Dembe returned his pistol to his holster. “I had not intended to; I dozed off and woke up when I heard your key go into the lock. Raymond, you were supposed to come home yesterday. When you called to say you were staying in Cottonwood Falls another night, I assumed you’d be back by 2 the latest.”
“I told you it was dangerous to go visit Anne a third time! Why didn’t you call me for help?”
At the younger man’s look of concern, Red smiled and said, “Nothing bad happened, Dembe. Are you very tired?” When Dembe shook his head no, Red said, “I think I’d like a glass of wine. Join me.”
After they had poured themselves some red wine, they settled down next to each other on the couch. “Anne and I had a wonderful time! We spent hours birdwatching. We saw gnatcatchers and yellow-breasted chat and we even saw an ash-throated flycatcher! Anne had never seen one of those before! Of course, I had never seen any of them before, but I was excited that she was excited.”
“My first night there, I took her to dinner at this restaurant she likes a couple of towns away from Cottonwood. She is such a fascinating woman! We can converse about so many topics! Afterwards, we went back to her house to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She loves Audrey Hepburn.”
Red sipped his wine and thought back on that night. Only two nights ago! The movie had been on for less than twenty minutes when he felt Anne gently shake his shoulder. “Come on, Ray, I don’t feel like watching this alone. Let’s go to bed.”
“Great idea,” he had replied as he lifted his head from her lap, stood and held out his hand to her. When they entered the bedroom, he turned around and began to kiss and undress her.
“I thought you were sleepy,” she said with a smile as she came out of her blouse and started unbuttoning his shirt.
“I seem to be enjoying a second wind.” He laid her down on the bed and they kissed passionately until they both had to come up for air. Smiling devilishly, he worked his way down her body, licking, sucking and nipping his way all the way to her toes. Switching tactics, he nibbled and suckled his way back to her center and introduced his tongue to her “little man in the canoe” as she euphemistically called her clitoris. He managed to bring her to orgasm twice before mounting her to attend to his own need.
He enjoyed being with Anne; they fit well together both physically and intellectually. We have so much in common, he thought. As his excitement continued to build, he looked into her face. He was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of emotion so strong it took his breath away. He sobbed out her name as he came before collapsing on top of her. He could feel her hands rubbing up and down his back as she dropped little kisses on his cheek.
“Ray? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
After a few moments, he wiped his eyes and smiled at her. “I promise: I will tell you in the morning. Is that okay?”
She hugged him tightly. “Of course.”
The next morning, Red awoke to the smells of bacon and freshly brewed coffee. He showered and dressed then joined Anne in the kitchen where he grabbed a kiss before taking the proffered mug of coffee. “Nectar of the gods,” he intoned before taking a long sip.
“How do you want your eggs, Ray?”
Taking her hand, he had her sit at the kitchen table. Leaning against the counter, he said, “First, I promised you an explanation. Making love to you, I was…consumed by a feeling. It took me a moment to realize: It was love. That made me cry. What made me keep crying was the realization that I haven’t felt that way with a woman since my wife died many years ago. I cried because I love you and I know that now.” He smiled wanly at her. “You don’t have to say it back.”
She got up and hugged him. “I won’t say it back. Not yet, but you’ve let me know I came to the right decision.” She went into the den and he heard her open her desk drawer. She returned and pressed something into his hand. When he looked, he saw it was a key. “I was wanting to give you a key to the front door, but wasn’t sure how you would react to that; that you might think I was moving too fast…”
He leaned down and kissed her. “You’ve made me very happy. And I’d like my eggs scrambled soft, in about two hours.”
“Mr. Darcy, you are incorrigible.”
The version of events he told Dembe wasn’t quite as graphic as his memory, but Dembe had the gist of it all. “So. You declared your love; she gave you the key to her house and you decided to add another night to your visit. Raymond, you have to realize that this relationship cannot be.”
“Part of me knows you’re right, ya akhi, but the heart wants what the heart wants. I feel like Anne is a safe harbor.”
“But if you keep going there, she won’t be. Not for you and not for herself.”
Red swallowed the last of his wine and said, “I’m going to bed.” When Dembe stood, Red pulled him into a hug. “You’re probably right, Dembe, but I don’t want you to be. I love her; I have to see her. I’m going back in a couple of weeks and letting myself in with my key.”
Dembe returned the hug and said, “You said you haven’t felt this way since your wife died? You’ve never mentioned her to me before.”
Red kissed Dembe’s forehead before breaking the hug. “We have no secrets from each other; just stories we haven’t shared yet. My marriage is one of them. One day, ya akhi, you will hear about her, but for now, please be happy that I’m happy.”
“I am, Raymond, I am.”
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