Disclaimers: see chapter one.
The following Saturday was noisy at the apartment complex where I lived. A couple male/female- were moving in next door. Theyd already borrowed a screwdriver, wrench and then came back to use the phone, interrupting my house cleaning. So when the doorbell rang around eleven that morning I wondered what they possibly needed now. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw Regi standing on the balcony walkway -her back to me- leaning on the railing, as if she were checking out the parking lot. My knees went weak at the sight.
My eyes swiftly perused her up one side and down the other. She looked WONDERFUL! Her hair was pulled back in a braided ponytail and encased in some type of studded leather holder, covering nearly half the braid. She had bangs now. The short, feathered tresses combed forward, almost covering those dark eyebrows. The sides hung a bit longer, tapering towards her ear; a slight curl to the longest tendrils dangling at lobe level -between ears and cheeks -reminding me of the "old Xena". She was wearing an off-white oxford shirt -sleeves rolled up nearly to her elbows, shirtfront open to chest- black jeans and thick leather sandals: Birkenstocks no less. A pleasing blend of femininity and masculinity combined into one mouthwatering package! Jeez!
"How in the world ?" Was all I could manage to say, surprised I didnt drool on myself with those few words.
"I have many skills," she purred, purposefully sounding like Xena, one eyebrow shooting skyward.
Oh boy! Chills raced up my spine. I couldnt help but smile. And then it hit me what I looked like after a mornings housecleaning: worn out, tight fitting poly/cotton shorts, a Clorox stained T-shirt, my hair a mess because I hadnt blow-dried it after my shower. It was obvious I hadnt been expecting company!
The male half of the new neighbors came down the balcony walkway about that time, carrying a large box and Regi put one foot inside the door to get out of his way.
"Oh come in," I said, realizing I hadnt even offered this yet. I was just so flabbergasted by her presence.
"Sure?" Our eyes met; gazes locked.
I felt a sly smile turn down the corners of my lips. As if I could say no, I thought, but merely nodded, and vocalized a tad overzealously, "Su-ure." I had to lick my lips on that one to make sure no saliva had oozed out either corner.
She didnt offer to sit down, but turned to me right after I closed the door, saying, "Look, if youd rather I leave, Ill understand."
I was stunned she was even here. "Wh-Why should I want you to do that?" I stammered, my knees trembling. I needed a cigarette badly. "Please have a seat."
"No, I Rachael " She paused, our gazes meeting once again. "Let me cut to the chase, here. I couldnt tell from your letter how you felt about me, but I know how I feel about you and " She paused again and glanced away. "Damn, this itnt coming out right. What I mean to say is " She looked up; her eyes a watery green. "Id like to see you again if " Verdant eyes darted back and forth searching mine. "It may have started off as a one-night stand okay, but it didnt I didnt God, it hurt when I woke and you were gone!" she blurted out and turned away, releasing a heavy, shuddering sigh.
"Im sorry, Regi." I reached out and touched her arm. "I didnt mean to hurt you. I was trying to avoid being hurt myself."
She placed her hand over mine before I had a chance to move it and looked down at me. "What made you think I didnt want you to stay? What did I say do What?" Those eyes were even more watery now.
Was she close to tears? I wondered. Nawh, couldnt be! "You didnt say or do anything, believe me," I answered. "I was just afraid youd wanna toss me out on my ear. You know, the whole morning-after thing and all that."
"Why? I wasnt drunk, Rachael. I knew exactly what I was doing."
"Yeah, well " I shrugged.
"Yeah, well, what?!" Anger tinged her voice.
My own frustration slapped me in the face and I reacted. "Good god, Regi, look at me. Take a good, long look." I held out my free arm. Oh great, thats right show her the large nervous perspiration stains! Let her see just how bad youre sweating from just being this close to her. "You think a person like me believes she could ever have anything more than a one-night stand with someone like you?" I finished and then lowered my arm. I figured Id made my point, in no uncertain terms. I felt myself blush in embarrassment.
She huffed. "You dont give yourself enough credit, Rachael."
Credit for what? I wanted to scream, but merely crossed my arms and said, "You cant be for real." My eyes darted back and forth searching hers now. Are you absolutely crazy or just blind as a bat? I thought, but didnt verbalize those thoughts either.
"Well, the last time I felt of myself, which was probably when I took a shower awhile ago, I felt pretty real to me," she quipped with a sly smirk. "Dont I feel real to you?"
She glanced down at my hand on her arm and so did I; her hand covered mine, thumb rubbing lightly.
"Look Rachael " She turned and reached over lifting my chin, so I had to look at her. "Theres just something about you, that Well, I just cant get you out of my mind no matter how hard I try. And believe me, Ive tried. You think Id risk coming here, making a complete ass of myself, unless I thought there was something worth pursuing?"
