More Than Words

tagFirst TimeMore Than Words

This is my contribution to the Author challenge 'A Song from My Story, a Story for My Song. Please remember to vote at the end and thanks for taking the time to read.
A special thanks goes to my editors and beta readers:
Carrteun, Ravey19, B00kl0ver314 and AussieGuy52
Copyright (c) 2020 Ada Stuart, All Rights Reserved.
This work may not be published whether for fee or free without this copyright.
———————
A few words from the author:
Among all the daft pop music I've listened to over the years, there's one song that instantly spoke to me. It's quite a simple one with only two guys and a guitar. But the lyrics have always stuck in my mind. Because they meant something to me. They meant more than just… words. And I think we all need that reminder. That it's not what you say that matters most – it's what you do.
Enjoy and take care!
Ada
'More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know'
– Lyrics from the song 'More than words', released in 1991 by Extreme

***
Chapter 1
"Hi, Nicholas," Maya said as she stepped out of the taxi.
"Long time, Maya," Nicholas said. "Come inside before you freeze to death."
He held the door to the large lodge he owned open. He didn't look particularly pleased to be saddled with her, Maya noticed. No wonder. Nicholas had his own life, his own company and plenty of other women he wanted to be with.
"Gee! You look terribly pleased with being stuck with the babysitting duty this year. Am I ruining your chances of a romantic tryst?"
"I'll survive," he said nonchalantly.
Maya had no doubt he would. Women had lined up for him ever since he came into his teens and grew to 1.9 meters in height. Since then, Nicholas had matured in all the right ways. He was a stunningly handsome man with dark hair and green eyes. His reserved manner and wealth meant his bed was empty only if he wanted it to be.
He'd come a long way since the night his parents threw him out and Maya's parents practically adopted him. She could still remember the haunted expression on his face. The way he shied away from human contact and refused to care about anyone or anything. Gradually he'd changed. Particularly after her father took him under his wings and helped him get an education and a job. She believed the pain of his parent's rejection still haunted him, but he hid it better these days.
He didn't seem to want to settle down. He was always striving for something more. Something else. Even though closing on his thirties.
Oh well, Maya didn't mind. She liked having the opportunity to tease him about his age. It seemed to be her mission in life. To tease him until he laughed or returned the favour. It was either tease him or stare at him. And the latter wasn't an option she considered.
Nicholas never thought about her romantically. It would be a miracle if he stopped thinking of her as a child. Maybe he simply refused to accept it. He always treated her as his kid sister. Too stupid for her own good. Always needing him to rescue her.
If that were the only way she could hang out with him, so be it. She could always throw herself into the pool at the deep end. Or climb the tree her parents tried to keep her out of. It made it all worthwhile if Nicholas rescued her and reprimanded her. She adored him. Even when he teased her about her recklessness for months afterwards.
She craved his attention. No doubt about it. Good or bad, his attention was always better than being ignored.
"Where are the folks?" Nicholas asked as he showed her to her room for the weekend.
It was the same room she always used when she visited his lodge. The room was next to his. He probably thought it would keep her out of trouble. He was wrong about that, though. Maya had plans for this weekend. Great plans.
"They're on their way to some mountain in Italy," she said.
"Why didn't you join them?"
"And endured endless business meetings? No, thanks. You know what they're like."
"Yeah. I do," Nicholas said.
For many years it had mostly been her and Nicholas at home. After many years of hard work, her beloved parents had suddenly struck gold, so to speak. Overnight, the family business had received several large deals. Turning their worlds upside down.
Financially, it was a success, but the downside was the long hours her parents put into it. She couldn't blame them for following their dream. They loved their work and their travels around the globe. But it had made them more absent than present. Letting her and Nicholas to be tended by an endless string of servants unless her grandparents had some time.
She had been only eight years old when it had started. Nicholas was five years older than her and he had taken over at a substitute parent for her, even if he wasn't more than a kid. It had made their bond become even stronger than before.
They had been close then. Her and Nicholas. Spending time together, sharing meals. But after a while, he didn't want to spend time with his younger 'stepsister'. He was busy with his studies. He moved away. Leaving her alone with the servants in the large otherwise empty mansion.
