"Take good care of her. And be nice," Will said, standing behind me with his hands put on my shoulders. He shot a meaningful look at the guys. My lovely Will.
Dylan rolled his eyes, Shane sniffed and nodded, and Tony pretended that he didn't hear it because of being busy with putting out his cigarette.
We were standing in front of the house and one of the men working for my brothers was loading our luggage into the trunk of a big, dark car. It was the middle of the night but the drive was lightened up with outside lamps.
My excitation was mixed with many apprehensions. I wished Will was going with us. He was mature and treated me so good... I couldn't say the same about the rest of my brothers. With him, these holidays would be amazing.
"And you must obey them. They will be responsible for you," Another voice added but this time it was turned to me and wasn't Will's. I looked at its source, even though I knew very well whose it was. That coldness was one of its kind.
Vincent stood in the front doors. Although I was literally freezing in my cozy hoodie, he, just like the rest of my brothers, was wearing only the T-shirt and some dark sweatpants. And even now, at night, he had a watch and his signet on. Does he never take it off? The only different thing about him now was his hair, that was swept-back a bit messier than usual. Not that he looked bad.
At his words, all three of my brothers grinned at me and I, with a great effort, stopped myself from stamping my foot and growling something like "that's not fair!". I wouldn't be taken seriously.
Finally, Will placed a kiss on my forehead, wished me good fun and I got into the car, landing at the back, in the middle, between the twins. On the way to the airport, I managed to fall into an argument with Dylan because I didn't like it when a few of my innocent questions he stalled with a mean "go to sleep".
How was I going to put up with him the whole month? Not mentioning being closed in a small space, high in the air, with no escape, for a dozen or so long hours.
I sighed quietly.
I knew my brothers well enough to expect that we'd fly first class. I learned already that every kind of luxury was as obvious for them as breathing. Never in my life though I would guess that they could have their private jet.
It was like a dream when we went through the VIP gate and headed straight to a small plane. In front of it, there was a young, beautiful girl standing, dressed in a tidy uniform of a flight attendant. She smiled gorgeously and welcomed us on the board with the best manners. Shane and Tony eagerly returned amenities and the same feisty spark showed up in their eyes at the sight of which I raised my brow. Dylan immediately turned to the cockpit and I heard him greeting one of the pilots who apparently had to be a kind of his friend. I didn't focus on what they were talking about because I was busy admiring the interior of the plane. My jaw dropped at the sight of single, huge and elegant seats upholstered with creme leather, pillows, stylish lamps and hanging tv. There was not a lot of space but enough to fit around ten people. I have never seen anything like that before.
Tony threw himself onto one of the seats and breathed deeply while Shane opened a cabinet hidden in a wall and poured some water to a paper cup. I couldn't move. I had no idea where to sit. I thought that the times when I felt so much out of place in my brothers' company ended but apparently they still could surprise me.
"Sit," Dylan grunted when he came out of the cockpit and I was blocking his way to the passenger's part of the jet. I staggered because of his unpleasant voice and my handbag, that slipped from my shoulder. He clicked his tongue impatiently, rolling his eyes, and caught my arm, pushing me firmly but still gently towards one of the seats.
Wow, it was so comfortable!
We took off as soon as the crew was ready. The attendant helped me fasten my seatbelt that was hidden in the folds of a seat and wasn't poking out so obviously like in commercial planes.
I was awfully intimidated and astonished by a fact that my brothers really could afford to travel by a private jet. Couldn't someone warn me? I knew they were having tons of money, riding the best cars, wearing the most expensive clothes, eating in the most exclusive restaurants... But having their own plane? It sounded like a completely different level of wealth.
I stared at the clouds, I watched the guys playing play station, I was also reading a bit, sleeping or sometimes pretending that I was sleeping too because then at least no one would tease me. More or less in the mid of the flight, when Tony and Dylan were snoring happily, sprawled across their seats, Shane was coming out of the toilet and he noticed my tedious gaze.
"Come, I'll show you something," He offered and nodded at me. I didn't have anything better to do so I immediately stood up, excited that someone gave me some attention and, hopefully, its purpose wasn't to taunt me.
When I was heading towards him, he whispered something to the attendant and winked at her. She disappeared for a moment, coming back soon with a wide smile, nodding and giving me a cheerful look.
"What's up?" I asked, raising my head at my brother. Shane's corners of lips just twitched and he wrapped his arm around my tiny shoulders, leading me towards the cockpit's door. He knocked once and opened it, pushing me through the narrow aisle.
