She sat beside the window looking out into the vast mountainous range of moon-silvered clouds that were expansively spread across the blackened night sky. Comfortably wrapped in her goose down throw while the candlelight bathed her in a warm glow, she listened to the radio as she watched the never-ending heavens. The clouds were dark and heavily swollen with precipitation. With the window partly opened she could smell the heady scent of the approaching storm and knew it was going to be a furious, unrelenting downpour. Sweeping sheets of rain rolled in on thunder bringing him with it.
He was there with her again like a ghost invading her spirit. She felt him envelope her being as his presence haunted her soul. Even before the letters between them started, this had been her only way to have him since they parted so many years ago.
Sometimes when she was alone, she met him in her mind and felt his fire sear through her soul. Now, even though she'd found him again on the waves of a stormy wind, a cold, empty ache in her heart took her breath away.
Since the letters started a year ago and he told her how he loved making love in the rain, little showers and big storms reminded her of him. It was the only time she couldn't push him out of her mind or find some life distraction to lessen her need of him.
She sighed deeply and one stinging moment later, a single tear spilled over her lower eyelid then became many hot and heavy tears streaming down her cheeks. Her mind uncontrollably wandered past the rain and crystal moonlight that made raindrops on the window sparkle like tiny diamonds.
Whipping the widow open wider she felt the cool, hard drops hit her hotly flushed cheeks. She wiped away the wetness, closed the window and tried to force him away. Her stomach felt weak and sick. She was helpless to stop her mind from returning to the long awaited phone call she thought would never come.
She had determined well before he could call, that he wouldn't. Sometimes too much time lapsed between his letters, and sometimes her notes of love went completely unanswered. His silence had ripped away hope of his pursuing the things they talked about in the pages they shared. Yet true to his nature, he surprised her with a short message left on her cell phone.
In the past no matter how much she had wanted to see him and tried to no avail, he always seemed to show up when she least expected it. Now decades later as they laughed and flirted on the phone she decided that some things never changed.
As the growing anticipation peaked, they both agreed they wanted to see each other right away but it was already very late. A collage of thoughts battered her mind as she deliberated. If she didn't go tonight, she'd still go at some point. decided now would change her life irrevicably He asked her to call him back to let him know one way or another. She pondered whether she should leave so late or wait until she could devise a better plan. She playfully asserted that he could wait for her one more day, but she couldn't wait. The insatiable, almost magnetic pull inside of her was more than she could stand.
Sneaking away with little hesitation and no consideration of the potential consequences of leaving at such a late hour, she snatched up the bag she'd stuff with wrinkled clothing. It had been set aside days before in anticipation of the possibility that he might call.
Phoning him from her cell, she let him know she was twenty minutes out of town. They talked a while before she was out of tower range and the phone died.
In less than two hours she was there and she called him again for directions. In a nervous frenzy she drove as he guided her through the city like a human navigation device. She had no sense of direction with her nerves growing less and less tolerant of the forthcoming reunion. Confused and disoriented, she realized she was on his street, in front of his house. "Oh!" She said startled. "I'm here. I guess I'll hang up now." and as she folded her cell phone in half she heard him say, "Yes, you are."
When she looked up through her half opened window she saw his shadowed silhouette from inside her car. Reaching to put the car in park and gather her nylon sports tote, she swallowed hard. Damn it. What do I do? What do I say? Do I shake his hand casually or hug him? She couldn't decide.
He paused briefly on the porch steps before abruptly meeting her at the curb shirtless and barefoot in pajama pants. She giggled quietly to herself as she saw the raw and unashamed personality that she had only vaguely known before, explode forward into the grass across the front lawn.
Though he moved quickly she saw his swayed and swaggered gait slip back and forth smoothly. She could hardly believe her eyes. Finally after all the years of longing for him and wondering about him, he was finally there right before her eyes. God, he was still sexy. This just wasn't real. It couldn't be happening.
His apparent eagerness to see her made her excitedly giddy. As she opened the car door she was unable to look at him directly and she handed him her bag as a small and insignificant distraction. Hopefully it would buy her a sliver of time to figure out how to handle the greeting. She wasn't ready to face him. Panicked and unexpectedly overwhelmed, she realized she was trapped between the car and the door with only one way to go. So she moved the only way she could, toward him.
