Authors: Duka Dakarai
The First Touch
I fling an arm across my eyes, in an attempt to cut the early Monday sun piercing into my eyes. A small pulse of pain throbs at my right temple as if to remind me that I shouldn’t drink too much red wine.
Like I don’t fucking know that already
. And a little nausea catching at the back of my throat threatens to exit me from the bed sooner than I had planned.
I pull myself out of the warmth of my grandmother’s old
bed, steady myself, before slumping across the wood floor into the bathroom. I flick on the shower knowing that it takes an eternity for the hot water to come through from the ancient old heating system. I’ve got a few minutes to kill so might as well clean my teeth and remove last nights’ make-up and as I peer at my reflection in the mirror, I wince.
Good god, fine pair of panda eyes and grey skin this morning
I mutter to myself.
Damn it, when will I learn
. As much as I love the banter and the company of the landlord at the St Michaels Inn, my resistance to him is futile when he encourages me to have just one more glass of my favourite Merlo.
Since moving into my late grandmother’s cottage in
Barripper nearly two months ago, I have been welcomed with open arms into the local community. And I have been so grateful for it, needed it, that I have embraced every opportunity to socialise…the highly competitive pub quiz on a Tuesday night, Jamming Sessions on a Friday night and, of course, Sunday Lunch where it seems every villager descends upon the pub and stay until closing time, including now me.
But this Monday morning feeling
is becoming all too familiar and I need to get my shit together, and soon. Perhaps I will call Mia and see if she can visit soon, maybe for a long weekend. Not that I want to admit that I am lonely, and struggling. Not even to her. She had said I was running away and I had denied it all too fiercely, but of course, she was right. She always is. But I couldn’t wait to get away…away from the heartache and humiliation of my broken engagement. I shake my head and step under the shower allowing to steaming hot water to sooth my mind.
A few bites of dry toast and several slugs of the strongest coffee I can
stomach, I pull on my favourite cut-off jean shorts and a tank top, and settle myself on the sofa with my laptop. I am thankful that I am self- employed so the move to Cornwall hasn’t affected my work at all. Being a professional fundraiser and event planner for a variety of charities means I can live where I choose as long as I am prepared to travel to wherever my appointments take me.
A couple of hours
of responding to emails and checking my Outlook Calendar is up to date, and I am still suffering from this damn hangover. In fact, it feels worse than ever. A walk on Godrevy Beach will sort this out, and so I grab my mobile and car keys and head out the door.
I love this beach. Owing to its most northern position,
Godrevy Beach takes the brunt of the Atlantic swell, ensuring that it captures the sunniest of summer days yet yields to the stormier winter days too. And I love both seasons equally. I slip off my flip flops and feel the warm sand massage between my toes as I saunter along the stretch of beach. There are already holidaymakers busying themselves with laughter and play although it’s still only early June and couples adoringly rubbing sunscreen into each other’s shoulders.
I take my eyes to the sea
diverting my focus away from the happiness surrounding me, fighting back a threat of tears that start to sting at my eyes, and pick up my walking pace, head firmly focussed on the rise and swell of the waves. My breath is catching in my throat now as unwanted images of my cheating, miserable excuse of an ex start flooding my….
And then pain…and I’m on my ass, my legs twisted underneath me.
“Fuck!” I yell out as I realise that I’ve been knocked off my feet and am now flat on my ass.
“Jesus, I’m so sorry. Are you ok?” The voice is deep, very deep and masculine.
Oh, just great. I’ve been knocked on my ass by some asshole bloke. That just tops off the hangover a treat.
“Do I sound ok?!” I angrily retort, not looking up, instead trying to
gather myself onto my feet.
“Hey, I’m really sorry….it’s totally my fault….I was running backwards trying to catch the ball. I didn’t see you. Can you stand? Are you ok?”
“Shit!” My right ankle buckles under me as I try to stand up. As I move to touch it, a large tanned hand reaches out and soothes a path along my foot and around the ankle. I try to swash his hand away and he grabs me by the wrist to stop me.
“Please, just let me look. I think it’s sprained.”
“No shit, Sherlock…” I glare up at the deep voice and feel an intake of breath trap in my throat.
I’m staring, well glaring, into the bluest eyes I have ever seen. They are beyond piercingly blue, made more so by the jet black hair that is falling across his forehead. His jaw is square and almost
sculptured, set now tense, at the realisation that this is his fault. Moments seem to fly by as I almost drink in his face. He’s unbelievably handsome, no, he’s beautiful. Men can be beautiful, right? I feel myself flush when I realise that I am looking, staring, and opening my mouth but no words are coming out.
He crouches before me and continues to stroke my ankle. His hands seem huge against the slenderness of my limb. Actually all of him seems huge…his shoulders are broad, the skin stretched across a toned and muscular frame. And as he moves each stroke of my ankle, small muscles twitch in his forearm.
“Are you alone here? How did you get to the beach? We need to get ice on this as soon as possible…I’m pretty sure it’s not broken, but it is sprained..” He searches my face with genuine concern in his eyes.
“I-I drove here. I’ll get back to my car
…and then I’ll be fine”
“Do you live far? I don’t think you can drive on that foot, not the right foot…I’ll help you up to the car park”
“I’m fine, please, I just want to get to my car…I only live at Barripper…you can leave me now….I think you’ve done enough already, don’t you?!” I spit out with a scowl, an audible wince escaping from my lips as I try to put weight on my foot.
