At ten I hung up the phone, feeling as though I should break into some kind of primitive stamping dance and pound around until exhaustion eased the whirlwind of sexual energy roaring through my body. This is nuts, I told myself as I poured a glass of wine. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The original plan when I first shared a lunch with this man was that I would enjoy the occasional date with a good-looking younger man, and get a mental boost from a younger man's attention. And yeah, maybe that original plan had the potential for sexual activity, but it was supposed to have been very superficial and transient. A way to pass the time, that's all. I'd had no intention of seeking a long-term relationship; absolutely I knew I was never going to marry again after my divorce from James, so something serious was not even on the menu.
When did that plan get derailed? Was it that first kiss that seemed to reinvent kissing as automobiles had reinvented travel? Or was it the first Sunday afternoon that a crowd of his band students had shown up to watch him play downtown and pestered him for half an hour of encores, and seeing the affection well up in his eyes as they milled around him afterwards? Or the evening that he picked up my handout for a class about hymns of praise and began asking questions that kept us talking until midnight?
He'd called at nine-thirty when he returned to his apartment after his piano practice which was after the school band practice which was after oboe lessons which were after school. I could hear him opening a can and rattling around his miniscule kitchen area, making his evening meal. Why hadn't I just made double the servings I'd had of chicken and rice pilaf so that I could invite him over for food?
Liar, I told myself. Food is not what you have on your mind.
"Have you ever gone on a cruise to Alaska?" he'd asked this evening. An off-the-wall comment, it would appear, but in the context of our conversations of late, his question was asking, "Should we enjoy the view of glaciers and magnificent mountains in between episodes of lovemaking far from the daily treadmill of work?"
Without ever saying "sex" or "tearing off a piece" or "screw," our conversations had been becoming increasingly sexually charged. "Would you be interested in camping in a tent in Lassen one of these weekends?" Valentine suggested about a week ago. "We'd be all alone, though, and have to rely on each other to keep warm all night."
Another day I commented to him, "Do you know that there's a luxury hotel in Vancouver that serves English teas every day? I've never been to Vancouver, but I understand it's within driving distance."
Then there was the Monday morning that I found an envelope that had been shoved under my office door, that held inside a brochure about Jamaica with hearts drawn all over it in felt pen.
Yesterday I'd called him and left a message on his answering machine that said without preamble, "Never in one of those heart-shaped beds with mirrors on the ceiling in Las Vegas."
And now here was me, pacing through my beloved little house like a tigress in heat. Should I be calling, "Ah-Woooh! Awwwh-ooooooh! Owwwh-oooh!" I was reassured; I was desiring. I was searching for an excuse; I was ready to meet him in a romantic setting and take him for my lover. What exotic and erotic locale would be most conducive to the consummation of our mutual arousal?
I suspected more and more that it would be my lovely house and cozy bedroom, and very soon, and so embarked on a makeover incorporating new sheets, towels, and blanketing. The stage was set. The actors understood their roles. The fates were arranging the opening night.
On the first Tuesday evening of November, a wicked wind and rain storm knocked out the electric power all over Port Laughton at six pm. The Emergency Broadcasting System on the radio advised that the power would be out until eleven at night, if not later. No light, no computer, no homework, I considered. Now how would I find something to occupy myself if I was a healthy young man who had a woman wondering how to occupy herself?
By candlelight I went to the bathroom to make sure my makeup was perfect, and changed into a luxurious satin lounging outfit.
As he approached my front door, I threw it open so that he wouldn't have to stand in the drenching rain, and took his topcoat and hung it on the hat rack by the door, with an old towel underneath to catch the drips. I handed him a nice new towel to dry his curls. "Have you had supper yet?" I asked him.
"No, I was at school, preparing for a band meeting. I posted a sign on the door (in case any fool would think that you could read music in the pitch dark) and here I am, hoping that you were thinking of me to look so good." He had such a delightful smile, tonight alternating with a silly grin -- a certain question had been answered by my choice of clothing. "What does an anthropology professor eat with no electricity?"
