tagRomanceKristiana Pt. 01: Discovery

Kristiana Pt. 01: Discovery

bycoaster2©

It had never happened to me before. The sight of one woman having the effect it did was so dramatic that I stopped and stared, totally oblivious to my surroundings. I had blanked out everything except her, my vision narrowing to focus only on her.

She was blonde. Oh, God, was she blonde! Her silken hair almost white-gold. Fair skinned, tall, dressed in a simple, black serving smock with white cuffs and collar. Her face was flawless, a beautiful and genuine smile on it as she approached us. She was perfection personified. I gawked in amazement.

"Welcome to Castillo de Osuna," she said in a soft, soothing voice, speaking lightly accented English.

She placed the leather bound menus in front of my parents and me, giving me a friendly look when she did. Nordic blondes were very uncommon in Andalusia. My eyes followed her as she walked away while my mind begged the gods she would be our server this afternoon.

"Pay attention, Richard," I heard my mother. "Your father was speaking to you."

"Sorry, I got distracted."

"I noticed," my father grinned. "I was asking if you had made a decision yet on what you will do when my term here expires."

"No ... I haven't. I'm not cut out to be a translator, I've discovered. I'd like to use my language skills somewhere else, but I really don't know where yet. I'm still searching."

We were in the town of Osuna. Just a half-hour drive from Sevilla (Seville), our city of residence for the past six years. My father was completing a contract with an American mining company, developing a copper mine in Gerena, not far from the Sevilla city limits.

It had been an exercise in frustration from the beginning. His American boss wanted to micro-manage everything. The discovery of a nearby two-thousand-year-old Roman village had tied everything up in bureaucratic red tape. I had taken the opportunity to complete my education here, specializing in languages. I had thought I might want to become a translator, using my multiple language facility to start a career in government. The idea had dwindled, then vanished when I saw the real thing at work during a brief internship. It had no appeal to me whatsoever.

I'm Richard Barton, 24 years old, 180 cm (five-foot-eleven), 80 kilos (175 pounds), brown hair trimmed neatly, brown eyes, better-than-average appearance according to others, and a recent recipient of a MA in languages. I lived with my parents in Sevilla, Spain and was currently unattached after an unpleasant break-up with a former girlfriend. But I'm nothing if not resilient, and I was already on the lookout for a replacement.

If I had gained anything in the last six years, it was the experience of living in a foreign land, with customs so completely different from North America. Still, we sacrificed few of the modern conveniences we take for granted. Spain was a modern country, with modern facilities and a well-developed infrastructure ... in most places.

Like our native Canada, however, there were undertones of regional differences. The Basque separatists and the Catalan Independentista were the two most vociferous. As the economy began to falter along with the rest of Europe, life had become much more difficult for the indigenous population. We, however, were almost oblivious to the problems, living in our nicely protected cocoon.

My father was anxiously awaiting the finish of his contract and his return to Vancouver. My mother was of two minds, however. She enjoyed the status and luxurious surroundings of the company-provided villa where we lived. Housekeeping services, a pool off the back patio, her little red Alfa Romeo coupe and, of course, the weather. It was a copy of Southern California with constant sunshine and mild winters. It could be unbearably hot during July and August, but mother chose to spend those months travelling to Canada to visit relatives and friends. My father remained behind to continue his work.

I had no brothers or sisters. I was the only son of Darrel and Laura Barton. Now finished university, I was looking for a career and a place to live. I couldn't continue to live with my parents. I needed my independence. My father would move on to his next contract, wherever in the world that would take him. I would strike out on my own.

I was financially secure for the next few years. My paternal grandfather had left a handsome sum for me in his will with the expressed hope that I would use it to travel and educate myself beyond the borders of my native Canada. I fully intended to do that.

We were returning from a pleasant weekend in Malaga, a brief celebration of my completion of studies at the Universidad de Sevilla. It had been a foregone conclusion that I would graduate some months earlier, but to receive my masters in languages was something I was proud of. My mother, especially, was announcing my accomplishment to any and all who would listen. It was embarrassing now and then, but I understood her pride in my accomplishment.

