Savage (Daughters of the Jaguar)Willow Rose
Daughters of the Jaguar #1
By Willow Rose
Copyright Willow Rose 2011
Published by DMC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work.
Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Jan Sigetty Boeje
Special thanks to my editor Christie Giraud www.ebookeditingpro.com
Romance Fatal Serif Font by Juan Casco http://www.juancasco.net
Jaguar graphics by Dana Sitarzewski http://Jaguarwoman.com
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To my daughters Lea, Caroline and Christina.
Because you fill my world with magic.
“So how much do you know about St. Augustine, Chris?”
The woman driving gently touched her elegant yellow hair, careful not to mess it up with her colored nails. She spoke with a strong southern accent and was incredibly beautiful for her age, which I guessed was more than twice my age of twenty-two. Her name was Mrs. Kirk. I had just met her at Orlando Airport for the first time a few minutes before. She was waiting for me holding a sign with my name, Christian Langaa, printed on it.
The year was 1983 and I had recently finished my third year of med school at a university in Denmark. I had just left my country of birth for St. Augustine in Florida. Leaving Denmark was my father’s idea, really. I guess he thought it was about time I left the nest, so he called in a favor with an old friend of his, an American eye surgeon, to take me in and help me get a year at a medical school “over-there.” I can’t say I was unhappy about it. At that time all kids my age wanted to go to the States where stone-washed jeans and Michael Jackson came from. His latest album "Thriller" had just been released and was played on every radio station all over the world. Like so many else I bought the cassette and played it again and again on my Walkman. Where I came from anything that was American was considered hip and cool. That summer before I left, my friends and I had watched the movie Flashdance that made ripped sweatshirts popular and we loved the TV show Dallas and Dynasty that made everybody wear increasingly oversized shoulder pads - even us guys. We drank lots of Coke and dreamt of watching MTV, which at that time wasn’t something you could do in Europe yet and especially not in my small home-country Denmark, where we only had one national channel on our TV.
The older generation in our country thought we were indifferent to the times we lived in and didn’t understand us at all. They named us the “So what-generation” or the “No future-generation” because they felt like we didn’t care about what went on in the world around us. We weren’t even rebellious. We didn’t have ideals and dreams about changing the world like they had back in ’68. Meanwhile they were terrified of the A-bomb, the Cold War and the communists. While we listened to disco music on our ghetto blasters and danced electric boogie, they fought with a bad economy and the fear of someone deciding to push the big red button, dropping the A-bomb and ending the world as we know it. Not to mention the increasing fear of AIDS that was spreading among people, commonly referred to as the "Gay-Plague" since it was believed back then to be an "epidemic of a rare form of cancer triggered by the lifestyle of some male homosexuals," as the headline said in one newspaper.
The older generation simply felt like our generation just didn’t care about anything. And maybe they were right. We weren’t that concerned about political affairs and foreign threats. Politics simply didn’t interest us, especially not me. I was fed up with listening to my father talk about politics and war during my upbringing. I was a dreamer not a fighter. You can’t be both. Not in my book. And AIDS? Well, I guess we thought we couldn't get it since it was a disease for the homosexuals. Plus we were in our twenties. We didn't think we could die at all.
We ran over a bump and I was rudely jolted out of my reverie.
“Not much,” I answered Mrs. Kirk a little timid. “I know it calls itself the nation’s oldest city. I know it was here Ponce de León came to look for the legendary Fountain of Youth. I know the city of St. Augustine is home to the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, a tribute to the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed. Though there is no evidence that the fountain located in the park today is the storied fountain or has any restorative effects, visitors drink the water. The park exhibits native and colonial artifacts to celebrate St. Augustine's Timucuan and Spanish heritage.”
Mrs. Kirk looked at me with a small impressed smile. “Very well, you have done your homework. Dr. Kirk will be pleased to hear that you have not come unprepared.”
“My dad gave me a book on Florida to read on the plane. I have a photographic memory. I remember things easily. It helps me a lot in school.”
I stared out the window at swamps and what seemed to me like wild-growing brushes and forests. I was desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of an alligator, an animal I had never seen before and of which I had been told you could find in pretty much every waterhole in Florida. I was deeply fascinated by creatures of the wild. By predators of any kind. But as a city boy, I had only seen them behind their bars at the zoo, never in the wild. By now we had passed several waterholes and I had still not seen any to my great disappointment.
It felt like my headband was getting tighter, and I was sweating in my tight jeans and jacket with shoulder-pads and rolled up sleeves. I took the jacket off and put it in my lap. Florida was a lot warmer than I had expected it to be. And a lot more humid, too. I wasn’t used to this kind of heat, coming from a country where we would be lucky to have three weeks of summer. I still remember the feeling when I stepped out of the airplane in Orlando airport for the first time. It felt like someone had taken a winter jacket and swept me in it. Like the air itself was hugging me and welcoming me home. I remember sweating just from walking from the airport to the big black Mercedes that Mrs. Kirk picked me up in.
