A Good Start
When I woke that morning, I knew it was going to be a good day. The world could have been shrouded in storm clouds with the plagues themselves present in the air, and I would still have walked down the street with a ray of sunshine surrounding me and a smile of optimistic certainty on my face. Fortunately for me, there was no pestilence in the air, and the sun shone warmly through the curtained windows of my hotel room.
As I showered and dressed, my thoughts were only of her. I thought of her smile and her eyes and the way her hair fell casually about her neck and shoulders. I thought of the way she talked and the way she laughed and the way her gentle, playful nature occasionally peeked through the thin layer of shyness that she clung to for protection from a world that had been all too unfair to her in her relatively short life.
I also remembered the warmth of her hand in mine as we said goodbye the previous night, and the slightly awkward kiss that both of us wanted but neither was able to completely initiate, quickly falling back into quiet, embarrassed laughter. But in the end, before we parted, her eyes had been on me, boring deep into my soul with surprising intensity, and I knew that the connection we had forged during our previous communications was something real, something that would only deepen as our time together increased.
Some say that all the people in our lives are there because we have drawn them there, to ourselves. I don't know if I had drawn her or she had drawn me. Perhaps it had been an undeniable mixture of mutual want and need. Whatever it had been, here I was, in a country I had, until a few days ago, only heard about, too anxious to eat breakfast, wondering if I was dressed properly, and with my heart and stomach flip-flopped and inside out as I resisted the urge to run to where I would finally see her again.
The city around me held a beauty to which I was oblivious. How I could I draw in any more when I was already filled with her? Yet, as I wandered to the agreed-upon place, I did begin to notice the majesty that surrounded me; the result, though, was but a single thought: a wish that I could already be sharing it with her. Ah, the impatience of a heart on fire! In mere minutes I would be seeing her again, but I wanted her here, now. I quickened my pace, with the result that I arrived early. I expected to find the steps in front of her hotel empty, with agonizing moments to endure until her arrival; but she was there, a hesitant smile flashing in her eyes when she saw me.
We moved together. After the previous night's embarrassing attempt at a kiss, neither one of us was ready to try again; but we could not be kept apart. We found each other in an embrace, happily entered into by both. I thought it would be brief, but when I relaxed a little as a sign she could let go, she held fast. With an inward sigh of joy, I pulled her tight again, and we stood there for an eternity, neither wanting it to end.
At last, we did manage to pull ourselves away, but we remained connected, hand in hand.
"Hi," I said, suddenly disappointed I hadn't said something more intelligent.
"Were you waiting long?"
"Not too long." She paused for a moment, looking away at a nearby building. "Did you sleep well?"
I shook my head no, making her laugh quietly. I smiled. "What about you?"
She shook her head, too, and laughed again. "No," she said, not looking directly at me. "Too much on my mind."
The simple thought, expressed so perfectly, touched me. I could think of nothing to say, so I gave her hand a squeeze in response. "What do you want to do today?"
Her eyes came to mine. "Just be with you."
I was momentarily speechless, driven to silence by the purity of her gaze. My heart beat a little faster, and I could barely catch my breath. I nodded feebly and managed to whisper, "Ok."
We turned and began walking slowly down the street, still hand in hand. No longer held captive by her eyes, my voice returned. "Yesterday, I saw this place that rents motorcycles. Would you like to..."
"Go for a ride?" she finished for me.
"Uh, yeah," I said, my brain trying desperately to ignore the sexual innuendo that it always seemed to attach to otherwise innocent statements. "Or we could go to the beach. Swim..."
"I want to swim tonight," she said. "The moon will be full. I've always wanted to swim at night under a full moon."
"Hmm," I said, "sounds romantic."
"Could be," she said mysteriously. Then once more she took my breath away with a look. "You never know."
As we walked, I stole glances at her. She wore shorts and a sleeveless shirt, perfect for the temperate weather. It was also perfect for viewing her long slender arms and equally pleasing legs, flowing and rippling as she walked. Tanned and toned, her skin suggested a softness that I could dream of touching but would never dare hope to. How could one take hold of a dream? It had been so long...
