I stood right in the middle of Las Vegas. The sky was dark when we got there yet the whole city was brightly lit up by the neon lights and advertisements, hundreds and thousands of them. The whole place was full of energy that you could feel it in the air. The city was so alive and vibrant and bustling with activities.
“This is us.” We just got out of the cab where we were picked up from the airport. Callum was pulling my luggage in one hand while he carried his travelling bag on the opposite arm.
I looked up at the building in front of us. The humungous building lit up with golden lights. It brought out the grandeur of the place even more. This was where we were going to stay. Dito din kasi gaganapin ang annual psychiatry conference ni Callum at ng mga psychiatrist na dadalo.
“Everything’s grand and flashy and tacky. We’re really in Vegas.” I joked.
“Hey, doctors do know how to have fun to, you know.” He winked at me.
“Callum!” Suddenly, Dr. Sophie in a maroon bodycon dress was waving at us. “Hi! Nice to see you. I didn’t know you were going to bring your girlfriend with you.” She took a quick glance at me and then turned her eyes back to Callum.
“I can’t leave without the love of my life.” He said, pulling me against his body. “We’ve never travelled outside of California together before and I knew I’d miss her so I thought might as well bring her with me.”
I decided to play along, wrapping my arms around his waist. He looked down at me and wore a grin on his face. She needed to know that this was my man and I wouldn’t let her have him.
“Oh doctor, Vegas isn’t called Sin City for nothing.” She let out an annoying laugh. “How are we going to have naughty fun when the girlfriend is around?”
“He’s still going to get his ‘naughty fun’ later in our room” I smiled at her.
“I like that.” Callum chuckled.
“I don’t mean to offend you, Audrey. I was kidding.” She placed one hand over her chest. “We’ve gotten so comfortable with each other that jokes like that comes natural to us. I meant nothing by it.”
“Don’t worry, you didn’t offend me. Not at all.” I confidently said, showing her that she was not a threat to me.
“We’ll see you around, Sophie. We need to check in, these baggages are heavy and I can’t wait to get my naughty fun.” He told her.
“Have a good night, you two.” She said, trying to keep her smile intact.
“She definitely likes you.” I whispered as we walked away.
“I already know that. You have a hot boyfriend, you have to get used to it.” He snided.
“Wow! Kala ko ba desert ang Vegas? Bakit ang hangin naman yata ditto?” I said.
“I’m just kidding.” He said, kissing the side of my head. “But seriously, Audrey, you don’t have to worry about any woman. Ikaw lang ang gusto ko.”
I felt butterflies in my tummy again. I pretended to roll my eyes at him but at the same time, I couldn’t help smiling. We checked into our room. Callum went straight to the bathroom and took a shower. He had nothing on but a towel around his waist when he came out. I tried not to look at his well sculpted body as I took out my pajamas from my luggage but it was such a distraction.
I immediately got up and took a nice bath. I scrubbed all throughout my body until I was squeaky clean and smelled of the peach body wash I’d brought with me. I got out of the shower, dried myself, and put on the sexiest nighties I have. It was a black silk nighties that I only wear in summer when it’s super hot. I slowly walked into the room to find Callum in bed. He was on his back, wearing a striped pajama bottom.
“Hey…” He held out to me as I walked to the bed.
I smiled and took his hand. He pulled me down the bed and buried his face into my neck. His lips trailed to my jaw and up to my lips. I gently nipped my bottom lip between his teeth and a low moan rose from my throat. Het let go of my lips and then looked me in the eye.
“Good night, Audrey.” He whispered and the snuggled against me. Not a moment later, he was already in deep sleep. I sighed as I brushed my fingers through his dark hair.
“I was barely a teen the last time I was here. Vegas is still the Vegas I remember.” Sabi ko habang naglalakad kami ni Callum pabalik sa hotel naming. We spent the whole day together. We are at a restaurant and strolled around and before we knew it, the sun was already starting to set and the bright lights were starting to shine. They turned on one by one, creating a reminiscent feeling inside of me. “My dad co-owns a casino here.”
“The Firebird Casino.” Said Callum.
“Yes, how did you know?” I asked, smiling.
“My Dad’s a businessman too, hindi ba nabanggit ko na sa’yo yun? He admires your Dad so much. He thought it was a bad move when your Dad invested a huge amount on what was then Crystal Palace as it was fast approaching rock bottom. He thought it was a hopeless case. Noong siya na ang naghandle, the casino boomed like never before. Sabi nga nila Phoenix Cordova is the modern day King Midas. Everything he touches turns to cold, hard gold.”
“Kaya siguro kaming magkakapatid gold din ang buhok.” I joked.
Callum let out a low chuckle. “Smartass!”
