Lorne gently squeezed the women's hands and stopped them on the path. "Hush a moment There's a dassie."
Chloe whispered, "Where?"
He let go of Valerie's hand and knelt beside Chloe, his cheek against hers as he pointed. "There, on that rock. They like sitting in the morning and afternoon sun, but they seek shade midday."
"Almost the same colour as the rock. That's for safety, isn't it?"
"Yes, Sweetheart, they're lunch for eagles and other large raptors."
"And what do the dassies eat?"
"Mainly grass and other soft vegetation." Lorne stood and took the women's hands again. "Let's continue along. We may see more. Would you like to play a guessing game about dassies as we go?"
Valerie laughed. "Surely you've seen Chloe thrives on deduction."
He winked at Valerie. "That's why I suggested it. So here's the question: What is the closest living relative to the dassie?"
"It looks like an oversized guinea pig." Chloe turned her head to look at it again. "That's my guess."
"No. Think of something bigger."
"What about a rabbit, then? Because of the size and diet."
"Nope. Think of something much bigger. Same diet, though."
"Hmmm. Big grass eater? Sheep, goat, deer, antelope? Those don't make sense."
"Bigger than any of those. Think really big. And it doesn't have to make sense. Evolution has done strange things."
"Horse, hippopotamus? Rhinoceroses?"
"Elephant? No, that's ridiculous."
"No? You're joshing me, Daddy."
"I think nature is having fun. The dassie is a hyrax, which is one of only three surviving branches from a remote ancestor. The other two branches are elephants and sea cows, like the manatees and dugongs."
"I'll have to look that up. How do you know so much?"
"Curiosity. Like you have."
Valerie squeezed Lorne's hand and hummed a sigh.
They continued along, spotting two more dassies before they reached the summit cairn and climbed onto its top to take in the spectacular view.
After a few quiet moments, Lorne pointed to the broad pile of rocks on which they stood. "This beacon was built by the British astronomer, Sir Thomas Maclear in the1840s. He's the man who determined the shape of the earth, his observations from here forming an important part of his eight years of calculations."
"Eight years? That's a long time to do a maths problem, isn't it?"
"The shape of the earth was only a part of that. But with it, he wanted to make sure because his calculations showed results contradicting those of a famous astronomer a century before." Lorne laughed. "Besides, they didn't have computers or calculators back then, only slide rules and pencil and paper."
"You love this stuff, don't you, Daddy?"
"Yes, but I love you and your mother far more. We should head back."
On their return walk, Lorne led them along the rim of the escarpment to watch raptors soaring in the updrafts. They paused a few times to witness a dive or a swoop as another unsuspecting lunch was plucked from a ledge below.
The ride down the lift was uncrowded, the bus tour group having spent its allotted half hour 'doing' Table Mountain. As Lorne drove down through the switchbacks on Tafelberg Road, Valerie asked. "Where are we headed now?"
"To the One&Only. Patrick had our bags transferred there. We'll have lunch together, then I've arranged a spa session for you while I meet."
"Ooh, I love that place. That's where I stay when I'm here."
"Another reason to love you; your taste. I've booked a suite, we'll have lunch catered there, then you and Chloe can relax until I'm finished."
Valerie reached across and rubbed his thigh. "I love your style — and your thoughtfulness. How long is your meeting?"
"Not sure. Three or four hours, likely. Depends on how tough they are. But let's not talk business now." They carried on to other topics, and a quarter hour later, they were shown to the hotel suite.
"The second bedroom and its ensuite are through this door," the Guest Services Manager said as she led them into it. "Shall I inform Nobu to prepare your lunch now?"
"Yes, please." Lorne looked out through the open doors at the terrace. "We'll have it outside."
After Lorne had locked the door behind the departing manager, Valerie said, "Funny, we've been ordering in sushi from Nobu in Park Lane the past few weeks."
Lorne ran his fingers through his hair as he furrowed his brows. "I can arrange something different."
"Whatever for? We continued ordering it because we love it."
He released a breath. "Good — Are you sure? I can change it."
Valerie took a few steps and wrapped him in a hug. "Don't worry about not pleasing us. I'm sure if you like something, we will as well." She rose to her toes and kissed him. "You need to relax. So far, this trip has been far beyond my wildest imaginings. So far beyond." They merged in another kiss; a much more passionate one.
Chloe watched with intense interest, appearing to be analysing every movement and sound.
Valerie continued the kiss, feeling her folds warming as she mashed her mound into his thigh and moaned from deep in her throat. Gotta stop this. Chloe's watching. She felt Lorne swell against her leg. Now, girl. Stop it now. She moaned and broke the kiss, then laid her head on his shoulder and panted.
A short while later, still not fully recomposed, she said, "Sweetheart, you should go tinkle and wash your hands for lunch."
"Are you and Daddy going to make love?"
"Yessir, Mum, I'm going." Chloe giggled as she walked toward her bedroom, looking over her shoulder as she went.
When Chloe had disappeared, Lorne rearranged the furniture in his trousers, then he looked up with a sheepish grin. "A bit carried away. Is it okay that she sees us behaving in this way?"
"I think it is. She needs to understand what it is. That kissing is not all sex-related." Oh, fuck, but that sure was. So fucking hot for him. I'm sure she saw that. "I'll have another talk with her while you're meeting."
YOU ARE READING
Set in an environment of extreme wealth in contemporary London, this is a story of tender new love trying to flourish while a tragic past conspires to destroy. As Valentine's Day approaches, two lonely people begin breaking out of their social shell...