All characters in this story are over 18 years.
Later that same afternoon Leona entered the lounge of a hotel in Nicholson Street and ordered a dry sherry. The room was fairly crowded but she found a small vacant table in a corner and sat down. She sipped her sherry and looked around.
Almost immediately the door opened and a man came in. He had a handsome face, she noted, with a square, powerful jaw. He ordered himself a beer, stood at the bar, glanced round the room. He saw that the seat opposite her was one of the few that were empty.
After a few moments he moved towards her, ‘Excuse me, but is this the only public bar here, or is there another one through there?’ – pointing to a side door.
The grey flecks in his eyes were metallic. She felt his gaze like a tangible thing, a deliberate touch. She was disturbed by his presence.
‘I’m not certain,’ – uneasily – ‘I’ve only been here once before.’
He walked to the doorway, looked into the adjoining room, then came back to her table. He had left his unfinished beer there and had come back for it.
‘There is another bar,’ – smiling – ‘I’d better go and look in there. I’m waiting for someone.’
He went out, leaving his beer-glass on her table.
A minute later he came back – confiding – ‘she’s not in there either,’ and sat down.
He was looking at her like a man would know what a woman was for, she thought. He smiled a lot, showing a mouthful of regular, white teeth. She felt a flush run across her skin as he sized her up.
She shifted in her chair, picked up her glass, took another sip of her drink.
The man had the mobile face of an actor; clean-cut dark brown hair with steely glints in his eyes.
She slanted him a glance. ‘Looks like she stood you up.’
‘That’s Sandra for you,’ – letting out an exasperated breath – ‘she was supposed to meet me here at three.’
There was a silence for a moment, then he said: ‘Nice place this. Very nice indeed. Good atmosphere. You here alone?’
‘I like being alone,’ she said. ‘You live around here?’
‘No. I travel all over. ‘Making deals,’ – a slight laugh –’turning wheels, I deal in hotel supplies.’ His voice held a lazy inflection. ‘Tell me your name.’
‘It suits you. Aidan Riodan,’ he supplied. ‘Tell me about yourself.’
‘There’s not much to tell, really. I’m behind the counter of a department store in the city.’
‘Will you have another drink?’
‘I don’t think so. I shouldn’t drink any more until I’ve eaten. I only had a small salad for lunch.’
‘I could do with a caffeine fix. How about a coffee?’
‘Coffee would be great,’ – smiling and taking out her purse.
‘No. It’s on me.’
He went over to the bar to where a smart set of young men and women were drinking cocktails.
He placed two steaming cups on the table before her with a courtly gesture.
She was very aware of his physical impact. His lithe masculinity packed a powerful sexual charge.
‘Thanks,’ she said in a low voice.
‘You’re welcome,’ he stated, and sat down, this time beside her.
‘So, what sort of selling do you do?’
‘Women’s clothing. I’m about eight hours a day behind a shop counter.’
‘But you’re not a career woman?’
‘I’m not passionately attached to a bargain counter. No.’
‘So where do your passions lie?’
The question was put in a low, provocative tone.
Her reply was deliberately off-putting. ‘Probably in cooking.’
A bursa escort short laugh. ‘Are you married?’
‘No, Are you?’
‘I was. Divorced three years ago. I was supposed to be meeting up with my ex-wife here this afternoon. That’s who I was looking for when I came in.’
She gave him a long, level sideways look.
‘Why not give her a ring?’
‘She won’t give me her cell number. We had a big bust-up. I’ve got to wait till Sandra rings me. We’ve still got a joint property on the market that we’ve got to settle.’
Leona sipped her coffee. After a moment he asked.
‘You intending to have dinner here?’
‘They don’t serve a counter meal here until after five o’clock.’
‘I know a good café up the road. Want to come?’
‘I don’t think so. I think I’ll wait.’
‘There’s no strings attached.’ He smiled, like a conjurer bringing off a trick.
‘You mean that?’
‘Sure. Come on. We’ll go Dutch if you like.’
She looked at him for a moment, then followed him out into the street. They walked along towards Johnson Street where he had parked his car. An emerald green Alpha Romero Spider.
