On the fifth day, Meredith lay in the shade watching Jalal swim laps in her pool. She wore only a gauzy tunic; he wore nothing at all. He had turned out to be not only a wonderful lover, but a fascinating conversationalist, and gourmet cook as well. She couldn’t remember a time when all her appetites had been so deeply satisfied. The sheer decadence of it all had muzzled her inner critic.
Jalal dived under, then surfaced at the edge of the pool nearest her. “I will not be faithful to you,” he announced, “but I will always return to you … as long as you want me.”
She laughed softly. “Really!”
“I am trying to be honest with you.”
“Yes, I know.”
“You do not believe me.”
“Oh, but I do.”
He splayed his hands on the tiled edge of the pool and boosted himself out. Rivulets of water ran from his hair, meandering around joint and muscle, tracing the length of his body as he approached her. “If you believe what I said, why are you smiling like that?”
She handed him a towel. “Because you think I want you to tell me I’m your one and only.”
He wrapped the towel around his waist and sat down on the end of her lounge. “All women want that.”
He shook his head, showering her, spreading transparency with each drop that landed on her tunic.
“You think that you can change me,” he told her.
“I think no such thing, Jalal.” She stretched one leg across his thighs. “Are you telling me you’re leaving right now?”
“No,” he said, sliding his hand up over her knee, “not right now.”