“Kuya Miggy, Coco and I all had dirty blonde hair just like our Dad’s. Yung bunso naman naming, si Ronnie, siya lang ang nagmana kay Mama. She may look more like our Mama pero ang ugali kay Dad niya na mana. Kapag may gusto siya at hindi niya nakuha, lalo siyang nanggigigil. She won’t stop until she gets what she wants. She’s driven, too driven sometimes. Just like The Phoenix Cordova. Si Kuya Miggy naman, he’s more of a serious type but when it comes to us, he’s really sweet and caring lalo na with the kids. And there’s my twin brother, Coco, siya yung sakit ng ulo ni Mama at Dad. She got my friend pregnant at sixteen, his own bestfriend and my Dad’s bestfriend’s daughter. Si Cookie yung baby niya, the blonde kid you say on the family portrait.” I enthusiastically talked until I realized I’d been talking for minutes ow. I bit my bottom lip and felt slightly embarrassed. “I’m sorry. Am I talking too much? Namiss ko lang sila.”
“It’s okay. I’m listening. I want to hear more.” He encouraged. “I honestly love the radiance in your eyes and the carefreeness in your voice when you talk about your family.”
“Wala na akong maisip na ikwento sa’yo.” I shrugged my shoulder. “What more do you want to know?”
“You forgot to mention the other kid in the family portrait.” He said.
“Oh him…” My gaze lowered. I had shared with Callum every small detail of abuse I had experienced and how badly I’d suffered from it. But I left one detail out. I could never tell him that Arthur was the son of a rapist. He was like a stain I couldn’t get rid of. I didn’t want him in my life so I’d learned to pretend that he doesn’t exist at all. I bore the son of a rapist and I have to live with it for the rest of my life. No one knows and will know how hard it was and still is.
“Arthur. That’s his name, right?” He asked.
I nodded my head. “He’s my… my brother.”
Those words felt like bile in my throat. Nasty, bitter bile. Everyone knew him as our brother. Ang alam ng lahat anak siya ni Mama at Dad. Sila ang kinilala nitong magulang. Pero ayaw kong amging konektado sa batang iyon sa kahit anong paraan. MAsamang masama ang loob ko noong nalaman kong inuwi ni Mama ang bata sa Pilipinas at inako nila ni Dad bilang anak. I felt betrayed by my own parents. I didn’t talk to them for months. I didn’t want the kid to play any part in my life. They said that after I give birth, they’d put him up for adoption. They kept him and raised him as their own.
“Akala ko ba si Ronnie ang bunso niyo at siya lang ang nagmana sa Mama niyo na dark haired?”
“I wasn’t around anymore noong dumating siya sa family naming kaya palaging nawawala sa isip ko.” I felt every muscle in my body went stiff from all the lies I’d been spurting.
“Don’t you have any plans of going back to the Philippines?”
Nagkibit-balikat ako. “I don’t know. Maybe… One day.”
We went back to our hotel so he could change to a formal suit and I changed into an evening dress for the party later. Just when I thought he couldn’t look any more handsome, he wore a suit. He looked sinfully good and I knew women would be turning their heads later at the party.
“You are a beauty.” He breathlessly said as he held me by the waist. His eyes dark and warm as they looked at me.
“You don’t look bad yourself, doctor.” I chuckled, smoothing his suit coat with my hand.
“Tama lang pala yung profession na nakuha mo. Women are going to go crazy over you.”
“Ma’am, are you hitting on me?” He said with a playful snide.
“Maybe.” I bit my bottom lip and started playing with his tie.
“I like that.” He nodded approvingly. “Try harder and we’d be staying in this room all night.”
I rolled my eyes. “We have to go. Sayang naman yung outfit natin and I’m sure Dr. Sophie would be looking all over for you.”
“Is my girlfriend jealous?” He grinned in a teasing manner.
“I’m not your girlfriend and I’m definitely not jealous.” I frowned.
“If you say so.” He raised his brows, bemused. Then he offered his arm to me. “Shall we?”
I wrapped my hands around hi sand we went to the banquet hall where the party was being held.
“Callum!” There she was again in a dark blue sparkling dress with a deep V-neck that revealed a generous amount of her cleavage. Dr. Sophie leaned over and gave him a cheek to cheek kiss. “I’m so glad you’re finally here.”
“Dr. Francois, I am very pleased to meet you. Sarah Mitchells from Boston.” They shook hands. “I’ve heard so much about you. You’ve only been in this practice for how many years and you’re starting to make a name for yourself.”
“Five years. Thank you very much, Dr. Mitchells. Coming from an APA awardee and one of the best practitioners, I am very much flattered.” He said and then pulled me closer against him. He turned and looked at me. “This is my girlfriend, Audrey.”
“What a handsome couple you two are.” Dr. Mitchells smiled. Him, Dr. Mitchells and Dr. Sophie talked about things related to their profession. I felt out of place. I didn’t feel like I belong there. I just stood there like a log while they talked.
