Chaud Prose: ‘Dilemma’

Trisha sighed, as she watched the breaking waves. Closing her eyes she breathed in the fresh air. She had badly needed this break, and the invitation to this strategic management symposium had come at an opportune time. She had spent one glorious week by the lake side, and often at dusk would take solitary walks.

She enjoyed the freedom that helped her clear her violated mind. It eased the pain in her heart, as she battled within. Her life was quite in turmoil and she felt like a pressure cooker. Being sent on a symposium that everyone else refused to attend had been a true blessing.

There were ten of them – representatives picked from the various departments of New Media Advertising’s Graphics division.  Amongst them was Tristan. She briefly opened her eyes, and looked at the horizon. Dimly etched against it was The Pantaloon, the corporate boat that had taken the other nine members on a boat cruise. She’d begged off, citing sea sickness. She hadn’t wanted to be too close to him, not today. He’d been making eyes at her all morning at breakfast, and she had been embarrassed. A few colleagues had seemed to catch on, and had looked on in interest.

The last thing she wanted was to cause a scene.

At lunch break he had managed to speak to her – alone. The magnetism that sparked between them was too strong to deny. She’d tried, and failed dismally. She found him impossibly attractive. He was tall and muscular, and the thought of lying on that chest sent her pulse racing. She didn’t understand this chemistry. She’d thought it would pass; as it inevitably did when anyone met an attractive man for the first time. When it hadn’t dissipated, she’d chosen to ignore it. Well she’d tried. It hadn’t worked either.

She should feel guilty for having such thoughts about another man. Especially now that she was in a long term relationship. She’d met and married Jamie after she’d gotten to know Tristan. Had he been single like herself then maybe …. She drew in a sharp breath, battling to control the desire deep within her. She had stopped being shocked by the intensity of feelings Tristan invoked in her. Even the guilt she used to feel had strangely quietened down, and she knew she was in way too deep. When she tried hard enough she could forget him; forget his handsome maleness; forget it all……

But only when he wasn’t nearby.

Once she set eyes on him it was as though he had remote control over her. And when he looked at her like he did, with that steady brown eyed look, all she knew was that she was helplessly , hopelessly drowning in their depths..

“Penny for your thoughts”.

She was jolted back into the present. She’d know that voice anywhere.

“Tristan! I thought…You… “Helplessly she looked up at his comely form as he fluidly settled in beside her. He was such a graceful creature for someone so tall. He was the ravishing good looking type that always managed to blend in any situation. Everyone at the office liked him, and she knew his every movement was followed with interest. Did anyone know he was here?

Suddenly she felt hot. If she had been any lighter a tell tale red flush would have begun to show. Her breathing grew faint. She battled to concentrate.

“I assume you thought I’d gone for the cruise? Well I heard you telling Sasha you hated sailing as you usually suffer sea sickness. So I made myself scarce until the boat was a long distance off”.

He chuckled naughtily.

“Actually I pretended to run after it, and looked suitably disappointed. Don’t worry; no one will even guess I deliberately stayed behind”.

Suddenly his face took on a very serious expression, as did his voice.

“I needed time alone. With you”.

Trish struggled to sit up, as the storm within began to rage again. She had to get away.

“Actually Tristan, “she began, “I think I’ll go inside. I need to make a call home and find out how Caitlyn is. I…”

“Don’t Trish. Please”.

“I know I shouldn’t be talking about this, we’re both committed but… “. He pounded the earth with a frustrated fist.

“Damn it Trish I can’t help the way I feel about you. We need to talk through this. I cannot deny it anymore. Neither can you”.

There was a note of finality that stopped her dead in her tracks.

“We have to talk about this, about us sometime.” His voice had grown soft and she couldn’t leave him. Not when he was like this. Her resolve had already weakened, and she hadn’t even looked at him yet. Steeling her shaking body, she looked up at him. She couldn’t hold his gaze for long. His eyes touched her in a way that not even Jamie could. She should feel guilty but all she felt was a giddy excitement. She had to stay in control. There was no one around to stop them, no one but her allegiance to Jamie and their love….

…. He seemed to know how to sway her his way. She had first noticed that soft sensual drawl, which had swept her breath away. She could sit at his feet and listen to him talk to her all day, so softly it felt like a caress.

A sudden image of Jamie seeing her off flashed across her mind. Jamie, holding their one year old Caitlyn in his arms. She couldn’t. She got to her feet, and swayed. He caught her easily, and set her balanced on her feet.

He pulled gently on her hand. The electric current that flowed from his arm to hers made her look up. The answer in his eyes gave it all away – he felt it too.

“Please. Sit down”.

Mute, she sat like a little child. What was it with this man? Where was this magnetism coming from? She knew there were many women who panted after him in the office. Regardless of how hard he tried to blend into the background they sought him out. She had acknowledged him, yes he was devastatingly handsome but he belonged to someone else. She had been a tad disappointed to discover he was married; well what did she expect? Who wouldn’t want to marry a man who oozed such sexuality? Thereafter she thought little of it. He was off limits and that was that. And the sheer lack of shame – she was after all a married woman too, happily she believed. So what was with her and these sinful thoughts and feelings? She had vowed not to give him time of day, and had very nearly succeeded at it. Until Chance threw them together at a corporate function, and she had to face him again. It was to be three weeks before the symposium, and she had no idea what was about to hit her, nor the fact that their lives would be changed forever…..

“Patricia”.

She loved the way her name rolled so easily out of his mouth. She looked at his lips as he repeated her name. Already her mind had developed a will of its own and had begun to imagine what those lips could do…..

Only when he repeated her name a third time, using her abbreviated form, did she force herself to answer. She sounded breathless, and blushed again. Could he read her thoughts?

He took her shaking hands in his and sighed.  “Oh Trish! I wonder if you know what these feelings have done to me. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate. I’ve stopped working on my collages; all I can do is sit and think of you. I look at Cynthia lying beside me, and it looks so wrong”.

He stopped, and stood up. He began to walk agitatedly to and fro.

“Let’s take a walk”.

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Each battled their own private thoughts. He was the one to break the silence once more.

“When I first saw you I was struck by your innocent beauty. It was effortless.  I liked your bashfulness; your childlike shyness. You seemed.. Untouched. You were so different from the others… Sasha, Tina, Jessie…”

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