She cranked up the air conditioning and I soon felt a little cooler. I touched the nice leather seats and suddenly felt so insignificant. Coming from a rich family by Danish standards I was used to some luxury, yet I had never been in a car like this.
“Well, maybe you will have to think about losing some of those unruly curls once you become a doctor,” Mrs. Kirk said.
I touched my hair gently. I liked my blond curls and had let them grow past my ears. And I wasn’t the only one who liked them. The girls did too. Along with my deep-set blue eyes, my curls were my finest feature. Why parents and others older than thirty-five insisted they want me to cut them off was beyond me. My dad was the worst. “You look like a savage,” he would say. But I didn’t care. Deciding what I was going to do for a living was one thing, but he wasn’t going to change the way I looked, too.
He was the one who wanted me to go to med school, not me. All I wanted to do was play my acoustic guitar. “But you can’t make a living out of just playing the guitar. You need to grow up, Chris. It is about time,” my father said just before he told me about his plans for me. It wasn’t like he gave me a choice. I was going to take over the family practice. It had always been his dream for me ever since I was a child, so I never questioned it, simply because it would break his heart. I never said no to my father in these matters and I didn't argue when he told me he was going to send me away f
or a year, either. Instead, I decided to make the best of it.
“We’re almost there,” Mrs. Kirk sang. “It is right at the end of this road.”
She took a turn and we entered a small road with around eight homes. They were nothing like the houses I was used to in my hometown of Odense in Denmark. The town where Hans Christian Anderson was born had old houses, some of them dating the 1600s. They were small and leaning. The house my father and I had lived in was younger, though. From the beginning of the 1900. It was an old villa with high ceilings and stucco in a very lucrative neighborhood on the right side of the river, as they said. Why that was so important I never understood. But nevertheless, I had never seen houses quite like the ones in the Kirk’s neighborhood before. They were huge. Enormous. And they seemed to be almost brand new.
“We’re here,” Mrs. Kirk said with a radiant smile that showed picture-perfect straight and almost unnatural white teeth.
I looked out the car window and simply dropped my jaw as we drove up the driveway. The house in front of us was massive. Countless windows stared back at me. The façade was of rough-faced stone with numerous chimneys rising from the roof. Nothing had prepared me for its solemn splendor. Mrs. Kirk drove around the house where I spotted a tennis court and a lap pool. The house was on the water overlooking the Intracoastal water with a dock and a huge boat tied at the end of it. I felt thrilled inside. Overwhelmed as well, but also happy that this was where I was going to live the next year of my life. Med-school or not, I had a feeling it was going to be great.
Mrs. Kirk pushed a remote in the car and a garage door opened up leading us to a tunnel under the house, where she parked. A small elevator brought us into the house. I remember being completely speechless. I had never been in a private house with an elevator before.
In the hall upstairs another woman was waiting for us. She was small, had cheeks so round they reminded me of ripe tomatoes and a huge smile on her face— which she always wore, I later learned.
“This is Maria,” Mrs. Kirk said. “She will take care of anything you need. She cooks and cleans and washes your clothes. But be nice to her. She is like family.”
I shook Maria’s hand, smiling. I wasn’t even going to wash my own clothes? I thought with exhilaration. Ever since my mom died when I was thirteen I had been in charge of the laundry for both my dad and I. And cooking? Well since my dad always worked at his private clinic we just grabbed something whenever we felt like it. I would occasionally make some pasta or fry an egg, but most days I would just grab a sandwich and eat it in my room while playing on my guitar and writing songs about being young and having a broken heart. Not that I knew much about that, since I was always the one breaking someone else’s heart. See, the loss of my mother back when I was just a young teenager had left me emotionally crippled. I was simply incapable of having a meaningful relationship with any female. I loved girls, but I used them and threw them away. I devoured them. I exploited the fact that they adored me. They would throw themselves at me for whatever reason, but I would never return any of their calls and I would never let any of them get close to me emotionally. Some even came into my life thinking that they would be the ones that could change my ways and make me settle down, they wanted to save me from myself, but they would always leave with a broken heart. It was mean, I know that now. I see it clearly today, but I also see why I did it. I was hurt. I was like a wounded animal that would forever try to avoid the source of its pain. The too-early death of my mother had made me afraid of love. Afraid of ever loving any woman again like I had loved my mother. I didn’t want to feel that hurt again ever in my life. I never wanted to lose anyone I loved again. So I figured if I never loved anyone, if I was never close to anyone, then I would never get hurt again. It was as simple as that. I thought I had found a way to live a life with no pain. But instead I lived a lonely, loveless life. I know that today, but I didn’t see it then. I was too young. I thought I knew everything, but most twenty-two-year-olds think they know it all. Now that I have a son of my own in his twenties I see it in him, as well. I see myself.
