South Beach - La Pietra Fontana: 9 PM
Duff had selected a private table near the balcony and watched as she made her way toward him. He approved of the way she moved and of the way she dressed. She stood there, searching the room, finding him, and there was a moment when she faltered and then quickly threw on that air of confidence. Of course she would, he would have expected nothing less. He stood when Rayne reached their table.
“Hello, Rayne. It is a pleasure to finally meet.”
She sat down, sat back, and, crossing her long legs, studied him. She had put up her hair. The earrings she wore swung against her neck, the gems rhodolite, or perhaps amethyst, set in gold. She watched him. “I guess that means you knew who I was before you bid on me.”
Duff narrowed his eyes slightly and watched her through steepled fingers. She thought she was in control, a feint, bravado, so young, she had no idea what she was doing but she was testing him, trying to find a way out. It was perfect, adorable. He offered a slow smile, a quick sweep of his eyes before allowing them to linger at her breasts and then answered simply. “You're Cooper Stanfield's daughter.”
“Oh, right, I'm Cooper's daughter, that's why you embarrassed me by bidding fifty thousand dollars for a stupid charity date.” She shifted in her chair, obviously fully aware of his gaze and perhaps uncomfortable with the effect it had on her. Her nipples pebbled under the yellow silk. She folded her arms across her chest. Duff smiled.
“Did it embarrass you?”
“My boyfriend was going to bid on me.” It wasn't an answer; it was another attack.
“I see. Your boyfriend was embarrassed.” He leaned forward. He kept his voice soft, low and seductive. “Rayne, your boyfriend was going to lose the bid. I’m sorry if I caused you any discomfort, but I am not apologizing for outbidding Jimmy Breaux.”
The waiter filled the water glasses and offered a menu, which Duff waved away.
“You're the one who put the rose in my guitar case.”
Duff smiled, remembering the effort involved in that gesture. “That was not easy to do.”
She stared at him, a long uneasy but very direct stare, her slender fingers pressed against her cheek; she was nervous and trying not to show it. “You're pretty good on the bass. You're very good, and you've got an incredible voice, and Flight is a top band. If you wanted to meet me, you could have come up and said something. I don't know why you thought you needed to sneak flowers into my guitar case.”
The sommelier approached. Duff ordered, glancing at her, changed the order and settled back again. She’d chosen an interesting and confrontational verb, still transparently attempting to force him into defending himself. “I didn't need to do it, Rayne. I chose to do it. Did that embarrass you, too?”
She looked up at the wine steward, lifting her chin, the long elegant curve of her bare neck candlelit and lovely, then turned her gaze back at him. “It didn't embarrass me. I just thought it was strange. And I don't like wine.”
Duff threw a sharp look at her. He would allow her some room but that direct challenge went too far. She would not order for herself or countermand an order he made, and he intended to make her understand her preferences were subject to his final decision. “I didn't order wine for you.”
Duff meticulously ordered the rest of their meal, a lobster salad with beans, apple and avocado, marinated shrimp in a champagne beurre blanc, tea-smoked duck with pears and a cherry-apricot cream cheese tart.
He watched Rayne enjoy each taste sensation, the delight on her face with every bite. When the meal was done, he sipped a cognac while she had an espresso.
Finally Duff stood, reached down and drew his hand across her shoulder, gently forcing her up out of the chair, judging how willingly she moved: with some hesitation, but she followed his lead. “Come.” Rayne looked up at him with delicate uncertainty. He had her off balance and he intended to keep her that way until she acknowledged him, until she made no move without asking his permission.
He tightened his grip on her arm. Rayne didn't pull away but she aimed a hot, uneasy look at him. “Are we going somewhere?”
Duff permitted the question this time. The next time she would simply follow. “Yes, we are. You’re not afraid, are you, Rayne?”
Wary, guarded, earrings fluttering against the pulse on her bare neck, still she acquiesced. “No.”
South Beach - Old Regency Park: 11 PM
Pleased that she didn’t hesitate to accompany him, that she felt a certain sense of trust, he helped Rayne into his Jag and headed toward Old Regency Park. Pulling over at the entrance, Duff helped her out of the car and steered her toward the heart of the park, a private garden abundant with climbing roses, night blooming jasmine, honeysuckle, gardenia and bougainvillea. Opening a vine-covered gate Duff led her to the center of the lush gardens. He watched as she slowly turned and took in her surroundings. She breathed deeply a few times, the thin fabric of her dress hugging and outlining her breasts, and touched the blossoms on the wall before turning her attention back to him, alight, entranced, enraptured.