The room was small and fully dominated by two, huge seats that were taken by pilots. Around them, there were many buttons, arms, and screens. They were everywhere but mainly covering the front. The most impressive though was the image visible through the wide and narrow windscreen. The clouds were hanging below and the jet seemed to glide through them. Somewhere on the side, there was the sun shining and... and that endless blueness above... I think I have never before experienced a view so simple and incredible at the same time.
The pilots started to accost me so I came back to reality and was replying to them politely but still didn't and couldn't drag my eyes away from that amazing picture. It was just one, big wow...
When I came back to my seat, I was still charmed by it and I felt grateful towards Shane for showing me something so beautiful.
Although our flight was as comfortable as the flight could ever be, I was happy and relieved when finally the Capitan informed us that it was time to land. We were in the sky for almost eighteen hours now and it was way too much for my abilities. I needed to touch the ground with my feet. I needed fresh air.
It was more humid here making Thailand smell completely different than the States. Like an adventure.
A different time zone and way too long flight successfully confused my body and although it was close to midday, the only thing I dreamed about right now was having a nice, deep sleep in a comfortable bed.
Unfortunately, as it turned out a moment later, it wasn't the end of the attractions waiting for me. I expected my brothers to catch a cab but I realized they had another plan only when we stood in front of a helicopter.
Dylan exchanged a few words with a pilot whose appearance was revealing that he had to be a local. I was there, exhausted with the travel and at this point, I didn't care that much about anything. I needed some rest. So I decided to fully trust my brothers. They didn't let me down. I could just literally be there, not doing anything and they were taking care of everything. Dylan helped me climb to a seat and once again, I landed in the middle one. This time, however, it was absolutely not a problem for me. I felt safer this way. I had some stupid thoughts that otherwise I could fell out or something. It sounds idiotic, I know, but I have never before flown a helicopter and I was a bit wary.
My hearing became muffled when Shane put on my head massive headphones. Its microphone was poking right in front of my mouth. Dylan fastened my seat belts. Some voices sounded in the headphones and the propeller started to work, immediately making a lot of noise so I quickly appreciated this protection for my ears. Soon the helicopter hoovered from the ground. Higher and higher. Not as high as a plane but enough for me to panic. I was doing my best to hide it. It was also much lighter than a yet and that made it a lot less stable. I could hear the guys' voices. They were constantly joking, awaken and excited. The sound of their conversations was calming me down. Also the fact, that I had Dylan and Shane on both my sides, helped.
Even being scared, I lost my tongue at the sight of a perfectly blue sea that was glistening in the sun as if millions of little diamonds dotted on its surface. We started to lower soon, right above it and I was ready to stress myself even more but the laughs of my brothers once again worked relaxing for me. They wouldn't be in such great moods if we were about to crash, right?
I had no idea how long we were flying for but as soon as I was informed that the next point of our trip is a motorboat, I almost cried.
Thailand did what it could to keep me awake. A wet breeze was smacking my face and all the beautiful views didn't allow me to close my mouth. The helicopter landed in some small, fairytale bay between huge rocks overgrown by exotic plants in a color of juicy green. So juicy that this kind of shade I have never seen before. Soon we were standing on the beach, on the sand so white and fine that it could be simply a flour. The moment where the bank shore was ending and the sea started was literally invisible, this is how clear this water was. Farer away it was changing its colors from transparent to turquoise, later into light blue, then just blue and right next to the horizon it was presented in a way more dangerous shade of navy. What's more, the sun, hanging on a perfectly cloudless sky was glancing off the water creating little dancing crystals on it. Even a small, shabby pier that was anything but inspiring trust, ideally fitted the picture. Only one, medium-sized, white motorboat was moored there.
I really wanted to stay conscious and enjoy my eyes with this marvel but my lids were mercilessly heavy. Not thinking much, I hanged on Dylan's muscular arm.
"How much more?" I groaned and he gave me a quick, confused look but, to my surprise, he didn't make fun of me nor made me stay quiet. I had to have tiredness written all over my face.
"Almost there," He muttered and caught my wrist, dragging me towards the mentioned pier. Tony jumped onto it before us and I breathed out. If it didn't collapse under his weight then maybe it wasn't as decayed as it looked like.
The motorboat seemed to be stable until Tony didn't hop on it briskly and rocked it. Dylan didn't let go of me, just led me to it and with his help, I managed to enter the board without falling to the water. Maybe it wouldn't be that bad as a refreshment could do me good but I didn't feel like getting wet right now. Even if I felt dirty after such a long travel.
Tony took me over on the boat and sat me onto one of the seats which I gladly took. I put my arm on the side and placed my chin on it, watching my brothers half-conscious. They were moving our bags to the boat and another local man was preparing it for us to use.
