Part 2 and 3 Summer (Skinner)
Toni having finished a third glass of wine and not feeling much pain, “I should go see about dinner.”
“It smelled good.”
“It smelled good in the kitchen when I fetched the wine glasses.”
“Oh the house must have taken pity on me. Well let’s go see what’s cooking.”
The house had indeed felt pity and prepared a nice chicken casserole, it was still in the oven.
“Um Max will you find some plates and silverware. We can eat in here or the dining room; which ever?”
“This is fine...nothing fancy.”
She felt a little better for having eaten a meal and the glass of water helped. Max continued on with the wine and seemed to be relaxing a bit. They walked out on the terrace and down by the pool, the underwater lights giving it an otherworldly look.
“Want to swim?” she asked
He remembered he hadn’t any boxers on, “Skinny dip?”
“Well, if you want or we could just walk around a bit. There’s a nice English garden.”
“Be hard to see at night wouldn’t it?” He took her hand and pulled her close, “music is nice out here.” He began to move her around.
“It is isn’t it…you dance.” She placed her hands on his shoulders
“Do you think so?” he pulled her in a little closer
Toni laid her head on his chest catching his scent, a touch of sandalwood? It felt good to be against him and she put her arms around his neck. She smiled. The man didn’t have any underwear on and she could feel him. Maybe Jack was right, Max was different. It was going to be an interesting summer.
Max was drinking in her scent with the beginnings of an arousal. The evening had started off in the pits but promised to turn out quiet well, he thought. He ran his hand up her back and pulled back looking into her eyes he placed a soft kiss on her lips. Would that break the ice?
“I think it’s too late for a swim tonight don’t you?”
“Most definitely too late,” he said into her hair, “Perhaps we should go in.”
He led her into the house and up the stairs, “Your room or mine?” He asked tilting his head
“Yours,” she wanted to know as much about him as she could.
Once again the scent got to her, grass a touch of sandalwood, something hidden, unknown. It was a sexy scent. The music in his room was French and the sheets soft cream they felt cool to her bare back when she lay down. He lay on top of her not moving just kissing her, his kiss reminded her of Jack's as he teased a bit before covering her mouth. She ran her hands over his back and shoulders, muscular, he probably lifts weights. He supported himself on his arms pushing her hair back from her face. He kissed her ear sending a little shiver down her back. She felt his tongue in her ear and down her neck and she moved her hands to his hips. He pressed his manhood against her pelvis and she pushed back she was ready.
He tasted the tips of her breasts and suckled gently. She began to writhe beneath him and he parted her legs with his knee and entered her. He built up slowly bringing her with him until they both shuddered together and rolled over in the bed her legs still around his hips.
“Ah Toni, I’ll be your summer, fall, winter and spring. Damn that was hot.”
“It’s a hot season Max,” she ran her fingers over his lips and he bit lightly.
She smiled, “you bite.”
“Only if something delicious passes my lips”
“I’ll have to remember that and be careful.”
“I don’t bite hard.”
“I think I’m going to enjoy you Max,” she said and rested her head against his shoulder.
“I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot, I know I can be an ass sometimes.”
“Don’t worry Max I’ll let you know when you are.” She giggled
They lay together quietly for awhile and he shifted his weight, “are you going sleepy?” she asked
“Mmm I think I could.”
“I’ll leave you then.”
“I’ll see you in the morning,” she softly kissed him
“Why won’t you stay?” he raised up on his elbow
“Let’s just say it’s my rule for now, it may change sometimes, but we need a space between us Max it just has to be that way.” He looked hurt “It’s nothing to do with you or how I feel about you right now, because I feel pretty good you know,” she smiled
“It has something to do with what happened between you and John?”
“Yes everything to do with that, I don’t want to go there again.”
“I understand, I don’t have to like it.”
“You go to sleepy I’ll see you at breakfast.” She kissed his forehead and slipped off the bed.
The next morning Max woke in a tangle of sheets and sat up. "Coffee!" He pulled on a pair of pajama pants that had appeared on the chair found a robe and went padding down the steps in search of the morning elixir.
