Page 37 of An Amazon Affair

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He’s staring at me with that look again—like I’ve surprised him, like I’m new. And I bask in it. I’d like to bask in it a lot longer than today.

“I know,” he says softly. “I see.”

I smile back at him. “I may need a tour guide in Manaus...from time to time.”

“A tour guide,” he repeats, his voice uncertain.

“A friend?”

His lip curls up in a sneer. “A friend?”

I laugh softly, because we still need to learn so much about each other, but what I feel for Rio already surpasses friendship.

“More than a friend,” I say softly. “But only if that’s what you want, too.”

“Yesterday didn’t answer that question for you?”

“A lot happened yesterday,” I remind him.

He nods at me, his eyes dark and full of possibilities. “I want that too, Yara.”

My stomach fills with butterflies as he saunters away to see if the Schlemmers want an umbrella, leaving me with a delectable view of his ass.


When Rio knocks onmy door that night at eleven, I’m surprised he doesn’t step inside my room right away. He kisses my lips tenderly, then leans back.

“Put on some jeans, get a sweater and come with me,” he says softly, flicking a glance at the small silver urn on my bedside table. “And bring your father.”

I do as he asks, quickly changing from my pajamas into clothes and carefully cradling my father’s ashes in both hands as I follow Rio down the corridor. He leads me downstairs, through the employee quarters, and out a door that leads directly to the dock. Waiting for us there is a canoe with four lanterns, all burning softly.

He puts his arms around me and looks down at my face.

“Do you know where we are?”

I shake my head, my emotions making it hard to speak.

“Close to Miraflores. Just upriver is Uarini. Your father’s birthplace, yes?”

Tears fill my eyes, and I can barely swallow over the lump in my throat. I jerk my head in a nod, holding tightly to my father’s ashes, the urn pressing against my heart.

“I thought you might want to...”

He tilts his head to the side in question, and understanding his meaning and intention, I nod again, letting him help me into the canoe.

The Amazon is a different place at night: a symphony all its own. It’s ancient and eternal, with mysterious calls and soft chitters, insects chirping their hearts out, faraway growls and quiet whooshes. There’s a reason it’s the sound used in spas to relax customers and in nurseries to help babies go to sleep. It’s the sound of the earth, at her most primeval, at her strongest and most timeless.

Water laps softly against the boat as Rio paddles us into the center of the river, his face insanely handsome by the warm light of the lanterns. My stomach buzzes. The lump in my throat eases a little.

The nearness of you, I think tonight, in a 180? shift from last night,is the best possible thing for me.

He pulls the paddles inside the canoe and looks at me, his face kind. “Whenever you’re ready.”


“Yes. Here. These are his waters. This was his first home. You have returned him to where he began.”

Something splashes softly on the surface of the water, and I imagine it’s a pink dolphin telling me it’s okay:It’s good. It’s fine. It’s time. You’ve brought your father home, Yara-the-Warrior-Princess, and he would be pleased.

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