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Anne knew she had to leave. Her marriage, the envy of all her friends, was over. She went through her days angry and sad and incredibly unhappy. Amazingly, her husband didn’t seem to notice. His standards were apparently easier to meet. There was a meal on the table every night. His clothes were always clean and neatly folded. The fridge held all his favorites. Every night, he got to clutch the remote control and flip through the channels endlessly. If his wife seemed unhappy or exceedingly sad, he didn’t seem to realize it.
She felt herself disappearing, inch by inch. She was often surprised to look into the mirror and actually see her reflection; she imagined that she was fading from sight a little more each day. Anne felt sure that her color was lightening, that she was less substantial with each passing minute. Occasionally, she wanted to ask someone if he could really see her, did she really even exist? She knew she had to intervene before she disappeared entirely.
So Anne did the only thing she could do. She quietly notified her company that she was able to accept the new position after all. It entailed moving frequently, going to hospitals and assisting them in setting up the programs that were needed. She would be a company woman, housed in various apartments throughout the nation, staying at each location for several months, until everything began to work smoothly. It sounded like a perfect solution for her. It would give her time to decide what she wanted for the rest of her life. She looked forward to living alone, being alone, no demands on her time or emotions. She just wanted to be.
Dan, her husband, took it well. He was all in favor of anything that brought more money into the house. It didn’t seem to bother him that she was going to be gone for months. It was unbelievably easy. Just pack up her boxes of necessities, load the car, wave goodbye, and start her new life.
During the first year, she lived in two different states. Both cold, like her heart. She kept her own company most of the time. She went sightseeing and enjoyed being on her own, responsible to no one. The women she worked with were friendly, but treated her as a temporary person, not willing to invite her into their busy lives. That suited her fine. She was temporary. She saw herself as being dropped into their days, changing and correcting things, then suddenly gone again. She understood their hesitation in getting involved with her.
Then she was assigned to a hospital in California. It was finally warm again, balmy and beautiful. The people here were different too. They wanted to know her. They invited her into their lives, shared thoughts and dreams, happy to spend time with her.
Anne felt herself thawing from deep inside. She felt her color returning, felt herself gaining substance again. It was a good feeling, like coming inside on a cold winter day. With the deliquesce, she felt the return of emotions, needs and longing. She began remembering the early days with Dan, when he held her hand and kissed her frequently. She craved human contact, specifically male contact, again. The thought occupied her mind often, the need coursed through her body.
Then she saw him waiting for the shuttle. In the hospital world of women, he was one of the rare men. Not really her type at all, he was slightly overweight, with a full head of white hair and a matching white beard. His hands were not the ones that generally attracted her; she liked elegant hands with long, slender fingers. His looked beefy, thick; a workman’s hands. Yet something caught her eye, something made her look twice at him. He smiled at Anne, his eyes shining with approval. As they sat on the crowded bench, waiting in the near-dark, he talked to her about the weather, work, even the shuttle. His voice filled the gloom, deep and rich, full of warmth to ward off the cooling evening air.
Too soon, the lights of the shuttle could be seen. Everyone stood, lemmings all. They walked en masse to the waiting bus, everyone anxious to be inside, warm and safe. Anne stepped inside and took her usual seat. She felt him settle behind her. As the shuttle started its familiar course, she was overwhelmed by his presence. Her mind went to the little babies she cared for each day, the tiny babies too small to touch or disturb. She recalled the breakthrough study that stated that everyone needed to be touched, that even tiny newborns responded to a loving stroke or caress. It stated that babies died for lack of that human contact. Yes, she was like that, dying inside, craving and needing a gentle touch to survive.
In the warmth of the shuttle, Anne was incredibly aware of this man. She closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the seat, imagining his hand reaching out to her, touching her bare neck, caressing her head, his thick fingers deep in her short hair, just holding her securely.
The more she thought about it, the surer she was that it could happen. She found herself leaning slightly to aid his reach. The bus bounced ciplak izle along, halfway to the parking garage now. She wanted, more than anything, to feel his fingers, to connect with someone, to be touched.
