Warning: NSFW, sexual content, nudity
Now I understood why Seth hadn't visited his family in five years. Not only did it cost a fortune, but it took several flights and three sets of long layovers to get there. We were on our second, longest leg, flying over the Pacific Ocean.
Exhausted from not getting much sleep in the past 24 hours, I rested my head on his shoulder, trying to sneak in a nap.
"Kitten?" Seth said, tapping my knee. "I'm sorry to wake you. I have to go to the bathroom."
I nodded, letting him loose. He smiled then rose up, walking toward the back curtains where the bathrooms were and the rest of the passengers. I paid for first class. No way was I going to fly squished amongst two other passengers in a row without legroom and decent food.
Looking out the window at nothing but miles upon miles of blue ocean, I mused at what had happened for him to call me kitten.
A few weeks ago, we were arguing over our future together. We often did that, talking about if we ever got married, how many children we'd want, where we'd live, things like that. Seth loved to tease me and make things sound extreme just to press my buttons. In this case it was about our pets.
"Of course, honey," he said, "we could get a cat, but like I've told you, they're disposable pets. They have a shelf life of about two years. If you want one, just don't get too attached."
"What? How would they ever die? We'd be living in a penthouse."
Leaning in, he said, "They might have an accident in the pool when I give them swimming lessons."
I pushed his face away. "That's just mean."
I added, "Stop teasing. I'm serious."
Chuckling, he said, "Okay, but still. I'm right about how long they last. When I was a little boy on Pongo, we went through five cats. All didn't live longer than a year. One got eaten by a large tree snake. Another by a mongoose. One fell from a tree and broke its neck. The fourth got run over by my father's car since it slept behind his tire. He had no idea it was there. The last one was my favorite, though. She reminded me of you. Gorgeous blue eyes with light, silky fur. She was really sweet until I got too close then she bit me on the nose."
I gave him a sidelong stare. "And this cat reminds you of me? I don't see the resemblance."
Trying to pet my hair, he said, "I never knew when she was going to get mad at me and bite. Just like you."
I put up my arms and said, "Oh no, this cat is nothing like me. You always deserve it when I get mad. It shouldn't be a surprise."
He rubbed my leg and said, "It wasn't a cat. It was a kitten. That's what I should start calling you since you don't like darling or sweetheart or love."
Leaning back, I said, "I don't care what you call me, but you aren't naming me after your mean cat."
Looking down, he said, "All right then. I won't call you anything. I guess that's what you want."
His face looked almost sad. Was he still teasing? "Okay fine," I said, "you can call me cat. I don't care."
Pulling me on top of him, he said, "It's kitten not cat." Whispering, making excited tingles rush through me, he added, "And you're just as mean as that kitten."
Kissing him, I said, "I am not. I love you. I'll only bite you if you deserve it."
He buried his head into my neck, kissing me warmly as I wrapped my arms around him trying to press into him even more. "I love you, kitten," he said with such tenderness, it melted my heart.
I had never felt this with anyone else. Not even Julien. I knew then that our future together was something I couldn't wait for. It all seemed to fit into place just like us when we snuggled together on the couch. Warm. Comforting. Like being home for the first time in so long.
Drifting off into a nap, I felt more contented than I ever had in my life--even before my parents divorced. I thanked God for giving me this man. He seemed perfect for me.
And here I was about to meet his parents. Nervous jitters fluttered inside. I hoped his mother would like me. Seth told me the Pongan men were big but the women were bigger and stronger in mind and spirit. This was intimidating. What would his mother think of me?
If there was paradise on earth it had to be Pongo. Tall palm trees, colorful, sweet smelling flowers, and majestic rocks dotted the pristine island. Seth's parents home was small, but their yard underneath was fit to host huge Pongan parties and feasts they'd have throughout the year. The temperature never reached above 80 or below 65 and in the afternoon, the clouds would give off a fine mist, creating rainbows everywhere you looked. I could get used to this kind of life. I wondered why Seth would want to live in San Myshuno instead of here.
Before we ascended the wooden steps, I stopped, swallowing. "I-I'm not sure about this," I said, heart pumping as the blood seemed to rush out of my body. Somewhere, a bird squawked, seemingly in distress at my visit.
Seth took my head in his hands and said, "Kitten, they're going to love you. I promise. You have nothing to be nervous about."
