On sunny days the island lay like a dark green jewel in a dark blue sea. On grey days when the winds came from the northeast the island brooded and the grey skies and wild seas created a restless wilderness all around.
She came to the island alone. They had told her the house was rustic but really, it had everything she needed. And, knowing them as she did, she knew it would be just short of luxurious. You’ll love it, they said. This time of year, you will have the island to yourself.
It was what she needed, she told herself. A chance to be on her own, leave it all behind, breathe freely. It’s been years, she thought on the boat ride out. The engine was too loud for conversation and she had watched the island detach from the horizon, approach and become clearer. How long has it been since it was just me?
When she sat down for supper that evening, she realized she could get up, leave the dishes on the table and just walk off. She’d giggled; maybe she wasn’t ready to go that far. But on the new principle she left them in the sink and walked down to the rocky beach below the house.
Her footsteps clattering on the beach rock must have startled him. She saw the tall figure rise quickly from the pink-orange ledges at the end of the beach. They stared at each other for a moment and then he strode off and she had only a sense of broad shoulders and a long, easy, swinging stride before he was gone.
She followed the beach to the ledge and, without considering why, sat where he had been a moment before. She imagined that the rock was still warm from him and the thought made her shiver slightly and a not unpleasant tingle ran up the back of her neck. She smiled to herself. My imagination, she thought, my imagination and me.
It was only after the cool touch of evening reached her that she realized she had been watching the glow of sunset fade and the lights of the last boats running home for the harbor, and she had none of the usual thoughts of home and what was on the schedule for tomorrow and what must be done. She had been alone in the moment and all the world had faded. Maybe this trip is just what I need, she thought.
He walked up the hill telling himself with every step that he was a fool, a fool, a fool. To run like that, like some timid animal or child. I just didn’t expect to see anyone there, he told himself. But the drumbeat of fool followed all the way to the house. What was worse, he couldn’t get the image of her out of his mind. The full figure of a woman against the darkening sky. Not enough light for detail, just the outline and the sense of a gaze caught and held.
He went about his evening chores and she was with him. He decided to start the sauna, sure that the heat and steam would clear his mind. He walked along the little path through the birches to the tiny log sauna nestled in the clearing. He started the fire as he had a hundred times, he filled the buckets, lit the candles, and waited for the cabin to heat through. The logs glowed in the flickering light and the fire roared in the old wood stove. He stripped down and leaned back on the cedar bench, legs stretched out long before him. He willed his shoulders to relax and waited for the sense of calm to come over him.
But she was there, clear in his mind; now he could see a smile and dark hair just above her shoulders, the smooth curve of her neck. And her breasts. He felt heat course through him, and not from the stove. He was suddenly hard and it was difficult to breathe. He got up, angry at himself again. Just a glimpse of her and he was as bad as a teenager. What would happen if they met? And they would on this little island, no doubt about that. He washed down with the cold water, glad for the shock of it. But, as he walked back up the familiar path, she was still on his mind.
She explored the island, the first fallen leaves of autumn gleaming on the winding dirt roads. The air was crisp and at the end of the day she felt a physical contentment that no hours in the gym could deliver. In her dreams she gazed out at the sea and felt the presence of someone close, but when she turned there was no one there. She woke feeling excited and anxious, not worried but as if she was waiting for something that was almost there.
That day, in the late afternoon,she saw the little cabin through the gaps in the rustling birch woods. For a moment she thought she had stepped into a fairytale. The little log house sprouted from the small clearing. She left the road and walked toward it. The logs were grey and weathered but the trim around the door was brightly painted a deep red. The roof extended over a small porch and there were two rocking chairs, one on each side of the door. She peeked through the window and saw an old black wood stove and a floor of pebbles. A long wooden bench ran along one side. A sauna, she thought. And the thought of stretching out and relaxing made her sigh.
“Hello.” The voice made her jump and her heart raced. She turned and there he was.
“I saw you on the beach,” she said. The pause was only a second but it felt like an eternity.
“I’m Ben,” he said. His voice was quiet and didn’t disturb the peace in the little clearing.
“Becca,” she replied. “I’m staying at the Berndt’s place,” she added, feeling the need to explain her presence.
“My house is the yellow one,” he grinned and she suddenly felt at ease. “Do you like my sauna?”
“It’s like a fairytale house,” she said.
His grin widened. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Forgetting my manners. It happens out here on one’s own. Would you like a drink, glass of wine, tea? I was just coming down to start the fire so, if you don’t mind waiting a moment…”
“A glass of wine would be fabulous,” she said, answering his smile, and settled in one of the rockers as he carried in an armload of wood and set about starting a fire in the stove. His movements were smooth and sure. It felt good to watch him work. Each step of the process done with a graceful economy.
