A seal upon your heart, p.16
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.16

           Pepper Pace
 
“Indeed.” He was grinning at her excitement. She allowed her head to tilt back a bit, just so that her hair was completely wet and his hand was there beneath her neck making sure she didn’t fall below the surface.

  Knowing that his strong body was only inches from her made her feel safe, and the light touch of his hand on the small of her back and beneath her neck made her feel even closer to him. She allowed her eyes to close as she concentrated on the feel of his hands. Her body relaxed and became as liquid as the water surrounding her. She didn’t think that there could ever be a feeling more enjoyable than this.

  Tim couldn’t take his eyes off her. Her dark hair flowed about her like an inky black wave. Droplets of water glided slowly down her dark skin and the sun seemed to live in each one of them. Her perfectly formed lips tilted upwards at the corners forming a slight smile and with her closed eyes her face seemed full of serenity.

  He wanted to lean forward and kiss her. He wanted to run his hands lightly over her wet skin and feel her shiver beneath his touch…

  A sigh escaped his lips and knowing that it would cause her to open her eyes he glanced out into the horizon. When he looked down again she was watching him with her dark eyes.

  “This is a beautiful day.” He commented. Her hands strummed along the water’s surface luxuriously.

  “It is.”

  Such restraint it took not to grab her and pull her to his body and take her lips with his.

  “How do you like floating? Do you want to try swimming next?”

  “Mmmm.” She sighed. “Let’s float a little longer.”

  He shivered. “Whatever you say.”

  He led her around the pool and when he got to the deep end he told her to move her arms like she was swimming, allowing her to control the direction that he would take her. She grinned enthusiastically at this game.

  She floated/swam and her eyes closed. Unconsciously her feet began to make the motions of swimming, next her hands and arms began to flow and somehow she knew…Martier swallowed a deep breath and rolled away from Tim and dropped into the deep end of the pool.

  He clutched for her but she had gone straight to the bottom, easily with no panicked flapping of her arms. The panic was all his as he followed only to find Martier crouched at the bottom of the pool easily keeping herself below the surface. He gave her a surprised look. She was looking at him with equal surprise.

  She swam to him with long limbs moving assuredly and placed her hands on his shoulders. Their eyes locked and Tim pulled her to him, holding her close to his body. His hand moved up to trace her cheek and then he stopped. Instead he swam them up to the surface and breaking through to the air above. And then sucking in air, still clutching each other, heart pounding with adrenalin Tim gently gripped the back of her head and kissed her.

  Martier’s arms went around his neck as her lips locked onto his. He now was doing the swimming for the both of them and barely noticed. His lips sought hers at the same time that hers pressed against his. A low groan escaped him as he swam them to the edge. He needed to touch her. He pulled her against his body and felt her legs move up and slowly lock around him.

  He groaned, feeling himself becoming impossibly hard. He could imagine himself reaching into his shorts and withdrawing himself, nudging the material of her swimsuit aside and taking her right there. But the thought brought a rush of reality. Christ! What was he thinking even to contemplate taking Martier’s virginity in a freaking swimming pool?!

  He squeezed his eyes closed and did something that was damn near impossible; he broke the kiss and gently pushed her away.

  “Martier…we better stop.”

  She had a confused look on her face. “Oh…okay.” She stammered.

  He quickly climbed out of the pool and because his trunks clung to every bulge he discreetly kept his back to her. “We should dry off and get dressed.” He grabbed two towels and held one out to her while keeping the other pressed in front of him. Martier climbed out, masking her disappointment.

  “Sure.” She quickly wrapped the towel around herself.

  He was finding it difficult to just leave it like that and she could barely stop looking at the way the hair on his chest glistened wetly against his torso, leading down…Martier’s knees felt weak. She had felt him pressed against her; so hard that it wasn’t like flesh. Her body couldn’t seem to stop urging forward toward that part of him—that part of herself trembled and clenched in need.

  “I…” He hesitated. He shouldn’t lie and say he was sorry. He wasn’t. But it was still wrong. “How about we just come back in a few hours when the meat’s done. I’ll…throw the corn on then and…”

  “Yeah.” She said quickly, trying to control the tremor that she heard in her voice. “I’ll…um…make a salad.”

  He nodded. “Um…see you in about 2 hours.”

  Tim got dressed after satisfying himself in the shower. He did it quickly, images of Martier at the bottom of the pool, floating there like a beautiful sea anomaly in his head as he grunted her name through clenched teeth and spilled himself onto the shower floor.

  Not long after, Tim stood in his office with his cell phone in his hand. He had been standing there like that for several minutes. He stared at the number that he had just recently added; Priscilla Hosgrove.

