by Linda S Barth
Birds sing after a storm.
Why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?
~ Rose Kennedy
She awakened him with kisses, her lips caressing his with heat as seductive as the summer sunlight that shimmered through the translucent panes of the skylight above their bed.
His eyelids fluttered and opened slowly as if he were reluctant to return to reality from a wondrous dream. But in a heartbeat, he remembered, and he knew.
“Catherine.” His voice was a raspy whisper as he gathered her in his arms, snuggling her against his chest. Breathing deeply, he nestled his face into the warm, satiny strands of her hair, savoring its familiar fragrance. He felt her lips quirk into a smile where she pressed them against the quivering pulse at the base of his throat.
“Good morning, Vincent. I hope you slept well…” Her muffled murmur rippled through his body.
“Oh, yes,” he answered, “very…very well.”
Easing out of his embrace, she rolled slowly to one side, then propped herself on an elbow so that she might revel in the sight of his unique beauty, golden and bronze in the filtered sunlight. “Mmm…I did, too…” Her heavy-lidded eyes revealed far more intensity than her simple words conveyed.
He gazed at her, his eyes crinkling slightly in the sun’s glow. “I wonder if I’ll ever awaken next to you in our home…our bed… and not be amazed that it isn’t all just a dream.”
Her lips curved in a joyous smile. “I know.” The ripple of her gentle laughter delighted him. “But we’ve had the brownstone for over a year now, so I think we can safely say this dream has come true.”
“Yes.” His voice deepened. “We’ve moved so far beyond all the doubts, beyond all my fears –”
She silenced him with the moist softness of her lips and the heartfelt words she breathed against his mouth. “That’s all in the past now. Don’t dwell on yesterdays.”
He slid his hand along her neck and into the silky tangles of her hair, cradling her head as he pressed his mouth harder to hers, unable to deny the urgent need to show her just how much he believed her.
All too soon, he shared her reluctance as she gently pulled away and sat up. The quilt that had entangled their bodies tumbled to her waist. Her skin glowed rose and peach in the sunlight, and it took every bit of his strength to keep from reaching for her again, to take her in his gentle, eager grasp and pull her back into his arms.
Through the blended notes of their bond, he knew she had sensed his desires, that she was beyond pleased by them, and more than willing to agree. And yet she slipped from their bed and paused for a few irresistible moments as she turned her face toward the sun, before reaching for her nightgown where it lay crumpled on the carpeted floor.
He watched the lacy white garment slide over her head and drape along the curves of her body, clinging to her just as his hands had done when they’d adored her through the long hours of the night.
She turned to look at him where he relaxed in their bed, his muscled arms folded behind his head, the tangles of his long hair gleaming strands of copper and gold in the sunlight. The patchwork quilt draped low across his hips, and one long leg stretched toward the floor as if he were preparing to rise and go to her.
Their breathy words echoed one another – “so beautiful” — as their hearts raced, dizzy and fluttering. She took a single step toward him, and then another, so tantalizingly close. Then she paused, just out of arm’s reach.
“Would you like…some breakfast?” Her eyes twinkled at the crestfallen look on his face. “It is getting late, and you must be very hungry. I know I am.”
He grinned at her as his craving for sweetness swerved in a different direction. “Maybe a cappuccino with cinnamon sugar. And waffles with lots of ripe strawberries…and whipped cream…”
“Well, that sounds delicious…too.” She grinned back at him, savoring every second of his innately sensual nature, let loose at last to shimmer in the sunlight after such a long, dark shadowed imprisonment. “And then we can decide how we’ll spend the rest of the day. I have a feeling it’s going to be so wonderful, we’ll want to xerox it so we can enjoy it over and over again.”
“I think you’re right, Catherine. This morning has already been almost magical.” His sleepy smile lit his face. “I wonder what will happen next.”
She watched as he yawned and stretched, his sapphire eyes glistening for a moment before flickering closed again. “I thought you wanted breakfast.”
He snuggled back under the covers. “In a few more minutes.”
She laughed and shook her head. “In that case, I’m showering first. If you change your mind, you can go downstairs and get breakfast started. I know how you enjoy experimenting with all those gadgets in the kitchen.”
His muffled reply sounded something like “perfect,” followed by a soft rumbling snore.
Before she could give in to the temptation to forget about breakfast for at least “a few more minutes,” Catherine padded into the bathroom, wincing as her bare feet touched the cold surface of the porcelain floor tiles. She flung her nightgown into a wicker laundry basket, then reached into the shower and dialed the water up to a comfortably tropical temperature.
She smiled as she slathered suds of shampoo through her hair, remembering how Vincent’s hands had felt last night as they’d tangled, then smoothed those long sleek strands. She inhaled the scent of lemon zest and vanilla blossom, savoring the fragrance as Vincent so often did when he nestled a gentle kiss to the crown of her head. The thoughts evoked a sigh and a luscious shiver, but even the most vivid memories now were nothing more than pale reflections of what had finally become reality.
She reached for a bar of her favorite French lavender soap and worked it into a lather on the fluffy facecloth, then began stroking the froth along her arms and over her breasts. Again, irresistibly tempting images filled her head.
Lost in such a pleasurable reverie, she startled as the glass doors of the shower slid open behind her, and her dream vision became real, penetrating the steamy air to wrap his arms around her. She turned in his embrace and plopped a dollop of scented foam on the end of his nose.
She giggled at his look of surprise, then murmured, “What happened to breakfast?”
He pulled her closer and nuzzled his soapy nose against her neck, reveling in the quivering response he drew from his beloved. The final words he would utter for quite a while vibrated in a raspy growl. “I think we need to plan on brunch instead.”