Two hours later, Mikel could not stand it any longer. He was concerned she could get sick if she didn’t eat. He had already checked on her once after she didn’t come down for dinner. He had found her asleep, and covered her with the displaced blanket, but still worried because she had not eaten since this morning’s events. Juli had told him the medication might upset her stomach, but that should have worn off long ago. She had been awake for hours and it was almost 10 pm, not late for dinner in Barcelona, but very late for not eating since this morning.
Women confused Mikel. His fiancé, Angelique, the stoic Catalan woman, took care of all the chores. Eating was not an issue for her either. She never missed a meal. Not like the skinny one upstairs. If Mikel’s blessed mother was still alive she would make it her life’s work to fatten that one up. He never understood American’s obsession with skinny women. Mari had physically fit and not emaciated, but by Spanish standards, she was skinny. Who wants to grab bones, un saco de huesos, as his mother used to call them.
Mikel decided she would starve unless he woke her up right now and got some food into her. He tapped lightly, then harder on her door. Still no answer. He stepped in to wake her, but stilled his breathing and halted for a moment, stupefied by the sight in front of him. An angel, she looked like an angel. Her smooth skin, her lips slightly parted, and her silky black hair fanned out over the white pillow.
He felt like a complete ass. She looked so vulnerable and he was holding her prisoner, like a common criminal. Punching a fist into his other hand, his muscles tensed at the bitter feeling of being forced into this situation. Right now he hated Lito, and vowed revenge on the man. But first they needed to get through tomorrow. Then he would act on that hatred.
“Chiquita, wake up.” He touched her arm, giving it a gentle shake. She blinked, opening her eyes with a look of confusion on her face, as she looked at him, then around the room.
“Where am I?” She lay back down, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hands, like a child waking up from a 10 hour sleep. “Never mind, I remember.” The words gravelly from sleep, but the resolution in them saddened him. He cringed at her matter-of-fact attitude. Her legs swung off the bed as she sat up. The robe fell back, exposing long deep tan legs, all the way to her hip. Her panties were pure white, with a hint of lace on the side, as far up as the robe would allow them to be seen. Mikel could not help but stare at the smooth skin, and the roundness of her ass. Dios Mio, he told himself in silence, she is beautiful, everywhere. His heart raced, and he could feel his groin reacting to the beautiful sight. He did not want this moment to end, he wanted to be able to tell her how he felt and the circumstances surrounding the day’s events.
“Get enough?” She looked at him, her eyes dark and her lips drawn tight.
Red crept up his face. “Perdón.” He turned to the door. “I just wanted you to have something to eat, it is time for the evening cena. Or dinner, as you Americans call it.”
A short while later, as Mikel served the food, she came into the kitchen; no she sauntered, dressed in a denim blue skirt, turquoise blouse, and sandals. Her long tan legs were exposed, but he remembered them naked above her thigh. The blouse fell loosely low down her cleavage, accentuating her firm bronze breasts. He didn’t look at her face, avoiding the embarrassment he felt at previously reacting so quickly to her in the bedroom.
Get a grip, she is just a woman. You have been with others and never cared if they liked or didn’t like you looking at them. The ache he felt in his gut told him this one was different. Not often, but on occasion, he would have Juli fix him up with someone from one of the clubs. Emotionally it didn’t fill any voids, but physically it was satisfactory. If it weren’t for the mission they had to complete, he’d have Juli fix him up with one of his club dates and relieve himself of his overwhelming attraction to this angel.
“I made a salad and a quick dressing to go with the tapas. The chef also sent over some Crema Catalana for dessert.” He placed the food out family style, unsure if she would want him to serve her.
He heard her stomach growl. “You are hungry, so let us call a truce and enjoy the delicious food.”
“I will enjoy the food, but not your company. Where is my computer and phone?” She crossed her arms, staring angrily at him. He thought it an audacious move for a captive. But he’d never held a woman captive before.
“We’ll talk about that later.”
She snatched her plate and stabbed at the tapas, snapping them down on her plate. Mikel watched her swift, movements, first gambas al ajillo, then one piece of each of the three types of chorizo, along with some queso Manchego. She paused, pinched her lips, he thought in determination, then in rapid movements, reached for the rest of the tapas, queso de cabra, and pulpo y merluza en aceite de oliva. Two loaves of crusty warm bread were sliced into perfectly sized pieces for tapas. Crossing her arms again and glared at him.
“You don’t like my chef’s cooking?”
“What I don’t like is being held hostage. Maybe I should start screaming and let your neighbors know what you are doing.”
He shrugged and took a bite of the food. “You may scream all you like. No one will hear you. Trust me, this apartment occupies the entire floor, and they can’t hear you in the lower apartment.” He wasn’t lying, below them was office space where he owned and it was used as offices for his business. He put his fork down and kept looking at her. “No one would pay the exorbitant prices if they had to hear their neighbors clomping around on top of their heads.”
“Just let me leave, I promise I won’t tell anyone what I’ve seen or heard.” Her eyes widened, as she looked at him pleading. Her hands came together, fingers intertwined, as in prayer.