Panic... she wasn't certain how to address its demanding, adrenaline surging presence, look sexy and remain graceful and poised all at the same time. No matter how much she had anticipated this moment, even working out various scenarios and responses in her mind, the scene just wasn't unfolding in any way she had rehearsed. She instantly realized she just wasn't ready for what she might see in his eyes or worse, what she might not.
The last time he saw her she was but a teenaged girl with firm supple skin that tanned a tawny brown with a delicate sprinkle of freckles across her slightly upturned, button nose. She had charmed him with her sparkling green eyes that were sultry and beckoning, a deep, cool pool of emerald water in which a young, hot, testosterone infused guy could easily, wantonly drown. Her hair was an illuminating strawberry blonde. She had loved him with a stronger, much lighter, more toned body. Really it was he who had loved her. Still young and inexperienced, he had taken her purity that she so willingly, sacrificially gave him and never regretted.
Though men certainly still found her sexy and attractive, time and children had filled in her waistline and rounded her belly. Her tight, soft skin had been replaced with the beginnings of middle age. She could not compare to the girl of yore.
In her hurry to get to him she had piled her long blonde hair high on her head leaving straggles and twists of falling tendrils hanging loosely around her face and neck. Her white linen clothes were clean but disheveled as she rushed to dress and apply makeup in the local convenient store restroom. She sprayed a burst of her favorite perfume and hoped for the best because he was anxiously waiting. Besides, she thought, it was far too late to turn back now and she really didn't want to.
Fumbling now to reach the bag he had placed on the trunk of her car, she shyly met his embrace. They came together in one swift, unrehearsed movement and she wondered if he felt her trembling as he wrapped his arms around her for the first time in 23 years.
She hugged him firmly and steadied herself. She'd seen him looking at her but pretended not to notice right away. As they pulled away from each other with secret reluctance, their eyes met and time froze for but only a second.
Years had aged them but total recognition was intensely clear. Time had almost made them strangers though ironically it felt as though she'd come home from some seemingly endless, exhausting journey, secretly mapped out to lead them back to one another. She felt as though they'd known each other for many lifetimes.
"So, how ya been?" He quickly asked breaking the excitingly tense but short silence. He seemed so relaxed. She wished she could just let go and be herself. She thought he must have sensed her self-conscious hesitation when he said, "You look good, girl. You really do."
A response was there but was rough and bumpy coming out. "I'm good. How have you been?" she said with her voice shaky and bashful." You look good, too," were the only other words she could manage as they walked toward the house.
They were familiar strangers. Decades had passed, though in some inexplicable way it felt like only days. From the moment they met so many years ago they seemed to know one another without so much as a word. So much was there between them but life and circumstance had voided any possibility of exploring this seemingly sacred and mystical acquaintance. So young and unfamiliar with what they had felt for each other, they had been silent so that chance or perhaps fate had escaped them.
He held her hand as he led her inside and she could smell him. His sweet and intoxicating scent, part expensive cologne and part familiarly him, had already made her eager and a little calmer in his presence. She began to relax and her sharp self-consciousness began to disappear. She hadn't waited a year for this moment. She had waited her lifetime.
He led her to the sofa then offered beer or bottled water. She wasn't thirsty; she was eager to get reacquainted. As she eased into a corner of cushions and pillows he sat almost midway between her and his end talking about his past, about his current circumstances and about his plans for the future. She listened intently then time stopped again. She felt removed as though she were seeing him from afar or watching him in a movie. She watched him as he leaned forward to take a long, deep drag from his cigarette.
Briefly transfixed in a thought or perhaps a private feeling, he didn't notice her study.
Unable to look away she hoped she could will herself to stop before he saw her. The moment was sublime. She never thought she'd be sitting on his sofa so many years later. Yet, miraculously, there he was and she absorbed his every word and gesture, every second in time. She greedily refused to allow one moment to slip away from her. It might be all she was left with later.
