Voices whispered in the dark. Muffled sounds floated around me. Silky warmth touched my skin. All these registered lightly on my flickering consciousness. Little by little, I came awake.
I did not struggle or reach or blink or call out. I allowed myself to surface in small increments. Eventually, tentatively, I opened my eyes. My sight was clouded. Hazy silhouettes moved around me. I blinked repeatedly, trying to clear my eyes. The world around me came slowly into focus.
A beautiful woman’s face hovered above me. Her eyes were like glittering crystals. Her silvery hair fell like a cloud over her shoulders. I believed she was an angel. I wanted to reach up and touch her.
A gentle hand brushed the hair from my forehead. Someone leaned close to me. I could feel the warm breath on my cheek. A low, female voice murmured in my ear.
“Don’t force yourself. Rest a little longer. Sleep will do you good.” I allowed sleep to reclaim me.
The next time I awakened, I did so in a rush. I sat up in bed and looked around in confusion. I was in a room I’d never seen before. Light-filtering drapes covered the windows. The low bed, made of beautifully worked, light rattan, was big enough for four people.
In a corner of the room, there was a round, glass-topped table flanked by two sumptuously cushioned wicker chairs. On the table sat a porcelain vase full of lovely, white Calla lilies. Tropical luxury seemed to be the ongoing theme.
My need to use the bathroom became urgent. I pushed aside the silk comforter to discover I was naked. I rose from the bed, stepping gingerly, feeling weak, bruised, and unsteady. The cream-colored, plush carpeting felt luscious under my feet.
Vulnerable in my nakedness, I felt relieved when the first door I tried turned out to be a luxurious en-suite bathroom. It was spacious, richly appointed with wall-to-wall mirrors and a state-of-the-art, multiple-jets shower over a sunken, tiled tub. In my condition, I would probably drown in it.
I emptied my bladder and then minced my way to the shower. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to work the shower’s plumbing. My hair was full of sand, and my body ached all over.
I was shocked to find dried blood and discolored bruises surrounding puncture marks in multiple places on my body. Something bad had happened to me, but my memories were jumbled, fragmented, and I could not make sense of them.
I cleaned my teeth and brushed my hair, fighting the dull ache from the bruises on my arms. There were all kinds of toiletries for guests. Several white terrycloth robes in assorted sizes were stacked on built-in shelves. I wrapped myself in one, feeling far less vulnerable clothed.
I returned to the bedroom to find someone had visited while I was showering. There was now a wooden tray on the round table. The tray held a pot of freshly brewed coffee, a beautiful porcelain cup and saucer, and small crystal jars of sugar and cream. A small plate full of cut cheeses and slices of melon looked scrumptious. I realized I was starving.
I fixed myself a cup of coffee and sat on one of the cushioned chairs to enjoy my breakfast. After finishing two cups of coffee and most of the cheese and fruit, I settled into my thoughts.
Closing my eyes, I reached out for the last memory I could access. Like images unfolding in an illustrated storybook, it all came back to me.
Donnie examined his handiwork and nodded with approval. “The look is smashing on you. I outdid myself today. A handful of highlights up front, enough to brighten up your face. You don’t need more. The layered cut looks stunning. It brings out your large, dark eyes and sets off your elegant, long neck. Girl, I’m so jealous. I wish I had a neck like yours. Great for pictures.”
I looked in the mirror, turning my head from side to side to test the fall of the cut. “I love it, Donnie. No one does hair the way you do. You are a true artist.”
“Yes, sweetie. It’s why I get the big monaayyy,” he bragged, sashaying his tight, gay ass over to the cash register. I followed, ATM card in hand.
“Yes, it’s getting to the point I can barely afford you. Make sure I get the best-friend discount.”
“Always, my dear. Fortune is a fickle goddess, but good friends are forever. They get discounts.” He got busy with the register.
“A pity. I’m all gorgeous and have nowhere to go.”
“No plans on a Friday night? You’re kidding?” he took my card.
“I was supposed to spend the weekend at Hawks Cay down in Duck Key. This was planned months ago as part of the wedding festivities for a classmate of mine, but she caught the groom in bed with the best man. I thought such things only happened in raunchy movies. You can imagine the fallout.”
“You know what they say. Inside every straight man, there’s a gay one begging to be set free.”
“Who says?” I snapped, annoyed at the absurd quip. “Only you and your delusional buddies, I bet. There are plenty of men out there who have no intention of ever joining your misguided ranks.”
“Well, Sweetheart, I’m not the one without plans on Friday night. I have an invitation to a posh party tonight. It’s supposed to be packed with beautiful people, all the lovelies from the surrounding area. Rumor has it a couple of Victoria’s Secret Angels will be in attendance.”
“Oh, my God! I’m so jealous. You already have a gorgeous boyfriend. I’m the one who needs to meet new people. An eligible lawyer or a plastic surgeon would be nice.”
“If you want, you can come as my date. My boyfriend Dante is on a business trip up in Atlanta. You can keep me out of trouble. Drag me home if I drink too much.”