"You sure its not just your pride thats wounded, because I left before you could dump me?" The words tumbled out of my mouth; I instantly regretted them.
A hurt expression contorted her features. "You mean you actually think ?" She swallowed hard, eyes narrowing, expression changing to anger, as she let go of my face. "Hellfire, woman, donchu think Ive been turned down before? Good god almighty!" She went to run her fingers through her hair, but ended up snagging the leather thing-a-ma-jig encasing her braid; her fingers grazed over it. Evidently, this was not her usual hairstyle.
"For years I felt like my bedroom had a damn revolving door and I was the only one who couldnt see it," she growled, tears welling up in her eyes. "And in all that time, Ive never ever met anyone who makes me feel the way you do." That makes two of us, I thought, watching her wipe a tear off her cheek. "Shit!" She stared down at her hand. "I dont usually do this," she mumbled.
"Regi " I took a step forward. "Its probably just lust." Though why youd be lusting after me, is beyond my comprehension. "You did say you might be even rustier than me, so "
"Does it matter?" she interjected, staring down at me, eyes brimming with tears. "At least its something. Something to me, that is, because I dont usually even allow anyone to do anything to me."
"What?" No reciprocation? I was stunned. "How come?"
"Easier that way," she answered, glancing up at the ceiling and batting her eyelashes, apparently trying to keep the tears at bay.
I pictured the revolving door. "And they go along with that?" I had to ask.
"They got what they wanted." She wiped her eyes. "I hope so, at any rate." Wry smirk, that didnt last long, as she glanced down between us, seemingly embarrassed at this admission.
The words, "But you let me. Why?" lay unspoken on the tip of my tongue. The answer was obvious. Or should have been. But my negative mind chose to ignore it, concentrating on that revolving door. How many had their been? What had they looked like?
She wiped tears on her sleeve and glanced up again. My eyes searched hers for the answers to these questions.
Out of the blue, she reached out and captured my face between her palms. "I cant promise you anything, Rachael. No one can promise anyone tomorrow. Sometimes you just gotta take a chance. Grab hold of what you want and hang on tight, for as long as it lasts." Watery green eyes darted back and forth. "All I want is a chance to get to know you spend time with you. If it works out Hallelujah! If it doesnt then it doesnt. But, by god, shouldnt we at least give it a shot? See if theres something more here than just lust?" She paused taking a breath. "Worst case scenario we just f - -k each others brains out. But at least, Im sure wed have a good time doing it."
I couldnt help but smile. Levity in the midst of this; she was too good to be true. "Wh-what exactly are you proposing?" I felt I had to ask this; make sure things were crystal clear.
"Well dating, if thats what you wanna call it. Im not suggesting you drop everything and move in with me, if thats what youre afraid of."
Thats exactly what Im afraid of; afraid Ill consider too, if you pursued it.
"Just give us a chance to get to know one another," she continued, "And quit throwing up this this wall about physical appearance. Thats not what matters. Its whats inside that makes a person beautiful, Rachael. At least thats how I feel. And I see a beautiful person when I look in your eyes. Its like the lights are on somebodys home. Theres a warm fire burning and I wanna curl up in front of it. Cant you see that? Doesnt it show?"
She looked serious enough, but I was still apprehensive. I already felt like I could be falling in love with her -probably already had- and I didnt even know her. What happens if we get to know each other, I like her even better and she finds out she doesnt like me? It would kill you, thats what!
"Yeah, I know it would be a long distance romance or whatever," she pressed on, as if answering some unvoiced question. "But, perhaps that could be a good thing, ya know. I mean, youve got your life here during the week; Ive got mine there and we can share the weekends. Acourse we dont have to be exclusive, if you dont want to. No promises." Her eyes narrowed. "Well, maybe just one: Always be honest with each other. These days, thats about as good as it gets, doncha think?"
"Dating on the weekends, huh? Dont you mean screwing each other on the weekends?" I was being negative and I knew it. But, I didnt want to be led around by those hormones running wild and loose inside my body right now. Especially knowing how easily they could get my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.
She smirked. "Well, yeah, I sure hope therell be a helluva-lotta that. But I also wanna be with you. Take you out to dinner dancing the movies Wine and dine you and yes, talk. I really do wanna get to know you, Rachael."
I couldnt believe I was standing here listening to this woman plead with me to let her find out more about me. What seemed too good to be true, in my experience, usually was! And this had to be of the latter variety, because things like this just didnt happen to people like me!