When they met during the holidays, it was never the same as when they were young. He'd become a handsome stranger. A big, closed-off man. Always hampered by a string of men and women desperate for his attention. Maya knew the desperation. She'd been following him around for many years. Always waiting and wishing for him to turn around and talk to her. Maya learnt more about his life from reading the tabloids than from family gatherings or conversations with him.
It was almost like he kept something back. Something she knew was there. The friendship they had shared and the knight in shiny armour who was always there for her when she needed him. She knew Nicholas was still that hero she'd always worshipped.
In the business world, Nicholas was considered a genius. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Anyone lucky enough to do business with him prospered. He deserved it. She'd seen how hard he'd worked. How many years he'd struggled to become what he was today. His wealth was almost expected. She hoped it made him happy.
She had always admired him. Envied his calm and his strength. He could always make her laugh. Forget that her parents were absent, too busy for their daughter. But these days she hardly saw him at all. When she contacted him, he never had time. Even when she managed to slip past the string of assistants and secretaries managing his phone and office.
She had decided to do the same. Ignore him. The way he ignored her. Going about her own business and making her own friends. Her family wasn't there. Always busy with their companies and endless business meetings. Working their way into more wealth than they'd ever need. Buying a string of houses around the world that they never set foot in.
Maya felt like she had been born into the wrong family. She was so different from her parents. They were outgoing and loved to have the company of other people. Maya had always preferred reading a book instead of attending parties. She adored her parents but sometimes they were really exhausting to be around.
Nicholas had once seemed like her, after he'd opened up. But as he grew older, his ambitions had risen. He turned into the same kind of man her father was. Starting his own company and always working. Nicholas admired her father. Maybe Nicholas felt he had to prove himself by becoming as wealthy as her father. Or even worse. To outdo his teacher by becoming even wealthier.
Money wasn't everything in life, Maya sighed. Not as long as you had enough to get by. But the people around her seemed to believe it could solve any problem. Maya knew differently. She'd always had plenty of pocket money. That was never a problem. But what good was the money? What she really wanted, needed was attention. To have someone sitting opposite her. Someone to share meals with. Someone to watch a movie with her. To talk to her. To enjoy her company.
Maya still remembered the early days when they were like an ordinary family. The money had been scarce, but she had felt safe and happy to have Nicholas and her family around her. She knew what a real family was like. She had seen and read about it. Observed and listened to her friends when she spent time with them. Arguments and noise. Complaints about siblings for hours on end. All she wanted was a little time in her friend's shoes.
Luckily, she had spent a lot of time with her grandparents when they were still alive. They were all gone now. But in those days, she had felt as if she part of a real family. She missed it.
"Get a boyfriend instead," one of her friends had suggested.
Maya had tried that as well. But the men she'd met only saw the dollar signs on her inheritance. The money that would be hers when she turned 30. They never saw the person. She had been naive at first. But over time she learnt the real reason they were interested in her. She knew it was usually the money that drew people to her. Not her vibrant personality or the way she looked.
"If you only would get that plastic surgery, you would be absolutely gorgeous," her mother often told her.
What sort of mother would suggest something like that? She was just a normal woman. During her younger years, she had a few extra kilos. It didn't help her confidence. Over the years, she'd become slender. Exercised more. But she didn't want to use a lot of makeup or Botox to hide minor imperfections.
What was the point? If someone could only see her money and her appearance, she didn't want to be with that person.
***
"It's good to see you again, Miss Maya," a tall suited man said as Maya entered the living room.
Her mouth turned into a broad smile.
"Mark," she beamed at Nicholas's security expert and bodyguard.
She had known him for years after he'd been employed by her parents. Nicholas had been clever enough to double his salary and tempt him to work for him instead as soon as he could afford it.
"How are the kids?" Maya asked.
"Growing like weeds," Mark said and chuckled. "Lucy says we need to stop feeding them candy."
"Maybe you should cut down on the carrots instead," Maya suggested.
