I knew just where to find him. El Encantador, the Enchanter, never had a man been so worthy of his name and reputation. But tonight, it would be my turn to enchant and seduce.
Lifting my long hair off of my sweaty neck, I continued down Calle 10. It was eleven p.m. and the locals, revived by their afternoon siesta, shopped and visited with each other. I made a silent wish on the full moon.
Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm my racing heart–I only had one chance to make an impression on him. I hoped I didn’t have sweat patches on my red dancing dress. Nights in the Amazon were always hot and humid, but he would be cool and suave.
One more block to go. My high heels clicked on the sidewalk, and I kept my eyes down, careful not to step into a hole and twist my ankle. I walked next to the buildings, so that I didn’t get splashed by the puddled water from the afternoon rainstorm.
At last I reached Mossh Bar and opened the door. I paused in the entrance for a moment, savoring the cool air conditioning on my flushed skin. I felt the male gaze upon me, but I didn’t look towards the bar. I headed straight for the dance floor.
I could see him already. His white shirt and pants glowed in the ultraviolet lights that flashed in the club. He wore a hat, like always. My eyes swept the room, I wasn’t the only one who watched him. Every woman wanted him, they practically panted like jaguars in heat. How could they not? No man moved with such grace and skill.
Reggaeton blasted through the speakers, and his hips swayed with perfect Cuban motion as he danced the Cumbia. He had several partners, the women gathered in a circle around him. They waited for him to take their hand and spin them and, if they were lucky, to tuck them against his torso in a turn.
I watched him, planning my strategy. The song changed. He glided over to other women and danced the salsa with them. Most of the women were younger, in their twenties, with beautiful skin and tight bodies displayed in ripped jeans and midriff tops.
At thirty-two, I opted for the classy look. Red dress, black strappy heels and tasteful makeup with classic red lips. My hair had always been my best feature–thick, black and shiny with health. I swung my hair, and the motion caught his eye. He smiled at me over the shoulder of his dance partner.
Good. I licked my lips and let my glance travel to other men in the club, lest he sense he was my target. A guy in his late twenties asked me to dance. I took his hand, leading him to the center of the floor where El Encantador held court.
I smiled at my partner and sinuously moved my hips and long graceful arms. Echoing the traditional Cumbia moves, I held my skirt out to the side and raised one arm in the air. From the corner of my eye, I could see El Encantador nod in appreciation. I felt a bolt of attraction strike between us.
I closed my eyes and inhaled. I stopped thinking about him, about my partner, and about my plan. I lived in my body and lost myself in the music.
Growing up in a little Amazonian village in Colombia, I’d danced on our dirt floor to music over the radio. Everyone in the Village was my partner–young and old alike. I was like the girl in the red shoes, possessed by the urge to dance.
But, I soon longed for a bigger life outside of the Village. I knew education was my magic spear so I disciplined myself and focused on my school work. After eighth grade, I had to take a boat to the nearest port town and then sit on a bus for an hour to get to the closest secondary school. At first I had classmates making the journey with me. But as the years went on, they got married and settled down into the Village life of fishing and crafting. By my senior year I made the journey alone. Between the commute and my studies, there was little time for dancing.
Then I’d moved to Manaus, the big city, to attend the Universidad and pursue my medical degree. Eight long years. I’d lived life in my head. Studying, thinking, working. My body forgotten–a pair of legs to move my brain and a stomach to provide the fuel.
I’d tried dating my classmates, and even had a few flings, but there was never any chemistry. Men who live in their heads make poor lovers. I suppose I made a poor one back then too.
Me sentí como un pez fuera del agua; I felt like a fish out of water.
My body, my spirit, they longed for the River–the million shades of green, the monkeys leaping across the water, the chatter of jungle birds, and the lazy float of butterflies. My body missed swimming in the dark waters, gliding like a fish and twirling like a pink river dolphin.
To try and reclaim my spirit, I established my medical practice in Leticia. City enough to have supplies and culture, but still in the heart of my beloved Amazon jungle.