Toni had her cup of coffee and had started out the door to the terrace when she heard him coming down the hall, she smiled bedhead! “Good morning Max.” he didn’t speak but went in search of a cup. He had on his glasses this morning and his half awake eyes were very blue when he came out on the terrace.
“Ah good morning, Toni,” he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and plopped down in the chair next to her. “Coffee, a man must have coffee and this is rather weak, a drip coffee maker?”
“Yes it is, what would you prefer a press?”
“Yes actually I would but I didn’t see one.”
Toni turned to the house. A coffee press please hot and ready! “Shall I bring it?”
“The coffee press and maybe a tray cream and sugar a croissant?
Toni went into the kitchen and picked up the tray from the island carrying it out onto the terrace table that she had asked for that morning. She found she could ask for anything and it would appear.
“It’s magic after all Max, hope this is more to your liking.”
His mouth was open and his eyebrows cocked,"Amazing, thank you Toni, yes this is more like coffee to me.”
“You’re not a morning person are you?”
“Not until I’ve had coffee, sun’s awfully bright.”
Toni looked up. An umbrella would be nice and smiled knowing that sometime that morning one would appear. It was during the time she spent alone that her control over the house became apparent. Simple things like being cold one day and hot another made her wish for a comfortable temperature in the house at all times and it happened. She wished for an ice cream sundae one day and it appeared. Little things let her know she did have some control. Had she always had it, she didn’t know it was only when she was alone that she realized it.
“Are you ready for breakfast?”
“Not just yet,” he looked at her over his coffee cup, “Last night was wonderful, Toni.”
“Yes it was wasn’t it? You’re wearing your glasses this morning.”
“I found them in my room, I can’t read without them.”
“You’re planning on reading this morning?”
“No I wanted a better look at you, I haven’t problem with distance its up close things go a bit blurry.”
“Do I look any different?”
“You’re really beautiful, strange eyes like a precious stone, a jade.”
Toni’s eyes widened and she looked out toward the cliff. Jack.
“I have a collection of precious stones, several jades there are many colors of jade.”
“Yes I know I didn’t know you collected.”
“I own a fine collection I had sent from London.”
“London, the trader. Do you still do that sort of work?”
“Of course, but on a much smaller scale I’m no longer associated with a bank.”
His morning look with bedhead hair, several days growth of beard, bare chest and robe did not bring to mind the crisp banker in London, “I’m glad you left that behind, you’re much more casual now aren’t you?”
“You mean the suit? He still exists of course…part of me I can’t help it.”
“Well you won’t need a suit here Max, it’s a very casual place now, Jack was a little more formal, hard to get used to eating breakfast in a dining room.”
“Oh yes Jack, when did he leave?”
“First week in May…I won’t discuss him or John with you.”
“No of course not.” Slight smile
“Max I asked for you to come here because I wanted to know you.”
“I’m doing it again. Sorry.”
“Come and help me sort out breakfast.”
Toni opened the fridge. Sometimes she wanted to shake him and sometimes she wanted him in her arms. She was determined to get inside him.
Part 3 – Summer
A rainstorm that afternoon put an end to plans for the pool and they ended up in the living room across from each other playing scrabble on the coffee table. Toni was having a hard time and was way behind. She couldn’t come up with anything but three and four letter words and Max was raking in all the points. She began watching his hand picking up a tile and flipping it around casually laying his hand on the table.
“Max you’re cheating!”
“Hum, no, not cheating.”
“Yes you are I saw you exchange a tile. I can’t believe this. I quit.”
“Then I guess I win.”
“No you don’t you cheated. Winners don’t cheat.”
“Depends on how you play the game. You always play to win.”
“Winning isn’t everything, Max, and if you think you have to cheat to win, can’t do it on your own then you don’t deserve a win, you don’t deserve anything. I don’t like this about you Max.” she got up and went to her room.
He didn’t know why he’d done it surely he was better than that. He pushed the tiles back in the box and leaned against the chair. Nobody likes a loser nobody cares about you if you lose. What am I trying to win here…Toni? And I’ve lost her. He walked in the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine carrying it out to the terrace in the rain. He sat under the umbrella and drank from the bottle.