No sooner had this thought ripped across my mind than some part of me obviously having recorded previous events- replayed certain images before my minds eye, like clips from an episode of Xena. " I know how I feel about you Theres something about you, woman I cant get you out of my mind no matter how hard I try I dont usually allow anyone to do anything to me No one can promise anyone tomorrow Sometimes you just gotta take a chance Stop throwing up this wall about physical appearance, thats not what matters The lights are on, someones home. Theres a warm fire burning and I wanna curl up in front of it "
Was I doing exactly what she said: putting up a wall concerning physical appearance? And hiding behind it? Was it possible shed actually felt the same things I had? Instant attraction, wanton lust -turning into a longing to spend more time with her- and something else, too: familiarity? Could I be so lucky? Was there more to all this than met the eye? And what about those eyes? What did I really see in those verdant depths? Was I just too afraid to see the truth staring me in the face right this minute? She had gone to the trouble of tracking me down, after all. How had she done that, anyway? And perhaps the most important question of all: Why?
"Im sorry," she uttered, suddenly letting go of my face. "I I guess I was wrong. I felt something that night and I thought No, I was almost sure you felt it, too, but " She turned towards the door.
That cinches it! Shed felt it, too! I couldnt let this woman walk out of my life, even if she did seem too good to be true! I reached out and touched her arm. "Im free tonight," I said simply. "How bout you?"
That smirk returned as she slowly did an about-face. "As a matter of fact, I am," she responded.
We both wore wry smiles now. "I should warn you, Im not a cheap date," I teased. "So donchu dare think youre gonna get by with taking me to some fast food joint."
"Would I do that?" she quipped, with arched eyebrow.
"I dunno, would you?"
She glanced up at the ceiling briefly and scrunched up her mouth. "Umm, not on the first date. After a couple of months now " She left the rest unsaid, that smirk firmly in place, eyes alive and sparkling with mirth, as she gazed down at me. "Let me make one thing clear though. Miss Money Bags Im not. But I think I can swing for dinner in one of the finer restaurants. Around here, that is." She clarified, pausing briefly. "I have a feeling, however, we could have a good time, no matter where we go."
We talked until 4 oclock that afternoon, whereupon she left, so we could both get dressed, then came back two hours later to pick me for what she termed "a real date". True to her word, she wined and dined me that evening. We ended up back at the bar, where she evidently bribed the disc jockey to play several 70s tunes we could dance to. She didnt come on overly strong like before, seemingly having no hidden agenda. Im sure it was evident to anyone caring to notice that we were together: sitting close, protective arm around the shoulder; hand on elbow or back while walking to and from the dance floor. I often felt like I was in a dream. And was constantly wondering when the alarm clock was going to go off and wake me up.
The music returned to the up-to-date stuff, we soon got bored and opted to leave. She was the one to ask the inevitable question: "my place or yours?" Id surmised wed end the evening in this fashion and wanted it, although I had hoped wed talk more. Since I had noisy new neighbors, I chose her place. Of course, I was well aware that since she picked me up, Id have no recourse but to ask her to take me home later or stay the night. I wouldnt be able to just slip away like before. But I truly had no intentions of doing so. I was staying with this for as long as it lasted this time.
She made Long Island Teas and we sat on the patio and talked for a good while; sharing more highlights of our life history. Her mother had passed of ovarian cancer; Regi coming down and staying on the weekends while she was in the hospital and doing what she could to help out. It wasnt long and drawn out, or so she claimed. It still evoked a few tears, however. Her father had died of a heart attack several years before; brother, three years her junior, had been killed in a horse riding accident when he was 14 horses sold afterwards. She was alone in the world now. I couldnt relate to that, I still had a brother, sister and father living. My mothers passing had been hard and unexpected, and I didnt like to talk about it much.
The road of love and relationships had not been an one easy for her, either. Longest relationship had lasted eight years; most recent lasting only two. It had been a bitter parting that left her scarred and gun-shy, so to speak, even after the intervening three years. Which was about the time my "marriage", I suppose you could say, was showing definite signs of the beginning of the end. I could see that now in retrospect, but chose to ignore it back then.
A lull in the conversation -which obviously needed to be changed- prompted a suggestion of music and she went inside. I had noticed the new fangled radio/CD player, they advertised on TV, sitting on the bar during my previous visit. Now I had the pleasure of hearing it, via the open kitchen window. A lot of sound from such a small box, I thought. The music CD- was mellow oldies and I was in semi-heaven, what with drink, cigarettes and songs I either knew or could at least understand the words to.
We talked about Xena now: 5th season disappoint and anguish, 6th season nearing what would be the final episode of this popular cult series. Not exactly a happy topic, either.
At different times during the day quiet moments like this- an old song kept playing and replaying inside my head like background music in a movie. It had been that way ever since shed said something that morning, which struck a chord somewhere inside. I was quite surprised to hear the same song playing now, not in my head, but on the stereo.
"Oh damn!" she said and sat straight up on the loveseat. "Umm do you like this song?" she inquired a bit hesitantly. I nodded agreement. "If I start it over, will you dance with me?"
