Crystal Whisperer

By: Camilla Monk


Local is Lekker

I’ll tell you what, if this was a romantic suspense, I’d throw my tablet through the window and ask for a refund.

The plot goes like this: Island Chaptal is a beautiful computer engineer living in New York, and she’s been waiting all her life for Mr. Right, reading romance books and saving herself for his expert touch—that’s twenty-five years, six months, and twenty-eight days of saving, for anyone who cares. One night, she comes home to find a dangerous and sexy professional killer searching her apartment: a mysterious man with a dark past, known by the code name March. Also, he does the dishes and he knows how to change a vacuum cleaner bag, because it turns out he’s a bit of a neat freak.

I won’t go into all the details, but tons of exciting adventures ensue. Island learns her mom was in fact a spy and her biological father a supervillain; March takes her on a chase for a long-stolen diamond; she falls in love with him in Paris; he dumps her in Tokyo, comes back a reformed man a few months later, and they make up. But danger always lurks; she kind of becomes a spy too, and they embark on another perilous investigation in Europe, where they fight off killer platypuses and a shady CIA agent who seduces Island—love triangles always sell.

And, of course, in the end, March takes her to his tiny cubicle house facing the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Saint Francis—he’s actually OCD and South African—where he makes passionate love to her until dawn.

Or not.

Because his condoms are expired, so they have to wait until the following morning for him to go buy some in town. And once there, they pass a surf shop, and he says “We have great weather today. Would you like me to teach you surfing after lunch?” Of course, she doesn’t want to sound pathetic, so instead of saying, “I’m a twenty-five-year-old virgin. Surfing is not what’s missing in my life right now,” she says, “Sure. Cool.”

Like I said, I’d slam that book with a one-star rating and return it!

Except Jeff Bezos won’t let you return your own life. So here I was, stuck at third base, body still tingling from head to toe at the memory of a delicious, torturous night spent curled against the silkiest chest hair in the universe. March had been tender and thorough in his exploration of unmentionable places, which were now desperate to receive the coup de grâce. And—forgive me, Raptor Jesus—I had touched Area 51! Not for long though, because there’s only so much clumsy teasing a man can take when he’s been single for four years. Still, how incredibly torrid and forbidden is that?

“Island. Island. Focus! Watch your feet, or you’ll—”

Slip and fall from the board again.

March caught me at the same time that I hit the water with a splash. I blinked the salt away from my eyes, took a big gulp of air, and looked up at him. Water dripped from his short chestnut hair, and I could read an equal measure of concern and amusement in my favorite dark-blue eyes. His lips curved, allowing a rare grin to light up the rest of his face.

I loved that. March was nothing but control and order, polished exterior and goddamn wrinkle-free shirts, but I was in fact drawn by his asperities—by the faint crow’s feet betraying that he had recently turned thirty-three, the two dimples creasing his cheeks when he smiled, or even the slightest bump on his aquiline nose. I had never really paid attention before, but the shimmering droplets running down his face outlined it. I gathered that said nose must have been broken at some point over the course of his career. I guess you don’t spend fifteen years killing people without earning more than a few scrapes of your own.

After several seconds of studying the aforementioned bump, I realized I was secured in a rather awkward position. My legs still rested on the surfboard, while in the water, his arms held the rest of me firmly against his chest. I gripped his hands, shaking off a delicious flashback of those same knuckles grazing my stomach a few hours prior.

“I’m good. I think we hit a particularly vicious roll!” I said with a laugh.

I didn’t miss the beat of silence as March took in our surroundings: The quiet, sapphire-blue sea, the five-inch “rolls” lapping at his waist, and the long stretch of sand and rocks a few yards away from us, beyond which I could make out his little brick house standing on a patch of grass. On the shore, a couple of otters lay sprawled, warming their asses under the afternoon sun and observing my surfing efforts with absolute disdain.

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