Happy Full Moon in Pisces! I’ve patiently waited for a chance to tease the next volume in The Travel Trysts Series and decided to combine it with one of my favorite celestial occurrences, the full moon. This is the second in what I plan to be a quarterly series of shorts that combine travel and erotic romance. Because what could be more fun on vacation than a little tryst? Take some time out this Friday or Saturday night to read these teasers and enjoy the view above. XOXO Celeste-Marie
A dozen of my friends from all over the world were flying in for a long week of partying in a lush riad that we rented just outside of the Djemma el Fna. I was one of the last flights to get in so the party was already going strong when my taxi dropped me off. I slung my camera bag over my shoulder and wheeled my suitcase to the front door. Before I could even knock the large ornately carved door swung open and my best friend since high school, Tara, squealed as she flung her arms around me for a tight hug.
“Yea you finally made it! Everyone else has been here since early afternoon. What took you so long?”
“Tara it’s considerably easier to get to Morrocco from France and London than it is to get here from Indonesia. I had a long layover between planes, I just wanna eat dinner and go to bed.”
“Absolutely not Mikala! The party’s just getting started.” Tara grabbed my suitcase and lead me to the top floor of the riad. “Since you’re the last one here you, unfortunately, have the smallest room but it’s on the terrace so you have the best view. Oh, I’m also sorry to tell you that the air conditioner is malfunctioning. I tried to get it going when you told me you had landed but it’s only blowing out a warm breeze. The housekeeper said that the maintenance man will be here first thing in the morning. She brought a bucket of ice and extra bottles of water for you to get through the night. I’m sure John wouldn’t mind you staying with us if it’s too hot up here.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. Compared to my last country this heat is nice.” I sat my camera bag down and freshened up in the bathroom before we made our way downstairs.
Grabbing a drink, I made the rounds hugging and catching up with everyone. When I mentioned that I needed to add some food to all the wine that I was drinking an unfamiliar face suggested that I join him for a late dinner.
Tara practically tripped over herself as she volunteered to introduce me to the gorgeous stranger mingling among my friends. “Mikala this is John’s friend Amir. He’s a very successful businessman who runs his own import-export company in Europe.” He shook my hand and I was taken aback by how gorgeous he was. Tall athletic build with a nice square jawline, bronze skin, and a magnetic smile. I momentarily thought about how it would feel to curl my fingers in his dark wavy hair. “Amir this is my beautiful, talented friend Mikala. She’s a world-renowned photographer who just got in from her latest fashion shoot in Indonesia. Funny enough, you two are the only single people on this trip. I think it would be great if you went into town for dinner together. Mikala, Amir’s been to Marrakech countless times for business so he knows his way around. The locals have dinner late here so you should have no problem finding something to eat.”
I exchanged looks and laughed with Amir. “Tara you’re so obvious sometimes but if Amir wants to I would love to go.”
Once we finished our drinks Rafael turned to me, wiggled his eyebrows and said, “Hey baby, you wanna get married?”
I laughed as I sat my glass down, “Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that what I’ve been planning for months now? That’s why you flew me halfway around the world to get away from.”
“No Janae, I want you to marry me while we’re here. The hotel can arrange a ceremony for just the two of us. We can go to the courthouse when we get back home to make it legal but I want to marry you now. No stress or phone calls just the two of us in the rainforest celebrating the start of our life together.”
“Our Mom’s would kill us.”
“I’ve talked to both of them and let them know how all of this planning is affecting you. You’re barely sleeping, you can’t get any work done and this isn’t making you happy. I can’t watch this any longer. My first responsibility as you’re husband is to take care of you, so let me do it.”
“But the deposits for the venue and the caterer?”
“We can still have the party at the venue and the caterer can switch from plated dinners to appetizers. Nobody will miss out on time with us to celebrate. I’m marrying you not our family or friends so what do you say?” Rafael pulled a small ring box out of his shorts pocket and opened it.
I saw the matching band to the engagement ring on my finger and tears welled up in my eyes. “Of course I’ll marry you, Rafael. You’re right, this wedding planning is taking a toll on me mentally and physically. But we’re only here for a week and I don’t have a dress or anything. How can they plan even a small wedding so quickly?”
