"What am I supposed to wear tonight?" she asked him as he sat down beside her in the sand.
"Helena, I shouldn't have to tell you how to dress," he said. "You look marvelous in anything."
They had a dinner invitation at the home of the former Governor of the Bahamas, a man Bond had known for many years. They had become friends after a dinner party at which the Governor had presented Bond with a theory concerning love, betrayal, and cruelty between marriage partners. Calling it the "quantum of solace," the Governor believed that the amount of comfort on which love and friendship is based could be measured. Unless there is a certain degree of humanity existing between two people, he maintained, there can be no love. It was an adage Bond had accepted as a universal truth.
The Governor had long since retired but had remained in Nassau with his wife. Bond had made it a point to stop in and see him every time he went through the Bahamas, which wasn't very often. When Bond went to the Caribbean, it was usually to his beloved Shamelady in Jamaica.
Helena reclined and looked at Bond with her bewitching, almond-shaped green eyes. She was beautiful-wet or dry-and could easily have been a fashion model. Unfortunately, she was Bond's personal assistant at SIS, where they both worked. So far they had kept their affair a secret. They both knew that if they carried on much longer, someone at the office would find out. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with it, but office romances in this day and age were frowned upon. Bond justified it to himself because there had been a precedent. Several years ago he had been romantically involved with another personal assistant, Mary Goodnight. How could he forget their time together in Jamaica during the Scaramanga case?
Helena was different from Mary Goodnight. A thoroughly modern woman of thirty-three, Helena Marksbury had none of Ms. Goodnight's charming yet scatterbrained personality. She was a serious girl, with weighty ideas about politics and current events. She loved poetry, Shakespeare, and fine food and drink. She appreciated and understood the work Bond did and considered her own job just as important in the scheme of things at SIS. She also possessed a stubborn moral conscience that had taken Bond several months to penetrate before she agreed to see him socially.
It had begun in the courtyard in the back of Sir Miles Messervy's house, Quarterdeck, near Great Windsor Park. The occasion was a dinner party held there a year earlier, and the mutual physical attraction between Bond and Helena had become too much for them to ignore. They had gone for a walk outside and ended up kissing behind the house in the rain. Now, after three months of false starts and two months of cautious experimentation, Bond and Helena were dating. While they both acknowledged that their jobs came first, they enjoyed each other's company enough to keep it going casually. Bond felt comfortable with Helena's level of commitment, and the sex was outstanding. He saw no reason to rock the boat.
There was no mistaking the invitation in her eyes, so Bond settled next to her wet body and kissed her. She wrapped one slinky leg around his thighs and pulled him closer.
"Do you think we're all alone?" she whispered.
"I hope so," he replied, "but I don't really care at this point, do you?" He slipped the straps off her shoulders as she tugged at his bathing trunks.
"Not at all, darling," she said breathlessly. She helped him remove her bikini, and then his strong, knowing hands were all over her. She arched her back and responded with soft moans of pleasure.
"Take me now, James," she said softly in his ear. "Here."
She didn't have to ask him twice.
This excerpt reprinted from HIGH TIME TO KILL by Raymond Benson by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 1999 by Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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