I was a bit surprised by this request, but then everything about her had been one surprise or coincidence after another, so what was one more? And so I answered, "Id love to."
We swayed together on the dimly lit patio to an old Barry Manilow tune. She sang along earthy, untrained, alto voice, sheer music to my ears- never taking her eyes off mine.
You remind me, I live in a shell
Safe from the past and doing okay, but not very well
No jolt, no surprises
No crisis arises; my life goes along as it should
Its all very nice, but not very good
And Im ready to take a chance again
Ready to put my love on the line with you
Been living with nothing to show for it
You get what you get when you go for it
And Im ready to take a chance again with you.
When she left me, in all my despair
I just held on, my hopes were all gone
Then I found you there
There were tears in both our eyes even before the song ended. I wasnt surprised by hers, but marveled at my own. Twice now I had cried in her presence. I was working on yet another record.
"Say youll take a chance on me, Rachael," she murmured, cupping my chin in her hand. "Take a chance on us."
I gazed into those verdant eyes and hoped what I thought I saw there was real. "Yes," I agreed, right before she captured my lips in a soft, sensual embrace.
Shirts unbuttoned to the waist, blood running hot, passion burning bright, we had yet to leave the patio. "Lets go in," I suggested.
"Right here, right now," she growled. We were on the loveseat; not enough room for both of us to lie down. She dropped to her knees in front of me, however, removing that obstacle.
"Not here, Regi," I protested, grabbing the hands already working on the zipper of my pants.
"Why not?" She kept right on going, undeterred. "No one can see us."
"How do you know?" I glanced around; woods on all three sides hid us. "Youve done this before, havent you?"
"Hell no, but I sure like the idea. Stand up," she added.
"No Regi, I feel so exposed."
"Yeah! Down right decadent, itnt it?" Obviously sensing my reluctance, she reached back over her shoulders and grabbed hold of her shirt with both hands, pulling it over her head like a man, then tossing it over on the table behind her.
My god shes serious, I thought, eyeing those lovely breasts, nipples already getting hard.
"You gonna stand up or do I have to strip em off you?" Eyebrow arch.
"But, Ive never " She grabbed my legs, interrupting my protests and pulled me towards her.
"Good. That makes two of us." Hands latched onto the top of my pants and tugged. "Raise up."
"You gonna try and deny the Conqueror, again?" she growled, eyebrow arched and quivering.
"Oh Jeez!" That sent a chill up my spine. I raised up and she promptly pulled pants and underwear down at the same time, shoving them to my ankles where they caught on my shoes.
"Damn!" she cursed and went to work on the shoelaces.
The wind was cool, raising chill bumps on my legs. Oh Lordy, this does feel downright naughty as all-get-out, but "Im not sure about this," I said, my concerns reasserting themselves. "What if someones out there in those woods spying on us?"
"Then theyll get an eyeful of two women making love, wont they?"
Shed said "making love" not the "f" word. Respecting my feelings. Thats nice. "You mean you wouldnt care?"
"Not as long as they dont interrupt," she growled, freeing my ankles from their restraints. "Like Evil Xena said, Dont get between two people and their passion."
"She was screwing Borius at the time," I reminded.
"Who cares whose bones she was hopping, the words still hold true." She pulled me a bit closer, my shirttail tickling my inner thighs.
"Regi, I still dont think we should "
"Consider it grist for the writers mill," she interjected, before proceeding to sit down on the patio floor and scoot closer to the loveseat murmuring, "Ummm-hmmm", as if she were pulling up to a dining table, about to partake of a scrumptious meal. "Well act it out you write it down," she added, moving my shirttail out of her way.
That flew all over me! "Good god woman, youre too good to be true," I acknowledged.
In the next moment, however, she proved that to be an understatement.
All of a sudden her head popped up. "Oh, by the way " I gazed down at her, feeling my own eyebrow go up. "I can keep my pants on this time, cant I?" She smirked. "The cements a bit hard and dirty."
"Oh, theyre coming off, sweetheart, dont you worry bout that," I purred, reaching out and stroking her cheek. "But not until you finish what you started." I returned her face to its previous position.
In the background, words to an old song filtered to my ears:
Is this a lasting treasure?
Or just a moments pleasure?
Tonight I hear the magic of your sighs
But will you love me tomorrow?
Was it love or lust? How could I be sure? Then again, did it really matter? I was having the time of my life! Living out a dream come true! Where it would lead -if anywhere- wed just have to wait and see. But isnt that the chance we all take when looking for love?
I hope you liked this story. If so, please drop me a line and let me know, Id love to hear from you: Azurenon@hotmail.com
If you didnt care for it, then please accept my humble apology for wasting your time.