Pink light pushed against the white cafè curtains of the frame farmhouse. Through the windows, the dark-haired girl was visible as she entered the little kitchen. A modern, sleek coffee maker, out of time with the rest of the appliances, stood on the counter beside the ancient stove. Coffee grounds were scoped from a plastic bin and poured into the white crinkled filter. Trickle of coffee into the pot, while the girl reached up and gathered a mug from the shelf above. Her shoulders moved as she breathed deep, inhaling the bitter scent. Leaving the pot to fill, she returned to the dining room, and retrieved the shortened stack of unread letters.
Brimming cup in one hand and the yellowed letters in the other, the robed girl settled back on the swing. Rocking gently, she blew across her cup of dark coffee, and started to read again.
I have to tell you I could scarcely believe what I read in your last letter. It broke my heart to hear you used in such a dishonest and diabolical way. I wish I could tell you I was not angry, but I cannot. Even now, my heart burns with rage at this boy who would so callously take advantage of your innocent soul. I tell you Stella, if I were there, I would take an axe handle to this scoundrel and beat him to within a hair’s breadth of his life.
What angers me most is that I am not there to protect you from the vileness that hides in that city. A man should be there for the woman he loves, to support her and to protect her from harm. I failed you in the first when your father took you away, and I failed you again by allowing you to be soiled by the touch of a man who cares naught for your honor. Yet, you would ask me for forgiveness.
Stella, I beg you to understand that you have done nothing that requires it. You are a woman who is lost in the midst of evil, and this dark-haired rapscallion took horrible advantage of your innocent nature. He should be horsewhipped for what he has done to you.
I confess that it took me several days to write this. When I first read what had befallen you, I am ashamed to say I held you to blame for it all. I couldn’t understand how you could let another boy touch you, and it broke my heart to think you could so easily slip into the hands of another.
My mood was dark for those days, Stella, and my temper was worn thin enough to snap at the least provocation. This all came to a head when I had a violent tussle with Andrew Bailey. When I saw that same simpering smile he’s been wearing since his engagement to Elizabeth, I just lost my mind. After that, Father demanded to know what had gotten into me.
I swear to you that I told him nothing of what happened to you, but I did tell him how much I missed you and that I couldn’t stand the idea of you being with another man. I told him that if you loved me, you would wait as long as it took for us to be together. That’s what I felt in my heart, and still I have not given up hope that this may indeed come true one day.
Father though, said I was being a damn fool. He told me that a good woman needs to have her man with her, and that a man who expected her to wait alone for the impossible to happen was no man at all. It hurt to hear him say this, Stella, but father was right. It is wrong of me to expect you to give up your hopes of one day having a family of your own simply because I cannot let you go.
The truth of it lies in what happened to you at that accursed party. Had you not been keeping yourself true for me, you would have been able to meet a proper man who would have been there for you. You need a man who will be there to protect you from the vile ways of your city. It just kills me to say it, Stella, but that is something I cannot do, no matter how much I love you.
I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I also hope you will still write and let me share some small part of your life, but you should free yourself of your loyalty to me. I do not deserve such from you, even though you love me still.
I write this with all my love and with heartfelt sorrow,
I can’t explain to you how broken hearted I felt to receive your letter. I knew you would be angry with me, but I did not expect you to set me aside like you did. Know that I love you truly. Forever you will be my summer boy, golden skin and tasting of apples, hay, and sweat.
I guess I cannot, and should not have expected any less. What man wants for a wife a girl who reacts to a man such as I did. No matter what passed or why, the truth is that I acted in a most despicable way. I understand your reluctance, even as it breaks my heart to say this.
I have waited for a week to hear what my sentence would be. Every day I looked for the mail to come, and yet there was no letter from you.
Remember the boy from the party? Tom? Well, I found out what he does; he's my new mail carrier. I'm sure you can imagine my embarrassment. I was sitting on the porch, waiting for the mail to come, certain that I would have a response from you, angry yes, but something we could work out. Instead, there was no letter, but the person I wanted to avoid most.