When he was finished, he led the way through the woods and into a field with a yellow house. A wide, covered porch wrapped around two sides and a sprawl of late, pink roses grew up on either side of the steps. He gestured to the scattering of brightly painted rockers.
He watched her choose a rocker and lean back. Her eyes were closed and he could tell she was enjoying the warmth of the late sun on her face. He returned with a bottle and glasses balanced on a small painted tray.
“That was fast,” she said.
He felt himself blushing under his tan and wondered if she could tell. She glanced at him but her eyes were clear and steady and revealed nothing. He felt his blush deepen and worked at the cork and pouring the wine.
“All I have is white,” he said. “Trying to hang onto that summer feeling, I guess.”
“It is a wonderful feeling isn’t it,” she said. “So much is possible.”
He handed her a glass and raised his. “To summer.”
They drank, and chatted easily. They spoke about the island, their connection to it, and in the process he found himself saying more than he usually did, more than he intended. I have been out here too long, he told himself. But, there on the porch with the last of the summer sun on their shoulders and the level in the bottle dipping, he felt he knew her, had known her, and he wondered at the feeling.
The sun slipped below the spruce trees along the road in front of the house and he looked up. “I should go add more wood to the sauna,” he said. “Not much good if it’s cold.”
“A sauna sounds wonderful. Are you going to ask me to join you?”
Her question caught him by surprise and it seemed to him that she enjoyed his confusion.
“Well, of course. I mean, if you want to.” Oh shit, he thought, why can’t you just say what you mean. “Yes,” he said.
She laughed, “Are you answering for me?”
Surprisingly, he found it was all right to smile back. “I hope so,” he said, and meant it.
“Do I need anything?” she asked.
“No,” he replied. “Everything is there.”
They walked back down the path together. She caught her foot on a tuft of grass and he caught her hand to steady her. She leaned against him and he felt her warmth and the press of her shoulder against his chest. She looked up at him and her free hand reached up and touched his cheek. He felt her eyes rather than saw them and without thinking, without stopping to consider anything but the moment, he kissed her and felt her lips soft and yielding against his own. Her hand was at the back of his neck and he felt her fingers in his hair pulling him closer. They broke away and he felt exposed.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I, I…”
“Don’t be,” she answered. “I’m not.”
A surge of relief rushed through him. He took her hand and led the way.
As they walked down the path she barely felt her feet on the ground. She wasn’t aware of stumbling, only of suddenly being so close to him and wanting to close the distance completely. She could still taste his kiss and the pressure of his lips on hers. In the sauna, the warm wood, the gleam of candlelight and the crackle of the fire made her feel both relaxed and tense. She slid out of her jeans and unbuttoned her top while he worked on the stove. He turned and his eyes seemed to devour her.
She saw herself in the old mirror behind the stove; standing by the door, her shirt open to her waist and her bare legs below. She raised her hands to her breasts as if she were offering them to him.
“Aren’t you hot,” she said softly, and it wasn’t a question.
“On fire,” he answered.
It was like a dream, she thought, a beautiful, slow dream where everything slipped so perfectly into place. On the porch, the wine and the sun and the smell of spruce in the air, it had been so easy to talk. It was as if they had know each other for years and were merely reconnecting. She felt light and full of happiness. God, she thought, how long has it been since I’ve felt this? And how good to have it back. Everything was so bright and clear around her. She saw the crinkle of his smile around his eyes and the burn of his blush under his tan. She saw his eyes on her body and felt powerful, and a thrill of excitement made even her toes tingle.
He stepped forward and she caught his hips and held him there in front of her. Her fingers undid his jeans and pulled the zipper slowly down. She pushed jeans and boxers down over his hips and he stepped out of them. His cock strained forward, the skin of the head stretched so tight it shone. She wrapped both hands around him and pulled him to her. He throbbed in her grasp. His hands were on her breasts, rolling the nipples between his fingers, and she gasped and ran her nails along the side of his shaft, flicking the head.
She suddenly wanted to feel all of him, and she tugged impatiently at his shirt. He smiled and pulled it off over his head. She could see his tan line clearly. His back slightly darker from working outside, and his ass and upper thighs still white. He reached out and slid her shirt off her shoulders and continued down the smooth curve of her waist to her panties. His fingers hooked inside the waistband and slid them down over her ass. She loved the feel of his strong hands on her and she turned so that his hands were on her pussy, so that he would feel her wetness and her heat.
His breath and the pounding of his heart were loud in his ears. Her hands were on him, drawing him in and leading him on. She murmured something in his ear and he felt more than heard the pulse of her desire. Where their skin touched, the heat of the sauna brought out their sweat and he felt as if he were melting into her.
He brought his hands to her face and looked into her eyes and all the world stopped, just the flickering light from her eyes to his and back in an endless reflection. He kissed her gently now, lips brushing lips. How could so much be in so light a touch, he wondered? He felt the heat of her body and, at the same time, felt the coolness of her hands caress the side of his face. His skin tingled everywhere, aching to be touched, and he wanted it to last, to go on like this and never stop.
