She was leaving. Again.
Sonny couldn't get the thought from his mind. Every summer for the past three years, he would enjoy the three months she and sometimes Tommy would share with him and then, he'd prepare himself for the inevitable: her departure. By now it should have been easier, he grudgingly thought, but just like all the other times, it was hard. So very hard.
"Gracie and Georgie are amazing. I don't think you'd recognize them, and Benjamin, he tries so hard to—Sonny?" Simone's comments on her life away from him were cut short by the darkness in his nearly black eyes. She lowered her glass of Chardonnay to the table and sat up straight as she repeated his name. "Sonny?"
The concern in her voice brought him back to the here and now. She was right there in front of him. She hadn't left, yet. He had another day, but before that, he had that night. He smiled and the darkness left his eyes. "Yes, Dr. Hardy?" he asked, teasing her with a dimpled grin.
Simone was taken aback for a moment. She had never verbalized it to him, but the dimples got to her every time. She was almost positive that he knew it, too, and found great pleasure in tormenting her. She shook her head and a finger at him. "I'm not quite there, yet."
"But, you will be," he said with confidence. "I never understood why you felt that you weren't. You didn't need to go back to school. Medicine is in your blood, Simone."
This time, a grin spread across her lips as she playfully rolled her eyes at him. "Medicine is in my blood? And, you know this…because…?"
"Because I know things," he said with a shrug. He rose from his chair and moved around the table to stand next to her. He lightly trailed his finger down her well-toned arm to rest at her hand. He placed his hand in hers and softly said, "Walk with me."
His gentle touch left a trail of tingles that ran up and down her arm. She drew in a sharp breath as her heart pumped wildly in her chest. He had touched her before. They were friends. They dined, they laughed, they argued and they shared so many things. But, they had never—She looked into his eyes again, and she knew that he wanted much more than just a friendly stroll on the beach.
He wanted her.
A sandy beach, ocean breezes and an orange sky provided a beautiful backdrop for the silent couple's stroll. Sonny's hand still firmly held on to Simone's. A few times, his thumb ran across the back of her hand. She trembled in response and he felt it each time.
And, her hand never left his.
Simone glanced down at their joined hands. Sonny's time in the sun had made his skin almost the same deep bronze as hers. The few black strands of hair on the back of his hand were barely noticeable in the waning sunlight. The gentleness of his hold on her contradicted his strength. His hand lightly squeezed hers and before she could convince herself not to, she laced her fingers with his.
In her silent way, Simone told Sonny that she wanted him, too.
"Here," he said softly, coming to a stop in the middle of the beach.
The waves licked at their bare feet, and Simone squealed and jumped back. "What's here?" she asked, almost breathlessly.
"The perfect sunset," he told her softly. With his free hand, he caressed her cheek as he carefully turned her head away from him to face the setting the sun. "See," he said, moving closer to her so that he could whisper against her ear.
Simone's breath caught in her throat as he moved behind her. His arms encircled her from behind and she drew in a deep breath. He barely touched her, but it was enough to inflame her. Her fears of intimacy had been a long, hard battle, and she had nearly given up any hope of winning…until now. Slowly, her feet slid backwards on the sand, bringing her closer against him. After endless seconds, she reached her destination. Her back rested against his hard chest and her hands closed over his. As his dark, stubble-covered cheek rested against her smooth soft face, she said hoarsely, "Yeah, I see."
"Perfection," he murmured, brushing his lips across her cheek.
"Um…yeah," Simone replied, breathing deeply as his lips trailed to her earlobe. "Truly…extraordinary."
Simone lowered her head, giving Sonny permission to kiss the back of her neck just as he had kissed her cheeks and earlobes. She wasn't prepared when his lips parted and his tongue grazed across her skin. A low moan escaped from between her parted lips and her trembling intensified. His fingertips followed the path of his lips and she moaned again, but much louder the second time.
The flimsy material of her gold and orange summer dress flapped against their legs as the ocean breeze blew and attempted to cool off the overheated couple. The clear, blue water continued to lap at their toes, but neither paid the breeze or the water any mind. The sun had set and stars had begun to take its place, but time no longer mattered to the couple. The only thing that mattered to them was each other.
"Simone?" Sonny asked, taking her earlobe between his lips again.