I can tell you I fairly bolted from the swing, and was on my way to flying inside when he called me over. It was with a shaking hand and nervous smile that didn't quite reach my lips that I approached him.
In his hand, he held the mail for the family and I looked quickly to see if I could find a large cream envelope with your familiar looping handwriting. But there was nothing.
“I hoped I might see you again.” He kept my eyes held within his, the ones that look so heartbreakingly like yours Josh. I could only hold the mail and wait in silence to hear what he had to say. “Look, about the other day.”
He seemed as embarrassed by it as I was, because his voice trailed off. I had to come to his rescue. “Look, forget about it. It was nothing.” I tossed my shoulders in a shrug and pretended I didn't care, unwilling to admit that I had spent the last three days crying because of his actions.
“Yes, well.” He seemed at a loss for words, then turned and left.
I'm afraid to say I cried again that night. Josh, you seemed so far away. All I wanted was to have your arms around me and those magnificent eyes on me.
I remembered how it felt when those fingers touched me and I started to touch myself the same way. I rode the saddle between my legs and with touches that started hesitant and slow, feathers that tickled. I moved my fingers the way Tom had. Stroking the wide soft area of skin outside my most secret place. The same feeling built up within me, Josh, and I couldn't help but let my fingers move where they wanted, till I again was writhing and moaning your name. This time I knew what to expect and when the pulse hammered through me, I didn't fight it. Afterwards, I dropped into a deep sleep, leaned against the pillow and imagined it was you.
This meeting with Tom happened every day last week. I think he thought I was waiting for him, because he has been smiling more and more. Yesterday he asked to take me for a walk on Saturday. My tongue tangled as I attempted to organize my thoughts. Then I saw your unmistakable font. I told him I didn't think that would be possible and ran inside to hear from my dearest boy.
Now I find you are putting me aside.
I guess I shall go back outside, and find Tom. Maybe at least he will not cast me aside like papa’s slippers when they have been worn too long.
Farewell Josh, this shall be my last letter unless I hear from you again.
Your words show the depths of my failure to be the man you needed me to be. I felt this myself when I was unable to convince your father I would be a suitable husband. I felt it even more deeply when my failure led to your being dishonored by that scoundrel. This was why I dearly hoped my last letter would give you the strength to find a man worthy of your love.
Instead, you tell me that you are running back into the clutches of the very man who defiled you. Even now, I cannot express how much it hurt to read those words. You may feel that my pain is because I must now think of you in his arms, and that my jealousy is the burning wound I feel in my heart every waking minute of the day, with every breath I draw. Well Stella, I tell you truly, I am jealous, but that isn't what is causing me such grief.
My love, and I do still love you more than life itself, you are making a grave mistake in exchanging my devotion for the maniacal machinations of that hollow excuse of a man. He is using you, Stella. His only desire is to sate his carnal needs with the purity of your flesh. How can you not see the truth in this?
What pains me now is the knowledge that, had I been there, I could have saved you from the horror you seem bent on putting yourself through. I foolishly thought I might be able to do this through pure correspondence and my loving advice, but now my failure has shown me the lie in this belief. I fear for you, Stella, and my mind whirls with the problem of how I can keep you from the clutches of such a man while I remain trapped here, a thousand miles away from you.
I have no money and father relies on me more each year to bring in the harvest, yet I shall not be able to live with myself if further harm comes to you while I sit here, idling away my only chance to save you. If you will not see the wisdom I offered in my last letter, if instead you are determined to willingly walk into the lion's den, what am I to do?
Father has told me of late it is time for me to be a man. I believe he is right, but he may not be pleased when I tell him what I must do if I am to become the man he raised me to be.
I bid you make no rash judgements, my love. A day of reckoning is coming, and with it may come the fury of hell itself.
I love you, I truly do.
But you have made it plain to me that you are no longer interested in me, and Tom has made his interest clear. I don't take kindly to your running down the only boy who is currently showing any interest in me.
