I had a ton of fun writing this but because it prolonged the ending, it was decided that it would be best to cut this scene. I hope you enjoy this little snippet of Kevin and Claire! 😀
Please note this is unedited!
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It was gloriously warm, maybe a touch too warm for most people but for me I revelled in it. I loved the way the sun seemed to seep into my bones, warming my soul and making me giddy. Okay, perhaps it had less to do with the heat and more to do with Kevin stretched out next to me on a lounger, his back glinting from the sun block I’d liberally rubbed over his skin. Honestly, I may have been a tad over-thorough with my task; after all, we were under the thatch patio so there wasn’t much chance of sunburn but the man had back muscles that would make a prude salivate and running my hands over them was on my list of top five things to do.
Kevin’s phone vibrated and he lifted it and checked the screen. “That’s my reminder.”
The last week we’d been blissfully uninterrupted. The signal out here at Zebula was spotty at best, which may have something to do with the Waterburg mountains, but I wasn’t complaining—it was great to be tucked away with Kevin alone and inseparable. That however, was about to end—for a few hours at least. He sat up and reached for his t-shirt, pulling it over his head and covering up the view I’d been admiring for the last twenty minutes. Kevin was about to start filming a new movie in a few weeks and he was expecting a conference call over at the main reception to finalize some details for the first scene. They were going to be shooting in Canada, which was currently reaching highs of -19 degrees C. I was not looking forward to the cold. That’s exactly why I was spending as much time as I could soaking up the rays.
Kevin and I had decided that for the time being we’d live in South Africa and he’d travel whenever he needed to for filming. Acting was part of who he was and what I signed up for, so while we were working out the details of our future together, we knew we had to make sacrifices and being apart at times was one of them. It wasn’t all bad though. I was going to Canada with Kevin for the first three weeks and was beyond excited about finally getting to see a live hockey game. (Blame the Pucked series by Helena Hunting for my hockey obsession.)
I took a sip of my drink—a cocktail of rum, passion fruit and lemonade that I’d been slowly sipping on for a while now. “Have fun!”
Kevin leaned over me and kissed my cool lips. “Hmmm, tasty. I’d rather stay here and taste you. All over.”
I wrapped my arms around his neck. “I’d rather you did that too, but go to work. I’m going to catch up on some writing and maybe take a swim. Who knows, I might still be wet when you get back.” Shooting him a playful wink.
He groaned. “You get your kicks out of making things hard for me.”
I snorted and raised an eyebrow. “I sure do.”
He grinned. “You’re incorrigible.”
“Hey, you started it.”
“I did, and I’ll finish it when I get back.” He straightened. “This could take a while.”
“Take your time.” I reached for my laptop, suddenly feeling very inspired.
He leaned in and kissed me again. “I love you.”
“I love you, more.”
He grabbed his keys and I already had the first paragraph done by the time I heard him start his car. Writing wasn’t something I’d aspired to do, it wasn’t even something I’d given a moment’s thought to, but after Kevin and I got back together I’d felt an overwhelming urge to put our story on paper. Call it therapy, but writing about everything I’d experienced and felt when I believed I’d lost Kevin helped me not only process any residual feelings I had from the time we were apart but also helped me to process the changes to my life now that Kevin and I were officially a couple. Kevin still did what he could to keep me as far removed from the limelight as possible, but the press were still the press and they pretty much hounded us for months in the beginning—hence the trip to the bush to decompress.
I wrote for about an hour, the words flowing out of me and onto the page with ease. It wasn’t always that way, but sometimes it was like the chapter wrote itself, especially the emotional chapters, the ones where I felt like I was shredding my heart and laying it in tiny pieces on the paper. I doubted I’d let anyone besides Kevin read it. It was just too personal. As it was, it was tough letting Kevin read it—giving him access to my deepest thoughts, my highest highs and my lowest moments made me vulnerable—but it was also good for us. Kevin knowing our time apart was just as hard on me as it was on him cemented our bond and went a long way to allowing us both to heal.
Getting to a good stopping point, I saved my work and put the laptop away. Deciding to forego a swim, I opted to take a walk instead. I pulled on some shorts and a t-shirt over my pink bikini and slipping on my tennis shoes, I grabbed a bottle of water out the fridge before heading outside. It was about an hour till sunset, plenty of time to take a nice stroll and I was excited about seeing the animals out grazing since it was much cooler now. I checked my phone to see if Kevin had messaged and then placed it on charge on the kitchen counter.
I decided to head straight this time. Gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you if it was north, south, east or west—I just saw an open field and a dirt road and decided that would be a good direction. About five minutes into my walk I heard hurried footsteps behind me. I turned and saw a pretty brunette with a rather uncomfortable looking baby bump heading over to me. I stopped to wait for her.
“Whew, hi.” She beamed, a little red-faced and out of breath. “I’ve been trying to catch up with you. Mind if I walk with?”
“Hey! Angela, right? Sure. I’d love the company.” We’d been seated at the table next to Angela and her husband Greg the previous evening at dinner. They were a great couple who we later found out were our neighbours.