In many ways, she was nearly a stranger. We had chatted and written to each other off and on for so long that I felt I had some deep glimpses into who she was. In the end, though, there was so much about her that I didn't know. And we hadn't had time to develop the trust that a truly intimate relationship required, when the walls come down and two people experience each other with complete openness and freedom.
I led her to the motorcycle shop I had seen. The man inside scrutinized us the way a father would a young man taking his daughter out on a date. "Do you have a license?"
I nodded and showed him. "California. Class M."
He continued to size us up for a little longer while engaging in idle conversation. Finally, satisfied, he slid a form up on the counter. "You'll need to leave a deposit. Fill this out, please."
Soon we stood before the mighty beast, a powerful Kawasaki 250. "Do you think it will make it down the street?" I asked.
"Oh, stop it," she said with a wave of her hand and a smile. "I think it's cute."
I got on and started it up. She slid onto the seat behind me, bouncing a little to get comfortable. There was a place to hang on at the back of the seat; but to my joy, she reached forward and grabbed onto me instead, her arms around my waist. I reached down and briefly stroked her hand. Then I pulled in the clutch, kicked it into first gear, and we were off.
Despite my disparaging remarks, the bike performed wonderfully, and soon we were enjoying the ride. Instinctively, I found a road that wound along the coast. The deep blue water cresting against the immaculate beaches captivated me. We spent nearly an hour pointing things out to each other as we rode.
At one point, I saw a straight stretch of highway ahead of me. I pulled in the clutch and tapped her leg. Then I pointed to the throttle. I leaned forward and tapped it again, hoping she would get the idea. When I felt the weight of her body against me, I knew she had gotten it. She reached forward and grabbed the throttle, giving it a slight twist, causing the bike to accelerate with a lurch. Surprised at the response, she let go, then cautiously tried it again. Soon, she was powering the bike forward while I steered and we leaned. When we hit another straight stretch, she suddenly gave it a strong twist and the bike surged forward mightily. I could understand what she was doing – there was something about the feeling of power in your hands when you gave that throttle a crank. I swore I could hear her whooping from behind me. Then she let go and leaned back. When I resumed control, she wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me tightly; I assumed it was happily.
Despite the warm weather and holiday atmosphere, there weren't many cars on the road. It was as if we had the whole coastline to ourselves. The balmy air, warm sun, salty sea smell, and the feeling of her holding me were almost too much to experience all at once, and happiness flooded through every part of me, threatening to overcome me and sweep me away.
Spying a small lighthouse, I left the main road. As nice as the ride had been so far, we needed a break and a chance to stretch our legs. I pulled into the small parking lot and shut down the engine. She slipped off from behind me. I instantly missed her embrace, but I knew we would have to get on again to go back; life is better when you have something to look forward to.
"You doing ok?" I asked.
"Great," she said. She raised her arms in a long stretch, and I quickly realized I was staring with my mouth partially open. I don't know if she knew the effect it would have on me, but she seemed to enjoy the result, so I let the moment linger.
She prodded me. "Enjoying the sights?"
She smiled and looked toward the lighthouse. I started walking in that direction, and she joined me, taking my hand in hers. We walked to the railing along the cliff and looked out. For the first time in hours, we were apart, physically and in our thoughts.
"It's so beautiful," I said. She nodded, but she wore a pensive look. "I always get a little... thoughtful when I'm near the water."
She nodded again. "Me, too."
I could tell she had something on her mind. It felt like a wall had gone up; she was suddenly far away. "Is there something wrong?"
She looked out over the water. Her voice was almost a whisper. "I don't know you. Why are you here? What do you want from me?"
The question surprised me. What did I want? I thought for a moment. "A chance." She didn't respond, so I continued, struggling to find the right words. "A chance... to find out who you really are. A chance to... for just once in my life... do something completely impulsive and see what happens. A chance to see if a dream can really become real."
She laughed softly. Then she turned to me. "Are we crazy? Flying here to meet like this? I don't know what I'm doing any more." She shook her head in disbelief and looked back out at the water. I looked out myself, my eyes following a seagull that bobbed and weaved on the wind. Then suddenly her words were on the air as well. "But I know I don't want to stop."