Toni had been furious with him when she slammed her door. What a childish thing for him to do. She paced around her room trying to recall things about him. He’d had a bad childhood, his trips to his uncle’s his only respite. His uncle had loved him and been patient with him knowing his shortcomings. Patience…oh Max you’d be so easy to love if you’d just cut the crap! She walked out on her balcony and saw him on the terrace.
“Max,” she called out, “would you come up please.”
He ducked his head out from the umbrella “Ah sure.” Oh bollocks she was going to send him back he knew she could do that. Didn’t even last a day Skinner. Bollocks! He drained the bottle before going in.
She opened her door and waited on him to appear he seemed to be taking his time. She walked back over the balcony to see if he was still there…no okay…turning she saw him in her doorway. His hair was dripping wet, glasses spotted with water, barefoot in a pair of shorts and a wet knit shirt.
“Toni, I just want to say I think you’re fantas…fantastic, I’m sorry.”
Oh dear God he was drunk. “Max…you’re dripping wet.” She went over to him and took his hand leading him to her sofa. “I’ll get a towel just sit.”
“I know I’ve not been good…I don’t know how you go about it. I guess you do.”
“Go about what Max?”
“Um sendin’ me back to where I came from.”
It was that little lost boy look that touched her heart. She had no intention of sending him back and couldn’t possibly do it now. “I’m not sending you back darling. I’d never do that. I’m getting a towel don’t move.”
What did she say don’t move I have to be still to go back okay. He fell over on her sofa and passed out.
Toni dried him off and with some difficulty removed his wet shirt and slipped off his shorts. Hmm does he not have any boxers? She hung his wet clothes on the side of her tub and found an afghan to cover him up. He was going to require a lot of love and attention. Oh Max you are gorgeous she kissed him and left for her workroom.
She sat down and looked at the two framed pictures on her shelf, John the love of her life, and Jack whom she would trust with her life and love. There were two empty frames waiting. Max…somehow they had to find a common ground.
Toni left the door open to her bedroom so she could hear him when he came to. She worked for two hours before she heard a crash. Running to her room she found he’d rolled off the sofa had banged into the coffee table.
“Max are you okay? Max honey wake up.” She tried to pull him up to a sitting position but he was dead weight. She sat down on the floor and placed his head in her lap. “Maxamillion Skinner wake up.” His eyes came open.
“Toni, I’m still here?” blinking his eyes
“Well of course you are Max how are you feeling?”
“Not so good you’re upside down.”
“What were you drinking?”
“A large bottle of wine; are you ever going to forgive me?” slight grimace
“I’m thinking about it can you get up?”
“Oh shit.” He sat up and held his head
“There’s nothing like a wine hangover Max, I’ll get you some ice water.”
She went downstairs and got a pitcher of ice water and a pack of crackers.
Max had pulled himself up to the sofa noticing he was naked I can’t believe I did this, what did I do? Stripped naked ah shit Skinner
“Here you go drink some water.”
“What have I done to embarrass myself now?” he indicated the afghan wrapped around him.
“I did that Max you were dripping wet, drink your water.”
“I think I love you Toni.”
“You don’t know what you think right now Max,” she smiled and handed him a cracker then picked up the wet towel to take to her bathroom. The tub was full of water and candles were lit. You don’t know what you are doing how can I sit in this tub with another man after John. The water rippled sending up a pleasant scent she breathed it in it was Max’s scent.
“Max come in here.” She called
Max got up still holding the afghan around his middle. His eyes met hers after he saw the tub, “Are you sure?”
“Yes I’m sure,” she pulled her top over her head and unbuttoned her shorts, “You’re meant to get in first,” she said,looking up at him
“Ooh yes of course.”
She settled against him, his body felt so much like John’s and she closed her eyes breathing in his scent. She smiled he wasn’t going to just hold her it was going to be okay. Max…
Max didn’t know why he deserved this she should have sent him back but she didn’t. Her body was so soft and smooth her breasts just the right size she fit against him just right. If she would give him a chance…he would win her.
