May to December Ch. 02byDawnJ©
Dawn did not hear from Scott again until Friday night, before he went to work. He called to ask what time she was leaving the next day, and told her he was working a double and wouldn't be in touch until Sunday.
"Thanks for calling, Scott," she said as he rang off. She had known him a week and a half, but it somehow felt longer. She knew that his interest in her had not abated, and she admitted that she was much more interested in him than she wanted to be. It didn't stop her from wondering what he was doing, though, as she loaded her car with her neighbor Dana's help next morning. She remembered how he had helped her pack up her office, how he had sniped at her for keeping the moldy books, how he had kissed her lips.
"Are you feeling all right, Dawn?" Dana asked.
Dawn blinked at her. "What? Yes, I'm feeling fine! Why?"
"You're looking very flushed! I know you hate the AC, but maybe you should turn it on a bit!"
Dawn let her friend turn the air conditioner on low, and turned on the radio to distract herself from thoughts of Scott. By the time they arrived at her new home, she was already unpacking in her head, and the rest of the day was a whirlwind of activity. By the time she fell in to bed in her new home, she was exhausted. Her arm throbbed a bit, and she suddenly recalled the day he had come to check on her and found she had not taken her meds. She got out of bed to swallow two painkillers and then sank back under the thin sheet, praying she could relax enough to sleep.
When she woke up on Sunday morning, the room was bright with morning light, and she ached in every muscle. Her arm felt much better, but she knew it would stiffen up if she didn't get out of bed soon. She was loath to leave the soft comfort, though, and sighed, wishing she had someone to lie in bed with on a Sunday morning, just because. Unbidden, Scott's kiss came to mind, and the way he made her feel. She was flattered by his attention at the same time that it frightened her. Men like him, successful, handsome, sexy men, didn't pursue middle-aged women with love handles and double chins. It must be some kind of cosmic joke, and she needed to remember that before she got carried away.
The mood was broken by her sober thoughts, and she climbed out of bed and went to take a shower to work the kinks out before continuing the task of unpacking. As she washed her hair, being careful not to overstress her injured arm, she thought of the many times she had moved, and how lonely the moving had been once Hunter had died. Even after their divorce, he had been her best friend, once the anger and hurt had subsided. His death was a blow she was still reeling from. They should never have married, she realized, with the perspicacity of hindsight, but she didn't know where she would have been now if it hadn't been for him.
Dressing in a loose summer dress, she went to make herself a PB and J sandwich for breakfast, and as she brewed coffee, she wolfed it down while standing at the counter trying to decide what to do first. The kitchen was airy and large, the two ovens still making her smile. The large cooktop with the grill to the side of the four large burners sat in the center island, to one side of the counter, with the sink on the other. She loved her new kitchen. In another life, she might have been a chef!
The sandwich done, she stood still for a moment more, sipping her coffee, and suddenly recalled that Scott said he would call. She had a new home number which he did not know, and he didn't have her cell phone number. So unless she called him, they wouldn't speak today, either. In fact, they wouldn't speak again, ever. She wrestled with the need to hear his voice, and the need to remain aloof, and took her coffee with her into the office. She'd unpack in there first, so she could write. Her writing soothed her, and she needed it.
By the time she had set up her laptop and printer, and was starting on the first shelf of books, she knew she would call him. It was silly to keep pretending a lack of interest when she couldn't budge him from her thoughts, so she might as well learn what it was like to have him as a friend. Her decision made, she emptied one box and then sat in the office chair and reached for the phone. She had put his cell phone number in her Rolodex, and she flipped through it till she got to his name. The phone rang without an answer, and she swallowed the taste of disappointment. Why she had thought he would be there when she needed him to be she didn't understand. She hung up after leaving her name and number, and worked disconsolately for another couple of hours, before finding the one-handed method of unpacking and stacking bookshelves more than she could bear any longer.
