Chance: A Day in May Ch. 09bythe Troubador©
Chapter 09: Chance
A Word of Warning!!!!
This chapter has no sex in it, implied or otherwise.
As always my stories are about people. I will not force an erotic interlude into my story just to be including it.
I hope you enjoy my story of star crossed lovers. There will be one final chapter, and an expected epilogue.
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After a good morning hug lasting too long to be casual the two friends took turns in the shower. Duncan hesitated when dressing. Slacks and shirts could be kept fresh, but climbing back into yesterday's socks and underwear never appealed to him. And today yesterday's shirt and slacks looked decidedly like he had slept in them. It had something to do with having worn them all night long.
Realizing his only choice was the outfit he had just pealed off or something of Helen's he gave in and pulled them on.
Helen led him out of a foul mood with her practical, no nonsense outlook. She had bacon and eggs soon perfuming the air while Duncan was making tea and manning the waffle iron. Helen left him on his own to set the table, even managing a small smile watching him search out plates and silverware.
The mood in the condo was strange. The usually buoyant Duncan was reserved and careful, trying not to be obvious while watching his friend to see how he could help her. He had yet to decide if she would even allow him to help if it was needed.
Helen, the effusive happy one, was quiet, saying little and avoiding eye contact.
After the meal Helen bustled around cleaning, straightening pictures, picking up, sorting magazines, then dumping them back where they had come from. Duncan worked to stay out of her way, drinking coffee until he developed an acid stomach. The two avoided speaking, a difficult task even in the large condo.
Finally Helen settled before the large picture window pensively looking out at the spectacular view of the lake. Duncan joined her there, handing her a glass of orange juice. He couldn't stand without occupying his hands but after all the coffee he needed something else.
After a while Helen began telling him how she and Gerry had met, reminiscing about their courtship and the early days of the marriage. Duncan was wise enough to listen, avoiding all commentary while absorbing this woman's history.
Helen would speak of a fond memory, then leave the thought unfinished and began telling of another. Then she would spin away from the window to pace the room. Her eyes flitted from one thing to another, never settling on Duncan though she was speaking to him. He finally realized she was talking, but not really to him. She needed a sympathetic listener, someone to make the experiences more real. She might not feel comfortable with him at the moment but she valued his ability to listen, to understand.
She needed his understanding.
Near midday Duncan waited until Helen paused between memories and left her momentarily to prepare a light lunch of soup and sandwiches. Once it was on the table he took her elbow and led her to the table.
Lunch was silent and Duncan sensed a storm gathering in his companion.
Helen ate little and what she did eat Duncan had to tease her into taking.
When it was obvious she would eat no more he quickly cleaned the remains of the meal, giving her no opportunity to help. Then he pulled her coat out of the entryway closet, helped her shrug into it then donned his own. Taking her hand he led her down to the path beside the lake.
For the first few moments Helen was silent. When she again began talking she was angry. She demanded to know how and why he felt he had the right to meddle in her affairs. Duncan held himself to quiet apologetic comments. Never confronting her, always sympathetic... And that got her angry too.
They walked for over an hour, Helen never letting up on Duncan and what he had done. But she never released his hand.
Finally by mutually but tacit agreement they turned to retrace their steps. Now she was calmer, more reasonable, more understanding of what Duncan had done and why he had acted as he had. Not once had Duncan explained his motives for looking into Gerald's activities, now Helen was explaining them to him and to herself.
As they walked she grew less judgmental, more understanding, less outraged that he had done so.
Back at the condo they took soft drinks out onto the patio to sit under the spring sky. Sitting on comfortable Adirondack chairs the two soaked up the brightness of the early spring day while continuing their conversation. It was there Helen tried apologizing to Duncan for her reactions.
He wouldn't allow it. Instead he insisted he had been operating with her best interests in mind but confessed also he had no right to do so. Humbly he explained he feared how being suddenly faced with her husband's perfidy would affect her. He apologized over and over, while admitting he would do it again in the same circumstances. He also admitted if he had been aware how strong she was he probably would not have been so worried.
While his motives were good, he had no right to do what he had done.
Helen finally gave him the tiniest of smiles and they fell into a comfortable silence watching a pair of water skiers on the lake. It was a long companionable afternoon at last, spent quietly in one another's company.
The two were emotionally exhausted after a day fighting demons. By mutual agreement they enjoyed a light, early dinner. Helen helped Duncan make up the couch in the living room. Duncan had worried unnecessarily; Helen was easily convinced she would feel more relaxed, more comfortable and even safer if he spent the night on the couch. As she gave his pillow a last fluff she saucily warned him the hallway was rigged with traps to catch anyone wishing to play the night time game of musical chairs.
Before turning in, Duncan convinced her to come with him to collect fresh clothes for tomorrow, reminding her he had already spent two days in the same outfit. He made her laugh describing how attractive she would find him if he spent a third day in the same clothes.
