I looked at Manuel, finding him flushed and glistening with sweat. He’d disappeared about an hour ago and it was obvious why, even without knowing him as well as I did.
“My view is better.” I turned my phone to show him the selfie Eva had just sent me. She was lying out on the beach, too, stretched across a lounger not much different from the one I occupied. Her bikini was white, her skin already lightly tanned. A thin chain hooked around her neck, nestled between her plump tits, then wrapped around her trim waist. Sunglasses shielded her eyes and bright red gloss stained the lips she’d puckered in a kiss.
Wish you were here … she’d texted.
So did I. I was counting down the several hours remaining until we’d get on the plane home. Saturday had been enjoyable enough, a blur of alcohol and music, but Sunday was a day too long.
Manuel whistled. “Hot damn.”
I grinned, as that about summed up my thoughts on my wife’s photo.
“Don’t you worry that things will change after you say I do?” he asked, leaning back with his hands tucked behind his head. “Wives don’t look like that. They don’t send selfies like that.”
I exited out to the home screen and flipped my phone around again.
Manuel’s eyes widened at the wedding photo that served as my wallpaper. “No way. When?”
“A month ago.”
He shook his head. “I can’t see it. Marriage, I mean, not you and Eva. How does it not get old?”
“Being happy never gets old.”
“Isn’t variety the spice of life or some shit?” he asked, in some sort of half-assed philosophical mood. “Part of the fun in fucking a woman is figuring out what makes her tick and being surprised when she shows you something new. You keep tagging it, doesn’t it become routine? Touch her here, lick her there, keep the rhythm she likes to get her off … Rinse and repeat.”
“When your time comes, you’ll figure it out.”
He shrugged. “You want kids? Is that why?”
“Eventually. Not any time soon.” I couldn’t even picture it. Eva would make a wonderful mother; she was a nurturer. But the two of us together as parents? One day, I’d be ready for that. One day far away, when I could bear to share her with someone else. “Right now, I just want her.”
I looked up and saw Raúl standing behind me, his mouth a tight line. I instantly stiffened, then sat up, my legs swinging off the side to plant my feet in the sand. “What is it?”
Fear for Eva settled heavily in my gut. She’d just texted me moments before, but …
“You’ll want to see this,” he said grimly, drawing my attention to the tablet he carried.
Standing, I shoved my phone in my pocket and closed the distance between us. I held out my hand. The glare from the sun darkened the screen, so I shifted to cast my shadow over the glass. The photo that came into focus froze the blood in my veins. The headline made my teeth grind.
Gideon Cross’s Wild Brazilian Bachelor Party.
“What the fuck is this?” I snapped.
Manuel slapped a hand on my shoulder as he came up beside me. “Looks like a good time, cabrón. With two very hot babes.”
I looked at Raúl.
“Clancy sent that to me,” he explained. “I ran a search and it’s gone viral.”
Clancy. Fuck. Eva …
Shoving the tablet at Raúl, I yanked my phone back out. “I want to know who took that picture.” Who knew I was in Brazil? Who’d followed me into a club one night, into a private VIP area, and taken pictures?
“Already on it.”
Cursing under my breath, I called my wife. Impatience and fury rode me hard as I waited for her to pick up. Her voice mail kicked in and I hung up. Dialed again. Worry crowded in.
The worst fears of her fantasies were captured in living color in that photo. I had to explain, even without knowing how. Sweat beaded my forehead and dampened my palms, but inside, I was chilled.
Her voice mail picked up a second time.
“Goddamn it.” Hanging up, I dialed again.
“You look like you need a refill,” Shawna said, setting down two rebujitos on the small table between our two loungers.
“God.” I laughed, slightly tipsy. The mix of dry sherry and sweet soda in the drink had a sneaky punch. And it wasn’t exactly wise to chase away a hangover with more alcohol. “I’m going to need to detox after this weekend.”
She grinned and stretched back out, her freckled skin still pale and slightly pink after two days in the sun. Her red hair was piled atop her head in a sexy mess, her voice slightly hoarse from laughing so hard the night before. She’d donned a bright aqua blue bikini that drew many appreciative eyes her way. Shawna was a bright spot of color, with a ready smile and bawdy sense of humor.