"Mm…" she moaned. She felt dazed and speech was almost impossible, but she managed to choke out, "Yes, Sonny?"
"May I kiss you?" he asked, pausing in his attention to her ear to wait for her response. "On your lips, Simone? May I kiss you?"
His tender carefulness with her never ceased to warm Simone's heart. But his present request… His concern for her and what she had been through rendered her speechless. She could only nod her acceptance and turn around in his arms to face him. She lightly moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue and then with sparkling brown eyes, she waited.
Sonny's eyes darkened as her pink tongue slid back inside her mouth. He quickly moistened his own lips as his hands cupped her face. His fingers shook as he traced the outline of her high cheekbones, but he never noticed. His eyes were locked on her shining eyes as he lowered his head. Both of their eyes fluttered closed as their lips touched.
The first caress was slow and filled with curiosity. The second stroke was a bit more insistent. To Sonny's surprise, Simone's lips parted and her tongue moved cautiously against his lower lips. He fought the urge to draw her deeper into his mouth and with the patience of Job, waited as she took her time with him.
Simone tasted salty sea air, a hint of Chardonnay and all Sonny. She nibbled gently on his bottom lip and was rewarded by a quick rake of his tongue against her lips. She nibbled again in the hopes that she would be rewarded again. She was and before his tongue could slip away again, she raked her tongue across his. She was further rewarded as he pulled her closer against him and the kiss deepened.
Reluctantly, Sonny pulled away from Simone. He muttered an expletive, which caused Simone to giggle. He wagged a finger at her. He turned away from her just as their uninvited guest approached them. A young teenager took a step back as he encountered the hard stare of Sonny's black eyes. "This had better be important," Sonny told the boy.
Ricardo nodded his head emphatically. "Si, Senor Corinthos! It is!" The boy thrust the cellular phone at the older man. "You have a muy importante call, Senor!"
"Gracias," Sonny replied through his teeth as he took the phone from Ricardo. "Vaya con Dios!" Sonny said, waving the boy away when he didn't move fast enough.
"'Vaya con Dios'?" Simone repeated with faint chuckle. "Why not 'hasta la vista, baby'?"
"Eh!" Sonny grinned her, shaking his head at her.
"Well, if you can quote whathisname, you can quote Arnold, too."
Sonny shook his head. "Never Arnold."
As Simone grinned in reply, the cellular phone was soon forgotten. Sonny lowered his head to hers again and gently claimed her lips. Their second kiss was just as delicious to them as their first. The tender embrace was on the threshold of deepening as a tiny voice screamed, "SONNY!"
Once again, they broke apart. With a heavily dimpled grin, Sonny said, "I'll be back." Then, he moved away from her to respond to his insistent caller. "Corinthos here, and it had better be good."
"It's bad, Sonny," came the dismayed voice.
"What's wrong, Jase?" Sonny asked, immediately on edge from the weariness of his close friend's tone.
"It's Reynaldo," Jason replied.
"What?" Sonny bit out. "Shot…or worse?"
"Worse," Jason choked out. "He's dead, Sonny. He was shot in the back."
A moment's pause seemed like an eternity to Sonny. Again, he asked, "Who called it, man?! Tell me!"
"Moreno. It was Moreno."
"Why?" Sonny asked quietly, keeping his eyes on Simone as she walked down the beach away from him in an effort to give him a little privacy.
"He wanted the territory."
"Anybody make a move?" Sonny asked.
"On Moreno?" Jason asked. "No, not yet. I was-"
"Don't," the older man interjected. "Don't do a thing. I'll be there soon. We'll talk then."
"What about Simone?" Jason asked, concerned.
"What about Keesha?" Sonny countered.
"Point taken," Jason murmured. "I'll see you when you get here."
Sonny listened for the dial tone and then ended the call on his end. He shoved the small phone into his pants pocket and took a deep breath to collect his thoughts. Reynaldo had been one of the best and now, he was gone. Sonny had put the organization behind him. His future was the beach underneath his feet and the woman before him.
From the distance between them, his torment was unknown to her and she waved at him. In his mind's eye, a beautiful smile lit up her face. He knew that her smiles for him would disappear forever if she knew all that he was capable of—if she knew what he was about to do. He silently prayed that she would never find out.
Go to Chapter 2.