"The Knight of a Trillion Stars"
Finally, LOTHARIO was complete.
I gazed with pride at my work of art. It was my baby. I built it with all the passion inside me. I breathed life into every line, curve and texture. I made it arise from the ground to stand majestic and proud for its Lord and Master.
Marcus Alexis Benedicto, the King of Lothario, better known to many as simply "X", sauntered across the polished granite floor of the grand salon of his little kingdom towards me. He was, like this grandiose place, magnificent, tall and dark with the physique every woman I knew longingly coveted. He was a six-foot-two, solidly packed specimen of masculinity but he moved with the grace and fluidity only borne from extreme wealth and privilege.
He was in his late twenties, the most infamous personality that graced the elite society of Metro Manila in decades, wild, untamable, jaded. His notoriety was unrivaled by any of his peers and he lived his life with such unapologetic, careless abandon that usually made mothers shake their heads in a mixture of pity and mortification. He had left a string of combined broken hearts and happy faces from Asia to parts of Europe and Northern America, carving his reputation solidly as the King of Sin. He was the ultimate lothario, the perfect lover, but the last man any woman should fall in-love with.
Articles were written about his legendary exploits. His businesses were rumored to be tied up with a very powerful underground organization. His women were legions, in all forms and ages and races. Many feared that he was headed for self-destruction, the only way to go for a totally debased character like Alexis. But they were secretly fascinated by him, his total disregard for convention, his casual dismissal of norms, his fearless pursuit for the highest forms of pleasure. He was the embodiment of total freedom, and no one, no one else can compare with Alexis. He was a law unto himself. A man who controlled his own universe.No woman had ever succeeded in taming this hombre. He was a heartbreaker in every sense of the word.
He always took my breath away. Everytime. I'm just a woman, damnit. I don't have the power to ward off his potent testosterone appeal. Maybe Alexis had a love amulet or something. As unpalatable as he was to those hopeless romantics, women still lined up at his front door, hoping to get a shot at his elusive heart. Foolish women, I might say. The man was full of himself and totally hopeless in the commitment department. But they couldn't seem to get it.
Today, he was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, halfway unbuttoned, showing a tantalizing expanse of his tanned chest, the tails were tucked under low-slung designer denim jeans, making his legs look longer, making him look taller than he already was. His feet were encased in worn-out cowboy boots of the urban kind. His hair was windblown, coal black and slightly longish. He looked like he just came from riding one of his prized Arabian horses or cruising in one of his hideously expensive European sportscars. Either way, he looked fresh and good enough to eat.
And as always, in the past year that I had been working for him, I felt warm all over as he came near me. Lord, but this man was a walking ad for unsafe sex. Very forbidden but tempting as sin. And as always, I reminded myself to take caution. I came here to work, not play...
My entire body was about to break out in sweat but my hands were surprisingly cold. I hated this effect he was causing in me. I wasn’t the type of woman who would swoon at the sight of a gorgeous man. I had my share of the best studs the world can offer, thank you, but this man was simply illegal. I wanted to put some distance between us but it would be rude. After all, in this case, he was my boss. He was paying me a huge amount of money for building LOTHARIO.
"Eve. I’m glad you waited for me, sweetheart." he said smoothly.
I hated the way he would always call me sweetheart. It was not ethical. I am a professional. I even have a master’s degree in business. I believe i've earned my right to be addressed as Ma’am or Miss by any business associate. But another part of me, the woman in me reveled in the endearment. Not that I could stop him from calling me thus, anyway. Alexis always did as he pleased. He had committed graver affronts in society than calling someone sweetheart.
The last one I heard from the grapevine was a "secret duel" at the boxing ring with a jealous husband. Of course, he rendered the poor man unconscious. Alexis was in top shape and a master horseman, regularly playing Polo with his buddies at various country clubs and God knows what other physical activities he engaged in to maintain such superb physique. According to rumors, he was still screwing that particular husband’s wife, a well-known socialite. After the "duel", the husband then just pretended not to hear the rumors anymore.
If after a boxing duel and his opponent didn't shut up, Alexis would then issue the challenge. But this time, they would not use gloves but guns. No man in his right mind would accept a duel of guns with Alexis. He had mastered the art from a very young age. But of course, in polite society, no one really believed that these "duels" really existed. This is the twenty-first century. Such practice was done in the olden times, not in this modern society. It was just gossip, further boosting Alexis' infamy. Well, gossip or not, I can actually picture him in a duel of any sort. Or maybe, my secret lust for this man was getting me carried away to the medieval ages! Women liked to fantasize about Alexis in every way.