The guys were tired too but they seemed to deal with it much better than me. When the engine started, I tried to enjoy this amazing attraction as I have never ridden a motorboat before. It was drifting fastly through the calm sea, cutting it and leaving a foamy track behind. Splashed water was spraying my face, neck, and arms and that was an incredibly nice feeling. My brothers were shouting and fooling around, enjoying the speed, wind, and freedom.
It was the first time when I felt I'm on holiday.
Finally, the boat started to slow down and soon we arrived at some little island that was impressing with its greenery. The beach was as beautiful as the one on the mainland if not more... The sand was serene and there were many giant rocks that made me feel small like an ant.
Through the palm trees, vines, bushes, and other plants, there was a perfectly site-specific building made of dark wood. I noticed a big terrace on the one side, and a huge window on the other... We stood on the land and then almost immediately started to move towards it. Then I understood that this amazing chalet in such a magical place was going to be our house for the next month. And I, stupid, expected a hotel.
It took us a few minutes to get there from the beach and the precious chalet was my only motivation not to fall asleep here and now, on the way. Right next to the terrace there was a breathtaking pool and stuff like sunbeds, table or even jacuzzi. Such things I have seen only on the pictures which were constantly appearing out of nowhere on my Facebook and Instagram. Maybe I'm asleep, dreaming? That would be more likely.
The tropical vibe was held even inside the chalet. The dark wood was still dominating here and I had to admit that this shade was matching perfectly all the greenery of plants, the whiteness of the sand, and the azure of the sea and sky.
I had no energy to have a house tour now so, with great relief, I let Dylan lead me to a bedroom. Again, dark wood, white, fluffy carpet in the middle, a huge, double bed with a canopy that was blowing softly just like the long curtains in the huge, wide-open windows. That's all I managed to register. I wanted to sleep and that need became my priority. Dylan informed me that someone will bring my suitcases later and told me not to worry because stuff like pajamas or cosmetics is a part of equipment here, ready for my use.
Well, I wasn't worried at all. Almost blindly, I took a quick shower, changed into a silver nightdress that was so soft that seemed to melt between my fingers and I fell asleep at the moment when my head touched a comfortable and sank with freshness pillow.
I didn't even process the fact that I just arrived in Thailand in a private jet. Nor that to this gorgeous island I got by helicopter and a motorboat. It sounded so unrealistic that there couldn't be any sense to analyze it.
I woke up in the late afternoon. Just when I was going to close my eyes again and sleep a bit more, I remembered where I was.
This one, little thought was enough for me to sit upon my bed. I charged my batteries so now I could choose from continuing on sleeping or starting enjoying my summer. Curiosity and excitement won so I crawled out of my bed and my look landed on the couch where there was a bathrobe. It was presenting itself very elegantly and almost begging me to wear it.
Taking into consideration that it was made of the same fabric as my nightdress, I had no problem with doing that, feeling like my skin nearly shivers out of gratitude for the touch of such an amazing material.
For almost five minutes I was standing in one place, staring at the sea that was visible from my windows. They, on a side note, tuned out to be a balcony door. It was still quite light outside so I could admire the views.
Before going downstairs, I brushed my hair. I knew already that I would have a problem with them here, as they became fluffy, doubling its volume. But I looked good and not so tired anymore. In the bathroom, I found some sandals with very tiny, silver straps. I wore them, wondering why I was told to pack my stuff if I had so many stuff already here. There were even body peelings and lotions. I also brushed my teeth, enjoying the freshness in my mouth.
And then I headed towards the stairs, expecting to see my brothers sooner or later. Did they already wake up? Did they go to sleep at all? I heard the sound of a coffee maker and I already knew where the kitchen was. I imagined that it had to be Dylan, making his double espresso to add himself energy.
I stopped rapidly at the sight of a stranger man occupying the kitchen. He was projecting in front of the coffee maker, waiting for his drink. I was about to take a step back when he raised his eyes and immediately fixed them on me.
There was something in this look that pierced me and didn't allow me to move. The man had dark eyes and some wrinkles around them and on the forehead. His hair, just as beard, was dark too but also started already greying. The hair was tied in a pony bun. All of these gave his tanned face a strict look.
A white, flaxen shirt, which he was wearing, could add to his ominous appearance but it didn't as it had a few upper bottoms undone in a laid-back way and the sleeves were rolled up. On his neck, there was a fine silver chain, on his right wrist some leather bracelets, and on his left one another one, more elegant with a thick, black band and a silver plate.
Strangely, his sight got gentler when he noticed me but it was no relief for me.