He took her hand and she followed him to the bench where he laid out towels to make some softness. She stretched out and he watched her. The delicate blue veins of her breasts, her nipples proud and taut, the curves of her hips and belly so soft and round and full, the sparse curls between her legs and the swollen lips of her sex. He took a jar of oil from a shelf above the bench. The scent of mint filled the room as he poured a small amount into his hands. He held her eyes with his as he took up her foot. He used his thumbs to press deep into the heel and then stretched each toe before continuing to her ankle and up along her calf, until his fingers reached the soft silk of her thigh. She leaned back and covered her eyes with one arm and moaned softly. He traced the muscles of her leg and felt the deep sense of relaxation spread. Her other foot pressed his arm, eager for its chance, and he obliged.
It was hot, almost too hot to breathe. She prodded his thigh with her free foot.
“Hey,” she said. “I need air.” He nodded and smiled. She saw the sweat running down his face and laughed. “You look like you just finished a marathon,” she told him.
He held out his hand and helped her up. On the far side of the small cabin he turned a tap and a flood of deliciously cool water rained down. She turned her face up and let the water stream down her shoulders and over her breasts. She laughed with relief and pleasure and shook her head. Water flew from her hair and she saw him watching her. His eyes were bright in the dancing light of the candle. She leaned back against him and felt his arms strong around her and his lips whispering against her ear and along her neck. She closed her eyes to feel the moment completely.
She felt him reach, heard a bottle open and smelled lemon and vanilla, and under that a darker musky scent. She felt his hands slick with soap on her shoulders and down the long strong muscles of her back. His hand seemed to flow over her skin and to be everywhere at once. They were so strong, his hands on her breasts, and then over her ass and covering her thighs, between her legs and down along her calves and back up, lingering between her legs, around to hold her ass and along her hips to bring her close. She felt him hard against her and reached behind to squeeze his cock, her hand as slick and slippery as his, and the entire world was wet and sweet and sliding so easily.
She turned to face him and found his lips with hers. Her arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him closer and closer, and she wanted him in her.
“Baby,” she whispered. “Let’s rinse off and then take me to your bed. I want you, I want you in me.”
“And I want you.” She heard the tremor of desire in his voice. “It’s like I have always wanted you, always.”
They stepped out of the sauna. The dark wrapped around her like a thick quilt and instead of feeling nervous or lost in it she leaned against him and suddenly saw the stars. The stars. She couldn’t remember the last time she had seen them. They had been there all these years, distant and dim glimmers in the yellow brown that passed for night in town. Not here. Here, the stars shone boldly, striking through the inky blue black of the night. And in the starlight the curving birches seemed to move like ancient goddesses bending and dancing as the wind touched them restlessly. After the heat of the sauna the wind that shivered the birch leaves felt gentle and welcome and she felt bold and strong with the heat within her. The wind brought the smell of pines and salt and she breathed as deeply as she could, feeling that she and the wind and the starshine and the birches bending gracefully all around were all part of one dream. A dream she had waited for so long to come, a dream that was now.
He took her hand and brushed her hair back from her face and she saw the gleam of the stars in his eyes. His hand lingered on her cheek.
“You are so beautiful,” he said, and the words touched her like a tribute and she felt a surge of sheer joy rush through her. For the first time in oh so long she knew she was, knew she was beautiful and could feel it in his eyes.
Quietly he led her back up the path.
In the house he stopped her in the kitchen and they shared a glass of water. It was cool and delicious with mint sprigs in the pitcher and it made her mouth feel alive, she could feel his smile as he kissed her and her arms went around his neck pulling him close. As his hands gripped her waist she pressed in closer. She lost herself in that kiss. His lips strong against hers, his tongue drawing hers out, slipping along her teeth, his teeth catching her lower lip and gently pulling it, pulling her into him.
He needed her and broke off the kiss to lead her up the stairs to the bedroom that ran the length of the house on the second floor. Starlight made the windows at each end into silver squares and he watched her gleam silver, silver like a goddess herself. He held her hand above her head and twirled her around like a dancer. She was all curves and swells and gleaming highlights and luscious shadows. He let her go and she stretched out on the bed and watched as he walked slowly to lie beside her.
“Tell me what you want me to do,” she said.
“What I want,” he paused and considered her. God, he thought, has there ever been such a luxurious, delicious woman?
“I want,” he said, “to feel your smile when we kiss.
I want your breath to be mine.
I want your hand drawing me closer even when we are tight against each other.
I want to see your eyes soft and liquid with desire.
I want to feel your nipples tighten in my hands.
I want you to abandon modesty when you are with me.
I want you to demand the best from me.
I want to please you and know you want more.”
“Well,” she whispered. “That’s quite a list. We’d better get started.”
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