I look up as a well suited and booted man approaches with a man in a captain’s uniform. My passport is whipped from my grasp, hands are shook, paperwork and signatures are exchanged, and then our luggage is removed from the boot.
‘Are you going to sit there all day, lady?’ He holds his hand out to me, and I take it automatically, letting him pull me from the car.
‘What’s that?’ I ask, nodding at the toy-like plane sitting a few yards away from us.
‘That’s a plane.’ There is humour in his voice. I’m pulled towards the jet, not feeling any more enthusiastic as we get closer because it’s not getting any bigger, and I’m not filled with any further confidence when Jesse has to dip to enter the damn thing to avoid smacking his head. I halt on the ridiculously small amount of steps that will have me boarding, and Jesse turns to see what’s keeping me when our arms are pulled taut between us. ‘Ava?’
‘I’m not getting on that thing.’ I’m attacked by an unreasonable bout of fear. I’ve never been afraid of flying, but this little plane is really pumping the anxiety through my veins. I feel a little breathless, too.
He smiles, but frowns at the same time. ‘Of course you are.’ My arm is tugged gently, encouragingly, but I’m not shifting. In fact, I’m backing away. ‘Ava, you’ve never said you’re scared of flying.’ He re-dips and stands up straight, back on the outside of the jet.
‘I’m not. In big planes. Why are we not going on a big plane?’ I look behind me and see heaps of big planes. ‘Why can’t we go on one of those?’
‘Because they’re probably not going where we need them to.’ he says softly. I feel my arm go lax in front of me from where he’s getting closer, and then his palm is on my cheek. ‘It’s perfectly safe.’ he assures me, pulling my face away from all of the big planes that I’d like to board instead. I don’t care if they’re not going where we need them to. I’ll go wherever they take me.
‘It doesn’t look safe.’ I glance past him and see a perfectly positioned woman with perfectly styled hair, perfect make-up and a perfect smile. ‘It looks too small.’
‘Ava,’ His soft, re-assuring voice pulls my eyes back to his. He’s smiling down at me. ‘This is me, your possessive, unreasonable, over-protective control freak.’ He kisses me gently. ‘Do you really think I’d willingly put you in danger?’
I shake my head, fully aware that I’m being a complete baby. My fear has surprised me, though. I should be shocked that he’s booked a private jet, but I’m not. The fact that I’m expected to fly on this private jet is more shocking. ‘I feel a little nervous.’ I admit quietly, the visible closeness of all personnel, including the captain behind me, registering in my apprehensive mind.
‘Answer my question.’ he pushes.
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Good.’ He rounds me and clasps my shoulders, pushing me gently up the steps. ‘You’ll love it, trust me.’
‘Good morning!’ The perfect woman, who’s still standing perfectly in place, greets us, holding her arm out in a signal of where to go. It’s really not necessary. There are one of two ways, and I’m not going anywhere near the cockpit.
Peering inside, I notice just a few chairs, all massive, all leather, all reclining, and just two rows of them—one of each side of the jet. I’m directed to the middle, turned around and eased down into the soft plumpness. I keep quiet and resist the urge to bolt as Jesse secures my seatbelt and takes a seat opposite me. He immediately lifts my feet to his lap.
‘Champagne, sir?’ Perfect lady is back, and I spy her beaming at my God, but I’m too busy gathering my pathetic anxiousness to trample.
‘Just water.’ Jesse answers shortly, with no smile, no acknowledgment and no please. She beats a hasty retreat, and Jesse slips my ballet pumps from my feet, dropping them carelessly to the floor before getting comfy and repositioning my feet so they’re at a good angle for him to massage. ‘Okay?’ he asks.
‘Not really.’ I have no idea what has gotten into me. ‘There were regular flights available, weren’t there?’ I ask suspiciously, having a quick glimpse out of the under average size window.
‘I don’t know, I didn’t check. We don’t do commercial, Ava.’
‘You don’t. I do.’ I wiggle my toes. ‘I haven’t got swollen feet yet, you know.’
His thumbs are working delicious, firm circles into the instep of my feet. ‘Close your eyes and make yourself comfy, baby.’ he orders tenderly, and I do. My eyes slowly shut, and the last image I see is of my God lovingly massaging my feet, trying to ease me out of my unwarranted fit of nervousness.
I let my mind shut down and drift into a semi-conscious state of bliss. It’s not a difficult task to achieve when he’s touching me, even if it is just my feet. It’s the usual scenario of Jesse drawing all of my troubles out of me, whether it’s justified troubles, or completely trivial, unnecessary troubles, like a sudden fear of flying. My subliminal state only barely notes that regardless of trivial or justified troubles, Jesse is the maker.
And then my mind moseys through all things Jesse-ish–the lace, the calla lilies, the peanut butter, the scorns for swearing—and I mentally smile. All of the various degrees of Jesse style fucking’s, the temper, the playfulness, the gentleness. I might really be smiling now. The handcuffs, the lace gag, the crucifix, the rowing machine, the Ava éclair. My heart has sped up. The dirty blonde, the addictive, sludgy but bright eyes, the sculptured perfection, the one and two days’ worth of stubble. The way he flicks the collar up on his polo shirts, his various smiles—for women, for me, and now for my tummy, too. His fierceness, his protectiveness, his dominant ways. The way he walks and the way he tramples, and all of the ways in which he loves me, with unapologetic, raw adoration. The way I return that love.