I turned to her, stunned. How many times since I had first met her had she surprised me like this? How many times did I think she was going to be just like everyone else I had ever known, and then suddenly she was so much more? How many times would I hear from her lips the very words that echoed in my own thoughts?
I reached over and put my arm around her. She moved a bit closer, leaning into my embrace.
"It's very nice," she said. "Strong yet peaceful."
I nodded. "I always like looking at the water."
"Oh, yeah," she said, eyeing me with a sly grin. "That, too."
On the ride back, not only did she continue to hold me, her hands occasionally made small explorations along my front. Sometimes she held me about the waist. Sometimes she casually stroked my chest. And once, a hand ventured along the top of my thigh, just enough to noticeably disrupt my smooth operation of the motorcycle. She removed it immediately and then pressed her face into my back, unmistakable shivers of laughter coming from behind. I was in the presence of a playful nymph and loving every moment.
We managed to find a scrap of something to eat and drink at a small seaside restaurant – neither of us had had the stomach for breakfast – and then we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ups and downs of the island. Not all of our explorations were on the motorcycle. Some of the happiest times that afternoon were scrambling over sand dunes or strolling along the shoreline, deep in conversation.
As the sun began to lose its daylong battle to stay above the horizon, after the light dinner we had shared looking out on the impending sunset, she spoke once more of her desire for the evening.
"So, you ready for a little swim?"
When she mentioned it before, I wasn't sure if she was serious or not. Now I knew she was. I felt a small reluctance, but how could I say no? "There aren't sharks in these waters, are there?"
"Not many," she said with a smirk. "But they usually don't start feeding until after the sun goes down anyway." Then she burst into laughter at my large, fearful eyes. "Don't worry," she said, her hand on my arm. "I'll protect you."
I felt foolish, but I rebounded quickly, my show of bravado an attempt to let her know that I was willing to do whatever she desired. The hardest part of the preparations for the swim was that we had to go to our respective hotels to change into our swimming attire. I looked after her longingly as she walked away. Not even a block way, she turned and smiled and blew me a kiss. My heart soared, and I turned and almost ran back to my room where I quickly changed. Now sporting my swimsuit beneath a light set of clothes, I headed back to where we were to meet.
Before long, we were on the beach, now largely empty except for a few strolling near the water. Soon, even those were gone, because the beach abruptly ended near a large wall of stone that jutted out into the sea. During the day, it was a spot for more daring climbers. At night, it was just a large, dark impediment.
We laid our towels on the beach and began removing our outer clothing. Momentarily blinded by my shirt coming over my head, I turned to find her standing there, her two piece swimsuit glowing softly in the moonlight. The slight reaction it caused in me made me glad it was nearly dark.
She walked up to me, with what looked like slow sensual steps, and took my hands in hers. "Ready?" she asked.
We walked hand-in-hand to the water's edge. "Last one in..." she said, suddenly breaking away from me and running, splashing, into the surf.
"Hey!" I said, racing after her. She was ahead of me; she dove and disappeared under the water. Unable to see her, I stopped, waiting for her to surface. When she didn't come right up, I started walking slowly, making my way further out. Then, I felt something grab me from below. I lost my balance and went down, under the water.
When I came up, she was there, laughing. She started chanting the two-note theme. "Dunh-DUNH dunh-DUNH dunh-DUNH..."
"So," I said, splashing at her. "Is this your time to feed?"
She was silent for a moment. "I'm not a shark," she said simply.
"Whew!" I said, with an exaggerated wipe of my brow. "Otherwise, I might be in trouble."
"Hmmm. Who says you aren't anyway?" She turned her back on me and sloshed away, looking back at me over her shoulder.
When I noticed she kept walking, getting farther and farther away, I finally said, "Where are you going?"
"Come on," she said, almost calling to me. "The water stays shallow for a long time."
I quickly splashed after her. We made our way along the rock wall to where it ended. As we rounded it, we discovered that there was a secluded strip of beach nestled in its maw, with high rock on both sides.
"Wow," she said. "This is cool."
