An Extract From It Happened in Venice

Chapter One

OK, he cheated on me but he couldn’t be sorrier, and it was only once.

Sitting beside Rob on the flight from London to Barbados I pondered the amazing u-turn my life had taken over the past ten days. Rob and I were back together, after a separation of two long months.

I gave him an adoring look and nuzzled my head in the crook of his neck. He smiled, wrapped his ankles around mine and tucked my legs behind his. We’ve made a pact. We’re going to move forward and put the whole sordid episode behind us. I am not going to ruin the rest of our lives because of one silly mistake on his part, a mistake I know will never be repeated. And I won’t be for ever rubbing it in his face because I want this relationship to work. And it will work, because I love him. So I won’t mention his silly little indiscretion, ever. It’s in the past. I’ve forgiven him completely because I’m a forgiving person with a forgiving nature. We’re engaged and I have a whopping diamond ring to prove it. I rubbed my cheek against his shoulder and snuggled in to enjoy the rest of the flight.

The hotel was amazing. It was a fabulous vanilla coloured wooden affair flanked by palm trees and a kaleidoscope of tropical flowers. I stepped out of the taxi, clasped my heart and gasped in awe. I stared in silent wonder as a turtle edged its way through the shrubs. I was about to bend down to have a chat with it, when Rob gripped my arm and whizzed me through the oak-floored, lavishly decorated lobby towards the reception desk. I gave a squeal of excitement when I spotted a glass display-cabinet full of handbags.

Rob followed my gaze without breaking his marathon pace. ‘You don’t need any more handbags,’ he said stiffly.

‘I’m only looking,’ I shot back. ‘But you’re wrong. I don’t have a purple bag.’

We halted at the front desk. He slid a menacing look at my new red Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis bag, which I’d bought just before Christmas.

‘Every time I think about how much you paid for that bag, I feel like clubbing you to death with the bloody thing,’ he said.

I clutched the bag protectively to my chest. ‘It was cheaper than therapy and better for me than Valium. What was I supposed to do? I was depressed. You’d gone off shagging behind my back and if it hadn’t been for that, I wouldn’t have been in the position where I needed to buy the bag, would I? It was your fault!’

A crimson stain spread up his neck to his cheeks.

‘I could’ve ended up a Prozac addict,’ I told him bitterly. ‘Or a manic depressive, or addicted to gin or the horses. Anything could’ve happened to me. What were you thinking?’

He exhaled an infuriated sigh. The cheek of him! I thought. I’m the one with the axe to grind.

‘You promised me that you wouldn’t mention that again,’ he said, measuring every single word.

My spine snapped upright. ‘I’ve hardly mentioned it at all. In the past week, I’ve only brought it up eleven times,’ I told him factually.

‘Exactly!’

‘Am I just supposed to roll over and accept the fact that you are a slut and I have a love rival? Am I?’

Quick as a flash, Rob’s hand shot out and he grabbed my Lipsy waistcoat. He pulled my face to his and gave me a long
hard lip-bruising kiss.

The receptionist coughed into her fist.

He raised me onto my tiptoes by my collar. The kiss lingered for a bit and then he ran his tongue around my lips.

‘Evie, if you ever mention that singular moment of madness on my part again, for which I am eternally sorry, I’ll pin you to the floor and pluck your eyebrows until they’re non-existent.’ There was a beat of silence. Blue eyes held mine. ‘You’d look like an eejit without eyebrows,’ he said, with a shoulder-shaking chuckle.

‘You’re choking me.’

‘I’m not choking you but I admit I’m sorely tempted. So have we reached an understanding?’ he asked, giving me another kiss. ‘You agreed to put it behind us and you promised never to throw it in my face.’

I gave a non-committal shrug, privately regretting having been so amiable.

‘A promise is a promise,’ he said dolefully, tracing my cheeks with his thumbs.

I gave a congenial nod.

‘Truce?’ he asked, cupping my face.

I sighed and blinked a yes.

He kissed my forehead, and then turned to the receptionist who pushed the registration card in front of him. I quickly turned and took a picture of the display-cabinet on my phone. I would check out the handbags later if I had time.

 

That was all a whole week ago. We’ve now been holed up in a luxurious private beachfront villa on this beautiful island for eight glorious days. In that time, Rob and I have encountered only two other human beings. There was a maid who Rob catapulted from the room when her lips quivered suspiciously, as though she might’ve been about to strike up a conversation, and there’s the waiter who delivers our room service meals. Rob said he wanted me all to himself and I’m more than happy to comply with that sentiment.