Feeling inexplicably sorry for herself, she went to see what she had brought to stock the fridge till she could shop for groceries. She had bottled water, bread, eggs, and a six-pack of yogurt in there. Dana had made her a casserole, and Jeff had fed her sweet tooth and her chocolate addiction with some chocolate ice cream. She reached for the ice cream, and grabbing a spoon, went to sit in the sunny spot on the back porch. The steps were warm, and she enjoyed the feel of the sun on her face. She thought she heard the phone ring, but couldn't be sure, and she rather preferred to stay where she was, soaking in the sun and the chocolate.
Back inside, feeling somewhat comforted, she went back to unpacking her office when the phone rang again. She put it in speaker mode and answered absently, thinking it might be Dana calling to check up on her.
"Hello." She stifled a yawn, and apologized. "Sorry...I'm a bit fagged."
"Did you get enough sleep last night?" Scott's voice was like a sharp nudge in her ribs, and she almost dropped the book she had been holding.
"Yes, I did," she said, and refused to say more.
"Doesn't sound like it," he commented on a chuckle. "Thanks for the number. I didn't realize, till I was at work, that I didn't have your new one."
"So, how is everything? All moved in?"
"Yes, thanks, and I've started unpacking."
"Need some help?" The question was innocent enough, and it was certainly one he had asked before, but still Dawn hesitated.
"If you meant what you said last time, why is it so hard to answer me now?" he wondered in a most reasonable tone.
"It's not hard," she said defensively, "but I assume you're tired after pulling a double."
She could hear the smile in his voice when he said, as though he knew what she was doing. "That was yesterday. I'm all rested now. So, do you need some help?"
"Yes, I do." She gave up trying to stay away from the flame of his charm, and gave him her new address.
"I'll see you in half an hour," he said. "And thank you!"
He rang off before she could ask what he was thinking her for, but she figured it must be that he realized she was trusting him a bit more. She shook her head as she recalled running away from him and hiding in the garden of the town hall, as though she had known instinctively that he would be the end of her peace of mind. She went into the kitchen and decided she'd make lunch till he got there. The casserole looked delicious, and so she shared two portions, and set them in the oven to warm, and as she had nothing but water, and a bottle of wine, she put the wine to chill in the freezer. By the time he got there, it would be cold enough that she could leave it in the fridge till he wanted it.
She was just taking the casserole out of the oven when her doorbell chimed. Placing the plates on the wicker mats on the table, she went to let Scott in. His smile was warm when he met her eyes, and the kiss on her cheek was not unexpected.
"I didn't know what you had in your fridge," he said, "so I took the liberty of buying you some ready-made food. Things I buy myself for days when I don't feel like making too much of an effort."
She tried to take one of the shopping bags from him, but he avoided her and asked the way to the kitchen. She led him there, and watched him set down the four bags of groceries he had bought for her.
"Scott, this is too much!" she exclaimed, as he began to unpack the items. She marveled at the things he had bought. How he knew she liked chicken salad, and Swedish meatballs, for example, she would never know.
"Where do you want these?" he asked, as he unpacked.
"I'll pack them away in a bit," she said. "Come sit and eat. Lunch is ready." She gestured for him to sit, and placed the bottle of wine and two bottles of water on the table between them. She fetched knives and forks, and two glasses, while Scott raided the bags and produced napkins.
"Dig in! It's just the right temperature now!"
"How did you know I'd be starving?" he asked, before stuffing his mouth. His brows rose, and he paused in his eating to say, "This is delicious! You're a good cook!"
Dawn smiled, and shook her head. "Yes, I am, but I didn't cook this. Dana did! She gave me a big casserole, and I'm glad you're here to help me eat it!"
Something came and went in his eyes before she could read it, and she wondered what he was hiding from her. Probably some randy thought, she decided, and was glad he had hidden it. They ate quietly, Scott opting for wine with his meal, declaring himself more than ready to knock back a glass or two after his weekend.
"Hard shifts?" she asked, looking at him as he wiped his lips on a napkin and sipped his wine.
"You could say that," he replied. She sensed his reluctance to talk about whatever had happened, so she waited for him to speak.
"I'm not being secretive, Dawn, and nothing bad happened -- well not worse than usual. I just would rather not talk shop when I'm with you. I don't often get the chance to spend time with you, and I don't want to waste it. I hope you don't mind."