"Alex." I greeted him with forced indifference.
He stopped in front of me. He was too close for comfort. He was always invading my private space as if he was deliberately doing it to make me uncomfortable. I wanted to step back from him but of course I didn’t. My pride wouldn’t let me cower and run from his subtle sexual play. I knew he was only toying with me. And I could certainly play his game, at least until I got my balance paycheck. And then I couldn’t care less if I slapped his arrogant face for sexually harassing me. He was sexually harassing me, wasn’t he? I wasn’t one of his bimbos so I’d label it sexual harassment, thank you.
He smiled, his full lips curving sensually, effortlessly drawing my eyes to stare and imagine what those lips can do to me. Damn, my nights are definitely lonely if my thoughts are running in that direction. And these thoughts could no longer accuse the man of sexual harassment. Damn him.
He leaned down to brush his lips against my temple. He always made "beso" to me, like all the other guys I knew. But Alexis’ "beso" just felt different. It made me really nervous every time, nervous in an excited way. I willed myself not to turn my face away. It was a very slight contact that left my cheek tingling, as if a current of electricity had passed through my skin. I prayed that I wasn’t blushing. I was twenty-nine years old, hardly a virgin! But this man made me feel like he was the first one to touch me. It was a very unsettling feeling. I had been kissed and made love to by many men. By anybody's standards, I was very experienced in the art of seduction. I can certainly handle this particular stud.
But Alexis’ butterfly kisses on my cheek made me feel like a blushing virgin!
"There’s something I’d like to discuss with you, Eve." he said, his voice silky, like a huge beast purring at the sight of a hefty meal.
"What about?" I said with an edge to my voice.
"Let’s go to my suite and I’ll show you."
My heart just about stopped. I wasn’t about to go with him to his suite! My job here is finished. I am turning over this project today. I’ll get my balance paycheck and leave, never to set foot in this place again.
"Tell me what’s wrong and I’ll let the men fix it." I said casually, hoping I sounded professional, not the simpering teenager that I was inside.
His smile deepened making a dimple appear on his left cheek. A dimple? Good Lord, stop making him more beautiful than he already was!
"Only you can fix it."
I pointed at my own chest, not quite getting his point. "Me?"
He nodded. "Uh-huh."
"Alex, I’m an architect, not a carpenter." I hoped that didn’t come out as a protest. My carefully cultivated sophistication was about to evaporate in front of this globe-trotting man of the world. My pride yelled, "Oh hell no!"
"Yes, I know sweety, but I need to tell you exactly how I want it done."
"Well…alright." I reluctantly said.
We climbed inside his private elevator that took us to the third level of his palace in seconds. His hand was casually resting at the small of my back in a gentlemanly gesture but I wanted to swipe it off me. It was burning through my silk skirt! Okay, I’ll give him ten minutes and I’d be out of here.
His private sanctuary occupied all of the third level of LOTHARIO. It was a luxurious haven for the man who would be lording this little kingdom of sin. Yes, I knew what would transpire in this place after I left. I built a palace that would soon house a harem. A house of sin, where beautiful women were slaves that catered to the men’s lust. It was a practice of the olden times. Barbaric even. Only in this case, these modern, educated women were willing to slave their bodies for cold, hard, cash. Why work 9-5 earning a paltry income doing hard-labor or boring job when they could lay with a man once, do an activity as natural as breathing and earn the equivalent of one month's salary? They could even learn to enjoy the act. Practical, these women i might say.
LOTHARIO was inspired by ancient Greek architecture and like the rulers of that old civilization, Alexis blended well with his opulent surroundings. Alexis conceived LOTHARIO from his travels all over the world. He wanted to provide his friends and business associates with a place where they could talk hard ball business and have entertainment at the same time. LOTHARIO was a totally man's world where every man would be catered to like kings. It was every man's ultimate fantasy playground and only 100 priveledged members would be accepted. Alexis was a true-blue modern-day libertine, I thought with disgust. He treated women like commodities that can be purchased by his money. And he had plenty of money, alright. I knew exactly the obscene amount he spent in building LOTHARIO.