His appearance hadn't changed all that much. She followed his long, languid body with her hypnotically sensual eyes. She found his face and noticed his strapping jaw line was squarer than she remembered but even with his rough edges and unshaven face, it made him look distinguished.
She wondered what he was thinking and if he was still as taken with her as she was with him. Was he feeling the same flock of butterflies? Was he experiencing the same euphoria and excitement of finding a long lost treasure and exploring something new? Had his feelings changed once he saw her?
A white twisting spiral of smoke escaped his thin but supple lips. The same grinning, sexy lips she'd felt upon her own as a young girl enticing her to give herself to him, were tempting her again. She wondered if he would kiss her and fiercely wanted him to.
Time had etched its way onto his face with a graying five o'clock shadow and deep lines of a hard fast life. Consequently his years in prison had not afforded him much rest from a life in which he'd seen too much.
Inner pain, turmoil and isolation had transformed his nearly black hair of youth to gunmetal gray. With his age he was sexier though. His hot, boyishly good looks had been replaced with a handsome maturity. He was placid and cool on the surface, but smoldering with a slow, unrushed sexuality underneath.
Her eyes continued to his still shirtless torso and the ink tattooed across his body. His lean arms were covered with designs in shades of black as well. He leaned and stretched his left arm forward to crush out his cigarette in the ashtray and she read,
It was his self-appointed nickname. Maybe his alter ego was her only fair warning.
Writers had romanticized and villainized outlaws in their novels. Some said they were out of control lovers and thieves who left trails of broken dreams behind as they pillaged without conscience for their many and varied pleasures. Folklore made them heroes and lawless bandits as did fairytales with their black knights. Though it seemed none could agree on small details all were unanimous about one thing: they were a mysterious breed forever escaping scrutiny and examination. They always left behind more questions than answers. Outlaws as they were, were unknowable icons of a misunderstood caliber. Leaving broken laws and hearts in their wake as they aimlessly rode through a life of high stakes, reckless and deadly danger and utter self destruction, then disappearing forever to remain an unsolved, unknowable mystery.
This thought made her heart stop. The sheer sadness she felt at the sudden realization that he would probably never change made her weak all over. It meant she would likely not see her greatest dream realized after so much hope and possibility.
He turned to her and she looked away. "Look at me." he said softly demanding. She turned to him and he looked into her eyes. These were the same eyes from her girlhood, dark and endless only older and more mature. Any shred of innocence from the past had vanished. Now they were filled with more life experience and so much pain.
Those eyes had captured her young girl heart and imprisoned it so that it never let him go.
Yes, his edges were tough, reserved and defensive like an old, impenetrable prison wall. But when he opened himself to her this way she saw how truly needy, fragile and vulnerable he was. He needed understanding, care and patience. He needed someone who could be gentle with his heart and most of all he needed to be able to trust. She found herself there in them. He had been truthful when he said he had never let go or forgotten her. She saw the sincerity in his eyes. They were beautiful, so candidly and boldly revealing that at times it almost embarrassed her. That had not changed either. He had never been afraid to silently make her aware of his desire for her. And she had always responded in the same shy way.
As her insides fluttered anxiously in response, she steeled herself, returned his gaze and found there instantly the flash of his recognition of her soul and the bare exposure of his own. Sucking in a tight breath and holding it, she hoped and prayed quietly that the desire she saw, his submission in this moment, his willingness to let her inside, would not waiver tonight, or ever.
"What?" he asked as he cunningly grinned with amusement. Oh, that grin! She had missed it so much. It made her shudder. She had seen it before in the long lost past at times when he hadn't seen her in too long. Now it was having the same dizzying effect on her. She was overcome and smitten.
"What?" he repeated.
"You." she giggled. "You."
"What about me?" He was still grinning with flirty amusement and moving closer. He knew what. He knew exactly what he did to her and exactly how he was making her feel.
"You ok?" He asked with a small smirk.
"Yes," she replied coyish and sweet.
"Yes. I promise," she replied. But it was a broken promise.
The rain outside continued falling and through her stormy, aching melancholy she tried to recall details of the conversation that followed his signature grin. But they slipped through her building emotion. They traded small talk really, just catching up on so many lost years. The conversation was so easy and fun with him. They laughed from deep inside and she found his humor dry and sarcastic, her favorite kind. And he understood hers with no explanation. It seemed everything was understood.