So much she wanted this, so deeply she wished for it, that when she felt his fingers lightly tracing her neck, she wasn’t surprised. Were her needs so visible? Her eyes closed and she stayed very still, not wanting to disturb the marvelous sensations of gentle fingers touching her, connecting to her, making her feel real again. She moved her head slightly, not wanting to disturb his fingers, just wanting to let him know how much she was enjoying his caress. She glanced back to meet his eyes, to let him see her appreciation for his gentleness.
Her eyes opened wide, startled. The man was completely involved in reading the newspaper, both his hands occupied holding the pages open. She felt a blush start moving up her body, until she knew her face was flaming. She was so sure that he had read her mind, had reached out to her! She slid over to the corner of her seat, willing a return to invisibility. Maybe she wasn’t as well-adjusted as she thought, maybe she needed help. Her mind was rampant with questions and found no answers.
As the bus headed to her stop, she sat quietly, embarassed by her thoughts. The man was just polite, not interested. No one was interested. She needed to make peace with the fact that she couldn’t make a marriage work then and couldn’t find someone who wanted her now. Anne just wanted to cry. She wanted to get to her car and drive home and be miserable by herself.
The shuttle creaked to a stop. Anne stood, and the bus made one final lurch, sending her reeling from her seat. She felt as if the entire world was spinning out of control and knew she was about to fall. Then she felt strong hands on her waist, holding her securely. She heard his husky voice asking for her forgiveness for being so bold, for touching her so intimately.
She turned then, overcoming her embarassment, to thank him. She looked into his twinkling blue eyes and felt warm….and safe. She looked at his name badge, reading “Oliver Groves, Communications”. His hand lingered on her waist, his touch warming her through her clothes. They stood silently, until someone behind Oliver cleared his throat meaningfully. Again, Anne blushed. Then she turned to leave the bus, stepping down into the cool night, shivering slightly for so many reasons.
Oliver was right behind her, reaching for her shoulder, anything to stop her from walking away. She sensed him first, then felt his hand lightly gripping her jacket, keeping her there. She turned and looked at him; his kind eyes, his pink, full mouth framed by the thick white beard. His hand felt good on her shoulder, warm and comforting.
“I’ll walk you to your car, Ma’am. Just want to make sure you get there OK, if that is all right with you,” he said. He left his hand on her shoulder, now his arm was lightly draped over her. Anne felt like melting against him, suddenly craving the warmth of another body near hers.
They walked quietly to her car, stopping next to it. They turned to each other, silently measuring the reactions that filled them. Anne thought whimsically of the term chemistry that was bandied about in Hollywood. Yes, ‘chemistry’ bubbled between them, making her want to just move into his arms and stay there.
She looked up to thank him again. He stepped forward to open her car door. There was no distance between them now, no space to hide in. Oliver reached out with both hands and held her shoulders, locking them in place. She licked her lips and he bent down. One set of lips moved to the other. Lips brushing lightly together, just sending tiny shock waves through their bodies. Slowly, lips moved on each other, slowly the two lonely people moved even closer. His hands left her shoulders and moved to her head, his fingers delving deep into her hair, anchoring her in place. Their mouths opened in unison. His tongue slipped out and painted her lips, touching the sensitive corners, making her sigh and moan from deep within. Her tongue tentatively moved forward, knowing that she was making a gesture that would have sweeping effects. Their tongues touched and the tingles spread through them, amazing them both with the magnitude of response. Teasingly, he swept her mouth and then retreated. She found herself following him, trying to lure him back into her warmth. Their tongues became friends, tempting and cajoling, teasing and playing. They both lost track of passing time. They took no notice of the other employees walking past them, discreetly looking away and discussing anything but the two lovers oblivious to the world.
Oliver finally pulled away. He looked down at Anne’s flushed cheeks and disheveled hair, her plump lips just made for kisses, her shiny eyes, so different from the sad ones of less than an hour ago. He liked her. He had been watching her for months now, watching her ride commander fort izle the shuttle alone, walk to her car alone, drive away alone. He knew she had not noticed him as he sat on the bench night after night, wondering about her and what kind of life she lived. There was no ring on her finger. He had, on occasion, followed her home, just to make sure she arrived safely. He would watch her drive into the underground garage, and sit patiently, waiting for lights to go on in an apartment, waiting to be sure that she was home and secure.