I felt hands on my waist, pulling me out of my dancing trance. I opened my eyes and stared into the hypnotic brown eyes of El Encantador. His gaze sent a quiver through my stomach and lower. I smiled and felt the warmth of his spirit, his energy, wrap around me like a wisp of sparkling smoke. I had him. He had me.
We danced together, and I knew all eyes were upon us. We were that beautiful couple on the dance floor that everyone envies. Cumbia, salsa, and cha cha–we knew them all and moved together as if we had been life-long partners. The music slowed to a rhumba, my favorite, the dance of seduction.
As we danced, my eyes traveled over his perfect body. I thought of all the rumors and facts that I knew about him, El Encantador.
Teenage girls, alone and with their mothers, women in their twenties and thirties, they all came to my clinic with their unplanned pregnancies. They all told the same story.
El Encantador, an incredibly handsome man wearing a hat and dressed in white would appear at a fiesta or a club. His wit and conversation, his charm and flirtation, but mostly his dancing, made him impossible to resist.
He would give her a perfect night, a memory to cherish. Even as they cried about their predicament, it was clear that a night in the arms of El Encantador was unforgettable. His whispered compliments, his perfect kisses, his smooth hands, his undivided attention…they all swore he’d ruined them for other men.
He also left them pregnant. Fathers hunted him down and demanded marriage for their daughters, but they would leave with nothing. The men said it was as if they went under a spell that forced them to drop their demands. Only one father ever attacked El Encantador. His lovers said you could see the pink scar from a knife when he took off his shirt. The attacker disappeared while fishing and the others took his overturned panga as a warning.
I was no teen with an overprotective father. I was a grown woman with needs, and desires, and the ability to satisfy them.
I leaned towards him and shouted over the music, “Let’s go somewhere quieter.”
He took my hand and led me off the dance floor and out the back of the club. The heavy door slammed, sounding like a portal cutting us off from civilization. He leaned against the wall and pulled my hips against his.
I put my hands on his chest, delighting in his pectoral muscles. “You have quite the reputation here in Leticia,” I said.
“Do I?” His voice was deep and the timber of it sent tingles up the back of my neck.
“So many women. So many broken hearts,” I smiled and slid a hand behind his neck. “What a naughty boy you are.”
His hand caressed my jaw, his thumb lingering on my lower lip. “And yet you stand here, unafraid.” His fingers traveled to the back of my head, threaded through my hair, and pulled me in for a kiss.
His kiss. How can I describe such a sensation in mere words? His lips were wet and soft, and he used just the right amount of pressure. As his kiss deepened, I sighed and relaxed into it. It was as though he were made for me. As though his kisses were exactly what my body had longed for. He made a groan and broke away.
“Incredible,” he whispered. “Your passion, your mouth, your aura,” he paused to kiss my lips lightly, then my nose, then between my eyebrows. Our eyes locked. “I can’t describe this. You’re both surrendering to me and commanding me.” He shook his head as if to clear it.
I leaned my forehead against his, and we inhaled and exhaled together. “I feel the same connection,” I whispered. “If I could spend the rest of my life doing nothing but kissing you that would be enough.”
I could feel the rumble of laughter through his body and leaned back to see his grin. “Ah, but there is so much more we can do than kiss, mi reina.”
“Show me,” I said and stepped backwards, lacing my hand through his.
He couldn’t seem to stop looking at me. His smile, the glint of light in his eyes, his energy, made me feel like the only woman in the world. He kissed my shoulder, and we walked down the street. It felt as though I had been beside him my entire life. The ease and comfort of his presence, it was as though we were gliding on a current.
“I live here, next to the river,” he said. His wooden home was on stilts so that it wouldn’t be flooded during heavy rains. He gestured towards the staircase. We climbed it, stopping for a kiss, a nip, a caress on each of the seven steps.
Once inside he pressed me against the wall. He raised my arms above my head, pinning me with his kisses. Then his lips trailed down my arm, and he French kissed my arm pit.
I tried to pull my arm down, embarrassed, but he murmured, “Just relax, let me please you.” I obeyed and arousal flooded me. My knees buckled, and I slid down the wall a little. “I knew you’d like that,” he said. I could only nod.