“Well, I booked this tent as the wedding package. I took a chance that you would say yes and if you said no we could still take a week to ourselves to unwind.” He went into our room and brought back the plans for the wedding. “We’ll have someone perform the ceremony and two flower girls. The hotel will provide a bouquet for you and boutonniere for me. They have it all covered Janae, we just have to show up. I even brought the dress you picked out for the reception after the wedding, that way you can have one of the dresses you wanted to wear.” He pointed to the bedroom and I could see my white backless satin gown hanging from the wardrobe. “I bought a nice pair of khakis and a dress shirt for myself. Since our original plans didn’t include kids I thought ahead and got two bracelets as gifts for the flower girls. I know you would want to make sure we gave them a thank you gift.”
“Wow, you really did think of everything. Okay, I can’t say no to this, it’s too perfect. We actually get to go on a honeymoon at the wedding.” Rafael called the restaurant about dinner and I took a nice relaxing bath before it arrived. I breathed the scent of rose petals and soap in deeply as I sunk into the copper tub and let the past six months of stress melt away. I lost track of time and a light knock on the bathroom door brought my soon to be husband and with our dinner in tow.
“I figured you didn’t want to get out of the tub so I thought we could eat dinner in here.” He opened the wooden boxes and pulled a stool near the tub handing me one while he cracked open the other and poured us two beers. “So soon to be wife, are you one hundred percent sold on getting married six months sooner in Bali?”
“If that means I can continue to soak in a luxurious rose-petaled bathtub while drinking good beer and eating Asian barbeque then yes, I’m sold. This is why I wanted to marry you in the first place. No matter how much I sweat the small stuff you always see the bigger picture and reign me in. Thank you so much for planning this. I would’ve been too worried about what our family’s thought to even suggest eloping. To be honest I’m a little concerned but still on board. So when is this all happening?” I took a drink of my beer and grabbed another shrimp skewer.
I knew what I really wanted to do before I went home. I asked about shopping and Jian took me to Causeway Bay. I looked down the main street in awe, “I’ve never seen so many places to shop in one area.” I recognized lots of American company logos.
“They have a little bit of everything here. Designer, bargain and everything in between. It’ll be easy to kill a few hours before we make our way to Victoria Park.”
“It’s an easy way to kill my bank account before I fly back to Paris. Let’s go!” Buzzing from one store to the next I lost track of time. I offered to pay for a taxi back to my hotel since Jian had been gracious enough to help me carry all of my purchases for the last two hours. He let out a long sigh once I opened my room door and he was able to put all the bags down. I grabbed a few drinks from the fridge and handed him one to him, “Please have a seat Jian, I didn’t mean to buy so much but I couldn’t resist.”
He sat down on the loveseat across from my bed and sipped from the bottle of water. “I knew I was in trouble when your eyes lit up once you saw the street but I can appreciate a good bargain like anyone else. All of these bags and I don’t think you spent more than three hundred Hong Kong dollars.”
I finished moving the bags to the closet and sat next to him on the loveseat. “More like two hundred and fifty. There was a distinct moment where I had to stop or start shopping for another suitcase to take everything back home.” One of the shopping bags came tumbling out of the closet as I said this and we collapsed in laughter. “That’s definitely a sign for me to not do any more shopping in Hong Kong.”
“Oh, I actually did a little shopping of my own.” He handed me a sleek black shopping bag that he picked up from the table next to him. “I saw a little bakery next to one of the stores we went into and I snuck over there to buy you a gift.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you.” I pulled a small lacquered box out of the bag. It was mint green and gold with flowers painted on it. I opened each of the three drawers and there were two round disks wrapped in matching floral mint green paper. “This box is gorgeous Jian, what are these?” I picked up one of the disks admiring the wrapping.
“Well, we couldn’t celebrate Mooncake Festival without mooncakes. Each drawer has a different flavor. The top is red bean paste, the middle is orange poppyseed and the bottom is pistachio. The gift box is a keepsake to take back to Paris with you. Every time you look at it you can think of me.”
I put the box on the nightstand and hugged Jian. “It’s beautiful and I’ll keep it forever.” He set his water bottle down and hugged me back. “You’re great, it’s a shame that we live so far apart. I’d like to get to know you better.” I kissed him lightly on the cheek and hugged him again.
