Undeniable (Indulgence) - Aleatha Romig



Years ago

As the waves crash over the sand and shells, my eyes go to the man standing thigh deep in the water. I hold my breath as the ocean laps around his legs, each wave licking the hem of his bathing suit. He’s solid and unmoving as he stands watching over the sea. The salt-filled breeze blows his dark hair away from his face, revealing handsome features that I can't even begin to describe.

His eyes are covered with sunglasses, yet I know their color—green like his daughter’s, like my best friend's.

I don't understand his mood. It’s as if he isn’t watching a beautiful scene, as if he’s a million miles away instead of on the beach in the most amazing place I’ve ever been. I can’t keep my eyes off of him though I know it’s wrong. I'm too young to understand this kind of attraction, yet I'm drawn to him.

I try to think of stories.

Is it the way Cinderella felt when she saw Prince Charming for the first time?

Jasmine, when she saw Aladdin?

Maybe it's more like Belle when she met the beast.

Mr. Hamilton isn't scary like the beast; however, there is something about the way I feel when I’m around him that makes me feel off-balance.

He isn’t like the boys at Becky's and my school. He isn’t a boy. He’s a man, and for the first time that I can remember, I wish I were a woman. Though it doesn't matter. He doesn't even notice me. Why would he? I'm just a little girl, his daughter's friend.

It's not as if I'm trying to feel different around him—I don't want to. After all, he’s my best friend’s dad. But Mr. Hamilton doesn’t look like a dad—not like my dad. My dad wears dark socks with his shorts and sandals. His legs are pale from working inside all the time. My dad tells stupid jokes and then laughs when no one else does.

That’s what dads do.

Becky’s dad doesn’t do any of those things.

Shaking my head, I do my best to tuck the feelings away.

No matter what we try, some memories never go away.


I brush the lint from my black top and skirt. It's the same outfit I wear when I'm working at the Ritz’s upscale restaurant. Since event planning is my intended major, a teacher at my high school thought it would be a good idea to get some practical experience, plus she knew I needed the money.

It must have worked because I'm starting university in less than a month.

Though my grandparents are helping with my expenses, every little bit of extra money is a plus. That's why, after a one-to-six shift at the Ritz, I agreed to work this private dinner party. After all, private parties are events. My boss, Cindy, did the planning, but she's been great about letting me help with the organization.

I was a little surprised when she asked me to help with this event—it isn't that large. But once I was here at this beautiful home, I was very glad she did.

Now, at a little after midnight, absolutely dead on my feet and ready to slip out of these three-inch black heels, I can finally take a satisfied deep breath.

"Good job, Sophie," Cindy says. "I knew when Mr. Hamilton asked for you, you'd do a great job."

My tired mind deciphers her words. "What? He asked for me? You didn't tell me that."

She grins. "I didn't need to. You said yes when I asked." She pats my shoulder. "Go on and go home. You have to be beat. Everything is wrapped up here. Do you need a ride?"

I let my gaze move to the large windows overlooking the pool and deck. Imagining my grandparents’ house, all stuffy and covered in doilies, I long for the fresh air and sea breeze. "I should take a ride, but I think first I'll make sure everything is put away out on the deck, and then I'll call an Uber."

"Are you sure? I don't mind driving you."

I know my grandparents’ home is out of her way, and she is just being nice.

"I'm good," I say with a smile. I really should buy a car, but I can't spare the cash. I need every cent for university and expenses. Since my parents died and I moved in with my grandparents, they have done their best. My grandpa even lets me drive his car, but it isn't right to leave them without one. I mean, they're old.

What if something happened?

"Here." Cindy slips me a