Twisted Roses

Page 135

White sands and turquoise waters. Chunks of driftwood lying around and the occasional seagull swooping by. The boundless sky at dusk hanging like a ceiling.
Imagery most would consider peace personified.
But I’m focusing on a different detail—the curly-haired woman stretched out on the lounge chair with a book in her hands. Cotton shorts hug her curvy hips and cut off at the very top of her thighs, showing off caramel skin that’s silky to the touch. Her legs bend at the knee, the book she’s reading propped up against her thighs.
Sunglasses cover half her beautiful face, but her eyes are on the words on the page. I know this, because I know everything there is to know about Delphine Rose Adams—when her brows knit like they are, it means she’s concentrating.
Every so often, she turns a page. Her lips move, silent but kissable as she mouths the words she’s reading.
A sudden strong gust of wind blows some curls into her face, messing up her hair.
I bite back a grin and pretend I’m not spying on her.
Karma hits me a split second later.
Smoke thickens in the air. The steaks on the grill need turning. I was so distracted watching Delphine, I forgot I was supposed to turn them over. I grab the tongs and do just that, flipping them onto their other side.
Luckily, I caught it in time. They’ll still come out medium rare.
I’m doing that more often these days. Getting lost in the moment. Lost inDelphine. In this private escape we’ve carved out for ourselves.
I glance down. Pepa’s stopped next to my ankle, staring up at me like I’m her fucking Daddy.
I might as well be.
Salt and Pepa have basically become my pets, too. It’s gotten to a point where I understand what their little meows and swishes of their tails mean.
Right now, for instance, she’s thirsty.
I check on the steaks one last time before jogging inside the beach house. On my way, I can’t help myself. I drop a kiss on Delphine’s lips.
We’re spending another evening dining on the deck. She likes watching the sunset and I like watching her watch the sunset. It’s the last decent weekend Montbec Island will be having before the colder weather comes in.
Before we return to the real world and stop playing house.
That’s what this is—playing house. A glimpse at what our future could be like.
The past two weeks have been nothing but Delphine and I enjoying each other. Truly uninterrupted for the first time in our lives.
That’s a first too.
It’s a foreign feeling that seems like it’s not supposed to be mine. Yet, there’s no other word to describe this break from reality. No one who knows me would believe it if I told them.
Salvatore Mancino happy.
I set fresh water bowls out for Salt and Pepa and look up when I sense another presence.
Delphine hovers in the doorway leading onto the deck. She’s smiling, an amused glint in her brown sunlit eyes.
“You should adopt them,” she says as I meet her by the door. She slides her hands up my chest and I walk her backward through the doorway, looking over her head at the steaks.
“I’ll adopt them the day we get a dog.”