You have a lot of nerve talking about anyone’s dishonorable interests. You laid me on the green grass, took what you wanted from me, but then you let me leave.
You set me aside, and broke my heart.
I cannot accept that you truly believe what you have written to me. I may be flawed and foolish, but my feelings for you are as true as any ever felt by a man. I love you more than life itself, and it kills me to think you might believe otherwise.
Now, you speak of allowing this man to touch you? I can only wonder what lies he has whispered in your ear for you to accept such a man into your life. With God as my witness, he will pay dearly for what he had done to you.
I do not blame you though. I have allowed my fears and insecurities to keep me from your side, and only now I see that it takes more than mere words to be worthy of your love. I can only blame myself for the pain we both feel and the harm he has done to you. It is time I rectify those mistakes.
I've have already told my father of my plans, and while he was very angry with me, I think even he respected my decision once I explained myself to him. So now, the decision is made. I am coming to you, Stella.
I may have to travel as a hobo for most of the journey, but even if I should have to walk the entire way, nothing will keep me from you. I will prove the strength of my love for you or I shall perish in the attempt. My only regret is that I waited so long to find the strength I needed to be the man you deserved.
This may be the last letter I am able to write before I see you.
Josh, My Josh,
I’m sitting here, listening to the rain hitting the roof, the little metallic ticks and the splatter as it runs off. You’re curled up on the bed, and the low rhythmic sounds of your breathing settle me as I sit here, still full of energy from the day.
As I’ve done a hundred times this evening, my fingers run along your arm, the bristle of your hair tickling their tips. I watch you breathe and I can barely believe that you are here and mine at last. Forgive me love if I touch you so, I am cementing you at my side with a thousand kisses. When I think of how I almost lost you, I cringe at what passed.
I know you say you forgive me, but I just need you to know what happened. To know why it came to pass. I will never let you go, but you still need to know what happened.
My days blurred together so if I look back now, it seems as if they were a kaleidoscope, the edges running together while individual pieces stood out. Sitting on the porch with Tom, listening as he talked about his mail route. The heat from his fingers as he would slip his hand along the edge of my stocking. The burn of the gin as I sipped it. We never discussed the party again, but it was there with us every day.
I helped Mother: cleaned the house, mended, cooked dinner. She never pressed me, but I think she knew something was wrong. We worked in silence, as the days passed, and she didn’t nag at me for wool gathering as she normally might.
Maybe it was Doris’ absence that tipped her off. When she showed up the first time, after two weeks, Mother sent us out onto the porch. I then heard her send Jane on a trip to the store. This left us with ensured solitude, although it also ensured that neither of us talked for several minutes as we picked at our nails and waited for the other to talk.
Eventually, Doris spoke up. “I... I didn't think about how you would feel.” She chewed the nail on her index finger, not meeting my eyes. I studied the scuffed toe of my black shoe. “Look, I know that you have good reason not to talk to me, but, well, can we be friends again? I miss you.”
I think you know me well enough, Josh, to know that I can't hold out against that kind of coercion. I stood, put my arms around her thin shoulders, hugging her tight to me. We stood, tears running down our faces, until she pulled back, and passed me the dull silver flask. The weight in my hand drew my eye and I removed the stopper and took a sip. The gin burned down my throat, making me shudder and make a face.
“It’s for you. I wanted to show you how sorry I am.”
More days ran together. More chores, although now Doris stopped by. More mornings waiting for Tom to bring me a letter from you. More tears dampening my pillow.
When Tom stopped by last week with your letter, I felt the pit of despondency. It was such a thin little envelope but with your dear, slanted handwriting on the front. I was certain that this would be the end, that you were casting me loose for sure.
I took it from him, and pushed it into the pocket of my skirt, to read later. I shoved away the thought of what you might have said, focused instead on the boy who was laughing on my porch. He pulled a small flask from under his jacket, and I had a drink with him.