Mark laughed heartily as he located some pictures of his beloved wife and their two children. Maya was always happy to meet him and talk. He was like the father she'd always wished she had.
"So, what's our rascal up to these days?" she asked Mark.
"Business and more business."
"How boring."
"He's a boring man," Mark said and grinned.
"Not a single pink silk panties floating around in the hallway?" Maya teased.
"Not yet."
"How dull. Those skinny bitches are just as lifeless as they appear then?"
"You know the drill."
"I think we should spice up his food just to break the routine."
"Leave me out of it," Mark said and laughed. "I'm a terrible liar."
"No, you're not. You just start laughing at the wrong time."
"Exactly. I could never lie to Nicholas. Even when you were kids."
"You just need to practice more, Mark."
"I'll leave the pranks to you, Miss Maya."
"Cut the formality, Mark. Just call me Maya. I've told you so many times."
"Yes, Maya," he said and smiled.
***
Later in the evening, many guests arrived from the neighbouring lodges and hotels. Most of them were business associates of Nicholas. The man had no idea how to take a break, Maya thought as she watched the endless line of people pouring inside.
Nicholas had hired staff to serve the food and drank as well as attend to the guests. There was nothing for Maya to do. Except dress nicely and smile. She hated these gatherings. Eating canapes and sucking up to other people. She'd been forced to do it all her life. But she didn't feel comfortable in the role she was expected to play.
Luckily, Nicholas didn't want her to be a hostess. He did that himself. But there were plenty of women that tried to be the hostess. It was almost comical to watch them struggle to be the one standing close to him. Using their elbows to push away the competition.
She watched as one of the women pushed her competitor a little too hard. Her target stumbled into the wall. She returned the favour by stepping on the toes of her assailant with her stiletto heels.
Maya giggled out loud and moved her hand up to cover her mouth. Oops. She had meant to to hide her amusement. But it had been so ridiculous she couldn't hold back.
Nicholas gave her a brief look. She saw his lips twitch into a smile. Maya gave him a broad smile, making it evident she had seen how he lost his scowl for a second.
There was an endless string of guests to greet. Maya soon gave up trying to remember their names. She smiled and participated in the usual nonsense the guests wanted to talk about. She expected to hear about the weather at least ten more times this evening. To be repeatedly told how white the snow was and how slippery the roads were.
A young, blond man came up to Nicholas and started talking to him. He seemed nice, Maya thought. He smiled while he spoke and waved his arms to emphasise his words. Nicholas nodded regally as he pretended to listen. Not showing any signs of returning the man's brilliant smile.
Maya moved closer. Feeling curious.
"Aren't you going to introduce me, Nicholas?" she asked.
Maya smiled at the young man. He seemed to be only a few years older than her. He had a healthy complexion that showed he enjoyed spending time outside. The young man returned her smile.
"I'm Alfie, and I'm so pleased to meet such a lovely woman," he said and beamed at her. He held out his hand to greet her.
"This is my sister, Maya. Touch her and die," Nicholas said coldly.
The young man froze, and his hand stopped midair.
"Ignore him, Alfie," Maya said. "He's not my brother. He's just afraid I'll lose my V-card on his watch."
Both of them gawked at her.
"Hi, I'm Maya. I'm so pleased to meet you," she said and shook his hand. "I'm 23 by the way, so I make my own decisions."
"Dammit, Maya," Nicholas seethed beside her.
"Why don't you find a girlfriend to harass, Nicholas. I'm sure Alfie and I can find something interesting to talk about."
"Piss off, Alfie!" Nicholas said and grabbed Maya's arm. He pulled her away from the shocked young man.
Nicholas made her follow him into the hallway nearby. It was quiet. No one was near enough to hear. Maya sighed. Time for her reprimand. Great.
"Wow. That was subtle," Maya said. "I liked him. Why did you have to ruin it?"
"You can't just throw down the gauntlet and ask someone to take care of your virginity, Maya." Nicholas looked shocked.
"I didn't."
"I heard you, dammit! And I wonder who else heard? Talk about being stupid."
"I'm not a virgin," Maya said easily.
