Jack drove the hire car wildly. Mary smirked, the flight champagne still bubbling in her head. At eighteen, her gap year was a chance, as darling Jack would say, to "grab life by the horns." Italy was his idea, her "maiden voyage." He'd burst into her life and transformed everything. Handsome, older and exciting, he made anything seem possible. Mary was besotted.
Daddy was furious. He actually swore! He said Jack was untrustworthy and dangerous. He'd "forbidden" her from travelling like she was still thirteen! It was so humiliating. Then Jack said he loved her and would protect her, right in Daddy’s face… Italy it was.
Niamh was a friend of Jack. Her Tuscany apartment oozed sophistication. Niamh’s mesmeric blue eyes sizzled as she stood oh so close. Her fingers danced on Mary's face and body as they talked and gulped back wine. Niamh’s heady perfume sang in Mary's shy heart, each inhalation a visceral awakening.
“I’m going to spend an hour with Niamh," said Jack suddenly. They sauntered up the iron spiral staircase. “Don’t be suckered by jealousy or bourgeois convention. That’s just daddy's voice fucking with you.”
Mary collapsed into a chair gasping, her idiot glass heart shattered. What had she done wrong? She had to leave and searched for Daddy's secret credit card. Suddenly Jack's face appeared at the top stair.
“Come and join us," he said softly, “Niamh thinks you’re beautiful.”
Standing, Mary teetered. She walked calmly. Her footsteps echoed up the iron stairs.
© Kevin Owen