“Thanks. Greg’s been playing golf all day and this little one has been kicking the crap out of me. I thought maybe a walk would appease her.”
She lovingly stroked her bump and I could honestly say I did not miss being pregnant. I did want a family with Kevin someday; it’s that I was just enjoying having my body to myself again and not being inhabited by a little womb-jacker intent on rearranging my organs. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my nephew with everything that I had, but I much preferred him outside my body.
“How far along are you?” We continued walking and I slowed my pace to allow for Angela’s waddle as we headed towards a herd of zebra. From where we were I could count at least seven foals, all close to their mommies.
“Thirty-seven weeks. This is our last break before . . . y’know sleepless nights and hallway sex.”
I turned to look at her, unable to hide my quizzical grin. “I have to ask . . . Hallway sex?”
She uncapped her own bottle of water and took a sip. “All my friends with kids say the first few months with a newborn turns your sex life from hot jungle sex to hallway sex.”
My expression must have called for further explanation because she shrugged and, blushing slightly, explained in long division. “Apparently with all the sleep deprivation, things get a little tense between new parents. Yelling ‘fuck you’ at each other in the hallway is about as close to sex as it gets in the beginning.”
I burst out laughing, grateful I hadn’t taken a sip of water, and giggling together, we made our way over to the zebra, stopping a bit away to watch them without disturbing their dinner. A few mother zebra watched us carefully but for the most part they carried on grazing without giving us a second glance. It was obvious they were used to people wandering about their turf. A pair of foals started playing, nipping each other and frolicking in the tall grass. Angela and I were so intent on watching the cuteness overload that we didn’t notice the sun beginning to set.
“Hey, we better head back.” I indicated the sky, a resplendent pink and orange that was fast turning a periwinkle blue. The sun didn’t set here, it pretty much fell out of the sky.
By the time we made our way back to the dirt road, the sky was navy and most everything was in silhouette. A canvas of stars streaked the sky but we didn’t have time to admire the magnificence of the shining orbs of light—I was starting to get worried. It had gone from light to dark in a matter of minutes and nothing around us looked familiar. The homes on our path were all unoccupied as it was mid-week and most people kept homes here as weekend getaways.
Angela stumbled over a rock in the road and my hand shot out to steady her. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” But her nerves were evident in the shake of her voice. “How did it get so dark so soon?”
“I don’t know. Lousy time to leave my phone on charge. We could’ve used a torch.”
“Yeah, I decided to be technology free for the day. That’s the last time I try being regressive.”
We both laughed but the sound was hollow and unconvincing. I couldn’t remember it taking this long to get to the herd in the first place.
“Are we lost?” My stomach sank as Angela’s question verbalized my fears. The sky was no longer navy, it was pitch black and the slight crescent of the moon did little to lend any light. Out here in the bush, with no light from streetlamps or homes, we were shrouded in an inky blanket with visibility of only up to a few feet. The road dipped and I warned Angela to go slow and mind the dip. This was beyond dangerous and as thoughts of stampeding wildebeest, snakes and treacherous ground filled my thoughts, I hooked my arm through Angela’s. If she turned her ankle and went down, we were in serious trouble out here.
Her fingers squeezed around my hand and I heard the plastic from her water bottle crunch as she squeezed the plastic in what was likely a death grip. I had mine in a chokehold too which is why I recognized the sound.
An immeasurable amount of time past with neither of us speaking until Angela broke the silence. “Claire, I’m starting to freak out here. Nothing looks familiar.”
Nothing looked familiar to me either, but it wasn’t going to help matters if we both started panicking. “It’s going to be fine. If we just stick to this path, we’re bound to get to a house that someone is occupying.”
“Ok, yes.” But she didn’t sound convinced.
“Hey.” I tugged her gently to me. “Think of the fun stories you can tell your kid when she grows up. Have you decided on a name yet?”
She relaxed a tad as she started telling me that naming their baby was the only thing she and Greg ever disagreed about. He wanted to call their daughter Penelope after his great-aunt and she felt after the morning sickness, heartburn and restless legs she’d endured—not to mention the fact that she was about to push a baby the size of a watermelon out her vag—she was entitled to choose the name and Penelope was nowhere on her list. I tended to agree with her there and said so as I scanned the area looking for a signboard or something to indicate where we were.
I noted what looked like a small hill and remembered that a couple of days ago Kevin and I had watched a lone zebra licking at the sand. On further investigation, we discovered that it was salt clumps. I remembered that we had turned left when leaving our chalet and that the hill had been about three kilometres from where we were staying.
Deciding not to get Angela’s hopes up, I steered her right, down a path. She was so busy talking about how using family names was old fashioned that she didn’t notice. About a kilometre down the road, I noticed a wall with an L on the top right-hand corner. I nearly wept from relief at finding our block.
“Oh, oh, you found it!” Angela enveloped me in a hug that was all belly and very little arms, but my arms wrapped around what they could of her and I tried not to crush her in my relief. Her front door opened and Greg walked out, phone to his ear and relief etched on his face. I gave Angela another squeeze and we promised to make plans in the next few days for a barbeque. I made my way to the front door just as Kevin pulled into the carport.