"No, not at all!" she exclaimed, understanding perfectly. Before their divorce, one of the things that had irked her about Hunter was his incessant need to chatter about his day as they were driving home. She could have done without the blow by blow, because she chose not to share the highlights of her day, even when she could have done with the release.
"So, how can I help you today?" he asked, the relief clear on his face.
"I'll pack away the groceries while you go on with the office. It's just down the hall...the door is open. I'll be there as soon as I can be. Don't worry about where you put the books. I can always sort them afterwards."
Snagging a bottle of water from the table, he sauntered off, and she found herself watching the way his jeans hugged his hips, the way his t-shirt kissed his wide shoulders, the way his arms swung loosely as he turned into the office. He was lean and muscular, and she wondered how he managed to keep himself looking that mouthwatering with the way he could put away food.
Once she was done, she went to help him with the office. He didn't seem to have gotten too far, and she wondered if he was more tired than he had admitted to her. Then, as she went to help him with the box he was working on, she noticed that the books he had managed to get on the shelves were all more or less of the same sort. He was sorting as he unpacked!
"Scott, you really don't need to be so meticulous, you know!" she protested.
"I can't be here often to help you, so I decided to help properly when I am around," was his adamant response. "So, am I doing all right?"
"You're doing fine!" she said smiling, and let him help her sort as they unpacked. By the time the office was set up, it was late afternoon, and she had lost her enthusiasm for unpacking.
"Thanks, this is great!" she enthused, looking around her. "Want some ice cream? I have a sweet tooth, and it's craving a reward!"
Scott laughed and followed her back to the kitchen, where he washed his hands and sat down to wait for his helping.
"Mmmm! Chocolate! My favorite kind!" He waited till she sat down before digging in, obviously savoring the sweet treat. Dawn let her guard down, enjoying the cold sweet, relishing the deep flavor, barely managing to suppress a sigh of pleasure. So she was unprepared to feel his lips on hers and, more shockingly, his tongue licking her bottom lip. Her eyes flew open, and he said "Mmmmm! Delicious!", making her blush to the roots of her hair.
She was spellbound. She couldn't move, even if she wanted to, and for the first time in a very long time, she didn't want to move away from the kiss she saw coming. Scott reached across the table and pulled her to his mouth, kissing her slowly, gently, tenderly, cherishing her lips, not venturing inside until Dawn, unable to withhold the invitation a second longer, parted them for him.
He inhaled sharply, releasing her so abruptly that she almost fell. Before she could right herself or feel angry at his rejection, he was at her side, turning her so that her back was to the table, pulling her to stand and setting her bottom on the edge so he could accept the invitation she had just given him. This time, there was nothing gentle about the kiss. It was hot, wild, deep, hungry, demanding from her things she hadn't ever given to any man, including Hunter. Scott held her securely in his arms, his embrace unbreakable, even were she thinking of trying to escape. He adjusted her to make she fit better, then pulled her away from the table till he was leaning against the counter. He widened his stance, and pulled her between his legs, so he could cradle her hips as he caressed and teased and devoured her mouth.
Dawn was lost in the wildness of his kisses, amazed by the hunger of them, and suddenly ravenous for more. Although she felt the hard evidence of his arousal, she could not muster the strength to push away from him or seek freedom. She wasn't even outraged. She was just so turned on she could barely breathe. Everything she had been missing was here, wrapped in the arms she had finally slid around his neck. She couldn't let him go, and moaned when he pressed her hips firmly against his, as if to make sure she knew what she was doing to him.
"You like that, baby?" The endearment sounded so right, so perfect for the feelings he was sharing with her without saying a word. She nodded, and he pressed her close again, this time rolling his hips and dragging a groan from her. She answered him with an inward press, circling her hips as he pulled her closer, and they both groaned. She felt herself beginning to tremble, and she knew what that meant. Her body may be older, but it hadn't changed so much that she didn't recognize what was happening to her. He was taking her up past every barrier she had set in place, and if she let him, he would throw her into a shuddering orgasm.
He must have sensed her conflicting feelings of hunger and fear, because he released her mouth, and peeled her arms from around his neck, pulling her away from the temptation of his hips.
