The flight from Dallas to New York was never ending. Alex told Mattie she just had to get away but didn’t tell her to where or with whom. Kathleen, her confidant at work, was the only one who knew her true destination. Alex was looking forward to the trip until she boarded the plane, then she began to feel foolish. She knew Derek paid for the flight but what was she expecting from this? A mind-numbing good time, an escape from reality? Sure! But was that realistic? Shouldn’t she just try, like other widows, to deal with the loss and move on? Was it fair for her to have this extra time to live in a dream? Was she just postponing the inevitable?
Once she disembarked at JFK and she saw Derek waiting for her at the end of the ramp she didn’t care if she was foolish. He made her feel giddy, something she hadn’t felt in years. He washed reality away and let her live in the moment; a moment defined by them, not reality. She didn’t care what anyone thought and she banished the dread she had earlier. She was going to enjoy this trip!
Derek had on a baseball cap and sunglasses trying to blend in the crowd. As he and Alex travelled through the airport a few cameras flashed in her peripheral vision. Alex tried not to look around. Derek had arranged for them to be ushered onto the awaiting flight to be out of the crowds. He sat next to the window to avoid being seen.
The flight to London was 8 hours. Two hours into the the trip, once her and Derek had caught up with what each other had done over the last four years, the reality of why she was taking this trip hit her. Alex, sitting in her plush first class seating, began to cry. She just couldn’t control it. She had no real explanation of it, it just happened. Derek didn’t try to stop it. He seemed to know what was going on inside her and just held her. He didn’t ask any questions, just let her get it out.
Once the tears dried up Alex apologized to Derek,“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Its ok. I’m sure this isn’t the last of it. You’ve had a rough time. I’m here for you, what ever you need. A shoulder, tissue, hug….never apologize. I didn’t expect this to be a bunch of fun and laughter. I thought you might need someone to just lean on.” Derek’s eyes were full of understanding and warmth.
Alex was very glad she took this trip. At home she feigned cheerfulness to keep everyone from saying “I’m sorry” all the time. That drove her the craziest! Why were they sorry? They weren’t the ones driving the car that hit them! No, the drunk woman was in jail. Probably not long enough and eventually she would be out again to kill someone else. Alex began to feel she could show whatever emotion gripped her without guilt. Derek made her feel at ease.
Once in London they headed for Derek’s home on the north side in the borough of Barnett. The house was a brick two-story. It was warm and inviting, with rich burgundy and browns decorating every room; definitely masculine with no feminine touches. It was tasteful and handsome. Any rumors of women living with Derek were dispelled by his decor. They stayed there two days while Alex recovered from jet lag. The temperature in London was chilly but sunny most of the time and Alex relaxed in Derek’s garden enjoying the blooming flowers. Derek was very attentive and catered to Alex as she gathered her strength for their upcoming travels.
On the highway to Glasgow, Derek’s favorite place in Scotland, Alex enjoyed the beautiful countryside. After being in Texas where the flora can go from grass to desert within a hundred miles, seeing continuous fields and mountains lush with green vegetation was a pleasant surprise. The color was a bright contrast to the dreary sky. It was overcast and occasionally drizzled lightly. The air was cool and crisp.
Once in Glasgow they spent hours walking the streets as Derek showed Alex some of his favorite sights. He was excited to show her his old stomping grounds. That first afternoon they walked along Buchanan Street looking at the Edwardian architecture housing modern art galleries and shops and spent time at the Lighthouse on Mitchell Street, walking up the 135 steps to view the city from the top. They passed back through Buchanan Street at night, the blue streets lights illuminating the shop fronts. Alex had never been out of North America and marveled at the centuries old building designs.
The next afternoon they strolled to Sauchiehall Street to relax at the Willow Tea Room. Alex was in awe. The outside was white and black, a modern design, especially compared to the Victorian style buildings surrounding it. They were shown to a room in the back, a bit darker than the front, with a cozy fireplace. Old photos of Charles Mackintosh, the building designer, and Kate Cranston, the original owner, lined the walls giving the place a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. They enjoyed tea and talked about actors Derek had worked with.
Sauchiehall Street was a busy place. There was a large concert hall and shops from end to end. At one corner Derek and Alex passed a group of bagpipe players in kelts performing traditional Scottish music. In an area farther down a street band with a drummer, two guitar players and a saxophonist were playing a more modern tune. There was something for everyone.
Every place they went Alex experienced something new; a sight, a smell, a taste. Even the weather was unique to her; all four seasons could be experienced in one day. Scotland was irresistible in every way. Derek had become irresistible too. Every look and touch from him made her senses tingle.