“Maria will show you to your room,” Mrs. Kirk said. “I have to meet Dr. Kirk at the club later. I need to get ready. We were hoping you would join us?”
“I would love to,” I answered a little perplexed since I had no idea what kind of club she was talking about or how to get there.
“We’ll take my car,” Mrs. Kirk said. “See you out front at seven. By then I am sure that Heather will be home as well. I sure hope she will be. You never know with her these days. Young and always on the run. Going back to college in a few days. She has been spending all summer with her friends. You know how girls are when they are nineteen. Going to major in history, I think. At least that is what she told us last week." Mrs. Kirk laughed lightly. "The week before that she wanted to do interior decorating. Something about creating her own business, I don't know. I can't keep up with young people these days. They have so many possibilities that we never had when I was young. But it's okay that she lets some of her steam off before she settles down. Her father and I just want her to marry well." Mrs. Kirk took at quick glance at her wristwatch. "Ah. Look at me I am babbling along. I really should be getting myself ready. See you outside at seven."
I felt like a king once I followed Maria into what was going to be my room for the next year. It was bigger than my old living room and had a spectacular view over the water on the one side and the city on the other where the sun was about to set in an orange explosion of colors I had never seen in my life.
Maria put down my bag on the floor that she had insisted on carrying even though I told her I could do it myself. She was a strong woman who had taken the bag in one hand and carried it all the way up the stairs to my new bedroom with a huge smile on her round face. The bed was made with tons of pillows and on top Maria had put four towels for me to use.
“Dirty laundry goes in the basket in the bathroom,” she said and gave the door to the bathroom a gentle push till it opened enough for me to take a peek at the marble ballroom behind it.
“Okay, thanks. I will try and remember that,” I said.
I wasn’t what you would call a neat person back then. A lot has changed since, but I remember my dad never being able to enter my room because the clothes on the floor would get stuck underneath the door. My excuse was that I didn’t have a mother to teach me these things, but reality was that I was just too lazy. And where I came from, nobody cared how my room appeared. My dad just gave up coming to my room after some time. He did that with a lot of things since my mom died. Gave up. Sometimes I felt like he even gave up on me. Maybe it just hurt him to look at my face because I looked so much like her. Sometimes when I think back on it I think that it might have been a relief for my dad to get me out of the house and send me across the Atlantic. Everything about me seemed to irritate him, and ever since my mother’s death, it was like he avoided looking into my eyes. He avoided me.
It was quite a change for me. All my childhood I had been an extremely loved child. My parents adored me. I was the child they had been waiting for for many years. And they had almost given up the hope of getting their own child, so they had adopted a girl from Brazil many years before I was born. Then, my mom became pregnant completely unexpected. Naturally they were thrilled to have a child of their own, so they spoiled me rotten to the big grief of my older adopted sister whom they almost forgot existed. To this very day I have no contact with her. She left the house as soon as she turned eighteen a couple of years after our mom died and never looked back. My dad never managed to keep in contact with her. I can’t blame her for hating me. I was their love-child, everything was made so easy for me and everybody always said I was born under a lucky star. I believed them until my mom became seriously ill. After that everything changed.
“Who are you?”
The voice from the doorway brought me back to the present. Maria had left me and in entered a stunning woman about my
age. She had long, blond, straight hair that reached to the middle of her back, the most perfect set of big green almond-shaped eyes. Her make-up was flawless and emphasized the color in her eyes. Even though I liked girls to be natural, I thought it looked good. Her face was beautifully sculptured and she wore her hair down the way I preferred women to.
“I am Chris,” I said and threw her one of my irresistible smiles that I always used to get the girls' attention.
“I’m Heather,” she said and sat on the bed.
I started unpacking my bag and put my jackets and t-shirts on hangers. I was determined to change my ways. I wanted to be a new man in this new country. From now on, all my clothes would be in a closet preferably on hangers or nicely folded. It would last about a week, I knew that, but at least I wanted to give it a try. These people didn’t know me and I really wanted to give out a good impression.
“So, you didn’t know I was coming?” I asked while putting my jeans on a shelf. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to use them much around St. Augustine. It was simply too hot for jeans in this place.
“Sure I did,” she answered with a smile as perfect as her mother’s. “I was just making conversation.”
“So what is it like, living in this mansion? Can you ever find each other?”
Heather laughed, letting out a sound that didn’t match her feminine charisma. It was too rough for a girl like her. “Why would I want to find anyone? There is only me and my parents here.”
“I see your point,” I said and emptied my bag. I hadn’t brought much because I wanted to buy new stuff while I was there. I wanted to bring it home and be the cool guy.
“So you will be going to med school at University of Florida in Jacksonville?” Heather asked.