In the earlier days, when the daylight lasted longer, he would sometimes be rewarded by seeing her come onto the balcony and water her plants. She would have already changed into a pair of sweats and a loose t-shirt and was usually barefoot. Oliver liked the change in her. At work, she seemed so capable and stiff; unapproachable. But in the evenings, after work, while Oliver watched from his car, he saw a different woman, one who was soft and comfortable and looked extremely obtainable. He stayed long enough to see her water each plant carefully, tweaking off dead leaves, always talking to the plants, smiling at them, caring for them lovingly. The first time he saw this, he was aware of how much he would have enjoyed that smile directed at him, those beautiful eyes looking lovingly at him.
Each night, he arranged to be at the same shuttle run as Anne. He had read her name tag and was aware of her department, had even scoped it out, passing by innocently just to see where she worked all day. Sometimes he worried that he was a junior stalker, but then he would see her sitting quietly at the shuttle stop, looking alone and sad, and he knew he was simply caring for her.
Oliver thought of all this as he actually held the flesh-and-blood Anne in his arms. She exceeded all his expectations. He hadn’t been aware of her warmth, the slight scent of vanilla until he held her close. Her hair had looked thick and coarse, yet felt like satin in his fingers. Her lips, which were usually pressed together in thought, were now sweetly puffy and shiny, as kissable as lips could be. Her little hands, the ones he had watched night after night, were clutching his arms, keeping him near. He bent again, capturing that mouth and sinking happily into the warmth and taste of her.
Anne was the next to pull back. She looked at him with lust-filled eyes, her lids heavy with desire. She blushed and stammered, the only word he heard was “Please!”. Oliver nodded and kissed her again. He opened her car door for her, waiting until she was settled and then closed it firmly. She opened the window, still looking surprised by the entire encounter.
“I will follow you home, if you like,” Oliver whispered. Anne nodded. She started the engine, watching in the mirror as Oliver walked to his car across the aisle. They drove in tandem to her nearby apartment. She drove into the underground garage, Oliver turned into the ‘free’ parking outside her building. She parked and quickly joined him, not sure what to say. There didn’t seem to be a need for words as he took her hand and led her to the lobby door. He took the keys from her shaking fingers and unlocked the big outer door, holding it open while she passed by him. In the lobby, he took her into his arms again and kissed her deeply and thoroughly. She leaned into him, suddenly sure of her decision, suddenly positive this was the right thing to do. They walked arm in arm to the elevator, again kissing as soon as the door closed. On her floor, they stepped out, again holding hands and walking in unison down the hall to her apartment.
Oliver had to open this door for her too; her hands trembled too much. They walked into the home he had only imagined for months. He moved to the overstuffed couch, and settled down to await her next move. She smiled at him and excused herself, moving to the back of the apartment. He heard the light click on, listened to the sounds of closet doors sliding and drawers opening. In a few minutes, Anne reappeared, now dressed in the dark blue sweat pants and an old faded t-shirt. Her small feet were bare. He smiled, happy she chose to continue her routine. She walked past the stereo, hitting a button and sending music into the void. She opened the balcony door and snagged the watering can, explaining that she needed to water her plants and would only be a moment. She filled the can in the kitchen, walking past him again, this time touching his cheek with her hand. He reached up, catching her fingers, bringing her palm to his mouth, and kissing it lightly. His tongue flicked out, licking her softness, making her sigh softly.
Anne caressed his bearded face, mesmerized by his full lips and beautiful blue eyes. She seemed to have forgotten her task, and stood holding the heavy watering can, looking longingly at him. Oliver stood and took the can from her, walking to the balcony door with her, holding it open as she passed through. He stood just inside, watching with delight copenhagen cowboy izle as she turned her attention to the blossoms and shiny leaves, forgetting him and talking to them about her day and watering them carefully. She turned, looking startled for a moment, then laughing self-consciously.
“I guess it is just the daily time to play ‘Farmer Brown’ with all my little plants. I have never had any success with growing things until I moved here and I really enjoy my inventory of their progress each afternoon. You must think I am so silly!” she said, still blushing.