“We actually live in the same city, Stephanie. I came into town for the convention just like you did. I was born and raised in Kowloon but I live in Paris now. I have for a few years.”
I pulled away from him with a look of shock on my face. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I thought that you might think I was coming on to you or being creepy.”
“Jian you’ve been a perfect gentleman this entire time, I would never call you creepy. Quite the opposite.”
“Good. It took me hours to work up the nerve to talk to you at the convention and I was worried that I would say or do the wrong thing. I’ve never asked a foreigner out to dinner or out to anything for that matter.”
“Jian I wish more guys would approach me like you did. Well not defending me against some blowhard but in a respectful manner. I appreciate how kind you’ve been, it’s a nice change.” I patted the back of his hand and held it in mine. “We can hang out for a while here before we go to the park for the lantern festival.”
On our way to Victoria Park, we rode in the taxi looking at the festival decorations lining the streets. We were dropped off near the water fountain and made our way to the central lawn. As we strolled through the park I noticed that Jian seemed nervous. “Is everything okay Jian. You didn’t say much in the taxi and even less now.”
“It’s nothing really. I’m just embarrassed from telling you what I did earlier.” He looked down at me as we walked along the path to the festival. “I don’t open up easily to anyone and we’ve only known each other a day.”
Coming back here has balanced my life, I get to make the food I love not just what’s popular with the tourists. Our guests are more open to a greater variety of food and I enjoy my small cooking classes. When we aren’t booked I help my dad run the farm and experiment with recipes.”
“So you plan to live here permanently?”
“I’m not sure. Now that the farm stay is popular two of my brothers have shown interest in moving back to help run it. I’m sure my father will appreciate the help but I’m not sure if I’m ready for all of us to live together again. I like finally having a room to myself and not hearing their awful taste in music. Nothing’s been decided yet but if we get any busier then it’ll be necessary. Do you want to stay at the restaurant you work at now? What about opening your own place?
“I think I’m feeling that burnout you were talking about. I love my job but vacation time is hard to come by. We’re very popular so our restaurant and catering schedule is packed most of the year. This is the slow season before the holiday parties start so that’s why I could take time off right now. I’m not sure if I want to own my own restaurant but I would love to have a catering company and food truck. As long as I can cook and be creative I’ll love it.”
“That sounds great. Plus if you work for yourself you can take time off as you need it once it’s running smoothly. No one can be great at their job if they’re exhausted all the time. It’ll eventually affect how you cook.”
“Yes, I agree.” We watched the sun finally dip below the horizon. Luca went back into the kitchen and came out with our stuffed eggplant. “This tastes amazing. I love making simple dishes like this.”
“You’re a great sous chef April. If I was still in a restaurant I would love to work with you every night.”
“Same here. Will I get another lesson tomorrow? The cheesecake will take a day to set up properly so there’s plenty of time after it’s done baking.”
“What would you like to learn?”
My ears caught something different. The tone of his voice was noticeably lower. A little deeper with a hint of lust accented at the end of his question. I looked up from my dinner and across the table to Luca. His eyes were taking in my long legs through the glass-topped table and working their way up my body. I looked back down at my eggplant before his eyes met mine. “Whatever you want to teach me, I’m open to learning anything.” I took a big sip of my wine and swallowed hard. I looked up and met his gaze. Luca smiled and this may be the wine talking but I’m sure he winked at me before continuing to eat.
“Good, I love an eager student.” My heart raced at the thought that he might not be talking about food right now. Earlier I’d caught myself staring at his biceps numerous times while we prepared our dinner. His arms were completely exposed in his fitted tank top and the way the muscles flexed while he chopped made it hard not to take a look.
We finished our meal and swapped work horror stories as we cleaned up the kitchen. After jotting down a grocery list for the next day I said goodnight and went to my room. I undressed, showered and climbed into bed slightly tipsy and thinking of Luca. The breeze from the overhead fan helped me drift off to sleep wondering what my week in Sicily would bring and what Luca had in store for me.
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed the teasers and they convinced you to buy volume two to get the full stories. Amourous Autumn, Travel Trysts Volume 2 will be available as an e-book for $1.99 starting September 23rd. If you’d like to read volume one it’s currently available in e-book format for $.99.