I wondered how rich the Benedictos really were. Alexis’ father, the powerful senator Marcus Benedicto who was a former General of the Army was rumored to be the one who got the bulk of the fabled WW2 Japanese treasures in Mindanao and Southern Luzon. Alexis’ mother, Ellinor Allende was the heiress of a very wealthy clan. She died, leaving her only son a banking empire to run.
My thoughts were interrupted when Alexis lead me to his bedroom. I knew every nook and cranny of the chamber. Every piece of article in it, I personally chose. I was not only the architect of LOTHARIO, I was also the interior designer. I even custom-made his bed to his physical proportions and lifestyle. He wanted it to fit four persons. I was mortified when the implication of his request hit me. Four persons? I could only imagine what would four persons do in a huge bed like that together! And it dawned on me. Of course, there would be three women and a man! And there would be furious activities on the bed so I made it really, really sturdy. Lord, three women?! I shuddered in revulsion at the thought. But my mind was infinitely curious. I wondered about too many things about Alexis Benedicto. And it was not supposed to be.
"So? What is it?" I asked him, my discomfort was replaced by the possibility that I had displeased "my client" somehow. I knew before I decided to turn over the project that everything was already in perfect condition. I had everything checked and tested. Everything was perfect. What could possibly be wrong?
He closed the enormous bedroom door with a deft click.
I raised my eyebrows quizzically at him. "Well?’
Suddenly, he changed. All his casual grace disappeared, replaced by the smoldering look of a man who wanted something from me. But it was clearly not my expertise as an architect. It was something else.
My heart began to beat like a drum.
"It’s been more than a year, Eve. I’ve waited long enough." he said, his voice dropping an octave lower.
I swallowed. "You’ve waited…for what?"
"There is no us, Alexis."
He stepped towards me, stalking me like a predator. It was the first time I’ve seen him blatantly look at me this way. Hungry.
"No?" he said not hiding his surprise. The man was probably baffled that he would hear such a word from a woman.
"No." I said evenly, trying to stand my ground.
"Wanna put it to the test?"
"It’s not necessary."
He was only a few beats away now. I could smell him. Expensive. Utterly masculine. Delicious. God help me, but I wanted him.
"I disagree." His breath was minty and warm on my face.
"Alex, you’re my client, I’m your architect. I don’t mix business with pleasure."
He smiled then, fishing something from his shirt pocket. "I don’t either."
He gave me a check. I knew it was the full payment for my services.
"I’m ending our business now, Eve.."
I looked at the amount scribbled in his bold hand-writing. "This is much more than what I stated in my statement of account."
He shrugged elegantly. " Consider it a bonus. I am very pleased with what you did to this place."
I looked in his eyes. They were searing, boring down on me like black opal, scorching. The devil’s eyes, I thought, hypnotized.
I would be damned. Soon.
"Thank you, Alex." I managed to say through my trembling lips.
He took my hand and kissed my palm. I gasped faintly as I felt his tongue lightly touch my skin. But I did not grab my hand back. I was immobilized by the force of passion rushing through my blood at his slightest touch. I was slowly melting and soon, I’d be too weak to resist him.
"Now that we have our business settled, let’s talk about pleasure."
I should go now, now, now. Run, Eve. Run…! You don’t wanna belong to his harem, do you?
He cupped my face with his large hands. Strong capable hands. Hands that I knew had caressed a thousand female bodies before me. Why did that thought rankle somehow?
"I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time." he said, pulling me close to his warm, hard body.
"Alex…don’t." I said faintly.
"Stop me, Eve." he dared me.
But how could I?
His mouth descended on mine.
It felt like my very first kiss. I felt like I’ve never been kissed.
I wanted to push him away. But it felt so good. Sooo gooood….
My arms went around him.
Too late for escape now. I was ensnared. Willingly.
He kissed me like my most treasured dream, gently, even reverently, like he was savoring my taste, consuming me little by little, like his favorite food. It went on for seemed like hours till I was panting, clinging to him desperately, wanting more…more….
Did he kiss all the other women like this? Like I was the most beautiful and desirable female on earth? Like he couldn't get enough of me? Like he was so in-love with me?
My body was on fire, needy, hungry, ravenous. When was the last time I made love? I couldn’t remember. It had been too long. Or maybe it was just yesterday. I don’t remember. Everything else vanished from my mind but him. Everything was brand new with this man.