They snickered and teased one another on the trip to the RV to collect fresh ones. Helen insisted it was necessary she come along to see he didn't get lost.
At the RV Duncan fired up his computer before gathering clothes to take back with him to the condo. By the time he had packed clothes for tomorrow, sneaking in another set "just in case," The computer was warmed up. They sat down before the screen while Duncan showed her some of the photos the two of them had taken in and around Ritzville.
Helen was captivated and excited at the quality of the photos she herself had taken. For the first time since his arrival in Chelan Duncan felt she was comfortable and pleased with herself.
Before returning to the condo Duncan gathered some of his camera equipment, tossing it in the back seat of the car.
Back at the condo they ran completely out of steam. After sharing a drink the two separated, Helen walking down the hall to her bedroom, Duncan to the sofa. It was only moments before quiet fell over the condo.
The next morning Helen was pensive rather than distraught, given to long thoughtful silences. Duncan, respecting what she was going through kept to himself, leafing through magazines and taking casual photos of and around the condo.
It was late morning before Helen sat down beside him on the couch. For the first time she touched on the relationship between them. They agreed there was something there, Duncan himself insisted he would not, could not allow it to grow further under the circumstances.
Helen reminisced about her life with Gerry, her kids, the life she had been enjoying until the past few years. Somehow Gerry had changed, his personality had changed. She didn't know how to handle it, confessing she didn't feel she knew him anymore.
As the day stretched before them their moods became more and more philosophical, more accepting to the way things were.
As Helen talked of the good times and the bad times Duncan got a picture of a good man turning greedy. As she talked, Duncan glimpsed a moral man whose ideals were morphing into something else. Duncan also sensed a man becoming jealous of his wife's talents and abilities. Helen never mentioned it; Duncan doubted Helen was aware of it.
The man she spoke of wasn't the man who Duncan had met in that rest stop just East of Ritzville. He wasn't the man she had fallen in love with. Something had changed in him though Duncan couldn't put a finger on how and why. Things just moved in unexpected directions.
Gerald wasn't an untalented man but listening to his wife's anecdotes it seemed the man who had proven his worth and been moving up the corporate ladder had changed in the last few years. Duncan had the impression Gerald's continued climb had changed from using his own talents to use of other men's ideas and talents for his own advancement. This was a very different man than the one his friend had married.
Sitting down to dinner that evening Duncan decided it was time to move Helen's thinking in another direction. It was time to get her thinking about something other than Gerald and looking forward to the lonely frustration of waiting for the man to finally come back to his wife.
As the afternoon light began its slow change to the gold of evening he decided it was time to act.
"Helen, I have my camera here and would like to take some portraits of you. Would that be all right?"
"Heavens no, I look a mess! Besides, there is no place in the apartment to do portraiture without a lot of equipment," was her quick response.
Duncan laughed at her so-female response. "I don't want a glamour shot, woman! I want a shot that shows you, that lets the world see your real beauty. The so called glamour shots always take the character out of a photo, leaving just the husk of the person in the shot."
Turning, he pointed to the large picture window in the living room, "The view from that window is superb. If you posed on the left side of the window, the evening light would shine on you, then if we put one of my reflectors or used a fill flash for the shadows I think we'd get a wonderful shot. I can move around, capturing different angles to change the backgrounds of mountain and lake. With you in the foreground it will be spectacular. Please let me.
"Then tomorrow morning we can use the early morning light, having you standing on the other side of the window, the right side. Just think of the many things we can do, like narrowing the depth of field, moving from telephoto to wide angle, even changing the amount of light. In every shot we would have the lake and mountains as background. How about it, Helen? Are you game to try?"
After studying a moment, visualizing what he described Helen agreed. That didn't' stop her complaining she was going to look grubby, getting a belly laugh from Duncan.
As they readied the equipment and planned for the shoot, Duncan casually commented that he had been hoping to do that photo safari through Eastern Washington.
That got Helen's interest. He soon had her tossing ideas back and forth with him; where he should go, what kind of things he would be shooting and so forth.
As Helen headed to her bedroom to change into something more "appropriate" for the shoot Duncan asked, "How about you coming along with me on the "safari?" Your ideas sound too good to miss."
She stood still a moment, just looking at him before answering. "Duncan, it would be fun and you know I'd love to do it but there's only one bed in that RV. I'm not about to sleep in a tent, and we agreed what happened in Ritzville was a fluke, something that wouldn't happen again."
"Let's not go there, Helen. I don't deserve the implication I was asking you for sex. You know me better than that. At least I hope you do. Washington isn't so wild there aren't a great number of motels and hotels. I won't say every town has one, but most do. I can't think of a place in the state that we couldn't do our photography without compromising you. It would just take a little planning. If we find a spot so great we need more time or if we decide we need to stay to catch the early light, I have a wonderful sleeping bag and a most comfortable air mattress. Unless there was rain, rare in Eastern Washington in summer, you are welcome to the RV. I'd be comfortable outside. I sleep there often when I'm out alone, anyway. I enjoy the stars. You'd have that comfortable queen sized bed in the RV. How about making it a photo safari? I promise there will be no attacks on your virtue."