We had stopped at the Castillo for lunch, having set out from Malaga late in the morning. The clock was approaching two-thirty and it was near closing time for the dining room. It would open again sometime before eight in the evening. Father paid the bill and we prepared to leave.

I was disappointed that the amazing blonde woman didn't wait on us. She was apparently the hostess, greeting and seating everyone. I guessed her age to be near mine and I wondered how I might get to meet her in a more private setting. The answer was in my pocket. In a moment of vanity, I had ordered some business cards online. They contained my name, my cell phone number and my so-called status: Sr.Richard Barton, Linguista.

As we left the dining room, I diverted to the front desk and passed my card to the lovely blonde.

"You are very beautiful," I smiled. "Perhaps we can get to know each other?"

I got a nice smile in return and she tucked my card into the pocket of her smock. She raised her eyebrows to me, then turned to look after the next departing guests. I had hope. Not much, but some. A quick look at her name badge showed Kristiana.

~*~

"If you don't accept that position as a translator, Richard, what will you do with yourself? You can't continue to just live with us and do nothing now that you are out of school."

"That was never my intention, Mother. I'm looking for something that will give me more satisfaction than a boring desk job, translating documents for some agency or whatever. I saw the real job last summer on my internship and that was enough for me. I told you that at the time. You just didn't want to hear it."

"You could have had a job at the government offices," she argued. "You might have been able to move up from there. There are jobs in Ottawa that can use people with your skills."

"I'm sure there are, but that is not what I want to do with my life. I want something more fulfilling and satisfying for my future. Being a clerk in some obscure office in Ottawa doesn't do it for me."

"Such a waste," she muttered.

My mother knew better than to try and get my father to support her on this topic. He was on my side.

The truth, however, was that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after school. I wanted a career, but I had not found one that would satisfy me. Perhaps I would have to settle for something less in the short term. At least I had the summer to think about it and look around.

~*~

It was the following morning when my cell phone rang. When I looked at the screen I didn't recognize the caller's number.

"Hello?"

"Is this Richard?" the soft voice asked.

I knew who it was immediately.

"Hello. How nice of you to call. May I have your name?"

She giggled briefly. "I am Kristiana ... from the Castillo ... Sunday ... the dining room."

"I know. I recognized your voice. I'm so glad you called."

"How did you recognize me? We only said two words to each other."

"That was enough. The sound of you voice is burned into my memory forever, as is your beauty."

"Oh ... Richard ... that is such a terrible pick-up line."

"It is, isn't it. But it happens to be true."

"You flatter me. Are you American?"

"No, I'm Canadian, actually. You know, those frozen fellows from the great white north."

I heard her genuine laugh.

"I am Norwegian. I am also from the great white north."

"I thought you might be Scandinavian. Kristiana is a beautiful name for a beautiful woman."

"There you are once more. Do you say such things to all the girls you wish to meet?"

"No ... after all, you could have been called Gertrud or Esmeralda, but you would still be beautiful."

"Where are you?" she asked.

"In Sevilla. We live in Bormujos ... in the west."

"It's a lovely city. I like to go there on my days that I am not working."

"Not Malaga or Marbella?" I asked, surprised.

"Sometimes. The car I borrow is not very reliable, so I don't go too far from Osuna."

"Do you live in Osuna?"

"Yes, for now. I am trying to be more experienced in hospitality."

"Then you chose well at the Castillo. It is very nice and very well run."

"Thank you. I am learning quite a lot and I want to take this back with me this summer."

"Back to Norway?"

"No ... my parents have a hotel in Switzerland. I want to be part of their business, but first I must learn about it."

"That's very wise," I said, thinking it was time to move along.

"Kristiana, would you like to go out with me some time? Perhaps next week on your off day?

"I don't know. What would you like to do?" she answered tentatively.

"Have you been to Isla Mágica?"

"Yes ... several times. I like it very much."

"Excellent. Then, if I come to get you in Osuna and we spend the day together, you might enjoy it?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes ... I think so. Perhaps I can trust you."

"Wonderful. And yes, you can trust me. After all, I'm Canadian. Doesn't the whole world trust us?" I teased.

