I’d accepted that he was never coming back. Every day turned into tomorrow and nothing changed. Nothing changed except everything was different.
Min was drifting and it was painful to watch. She was getting thinner from the work she was doing, I was afraid one day she wouldn’t be there because there’d be no more there to Min.
But I couldn’t say anything. She had a lifetime of regret she was working her way through and I was too busy working through my own past.
I wasn’t mooning, I told myself. Chopping vegetables while Shoosh tried to teach me Greek and I didn’t think about soft lips on mine. Mixing barbeque sauce while trying not to remember how it felt touching him. I didn’t walk hills imagining his long legs on the path beside me; I didn’t scan the harbor looking for a 36 foot sailboat carrying a smile back to Dyvos.
I refused to miss him and when I placed the platter of pulled pork in front of a group of mainlanders, my heart did not jump into my throat seeing Daniel sitting in his usual place, laughing at something one of the younger men said to him.
“Long time, no see.” I tried to look nonchalant, cocking a hip and pretending not to be burning right in front of his eyes.
“Really? That’s all you’re going to say to me?” His smile had faded. He captured my hand in his and placed fingers on the inside of my wrist. “God Kate, I missed you. I was hoping you might see me and throw yourself on top of me. The phrase buried in kisses comes to mind.”
“Never heard that phrase before.” I jerked on my hand but he didn’t release it.
“I spent almost a month alone on a boat Kate. Tonight I want to sleep on my boat but not alone. Will you come with me?”
My pulse leaped under Daniel’s fingers. I didn’t have to answer, he could feel it under my skin.
The evening was time moving too quickly while it managed to stand still. All I knew was that Daniel was there and the hunger in his expression wasn’t for any of the food placed in front of him or the conversation and laughter that washed over us both.
I hadn’t been a virgin since high school but my body didn’t feel comfortable to me. Every look he gave me worked its way through my body like a fever. I was edgy, I was excited, I wanted him in a way I hadn’t wanted anyone in such a long time.
I would have left the food out and the dishes piled but Shoosh was having none of that. She harangued her husband to start garbage detail and we moved quickly and surely. Through the open doorway I saw Daniel stacking the chairs and then sweeping. We all wanted to move on with the night.
He met me at the door and engulfed my hand in his. I wanted to run up the hill to the safety of Min and I wanted to run to the dangers of the harbor. I wanted and I knew and quietly I followed Daniel down to the harbor.
“The Painted Lady,” he said proudly as we approached his boat.
“Do I dare ask why?” Those were the first words I’d spoken to him since I’d taken his food order.
“When I was a kid I wanted to be an architect. I thought the painted ladies in San Francisco were the epitome of great architecture. I grew out of it.” He laughed as he climbed onto the boat and then extended his hand to me. “When I started sailing it felt like…” he shrugged. “Some things just are.”
“I know,” I agreed quietly. Fate is what it is and there was no point to fighting the direction it pointed us in. Daniel untied the boat from its mooring and pushed it off, jumping back on with surprising grace.
I’d been on sailboats when I was a child so I wasn’t a complete landlubber. Daniel was a pleasure to watch, his body in the moonlight as he guided the boat away from the island and caught a small breeze to move us away.
“Do you think you’ll ever settle in one place?” I asked. I didn’t want the question to be dramatic, but I wanted to know.
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop sailing, which would be like stopping dreaming. But I think there might be someplace I might think about calling home.”
I was glad that he couldn’t see how bright my cheeks were blazing. It was cold out on the water and I was grateful when Daniel came forward with a blanket. “You’re shivering.”
“Where are we going? Maybe I’m afraid of being kidnapped.”
He sat next to me and carefully draped the blanket around my shoulders. “Nobody’s ever suggested I look like a pirate.”
“Arr matey,” I joked.
He didn’t answer. He ducked his head and slanted his mouth over mine. This wasn’t meant to be a friendly kiss. This was a month of thinking about each other constantly. This was forgetting the other stuff and thinking about this moment only. This was heaven.
His mouth was soft and his kiss was hard. I felt it through my body with a quickening of breath, a flush of heat. My hands went to his chest and I could feel the heat from his body. I moved closer and he pulled me up hard against him.
I couldn’t stop touching him: the muscles in his arms taut, the skin hot and fevered. I was burning too, my need ratcheting my temperature to a burning pitch of desire.
His hands came up to touch my skin. His fingers skimmed over the rapidly jumping pulse in my neck, down to my collarbone. He flattened his hands and touched down, his palms pushing over my breasts, my nipples painfully hard and wanting more.
I wasn’t a stranger in all this. I slipped his shirt up and ran my hands over his stomach, feeling the small quivers of his muscles. I touched up, feeling the prickle of hair under my palms. I ran my finger along his nipples, tracing a circle running inward until it was concentrated on his small nub.
His tongue tasted my mouth, brushing my tongue in discovery. He pulled on my blouse, exposing my skin to his the cold night air and his hot touch. If we had been able to stop and look at ourselves we might have seen steam rising from our bodies, dissipating into the night sky.
When his mouth finally left mine and traveled down to follow his fingers, I was beyond thought of what or how we were doing. There was only the feel of his wet mouth, his long fingers and his hot skin.
The boat wasn’t made for lovers but lovers were made on the boat. When he crouched between my legs and brought his mouth to taste me, all I saw was stars overhead and the gentle rocking of the water, a pale imitation of the crazy rocking of my body.
His mouth and fingers brushed more delight into me than anyone had ever done before and when Daniel finally brought himself to join within me, I was languid from pleasure. “You’re so beautiful Kate.” He was big and strong and my body delighted in the feel of having him sheathed so tightly inside.
“I’m not beautiful.” He was beautiful, his brown hair damp from the exertion of pleasuring, his muscles tight from his own delayed pleasure. His face ducked down and he pressed kisses onto me.
“I’ve been to Italy. I’ve been everywhere in Greece. I’ve seen Samoa and Polynesia and the Canaries. And nothing I’ve seen is as beautiful as you are right now.”
He shuddered more pleasure into me and much later after the anchor had been released and we pressed ourselves into a dark bunk, bodies soft and spent, we fell asleep face to face. It was possibly the happiest I’d ever been.