“Sounds great. It’s a pity to look so good for nothing. What time?”
“Meet me in the back parking lot at eleven. I’ll drive. You can leave your car here. It will be safe.” He handed me my card back.
“Great! See you at eleven.”
“Wear something classy but sexy. I have an image to uphold, you know.” He flipped back his hair and strutted to his station.
“Having fun?” Donnie held his long-stemmed tulip glass, pinky out, and gazed around him. He knew I was impressed. My best friend got extreme pleasure from impressing his friends. Deep down, he was a snob. It was probably a natural reaction stemming from his sad background.
Donnie grew up alone in the world. He never knew his father, and his mother died when he was a child. He lived in horrid foster homes. At the age of fourteen, he took off and never looked back.
He was openly envious of friends and co-workers who had support systems, a family who cared, or a family who had to care. If I chose to quit a job because my boss was a jerk, I went home to my parents. There was always food on the table, free TV, and gasoline money.
If Donnie’s boss was a bastard, he had to grin and bear it. If his car broke down, there was no one to come rescue him. He relied on friends and acquaintances, and you could not call on those favors too often.
In the past, he had scraped, saved, bought second-hand clothes, and lived in hovels. He took boyfriends and lovers for the support and benefits they could offer. He used people, and they used him. Survival was his priority.
In between the scraping and groveling, he’d put himself through cosmetology school, but doing ten-dollar cuts at the Hair Cuttery was not the future he craved. His dreams were big.
He wanted to be a hairstylist for the rich and famous. He was determined to own a world-class salon someday. Lately, he no longer scraped and bowed. He was on his way. I was so glad for him.
“Oh my God, Donnie! This is great. Look at the moon hanging over the water. It’s like they arranged it especially for the party. What about the size of the chandelier? How the hell did they get it up there? And the double staircase should be in a Hollywood movie.”
“It probably was. Many of these waterside mansions have been used in movies for years. I think Scarface was filmed somewhere around here.”
I was enchanted. This was the embodiment of my dreams. This was how I wanted to live. I yearned to know how to make it happen. There was a formula, and it was not hard work. Zillions of people worked hard all their lives and didn’t live like this.
“The people, Donnie. I’ve never seen so many gorgeous men in one place.”
“Gorgeous and successful. Many of them are filthy rich. I suggest you mingle and network. Don’t be shy. You never know what you might catch.”
“Someone who owns something like this, and I would be set,” I murmured, sighing deeply and envisioning the possibilities. My attention was drawn to a small group of people standing on the opposite end of the terrace. “Who are they?”
“I don’t know. I recognize all the regulars here because I’ve rubbed shoulders with most of them at one time or another. I may be a hairstylist, albeit an expensive one, but I have a well-connected boyfriend. My Dante knows everyone who is anyone.”
“They could be wealthy South Americans,” I suggested. Miami had been flooded with wealthy Venezuelans over the last decade, all running to protect and keep their wealth. They owned whole neighborhoods in the city.
“The native element here is rather a small group. Most of these people are transient. Some come in search of opportunities and connections. Many hope to make it into the film industry or get modeling gigs.” He stopped to sip his champagne.
“Others are looking for the sun, excitement, a change, or a new start. After a while, when it all comes to nothing, they move on. This group looks European. Venezuelans would be shorter and not so glaringly white.”
“You are probably right,” I murmured, my eyes still glued to the group.
“Besides, this group is too elegant,” said Donnie. “The South Florida look is casual, sun-kissed, wind-blown Nouveau Rich. These look like young people with old money.”
As if sensing they were the center of attention, the entire group turned speculative eyes on us. Donnie, recognizing the opportunity, smiled and raised his glass in salute. I also smiled, a little embarrassed to be caught gawking.
“Come, let’s move away. A stroll on the beach will be perfect. It’s not good to be thought too smitten. If they want to talk to us, they can hunt us down later.” My friend had no idea how prophetic his words would prove.
“A magical night under a bewitching moon,” she said, standing next to me on the beach. One moment I was alone, basking in the cool, breezy night; the next one, she was there. I’d not seen or heard her approach.
I looked up at a captivating face. The eyes reflected the light of the moon strangely, the way cats’ eyes do. Their color was a pale gray, so light it was almost translucent.
Her face was heart shaped and finely boned. Piles of silvery blonde hair framed it, falling in soft curls and fringes, leaving her long, slim neck bare to the night.
Porcelain skin, pale and flawless, gave way to well-defined lips the color of lush, pink roses. Her nose was short and narrow, in perfect proportion to the delicate symmetry of her face.
Her body was the perfect extension of her lovely face. Taller than me, she was both sleek and lush. Pebbled nipples poked enticingly against the silky shift she wore, her round breasts bare under it. The breeze molded the short dress to her thighs; her legs were long and sculpted. I held my breath, bewildered by such stunning beauty.
“Yes, perfect,” I stammered. My emotional reaction to her was unnervingly powerful. I was flustered, confused, in the grip of an attraction alien to me.