We ended up in his bed, the bed that I designed and made specially for him so he could have sex with three women on it at the same time, the bed where he was making love to me now. I gloried in the idea that I was getting first shot at HIS bed. Yes, I was breaking it in, alright. I felt honored in a perverse way.
My clothes disappeared from my body like whispers of silk i hardly even noticed they were gone. So were his.
I was naked. And he was too.
I stared at him in awe. He was…he was…ohhhh….words failed me…as he started caressing my entire body like it belonged to a goddess, his fingers so light and nimble, so skillful and knowing. He discovered pleasure points in me that I never even knew existed. And he taught me how to please him, making me feel like the only woman who could give him unimaginable pleasure. It was heady. It was overwhelming. I felt invincible and yet he was totally dominating me. It was a contadiction of feelings that i had never had while making love with other men in the past.
I purred, literally.
I moaned incoherently.
I cried out in frenzy.
I demanded furiously.
He obliged me willingly.
He carved his place so deeply inside me that tears squeezed out from my eyes at the beauty of it. He took over my entire system, driving into me hard and fast, completely conquering me, enslaving me.
And I let him, surrendering all I had to him, to take as he wanted, to do as he pleased.
And he did not fail me. He gave me the kind of fulfillment that went beyond my wildest dreams.
And he shared it with me all the way. All the way.
It was rapture.
It was sublime.
Moments later, we looked into each other’s eyes and smiled.
Words weren’t necessary. I did not want to say anything he didn’t want to hear.And I didn’t want him to say the truth that I didn’t want to hear.
And so I let him put back my clothes on like he would on a child. It almost made me cry, this selfless, affectionate gesture from a man they often labeled as a callous womanizer.
He lay there on his huge, four-poster canopied bed that i built, naked still, big, bronzed and beautiful like a pagan god, languishing like a hedonist, giving me the look of a contented man, sated for awhile, but I knew, not for long.
My heart ached for the words that I wanted to say to him, but I knew I’d never get the chance. Like all the women who came before me, I knew exactly where I stood in his life.
"Can I see you again?" he asked me, his voice casual.
I wanted so much to say yes. But I knew it would be madness.
So I turned to him and gave him a wicked smile.
"I don’t fuck a man I don’t love twice."
He roared with laughter.
"Ah, what a pity." he said, his eyes twinkling.
I stared at him, wishing I’d see something in the black depths of his eyes. A longing, a kind of need that was deeper than simply wanting. A small sign.
But this time, he failed me.
"I have never fucked a woman I love either. But i don't believe in that mushy crap so you need not feel offended, sweetheart."
He said it with such ease and playful indifference that I did not feel offended. I knew he had uttered those same words to other women over and over again in the past. He was just being honest.
"You’re an amazing woman, Eve." he said, his eyes sincere. I knew he meant it. But that wasn’t enough. I needed more. But I knew I wouldn’t get it.
"And an amazing woman like me is wasted on a man like you, Alexis." I hoped he did not detect the loneliness in my soul.
I wanted him to take offense,at least. To deny what I said.
But he only grinned wickedly, unaffected. "I know, sweety. I know."
There's my sign, I thought with a heavy ache in my heart.
I stood up and walked towards the door. I looked at him one last time, etching every single part of his beauty in my memory. For a split second I saw something flicker in the depths of his eyes. A haunted look. A yearning? Maybe. A wistful thought? Maybe. But it was gone as quickly as it appeared. But i saw it. And I understood.
I wished I could reach inside him and wipe the darkness from his heart but i saw the impossibility of it. We were too alike, two lost souls, drifting, forever searching for a greater purpose in life.
It was very hard not to want him again. For all his flaws, he treated me like a priceless treasure, if only for awhile. He was my fantasy lover. But he was just that. A fantasy.Nothing more.
The love of my life was not in that room.
"If you change your mind, ya know where to find me, Eve."
I smiled and left without another word.
I knew I’d regret my momentary madness later, but as I was leaving the place that I built for the one man I could never have, I uttered a silent prayer. And i meant it from the bottom of my heart.
I wished us both luck, in one day finding true happiness.
So long, my Knight. May you find Her among a cluster of a trillion stars.
From the Memoirs of Eve, the architect of Lothario