“This is beautiful! The colors, the flowers, the scent, it’s amazing!” She laughed and turned on one long leg and looked back at him. Blooming in the garden, lit and backlit, everything he had anticipated and more.
Clasping his hands behind his back Duff moved toward her taking graceful smooth strides as he considered his next move. She was as ripe for the plucking as the fruit that hung from the branches of the trees in this garden and Duff could feel the tightening of his erection. Drawing a breath, chastising himself for getting ahead of the game, Duff moved close to her and breathed into her hair. “I can teach you to fully appreciate all of your senses. Close your eyes, Rayne. Keep them closed until I tell you otherwise. I want you to experience the beauty of this garden with only my voice to guide you.”
A slow shiver overtook Rayne and her skin was covered in goose bumps. She parted her lips slightly, glanced over at him, her voice tentative, barely a whisper. “All right.” Closing her eyes, Rayne waited and Duff moved in.
Duff continued to slowly circle around her watching her reactions as he described the garden, its fragrance, the warm damp air as it caressed her skin. “Without your eyes to guide you, your other senses are heightened. Your sense of smell and hearing.” He moved closer to her, placing a few more seductive words in her ear, then backed off and moved in another direction to keep her off balance.
“Can you feel my presence, Rayne? Where am I? Can you sense the heat of my body, my scent? Listen, try to find me.” Duff watched as her breath came a bit more rapidly but she never flinched or made any attempt to open her eyes. She was being a very obedient girl. He would test her just a little further, any more and he might lose control and that was not something he wanted. Not now when he was so close.
Duff plucked a stem of jasmine and moved quietly toward her. Rayne’s head turned from side to side as if trying to sense where he was. Pulling a blossom from the stem, he crushed it between his fingers. The flower coated his fingers with its scent and Duff waved it under her nose.
“Breathe.” His voice was more commanding. She followed his instructions and inhaled the fragrance. “Part your lips for me, Rayne.” She hesitated but complied. Duff stroked his finger gently along her lips leaving the juice from the bloom on them. The heat of her breath against his fingers was almost too much to bear. Duff licked his lips. He wanted her right here on a carpet of grass, out in the open. A goddess standing naked in the night, his and only his to command.
“Be still,” he whispered, and without hesitation he leaned in and kissed her.
Sandy Point - 1100 Bridge Pass: 1 AM
All through the long drive back to her place Rayne had gone over every single detail of her date. She was still reeling from the sensations, the excitement and especially from the way her body responded to him. When Duff had kissed her she felt his erection pressing against her thigh. She should have pulled away but instead she leaned in, rubbed against him intimately and returned the kiss with equal ardor. It had been crazy. And hot.
She looked down at the dog. It was looking up at her as if it knew what she’d done and expected an explanation. She wished she had one. "That was a weird date. You think I should tell Toad all about it? No, I don't either. I don't think I should tell anyone about it ."
She picked up a glass, fumbled with the faucet, filled the glass half way and then dropped it with a crash. Broken glass glittered in the sink. Too shaky to clean it up, Rayne left it there.
Rayne let her dress slide down to the floor, a silken caress, and moved to the mirror. Her body hummed, an erotic and sensual rhythm pulsed inside her, a restless longing for something she didn’t quite understand. Was this the same thrill that Randi had talked about? As she looked at her reflection Rayne could almost imagine Duff standing behind her, dark and dangerous, possessively running his hands along her body and his velvet voice commanding a physical response. Raw heat of arousal shook her creating tremors of sheer sexual tension. Her breath caught in her throat it was so powerful.
The steady purr of her phone slowly brought her down to earth and Rayne moved on unsteady legs to answer it. “Hello?”
The smooth timbre of his voice poured over her, saying her name the way he did, possessing it, it left her undone. She felt it cascade down her body past her breasts, stomach, and down her legs to her bare toes. Unsure if she could even speak let alone stand, Rayne sat down on her bed. Her bed...her mind racing ahead...She dug in hard, found the hard edge of the bed frame, dug her nails into her thigh and held on. “Yes?”
Practicing what he taught her, Rayne closed her eyes and lay back. She heard the faint sound of classical music in the background and some other sound she couldn’t quite make out, maybe a low hum. She caught a slight hitch in his breathing as she waited for him to speak.
“Until our next time - have pleasant dreams il mio dolce.”
“Don’t hang up - talk to me.”
"Good night, Rayne."