He eased closer and she felt a surge of nervous schoolgirl anticipation when he took both of her hands in his own and whispered for her to come closer to him. "C'mere," he said softly. Then he leaned forward moving his lips within inches of hers. She wondered if he would taste the same.
He ever so slowly and softly pressed into her, caressing her face and eased her deeper into him.
What began as the most delicate, feathery brush of his lips upon hers became an insistent meshing of pressing and moving about sensuously.
Giving and receiving each other tenderly but with purpose, she felt his lips part and instinctively met his warm wetness with her tongue tasting him again for the very first time. She closed her eyes and he gently commanded her to look at him. It was then she recalled the very first kiss.
It had been exactly this way. He had sincerely remembered their first kiss as he'd told her in his letters and now, he was making it happen again. Her thought of the care he took to create this irreplaceable moment made her shudder. Seeing in his eyes the desire he had to feel again himself besieged her with relief and desire so great that she realized how utterly helpless she was in his presence.
She closed her eyes again only to hear him warmly insist that she look at him. Her eyes opened to see him looking at her as lips and tongues continued to tease and beckon them to go deeper inside of each other.
There were no more spoken words. There was simply no need of them as he continued to show himself to her, to let her see in his eyes and feel in his lips, to prove without doubt that what he felt for her was real and that he meant every word he'd written and ever spoken. He had told her more that once with conviction that the eyes were the windows to the soul. He told her insistently to be certain she understood that what she might see in his eyes was real and intentional.
She completely submitted to him, willing to sacrifice her deepest fears to feel him again this way. In this moment she was wildly careless. The devastation and loss that time might bring her later was no more than an insignificant thought that she hurriedly whisked away to the deep recesses of her mind.
As they continued connecting, feeling and building on the lips of one another, the transfer of every physical feeling and every emotion was immediate and endless. The moment so sweet and intensely erotic, so poisonously powerful, she was completely and utterly intoxicated. He was the only drug she could not refuse. He filled her soul and fulfilled her need so wholly, yet like a true addict she was gluttonously ravenous for more.
The lost years had drained her of any significant trace of his elixir and she needed him. The more he gave her the more she fiercely hungered for. There were no thoughts in her mind anymore. Instead there was only a desperate desire to appease his appetite, thereby promising her another dangerous fix.
He understood her well and met her there in the place they had written about in their letters, the magical place they knew was there long ago and had never forgotten. Yet somehow, some way it had slipped away from them like a wilted flower, broken yet so perfectly beautiful in every way
Here it was blossoming again, so undeniably the kind of magic they made together. Now they were older, more experienced and free to explore what they had not been able to in youth. Now she could explore his far-reaching depths to know exactly where she stood with him. She would now know beyond a doubt how deep she truly was inside of him. His inebriating potion flowed hotly, burning in her veins. It seeped back and forth between them and made her heart race wildly.
Indeed she found herself there within him more deeply than she could have ever hoped, imagined or even dreamed. She loved him so profoundly it moved the core of her being, shaking her very existence. She wanted him to feel that so he would know. She needed him to know. Her eyes did not move from his until he took her hand and led her into his bedroom.
He shared himself with her there in the bed where he said he never slept. He looked deeper into her eyes so intensely at times that her fear that it couldn't be real, forced her to look away. He quietly said her name and told her he loved her. She didn't think she could stop the building tears of relief and overwhelming emotion. She couldn't cry now. He might not understand and she surely could not explain. She hardly understood it herself and closed her eyes to try to regain self-composure and some sense of reality, to sober up.
When she looked at him again she felt him understand. Melting into another shot of his irresistible concoction, any remaining shred of reservation and doubt was dissolved by his look of gentle passion and love.
Later she told him how she wished so much that they'd not lost all those years. Her voice softly broke and was filled with sadness for all the time they'd lost. He held her and told her he wished the same. And she believed him. She believed the way they had both longed and wished for the same thing and how the tragic loss of time made them so unhappy. She wept there in front of him with no shame and he comforted and loved her.