Helen was embarrassed, remembering the last night they had spent in the motel. She'd had no intention of seducing him yet he was the one at risk that evening. After his behavior that evening she had no right to act as if she worried about his intentions.
She was torn about leaving the condo. But sitting here, day after day, waiting for her husband to come back to her was so depressing. Then with the investigators report on Gerry's actions...
She had been missing the emotional and artistic release the camera had given her in Ritzville. The shots she took, at least some of them, made her proud. Maybe she had found something creative to do.
"OK, Duncan, let's start with the photo shoot here, then we can plan the trip and start out. How does day after tomorrow sound to you?"
All hands agreeing, they started planning the trip even as Duncan posed her and shot his photos. Helen was surprised to find how tiring it was being a photographer's model.
The next morning they were up with the sun, posing and snapping to their hearts content. When the light changed about 10 AM they took a break, going for another long walk along the lake. They were back at the condo by 3 PM the time the days light began shifting to the golden scale again.
Late afternoon, using the golden afternoon sunshine, Helen dressed casually and posed again. For some reason, unlike in the morning, she was stiff and uncomfortable until Duncan began teasing her. He soon had her relaxed, smiling, comfortable with what they were doing. Most important to Duncan, she was enjoying his company again.
Duncan refused to let her see any of the shots until they were back at the RV and he could put them on the computer monitor.
After packing away the photo equipment the two stood on the patio to watch the spring night creep down upon them. There was something about the peaceful scene that finally relaxed Helen.
They had been standing together for some time when Duncan realized Helen was silently crying. Concerned he turned to her, taking her shoulders in his hands. Helen looked up at him silently, the tears streaming down her cheeks, then her arms came around him and she melted into him, her face buried in his chest. As the night deepened she clung to him wordlessly.
The tears eventually faded away, leaving the two erstwhile lovers and deep friends absorbing peace, one from another. If the thought of love intruded the feminine mind, with its ageless, eons old strength instantly seized it, tamped it down and pushed it ruthlessly into a closed corner of her mind, never to be acknowledged. When he male mind caught the beginnings of the idea it took from far distant, knight errant ancestors, encasing it in crystal to be seen from within, never admitted, a source for strength to defeat any and every adversary.
Stronger, minds more at ease and souls at peace after long but fleeting moments the two eased apart. Helen reached up to grant her knight a sexless kiss on the cheek. Duncan gently squeezed his lady, promising that which could not be admitted. If one had realized and admitted memorizing the softness of the others curves, or the other had gloried in the hard strength that protected them and theirs, it was hidden to be recalled only in the dark, lonely hours of the morning to chase away the phantasms of the soul.
When they stepped, separately but together into the condominium each was stronger, more complete and readier to face the night and the many separate mornings to come.
Inside they were mildly taken aback to find their hands were locked together. Sorrowfully they loosened their hold and slowly stepped apart. Helen searched Duncan's face and eyes, seeming to find what it was she was seeking. She brought a finger to her own lips, kissed it, then pressed that finger on Duncan's lips.
Turning softly she walked proudly away down the hall. What they had was still there, it had not disappeared. They knew deep inside it was far stronger than a moments physical passion.
It was hard going to bed in separate rooms but they were at peace with the mutual decision. Unspoken was the knowledge that the other was now an intricate part of the other.
They were up before the sun next morning preparing to finish the portraiture. At Duncan's request, Helen dressed as if she was just out of bed. That decision was hard on Duncan. Although she was modestly dressed, her hair artfully disheveled and wearing no makeup it was nearly impossible for him to keep his mind on his camera.
Wrapping up the photo shoot, Duncan casually mentioned with a perky voice, "Next time, we'll lose some clothes, make some money!"
Before he could put his camera down Helen was on him.
Grabbing one of the big, fluffy red throw pillows off the sofa she chased him around the room, whopping the daylights out of him every time he was within reach. He was at a tremendous disadvantage, laughing so hard he could hardly stand. It wasn't long before she cornered him. Duncan waited until she drew the pillow back for another blow, then stepping close and before she knew what was happening he had folded her in his arms, pulling her close.
His face buried in her neck below her ear he chewed gently. She dropped the pillow to toss her arms around his neck and hug him hard. They stood holding one another up, laughing together for a good five minutes.
When they began calming down Duncan kissed her under her ear again before stepping back. Still giggling he grabbed her hand and walked her into the kitchen. There they sat savoring a cup of tea until the giggles mostly disappeared. They agreed it was too late to start the safari today. Their photographic trek would begin the next day.