Aidan’s voice was as smooth and precise as his driving style.
‘I still want to know more about you,’ he was saying.
‘What more can I tell you?’ she laughed. ‘I’m female, aged twenty-five, unattached.’
‘That’s the part I like,’ he laughed.
They had an excellent meal in the café, Later Aidan drove Leona home and was very respectful, asking if she would go out with him the following night. He made no attempt to touch her. He said he knew a wonderful restaurant on Southbank, not far from Crown Casino.
‘I’m glad you came early,’ Leona said on opening the door to Aidan the following night, taking in his elegantly-tailored suit, the Dior shirt, the Cardin silk tie. ‘Come on in. You’ll have to excuse me. I was uncertain what to wear.’
She had on her house-coat and had been applying the final touches to her face before the mirror.
She blinked as she swept the mascara brush up, coating her eyelashes with liquid night. She then leaned back, scrupulously examining her reflection. She was going to need all the confidence that looking good could give her. She applied lipstick to her full mouth.
Aidan had seated himself in an armchair in the living room while she finished dressing.
Aidan sat in an armchair in the living room while she finished dressing in her bedroom.
Eventually, she appeared wearing a low-cut formal dress of ivory silk. His eyes moved over her, taking in the long flowing lines. Her ash-blonde hair was simply but expensively styled.
He had no problem in parking the car as the attendant knew him personally as did the waiter in the restaurant. He’d been there many times before, he told her, and greeted some of the patrons.
It was, as he had said, a top-quality restaurant over-looking the river. She was admiring the art-deco chandeliers, the polished redwood-panelled walls.
A waiter directed them across the room to their table. It was a very large dining area, with a dance-floor at one side of the room.
On a raised dias was the band and a female vocalist with a husky, crooning voice that was pleasant without demanding attention.
The waiter presented them with the menu after they were seated and Aidan discussed the wine list with the sommelier.
Couples were already occupying the dance floor, so Aidan held out his hand to her, ‘You’ll dance with me while we await our bursa escort bayan meal?’ he asked.
Leona readily succumbed to the pleasure of feeling the strongly muscled thighs brush against hers.
‘How does it feel to be the most beautiful one here?’ – he asked smoothly. Those steely glints more pronounced in his eyes.
A smile touched her mouth. ‘I read that line somewhere.’
Holding her loosely on the floor, she had to fight the impulse to press herself against the masculine strength of him as she swayed to the music.
She felt that at one stage another couple were about to collide into them, but Aidan managed skillfully to swing her away towards the far side of the room.
As they danced Leona became aware that Aidan was consistently watching the other couple through the crowd, especially the woman who had the most glorious platinum gold hair.
The music stopped and he guided her back to their table, but as their dinner had not yet arrived, Leona said she would like a pre-dinner drink.
Aidan signaled the wine-waiter, but almost at the same time their first course arrived. The waiter was beside her, serving piping hot clam chowder from a silver tureen. The wine-waiter poured chilled chardonnay.
They were little more than half-way through their meal when the woman she’d seen with the platinum hair stopped by their table. She was stunningly austere in a slick Chanel-type suit that fitted her tall, bony figure.
A muscle moved in Aidan’s throat. ‘Hello, Nicole,’ he finally said.
He performed the introductions. ‘Nicole. This Leona Nelson. Leona, meet Nicole Swinson.’ Aidan seemed to be swallowing something lodged in his throat.
Nicole hesitated, gauging Leona, perhaps trying to determine how she stacked up against her. It’s what women do, she thought. She noted the censorious lift of an eyebrow.
‘I’m on my way out,’ – Nicole said in a cool voice.
Leona saw her companion’s mouth tighten.
‘I have to talk to you sometime,’ Aidan said.
There was something about Nicole that reminded Leona of Faye Osborne. Perhaps it was her eyes, feline depths nursing a veiled hostility.
Nicole made her way over to another table, greeting the three people there warmly. Then she turned and floated back close to Aidan, glancing at her watch. After a moment, she moved around to Leona. ‘Don’t let Aidan take advantage of you,’ she said.
