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She had not changed.
In my minds eye the picture was thirty years old, a fragment of a dream, of what might have been. Yes she had aged, but so, had I, and if the truth were admitted, the intervening years had not been over kind to either of us. I was heavier than I would have wished, and my hair distinguished grey;
her face had more laughter lines and she wore her shock of white hair proudly. Her figure, slim as ever still looked good. Of course she had changed, but still somehow she had not changed.
"Hello, how are you?" I said - Wonderful opening line, I thought wryly, but what else to say.
"Not too bad - on my own now. Getting used to it as time passes." She responded.
"Would you like a drink, if it's still there, I remember there used to be a tea-room close by." I suggested.
She laughed - the same gentle, tinkly laugh I remembered - "No," she chuckled, "that's been a dry cleaners for over ten years now. The inn is still there though, and yes, they do a good afternoon tea."
She was silent as we walked round the corner and down the quiet, leafy lane to the old inn. We decided that it was too nice to closet ourselves indoors so we elected to sit in a corner of the garden, shaded by the old tree.
"I'll go and order for us."
I watched her as she walked across the garden, my groin twitched as I once again followed that delectable ass with my eyes. 'Damn it!' she still made me hungry for her. I knew then that even if it was only once, I would sleep with her one more time. She returned, smiling as she crossed the garden;
"About ten minutes," she said, "fresh scones just out of the oven strawberry jam and cream. I know you can't resist them."
I laughed and said, "You remember then."
As she rejoined me and sat in the seat opposite I was treated to a flash of leg as she sat down - they were still in good shape, right to the top or bottom, dependent on your point of view.
She looked across at me and her mood became a little more serious - "Yes. I remember, I could never forget. It was a long time ago wasn't it, but I think of you as if it were yesterday, you know." She put her hand up to stop what I was about to say and I saw as she looked at me her eyes glistening in the sunlight, just a faint touch of moistness showing. "No, I will never forget, in fact," and she stood up so as to move and help hide any emotions beginning to surface, "recently you've been in my thoughts most days."
She was behind me now and I felt her hands on my shoulders. She caressed them gently, almost absentmindedly as she spoke softly. "I had to call you and ask you down to meet and talk once again - especially after reading the piece in the paper - I am sorry she's gone, I know how close you were."
"Yes." I replied, trying to hide my feelings and then, failing miserably felt the tears come again. Someone once said that grief is like sea sickness - when it strikes it takes over totally, and just when you think you have everything under control it bulldozes you into submission once again. I felt her arms tighten around me and hold me and was somehow aware of her own tears mingling with mine.
A little while later as things slowly evened out we both became aware that the afternoon tea had been discreetly left for us. No words were necessary as I poured that much needed drink. The emotion of the moment had drained us totally. She giggled as she took the proffered cup and then, lifting the serviette, wetted a corner and cleaned the mascara where it had smudged onto my cheek as we had clung to each other. I took it from her and returned the gesture - "You look rather like a startled Panda, caught in the rain."
She laughed again. "How long are you going to stay?"
I was caught out by the direct question and could only reply that I had not given much thought to the matter. In truth I had not even thought about it - the hundred and odd miles journey down had only taken a scant couple of hours and I had not expected to linger, indeed in some ways I had deliberately not expected to stay over. I said so.
"Oh," was the only comment, then "will you eat with me tonight before you return - I won't take no for an answer."
Rather later we walked slowly up the hill and the view, as always, took my breath away. We stopped, silent, and looked out over the bay to the far distant side - twenty and odd miles away. The hills blue and remote in the haze of the late afternoon. Beyond on the mountains clouds, dark and tall threatened summer thunder. We turned and walked up the hill to the once ruined coastguard station now renovated and her home.
I sipped a cold beer as she clattered in the kitchen preparing our meal, sat on the window seat with the panorama of the bay below. Some quiet music played and I smiled as I recognised my old favourite - Acoustic Alchemy -
Natural Elements, it fitted the mood somehow.
Her hands touched my shoulders and stirred me from the reverie - "Penny for them?"
"Hmm - not worth a lot," I replied, "blank really - the view does that for me. In fact I wasn't thinking of anything but the scene painted out in front - it hasn't changed since I used to sit on the wall over there when this was still a ruin."
"No," she said, "it's almost timeless."
** ## **
Later, music playing, I played with her hair as she sat at my feet, we didn't speak as we watched the sun set and the lighthouse start to shine on the other side of the bay. As dusk grew into dark I found myself yawning, and tired I got up, reluctantly, to leave.
She stood up with me, "I forgot to tell you, the last direct train has gone, you'll have to stay over. The spare bed is made up, just in case, I'll turn the blanket on to air it."
What could I say except "Thank you." "I didn't want to impose - I haven't even brought an overnight bag."
She grinned "It won't be the first time - in fact it never bothered you all those years ago?"
I blushed at the memory as she continued "It's all settled then, I have a new toothbrush you can use and the towels and robe are on the end of the bed."
"I think this was pre-planned," I said.
"Not really," was the retort, "but I admit to allowing for the eventuality."
The smile told all and I held her tight as I kissed her and bade her good night.
** ## **
I shuddered awake at some ungodly hour - the recurring nightmare having returned - sweating, upright, crying, in a strange bed and then aware of being held. As my sobs died down, I clung to her, sadly ashamed and aware that she had seen me twice at my most vulnerable, I wanted to be anywhere other than here. I had not ever wanted to be seen like this. I got out of bed and stood up naked in mind and soul as well as body and looked out of the window, now embarrassed beyond nakedness. I felt her touch me and turned to find her naked as well, stood waiting for me. She laid her head on my chest and held me for an eternity as things returned to what passed for normal.
Quietly, I said, "That's the second time you've had to do that in a day, it's not normally like that..."
The finger placed on my lips stilled the rest of what I might have said.
She took my hand and led me to her room and her bed, bigger than the one I had been in. Silently we climbed in and she held me, hugged me to her breast and rocked me back to sleep, like some helpless child after a bad dream.
I awoke to a sun kissed morning, her head on my shoulder, her eyes watching and waiting for me to wake. As I slowly stretched she kissed me gently and once again placed a finger on my lips. Then she started kissing my face and neck and made her leisurely way south. She nibbled my nipples and then her fingertips brushed into my groin and my burgeoning erection. I started to speak and she kissed me to stop anything being said - I gave up and decided to enjoy her ministrations. She moved on top of me and slowly slid onto my penis, her eyes closed, her breath hissing gently through her teeth. As we bottomed out she opened her eyes and leant forward to kiss the tip of my nose.
"Thirty years I've waited for you," she said, starting to move in that age-old rhythm, "Thirty years and now it's here it's just like yesterday.
Except this time I never want it to stop."
From my viewpoint I had to agree.