Days later, Desmond had been deeply hurt by the arrival of the vase of flowers for Camille. He’d anguished for days thinking about it. But now he had to let it go.
A day ago he and Camille had talked about what happened. He had listened attentively as she told him her story. Carefully he’d watched her eyes. They’d told him all he needed to know.
In addition to that, a passing remark made by his housekeeper Consuelo, had helped him make up his mind and quick. From her he had learned two things that eased his conscious. One was that her cousin Larentia; had been overhead by Consuelo on the phone talking about seeing Camille with Delmar the whole time. She had even laughed that she heard her cousin tell Delmar she was in love with Desmond.
Desmond had been furious when he heard what Larentia had said. He felt this way because Larentia had not said one word in her cousin’s defense to him.
Secondly Consuelo had mentioned that Camille had been thinking about going home. And that wasn’t what he wanted. To him this was Camille’s home as well as his. At the moment Consuelo told him. He’d made up his mind and forgiven Camille. Now he just needed to make sure she knew that he felt that way.
Anxiously he waited for Camille to come to the conservatory.
Carefully he tended to his new orchids. He smiled with his thoughts. The orchids weren’t new at all. In fact the flowering orchids were two years old. Many of the business trips he had made were for developing and growing his own orchids.
He’d learned the asymbiotic germination or flasking method on one of trips to nursery he owned in Maui Hawaii. During his learning experience he had kept extensive records on growing orchids. It had taken him twelve months to get his first pods to ripen. But they did. After that it had taken just under another year to get his plants to bloom. The last two years he’d spent learning his craft had been well worth it as he looked at the flowering exotic orchids all around him.
The one he stood in front of was blooming beautifully. It was from the Cattleya hybrid species. The flower’s petal segments were broad, well formed and very fragrant. The healthy petals outer rim was a waxy white color that mellowed into to a light pink color with a vivid deep magenta lip. It was his pride and joy. It was his prize. He’d even given the prized orchid a name, Camille’s Truth.
Looking at the beautiful orchid he knew it would be just the thing to let Camille know how much she meant to him.
Camille sighed heavily making her way to the conservatory. Her feet felt like anchors as the heels of her shoes softly clipped as she walked.
Days before she had tried to explain to Desmond about what had happen the day she had seen Delmar Devereaux. It had happened over a month before.
Her thought drifted to that day...The pictures were clear in her mind.
Innocently she had occupied her cousin Larentia Acca Batiste to the Farmers Market in San Juan Bautista. Little did she know it was the Annual BBQ Rib Cook-off and Classic Car Show Festival?
Main Street in San Juan Bautista had been lined with vendor tents of various sizes as far as the eye could see. Parked up and down Main Street end to end was some of the most beautifully restored, mint condition, classic old cars of every make you could think of.
Main Street was alive with locals and tourist enjoying the day.
Her cousin Larentia had seen a hat she liked at one of the vendor tents. The hat vendor had been crowded with regulars and tourist vying to make a purchase.
Hovering people loudly chattered and haggard over items, the noise in the tent seemed to grow louder. Camille thought she’d found a hat she like. She picked it up and examined. Then someone lit a cigarette. The smell overtook the air. Camille felt like she was suffocating. She became so overwhelmed that she went to put the hat down. Annoyingly a shopper grabbed the hat out of her hands. Rather than get into an altercation with the woman she decided to leave the vender’s tent for some much needed air.
Stepping out of the vendor’s tent she took in a deep breath and walked down the side walk a few steps. Suddenly she collided with someone.
“Are you hurt?” A man’s deep voice asked as his hand grasped her arms steadying her. He pulled her against his chest.
She recognized the voice. She looked up into familiar slanted black eyes under winged brows. “Delmar Devereaux,” she said drawing in a deep breath. “What are you doing here?”
A smile curved the corners of his mouth. “Well I’ll be Camille Baptiste,” Delmar smiled wickedly. He looked longingly at her lips. He wanted to taste them. Christ she felt good in his arms. He took a deep breath. Her perfume was intoxicating. He felt like he just took a drug.
“Well Camille I’m not going to lie. You do feel good in my arms.”
Unsure of herself she pushed. “Please let me go Delmar.”
“No….I….I mean sure. If you promise to go somewhere we can talk,” Delmar said.
The gravity in his voice startled her. “No,” she whispered “Now answer my question what are you doing here Delmar?” She asked wrenching out of his grasp.
“I’m here for the Classic Car Show. I’m here showing off my mint conditioned, fully restored 1934 black, convertible Pierce Arrow. You remember it don’t you?
“Oh, yes I remember your baby.”
“Well baby is parked right there,” he pointed across the street. And my other baby is right in front of my eyes, he thought. He cleared his throat. “Please come go over with me and have at look for old times’ sake,” his eyes pleaded.
It was a reasonable request she thought. Plus they were out in public. She nodded. And together they walked over.
They reached the car and he casually said. “I’m so glad I ran into you. There is so much I want to say Camille. I heard you were seeing that guy Desmond Garcia. He’s a very lucky man,” he said as his eyes roamed up and down her body.
Once upon a time Camille cared about what Delmar thought. She felt the best thing to do now was to stay silent and just ignore him and his roaming eyes.
