The Billionaire's Salvation

By: J.S. Scott
February, 2011

 Max Hamilton stood on the sandy stretch of beach at the back of his home, shivering as he stared blankly at the ocean, and scowling at the water crashing to the shore as though it were the enemy. The night was nearly pitch-black, but there was enough illumination from the moon and stars to see the churning ocean in front of him. In a very elemental way, it was his nemesis, the body of water that had taken Mia away from him. And at the moment, he resented every drop of water in the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhere, his wife was lifelessly floating in this body of water, buried in a watery grave, and he could feel her moving farther and farther away from him. It was as though she had torn his heart from his chest and carried it with her, and he was standing here helplessly, bleeding out from the gaping wound.

 He put a hand to his chest and rubbed, but it didn’t stop the excruciating pain.

 No…dammit. She can’t be gone. I thought I had plenty of time to figure out my irrational emotions. I thought I could work everything out of my system and love her the way she deserved to be loved.

 His legs weak, he dropped to the sand on his ass, the moisture sinking into the denim of his jeans, but he ignored it, his gaze fixated on the water. He was too numb to feel the external elements, too devastated to care, his whole being focused on Mia, as though he could bring her back by sheer force of will. He ignored not only the chill of the wind buffeting his body, which was clad only in a t-shirt and jeans, but the mosquitoes making a meal of his exposed flesh, and the excruciating sense of loss that was so painful he had to block it or go insane.

 Every muscle in his body was tense, his fists clenched, his brain trying to keep his emotions in check. To mourn would mean that he was accepting the fact that Mia was gone forever, and he didn’t want to believe it. Screw it. He’d stay in denial. If he accepted that she had drowned off the shore of this very beach, he’d never live through the agony of it.

 Max Hamilton didn’t cry. Never had. Even when his parents had been killed in a tragic accident, he’d buried the urge, knowing they’d be ashamed of him. No Hamilton wallowed in emotion or let it overrule logic and control. He knew his parents had loved him, but they had been born into wealth, and they’d always taught him how to behave with decorum and moderation. His mom and dad always said he was a perfect child, and they were proud of him. Having been adopted, Max had always wanted to stay perfect, and he’d tried, even after they’d died. The habit of trying to stay aloof and detached was something he associated with love and approval. Now, he wasn’t so sure, his gut telling him that Mia may have died never knowing exactly how he felt about her.

 Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling very level or solid at the moment, and his usual Hamilton demeanor was deserting him completely.

 Mia had disappeared from this spot exactly one week ago—her bag, clothing, and phone left on this stretch of sand. She’d always loved to take a quick swim here, calling it her own little piece of paradise.

 Closing his eyes, Max pictured her face, her mischievous expression and teasing smile. Christ, how he hated it when she went swimming alone, did things that he considered dangerous. He’d lectured her like a teacher might do with a student, but she’d always laughed at him, cajoling him out of his anger, telling him he was too serious and worried too much. Problem was, he never could stay angry with her. Damn woman had had him wrapped around her little finger almost from the moment they had met, and he had happily let her do it. He’d cautioned her when she’d done things that worried the shit out of him. And then, he’d let her go on her merry way, let her think he was only mildly concerned, when in reality, he was fucking terrified of losing her.

 He was the serious one, the man who did everything cautiously and logically. And Mia…ah Mia: she made him happy, she made him laugh, she made him whole, and she made him want to lose control completely. But he never had. Not once. He’d managed to leash the bestial instincts she brought out in him. Just barely.

 “It was our deal,” he whispered hoarsely, although the actual agreement had never been official or talked about. “I handled the serious stuff and you helped me lighten up.” She made him laugh when he got too stuffy, and he grounded her. Together, they were perfection. Or maybe Mia was perfection, and she just made him a happier man. It didn’t matter that he had to fight the urge to turn into a caveman and conquer her constantly, wanting to drag her back to his lair. But she had never known about that, the secret part of him that really wanted to be free.

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