Putney Bridge is in the distance, on my right, and I see a boat passing by, going towards the bridge. My attention is drawn to someone sitting next to me on the bench, with coffee in his hand. Another lost soul, most likely with related inner dialogue. Whoever it is, heâ€™s almost touching my body and making me feel uncomfortable.
Without looking I lift myself slightly and move away a few inches. As I sit back I turn and politely smile in his direction, as if to say, â€œItâ€™s okay, plenty of space for the two of us,â€ when I see who it is.
â€œAmelia.â€ Alexander greets me nonchalantly.
I am still slanted forward, turning my head away from him almost too soon; heâ€™s not welcome on my bench. Connected by the sound of the riverâ€™s waves against the bank, we sit in silence for a moment.
â€œLook at me, Amelia.â€
His deep voice makes me shiver. Itâ€™s verging on kind, almost pleading, but I ignore him; I know better. If I donâ€™t look in his eyes, Iâ€™ll be fine.
â€œSoâ€¦Youâ€™re the new boss,â€ I say indifferently, not moving my head. He needs to know I have a voice, that Iâ€™m not always docile.
â€œIâ€™m sorry. I probably should have said something,â€ the wind conveys his scent my way and he smells tempting. Heâ€™s been so close but yet so far, I think Iâ€™m officially trained to get aroused by his scent. â€œPlease, look at me,â€ his voice is gentle, apologetic.
I look down at my coffee cup and recline on the bench next to him, crossing my legs, my left shoulder inches away from his.
â€œThe safest thing for me right now is not to look at you.â€
â€œYouâ€™re being ridiculous.â€
â€œIâ€™m not, and please, letâ€™s not do this. Thereâ€™s no need for us to talk anymore. The embarrassment I went through is enough.â€
Still staring at my cup, I try to stay calm. â€œAlexander…umâ€¦Mr. Reeves,â€ I correct myself. â€œTo say Iâ€™m humiliated for what you made me do is an understatement. Pleaseâ€¦just go.â€
â€œHumiliated?â€ His surprise confuses me. â€œYou think what I made you do is humiliating?â€
â€œMasturbating all over the place for someone elseâ€™s pleasure? Yes,â€ I say quietly, trying to hide the indignity in my voice. â€œI performed inconceivable acts for you, no one else.â€
â€œIs that what youâ€™ve been doing? Performing inconceivable acts?â€ he replies scornfully.
I have a sour smile on my lips and I shake my head in disbelief. My eyes are still on my faithful cup. â€œWas I doing something else? Please enlighten me, if you think I was,â€ I say sarcastically.
â€œMrs. Jones, I believe youâ€™re a woman cloaked under your marriage, hiding. Condemned wife, equipped to increase the limit of penance that you find suitable.â€ Heâ€™s looking for my eyes but I donâ€™t yield. Theyâ€™re faithfully staring at my coffee cup. â€œYou knowâ€¦itâ€™s not worth it in the long run.â€
His words light up like a neon sign in my mind, the bare truth.
â€œAre you married, Mr. Reeves?â€ Thatâ€™s the first thing that comes to my mind.
â€œIâ€™m not saying you should leave your husband! Iâ€™m saying go out there and see what makes you happy!â€ Irritated Iâ€™m still ignoring him; he loses his patience. â€œAnd look at me when I talk to you for fuck sake!â€ he snaps.
â€œI know what makes me happy!â€ I sneer.
â€œI donâ€™t think you do!â€
Aggravated by his blatant behaviour and deprecatory comments, I look directly at his face, my eyes narrowed in anger.
His triumphant smirk slowly makes an appearance and he looks at me, confident. He knows the effect he has on me. We are inches apart in broad daylight and I cannot move. Iâ€™m mesmerized. I move my face slowly back toward my cup but my eyes linger on him, unable to sever the bond.
â€œOh Ameliaâ€¦trust me when I say I want to stay away from youâ€¦but itâ€™s so damn hardâ€¦â€
This game is all too familiar. Extracting my essence, leaving no logic behind, heâ€™s savouring me with his eyes, rousing extraordinary feelings in me…just as he did this morning.
â€œNow, Amelia, I blame you for thisâ€¦,â€ he moves closer, leaning towards me on the bench, lifting his brows. â€œShall we see what makes you happy? Hmm?â€
â€œUmâ€¦ I…â€ Where is my voice?
â€œUncross your legs for me.â€