The beauty of other females never affected me. Yes, like any other girl, I was always quick to notice any attractive woman in my vicinity, but this was the catty competition factor at work.
This was definitely a first. I reacted to her carnally, the way a male would react. I was drawn to her inexplicably, unable to keep my eyes from her moist, slightly open lips, my hands itching to reach out. Her subtle perfume lured me to get closer and breathe deeply.
“My name is Samantha.” She tilted her head as if to better see me. Her gaze, blatant and hungry, swept over my body, from head to toe, without shame. I felt a frisson of excitement as those crystalline eyes roamed over me, caressing me with their heat.
She moved closer, her nostrils flaring as she inhaled my scent. She smiled, and her lovely, perfect teeth showed startlingly white in the moonlight. “And your name is?” I was so mesmerized; it took a moment before I realized she expected an answer.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” I shook my head to throw off the spell making my senses reel and my skin tingle. “How rude of me. My name is Rose. Pleased to meet you.” I extended my hand.
The mesmerizing woman took it in both of hers. She held it for a few moments, turning it palm up and rubbing along the lifeline with her thumb. She then looked at my palm, lingering as if she could see something interesting on it.
“Rose is an old-fashioned name, rarely used anymore. A beautiful name, one I like very much.” Her voice was low and seductive. It sent delicious shivers through my body. She spoke in a slight accent I could not place, with a soft rolling of the Rs and slightly sharper Ts. She continued to rub my palm, watching me with her reflective, catlike eyes.
“It’s actually Rosalinda,” I breathed. “My mother is Spanish and named me after her grandmother. But I go by Rose. My friends all call me Rose.”
I realized I was babbling now, but the sensation of her thumb caressing my palm was driving all common sense from my head.
“A lovely rose. Very fitting.” Her gaze dropped to my hand again. “I read palms. It is a hobby of mine. Yours looks very promising. I would love the chance to do a reading for you. Maybe tonight, after the party?”
I felt myself fascinated by this woman, unable to pull my hand away. “I’m intrigued, but I’m here with a friend. He’s driving, and I must leave when he does.”
“No, you do not. We can take you home. My friends would love to meet you, and I am sure, you will love them.”
She stepped closer. Her arm moved to circle my waist and pull me in. Her breath, sweet and warm, fell on my neck. The next moment, I was sure the woman would touch her lips to it. I badly wanted her to do so.
Samantha looked up as others joined us. “These are the friends I mentioned.” A handful of the most beautiful males I’d ever seen, surrounded us. They formed a bodily cage around us, crowding us in, invading our personal space.
It would have been statistically impossible to find so many gorgeous men together, at the same gathering, by chance. I wondered if they might be related, sharing the same pool of genes. They were all different, and yet, alike.
All of them had the same crystalline reflection in their eyes I first noticed in Samantha. Their complexions were like pale porcelain. Not one of them sported the sun-kissed look of anyone who spent a few days in Miami.
They were all tall and sleek, understatedly elegant, almost feline. As one, they tilted their heads to give me the same perusal Samantha had given me.
I waited for introductions, but none came. Hot, hungry eyes focused on me, roved daringly over my body, undressed me in the moonlight. Under their fevered gazes, I struggled to control my body’s shockingly strong sexual response.
My nipples hardened almost painfully. My woman’s mound grew wet and achy. My clit swelled, and my vaginal muscles tightened. My belly button became connected to my cervix by an invisible, taut string. My tongue swept over my lower lip as my mouth salivated, and my cheeks flushed hot.
As they pressed in an ever-tightening circle, I felt Samantha’s arms embrace me from behind, her hands moving to cup my breasts. Her fingers kneaded, teased, and milked my nipples. Her tongue licked the skin below my ear.
My body went liquid, tingly, and limp. In a drunken daze, I allowed my head to roll back and to the side as the woman’s lips settled on the curve of my neck. I was floating on a sea of sensual pleasure. My knees gave up and were no longer supporting my body.
Warm, tantalizing lips kissed, nibbled, sucked. Practiced, relentless hands sneaked under the hem of my skirt, crawling sensuously up my thighs to reach the heated, damp juncture. Magic fingers quested, explored, and took control.
They delved into me, their rhythm slow and teasing at first, growing faster, fevered, as my body demanded more. My breath hitched and my hips moved in an unrestrained, answering rhythm.
I rode the waves of pleasure, oblivious and uncaring of the world around me. The entire episode was hidden from view by the surrounding ring of hot-eyed males. I whimpered helplessly as the exquisitely talented fingers delved deeper, faster.
The sweet climax built to a crescendo. Every muscle in my body tightened to its limit in heightened expectancy. My body arced. My head thrashed from side to side. My womb went taut. My thighs clamped around the magic hand.
Then, at the most intense note of ecstasy, when my pleasure centers fired like thousands of fireworks exploding at the same time, I felt the sharp sting at the base of my neck.
I might have cried out, but a male moved against me and took my mouth in a passionate kiss. My body came apart, disintegrating into a million shards of crystalline pleasure, lost in an ocean of overwhelming sensations. I passed out.