A naive woman participates in a home exchange. 1st Place-UENGs Summer Short Story Contest
Thank you Jeff-o'-lantern for the BEAUTIFUL gold trophy!
Under Lock and Key
by Charlie Maddox
It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I'd learned about home exchanges from a coworker, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd actually participate in one. The idea intrigued me, so when I got home from work I Googled HOME EXCHANGE and clicked on a link for the International Home Exchange Network. I literally clapped my hands with delight when I saw all the countries represented there: The United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Germany, Israel . . . so many places to choose from. I was like a kid in a candy store. What began as a simple curiosity had suddenly turned into a surprise summer vacation, and I couldn't wait to get started.
Mexico? I wondered. No, everyone goes to Mexico. Belgium? Maybe Poland. I could pay my respects at the concentration camps. Always wanted to do that. I thought about walking through the crematoria and gas chambers. "Maybe not," I said aloud. Too depressing. This is supposed to be fun, Sirette. You remember fun, don't you? What about Ireland? Nah, too . . . Irish. I smiled. Spain? Then my eyes landed on The Dominican Republic! and clicked on the link.
There weren't many homes to choose from, but I didn't need many--the first one was perfect. LISTING ID# 82227: Situated on a cliff overlooking the turquoise blue sea, this beautiful brand new Spanish-style casita rests on over an acre of some of the most incredible land you will see in the Dominican Republic. Oversized master bedroom with jetted tub and dressing area. Mahogany doors and windows throughout. Casita features widescreen TV with cable, cell phone, large covered patio with dining and sitting areas, and a large private swimming pool. Enjoy the spectacular ocean waterfront, nearby restaurants and bars, windsurfing, kitesurfing, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and golf. We provide weekly maid service and 24-hour security. Our fully-stocked kitchen and bar await you. Make your vacation dreams come true today!
I immediately emailed the owner to express my interest. She called me within the hour and our plans for a house swap were set. All I had to do was buy the plane ticket, and I got one helluva deal online--round trip for $606.00. A whole week in the tropics; just what the doctor ordered. Dominican Republic, here I come!
Fast forward eight days and I could hardly believe I was looking out my window at the North Atlantic and the stunningly turquoise Caribbean Sea. I held my breath in anticipation as my plane touched down at Santiago Municipal Airport.
I gathered my luggage and asked for directions to a cab. What the . . . ? A beautiful black man was holding a sign high above his head, and it had my name on it. Oh my, look at that, I thought. He looks just like Djimon Hounsou. Beads of sweat clustered at the base of the man's throat; his sleek black skin glistened in the golden afternoon sunlight. My eyes traveled down his body, between the lapels of his unbuttoned white shirt to linger on his hairless, muscled torso. A shiver ran through me, and I averted my eyes. Did he notice me eyeballing him? How embarrassing! I stopped in front of him, and he dwarfed me. I pointed at the sign. "That's me," I said.
He lowered his head and smiled at me. The smile transformed his face and reached all the way to his eyes. He had the straightest, whitest teeth I'd ever seen. "How you say your name, blondie?" he asked.
His voice was thick as molasses and twice as sweet, and I blushed at the sound of it. "Um . . . it's pronounced suh-ray. Sirette Devenish."
"Ah, Sirette." He nodded. "A pretty name for a pretty lady, yes? Come. I take you," and he turned to walk away.
"Wait!" I put my hand on his forearm, stopping him. "I . . . I don't know you. I--"
"Rioux de la Rosa," he said, clapping his huge hand against his chest and smiling again. "Rioux, like Rio Grande. Security."
I was stunned. "You mean--"
"Yes ma'am. I'm your security guard. I come with the casita."
Holy moly, is he pretty or what? Wait--I'm gonna spend twenty-four hours a day for the next week with this scrumptious . . . oh shit, I'm in big trouble.
The drive from the airport to the town of Cabrera was spectacular, and I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I sat in the back seat, and Rioux filled me in on the area's history as we drove.
"Cabrera used to be called 'Tres Amarras' but was changed in honor of General José Cabrera, the hero of the Capotillo Battle."
"Oh," I nodded, having never heard of the Capotillo Battle before. I didn't want to appear ignorant, so I changed the subject. "How many people live here?"
"About 40,000. Not many tourism dollars here. People sell cattle and meat, milk, some rice and coconuts . . . Cabrera is one of the most beautiful places in the Dominican. Quiet and private. You golf?"
"Golf? I . . . no, I'm not a golfer."