“Toni,” he said against her ear, ”how long are we going to sit in the tub?”
“Until you feel better Max.”
“Can’t you tell, can’t you feel.”
“I feel you against me I’m talking about your head honey.”
“I think it’s going to burst open if I don’t get you in the bed soon.”
She turned her head and smiled at him, “slow down relax I’m not going anywhere.” He kissed her tugging at her lips, first the top then the bottom. She closed her eyes, he was so like John. Somewhere in her mind she knew he was John, he was Jack these were characters created by the same man, why wouldn’t they be similar and yet they were so different. She let his kiss take her probing her mouth with his tongue. She gently closed her teeth catching the tip and watching his eyes come open. They wouldn’t be in the tub much longer.
They had been together for a week and Max was restless, he really needed something to do but was at a loss to entertain himself. Toni finally gave up her writing to play with him. They swam in the pool, played on the beach, played tennis and he let her win surprising himself. In the garage he found a Harley and Toni rode with him showing him the paths and roads she and John had found with his snowmobile. He found a dirt road where he could really open up the bike and ride. He now knew just how far he could push her before she exploded on him and tried his best not to go there.
Toni felt her patience had paid off, he was fun, he was loving and he made her laugh sometimes at his own expense. He required a lot of her time and she was learning a lot about him. He was all about winning and was not above cheating to win. He was very intelligent and knowledgeable about many things. He was also conflicted part of him ‘the suit’ and part of him the man in shorts and sweaty tank top. She knew he was trying to win her what that meant to him she had no idea. His charm had already won her heart but she was careful not to let him know.
Max sat with his back against the large rock on the slope down to the beach. They had brought their blanket from the sand when the wind got too strong and moved between the large rocks. Toni was lying on her stomach about to drift off to sleep.
“Toni what do I have to do to win you?”
“Am I a prize Max?”
“You are to me. You’ve put with a lot from me and I’m truly sorry. “
“What if you did something spectacular, out of this world and I declared you a winner what would you do then? She rolled over propped on her elbow
He ignored her question, “I feel I’m limited here, I can’t take you out wine and dine you, take you dancing, to a concert to a museum…we’re more like housemates. When I screw up I can’t buy you anything or even send you flowers.”
“We could do the wine, dine and dance part right here Max. We can order up most anything I think. I could meet you there wherever we decide there is, you want to date me don’t you?” Now she understood he wanted to romance her, woo her in his own way.
“Do you think so?” he smiled, “okay can I order it up as a surprise or do you have to do it.?”
“I don’t know, try something order an apple.” He tried but nothing happened. Please let him have an apple. “Try again Max.”
“I’d like an apple please.” An apple appeared on the blanket.
House please let Max order dinner, drinks dancing music whatever he wants for tonight he will do nothing to harm me.
“I think you can order up a romantic evening if you’d like.”
“Did you have something to do with the apple?”
“Yes I told the house to let you have it. I don’t know what kind of power I have here I think I am protected by the house no harm can come to me here. I would never abuse it and ask for something silly. Interesting though now I know only I can make a request. But you can order up whatever you’d like for tonight.”
“This is a very strange place, Toni, you should be careful here.”
“Why, I know what it is now, I feel safe and loved and ready for an evening when you decide what to do.”
“Okay what do I do, how do I go about this?”
“Um I’d just walk around and decide what you want where and just tell the house, sounds crazy but it works.” Max stared at her a minute and got up walking back up the hill. Toni didn’t want to see where he went so she lay back down on her stomach. This is very sweet of Max.
Max wasn’t sure about this and felt a little foolish walking around the grounds. He sat down in the rose garden on a bench and really thought about what he would like, a romantic setting for two, it took him a while to work out the details but he thought he had it and feeling really silly turned and told the house what he wanted at dusk.
He ran back down the slope, “Okay Toni I’ve placed an order I hope it works.”
Toni sat up and smiled, “I hope so too if not it’s tuna sandwiches in the kitchen.”
“Um it’s upscale hope you don’t mind.”
“I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you Max. What time is our date?”
“At dusk,” he smiled