Leona felt an upsurge of irritation at this woman’s intense examination of her clothes and body, as if assessing her.
‘I won’t.’ Leona replied.
After Nicole had left the restaurant, Aidan and Leona moved onto the dance floor. The music had changed to a loud rock beat and conversation was difficult. Leona wanted to know more about Nicole. She wanted to know what she was to Aidan.
At the end of the dance, Aidan said, ‘Let’s leave now,’ – asperity in his voice – and in his very male, arrogant way, did not wait for her reply. He settled the bill with a gold credit card and led the way outside.
They walked the promenade alongside the river, observing the city lights reflected there.
‘Look at the river, Aidan,’ – pointing ahead of her – ‘It’s like phosphorescence.’
Aidan’s face was flushed and she saw a vein throbbing in his temple.
‘I’m looking at you, not the river,’ – smiling.
She said, holding his gaze, searchingly. ‘And so who is Nicole?’
‘Nicole is someone who used to work for me,’ a cautious edge to his voice – ‘I sometimes employ a secretary.’
‘And escort bursa that’s all?’
‘No. We were once engaged,’ – a pause – ‘ but she betrayed me, had an affair with another man. This was long before my marriage to Sandra.’
‘Something like that happened to me once,’ – lost now in her own thoughts – ‘a so-called friend of mine went off with a guy I cared deeply for. It left me painfully hurt and confused.’ She felt a bond with the man walking beside her. And it was probably because of this that she spent the night with him.
She hadn’t intended to let Aidan come into her flat in North Melbourne, but on reaching her apartment he had invited himself in.
They were sitting on the couch in her living room stroking each other, drinking a glass of brandy. ‘I’d like to take care of you,’ he said.
She raised her eyes questioning.
‘Is it me you want to take care of,’ – giggling as he undid her blouse, – ‘ or of my tits, which you’ve been staring at all night?’
For if it was possible for a man to drown in a woman’s cleavage, Aidan Riodan could do it.
‘I’ve never felt this way about a woman in my entire life,’ – saying as he caressed her. That’s a good line, she thought, especially as I’m vulnerable tonight. The core of her body aching, needing his love-making.
She knew she was drifting into a willing seduction with no thought of resistance on her part or even protest. Her lips responded eagerly to his, kissing him with the passion that was stirring in her body. His hands sliding down the smooth skin of her back.
As he had initially shown a tenderness she hadn’t received with many men, she was ready for his urgent thrust of possession. That was, until he got her down on the bed with no preliminary caresses. Then he was pinning her on her back, taking her wordlessly, after stripping off her clothes. She was conscious only of his torso and muscled arms.
Tonight she had wanted to be on top, but when she tried to change positions, he had pushed her back, saying, ‘I’m in charge here.’ She found herself allowing him to position her where he wanted her, pinning her under the weight of his body.
But she knew his ego was piqued that she would not surrender totally to him, and she felt the first stirrings of misgiving.
Aidan fell asleep almost immediately, and although she felt his bodily love-making for a long time afterwards, she felt that no real emotion had touched her.
In the weeks that followed she continued to go out with him, but she was always conscious of his need for dominance. Aidan was the decision-maker, as he so often said. He made all the arrangements as to where and when they went, never once consulting her, but expecting her to go along with him and enjoy everything he did. He was arrogant and sure of himself.
It began to concern her that she was becoming too attached to this man and that there was no real feeling between them. Frequently, she felt that the relationship was just a taking on his part that could soon drain the life out of her. Often she was angry with herself for permitting him to bullying her into doing things that made her feel uncomfortable with herself.
Then there were his business trips. She never knew where he went or even when he was coming back. He would tell her after he arrived home where he had been, but seldom before he left. Was he seeing someone else, she often wondered? ‘I mind my own business and I expect people ot mind their’s,’ he said on more than one occasion.
Late one night he said to her, ‘I’m setting up some business meetings in Hong Kong, it’s to be my operating base in Asia. I’ll be away for a week, and I’ll contact you once I come back. I leave tomorrow.’
Three weeks went by and Leona had not heard anything from him.