The first day we do the usual touristy stuff. We go see the Falkirk Wheel that lifts the ferries in the canal, and visit the Edinburgh, Dunnottar, and Sterling Castles.
The next day we go to the royal gardens and then, the whole point of the trip, Loch Ness. Loch Ness is a giant lake that looks more like a still ocean. You can’t see the other side even with binoculars. Only steamboats are allowed on the lochs to keep from polluting the water. Max and I ride one of the boats, a large white barge that reminds me of something out of a Mark Twain novel.
The wind on my face numbs my cheeks and I can’t feel my fingers, but I love it. There aren’t many people on the boat and we’re alone on the deck. Max stands behind me, his arms around my waist, keeping the rest of me warm. He lays his chin on my shoulder.
“Do you see it?” he says.
He points into the distance. “Over there.” I strain my eyes, but all I see is a lump of wood floating on the surface. “It’s Nessie.”
I give him a playful jab in the stomach with my elbow and he makes an exaggerated “oomph” sound before laughing.
I watch the smooth gray surface, waiting for any kind of ripple or disturbance in the water. According the tour guide, this is where most of the sighting of Nessie have happened.
“I love being here with you,” he says in my ear, kissing my earlobe. I lean into him, savoring the warmth of his breath on my cold skin. His thumb brushes the swell beneath my breasts. I’m not sure if he’s aware of where his hands are since I have a bulky jacket on, but I’m as aware of his touch as much as I would be if I were naked. It sends chills up and down my arms. My body wakes up, forgetting about the cold.
I move my hips ever so slightly and he responds by pressing up against me.
“Maybe we should head back to our room after this,” I tell him.
“What about Nessie?” he asks.
“Nessie has been around since 1933. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”
I feel the low rumble of his laughter and him getting hard as he presses against me.
As soon as the boat docks, we head back to the room. He doesn’t waste any time stripping me out of my clothes. This isn’t a romantic coupling like those we shared in the mountains of Peru. Right now we’re feeding a craving that our bodies need, a primeval desire.
He’s rougher than usual, yanking my clothes off with brute strength, ripping at my panties and tearing them in half. I’m so fucking turned on as he slaps my ass and pulls my hair. He uses what’s left of my panties to tie my hands behind my back.
Whatever has gotten into him is wild and desperate and I’m loving every minute of it. As soon as we landed, I’d bought a bottle of lube—it definitely wasn’t something I wanted to bring on the plane and have TSA question me about.
“Look in the bedside table,” I tell him.
He opens the drawer and pulls out the bottle. “You might need that,” I say. “Depending on what you’re planning.”
He has a certain laugh when he’s excited that’s different than his usual life. It’s funny and adorable. “I like the way your mind works,” he says.
We spend the next few hours having the best sex we’ve ever had together. For my part, it’s the best sex I’ve ever had. I have a feeling it is with him too because when we’re done, he’s full of compliments and cuddles.
Afterwards we go to dinner at a traditional pub. Both of us are starving after the bedroom Olympics we just put ourselves through.
Max sips the foam off the top of his pint and licks the bubbly mustache it left behind with the tip of his tongue. The lighting is dim and makes him look mysterious and sexy. Why am I so turned on right now after everything we just did?
He asks, “What are your plans after you’re done with the bucket list?”
That calms the flame. I look up at the TV in the corner of the pub above the bar. There’s a soccer game playing—football as they call it in Europe.
“I don’t know. I try not to think about it. I’m afraid once I finish the list, Kia will feel gone for real. Without her, I’m not certain of my future. She’s such a huge part of my past that I don’t know who I am without her.”