Story idea submitted by: @firstelder_d: Retracing the past and loss.
We were on the porch swing when his large rough hands held my delicate face, he had asked me the same thing he had being doing since I met him.
We had been meeting for years, each year on the anniversary of our meeting for a weekend. Each year we would slip away from our lives like water droplets sliding off of the fast and beautiful cars he drove, clinging to each other before we fell and hit the pavement. We would wait the entire year again for it to rain, to feel like we were on top of the world again, and our love was the answer to every question that came up.
“Why won’t you leave him?” His beautiful brown eyes searched the glassy blue of my own, and his eyebrows furrowed slightly as if he’d been asking the same question all of his life; and he had. His hand – scarred with the calluses of hard labour and his job – caressed my neck and he drew his fingers one by one down my neck before grasping it like it may topple from my shoulders due to the weight of the world I carried.
I brought up my hand to meet his own and stroked it lightly, reassuring him with touch and confirming everything we had brought up before; a continuous and ever-circulating fountain that poured the same answers every time it bubbled to the surface.
Our torrid love affair had been going on for almost 5 years. I’d whisk away to a reclusive cottage to recharge my writer’s battery and work on new material for my novels, and he’d travel halfway across the country for his restoration and classic car convention. This is how we met.
I was 25 and in the prime of my life. I had nailed a great job writing for a reputable newspaper, while pursuing my lifelong dreams of becoming a published author and novelist on the side. It was working beautifully and I had managed to find an agent who was taking me to the top. I used the column to push my wares and highlight my own efforts, which was frowned upon but management simply smiled and rolled their eyes at me. As long as I didn’t hurt their bottom line I could plug my work.
I was the casualty of young love – university relationships that never quite ebbed and flowed with my changing personality. But, I was in love and he was a wonderful man. Our families got along famously, it also needs to be said that his father owned the newspaper I was working for. Our lives married so much into one another’s that nobody knew where mine started and blue eyed Lukas’ stopped. I wouldn’t say I had doubts, but I was blissfully content at being averagely happy. It wasn’t enough to try to leave, and I knew I would be happy.
We exchanged vows the year before to my mother’s protest. She was always of the mind that women shouldn’t marry before 30, because nobody knew what they wanted to who we really were. In hindsight, she couldn’t have been more right.
At the start of that summer I was sent to Upstate New York to cover several classic car shows to cover for a friend who couldn’t make it. I normally did entertainment, Opinion, and Reviews but I was asked to fill in. My job got me a beautiful room in an equally beautiful cottage not far from where the show would be held. It was a stunning Victorian home, with sprawling green fields every which way and a wraparound porch that housed a few comfortable rocking chairs. The tables beside them normally held chilled glassed of iced Tea, condensation running down the smooth etched glass and pooling below into the fabric of homemade coasters.
I spent the first few days holed up on those rocking chairs, cradling my laptop and sipping sweet teas, typing loosely as the smells of wheat grass and several types of trees made its way on the wind through my hair and onto my skin. This was somewhere I wanted to be again, I had no doubt of that.
The first day at the car show wielded a very eye-opening experience, which lead me to believe I was definitely not meant to write about cars. Sure the polished chrome and steels were seductive, and the paint was bold and bright, but the topic bored me to tears. I spent the first few hours wondering somewhat aimlessly up and down the rows of the Chevrolet area of the open field, now spotted with hundreds of antique and restored cars, dotting the landscape with colours not normally seen in nature.
After filling several pages of my notebook I decided I would head back to the cottage for lunch and maybe come back during the evening. Evening events always boasted the best entertainment, with open bars and music, the event turned into more of a networking and social scene, where car buffs and those in the industry could discuss the latest trend or piece of work.
I set out for my loaner car past several rows of car-meatheads: a group of younger men who I would bet spent their entire lives on their cars. As I walked by, wind swirling my blonde hair, it caught my notebook and up like a tornado my notes went. I watched in horror as they scattered all over the men and the cars, surprised shouts when paper landed on their heads or in their popped hoods.
I started rushing to each piece, grabbing it along with handfuls of grass, murmuring apologies while trying to organize the sheets. I got to the last piece and as I reached to grab it so did someone else. Our hands touched for a brief second, and before he let go a jolt of electricity surged through me. I stood up and shielded my eyes from the blaring sun enough to see a tall man, build like a wall, olive skin and beautiful brown eyes smiling.
“You ought to get a stapler or something.” His light upper Midwest accent was barely audible but it brought a smile to my lips. I shook his extended hand.
“Adeline. Call me Addy.” I smiled as we shared a handshake. He laughed.
“Well in that case call me Rick. Maverick. And yes, that’s my real name. Don’t ask. Are you coming back tonight? We’re setting up the cars in the 1950’s area; you’re welcome to stop by.”