"S-sorry. I'm looking for my brothers," I mumbled, blushing a little. Inside, I was becoming angry at them that they didn't warn me that we are not alone here. On the other hand, it was my fault that I assumed it.
The man's lips bent in a half-smile.
"The boys went to the beach. They didn't want to wake you up," He informed me, still not taking his eyes away from me. The way he stared at me was making me feel very uncomfortable.
The boys? So he had to know them.
But wait. Did they go to the beach without me? And left me alone? With some stranger in the house? It didn't sound like them. I was gazing at this guy in silence, wondering what to say.
Why is he gaping at me so weirdly?
I was preparing myself to open my mouth and excuse myself by saying that I'd better go and look for them but he spoke first.
"I was waiting for you to come downstairs... Hailie."
My name in his mouth sounded strange and I didn't like it. As if he was tasting it. Maybe it was just my imagination but he seemed dangerous. And how did he know it anyway? And why was he waiting for me? I felt anxious and carefully shared his direct look at me which he was still keeping on. I had no idea what to reply.
"You are beautiful," he muttered to himself but I heard it and my heart beat faster. Also, a shiver went down through my spine.
"I have to find Dylan," I blurted out a little too fast, moving backward.
He had to realize that I got scared because suddenly he blinked, opening his eyes wider and lifted his hands in front of him as if he wanted to stop me.
"Wait a moment. They are on the beach, really. They know I want to talk to you and agreed to give us some privacy."
I raised my eyebrow. I didn't plan to flash my skepticism around but it's not my fault that he was speaking bullshit.
"My brothers are controlling freaks and you tell me that they suddenly just left me here alone so some stranger who says that I'm beautiful can talk to me?"
Maybe I was being rude but whatever.
The man chuckled.
"Yeah, that could sound weird, you're right. Sorry," He admitted and shook his head, still laughing a bit, "Listen, Hailie, we really have to talk and we have to do it as soon as possible because we have some things to clear out. At least, I do. Let's go to the terrace, shall we?" Here he pointed at the door which was similar to the one I had in my bedroom upstairs, "You can see your brothers from there. They are really at the beach. I'd never hurt you but if it makes you calmer, then we can stay outside. There's no difference for me."
I was considering his offer. I had no idea what this guy would possibly want to talk about with me and honestly, I wasn't really curious about that as well. I didn't think it would be something interesting. It couldn't be significant for me. However, I moved towards the terrace, mainly to check if I really would see my brothers from there. I watched myself to keep the distance from the man. After the events in the forest and at Audrey's, I was dedicated to the limited trust's rule.
The terrace was pretty and cozy, surrounded with exotic plants and the pool was literally calling me. I felt like jumping into my bikini here and now. In the distance, there was indeed a beach visible and three little postures. Two of them were in the sea and the third one was on the beach, grabbing a bottle of, most likely, beer from a bag. I was a hundred percent sure they were them. It was confirmed with a sudden, loud laugh that just had to be Tony's. It sounded on the beach and was carried to my ears by the echo.
I felt relief.
"See? At any moment you can just go to them or call them," The man promised, standing behind me out of nowhere. That'd be it about the distance. I tensed again.
I wanted them to come here or at least glance towards me.
Reluctantly, I turned around to him and nodded. Okay, let's let him have it his way. But I was still angry that my brothers left me here just like that. Where was their overprotectiveness when I needed it?
I sat on the chair and the man took another one on the other side of the round table with a cristal counter on which he put his cup of coffee.
"Do you want anything to drink? Chocolate perhaps?" He asked and I knew he tried to be nice but I just thanked him dryly because I still had in my head the memory of what Jerry did to my glass of champagne and I prefer not to take any risks.
I was watching my brothers, dreaming about joining them. I was like that because I was afraid of the situation I was in. My mom always repeated not to trust strangers. Especially men. Especially weird men.
And he was still devouring me with his eyes. I was getting annoyed. It was simply disgusting, this guy had to be around fifty. Additionally, I reminded myself that I had only my pajamas and a nightgown on.
"Could you stop looking at me like that, sir?" I asked finally, deciding to call him "sir" at the end just because I had the impression that my voice sounded very impolite. I was losing my patience and also getting more and more scared. Having my brothers in my vision wasn't enough anymore, I should stand up and head towards them.
"Like what?" He questioned, shaking out of his trance a little. He was focusing his full attention on me and it was baffling me.
"Like... like..." I stuttered, knowing exactly well which word I wanted to use. Like a pervert. But I was too well-mannered to say something like that out loud to a person that was older and a stranger.
However, he had his own suggestion so he finished for me.
"Like a father who sees his daughter for the first time?"