"Too bad. Some say the Playa Grande Golf Course compares to Pebble Beach."
"My friends would never trust me with a golf club. Too dangerous."
Rioux looked at me in the rearview mirror. "You don't scare me, blondie."
I felt flush. Whew, is it hot in here? I fanned myself and rolled down my window.
"Here we are."
We pulled onto a gravel, palm tree-lined driveway that wound its way along a rocky cliff. As we rounded a final corner, the Atlantic came into view on the left-hand side of the car and I gasped. The casita was completely secluded, and it appeared that my view of the ocean would be unobstructed from every room of the one-story cottage. I imagined myself sipping fruity drinks with miniature umbrellas in them as I watched amazing sunsets from the infinity pool. "It's . . . breathtaking."
"Playa Grande Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world." Rioux parked the car beside the guesthouse. "I'll get your luggage."
"Is there anyone living in the guesthouse?"
He opened the back door to let me out and leaned inside to whisper in my ear, "You're looking at him." He was only an inch away, and I found myself wanting to press my lips against his neck, to stroke his well-defined chest--his musky scent filled my nostrils, and I was overcome with the urge to pull his shaved head to my breasts. He held out his hand; I took it and stepped from the car. I looked at where our skin met, the contrasting colors extreme and exciting in the fading Dominican light. "Thank you again," I said, too embarrassed to look him in the eye. "I . . . I'm really beat. I'd love a bath. Would you show me the way?"
I followed Rioux through the front door and into the master bedroom. A gift basket filled with bath beads and sugar scrubs and scented lotions waited for me on the bathroom counter. There was a wall-mounted CD player and a rack of CDs. I fingered through them and smiled when I found Amy Winehouse. A bubble bath and Back To Black. I am in paradise
"Take your time. Enjoy your bath. You know . . . I'm a pretty good cook. Would you like me to make you something?"
"Oh, that sounds great, Rioux. I'm starving!"
He smiled when I said his name. "My pleasure," he said, and shut the bedroom door behind him.
The patchouli-scented water stung as I slipped under it, but I adjusted quickly and leaned back, closed my eyes, relaxed, allowed Amy's sultry voice to envelope me.
He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black
The bubbles tickled my nipples and formed soft, undulating landscapes across the surface of the water. I piled them high into pointed mounds on my breasts, scooped them across my knees, my thighs, my belly button, fashioned them into a frothy bikini that barely covered my unmentionables. I ran the sponge up my arms, around my breasts, across my stomach and between my legs.
I could smell whatever mouth-watering concoction Rioux was whipping up in the kitchen, and my stomach growled. I stood to towel off when there was a light tap on the door. "Dinner is served on the patio, milady. I hope you're hungry."
I wrapped my red cashmere robe around my still-wet body, pulled my hair up into a clip, and padded outside where candles flickered and danced in the blue Dominican night. I looked out over the ocean and listened as the waves crashed onto the rocks below. In the distance I could see two lovers walking hand-in-hand down the white sand beach as a cool breeze, sweet with the scent of flor de la caoba, dried the remaining droplets of water on my skin.
"Oh, it smells wonderful! What is it?" I asked.
"Sit," Rioux motioned to the chair across from him and dished my plate. "For your dining pleasure, we have ropo vieja, arroz con leche and Cuba Libre."
"Um, okay. What is that, exactly?"
Rioux smiled. "Beef and rice--with a side salad, of course--rice pudding, rum and coke."
The food was delicious. We sat in silence while we ate, absorbing our surroundings, not wanting to spoil the evening's perfection. "Rioux, that was the best meal I've had in years. It was . . ." I felt dizzy and lightheaded, and I closed my eyes. "I think the rum hit me harder than I thought it would. I . . . I need to lie down." I stood. My knees went out from under me, but Rioux caught me before I hit the floor.
"Whoa there, blondie. Come on now. Let's get you to bed before you hurt yourself." He scooped me into his arms like I was a small child and carried me down the hall to my bedroom. He pulled the bedspread down, removed my robe, and lowered me onto the cool, crisp sheets. He stood looking down at me for a moment, his eyes caressing my alabaster flesh as I lay naked before him. "Look at you," he said, shaking his head. "Sleep well, my American Princess."