I drank more than my share from the flask, I’m ashamed to admit. The day seemed very bright, There was a sparkle on everything that happens at the perfect point of drunkenness, when everything is shiny, funny, and you feel cleverer than you have ever been.
“There’s another party this weekend. Will you come with me?” The vulnerability that crept into his voice with a crack kept my feet rooted to the porch when I longed to flee.
My lips parted to deny him, to say no, that I couldn't possibly. That after the last party, I would not be attending another. “Yes, I’ll go to the party with you.”
The corners of his moustache twitched as he grinned. “Good, I’ll meet you there Saturday.” He caught my elbows and leaned close, brushed that tickle of hair across my lips and hopped the rail to the sidewalk, heading down the street.
I sat rocking on the porch after Tom continued on with his route, and I thought about opening your letter, but despair stayed my hand. I didn't want to read that you had cast me off forever. If I consigned the letter to the bottom of my drawer, and never opened it, then it never had to happen.
I stood up, arms extended to balance on the railing, and made my way inside to this little room. I put the letter deep in my drawer, on the very bottom, under the slippery fabric of my underthings. There it has stayed until today.
The week passed quickly, I had forgotten how much I missed Doris’ easy laugh, her infectious ways. For her part, she seemed to be going out of her way to be a good friend.
Mother seemed to watch us a lot. I know she wants me to be happy, and I’m sure she wanted me to have friends. She seemed to have been in a state of confusion: unhappy with what she was seeing, but not wanting to isolate me.
She made many excuses to enter the room whenever we were together. I know I barely slipped that little flask into my garter before she came in several times. Doris seemed to almost taunt her to say something. The way she lifted her chin and stared straight into her eyes while she drank from her flask. Her laugh was too high and too bright. I could see Mother’s throat work, and she would always leave the room.
Saturday, Doris brought the glad rags to my room and we dressed there instead of going to Doris’ place. It was the first time I wore my short dress around Mother. Doris’ attitude was driving my own, the frantic bubble to see what she would say.
“Stella Ray. What are you wearing?”
“My dress, Mother. Do you think I stitched the hems straight?”
“No daughter of mine is going out looking like one of those flapper girls.”
“I’ve been wearing it, Mother, and I’m wearing it tonight to the party with Doris. We are going out. I’ll be with her tonight, down on Fourth Street.” My hands pressed fists into my hips as I stood there, eyes wide and unblinking on her.
Her eyebrows drew down, creasing her forehead with wrinkles, and her lips pressed tight together. She didn’t say anything to us, but I knew she disapproved. It didn’t matter to me, and I raised my chin, pouted my lipsticked lips, and caught my elbow in Doris’, trouncing out the house and down the street.
My hips swung, heels clicked on the sidewalk, and I kept my trembling, chin up. Doris laughed her extra bright laugh, handing me the half empty flask. I tipped it back and felt the familiar burn as I drank deeply for not the first time that day.
We retraced our steps to the same house, with the same clusters of people. I wandered the rooms, nodding to a few people I vaguely remembered from the previous visit. I no longer looked for puppies. I noted that the groups of boys and girls, were much closer than I thought. Boys were not simply standing and talking to the girls. There were fingers straying, and mouths pressed together.
We roamed from room to room, and Doris was again warmly greeted. I saw her kissed soundly by boys and even some girls. I left her in the dining room, and carried on alone, ignoring the catcalls of the boys.
I found him in the sitting room in a cluster of boys, talking intently, fingers clutching a glass of hooch, and his other waving a cigar at other boys who seemed rapt by what he was saying.
Tom was stretched out, legs askew, his chair pulled to the side so I could see his profile from the doorway. I paused there, unsure of what I wanted. He pointed with the cigar, and the boys clustered at his side, leaned forward, their eyes fixed intently on him. My chest swelled to think that this charismatic boy was waiting for me. I was the queen, heading to her court.
I lifted my lips in a gracious smile and made my way across the room, around the Victrola projecting the tin wah wah’s of a muted trumpet and the moans of a clarinet. The syncopated music stuttered through me and I shifted my hips a little, felt my hem dance as I walked. It invited me to join in, to move, to be part of it.