“Hey?” Confusion creased his features.
“Hey! Oh my God. We got so lost.” I unlocked the chalet door as Kevin locked his car. I wanted his arms around me but didn’t want him to feel the slight tremors coursing through me. When I looked at the clock I noted it was after eight. We’d been wandering around aimlessly for hours. I couldn’t grasp how easy it was to get so completely lost.
“What do you mean you got lost? Who were you with?” I put the kettle on for a cup of tea, not needing to turn around to see the scowl on Kevin’s face—I could hear it well enough in his voice.
“Angela from next door. She caught up with me on my walk. The sun set so fast here it was daylight and then it was dark. Took us ages to find our way back here.” I busied myself with making coffee for Kevin and tea for myself. As I poured the tea onto the bag and started dunking it in the boiling liquid, the stress of the last couple of hours seeped from my shoulders.
“Are you telling me you just now walked in from blundering about in the bush by yourself?”
I shot him a smile. “Of course not. I told you I was with Angela.”
“Claire.” His tone held a warning that along with the knot in his jaw gave me pause.
I walked over to him and placed my hand on his chest. “Hey, I’m fine. It’s fine.”
When the furrow between his brow remained resolute, I wound my hands around his neck, placing soft kisses along the stubble on his jaw. “Kev, I’m fine, honestly. I won’t go out that late again and I’ll take my phone next time, okay?” I nuzzled into his neck and his arms wrapped around my waist. “My legs are killing me though. Are you too mad to draw us a bath?” I smiled coyly at him. “I’ll let you wash me all over.”
His mouth turned up in a reluctant smile and the lines around his eyes softened. I let out a silent breath, feeling the twinge of guilt at having worried him ease a notch.
As we made our way to our room Kevin’s phone started ringing, he looked at me apologetically. “I have to take this. I won’t be long and then I’ll get on that bath.”
He pressed his lips to mine and then, answering the phone, walked back into the kitchen where the signal seemed to be the strongest.
Slipping off my shorts and tee, I threw them in the hamper in preparation for my bath. I was about to strip out of my bikini when I realised I’d be standing in the room naked when Kevin came in and that may result in me missing out on my bath. (It would be more fun having Kevin take it off for me anyway.)
I tidied up a few things in our room then decided to get the mosquito net in place. So far we’d managed to stay free of the little bloodsuckers but I liked the way it looked when the net was positioned over the bed and more than that, I kinda got a kick out of Kevin fucking me with the drapes open. While the pool area was private, this side of the house looked onto the common property which meant if anyone walked past, they could see into the room.
While someone would literally have to walk right into the bush and peer into the window to see, fucking under the mosquito net made me feel like an exhibitionist without really being an exhibitionist.
I looked up at the net, neatly coiled in a knot from the tall thatched roof. Efraim, the caretaker, came in every morning while Kevin and I went for a hike to make the bed and tuck the net away. It took me a while to get used to having someone make my bed but after the third morning of seeing his crestfallen face when I’d made the bed myself, I decided to let the man do his job. Besides, I would just tuck the net behind the headboard and this obviously wasn’t to Efraim’s taste. Looking at the roof now, I wondered how the heck I was going to get it down. I could have waited for Kevin to do this, since he did it every other night, but my stubborn independent streak wasn’t having any of that.
Noticing that the end of the net was hanging over the side of the bamboo ring, I climbed onto the bed. Standing on my tiptoes and using the balancing skills I’d developed in yoga, I reached for the net. I was at least a foot and a half shy of my goal. Dammit, so much for being independent. More determined than ever to get the stupid net down, I jumped to try grab at the material. After a few attempts my fingers finally brushed the netting and I closed them around the material, twirling it anticlockwise to unwind the net.
A deep chuckle startled me and, letting go of the net suddenly, I stumbled back a few steps on the bed. Kevin stood at the doorway, feet crossed at the ankles and his hands tucked casually into the pockets of his shorts.
I crossed my arms and glared at Kevin playfully. “Instead of standing there laughing at me, you could help, y’know.”
“Why would I do that when I’m enjoying the show so much?” His eyes twinkled roguishly.
I looked down at myself and my damn sense of humour betrayed me when I wanted to pretend to be mad. Laughter bubbled up my throat as I realised that this must look like a scene straight out of those college movies where the scantily clad college girl jumps up and down on her bed, breasts bouncing with abandon. God, all I needed was a cute, full-bosomed girl beating me with a pillow to complete the picture.
Defeated, I plopped onto the bed where I watched Kevin, wide-smiled, walk over to the wall. He unwrapped twine from around a brass hook attached to the wall. As soon as he had some play in the rope, the net lowered to the bed like a phantom descending from the heavens. Kevin bit the inside of his cheek in an effort to keep from laughing. He lasted about thirty seconds longer than I would have until he gave into the temptation.
Then Kevin lifted his phone and snapped a pic while I glared at him.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m taking a photo. I need some physical evidence to show our grandkids when I tell them this story.”
“You’re an ass.”
He crept up the bed and brushed his lips against my ear.
“Yeah, but I’m your ass.”