I was spiraling down, down, deeper and deeper into the abyss. The strangest dreams haunted my sleep--visions of lust and sex, licking and tasting, fucking and sucking. I could smell Rioux's cologne on my pillow, taste his cum on my tongue, hear his dream lover's voice in my ear. It was all so real! Everything was happening in slow motion--distorted laughter and voices from far-off places filled the room. He rolled me over and plunged into me from behind; his huge cock threatened to rip me wide open. I screamed with a mixture of pleasure and pain as my orgasm took possession of me, and I gasped when I heard the metallic ratcheting of the handcuffs as they closed around my wrists.
"Wake up, blondie. Eat your breakfast before it gets cold." Rioux's voice was muffled, distant, persistent. "Open your mouth. Come on, now." Fork tines pressed against my lips. I smelled bacon. "You need to eat, girl. Open up."
I parted my lips and let Rioux slip a forkful of bacon and scrambled eggs into my mouth. It tasted delicious, and I was suddenly famished. "Oh my . . . what the hell happened last night?" I rubbed my eyes and sat up. The wall clock said 6:47 p.m. I'd slept through most of the day, and it was already beginning to get dark. My wrists hurt, my body ached, and I felt something sticky between my legs. I thought . . . Jesus, what have I done? I tried to stand, but something cold and heavy made moving my legs difficult. I threw back the covers. My ankles had been shackled--long lengths of chain secured me to the bed frame which had itself been bolted to the floor. The six-foot chains would afford me some freedom of movement, but they weren't long enough to reach the door, they weren't long enough to reach the phone, they weren't long enough to reach the window. Terror highjacked every cell in my body, and I threw my head back to scream.
Rioux shoveled another forkful of eggs into my mouth, stifling my cry for help. "Shh, it's alright. I'm not going to hurt you, Sirette. Eat."
I looked at him, unsure of how to proceed. He'd never referred to me by name before. I mindlessly chewed the food in my mouth. Should I spit or swallow? I almost laughed out loud. What a ridiculous question under such absurd circumstances! Maybe not addressing me by name is part of the plan? Dehumanize me--turn me into an object. Easier to destroy me that way. I swallowed.
"I know things about you, blondie. I know you're twenty-seven and haven't dated in five years. I know you've worked at the same dead-end job for ten years. I know you spend your days off and holidays alone." He gave me another bite of bacon and smiled. "I know behind that facade--behind that shy, reserved exterior lurks a sexy, passionate woman . . . an erotic goddess who's waited patiently, biding her time, praying for the right man to unlock the door and set her free."
I was no longer afraid. I was . . . intrigued. My curiosity was piqued, and I wondered how this man knew so much about me. He's right, I thought. "You're so wrong." I scoffed at him, chewing my bacon and eggs. "Who the hell're you to judge me? You're . . . what, thirty? Thirty-five? You live in someone else's house, eat someone else's food, sleep in someone else's bed, and you have the balls to say my job is a dead end? That my life is going nowhere? Ha! Take a good long look at yourself, mister."
Rioux leaned in close and whispered, "That's quite a mouth you've got there. I wonder what else it's capable of," and before I knew what was happening he'd slipped a gag between my teeth and tied it tight behind my head. "Looks like we're gonna have to do this the hard way, huh?" There was the familiar ratcheting of the handcuffs around my wrists and again as they were secured to the metal bed frame. He slipped his hands under my buttocks and pulled me flat underneath him until I was sprawled out, spread-eagle on my back. He lowered himself on top of me, and I could feel his erection pressing hard into my groin. "I'm not going to hurt you," he whispered, his breath hot and intoxicating against my neck. "I won't do anything to you that you don't want me to do . . . that you don't ask me to do. You'll be begging me for mercy by the time I'm done with you."
Rioux left the room and returned with a water-filled basin. He wrung out a washcloth and began at my feet, cradling them gently in his hands as he washed them, scrubbing between my toes, proceeding in a slow, circular motion around my ankles and up my calves and thighs. I was breathing heavily and closed my eyes. I couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't think of anything except touching him. I tugged on my restraints, but they held fast. His fingers approached my vagina, but he bypassed it, leaving me relieved and disappointed at the same time. He scooped some of the water into his palms and drizzled it into my bellybutton, smoothing it across my skin. His hands trailed a sudsy path up my arms and around my breasts, lingering there until my nipples stood erect under his touch.
"Do you want me to stop?" he asked. I shook my head. God no, don't stop now! He reached up, untied the gag with his left hand while his right slipped between my thighs. "Do you want me to stop?" he asked again.
His palm pressed against my mons as he ran the tip of his middle finger up my shaved slit, and I moaned. Then he stood, grabbed a towel, and began drying me off. What the . . . ? I felt cheated--cheated and more turned on than I'd ever been before. I closed my eyes.