I shift in my seat and in my subconscious, I hear his laugh. The soft, low one. Then I feel the wet warmness of his tongue on my toe. I smile, being snapped from all of my mental assessments of my beautiful husband. I open one eye, and I’m greeted by his smile, reserved only for me.
‘Dreaming?’ he asks, biting down on my little toe.
‘Of you.’ I sigh. ‘Tell me when we take off so I can put my head between my legs.
‘I’ll put my head between your legs.’ He sucks my toe, and I shudder.
‘Just tell me.’
‘Look out the window, baby.’
I frown and gaze out, expecting to find runways and planes, but instead, I find clouds. ‘Oh!’ My relaxed state falters, just for a split second, before I register no movement. There is hardly any sound, either. It’s really peaceful. I look to the side and see our waters placed on a highly polished table, and then I peek down the aisle and see the perfect woman pottering around at the other end of the jet. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I ask, settling back in my seat.
He kisses my toe. ‘And miss the sounds and looks you were making?’ He drops my foot. ‘Come here.’ I don’t stall for a second. I unclip my belt and virtually dive onto his lap, nestling my head under his chin and wrapping my arms around his neck. ‘Go back to sleep and dream of me, lady.’
He doesn’t need to ask twice. Our early start and long drive has taken it out of me, and I don’t want to be beat when we land wherever we’re landing. I still haven’t asked, but I don’t care. It’s going to be warm, sunny, and just me and Jesse.
* * *
I come to, still tucked into Jesse’s body. I can hear him quietly speaking, but it’s all muffled. A little groggy, I pull myself up a little and find the perfect woman hovering over us. ‘Welcome to Malaga, Mrs Ward.’ She blasts me with an insincere, part-of-the-job smile.
‘Thank you.’ I return her smile, although mine is weaker, but definitely more sincere. Malaga? Like Spain Malaga? Like near to Marbella Malaga?
‘My beautiful girl’s back.’ He kisses my cheek. ‘Enjoy your flight?’
I look at him through my fog of sleepiness and note a stubbled, hazy, smiling face, and a dishevelled mop of dark blonde. ‘Do I yank your hair in my sleep?’ I croak, reaching up to pat it down.
‘You do a lot in your sleep. I could watch you forever.’
I make to move, but get absolutely nowhere. ‘I need to stretch.’ I complain, wriggling.
I hear a click, and I’m instantly free. ‘I needed to belt you in.’ He helps me to my feet and watches as my arms raise, nearly touching the ceiling of the plane. Oh, that feels too good.
‘Aren’t I supposed to be belted into my own seat for landing?’ I ask, ‘With my seat in the upright position, my table stowed away, and all of my belongings tucked neatly under the seat in front?’
He raises a sardonic eyebrow. ‘Yes. I very nearly had to trample the lovely lady.’ He stands himself and pulls my blouse down, which is riding up my navel from my stretched position. He holds it in place until I’ve finished. ‘Done?’
‘Yes,’ I yawn, as he releases the hem of my top. I know this is probably a sign of things to come over the next couple of days, but he’d better lighten up and fast because I’ve packed my bikinis, and I’ll be wearing them.
As we emerge into the bright sunlight, I smile, the heat hitting my face and warming me to the core. Or warming me further. I already have a lovely, peaceful warmth coursing through me, and that’s only going to increase over the next few days. Taking the steps down to the tarmac, we’re immediately greeted by a smart Spanish man, who hands Jesse a set of keys. Then I spot the DBS.
‘Really?’ I blurt. ‘We couldn’t have taken a taxi?’
He scoffs and signs the paperwork presented to him. ‘I don’t do public transport, Ava.’
‘You should. It’ll save you a fortune.’
Handing back the paperwork, he makes quick work of putting me in the wrong side of the car, throwing me off a little. Once he’s buckled me in and I’ve gathered my bearings, I settle in the familiar, if a little warmer, softness of the leather seat and listen to the bumping and banging of the luggage being loaded into the boot.
Jesse jumps in and slips his shades on. ‘Are you ready to be binged on for the next three days?’
‘No, take me home.’ I grin and lean across, planting a kiss on his lips.
‘Not a chance, lady. You’re all mine, and I’m going to make the most of it.’ He returns my kiss, palming the back of my head to pull me closer.
‘I’m always yours’
‘Correct. Get used to it.’ I’m released before he hastily rams the Aston in gear and screeches away from the Jet.
‘I am used to it.’ I muse, resting my elbow on the door and settling my head so I can watch the unfamiliar world go by. It’s all very boring and concrete-like for quite some time as we make our way out of the airport and away from the hustle and bustle of central Malaga, but then we hit a coast road, and the sight of the Mediterranean meeting the sky holds my attention for the rest of the journey. Mansun sing about a Wide Open Space, and the smell of heat mixed with the kicked up dust of the well-worn road overpowers the usual lingering scent of fresh water, leaving me resentful of its intrusion on my nose. Apart from that smell, it’s blissful. We cruise along in a comfortable silence, the stereo in the background keeping us company, Jesse’s hand resting on my knee, and mine clutching it. I sneak a peek of his profile and smile before I close my eyes, relax further into the leather and think of the tranquil, undisturbed time ahead of us.
* * *
I’m not asleep, but my eyes come open when the road beneath the tyres becomes bumpy and the car starts jolting all over the place. I look to the road ahead and the first thing that strikes me is the appalling condition of it. There’s rubble all over the rut riddled surface, leaving Jesse negotiating the prestigious car with care. I’ve never known him to drive with such caution, but it’s blatantly obvious that any faster, then he’s likely to take out the bottom of the car.