"Yeah," I said. "It's like a private little lagoon."
She turned to me and put her hand on my chest. "Let's get our stuff."
"I want to sit here, away from everyone else."
It sounded nice. "Ok."
We made our way back and gathered our clothes and towels, holding them up out of the water as we waded once more to the enclosed area. We laid our towels out, side by side, and sat down. The view from the little beach was perfect, with the light of the rising moon cascading over the shimmering waves. We sat there silently for quite a while. I wasn't bored – I was too busy trying to calm my rapid heart beat. I could sense something major in the air, but I wasn't sure if it was real or just my own feeble hopes.
Finally, I broke the silence. "This is nice," I said.
More silence. "I had fun today."
I fell into thoughtful silence, wondering if there was anything intelligent I could say. When I had finally given up and begun to let myself be lulled by the undulating water, she spoke.
"Why are you over there?" she asked, without taking her eyes off the water.
"Just out of reach."
"Oh," I said. "Sorry."
I got up. Not sure exactly where to go, I moved over behind her. "Here," I said. "You drive the motorcycle for a while." She looked at me confused, but then when I slid down behind her, my legs out around her and my arms encircling her waist, she sighed and leaned back into me. "Better?" I asked.
We stared off into the star-dotted blackness, body to body, in a form of sitting spoon. Suddenly a faint light zipped by, a falling star entering our view, streaking across the heavens, and then disappearing just as quickly.
"Did you see that?" she whispered.
"Yeah, a falling star."
"Is that good luck?"
"I think you're supposed to make a wish."
She thought for a moment. "We both saw it. Do we both get our wish?"
I chuckled. "If they don't cancel each other out."
"Oh," she said, "I don't think so. Not tonight."
I tried not to tense at her words. There was something going on inside her that she was still holding close. I didn't dare hope what I wanted to hope, but I realized there was nothing wrong with wishing, silently...
She shifted her weight a little, leaning more comfortably against me. I noticed I actually had my hands on her bare middle. Her neck was right in front of me, as were her exposed shoulders. I was overwhelmed by the sensation of her there. Without thinking, I leaned forward and nuzzled the nape of her neck, my lips gliding over her skin. I felt her stiffen, and realized that I had crossed a line. "Oh," I said, stopping suddenly. "Sorry."
"Why?" she murmured. "It felt nice." She tipped her head to the side, exposing more of her neck.
I moved forward again and lightly kissed her shoulder. Then I kissed it again. And, slowly, again and again, trying my best not to leave any part untouched. She reached down and lightly grabbed my wrist. I turned my attention to the length of her neck. When I looked up at her, her eyes were closed. I leaned forward more and brushed my cheek against hers. She tensed and her mouth opened in a small gasp.
Then she turned her head, and we kissed, mouth to mouth, lips sliding deliciously over each other. Without separating, we adjusted our positions slightly for better angle, and then our kiss deepened, tongues touching and flicking and dancing together.
When we finally pulled apart, we were both out of breath. She looked at me deeply. I thought she was going to say something. Then her eyes fluttered closed again as she moved forward, and once more we joined, our kiss soft and gentle though passionate. She moaned softly as we explored each other's mouth, and her hand reached up and caressed my face.
While we kissed, she leaned deeper into my shoulder. When we stopped, she rested there, cradled against my bicep. I looked at her, so relaxed. When we had first met, she seemed a little nervous around me. That was understandable, but I wasn't sure if it would ever change. Now I could see that that wall had come down or, at least, weakened a little. Some men saw those kinds of walls as things to be breached, taken by force; but I knew that they only truly went away if they were taken down, voluntarily, from the inside. I don't know when it happened, but little by little she was opening up to me. She wouldn't do that for just anyone; I felt special - I had transcended.
Inexplicably, her weight against me increased as she shifted her position. I couldn't hold her; I realized she was trying to lie down. Moving my arm, I gently lowered her to the towel. She lay there looking up at me, her skin glowing lightly in the moonlight, her hair a halo around her head. I was in the presence of an angel.
Her eyes were on me. "You didn't answer my question earlier," she whispered.