Can love grow in a foreign country before Richard and Anne have to go home?
During her gap year between high school and college, Anne goes on a missions trip to South America with her mother. While she expected to do some hard work and have some fun, instead she found herself caring for her ailing mother.
When her wealthy neighbor finds her distraught, he brings her home to make her soup. Not realizing she’s never had alcohol before, he offers her some wine and she doesn’t react well to it. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in his bed.
Will Anne accept Richard’s interest in her? Is Richard really willing to settle for someone so much younger than him? Can love grow in a foreign country before both of them have to go home?
Looking around me, I’m a bit mesmerized. The chains hanging from the ceiling, the table that’s slanted with leather cuffs bolted to it. The windows are covered with thick black curtains and on a dresser is an assortment of dildos in a myriad of sizes. Who knows what’s in the drawers of the dresser. Could be anything. My guess is that it holds more sex toys, whips, chains, butt plugs.
Oh, hell. What have I gotten myself into?
My name is Anne Marie Watson, and I’m 19 years old. I started college this year after a gap year where I spent time in South America with my mother. I was 18, then. It was ostensibly a missions trip but we spent most of our days on the beach and very little time in the hospital where we were meant to be entertaining children. It’s not like we’re slackers. The nurses kicked us out because we were in the way.
We ended up in a little house on a beach with soft, white sands. It was rare that we would see anyone else on this beach except past the huge rocks where the public portion was. Our small house was next to a few others, and then down the way was a huge house with a dog that was always on the balcony, watching us and barking when we passed by.
Every morning that same balcony had a man. Even though he was far away, I could tell that his cheek bones were high and defined and his nose and chin were both strong. He had the look of a wealthy man summering away from an overbearing mother and a business that would have him dead at 35 from a heart attack.
On my morning runs I’d sometimes wave to him. He’d chuckle and wave back, but for a long time that was the extent of our interaction. It wasn’t until I missed my morning run that I finally got to speak to him… and more.
That morning, my mother had suddenly come down with a mystery illness, and I had to rush her to the same hospital where we were meant to be working. When I left her there in the late afternoon, I was starving and my face was puffy from crying. At that point, I still didn’t know if my mom would be okay so my features were contorted with worry and pain.
“You don’t look so good.” The words came from behind me while I was in line at the only fast food place in town. “Are you sure you should be eating fast food instead of soup?”
Turning around, I find the man from the balcony behind me. His face is as chiseled and perfect as I thought it would be, his black eyes burning into my soul. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to reach out and touch his face, but I hold myself back.
“I just need to eat. We don’t have a working stove in our little place.”
“Come with me, I’ll make you something at my house. Do you like chicken noodle soup? I have a recipe my maid taught me when I was ten.” He takes my arm and leads me out of the restaurant and helps me into the passenger seat of his car. It isn’t brand new and the wheels are dusty, but it’s still definitely a wealthy man’s car.
“I really shouldn’t be doing this.”
“Nonsense,” he says as he slides into his seat.
“I don’t want to impose.”
“You’re not imposing. I invited you. I practically dragged you into my car. If you continue to fight me on this, I’ll assume you hate me.”
I shut up. And then, as we get close to his house, I think of my mother. The hospital will call my cell phone if something happens, but her face was so pale and she threw up so much. She could die. She could die away from Dad and the rest of the family.
I feel sick, but I also start to cry. Softly, silently at first, but then the tears grow heavier and so do my sobs. The man doesn’t say anything, he just drives and lets me cry it out. I’m thankful for that. It would have been embarrassing for him to try and comfort me.
When my tears finally stop and I’m just a sniffling mess, he finally asks me what happened.
“My mom is in the hospital. She’s very sick.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”
I nod and he pulls in front of his large house. “Do you live here alone?”
“During the summer, yes. This is my time away from work.”
“I see.” I watch the house quietly for a few minutes, the dog wagging his tail and barking down at us. “I don’t even know your name.”
“And your dog’s name?”
“Sassy.” He smiles. “Come on, you should meet her. I think she’d like you.” He jumps out of the car and before I can even get my seat belt off he opens my door for me. I’m surprised by how much of a gentleman he is. He helps me up the steps to his door, which he unlocks and then lets me step inside. The front room has a leather couch and smells like cinnamon and smoke.
“Sorry for the smell, I was burning incense while I meditated.”
He nods. “During the summer. I should all year, but I never have time. I was actually using cinnamon because I was trying to draw a woman into my life.” He glances at me from the corner of his eyes and my face grows hot.
“Uh, so, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m the Director of Operations of Wallif International.”
I gasp. “No way! The media company?!”
Chuckling, he nods and opens the door to the balcony. The blonde lab skitters into the room, her nails clicking against the hard wood floor as she rushes up to me and licks my fingers. I pet her head. “The one and only. I’ll get the soup going, you can sit here and get to know Sassy.”
The dog is a sweetheart. I brush her soft hair with my fingers, sitting cross legged on the floor. Petting her calms me down, even though I am still horribly worried about my mom. I check my phone, but there are no text messages and no missed calls. Hopefully that’s good news.
I’m gnawing on my bottom lip when Richard sticks his head back into the room. “Ten minutes before it’s done. Are you old enough to drink?”
I consider lying, but shake my head. “No.”