“Well, that sounds like fun, Rick, but I have to go back to my hotel and type these notes up.” I started walking away without thinking. “Um I'm a reporter. Thanks for this.” I held up the last piece of paper he’d given me as I awkwardly bumbled away, waving the paper in the air as I sped walked past him. He looked confused but smiled and waved. I literally just ran away from the most beautiful man I’ve ever met. Probably for the best, I told myself. Looking back, it wouldn’t have changed anything.
Back at the hotel I showered, typed up my notes, and called my husband. The whole time I was speaking to him I tried my best to listen but my mind was laser-focused on Rick. He was incredibly beautiful. The second time I caught myself not listening I said goodbye and promised to call him when I got back tonight. I dressed and took time doing my hair and makeup. As press, you never know who will want a photo with me. I repeated that to myself several times before I started to believe that was the reason. When I was satisfied I grabbed my notebook and headed out to the party.
It didn’t take long to run into Maverick, what a coincidence I happened to walk by his area. He shouted at me and waved me over. My heart sped in my chest. I took several deep breaths and told myself he’s attractive but I'm not attracted to him. This is normal.
We ended up spending the entire length of the party together. He introduced me to his car buddies, his boss from his shop who came with him to the show, and even let me take his 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible (10mph but still). After a few hours the party started to dwindle and die down. It was bad but I only had one day left before I had to go home, and I needed to be around Rick. He made my heart jump and skip, his accidental brushes of his hand made me electric.
We sat in a circle, leaning on the cars, a few of Rick’s buddies drinking beer and smoking, me leaning nonchalantly close to Rick, my hip touching his leg.
“When do you want to head out Mav?” One of Rick’s friends spouted the words I dreaded to hear all night in-between sips of beer. Rick looked at me out of the corned of his eye and I could see him thinking. I needed to do something before he left.
“You guys are welcome to come back to my hotel. It’s a beautiful cottage, it has a large private deck and it’s big enough for everyone.” Rick’s head snapped to meet my eyes and before I could follow up with “OR I could see you tomorrow” he said,
“Ya I'm in. Boys?” The guys looked around at each other and nodded, raised eyebrows.
“Sure I'm up for a night cap.” They muttered in agreement as they picked up their things and headed to their rides.
“Just follow me.” I started toward my rental and I heard footsteps behind me.
“I thought I may as well come with you, so I know how to get back.” Rick stepped along beside me, huge grin on his face and hands in his pockets. I smiled back.
We stayed up smoking and drinking until early in the morning. Three times my phone rang, and three times I let it go to the machine. One by one Rick’s friends petered out until it was Rick and I laying on a blanket in front of the porch on the grass, stars twinkling and the euphoria I felt was unparalleled. We stared up at the sky, no doubt both our hearts beating hard in our chests, legs touching side by side as if by accident. Crickets and cicadas echoes through the trees and into the open meadow and the sound of the wind through the leaves made me think this was a dream.
“How long have you been married?” His words cut through the early-morning soundtrack like a knife, and for the first time all evening I remembered I was married. What was I doing? “Before you say anything, I'm engaged.” I felt like a bucket of ice water was thrown in my face and I was paralyzed. My beautiful dream was now a deformed, sick reality. “I saw the ring.” He held his breath and it sounded like he nervous to hear my answer.
I took a deep breath, “just under a year. We dated in college…” I paused, “It made sense at the time.” There. I said it out loud. I had never said it before. Or thought it but I felt it.
“We’ve dated for 10 years, since we were teenagers. She gave me an ultimatum. She’s a great woman, so I don’t know why I was having a hard time proposing. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem…” He trailed off, and I heard regret in his voice.
“Didn’t seem right?” I finished. We both turned out heads sideways to face each other, on our backs looking at the stars this was a moment I thought would be important.
“I don’t know you at all, Abby,” My heart started to beat faster and my skin was suddenly on fire, “and I hope you don’t mind me saying this but tonight was one of the most fun I’ve ever had.” He looked at me, eyes deep and dark, searching my face. “I’ve… God damn Abby, I’ve never felt this way until now. With you.” He sat up and looked down at me, visibly agitated.
I sat up immediately and we were inches apart. “Is it possible to have two people click after just meeting? While two others spend years together and don’t?” My heart was a jackhammer, I knew what was going to happen and I could stop it. I could stop it right now. I could get up, say goodnight, and walk into the hotel. I could walk into my room, lock the door, call Lukas and leave tomorrow.
I could but I didn’t.