Delmar ran his hand across his chin. He continued. “I’ve got to say this. Once I heard you were with him it made me think. You know, I never realized how much I took you for granted. Did you know I never told you how much you mean to me,” his words were laced with a deep sadness as he looked at her.
His hand reached out and touched her hair. “My lovely Camille I’m so sorry for all that I did to you.”
Camille recoiled at his touch. Delmar’s smooth words were just that. Smooth words that held no meaning.
“I got to get going. My cousin will be looking for me,” Camille said.
“No, wait. Hear me out Camille. I have a proposition for you,” Delmar said running his hand across his pencil-thin moustache. “I want you to marry me. I’ll do right by you. I’ll give you everything you ever wanted,” he paused. “And I’ll stop seeing other women. I’ll be faithful. I swear it.”
Camille stared back at him dazed. She studied him as the afternoon sunshine caressed his face. Some people were full of lies. Some people were full of secrets. Some people were mean and spiteful. Delmar Devereaux was a man capable of being all those things.
“No, I’m sorry Delmar. I can’t. You see I’m in love with Desmond Garcia. But thank you for apologizing. For you I know that took a lot of effort,” she said softly before turning and walking away.
Delmar Devereaux smoothed his moustache and watched her leave. His thoughts raced. He’d think of something. All he needed was for that something to reach the person he wanted it to, Desmond Garcia. Let’s see if your intended would still want you after I’m done with you. He thought as he smugly smiled watching her walk back across the street.
Slowly Camille’s thoughts returned to the present as she lingered at the door of Desmond’s conservatory watching him enjoy his orchids. She realized now Delmar Devereaux had purposefully bumped into her that day she and Larentia went to the Farmers Market in San Juan Bautista.
Quickly she shook out her thoughts and entered the conservatory.
“Camille?” Desmond called out. His brows rose as he looked up. He smiled softly. “Oh good you’re here. Please close the door and the drapes so that we can’t be disturbed.”
Resigned Camille obeyed and closed the door tightly behind her. She walked over and pulled the cord. The drapes closed quickly. She turned and strode closer into the room. She swallowed nervously. Desmond voice seemed so calm. She wondered if he hated her. Her life was such a mess she thought.
“Camille you look so sad. Come and sit down. I want to talk to you,” Desmond said. “Come I have a present for you.”
She managed a smile. “A present for me…But?”
His dark eyes were smiling. As he pulled her close to him. His hand reached out and touched her face. “I’m not angry at you my love. I want you to know that I trust you and I believe you. The journey of love we have been on together these past four weeks have been the most blissful time for me. I don’t want it to end,” he said kissing her tenderly on the forehead. “I hope this present shows you how much you mean to me,” he pointed. “This orchid here is named in your honor. It’s called Camille’s Truth.”
“Oh Desmond it’s beautiful.”
“Do you forgive me for ever doubting your love for me Camille?”
She looked into his eyes. “Desmond you know I do.”
Desmond smiled and took her hand. He placed a small box in it. He closed his fingers around hers.
Camille looked into his dark eyes.
“Go on open it,” he smiled.
Anxiously she opened the black velvet box. Inside the letters said Tiffany? Camille opened the box and she was speechless. A platinum five carat pear cut diamond solitaire stared back at her.
“Are you happy with the ring my love?” Desmond asked.
“Oh yes….Yes…Yes….Yes Desmond. I am,” she said breathless.
Then Desmond did the strangest thing. He turned around and in a loud clear voice he yelled at the closed door.
“Larentia! Did you catch what your cousin just said?” Desmond’s booming voice commandingly asked. “You may as well open the door. I know you are out there.”
Slowly the door to Desmond’s conservatory opened and Larentia stepped inside. She looked flushed and anxious. “I wasn’t eavesdropping,” she said softly and quietly with contempt in her voice.
“Eavesdropping? Larentia you? I never accused you of such a thing,” Desmond said giving her a piercing stare. “Please come in and hear the news. Your cousin Camille has just agreed to be my wife. Isn’t that wonder news?” Desmond didn’t wait for her to answer. “We should celebrate tonight, all three of us. Where should we go?”
It was so silent you could hear a pin drop.
“Oh I can’t go anywhere tonight,” Larentia nervously said. I…I…err,” she stammered. “A friend called. She ah….Had some really bad news and I promised I’d go and cheer her up. I have to leave right away.”
Desmond gazed at her comprehendingly. “What a shame. I take your friend may need you to stay with her? How long do you think you be staying there?”
Larentia frowned. “I don’t know?”
Desmond’s eyes flashed dangerously. “I take it then Larentia you don’t have a regular residence?”
He felt Camille flinch in his embrace. He quickly gazed between the two cousins and knew he spoke the truth. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Camille held a love for her cousin that was faithful.
He turned his attention back to Larentia. His eyes soften as he looked at her. He knew he spoke the truth. The girl was homeless.
“I’m not an unkind man Larentia. You are welcome to stay here as long as Camille wants you too. But please remember to respect the privacy of me and my future wife,”he said.
“Thank you Camille…..And Desmond,” Larentia said as she slowly lowered her head. Quickly she turned and left the room.
Stay tuned…….To be continued…