Dr. Sophie kept pulling Callum and taking him to chat with different doctors. This woman also knew how to make a name for herself. Nakikipagkilala siya sa iba’t-ibang kilalang mga doktor through Callum. She knew they wouldn’t throw a single glance at her if she weren’t with Callum. Callum was surprisingly well-known in his field. I found out that he was awarded the Lasker Prize, whatever that was, for one his research. I wanted to push her away when she wrapped her arms around one of Callum’s and I was sure her breasts were touching his arm. Instead, I stood there, clutching onto his other arm.
“Are you okay?” Callum asked.
“Yeah…” I silently told him
“I know you’re getting bored. Do you want to leave?”
“Cal, Dr. Kusnetsov is dying to talk to you about your research. Can’t you stay here for a bit longer?” Dr. Sophie batted her thick fake lashes at him. He called him Cal! Ako lang ang tumatawag sa kanya ng Cal!
“It’s okay, Cal.” I told him. “Marami pang gustong makipag-usap sa’yo.”
He nodded his head. “We’ll stay for another thirty minutes and then we’ll sneak out.”
“Come on, the party barely started.” Dr. Sophie moaned.
“I’m sorry, Sophie. If my lady here wants to leave, we will leave. She’s the boss.” He said, kissing the side of my head. I giggled a little at his sweet gesture and I noticed how Dr. Sophie’s face turned sour.
Callum went to talk to a few more people and then he decided to bail out. We walked out of the banquet hall and then we were breaking into the hotel’s rooftop. It was dark up here but the lights below us were so bright I feel like I’d go blind by looking at it. I took in a deep breath and let the air fill my lungs.
“Bakit tayo umalis? Kung ako lang ang dahilan, I could just go back to our room. Kaya ko naman mag-isa.” I told him.
“I’d rather be with you than with anyone else in the world. Isa pa, kanina ko pa talaga gustong umalis para masolo kita.” He said.
“We’ve been together the whole day.” I rolled my eyes at him.
“A whole day is not enough. I am insatiable when it comes to you.” He said and his brow arched. “Do you drink?”
“Just wine and champagne.” I answered.
“I only have Domaine De Canton here.” He said, taking a bottle out from his coat. “You want to give this a try?” It’s a ginger flavored liquor.”
“Saan mo nakuha yan?” I asked, laughing.
“At the party.” He grinned.
“Let’s give it a try.” I shrugged.
And so we did. We sat down and we drank and talk, letting the world around us blur away into a banner of noise and color. The view was so beautiful and the wind was blowing my hair and everything felt right.
“Dad told me that Vegas is the city that shines the brightest at night from space. Can you believe that? We’re at the brightest spot on earth right now.” I said.
“And you are the brightest thing in my life. You’re like the moon because even during the blackest of the nights, you shine extraordinarily bright. I want to be the stars that surrounds you. I feel privileged just having to sit here and breathe close to you.” He leaned over to me and nipped my chin between his two fingers. He pressed a gentle kiss on my lips.
“You are so beautiful. Audrey.” He whispered.
He crashed his lips against mine and then we were lying on the ground. Our lips did all the talking. There was no other soul in sight but we were being watched by hundreds and millions of stars.
Our lips parted and he buried his face into my neck. I brushed my fingers through his hair and counted all those stars.
The walls I had built between Callum and I crumbled down until it was nothing but dust and there was no turning back. I had stopped wishing for happiness a long time ago, I only wanted the pain to go away. He came and suddenly turned everything around.
“Audrey, I love you.” He whispered into my ear.
“You’re just drunk.” I told him.
He chuckled and propped his torso up. “I know what I’m talking about. I know it sounds crazy but this is real, Audrey. Okay, I didn’t fall in love with you at some fancy Italian restaurant. I didn’t meet you while it was raining outside and you were stuck in some shed waiting for the rain to stop and then I happen to pass by and offer to share my umbrella with you. Our love story began in my clinic. I fell in love with your weakness and your strength, your desires and your nightmares.”
“Callum, no…” Nangingilid ang luha na abi ko. “This isn’t right.”
“All of this isn’t. I was your therapist, Audrey. Your goddamn therapist. I’ve been told to follow the rules, to stick to the guidelines. But when it comes to loving you, I would rather be punished for going out of line than never crossing it at all. And don’t you dare say you don’t have any feelings for me.”
“I do…” I swallowed.
“Then say it.” He demanded.
I closed my eyes and tears began to run down the corners of my eyes. “I love you, Callum.”
I loved him because it was much easier than loving myself.
“Will you marry me?”
“W-what?” I opened my eyes.
“We’re in Sin City. We can do whatever we want here and we can worry and regret about everything later on. But tonight, I want to marry you.” He said.
