and looked back at the little beach, the beach that was the girls' domain till these conquerors had arrived to take their spoils of golden flesh. Gunner's arm was around her waist. Steve and Claire were kissing again. Rachel was still protesting, but there was resignation in her dark eyes; her urbane sophistication was powerless against the passionate Viking Steve.
Feeling salt spray on her flesh, Lily heard Gunner give more orders. "Nick, throw their clothes and stuff into the sea. But keep their cell phones. They'll buy us time."
"Now just a minute!" Rachel exclaimed. Her clothes had already been ripped up, but now she faced the loss of her documents. Steve just laughed and picked her up in his arms. Soon Lily's uniform, Claire's dress, bits of card and paper and bags were sinking behind the boat. Each girl owned nothing now except the two scraps of material that covered her figure so inadequately.
"Damn you!" Rachel swore.
Steve laughed. "You don't need money. I'll buy the wedding dress."
"Wedding!? Now look ..."
The boat was approaching the main harbour. Parked by the jetty was a big, powerful-looking Mercedes.
"Ladies, your chariot awaits," Paul laughed. Then the boat was moored. There were a few holidaymakers around who stared as three almost-nude girls were carried to the car. But to the observers, Lily realised, it was just holiday horseplay. The watching men looked envious.
Nick and Andy sat in the front of the car, Nick driving. In the back, a girl was on each man's lap. Personal space wasn't possible, and the atmosphere was sweaty, intimate.
From the front, there was the ring of a cell phone. "That's mine," Rachel said.
Andy picked the phone up, and looked at the display panel. "It's a guy called Peter."
"He's my fiancé. Give that phone to me!" She made a token effort to break free of Steve's embrace.
Andy grinned and looked at Steve. "You wanna talk to this jerk?"
"Nah, my hands are full of woman! He'll have to leave a message."
Then they heard Peter's voice. Lily thought he had never sounded more arrogant or pompous. "Rachel? What's going on? Why don't you answer. I need to talk about the wedding arrangements. Call me back as soon as you can."
"No chance, sucker!" Steve grinned. "Chuck their phones out of the window. Damn things get in the way."
"No, wait!" Paul commanded. "Text him back, Andy. Stall him. We need to buy some time here, like Gunner said."
"How's this?" Andy said a minute later. CANT TALK NOW. WIL EXPLAIN LATR." He pressed the "send" button.
Then Lily understood that it would be ages before the girls were missed. Sending text messages, the men could allay any suspicions that anything was wrong.
They reached the freeway. "Turn north, Andy," Gunner ordered. "We're heading for Scotland."
"Scotland?" Lily echoed. "But why?"
"Gretna Green." Gunner spoke the words in a matter-of-fact way, but the girls were incredulous and outraged. What Reno was to divorce, Gretna Green was to marriage; they could be arranged - and performed - almost instantly.
"This is ridiculous!" Rachel said. "I already have a fiancé."
The words were out of Lily's mouth almost before she thought them. "Get real, Rachel. You've had a lucky escape. Imagine being hitched to that pompous idiot Peter."
"Who are you calling a pompous idiot? I'll decide who I marry, thanks all the same. And it won't be some muscle-bound brute!" Steve's response to the insult was to nuzzle her ear.
Lily had nothing to lose by speaking out. "Better a brute who loves you than a jerk who just wants you as a status symbol. And Peter is a jerk!"
"Oh, you're such an expert on relationships now, are you?" Rachel responded. "You're a hypocrite, is what you are. You talk about women's lib and how you don't need a guy and all the rest of it! Do you think we didn't see what happened back there on the beach? When Gunner kissed you, it's a wonder your panties didn't catch fire! And you're no better," turning to Claire. "I thought the sand was going to melt when you and Paul were -"
Then the wonderful absurdity of it all struck Lily with full force, and she laughed, almost hysterically, squirmed round on Gunner's lap, and kissed him. The car glided towards a triple wedding, and she knew that none of her friends or family or colleagues could stop it from happening. But with her mouth on Gunner's, and her body in his arms, she was certainly being rescued.