He continued to explore my body with his kisses. He turned me in his arms, lifted my hair and kissed the nape of my neck, across my shoulders and down my back. I felt drunk with desire. He slid my dress off my shoulders and it puddled at my feet. He continued to kiss his way down my back. His hands were strong and pressed against my skin as though trying to feel the contour of every muscle.
He wrapped his hands around my legs and stroked them from ankle to thigh. “Beautiful legs. So long and graceful. I love the way you move.” He lifted my foot, and I leaned against the wall as he undid the buckle and removed my shoe. “I love these red candy toes,” he said as he sucked on them. I felt a flash of insecurity, thinking I should have washed my feet. He seemed to read my mind. “Just be natural. Get out of your head and into your body, become an animal.”
Before my thinking mind could obsess over his strange statement, he had removed my second shoe and lifted me in his arms. I gasped, thrilled to feel small and delicate as he carried me to the bed.
His adoration of my body continued, kissing and caressing every part of me. I had never experienced such a generous lover. I kissed the pink scar on his side, caressed his back, squeezed his muscular arms, but when I started to run my fingers through his hair he gently pulled my hands away.
“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than a fully aroused woman,” he said. I could see in his eyes that he meant every word. “Just let me adore you. You don’t need to do a thing.” I surrendered and all that existed was that moment and our bodies.
Our joining was blissful and exquisite. I returned to reality as he climaxed inside of me.
At last I will have a baby, I thought, feeling a surge of victory.
We cuddled in the afterglow, and I reflected on how well my plan had worked. This had been my intention all along. I didn’t need a man. I had my clinic and could financially support myself. All I needed was a child to feel complete.
El Encantador will walk away, no strings attached. I’ll be free, just like I wanted. Right? I pushed away the sadness that flooded me at that thought.
“What are you thinking?” he asked, kissing my forehead.
“Why do you ask?” I crawled on top of him, loving the way my body aligned with his. My fingers played with his soft chest hair. I tried to distract myself and keep my mood from spiraling.
He pulled me down for a French. It was deep and seemed to go on for eternity. It felt like a promise.
Stop getting emotional, this is just the bonding hormones, I scolded myself and broke off the kiss.
“You don’t need to feel sad,” he said. “Now that I’ve found you, I’m not letting you go,” he held my face between his hands. “I mean it. I know my reputation but this–you–are different.”
He rolled so that I landed on the side of him. He leaned on his elbow and his gaze speared me. “Do you know who–what–I am?” he asked.
I sat up in bed, unable to meet his eyes. I twisted the sheet in my hands. “I’ve heard the rumors…but they are just legends, right? Stories abuelas tell the children.”
“What have you heard?” He prodded.
“That you are El Encantador, the shapeshifting pink dolphin.” I awkwardly laughed. “I know it’s nonsense, but it’s because you are so magnetic that people think you have to be a magic being, not a mere human.”
“It’s true.” His words landed between us like a judge’s gavel hitting a sound block.
I looked at him, my head shaking of its own accord. “No, don’t tease me. I’m a woman of science. Magic isn’t real.”
He smiled and his hand traveled up my leg, to my torso, and rested on my heart. I could feel it racing, and I suspected that he could too. “How can you say what happened between us wasn’t magic?”
I placed my hand over his. “It was magical. But, come one, don’t tell me you’re a dolphin.”
“Feel the top of my head.” He guided my hand. There, beneath his thick black hair, I felt it–a blow hole. I jerked my hand away.
I started to get out of the bed but he grabbed my arm. “Why are you running away? I’m the same person I was a minute ago.”
“No you aren’t. You’re…a monster.” His face fell. Despair, betrayal flashed for a brief moment and then he hid it behind his anger.
“And you are a human.” He got out of bed and reached for his clothes. “Worse than any monster. You burn the rainforests, pollute the water, kill the animals, and even change the climate.” Yanking his pants over his hips, he shook his head in disgust. “Why did I fool myself for one moment, hoping that you might be different?”