Tom turned, his mouth twisting in what might have been coldness. My step faltered, and for a split second I saw stains on the rug, the scuffs in the wood below, torn cushions on the settee. My hand tightened on the framework in the doorway.
Josh, I think I saw what I was doing in that moment. Maybe if it had lasted, what followed wouldn’t have happened. But of course, we both know that’s not what happened, is it?
White teeth blazed at me as Tom turned on a smile, “Here she is, boys. Isn’t she a doll?”
He rose and crossed to me, warm arm circling my waist, handing me the glass of amber liquid. I lifted and swallowed, the warmth of whiskey sliding down my throat. The pull at my waist steadied me as I crossed the room to the soft, yielding cushions.
I slumped against the arm, feeling the disorientation lent by my edge. Tom leaned over me, and his lips hovered over mine. I stared up into his eyes, picking out the brown streaks in the centers, my lips puckered, waiting for his to descend. My heart thudded in my chest, racing, and I didn't breath.
Pushing back on the settee, he sat up, lips grinning at me. My breath slammed back into me, and I bit my lip to keep a moan from escaping. I sat up and pushed my hair back, hooking it behind my ears, keeping my eyes away from Tom. The wail of the saxophone seemed to speak for me, crying out in disappointment.
Warm soft fingers stroked my knee, so different from your touch. Confident, they touched me higher, all the while his soft voice swept over me as he talked to his boys. Resting my head against the soft back of the chair, I closed my eyes.
The touch on the inside on my thigh sent shivers skittering across jacked up nerves. Light stroking had me loosening my legs, and my knees falling apart. I moaned softly, blotting out the men’s voices as the touch moved farther up well under my skirt. Fingers strummed my skin, pushing higher, hot air moving across my thigh as the hem was pushed up.
The music ran through my skin, pulse flittering with the trills. My sex heated and I lifted my hips, pushing them towards those glorious fingers dancing across me. They moved higher and pushed my tap pants aside. The air brushed my skin, and cooled. Fingers pushed up, and touched me in the very most private of areas. So intense was the feeling that I cried out in shock.
But after the first electrical touch I was pushing my hips hard towards that hand again, craving more and more touch. Spreading myself open, they invaded and ran across me, pushed up into me where only you, dear Josh, had been before. They pushed along there and I whimpered out my enjoyment, and felt the wetness that ran down my thighs.
I rocked, twisting on the bench beside him. He was invading me now. Still I wanted more, and I moaned out, the need raw in my throat making the sound reedy. I could feel the glorious peak approaching, and I eagerly hurried toward it.
I thrust my hips, my body quaking. My back arched up, leaving the couch as I cried out. Raising my head, my eyes opened on three pairs of wide eyes above three open mouths, showing teeth and tongues.
Face heating, I sprang up, my dress dropping back down. I raced down the hall, lurching, holding tight to furniture, the wall, anything to get away. I tripped over my feet. Thomas and his friends' laughter ringing in my ears chased me as I fled. I bounced into Doris. She caught me with unsteady arms and looked at me with glazed eyes.
“He’s….” Unable to organize my thoughts, shattered emotions running down my face in drips that fell in spatters on the floor, I flapped my hand in the direction I had come.
She pushed past me, never looking back.
Blinded by the streams down my face, I stumbled, looking for the door. Lost, and wandering. I ran into a chest that didn't give, or move when I ran into it. Hard muscles under my fingers, the smell of grass and sweat, callous hands holding my arms, and a honey sweet voice.
“Stella? Stella are you okay?”
It was you, dear sweet man. How you were there, I didn't know, but it was real. I held you tight, buried my face in your shirt, crying, sniffling, beyond words. Clinging, fists tight in your shirt, keeping your dream to me.
“Josh… oh, Josh. I miss you so much.”
“I’m here, Stella. Why are you crying? Did he touch you again?”