Robert Harrison is the love of my life, my raison d’être. An invisible cord draws me to him, heart and soul. This randy, handsome, ridey Adonis is my destiny, of that I am absolutely positive. I simply cannot get enough of him. Every nerve ending in my body tingles and jives when he puts his arms around me and a cascading torrent of excitement erupts and percolates in my chest when he kisses me, leaving me breathless. My obsession with him is both physical and psychosomatic. I’m driven by and demented with lust. I’ve been behaving like a sex-crazed lunatic, even waking in the middle of the night with this fierce ache in my groin that only he can satisfy. My fiancé, Robert Harrison, doesn’t have a normal willy like any other bloke I’ve ever known. Robert Harrison has a bloody magic wand.

This obsession of mine is showing no signs of waning, which frankly has me worried, because I’m exhausted and I don’t feel very well. I have a vicious throbbing twinge in my tummy as though I’ve done two hundred sit-ups. OK, I’ve never actually done a sit-up, so perhaps a more appropriate metaphor would be to say that I feel like I’ve had my appendix removed. My lips are bruised and I’ve ruptured a muscle in my inner thigh that I never knew I had, the result being that I now have a limp. I’m dragging my left leg around as though it had a clubbed foot. And as for my hair, I can hardly bear to look at it. Sweat and friction damage has morphed my long, shiny brown extensions into a frizzy, matted beehive affair. In short, I look like a hairy goblin.

This cannot go on, so this morning I showered, straightened my hair, put on my white bikini with a matching sarong and a wrapover top, and accessorised with a bit of silver bling. I’m going to wake Rob and insist we go out. I will not be swayed. I’m resolute and determined. I whizzed some Glam Shine around my lips and peered in the mirror. I looked quite normal, not like the haunted, knackered, sunken-eyed slut who woke up an hour ago. I’ve also got a bit of a tan because a fair bit of our shagathon has taken place on our bit of private beach. I stood at the foot of our four-poster canopied bed and nipped Rob’s toe.

‘Get up.’

He blinked like a drowsy bull and curved an arm above his head. ‘Why?’

‘Because I want to do something different!’

He sat up slowly. The sheet fell around his waist and he wore nothing but a lazy smile. ‘You do?’

His face shone with the promise of possibility, his eyes were pooled and glazed and his smile beatific. He looked like he’d seen an apparition of the Blessed Virgin or the Angel Gabriel. Obviously he thought I was talking about sex.

He Mexican-waved the sheet and looked below for signs of life. His already wide smile grew wider. ‘I’m game,’ he boasted.

I snorted inwardly. ‘I want to go out.’

‘Fine, we’ll go out.’

I crossed my arms defiantly and jerked my chin at the open window. ‘No, I mean out to the hotel pool or the beach bar.’

He lifted his eyebrows. ‘Why?’

‘I want to meet other people. You know, do the holiday type of thing where we get chatting to someone and they ask where we’re from. I’ll say, “London” and they’ll say, “Oh, my sister lives in London. Perhaps you know her? Her name is Mary Smith, she lives in Staines.” And I’ll scrunch up my face and pretend to think hard, and then say, “No, I don’t think I do” and they’ll say, “Never mind” and then we’ll strike up a conversation and maybe have a drink and—’

‘Evie, shut up and get back in this bed.’

I held up the flat of my hand. ‘No.’

He threw back the sheet and padded, naked, towards me.

‘Rob, a shag is off limits. Tonight perhaps,’ I said, in my ward sister voice, ‘but not now!’

He flashed me a manic smile.

‘I don’t want my holiday filled with raunch and porn and precious little else.’

He loomed above me. ‘I do,’ he said, lifting a long strand of hair and tucking it behind my ear. He held my shoulders, pulled me close and bent his blond head to mine. His tongue tickled my forehead, then slowly travelled the length of my cheek. He stopped briefly to nibble the lobe of my ear before exploring my neck and hairline. My groin flashed on high alert, my spine stretched and my back arched, pushing my pelvis towards his.

‘That’s a shame …’ he whispered, his voice warm on my cheek.

I felt a rush of excitement. He slipped his thumb inside my bikini bottom and did that fantastic little cartwheely thing he does that activates the lust bubble volcano in the pit of my tummy.

‘Because I was going to spoil you …’

My eyes followed the hum of the ceiling fan in contemplative diversion.

‘But you might not be interested …’ he said.

The problem was that my mind and my erogenous zones had completely different principles.

‘Really spoil you,’ he said, rugby tackling me to the bed.

I wriggled free and pointed a stern finger. ‘Right, Rob, I’m telling you and I mean it, a quickie as a favour to you. And then we’re out of here,’ I said primly.

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