“You’re not fine….and I’ll take you” he almost snaps back at me, a frustrated breath puffing from his chest, swoop
ing an arm around my waist and another under my knees, and begins to lift me up into his chest.
“What the hell are you doing?!! Put me down!
Now!” I shift in his arms and push my hands against his chest. He turns his head towards mine and smiles arrogantly at me.
“Are you finished?”
“Finished?! What the fuck are you…?” my mouth is spitting each word out, part humiliation, part anger.
“Are you finished protesting? I’m carrying you back to the car park, and you can spit venom at me all you like. It’s happening.”
“How dare you! I’m not some pathetic, feeble little woman you think you can manhandle..!” Now I
spitting venom but I feel foolish too, knowing I am flushing. I can feel the warmth of my cheeks.
“Oh, I know that for sure….feeble, you
aint” and a low, growly laugh comes from deep in his throat, as he continues to stride towards the car park.
I huff, and resign myself to being carried towards my car. I turn my head away to avoid looking at his face and notice that we are being followed by two other guys, I guess, friends of his or maybe complete strangers enjoying the spectacle.
They chat quietly to each other and occasionally, they point in my direction. I’m more than mortified and turn my head back towards the man who seems to be effortlessly carrying me as though I weigh almost nothing.
I take in the strong solid neck sat on his expanse of shoulders, beads of sweat trickling slowing down and staining his grey t-shirt. His nose is cut straight, set within a hint of chiselled cheekbones. His lips are almost plump (for a man) and if I wasn’t so pissed at him right now
, these are the sort of lips that I could fantasise about. And he’s tall. Very. Not sure exactly how high, but I feel quite high up. Maybe 6’2”?
I notice I am breathing deeply through my nose. His scent is invading me.
Fresh sweat and a hint of earthy, musky cologne. I’m battling with myself to ignore it, pissed off with myself that I’m even noticing it. I’m shaken from my thoughts as we enter the car park and stride past my car.
“Hey, macho man!
Hey! We’ve passed my car! You can put me down now” Sarcasm mixing with embarrassment.
Do women still say that?” he laughs and shakes his head. “Which one is your car then?” he moves his head around slightly, but continued to walk away, without stopping.
“The Mini back there…rusty green thing…you can hardly miss it
. Why are you still walking and carrying me…put me down now. Please!!” I begin to shift again in his arms.
“Will you quit with the wriggling?! I’m starting to breath
e through my ass here and you’re making the job ten times harder!” he growls at me although I see the corners of his mouth almost twitch with a smile.
A giggle erupts from my mouth. I can’t help it…
did he just say that?
“Did you just say you’re breathing through your ass?!!” I stifle another giggle and look away from his face. “And where exactly are we going?”
“Here…my car….I’m driving you home. Thomson! Thomson, get my keys out of left hand pocket before I drop her” he swings back to one of the guys still following behind us. The stockier of the two men quickens his pace to level up with us.
He snaps his head in a nod.
“Open the fucking door, man!
The passenger door is quickly opened and I’m slid gently inside onto the campervan sofa seat. I’m shaking my head angrily.
“Enough. I want my own car. This is really too fucking much…I don’t know you and you’re not driving my anywhere!” I’m scowling fully at him now as he enters the other side of the van.
“Jesus fucking Christ, woman!” he runs both hands raggedly through his hair, his nostrils flaring with rage. “Will you just let me drive you home? I feel like shit because I’m the reason you’re hurt!” He inhales two deep breaths slowly into his lungs
, stroking the steering wheel to calm himself.
He turns to me after what feels like several moments, and I haven’t
yet exhaled out after holding my breath, my eyes wide from tension and part fear. He slowly releases a smile, and again runs a hand through his hair.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to shout. I only want to drive you home so I know you’re ok. If you’re ok with it, then Thomson will follow us in your car……please?” His eyes are boring into mine and I find myself agreeing with a nod.
Fuck, what am I doing?
Thomson reaches through my window and I shuffle my keys out of my pocket. “It’s the green Mini, K reg, with the…”
“I got it, miss” Thomson nods and heads back to edge of the car park.
We pull out of the car park, the silence thick in the air between us, and I’m feeling embarrassed and edgy again. We drive for several minutes before any attempts at conversation start, finally the silence is broken.
“I’m Andrew by the way. Andrew
Templer…but I prefer Drew. And you?”
“Tilly…Tilly Teague. Do you know
“Yeah, I do.
Suits you by the way.”
“What?” I shoot a puzzled look at his direction.
“Teague meaning fair or beautiful. And you are. Both” he smiles an impish smile at me and I feel myself involuntarily flush again.
Fuck, enough with the blushing!
falls between us for a further few minutes before we slow for traffic. He takes the opportunity to turn fully to me and nod to my ankle. I follow his gaze.
How’s it feeling now?”
’s throbbing but not really painful. About a seven out of ten. Some ice on it and I’m sure I’ll be fine” I nod reassuringly as he seems to still be angry with himself, his jaw tensing again.
“I’m really sorry. Really I am” he’s shaking his head at himself.
“You said that already. It was my fault too, not looking where I was going…so please drop it now”
He shrugs a resigned look and we continue on in silence again until we hit the edge of
Barripper Village. I point out my cottage and we pull to a stop outside. I’m relieved as I see Thomson, the other guy, pull in behind us in my car, his huge frame almost taking up the whole of the Mini windscreen.