Dima had a small circle of friends. In fact, there were times I thought it was tiny. That it only included me. But one night we were headed to a birthday party the likes of which I hadn’t come across before. It was extravagant. And though by the time of the party I had been exposed to my share of extravagance, this topped it all. To be perfectly honest, it made me feel uncomfortable. And I’d be lying if I referred only to the money aspect.
Hector Rodrigo Lopez’s birthday party was celebrated in the island of Cyprus, amongst the gems of the Mediterranean Sea. It was late in the summer, August the twentieth if my memory serves me right.The party was taking place at a floating bar of a lavish beach hotel. Dima wore a black linen pair of trousers, a matching loose-fitted shirt with his collar lifted upwards just the right level of messy and tan leather loafers. I felt comfortable in a strapless mini chiffon dress, the colour of the midnight sky. Dima said it complemented my olive skin tone and that I should wear it more often. All I could think of was how long it would take him to peel it off me. As we talked and laughed and slow-danced, I would occasionally lick my lips simply to taste the saltiness; the sea-breeze carried with it salty moisture and I enjoyed how it gently cloaked my skin.
Being deeply and irrevocably in love with Dima didn’t leave me much liberty to admire other men, but it was impossible to ignore the strong presence of Hector Rodrigo Lopez. Tall, with a naturally tanned, wheat-coloured skin tone and collar-length dark hair, his dark piercing eyes, were not only striking but also immensely inquisitive and expressive. While his eyes didn’t reveal what he was thinking, they did reveal who intrigued him. His Argentinian-accented English made him, I suppose, a rather ‘menacing’ male combination for women. I knew then that if my heart wasn’t already taken (conquered, claimed and voluntarily handed over, all together) I’d be in serious trouble.
In his La Martina bright blue polo-shirt snug tightly over his toned biceps and in tailored faded jeans, Hector Rodrigo Lopez moved from hug to hug until he welcomed all fifty of his precious guests at the party. We drank vodka and Cristal and nibbled on caviar, sushi and golden flaked pralines -among the birthday boy’s favourites. Quite a few champagne glasses later, I escaped a rather boring friend of Hector who wanted to discuss the latest fashion trends of Milan, and took cover at the small pier by the edge of the floating bar facing the moonlighted horizon. I was thinking of Dima, of the official opening of the Bella Nars Foundation in late autumn and how incredibly busy I’d be when Hector Rodrigo Lopez brushed past me along the small pier.
“It is magnificent, no?” he said, pointing at the moon.
“It sure is,” I agreed. “Where’s Dima,” I asked him turning round to look for my beloved Russian.
“Oh, he was speaking to Sofia, have you met, Sofia?” he asked, and took a step closer. He swiftly ran his arm over my shoulders before saying “come here, I’ll show you, she’s that tall blonde beauty over there,” pointing at Sofia’s direction with his other arm. I saw Sofia alright, and yes, she was tall, platinum blonde, a real beauty too, but Dima wasn’t there with her. I admit that I felt a bit awkward with this sudden proximity, but I’ve learned not to judge people until I’ve actually had a chance to get to know them. As a precautionary measure, I took a couple of steps on the side avoiding Hector’s embrace discreetly while complaining about the humidity. Before he had a chance to say anything I remarked on how delicious his birthday cake tasted.
“I had it delivered from Laduree patisserie of Paris, this morning,” he boasted.
“Really?” I wasn’t truly amazed. I’d have preferred if he got something local instead. I mean come on Hector, it’s not like we’ve never been to Laduree in Paris. Surely, Cyprus patisseries could accommodate a high-end demand for delectable birthday cakes.
“Come with me,” he said, presumably responding to me petting his ego. I promised myself I’d stop using ego boosts as a manuevre but sometimes it’s too tempting not to.
He grabbed my hand to lead me away from the small pier but I pretended to trip over the foamy plastic nuggets that made the bar float, and held back.
“Something wrong?” he asked. And I guess nothing was wrong, but I sort of wanted to be with Dima. Plus I sort of felt weird having Hector hold my hand. My angel must have sensed my calling because before I had to reply to Hector, I saw Dima walk towards us in his proud stride that made me sigh sigh sigh.
“Of course not,” I eventually replied to Hector. “Let’s go. Dima can walk with us,” I said pointing at my man in the distance.
When Dima finally took hold of my hand – my much coveted hand as it turned out that night- our fingers intertwined and I felt safe again. Thus more able to smile, to laugh, to be interested in a conversation. Dima’s soft kisses on my forehead and my hand while he spoke with Hector made me realise that he felt comfortable with Hector, to show him this significantly personal side of his. It was the first time I met Hector, but already I knew that he was special to Dima. The more I listened to both of them speak, the more it became apparent that they were like brothers. I wondered what could bring a Russian metal tycoon so close to an Argentinian retail mega-magnet. What was it that they had in common other than their mythical fortunes?