Oliver thought she was anything but silly. He thought she was charming, sweet, lovely, delightful and extremely desirable. He looked at her mouth wistfully, and she saw all his thoughts in his eyes. Carefully, Anne set down the empty watering can and moved closer. Oliver stepped onto the balcony at the same time. They stood together, a fingerbreadth apart, their eyes locked.
This time, Anne moved first, tilting her head back and encircling his neck with her arms, pulling his mouth down to hers. It seemed different now. Still exciting, but familiar too, like coming home. They stood together in the moonlight, enjoying the sensation of one body against another. Kissing satisfied them right now, tongues playing, lips seeking. Their hands explored hair, faces, arms. When they separated, they stepped inside and Oliver took Anne into his arms, leading her in a slow dance around the living room. It seemed right. The music filling the room was a soft waltz and Anne felt lovely and graceful in his arms.
They danced around and around, slowly circling the area, the music filling their hearts and heads. Oliver’s hands held her close, massaging her back, warming her soul. She felt like her flowers, immersed in the sunlight, finding herself becoming whole again. It seemed very natural to begin kissing again, almost as if there hadn’t been a pause. His mouth fit over hers, his tongue searched for hers, happily teasing and toying with her. She inhaled him, enjoying the scent that was at the same time excitingly new and comfortingly familiar.
As they waltzed past the sofa, they stopped dancing and sunk into the overstuffed cushions. They held each other tightly as the kissing became more intense. Oliver seemed infinitely patient, not rushing her in any way. Anne couldn’t think, couldn’t focus. She just wanted this to continue forever, this feeling of belonging to someone.
Of course, it couldn’t last forever. Feelings progress. Needs erupt. Oliver was gently taking the lead, standing, pulling Anne up beside him. His arousal was obvious. His eyes glowed with desire and his hand on hers was insistent.
Anne began walking with him toward her bedroom, the room she had shared with no one, the bed she had occupied alone for so long. Suddenly, she was frightened. Her own husband hadn’t wanted her, hadn’t been able to find any desire for her. How would this wonderful man feel about her? Would he see her, Anne, or would he see the accumulation of years and surgeries? Anne hadn’t been naked in front of anyone but her husband in over 30 years. It was a daunting prospect. She hung back, suddenly too overwhelmed to go on. Oliver turned to her, looked into her eyes, and smiled.
“I like you, Anne. I have liked you for months. There is nothing about you that doesn’t make me happy and excite me. Trust me, please.”
Anne remembered all the jokes she had heard about men who said ‘trust me’, but realized that she did. She trusted Oliver, this kind, gentle man. Placing her hand in his, they continued the very long trek to her bedroom.
She overcame her reluctant heart as she stood beside the bed. With eyes wide opened, they began to undress each other. Clothes fell slowly to the floor, the lamp remained on and bright. Piece by piece, they revealed themselves. Anne had always made love in the dark, her entire life had been furtive and secretive. Tonight, it was not. Oliver exclaimed over each discovery, praising her soft skin, her curves, even her dreaded imperfections. In his eyes, she was beautiful.
Anne found herself reveling in his presence. He made her feel desirable and lovely. That alone was the greatest gift he could give her. She could have been content with just his acceptance. Of course, it was not the end, but the beginning. She stood beside him, naked, as he lavished attention on her. The room was not large, and to compensate, the entire wall of closets was mirrored. Her bed was reflected. The lamps on the nightstand were duplicated. And, of course, their bodies were mirrored. She stood beside Oliver, raising her eyes to his, boldly sharing herself for the first time in many years. She wondered at her courage, her insanity, for only a few moments before Oliver leaned down and kissed her, erasing all thoughts from her mind.
Oh, to be kissed by Oliver! It was a total experience, encompassing all her senses, drowning out all doubts and misgivings. He wanted her! He found her lovely and, judging by his naked body, desirable. Oliver, naked, was awesome. He was the sort of man who should never wear clothes. His clothing masked the well-toned body, covered the delicious shadings of light and dark, hard and soft. Anne found herself freely exploring him, learning his textures and planes.
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