Fingers still clamped to the cotton of your shirt, I raised my eyes looking into your clear green eyes, and wondered how I could have tried to replace you with Tom. I stared, lips trembling, fingers raised, touching your face, across planes of cheeks and chin.
Voice breaking, barely audible, “It’s really you. How did you…”
“Your mother told me where you were. Did he hurt you? Stella? I want to know.”
So strong, so fierce. Your voice ploughing through me, igniting me again. Fingers reached up, tangled in your chestnut hair and dragged your head down to mine.
That kiss, dear Josh, was everything I wanted to tell you—apology and jubilation, heartbreak and triumph. Your lips on mine responded, moving softly against me then harder, demanding an answer I was prepared to give to you any time. For I was yours, and you were still mine.
“Where is he, Stella?” Floating a little on delirium, I simply waved my hand like I had at Doris. Your strong frame turned, pulling loose from my grip with ease, and stomped up the hall.
I followed, not because I wanted to see the confrontation. I couldn't have you out of my sight, Afraid you would turn into just a dream. Boots echoed down the hall, my little heels clicking in their wake.
“Tom! Come out! You are going to pay!”
I tell you, Josh, I was a little afraid of what you were going to do. But then I stepped up beside you stopped in the sitting room. The shock of betrayal cut through my numbness. Doris was seated on Tom’s lap, fingers framing his face. Both were intent on their exploration, lips locked.
“Doris!” My voice projected the misery of the past week into a single exclamation
They parted their lips, looking into each others eyes for immeasurable amount of time before looking over. My fingernails dug into the pad of my hand, bright stabs of pain centering me in the rage I could feel. I could feel you shaking at my elbow and knew that you felt the same core I did.
Her eyes were laughing, and pinched as she looked at me. “Oh, look. Did you find someone as country as yourself?”
I’m not sure what it was about that comment, maybe it was the way she attacked everything that is so good and pure about you, dearest, but it set me off. Jerking the flask from my garter, I hurled it across the room, bouncing it off the wood leg of their seat. I followed it with angry steps, and angrier words.
“Josh is a finer man than Tom will ever be, and you are nothing but a hussy.” Snatching her short hair, I jerked hard, tumbling her from the lap of the boy I was seeing with fresh eyes.
Dear, you were so strong. I’ll always remember the way you grabbed Tom by his collar, and hauled him upright. The way his face went from lazy, scornful, the corners of his mouth turned down, to pinched and pale with fear. You landed that punch on his jaw, his lips bulging to the side as his head snapped to the side, driving the pain from my heart. I left Doris crying on the floor and tugged at your shirt.
“Josh, stop. Come on. Let's go. They aren’t worth it.”
Gentle Josh. I don't know how many men filled with the rage that marched across your face would have listened to my little tugs. But you did. Your hand shook as you lowered it. Your warm hand on my back guided me from the house.
Dearest, I know you say Mother sent you to Fourth Street, and I know you say you followed the sound of jazz to the house. But Darling, it had to have been more than that. It had to have been the Almighty playing a hand. There was no happier girl in the whole city, nor one half so proud as the girl who took your hand and returned home.
Father opened the door when we made it home, fingers clasped together, my head leaning against your shoulder. I could feel your voice rumble.
“Mr. Burke, I know you said I wasn’t the right man for Stella, but you’re wrong.”
“I know, son. Her mother and I have discussed it. We are going to talk to the bank and help you buy the farmhouse.”
Dear man, I don't know if it is possible for two people to be happier than we were in that moment. Mother had lemonade, and we sat together on the couch, my hand clasped in yours. I was content to sit like that forever while you and Father discussed our future. It ended too soon though with Mother escorting you to my room, and my night clothes in Jane’s room.
I knew we would soon be together forever, but I couldn’t wait. When the house was silent, I eased out Jane’s room. Her big eyes blinked in the dark and I pressed my fingers to my lips, extolling her to be silent. Her nod was all I needed, and I fled down the hall to you on tip toes.