  He wouldn’t do anything to hurt Martier, and if he wasn’t careful then he would. He wouldn’t mean to, but she was 23 and he was 47. It was ridiculous. He was lonely and had taken advantage of her close proximity to fill the gap in his life that Corrine’s death had left. His mind shifted to Priscilla. He didn’t want a relationship with her. She had barely even crossed his mind other than on the two occasions that he’d been in her company. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be around someone closer to his own age.

  With a sigh he pressed dial. Of course the big problem is that she didn’t come close to intriguing him the way-

  “Hi Priscilla. This is Tim. Nice hearing you, too. Look, Jakob and Elaina wanted to know if we’d like to go for a late dinner after the show. I’m not sure…I’m fairly easy. As long as there’s a big steak involved then I’m happy. Yeah, I’ll let you ladies work that out. I’ll pick you up Wednesday at about six, is that good for you?”

  Tim sat down in his chair. “No, I was just spending some time in the pool.” He continued to chat with her as his eyes fell on to the picture of Corrine. He quickly looked away.

  CHAPTER 21

  Martier leaned her back against the door of the cottage. She touched her lips; lips that had kissed Tim’s. Her heart soared. Tim had held her in his arms and kissed her completely. She felt herself smiling like a giddy fool.

  Her first kiss and she wanted to rush to the phone and call Dhakiya. But she couldn’t and not just because her friend was out of town. No one she knew would understand. She wanted to scream because bottled up inside of her was so much joy. She wanted to dance and spin. She covered her lips and grinned again.

  I kissed Tim. And he kissed me.

  She found a notepad. She had to tell somebody.

  Dear God;

  I KISSED HIM!!!

  ~***~

  Martier offered to go into work with Tim Monday but he said that he wouldn’t really need her for anything critical and then he just dismissed the idea as if she didn’t have a say in it. So she spent Monday daydreaming about Tim and wishing that she could swim. But he had made her promise not to get into the pool until he got home even though she was obviously a very good swimmer. She had some of his tape recordings that he had made for her to transcribe. She played them just to listen to his voice.

  When they had met for dinner Sunday night, it had been awkward. She had hoped…well, she wanted to kiss him again. But he barely looked at her. And when he did his expression was curious and not passionate. He asked her questions about her lack of memory. He speculated about different unknown skills that she might possess. That she knew how to swim didn’t interest her nearly as much as it seemed to interest him. The only thing tha
t interested her was his lips and his arms finding their way around her again.

  When it became evident that he wasn’t going to drop the subject of her memory loss for more entertaining activities, she explained that she had absolutely no memory of anything or anyone before coming to St. Bartholoma. She knew that her father had been executed, she knew her own name and she knew that she was an orphan. Period. He’d watched her sympathetically when all she wanted was for him to look at her with desire again.

  It soon became obvious that Tim wasn’t going to acknowledge the kiss. And as they ate she decided that she would have to be patient. She wanted him desperately. She didn’t think she’d ever wanted anything more. But she was willing to be patient for him. As she watched him silently eating the meal that he’d so expertly prepared, Martier decided that he was the one. This man that she sat opposite of, that had given her her first kiss, was the man that she would cleave to. She remembered as a child in bible study that the word had struck a chord in her and she had looked it up in the dictionary, To cleave; to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly. Yes.

  ~***~

  Tim was pacing the floor of his office tensely, although his voice did not betray his emotion.

  “I’m not saying you’re right, I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Lt Parson’s voice came over the speaker phone. “You’ve laid your facts on the table—so how can we settle this amicably, Mr. Singleton?”

  “Simple. I want him permanently reassigned.”

  “Now that’s a big request, Singleton—”

  “And not just reassigned, but six weeks of diversity classes. And consider this Parsons, I could have requested you assign him to walk a beat on Linn St.,” which was about the poorest and most economically depressed area of Cincinnati. “Of course I wouldn’t want to do that to the blacks there.” Tim placed his hands in front of his face in a teepee gesture.

  “Or we can just take it to court. Twenty three year old orphaned black girl just out of a convent…and I won’t forget to mention that she survived the Rwanda genocide, only to come to the states and have Jim Crowe shoved down her throat. You know that would go nationwide; as if Cincinnati needs another high-profile, racially charged police offense-“

  “Alright! Fuck! You sure know how to play the race card, Singleton.”

  Tim narrowed his eyes. People mainly said that when there was one to play. “What makes this sad is that everything I just said is the truth. I don’t want Miss Besigye to walk out her door, walk down the street and have any fear that she will be harassed.” What if she wanted to move away because of this? He wasn’t ready for that yet.

  “Fine. It’s done.”

  “Lt. Parsons.”

  There was a long sigh. “Yes, Singleton?”

  “I don’t want the next patrolman getting any ideas.”

  “As if I’d want to have this talk with you again. Are we through here, Singleton?”

  “I believe so.”

  “Good. And for the record, Lewicki is a good cop. He says he didn’t mean anything racists by it.”

  “If that was true, he wouldn’t have stopped her in the first place.”