"I don't want to know, Maya. For god's sake. Watch what you're saying. These guys will eat you for breakfast if you let them."
"Then how come I'm here if you're worried I might do something wrong."
"Because I can't lock you in your room for six hours. Even if I wanted to," Nicholas said and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.
"If you gave me a stash of books I might have enjoyed being locked up more than attending this party," Maya said and pulled her arm away from him.
He let her go.
"Dammit," Maya muttered as she walked into the ladies' room to collect herself before she faced the crowd again.
Nicholas always seemed to get to her. No matter what she did or didn't do.
She hoped he hadn't caught her lie. He always seemed to know when she lied to him. But this time he'd probably been too shocked to figure it out.
She might still be a virgin, but she planned to fix that really soon. Hopefully this night. She just had to find a man she liked enough. Or she needed a lot more alcohol. She preferred the first. A man she liked.
***
As the evening went by, Maya remembered that small talk wasn't one of her fortes. The present conversation partners only emphasised what she already knew.
"You make fertilisers?" one of the older businessmen asked her.
Maya had been stupid enough to say she worked part-time for a chemical company. Working for money was a definite no-no among the wealthy. No one would have lifted an eyebrow if she'd told them she lived on her inheritance.
"Yes. But most of the time we try to improve the ones we already produce," Maya said.
Beside her, a young man laughed. He looked like some sort of rock star with long hair and a bored expression. "Seems like a waste of time and money. You only need a cow to make shit."
"But when you eat the cow, the shit stops coming," Maya retorted.
"Vegetarian," the businessman said as if he got a bad taste in his mouth. "I should have known. How come all chicks are vegetarian these days?"
"I'm not a vegetarian. Or a chick," Maya said.
A few boring minutes later, she excused herself, claiming she needed to refill her glass.
Were there really not any desirable men in this crowd? She hadn't met a single one who was both young and single. And no one she wanted to touch her. Maya had even seen some of the men hide their wedding ring while they tried to flirt with her. She wasn't that desperate.
A married man was not on her list at all. She wondered if Nicholas had scared away all the good ones or if there was simply no one around that she could consider giving her virginity to. Maybe she'd be better off taking one of those that saw the dollar signs instead of the real her.
No. She wasn't giving up. Not yet. There had to be someone out there for her. She just had to keep searching.
***
"Any chance of a kiss, sweetheart?" A man suddenly asked Maya.
Maya laughed at his question. "I don't even know you."
"We can change that real easy."
"Oh really?"
Maya looked at the handsome young man and wondered why she hadn't spotted him earlier. He seemed like a nice fellow. Or nice enough. If you saw past his slick facade and the cocky personality. He reminded her of Nicholas. She might as well give him a chance, she thought. There was nobody else around that drew her interest. This man might improve on closer acquaintance.
She spent some time talking to him before she had to excuse herself for some much needed time in the ladies room. When she came back she couldn't see the man she had been talking to. Instead Nicholas came toward her.
"Stay away from him," he said in a low voice.
For a moment, Maya felt confused. "Who are you talking about?"
"That man you just talked to."
"But he seemed like a nice man."
"He wants more than you want to give him."
"We were only talking."
"Exactly. He wants more than words. A lot more."
"Cool," Maya said and smiled.
"It's not cool. I want you to stay the hell away from him."
"You're not my keeper, Nicholas. Remember that. It's none of your business what I do."
"I'm making it my business. You're staying with me. For the rest of the evening and tonight."
"Not a chance. I have my own room."
"You're staying in mine. End of story. I don't trust you further than I can throw you."
Maya laughed. "So, you're babysitting me? How fitting. Has it occurred to you that I'm too old for a babysitter?"
He stared at her. Looking confused for some reason.
"Really. You'd be better off if you got laid, Nicholas. It might work wonders for that scowl of yours," Maya said and left him standing.
The victory was minor. Nicholas followed her around from that moment on. Turning his sharp eyes at every man that walked by her. Maya sighed. The men were avoiding her. Even more than earlier in the evening. It was all Nicholas' fault. He'd ruined all her plans.

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