Morning came and as long as she had put it off, she knew she had to say goodbye. He took her by the hand and said, "C'mon baby." Again she found herself in the privacy of his bedroom sitting on his bed looking up at him in a childlike way. In an almost paternal tone he said, "Let's not make this any harder than it already is." As she began to cry, silent heavy tears spilled down her face.
"But I don't want to go. I know I have to but I just don't want to." She tried hard not to sob.
"I know." He said. "But these things take time, baby."He was right but she denied. She rushed in with hurried, panicky words.
"But you see, even if I do come back and am with you the way I want to be with you... and I want to be with you more than anything else in this world... if I do this, I will have no one. There will be no one left. You will be all I have. And I don't care. You are all I want. All I have ever wanted, ever in my whole life." She looked at him with tearful, pleading eyes. She needed his rescue. "Because you see, from this moment on, no matter what happens, I will never, ever be the same inside. This changes everything. It can never be the way it was before. I can never be the same."
The pleading tone in her voice was apparent to even her. But more than that she wanted him to feel what she felt, to the same painful degree that she felt it. Maybe that would move him. Maybe he would devise some miraculous plan to deliver her from the dreaded life of living without him. She didn't want to wait until later. She had waited too long already. Too much time had already been used up and wasted on things that were far less significant and worthy.
He hugged her tightly and asked her simply, "Do you love me?" He stared into her with his penetrating eyes as though waiting to authenticate her response.
"Yes." she told him.
"Promise?" he asked, still looking intently and waiting for her reply.
"With all of my heart." she whispered to him.
"I love you too." He said ever so sincerely.
"Promise?" she asked.
"I promise." He whispered. But it was a broken promise.
Everything she experienced there with him in those few precious hours was so vivid and real yet now, weeks later she began to wonder if it had ever happened at all or if it was all merely a summer's night dream she couldn't forget. She had tried to call but was usually told he was busy with this or that, that he as sleeping or in the shower. Twice he had spoken to her briefly and always asked her to call back but doing so only rendered the same results. He was not available. She hadn't acquired much hope or reassurance and it was becoming apparent she wasn't going to do so.
A distance had erupted between them and even though she wasn't sure exactly when she felt him leave her, she was empty inside.
In an attempt to sooth her panicked fear, she reminded herself that he told her himself with absolute conviction the eyes were the window to the soul. What had she missed? She had seen truth in his eyes. She knew for sure. He had seemed to love and need her so much but now as she looked back, he'd left her to wonder if it was only her love and need of him she saw mirrored in his eyes.
Maybe it had all been untrue. Maybe he had felt some misguided obligation despite her telling him repeatedly that he didn't owe her anything. Maybe he felt he owed her something she just couldn't understand or he simply couldn't define but now felt he'd paid his due. Or perhaps it was true. Maybe he did love her, just not in the way she needed or wanted, but the only way he could.
As she closed out the heart wrenching hurt and disappointment and walked softly to bed she comforted herself only minimally by reminding herself that the searing ache would ease up some when the storm finally passed.
She lay back on her pillow and slightly smiled a sweet, sad smile of resignation, and then she let her mind slip into quiet. She realized that no matter how much she cared, no matter how much she wanted him, her enormous, undying love couldn't change him or make him love her back.
Painfully flooded with the awareness that of all she knew of him, of all the things he's said and things he'd shared with her, of all the things she knew him to be and of all the things she felt him to be when she felt him inside her soul, she would never know how he really felt.
She would never know for sure if he ever loved her at all. For whatever reason, he had extracted himself from her life and would not permit her to know him anymore than she already did, if she even did at all. His motives and reasons escaped her. They would be forever unknown, a mystery.
She had to let go no matter how much her heart begged her not to do so. His rejection insisted on it. She was grown and knew that fairytales didn't always have happy endings regardless of how much she wanted this one. She would not forget him and she knew he would never forget her. That was all the relief and consolation she'd have for now and possibly for a very long time.
As she rested her head heavily in slumber she knew one thing with absolute certainty. He was not at all unlike those characters in dusty novels, fables and fairytales; a mysterious outlaw forever riding off into the sunset of a young girls dreams.