  “You know Singleton, when the big bad brother’s from Over the Rhine start cruising down your street you’ll be singing a different tune.”

  “That sounded pretty close to being a racist statement Lieutenant.”

  Parson’s cleared his throat. “It’ll be taken care of by the end of the week.”

  “Goodbye, Lieutenant.” He disconnected.

  He moved back to sit behind his desk. In deep concentration he searched for the number to St. Bartholoma in his address book. He should really use the contacts option on his computer but was convinced that the entire system would someday crash and he’d be without that one important phone number when needed at the most critical moment.

  He hadn’t slept well the night before; for more than the obvious reasons. He couldn’t stop thinking of Martier’s memory loss. When she somehow determined that she already knew how to swim, she just seemed to accept it without question. But skills don’t just drop down out of the sky to be accepted without question. However, that is exactly what she seemed to do. He finally located the number and dialed the school.

  “Hello, this is Sister Louise. How may I help you?” The frown returned to his face. Sister Louise. That’s the one that had kicked her out like so much trash, made up some bogus reason. Still he couldn’t muster up much anger towards her; their loss had been his gain. But more than that, Tim sensed that the Sister had not acted maliciously and seemed to have true feelings for Martier. Still, how many orphaned, damaged and frightened girls had the school just pushed out into the world?

  “Sister. This is Tim Singleton-”

  “Mr. Singleton! I actually just wrote you a letter of thanks. Did you receive the receipts and IRS form? I sent them-”

  “Oh yes, I got those a while back-”

  “Mr. Singleton, you have no idea how much your gift has helped our school. I hope you don’t have a problem with the amount? I’m aware that the value of your donation is much less than what you actually paid for the items. But I believe they gave an excellent-”

  “No, I wasn’t calling about the donation. I was calling about Martier.”

  Tim heard her sharp intake of breath. “Lord…nothing’s happened to her has it?” He could hear the fear in her voice which gave him a small sense of satisfaction, albeit cruel.

  “No, nothing has happened to her; at least nothing damaging. She’s doing well at the job and seems to be getting along comfortably. The reason I called is more about her memories.”

  There was a soft, relieved sigh. “Yes. She doesn’t remember her life before the school.”

  “Do you know more about her past?”

  “Not much. Let me pull a file.” He could hear her moving about. They were both on speaker phone; technology. “Okay, her father was Martin Besigye. He was a business owner and a man affiliated with the local government. I have no information about his exact position in the government. He had a wife and other children; the names and the number is unknown; just that Martier was the lone survivor.”

  He took quick notes. “Do you remember what her…condition was when she first arrived? Had she been abused…?” Even while he asked that question his body tensed as if the answer had already been given.

  “Sexually she was untouched.” Sister Louise shuffled some papers as most of the tension melted from Tim’s body. “She had been found at her home where unfortunately her family’s bodies were discovered. How long she was there alone with them is unknown. She was taken to the refugee camp where immediate arrangements were made for her to be brought here. Thankfully she already knew English, though we weren’t sure, she didn’t speak for several weeks.

  Tim rubbed his face. God…as a child she’d witnessed her own family’s murder. No wonder her mind had closed out that time. Maybe…it was for the best.

  “Did she speak to therapists or psychologists?”

  “Well that’s not our way, Mr. Singleton. God is the only therapy you need.”

  His brow gathered. “You have a mute six year old that stayed in a home with dead people—strike that—dead family members and God was supposed to reach down and fix that?” He knew he sounded more bitter than he should. He knew that some of what he just said was based on his own feelings of loss.

  “Mr. Singleton…I understand that your faith might not be strong, but mine is. Martier turned out to be a lovely young woman; a lovely and pure woman. That is in no small part to God’s grace.”

  Tim’s face burned slightly. “Yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…I recently loss my wife and-”

  “Have you prayed?”

  His face contorted. He had not intended this to be a discussion of his faith…or lack thereof. “Sister, I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. Is there anything else that I should know about Martier?”

  “Well, as you can imagine, all property, mon
ey, etc. would have been confiscated…but…I always wondered if now, under the trials…”

  “If what?”

  “If maybe there is some additional information about her father’s fate.”

  Tim rubbed his chin. “I’ll look into it, sister. I’ll definitely do that.”

  There was a pause. “Mr. Singleton…I’m happy that you’re taking an interest in Martier’s welfare. But, you aren’t…?”

  “No!” He said quickly.

  “I wasn’t aware that your wife had passed on. If I had known…she’s an innocent.”

  “Which is the reason that you shouldn’t have just kicked her out.”

  “That’s not exactly fair, or accurate. I would have never forced her into the streets. But…she was afraid, Mr. Singleton.” He listened silently. “She didn’t want to leave. She stayed five years after she should have left. She knew that when she received her diploma she would need to make her life outside of the school. She received her diploma but had made no preparations to leave.

 
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