Planting a kiss on my lips as he threaded his fingers through mine, he said, "Come on. This will be fun."
It felt as if a large rope had tied up my stomach when he opened the door. A tall woman who looked like a female version of Seth brightened at the sight of him. I assumed his father was behind her. He beamed and gave me a huge smile.
"Seth? My son?" she cried.
"Yes, Moama. I want you to meet my girlfriend, Siobhan. This is my moama, Moana Gallegher and my poppa, Hobart Gallegher."
"Ah...she's as beautiful as a white hibiscus flower. Welcome, my child, to our humble home."
Nervously, I stammered, "I-It's very nice to meet you, Mrs. Gallegher. And you, Mr. Gallegher."
"You look so handsome, son. The years did you well, I see," his mother said. "But you are too skinny."
Seth shrugged and said, "I'm in need of your cooking then."
Swooping him into a huge hug, Seth gave a hearty laugh. "Oh, not so tight, Moama. You'll crack my ribs."
"It has been too long, my son. I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you, too, Moama. It's good to be home."
"And don't forget your old Poppa," Seth's father said, wrapping him up in a hug as well.
His moama came over to me, squishing me with her soft strong body. "You are very welcome here, Siobhan."
"Thank you," I said. This warm greeting did wonders at scaring away all my nervousness.
Pointing us to sit, Moama said, "Now, Seth's ornery brothers will not be here until tomorrow. It is best you get settled in before you meet them."
Seth's father chuckled. "They are not so bad, Moana. Do not scare the poor thing."
"They are cheeky monkeys. Be prepared, Siobhan. Seth, you better watch over her less they sweep her off her feet into one of their arms."
Laughing, Seth said, "I'm not worried, Moama."
"Are they flirts or something?" I asked.
"My boys are notorious ladies' men. Very handsome. You will do well to be on your guard."
Lifting her hand toward Seth, Moama said, "You should take Siobhan to Lover's Drift tonight. There should be no one there this time of year."
"Good idea, Moama."
"What's Lover's Drift?" I asked.
"It is a special place for those who love each other," Seth's mother explained. "They must seal their bond there in order to break the bond of another."
"It is true," Seth's dad agreed.
I cocked my head at Seth. "Huh?"
He whispered in my ear, "I'll explain later, but that's a great idea."
Lover's Drift was a secluded smaller island off of the large Pongan main island. It was very hard to get to, but Seth knew a catamaran owner who ferried us there. He told me on the way that in order to break the spell of his engagement, he must make love to me on the island so the spirits will accept our love instead of him and Io, his birth betrothed. Seth assured me he didn't believe in all that cultural mumbo jumbo, but for his mother's sake, he wanted to do this, otherwise, in her eyes, he would still be connected to Io.
I felt very uneasy. "Make love to me? On an island? Won't people see? And I'm not sure I like the idea of your mother knowing what we do."
He laughed. "Pongan culture is very open about sex, Siobhan. It's very different than the U.S. That's why Moama thinks one of my brothers could steal you away. They have no bonds and go from girl to girl. I'm the only taken one. It's my duty to the family. But I've told my parents I wasn't going to go by Pongan traditions about marriage. Unfortunately, my mother's ridiculously stubborn. Hell, I never thought I'd meet someone anyway that I truly loved. I figured I'd be like my brothers."
"What? Go from girl to girl all your life? That's sounds lonely. And horrible, using women like that."
"I never used any of them. They knew what they were getting into with me. But with you..." he grasped my hand, pulling me. I stumbled toward him. "It's different. It's always been different." Nuzzling my neck, his touch sent fire shooting down my front.
I smelled the warm mix of ocean spray, coconut suntan lotion, and his manly scent that I'm so attracted to. I pressed into his groin, feeling him respond to me.
Breathless, I asked, "Wha...What are you doing?"
His warm breath tickled my ear, "You know very well what I'm doing."
Gasping for air as I'm overcome with electric tingles throughout my body, I asked, "Are you sure there's no one here?"
Untying my bathing suit and flinging off his own, he kissed every inch of my face as I ached for more of his touch.
"I love you, Siobhan," he said as we made love under the rising moon with the warm ocean wind whisking over our naked bodies. "I want to marry you. Will you be my wife?"