"Unless you want me to go where I don't think you're ready for me as yet, we have to stop!" His voice was raw, as though he had a bad cold, and his hands shook as he put her away from him.
"I think it's time for me to retreat, don't you?" he asked, raking a hand through his hair. "I don't trust myself to stay here with you and not take this further, and I know you're not ready to go where I want us to go, but make no mistake, Dawn. I want you. All of you. And I'm willing to wait for my prize."
Dawn couldn't speak. She was too busy focusing on keeping her feet under her. She heard what he said, and knew he was right, but her flesh tingled from his touch, her lips throbbed where he had drunk from her, her core ached for him. She managed to take the five steps to the table, and grab her glass, draining the wine in it to steady herself. She could feel his eyes on her, knew he was struggling as much as she was to remain calm, and felt a surge of power at the thought.
"My shifts are changing this week, so I won't know when I'm available till tomorrow. I'll give you a call. But in the meantime, if you need me, call me, okay?" He spoke quietly, and then he turned and went toward the front. Dawn trailed behind him, loath to break the connection between them, wishing she could do more than hum internally from the still zinging electrical charge of his caresses. When he opened the door, she was in sufficient control that she could smile when he said,
"Next time it will be better, now that you've relaxed." Another heated press of lips, a whispered goodbye, and he was gone again.
She supposed she ought to be grateful that one of them had called time back there in the kitchen, before she completely lost her mind and her inhibitions. She was not the sort of woman who threw caution to the winds, and particularly not in situations such as this. But there was something about Scott that kept drawing her in, despite their ages, despite her misgivings. And for the first time since Hunter's death, she was overwhelmed by the long suppressed desire to be loved, to be cherished, to be wanted and needed and cared for by someone she could respond to with passion and love. She couldn't explain why it was Scott who drew those desires back to the surface, but she knew instinctively that he was the one who would fulfill them...if only she would let go and trust him.
She had an editing deadline to meet, and for the rest of the week, she worked tirelessly between editing the four manuscripts she had accepted, and unpacking her boxes. Her house was coming together nicely, and she looked forward to Christmas, when she could show off the living room, with its enormous fireplace and handsome mantelpiece to best advantage. Dana and Jeff had already been entertained in it, sharing their good news with her, and she looked forward to being a godmother/auntie again.
Scott called once to say he had to pull two doubles, and his work hours were night shifts otherwise, so he wouldn't be able to see or speak to her till the next weekend. He promised to try and call, but Dawn knew he would be hard pressed to do so again, if he had to work doubles and still find time to sleep. Knowing that didn't stop her from wishing against hope that every phone call was from him, or decrease her disappointment when it wasn't. By Friday morning she was despondent, and upset with herself for letting him matter so much.
Throwing herself into something she loved would take her mind off him, she decided, and as this was the first weekend when the house was almost fully unpacked, she decided to cook a full three-course gourmet meal and treat her friends to dinner on Sunday afternoon. She'd invite them tonight, once she had decided on the menu. She switched on the little television in the kitchen, and settled back to watch the Food Network, hoping for inspiration. She was in the middle of Chopped when the phone rang, and she reached for it idly, her attention focused on the way the contestants were preparing ingredients that included Portobello mushrooms, shrimp, and hard candy in the entree round.
"'Lo," she said absently.
"Hi!" Scott's voice dragged her immediately away from the riveting competition, rolling over her like a wave of heat. "I'm sorry I haven't called back, but it's been crazy here, and then when I get home, I fall asleep I'm so wiped out. How have you been?"
"I...I'm fine!" she stammered, fumbling for words. Trust him to surprise her when she was least expecting it!
"I'm off for the weekend, and I wondered if you'd care to have dinner with me now," he continued.
His voice was carefully neutral, but Dawn remembered the conversation they had had at their first meeting where she had thrown it in his face that he was the only fan who had asked her out for dinner. She blushed furiously, suddenly embarrassed, and was grateful that he could not see her.
"I know this lovely little Thai restaurant halfway between your new home and my house with food I think you will enjoy. And the ambiance is great -- very soothing and exotic. So, are you free for dinner tonight?"