I grabbed his head and pulled his mouth onto mine, instantly shocked by the electricity running through the contact. His kiss was virtually electrifying. His lips were soft and enveloped my own, his hands all of a sudden in my hair and all over my back. We grappled with our shirts and fell back onto the dewy grass, completely missing the blanket. Shoes and my bra came off before I noticed and then I felt the aching need inside me fill as Rick slid into me. I gasped as he hit ever nerve on the way in.
His hands clamped onto my lower back and he pulled me onto him, and we worked in a rhythm frantically clawing at each other as we rolled on the grass, kissing like we had reached the pit of passion inside us both. I never wanted this to end. My skin was on fire and Rick growled and snarled into my hair as he came, I followed him while sliding my hand down his barrel chest. We lay in a heap, still connected for a long time, listening to each other’s breathing and kissing and nipping at each other playfully. I had no regrets. I never would.
The next day we skipped the car show. We made our way inside eventually, showered, and made love again. And again when we woke up. We spent the entire morning and afternoon in bed. After that, Rick headed to the shower again, kissing my forehead and smiling. I lay there completely elated until my cell phone went off. Reality smacked me in the face and my face flushed as I jumped out of bed in search for my phone.
“Hi babe,” I tried to act casual, “Just at the hotel, getting packed and ready to head to the airport. Yep, I’ll call you when I'm there. Hope you have a good day too, ok, love you, bye.” I set the phone quietly on the dresser and turned around to find Rick in a towel in the doorway. His eyes were hurt and his expression was solemn.
“That was, my…” My voice cracked and I searched for something to say to make this reality disappear. Instead of saying anything Rick unwrapped his towel and let it drop to the floor. He stood naked and statuesque in front of me; his stunning physique equaled hours working out. He walked silently toward me and grabbed my wrist with one hand, pulling me into him. He smelled of spice and shampoo, skin soft and supple from the water. He kissed my neck and breathed into my ear.
“He may have you when you go back, but you’re with me now. And you’re mine.” He picked me up under my ass with his forearm wrapped around me and threw me gently onto the bed. Looking me in the eyes he firmly held me down while he caressed and touched my body. He entered me with a slight force and kept a slow and steady pace until my world shattered around me and my back arched up in response. I would enjoy every second of him before I had to leave.
I would never get enough of this man.
Here we sat at the cottage, 5 years later, and the fifth year in a row we reunited. I had even gotten the same room overlooking the meadow where we made love the first time.
We sat on the porch swing hands clasped together in silence, knowing this would be our last hour before we needed to depart. I smiled thinking of my boss earlier this week when I made arrangements to go to the car show again.
“You’re our best columnist Addy, why would you waste time with that car show crap? Get a junior to do it.” My boss had rolled his eyes when I requested the press pass again this year but he smiled. “I don’t know what it is about you and this dang car show. I didn’t even know you liked cars.”
I toyed with the memory in my head, rolling it around and dissecting it. I was so happy when we had made the plans. We had talked for hours the week before planning it all. My husband and my son would be out of town visiting his mother’s, and his wife was out of the country on business for a few days. We spent every waking minute talking to each other. Giggling and laughing - reminiscing.
And here we were, yet another year flown by, another year of devastating heartbreak when we left. He took my chin in his hand and brought it up to meet his face. He planted a very gentle, very soft kiss on my lips. When he pulled away he had tears in his eyes. He held my face in his hands and asked me the same thing he’d asked me every year.
“Why won’t you leave him?” He didn’t ask it to evoke as response. He knew why. I had a son. Until you’re a parent you don’t realize that as a parent you would literally do anything for your children. Including sacrificing your own happiness to give them a stable life. If I left my son would stay in Boston with Lukas, because I would have to move to California. Rick had a shop; he had a business and responsibilities. He couldn’t move. I could, but my son would stay with Lukas.
How do I know? Lukas told me, on another of our arguments. If I ever left custody would go to him. His family had the money and the power. It was a battle I wouldn’t win and didn’t dare.
“Can I see him again, do you have something recent?” His eyes lit up. I smiled as I reached for my purse and started to dig out my wallet. I pulled a small photo out and handed it to him. Rick’s eyes watered and a single tear slid down his cheek. I looked at him. This man, this man was everything to me. He was my entire world.
Now, Lukas was handsome in a nice looking way. He had kind blue eyes, blonde hair like my own, and a small frame. But looking at Rick, he was a whole different creature. Rick’s deep brown eyes held his soul. He was a few inches over 6 feet and shoulders as wide as a football field.
I watched this gorgeous man as he fingered the photo, gingerly tracing my sons face and cupping it with his other hand. He looked at me.
“Can I keep this?” Tears filled my eyes as they fell silently down my cheeks. He brought up a finger to swipe each one away and kissed me again.
“Of course you can.” We both smiled and looked down at the photo of this handsome 4 year old, with big beautiful brown eyes. Just like his fathers.
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