She laughed her genuine laugh. I didn't want to end the call. Her voice was so seductive and feminine.

"Very well. I trust you, Richard. We can meet on Tuesday. I will text you the name of my street and number of my building. When will you come?"

"When would you be ready? Shall we have breakfast together?"

There was a pause and I could hear the uncertainty.

"I ... I will bring something for both of us," she volunteered. "There is a park near Marchena that I like. We can stop there."

"Sure. That sounds great. I will see you at nine o'clock on Tuesday morning then?"

"Yes ... nine o'clock. That will be good."

"Kristiana ... thank you for calling me. And thank you for letting me get to know you."

"Yes ... you are welcome, Richard. I would like to know about you as well."

I ended the call with a smile a mile wide. I put my head back in the chair and pulled up her image from memory.

I was sure she was at least five-foot-eight, with a near-typical Nordic full-bodied build. A flawless complexion and enchantingly perfect face. It was the hair that set her off. It was so perfect, drawn back into a single braid that reached down the back of her neck, well below her shoulders. It was so naturally blonde and pure that it put all the hair colourings to shame. You could not possibly imitate it.

I'd had my share of young ladies over the past six years. The European attitude toward sex was considerably more liberal than my native country. That didn't make them sluts -- only more open and honest about what they wanted. There wasn't, however, any one woman that had intrigued me the way Kristiana had.

It wasn't just her beauty, although that was enough by itself. She gave off an aura of being something special that I had never encountered before. She almost appeared virginal, but I doubted that was the case. I had a hard time trying to describe her to myself because I was so caught up in her appearance. But there was something -- something that set her apart besides her physical beauty. I would count the hours until I drove to Osuna to meet her on Tuesday morning.

~*~

I pushed my Mazda quickly down A92 from Sevilla to Osuna. Thirty five minutes of nervous uncertainty capping four days of anticipation. I had attached singular importance to this meeting, something different from the normal date.

My phone's GPS guided me faultlessly in Osuna, and within five minutes I was parked in front of a stucco two-storey building. Neither new nor elegant, it at least appeared to be in a decent neighbourhood. I checked my watch, realizing I was a few minutes early. No matter. I would take my chances.

I knocked on the door of apartment five and within seconds I was blessed with Kristiana's presence. She was wearing a very loose-fitting pale yellow blouse with elbow length sleeves and khaki shorts that came almost to her knees. Sneakers were her chosen footwear. Her hair was pulled back in its accustomed braid and looked amazing.

"Hi ... good morning," she smiled.

I took a deep breath. "Good morning," I smiled in reply.

It was a pleasant greeting and relieved me of the anxiety that she might have had second thoughts about our date.

"I have our breakfast and midday meal," she said with another big smile, holding up a big picnic basket.

"Oh ... that's great," I said in surprise. "But you didn't have to go to all that trouble. I was prepared to look after our meals."

"It's all right. There are no smoked eels or snails in here."

She was poking fun at me and I began to relax for the first time in her company.

I faked a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank goodness. I was worried that you'd be insulted if I couldn't handle that."

Again that genuine laugh of hers that couldn't possibly be faked.

"Perhaps you prefer seal flipper ... or Caribou meat?" she teased.

"Not me. But now that you mention it, just what have you prepared for us today?"

"It's a secret. I will not tell you yet."

This woman ... no longer a girl ... had a quick sense of humour. I had already fallen in love with her. Okay ... so it was just lust, but I was working on it.

I took her hand and led her out to my car. We put the basket in the back seat and I opened the door for her. It was mid-May and already I could tell that it was going to be a warm day. Kristiana had brought a wide brimmed straw hat and I was sure she would have put on some sun screen to protect her fair skin. My God she was beautiful in her light top, snug shorts and new sneakers. So simple and yet so perfect.

I confess to being a bit tongue-tied in her presence and our conversation was not very revealing as we set out on the road to Sevilla. I promised myself that I would be the perfect gentleman with her, which was in conflict with my desire to ravish her at the first opportunity. I was going to have to exhibit some serious self-control without being a total bore.

I'm not sure I understand what women's intuition is, but I got a taste of it as we parked the car and headed for the picnic area in Marchena.