I found myself saying yes to him. We rushed to a 24 hour wedding chapel and had a quick wedding. In Vegas, getting married is as easy as buying a burger from a drive thru. I didn’t want to think, I just did what my heart told me to do.
“Do you, Callum Francois, take Audrey Cordova, to be your wedded wife to cherish in love and in friendship, in strength and in weakness, in success and in disappointment, to love her faithfully, today, tomorrow and for as long as the two of you shall live?”
“I do…” He said, looking at me like I was the most beautiful woman.
“Do you, Audrey Cordova, take Callum Francois, to be your wedded husband to cherish in love and in friendship, in strength and in weakness, in success and in disappointment, to love her faithfully, today, tomorrow and for as long as the two of you shall live?”
“I do.” I answered with a smile despite the tears that blinded my eyes.
“You may now kiss the bride.”
He bent his head down to kiss me and it was the sweetest kiss I’d ever tasted in my whole life.
“Hold on!” Callum said as I was about to step inside our hotel room. “I have to carry you in. Hindi ba Filipino tradition iyon?”
I laughed a hearty laugh when he lifted my up from the ground to his arms and carried me to the bed. He gently laid me down the bed and got on top of me. He kissed me and I answered back. His kiss was different than the kiss we’d had before. It was slow and gentle, as tender as the past kiss had been hungry and demanding.
“I want to love you, Audrey. I want to worship your body. No restraints, no blindfold. I want to make love to you.” He murmured against my lips.
“Callum…” I moaned.
He removed his coat and began to unbutton his button down shirt, tossing them to the ground. Then he unbuckled his pants and pulled it down along with his underwear. Unclothed, his body was like one of those marble statues I see in museums. I had never thoroughly looked at his wholeness until now. He was a God personified.
He took his hands and placed it on his chest.
“I want you to touch me and feel me. I want you to be familiar with my body.” He huskily said.
And so I did. I felt his chest. I touched him like it was the first time I had come in contact with a human being. He was hard and soft at the same. I could feel his heartbeat against my palm and it was beautiful feeling. My head went down and came in contact with his skin. I mimicked what he had done to me a couple of time before. My moist lips wrapped around his nipple, teasing the tip with my tongue. He tasted of salt, arousal, and pure masculinity.
His fingers dug into my hair as I move on to his other nipple and gave it the same attention. My lips lowered to his sculpted abs, placing soft kisses on his six pack. He stiffened when my lips lowered further down to his crotch. I didn’t know if it was the alcohol working but I felt boldness like I had never felt before.
His cock was engorged, he was big and thick and veiny. I swallowed, feeling slightly intimidated. The sight of it doubled my heart rate and intensified my sexual desire. When I felt brave enough, I took it in my hand and stroked it. I felt every inch of it with my hands.
“Audrey…” He slid his hand inside my dress to knead my breasts, his fingers playing with my nipples.
A restrained soft growl emitted from his mouth. He grabbed me by my arm and pushed me down the bed. Then he was undressing me, pulling my dress and underwear down and almost ripping then off my body. He kissed my breasts as he had always done before but now I had control. I was no longer tied down.
I felt like a fragile porcelain doll as he kissed me all over. He made sure every inch of my skin hadn’t been left untouched by his lips. His mouth traveled down to my womanhood after spoiling my breasts. He pulled my legs apart and began kissing my inner thighs.
He spread my folds open and smiled. I had worn the ring for him tonight.
“Beautiful. You are just so beautiful, Audrey.” He breathlessly whispered before he lowered his head down. I watched as he slid his tongue along my slit then flicked it against my clit ring over and over. My legs bucked at the sensation. It felt so good. His tongue lapped at my wet folds and I had to clench my fists to keep my hips from arching upwards.
I came. For the first time, I orgasmed without the blindfold, the restraints, the abuse.
He stopped licking me and positioned himself between my legs. He impaled himself inside me and lowered his body to mine.
“Audrey, look at me. I want you to look at me while I make love to you.” He said.
I looked into his beautiful dark eyes. It was like staring into space.
“Callum.” I softly whispered.
“Yes, it’s me. I don’t want you to think abuot anything but me now.” He groaned as he began to move in and out. He took his time. It was gentle and slow and romantic.
But it just wasn’t what my body was used to. I wanted it hard. I wanted it rough. I wanted it to hurt.
“Callum, please… faster… harder…” I begged.
A flash of sadness crossed his eyes and I wanted to feel guilty for it. He pinned my wrists together with one hand over my head and started slamming inside me. This was what I wanted. This was the closest to making love I have ever experienced.
We both came almost at the same time. I felt his warmth explode inside me. He collapsed on top of me, his breathing rapid and labored.
“I love you, Audrey.” He murmured against my neck. “God, I love you…”
“I love you too…”