I knew what my friend Kimsky would have said, but I chose not to repeat it. "I'm making a stir fry of chicken, broccoli, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, and mushrooms, to serve over rice. Want some?"
His arching eyebrows drew together. "How do you pull that off with no power?" he said, rising from the couch where I'd seated him.
"A gas stove, you domestic genius."
"My darling Doctor Renoir," he said affectedly, "I have subsisted on coffee and sandwiches since I left my parents' care. The Musician does not stoop to cook."
"Then one hopes that the Musician knows how to wash dishes."
We cooked dinner together, him breathing on my neck from behind whenever possible. Wickedly I made sure the portions were small. Don't slow a man down with too much food.
After a few bites, he commented, "You're a successful professional woman, you're beautiful, socially impeccable --"
"Oh, please," I said.
"-- and you can cook."
"That's hardly unusual."
"I don't mean just cook, I mean, really cook, with spices instead of mixes. This is great, and you didn't even look at a recipe." He seemed in awe, and I was both flattered and puzzled. "Did your mother teach you how to cook?"
I laughed aloud. "No, my mother managed with mixes and mistakes. My grandmother taught me some before she died, and then Dad -- probably so that I could take over the cooking when I was about thirteen. God rest her soul, Mom felt that she had a more esthetic calling in life.
"Dad was practical about cooking, though. Just the essentials: meat, potatoes, fruit pies in season. He and Grandma did teach me how to can vegetables and make meals from odds and ends. They represented an era of hunger, which most of us can't really comprehend." I had begun to talk with my hands, and Valentine grinned encouragement. "The very concept of survival was a part of my father's upbringing," I told him, over our rice bowls with chopsticks. "I took to heart his admonition that you always need to be prepared to get through the worst disasters with the least discomfort. So I've always had a gas stove, and a pantry with a couple weeks worth of non-perishables."
"But as to this particular dish," I held up a bean sprout. "The years I lived with Kimsky and Burlie I studied her skills like my life depended on it. She taught me how to 'really cook'."
"Good job, Kimsky," he nodded.
By candlelight we put our dishes in the sink, and retired to the couch with glasses of wine. The sound of the rain crashing against the glass doors to the patio was better than any recorded background music. Valentine had his left arm across the back of the sofa behind me, but his slim body was poised before me as he sat on the edge of the cushions.
No conflict tonight, no hidden agendas, no evasions. His dark eyes were unreadable in the shadow of the candlelight, but his intentions were quite obvious, and most welcomed at last.
Was he going to play it coy tonight, and pretend he wasn't all that interested? I decided not to give him the chance, grasping his collar and pulling him close. The gentle kiss turned hot, and I pushed him away a little, enough for him to discover I'd unbuttoned his shirt. I stood up and moved to the table. By the candlelight I could see a disappointment in his eyes, until he saw that I was about to blow out the flames of the three wick candle.
Between the utterly unseen new bed linens, we explored each other in desire and love, and the spheres of heaven sang songs of harmony and fulfillment.
Gods, he was good.
My alarm sounded at five, the battery allowing the alarm to yelp out its message. I thumbed it off without disturbing Valentine's arm draped over my hip, and in the darkness remembered how he'd held me close, kissing my neck as we tenderly removed each other's clothing. How he'd stroked my sides and arms and thighs with his hands as though he was softly memorizing me, until I was shivering with pleasure and wonder, feeling as though my skin had been created just for this night. Ah, and how he gathered me to himself, taking all of me, soul as well as heart and body, with such gentleness and care that I felt I had become the most priceless creature in existence. He hadn't made love to me, he'd made love with me, a sensation I had never known existed. Now I know, I thought, and sighed.
He rolled onto his back, inviting me to cuddle, murmuring sleepy words. I leaned over him and lightly bit his stubbled jaw. "Get up, Teshenko, or thou shalt be fired."
He stretched like a cat, and I was moved to stroke him. He was then moved to make love to me again before he left, and afterwards I didn't move at all until the light woke me at eight forty-five.