Their room in the Alamo Guest House was spacious and cozy, a Victorian bed and breakfast. The large fireplace was warm and inviting. They had requested one of the suites with an extra large tub for two. The owners made them feel welcome and part of their family. Even their cat was charming. The hospitality was unlike anything Alex had experienced. She wasn’t well travelled and her only experience with hotels was Motel 6 on the rare occasion Josh took her anywhere.
The Alamo was on the west end of Glasgow, in the arts district, overlooking the Kelvingrove Park. The view was magnificent. The park was lush with nature, plants and wildlife. After dinner Derek and Alex strolled through the tranquil park. They walked past victorian statues, the Kelvin River and the center fountain, dedicated to Robert Stewart who brought fresh water to Glasgow many years ago.
The instant they arrived in Glasgow all the feelings of gloom Alex had been harboring melted away. In the mornings she woke blissful and at peace. Derek’s slightest touch caused her to burn with desire. Every fiber of her being was consumed by him every morning and night. She was never too tired and he was always willing to oblige. Each climax stronger than the last, each feeling as though their last breath lay in the other’s chest. Their passion for one another’s touch grew with each passing day. Derek had never felt such a connection to anyone. Alex was lost in her desire.
After exploring Glasgow’s art galleries from the west to the south side, the couple ventured to Edinburgh. It was only a one hour drive through rich farmland and rolling hills. They passed the M8 Church in Salsburg, Kirk of Schott’s Parish Church, built in 1450. It was repaired and rededicated in 2007 and a very popular landmark in Scotland. The countryside along their route was lush and bursting with life. Alex never realized how much she had been missing, not just from never traveling but in her everyday existence. She now had a fire in her, as if opening her eyes for the first time.
Derek reveled in watching Alex’s reactions. Very few people he met enjoyed the things he did. He had a couple friends he’d known for years that loved to travel, see amazing things, live on the edge, but none of them were women. Alex was open to anything. She saw great beauty in the smallest parts of nature as well as marveled at the grandeur sights.
Once in Edinburgh the Ceilidh Festival would be one of Alex’s favorite memories, filled with Celtic culture from bagpipes to dancing. The festival boasted of its homegrown talent. The music and dance displayed traditional as well as more modern forms. There were choirs and bands with open sessions that visitors could join. There was poetry reading and music dedicated to Robert Burns, the beloved national poet of Scotland. Derek took pleasure in sharing his culture with Alex. She danced to the music, tasted haggis and listened intently to the storytellers with their tales of Celtic fairies and folklore. Derek tried to interpret for her but she shushed him, enjoying the accents when she couldn’t understand the words. She was like a child on her first outing. Until they were alone.
Derek was amazed at their voraciousness. He found a new thrill each time they came together and their passion only seemed to grow. They had to be careful on their outings into the city, for if they touched each other their lust took over. On their second day in Edinburgh, Derek had taken Alex to Prince Street Gardens. They had a lovely view of the park and Edinburgh Castle from their room at the Caledonia Hotel. As they walked through the park, admiring the the statues and scenery, they stopped at the Ross Bandstand, admiring the view of Edinburg Castle. Derek stood behind Alex, his arms around her waist, telling her some of Edinburgh history. She leaned back on him as his breath warmed her neck. As he spoke his voice became low and hoarse, his body heating up next to hers, his hands began to wander over her, slowly, steadily. Derek backed up to lean on something solid to keep his balance. Before they realized what they were doing they were in a grove of trees, groping each other like teens.
Derek and Alex realized then that they needed to be careful in public. With paparazzi always on the prowl all they needed was to be arrested in Scotland for lewd behavior. The tabloids would have a field day. They limited their physical contact to holding hands and an arm over her shoulder or around her waist. Anything more and they just couldn’t control themselves.
Derek was recognized in Scotland even more so than in the States. He was putting Scotland back on the map as a major tourist attraction, visitors hoping to experience a “Derek Dunbar” type Scotsman. The paparazzi were not as forward as in the US, thankfully. They stayed at a distance but cameras were clicking around them periodically throughout their visit. Derek hoped unsavory press would not follow Alex home.
Derek took Alex to East Lothian to see the rolling countryside, golden beaches and the cliffs along the shore. They stopped at Tantallon Castle on the Firth of Forth. It’s castle lay in ruins but they were able to climb the staircase and view the breathtaking coastline. They could see Bass Rock Island, made of volcanic rock, and its lighthouse. The island was uninhabited but for the gannets that nested there. Alex watched their white and black bodies, pointed wings and long bills sore in the air and dive into the water where they hunted for prey.
After Edinburgh it was back to London and a flight to reality. They spent one night, their last night, in Derek’s house in London. Their passion was at its peak, their lust uncontrollable. In the afterglow, Alex felt Derek’s touch like fingerprints at a crime scene, lingering on her body. She hoped to still have that feeling after she returned home.