Friday, July 8, 2011
I couldn't believe that after all these years, I'd run into him again at the lake. I hadn’t been there since the summers I spent right after college. Too soon my career blossomed, and I abandoned the lazy weeks by the water, the leisurely strolls through the woods and the evenings skinny dipping beneath the stars for more sophisticated fare.
And now there he was. Standing on the end of his dock next door to mine, looking as long, tall and lean as he had at twenty.
I let the cottage door close softly, unsure as to whether I wanted to greet him now, or gird my loins and come up with some way to sound casual and unaffected by his presence.
Then the decision was taken out of my hands as he turned, his bare chest gleaming in the afternoon sun, his swimsuit hanging low on those hips I could almost feel again beneath my hands.
My heart stuttered as he stopped, mid-stride, as he caught sight of me. Perhaps he remembered those long ago lazy days, when we snuck into the woods to make out. When we waited until our grandparents were sleeping and then shed our clothes and slid into the lake. We held one another, we felt one another’s young bodies, luxuriating in the amazing sensation of skin to skin beneath the cool water.
I remembered. Suddenly it seemed like it had been mere days ago. I remembered the smell of his sun-baked skin, the hint of fresh sweat and pine. The feel of sleek, young muscles and soft, full lips. I remembered the sweet agony of him inside me, the experience so new and bright and wondrous. I remembered the sound of his moans as he spent himself inside me, his jaw tight, his gaze sharp on mine as we rode the waves of passion together.
I felt the sun on my face and the wind in my hair as he came toward me, crossing the grass and the bridge with even, steady strides. He was older now. His face bore experience and knowledge and he carried himself with self-assurance and solidity instead of the spring of youth. Yet he was no less dear to me, no less amazing.
When he stood in front of me, looking down, I wondered what he saw. Did he note the difference the years had made in me? I was no longer the lithe, innocent girl who had given herself to him. I had gone through hard times, and good, and knew they had left their marks on me.
For a moment we stood, looking at one another. Then he smiled. And I responded with my own shy grin.
“Hello, Faith.” His voice was lower, richer.
“How are you, Neal?” My own was whispery with emotion.
He took another step closer and I breathed in his scent. The same scent that had filled my dreams for years.
He raised a hand and touched my face.