Now it was my turn to feel betrayed. “Burn the rainforests? I don’t do that! This is my home. I love nature. I love animals. I love Y–”
We both stared at each other as my unfinished word hung in the air between us. I bowed my head, unable to bear the intensity in his stare. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you that. It was stupid. I’m…I’m just…scared” I took a deep breath and looked up at him.
In an instant he crossed the room and pulled me into his arms. “Mi reina,” we kissed and a promise blossomed between us. “Don’t be frightened. I love you. I feel your animal spirit, I sensed it the moment I saw you. Please come with me, be with me–”
“Where?” I asked.
“Ecante, the kingdom of los delfines rosados. There is a portal in the depths of the Amazon River. We could live there with the rest of my pod.”
I hesitated. Give up the human world? Could I do that? I thought of my clinic and all the work that had gone into establishing it. Work. I realized that was all I had been doing for most of my life.
“Come with me,” he gestured towards his back door which fronted the river. I reached for my dress but he took it and tossed it onto the bed. “You won’t need that.” He removed his pants and, naked, the two of us walked down the stairs to a dock that floated on the river.
Leaving me, he jumped off the platform and disappeared into the murky water below. I leaned over the edge, searching for him, when a pink dolphin popped up.
“Oh! Is that you?” I asked. “You are beautiful!” Most pink dolphins have some gray on them, but he was entirely pink. As I stared at him, he flushed a brighter shade, almost as if he was blushing.
“Are you ready?” I heard his voice in my mind.
I closed my eyes and sent my thoughts to him, “Yes, change me,”
He dove down and came up with a stick of ironwood in his mouth. He spun in a circle and slapped the water three times with it.
Taking a deep breath, I jumped off the dock.
The change happened quickly, almost as if a sleeping bag had been pulled up from my feet to my head. My feet were gone and in their place was a tail.
I tentatively moved my body up and down. The strength of my torso caught me by surprise. Swimming took barely any effort. I swam to deeper water and experimented with my front flippers. By moving one forward and one backwards I could spin in a circle. My neck was flexible, and I could dart and turn with ease.
El Encantador appeared at my side. “What do you think?”
“It’s a miracle. As a kid I imagined what it would be like to swim like a dolphin, but I wasn’t even close.” He rubbed his nose on mine, a dolphin kiss.
“Follow me,” he said and swam towards the opposite side of the river which was dense with trees.
He swam through shallow water. I followed. He turned sharply, and we maneuvered through spaces tight with tree roots and stones. I never realized how nimble and graceful river dolphins could be.
The best part was the echolocation. Using clicks I could “see” in the cloudy water. It is nearly impossible to imagine as a human. The closest way I could describe it is to say a picture formed in my brain, almost like a 3-D fuzzy image.
And my mind! I complained that I had lived in my head as a human, but the intelligence I felt as a dolphin was beyond compare. My mind vibrated with curiosity. Everywhere I looked I wondered, and thought, and reasoned.
“Why are you ever a human?” I asked El Encantador. “Everything–my body, my intelligence–is better as a dolphin.”
“The dancing,” he said and leaped out of the water. “Swimming is wonderful, but dancing with legs is a unique sensation.”
I bumped his body as we swam side by side. “And the human women, I suppose, are an attraction too?”
“The sex, yes. Human women–present company excluded–are disappointing. How do I explain it? They live in their minds, with their fears and insecurities, but they don’t engage those same minds in curiosity and playfulness like dolphins do.” He slowed his pace, and we nuzzled. “And before tonight, I never met anyone who could dance as well as you.”
“Will I be able to shapeshift back into human form again?” I asked.
“Yes, you are now like me. We can travel to river towns and dance and make love as humans, whenever the mood strikes you. But, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how mating feels in this form too. It is 90% foreplay.”
“Hmm, that’s why you are such a good lover. Human males don’t seem to understand the importance of that.” I paused and savored the feelings in my new body. The exhale through my blowhole, the flip of my strong tail. “What will the baby be,” I paused. “If there is one, I mean.”
“Of course there is one,” he laughed and nipped at me. “You know my reputation.” He nuzzled my stomach. “Our baby will be a shapeshifter too.”
“An enchanted life,” I said and we swam on together.