"Are all Canadian men so quiet and shy?" Kristiana asked.

I looked at her and saw a slight smile.

"Ah ... no ... not really. In fact, some of us can be quite obnoxious on occasion."

"But not you?"

"Well ... I confess ... I'm on my best behaviour."

"Is this some acting that you will tire of and turn into someone else?" she asked seriously.

"No ... you don't have to worry about that. Why don't we sit down and talk for a bit."

She nodded and put the picnic basket on a bench and we sat across from each other.

"Why did you agree to go out with me?" I asked. "Why did you contact me?"

She looked confused. "I thought you were interested in me. You gave me your card. I thought that meant you wanted to know me."

I nodded. "I did. I do. But ... I didn't expect you to call me and want to go on a date with me."

Now she was really confused.

"Why would I not wish to meet someone new who might be interesting?"

I struggled to express my thoughts in a way that wouldn't insult or anger her.

"You are far too lovely to be interested in a humble student. You look like you should be on the arm of some prince or nobleman. Do they still have Spanish Grandee's?"

"Now you are being silly, Mister Barton. No humble student has a business card and hands it out to women he has just met. No humble student has a new car. And no humble student dresses so easily in his clothes for his first date with a woman he admires," she concluded with a raised eyebrow and a questioning look.

"Ah ... well ... humble in my ambitions is more to the point," I said, scrambling to catch up to her comments.

She smiled a sneaky smile and reached into her pocket and extracted a card. It was the business card I had given her.

"So ... what is a linguist?" she asked. "That does not sound humble."

"Well ... to tell the truth ... it's a bit of conceit. I have a degree in languages."

Her eyes widened before asking, "How many languages?"

"Four so far, not including English. French, Spanish, Italian and German. I'm working on three others."

"My goodness, that is quite an accomplishment for someone so young. How did you do that?"

I shrugged. "I've always had an ear for other languages, even when I was first studying French in school. It just went from there."

"Yes, of course," she said, "You speak French in Canada, don't you?"

"Well ... sort of. It's a dialect, not true French. I had to learn it all over again when I went to university."

"What do you plan to do as a linguist?" she asked.

"I don't know. I thought perhaps I'd become a translator, but I decided against that when I was an intern last summer. It looked very boring and very detail orientated."

"Oh," she said, seemingly thinking about something.

We sat in comfortable silence as we ate our light breakfast. She had provided croissants with some jamon (Spanish ham), cheese and water. I had become used to the completely different eating habits in the south of Spain. Not just the choice of foods, but the late hours as well.

We talked about inconsequential things the rest of the way to Sevilla. She was only in Osuna until the end of May when she would return to Bellwald in the Alps and work with her parents during the summer tourist season. The closest major cities by road were Lausanne and Geneva. Bellwald wasn't the largest of the ski areas, but was popular with many skiers who wanted to avoid the crowded and expensive slopes of Zermatt, Gstaad or St. Moritz.

Her parents owned a thirty-four room hotel complete with a separate equipment rentals and storage building. They had full food service and boasted almost total occupancy from June through to September in summer and December through early April in winter. Kristiana assured me it was a full time job, but in the month of May, her parents often went on an extended vacation. This year they were cruising the Caribbean.

"What do you do during the summer?" I asked her.

"I do what I am doing in Osuna. I host the dining room and direct the waitresses."

"And in the winter?"

"The same. I enjoy it and I meet interesting people. Some are even famous."

"And what do you think your future will be?" I asked.

"I will try some other things in the business. Perhaps the equipment rentals, or the welcome desk."

I nodded understanding. She had no plans to run the hotel in the near future. She saw herself learning the business and working her way up from there. She was more mature in that respect than a lot of other young women her age.

"Do you know what a concierge is?" she asked.

"Yes ... I think so. He ... or she ... is someone who looks after the special needs of the guests. Where to find certain places, parking their car, providing an ironing board or a hot water bottle," I chuckled.

"Well, it is something like that," she smiled. "All our rooms have ironing boards and hot water bottles. It's the reservation with the massage therapist that needs to be organized."

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