The taste of honey, pears, and apples mingled with the bite of alcohol long after it had made its way down to my stomach. My host began to pile food upon the plate before me. As he did so, he spoke of something but I found it hard to concentrate on his words as I watched his clever hands neatly prepare the growing assortment of sweets and savory things into a delightful sight. Somewhere in the midst of things, he had gone quiet. It was only when his hands stilled that I looked over.
A fond smile played on his ever so kissable lips. As soon as I realized that thought had gone through my mind, I blushed. The smile deepened into one of pure delight as I ducked my eyes away from his face to look at my cup again. “You truly do like me,” he said, sounding both amazed and joyful, “And you haven't the slightest clue what to do about it, do you?” I swallowed nervously and looked over at the burnt rind of bread.
A warm touch on my chin raised my eyes to look at his face. I stared at him, my mouth dry and my heart hammering. That touch went from my chin to settle between my breasts, the silken fabric proving a futile barrier from keeping his fingertips from feeling the wild beat of my heart. “Why are you so afraid of being happy?” he asked. I looked everywhere but at him. When my gaze seized upon the cup of wine, I seriously considered reaching for it. “Are you truly that terrified?” he continued, in that quiet, calm and saddened tone. I looked at him imploringly, begging with my eyes that he discontinue his line of questions when I simply couldn't find the courage to say anything.
His expression was deadly serious as he looked at me. I looked away, hating myself for being the cause that the smile had left his lips. He took my face in both his hands and pulled me to him. I gasped in surprise as his mouth closed over mine. I trembled, I shivered, and I found myself caught between pure terror and pure bliss. His kiss lit a flame down deep inside me that made me ache for yet more of his touch.
I panicked. I threw myself back out of his arms and into the chair. I looked about myself, wild eyed for an escape, desperate to flee this merciless assault that threatened my self control. He smiled and I froze. A warm hand caught my wrist and gently drew me closer to him. A part of me screamed that I needed to fly even as I found myself moving to the edge of my seat, almost touching him.
For a moment, the panic won out and I started to pull my wrist out of his grip. He tightened his hold and wrapped his free arm about my shoulders. “Sit with me,” he said, smiling. I shivered. “You are safe here,” he continued, using that low, soothing tone of earlier, “No harm will come to you in my home.” I closed my eyes and turned my face away from him, unable to bear the sweetness in his gaze, too afraid that he would see how broken I was inside.
I let him guide me to sit with him in his chair. He held me close, his face buried in the hollow of my shoulder. After a time, the shivering of terror began to subside as we simply sat together and breathed the same air. “You are not broken,” he said quietly in my ear, “You are triumphant. You are scarred. You are not broken.” I closed my eyes hard against the sudden tears that welled up and scalded my cheek. “You will never be broken,” he continued, resting a broad hand on my thighs, “You are far too strong for that.”
“This isn't how the story goes,” I said, my voice cracking with distress. He rubbed my back in great circles.
“Is it?” he replied, “Then how does it go?”
“I.. I don't know. I shouldn't be like this,” I said in a rush, warming to my irritation with myself for being so spooked by him and the response that I had to him.
“Oh,” he said mildly, nuzzling my neck. “You should stop being so hard on yourself. You're allowed to feel pleasure. It's part of the reason why you are alive,” he sighed, turning the word 'alive' into an almost erotic thing. His fingertips settled over my heart again. Lightly he traced a path up from my heart to over my left breast and then up along my throat. As his hand reached my jaw, he cradled the side of my face in his palm. “Living is about more than existing,” he said, as he let his breath curl against my throat.
“You're so fierce in so many other areas,” he sighed, suddenly tightening his embrace to punctuate 'fierce'. “Why must you flee here? Why must you be so quick to run? You know what you want. Your blood sings out for this. Why must your head be the master of your heart?” I bit my lips.
“Let it go. For one night,” he plead, “For one night, let this terror go.”