Noises in the room, a squirting sound and something cold plopped onto my belly. I opened my eyes to see Rioux squeezing lotion onto my stomach. He was kneeling between my spread legs with no shirt on--just his jeans and a raging erection. He leaned in with both hands and began smoothing the lotion across my skin, over my breasts, between my thighs, up my buttocks. It had been years since a man had touched me this way. I could feel a longing at the core of me and I wanted more.
"Unzip your pants," I said.
Rioux did as I asked.
"Push your underwear down."
He hooked his thumbs inside the waistband of his boxers and started to push them down, then stopped. He was looking at me, waiting for me to make the next move.
"Take them off," I said.
He slipped the underwear down over his hips, exposing himself to me for the first time. I'd never seen a cock so big in my life.
Rioux reached under my pillow for the keys and unlocked the handcuffs from around my wrists--the shackles from around my ankles.
"On your knees," he said.
This time I did as I was told. He positioned himself at my opening, covering the tip with my juices. "I've never been with a black man before," I said, leaning back, eager for him to enter me. "I . . . I've wanted you from the first time I saw you." I reached down between my legs, slipped the head of his cock inside me, and sighed.
Rioux grabbed my hips and shoved himself in deep, burying his cock to the hilt, and I cried out in ecstasy.
"You like that?" he asked me.
"Mmm hmm, you . . . you feel good." I dropped my upper body onto the bed and raised my ass high in the air. "Fuck me," I said, thrusting myself against him with every stroke. "Fuck me, Rioux."
And he did.
For hours . . . days, I'm not sure how long, exactly, we locked ourselves inside our own little island paradise. I lost track of time and myself in Rioux's world--a passionate place the likes of which I didn't know existed outside of dreams and books and movies. I guess I didn't really need the infinity pool with the fruity drinks after all I thought. I looked at Rioux's beautiful face. But the view is really nice.
"Thank you," I whispered as I lay in the crook of his arm.
"For what?" he asked.
"For bringing me back to life--like Lazarus," I said, and smiled in the semi-darkness.
He kissed the top of my head and pulled me closer. "You have nothing to thank me for, blondie. The goddess was there all along. You just didn't have the key to set her free."
I sighed and played with the hair under his arm. "I'm supposed to leave in a few days, but I don't want to go. Have you ever been to the United States? Maybe you could come with me."
Rioux stood and pulled his jeans on. "I'm starving. You hungry? I'll make us something to eat."
I sipped my coffee while Rioux cooked. The thought of leaving him behind and possibly never seeing him again made me want to cry. I knew I couldn't do it. There had to be a way to make this work.
I laughed as he danced around the kitchen, singing into the spatula, lipsyncing to Amy Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good when the phone rang.
"That's weird," I said, turning the music down and picking up the receiver. "Hello?"
"I told you I was trouble," Rioux sang. "You know that I'm no good." I covered my mouth and tried not to laugh. I held my finger to my lips. "Shh!" I giggled.
"Hello, Sirette? How's the vacation going? Are you enjoying your time in the Dominican? I hope the weather's cooperating."
"Oh, hi!" I placed my hand over the received and mouthed It's the owner! to Rioux. He gave me the thumbs-up and went back to cooking--silently this time. "Yes, I'm enjoying my time here, and the weather's been beautiful. How's Idaho? I hope my cats aren't driving you crazy."
"No, it's been perfect here. And your cats are little darlings. Our week is almost up, can you believe it?"
"No, I can't," I said. "Say, would you let me stay an extra week? If not, that's okay. I'm just--"
"That would be great! That's why I called, actually. We wanted to check out Shoshone Falls this weekend and . . . well, we wanted to stay a little longer and hoped that would be copacetic. By the way, have you met Rioux yet?"
My belly flip-flopped at the mention of his name, and I smiled. "Yes, yes I have."
"I hope he hasn't been a nuisance. He doesn't speak English, but I find he gets more work done that way--less time for idle chit-chat, you know?"
I felt sick, dizzy . . . the room was closing in on me, and there was nowhere to go. "He doesn't speak English . . ." her voice echoed in my head. If he's not . . . who is he? Where's the real Rioux? I looked at the man cooking me dinner, dancing around the kitchen and singing into a spatula, the man I'd shared the most sacred parts of myself with . . . the man I thought I knew and had fallen in love with, and I realized I didn't know him at all.
"Sirette? Sirette, are you still there? Damn overseas calls. Hello? Hello?"