The world conspires in favor of new lovers. Sprawling estates perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean become available for exclusive use on one of the most spectacular weekends of the year. Cocktails are enjoyed poolside and the vast lawn is transformed into a giant croquet court, where Brie discovers her talent for mallet sports and Danny grows ever more enamored as she whacks the ball in her bikini bottoms and his childhood baseball jersey. Nights are spent relaxing in the hot tub and making love out on the lounge chairs or in the bathtub in his mother's bedroom-sized bathroom or on the pool table midway through nine-ball or accidentally in front of Dolores's Springer Doodle, Quibbley, who formed an immediate affection for Brie and drew blood on Danny's leg as he was "attacking" her.
Over breakfast on Sunday, they sit in high-backed chairs on the terrace discussing their respective strategies at work for the coming week, talking through each other's goals, grinning at the feel-good vibe of an equally physical and intellectual connection, but never once feeling the need to define it. In the past, that was always where Brie took a wrong turn. Unsure about the guy's true feelings, she pressed him, maneuvering him into conversational corners where he'd be forced to reveal his true feelings, which were always either painfully inconclusive or disappointingly frank. But when you're confident that someone cares about you, it doesn't need to be said.
Brie is scrolling through his Keynote presentation. "You should move the slide of the boy watching the elephant herd to the front, and put the one of the teenaged poacher next, to create the connection. Like the poacher was that little boy but he didn't have the educational intervention."
"I love that," Danny says. "You see, I never would've thought of that because I know it's not the same person. You're a natural marketer, you know that?"
Brie pets his head as he reorders the slides. "Ohh thanks, and you have a baby-sized corpus collosum."
"All right, that's it," Danny says, slapping his laptop closed. "Who wants a super spicy Bloody Mary?"
Brie raises her hand, and he kisses it as he goes by.
Three super spicy Bloody Mary's later, they are laying in the sun. They drag their lounge chairs to the edge of the pool and place them foot-to-foot, so they can stare at each other. Paradise is lying by a seaside pool with a cocktail in your hand looking at the one you love. She can see two miniaturized images of herself in his sunglasses, the one on the left the girl she used to be, the one on the right the one she is now. They are the same, and they always have been. She just needed to love herself, know herself, be herself. No one can tell you who you are. Only you get to decide.
Brie's phone dings and she checks it. Yet another text from Trish fishing for details about Danny. Brie looks over at him, his skin brown from the sun. She points her camera at him and takes a picture, and the shutter sound wakes him. "Voyeurism while I'm napping."
She smiles. "Go back to sleep."
"Huh uh," he says, stretching. "I'm hungry."
"Can I bring you something?"
She crawls from her lounge and onto his, sitting astride him. She swipes from camera to video and hits record. "Hello handsome stranger lying by this private pool all by himself." She moves her hips.
"Mmm," he says, thrusting up to meet her. She zooms in on him. "I hope nobody comes by and sees us."
She sees his eyes go lazy behind the lenses. "That's not going to happen. We are totally alone."
She makes a cooing sound and begins to tug at the string of her bikini top. Danny stops her and gestures for her phone. She hands it to him and when he points it at her, she lowers her head.
He is charmed by her shyness. "It's just you and me, Stranger."
She lifts her chin and then her elbows, loosening the knot behind her neck. One of the triangles falls, revealing her round breast. She touches it and moves her hips again. "The other night, when I was alone, I was thinking about you," she says, running little circles around her blush pink nipple.
Danny works to hold the camera steady. "Oh yeah?"
Brie nods, her shyness gone now. She pinches the string connected to the other side of her bathing suit top and pulls it down. "Yeah. I was wishing you were there to touch me."
She can see the vein in his neck pulsating.
"But you weren't there," she says, crossing hands across her chest to pinch her nipples. "So I had to touch myself."
She sees his face go serious. "Show me," he says.
She keeps her eyes on his as she slips her hand down into her bathing suit bottom. "I pretended that my finger was your finger," she says. "And then I pretended that it was your tongue."
He pans the camera down to capture her finger moving underneath the fabric.
"Wasn't the same though," she says, pulling her suit down. She reaches out her hand and takes hold of him. "I wanted this."
He holds the camera with one hand and reaches out to touch her with the other. "Here I am," he says, his voice low.
She stands, untying the back of her top and stepping out of her bottoms, emboldened by the camera now. She reaches and pulls down his board shorts and takes him in her hand while the camera watches. She kneels down beside him and takes him in her mouth, watching the pleasure on his face, the third eye of the camera a new vantage of arousal.
"It's funny that you say that," he says, pushing her back onto her lounge. "Because I had a dream about you that same night." He crawls on top of her, kissing her with intensity and pressing the phone in her hand. She turns it on him and tracks him as he moves down. Through the camera she watches him lick her, lifting her hips to push herself against his mouth and twisting her fingers in his hair with her free hand.
In the distance Quibbley is barking and they both laugh. "Better watch out," she says. "What will he think you're doing to me this time?"
She lays back, keeping her camera on him, breathless from the feeling his tongue is creating as the sun glows orange behind her eyelids. "Yeah," she cries. "Right there."
She feels a new tongue on her arm, and then a shadow falls, extinguishing that lovely orange glow.
"Is this your idea of housesitting?" says a terrible voice. "Locking my dog up while you sodomize this person?"
Brie opens her eyes just in time to see Danny's face lifting, and then she yelps and rolls off the side of the lounge into the pool, sinking to the bottom as she watches the dour visage of Dolores Blake wavering above her, phone in hand, trying in vain to imagine a way never to resurface.
YOU ARE READING
Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...