“And as I have told you, no, as I have promised you, when this is all over tomorrow, and Lito is satisfied he is safe, I will let you go.”
She began stuffing food in her mouth, and all she managed to say in response to him sounded like, “humph.”
In his curiosity, the meal could have become a distraction, but it seemed to have enhanced the experience of watching the exotic woman in front of him. He took a bite of the gambas, savoring the bold garlic taste, thinking how it resembled her bravery and assertiveness. The sharp taste of Manchego made him fantasize about the earlier visual images of her beautiful skin and succulent body. She mesmerized him.
Mikel had not lied, Lito wanted his men to eradicate her, the Hijo di puta Lito called her. Just thinking of what Lito’s men would have done to her before they killed her sent goose bumps sent up his arms. The quick idea to sedate her, his explanation to Lito and his men along with their hurried exit from the restaurant prevented Lito from getting to her.. He shuddered at the memory of the sneer that crossed the ugly face of Lito’s right hand thug and the words he used to describe what he would like to do to her if she turned out to be a cop.
“Why don’t you enjoy the view and I’ll clean this up.” Mikel brought his plate to the sink, where she had already placed hers. She snatched the plate from his hands and added both plates to the sink full of soapy water. “We have a dishwasher, you don’t need to do that,” he countered.
A defiant glare aimed his way, and her continued sloshing of the content of the sink was all the answer he got back. He cleared the rest of the plates, reluctantly bringing them to the sink. The steamy water coming off the faucet seemed to be opposite her non-verbal icy response. Except for the exaggerated banging of dishes and swirling of dish water in the sink, there was silence. He wanted to tell her banging the fine dishes like she had been might break a few, but he worried she might take him serious, and momentarily thought she’d use his head to do the job.
“I’m going to be in my office,” he nodded towards the closed door. “The television is over there, some of the closed captions have English, so if you want to watch it you can. There is also one in your room.” He turned and walked to the office, leaving the door open.
A while later he came out of his office stopping abruptly after seeing Mari standing by the large windows. She stood motionless, quiet, her angelic face turned towards the calm Mediterranean. The bright moon reflected on the calm sea, pinpricks of starlight danced in the sky. He wondered what she was thinking. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She jumped.
Come mierda, the self-deprecating thought was just what he needed. You don’t need to frighten her any more.
Her right hand made a quick sweeping motion across both eyes, a telltale sign Mikel could not ignore. Stepping closer to her, he could see her eyes were red rimmed, her eyelids moist. A sickening feeling rolled in his stomach. How long was he going to be able stand watching her suffer, while thinking of himself as such an ass.
She looked him, though her eyes still glistening from the tears, they were dark and painful. “I hate you.” Her voice cold.
“Chica, you don’t even know me.” He moved his lips into a smile but her glare told him she didn’t appreciate it.
“I know enough. You are despicable.” Her arms wrapped around her waist, she moved to step around him.
He moved in front of her, blocking her. Her head jerked up, he read surprise in her widened eyes. Mikel cupped her chin, her skin as soft as it looked. “If you knew me, you wouldn’t hate me. I’ve told you, I will never hurt you.”
Her mouth parted as though she wanted to respond, but no sound came out. Her lips, pink, moist and plump, vanished all self-control Mikel had held all day. He leaned down and brushed his lips with hers. Soft, gentle as he expected, she tasted sweet. Her arms still clung to her waist, but she remained immobile and mute.
“Good-night Marissa. Remember my promise.” He dropped his hand, stepping away from her, but deep down wishing it would not end here. He watched her sprint to the stairs, and smiled. He had no regrets about what had just happened. Not at all.
“How dare he? Estupido.” Mari mumbled as she slammed the door behind her. Her lips still tasted of him, but she would never admit it to anyone.
Her words sounded weak, and her thoughts fragile. Mikel had all the power and control. The sense of despair Mari battled with all day, once again settled over her. She told herself she hated all of them, and reaffirmed her intention to escape her current situation. His sensual kiss kept stirring up a swirl of emotions in her. She should not have allowed it, walked away. Trying to convince herself she had not enjoyed it was not working. Maybe she even wanted him to kiss her, before he actually did. How can I desire a man who is holding me captive, and who is dealing in weapons with evil men Mikel couldn’t be any different. Or was he?
The tears she promised herself to resist, rolled down her cheeks. A lump grew in her throat as she fought back sobs. Her arms, now wrapped again around her mid-section could not hold back the pain that had been intensifying all night. Weakness grew in her legs, and despair overwhelmed her soul. Her sobs grew louder as she collapsed on the floor, and curled up in a fetal position.
All the fear, all the anguish, and all the pain she had experienced that day poured out of her. Cascades of tears accompanied her sobs, until there were no more to shed. She went into the bathroom to wash her stained face. Looking in the mirror she was repulsed by the sharp contrast between the nice clothes she had worn for the evening, and her swollen eyes and crippled spirit. She turned right back into the bedroom, and settled herself in the bed, fully clothed.
Exhausted, it did not take her long to succumb into a restless sleep. Dreams of a locked room and a man with blackened eyes haunted her all night.