Easing the door open, your back to mine, bared to the waist, the muscles ridged and hard. I slid through the door, silently shutting it behind me. Cats feet, I moved to you. My fingers reached up along that column of your spine. Your skin shivered at my touch, and you exhaled.
“Stella,” turning your frame to me, your words cut off by the press of my lips to your own. Your hands slid up my sides, along the thin chemise I came to you in, up to my face, framing it in your hands, your finger and thumb rubbing my shorn locks.
“They will grow back,” my voice husky, low, barely audible.
Matching tones, “I know.” Your lips dropped to mine again, pressing down against me. I press my body against yours, arms up and around the thick column of your neck. Those were the last words we spoke for some time, love. Your fingers lifted my chemise, touched me, exploring in a way we hadn’t that day by the orchard.
My boy, you left me breathless, desperate to keep from crying out. When you put your lips to my rosebuds and sucked them into your mouth, I felt the tension race through my core. I gripped your hair, and pulled you harder against me, pressing up to my tip toes. I ached to have you closer, to press you to my soul.
I guess I must have pushed harder against you, because we tumbled to the bed, me landing atop you. A terrible pause as we tried to make no noise, to remain undiscovered by my parents. Your fingers running down to squeeze and hold my flesh heated my skin. My teeth bared and pressed hard into the skin of my lip as I strained to remain silent. You held me tight and I wiggled.
The rough fabric of your underpants rubbed against my exposed parts, and the friction caused me to pant a little. I could feel how wet the fabric was becoming. I held tight to your strong shoulders, and rocked my hips, pushing for more, taking my pleasure. But I wanted you closer.
I leaned up and slid aside your pants, till you sprang out at me. You really are a glorious man, every bit of you constructed to please the eyes of the girl lucky enough to have you. Your special part pushed up at me, and I rose up, and guided you home. My fingers wrapping around you weren't those of the trembling girl that had touched you last. No, I knew I needed you. and I held you snug as my wetness sank down on you.
I sat fully down, driving you deep into me, sighing with pleasure. Josh, you should have seen the way you looked up at me, your face adoring, and the excitement in your strained mouth. It made me dip my head and kiss those lips once more as we moved together. We danced, our hips rocking in symmetry.
I pushed down, rocking and rocking; you were driving up into me, stronger and stronger till you were hammering at me, pushing deep. The ache was building, just like at the party, but somehow, it was better. It tugged at my chest, and I ached to hold you tighter. I wanted you deeper. I needed you closer, harder, more.
Rocking back on you, my head thrown back, I rode you as we galloped. Sweat dripped down my back, and I fought for control, but I was losing it, not gaining it. The sweet discord that was taking me over the edge started to escape in a single cry, but rough hands pressed over my mouth, muffling it. I shuddered and clung tight to you as my senses spun.
Darling man, I could feel you rocking under me, your hard, driving movements slowing as I shuddered, and you were twitching too. Our breath racing in and out, I collapsed, resting my cheek against the bristle of your chest, listening to the thud of your heart.
How long did we lie like that? I'm not sure. I know that you kissed my hair again and again, until I eased beside you and curled into the crook of your arm.
Josh, there is nothing I want more than to climb back in there with you, to sleep. But I must return to Jane. I cannot stay here yet. But soon, very soon. In the morning, you will make me yours downtown and we can move forward, together.
There is nothing I want more than to go home as Mrs. Josh Randal, and to sit under the apple trees with you until we are old and grey.
A tear fell to hit the paper, spreading out in a circle that stained the paper. Setting it on the stack, the girl scrubbed across her eyes with the terry arm of her robe. Gathering the letters, and her abandoned coffee cup, she rose from the swing, and entered the farmhouse, the screen door banging behind her. Leaving the empty cup, she moved to the dining room. There she gathered the remaining stack of yellowed letters, and the accompanying photos of a life together. Into the sitting room where she opened an efficient attache. She slid the papers into a file labeled Emily Clark, Editor-in-Chief.
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