Accustomed to Her Face Ch. 02bybill33©
You're no gutter-snipe flower girl in need of allocution lessons and our first kiss wasn't my idea - far from it.
You had moved in to your room in what had been the servant's wing just three weeks when, late one night, I heard your crying. It was softly echoing down the back spiral stairs that lead to the big old kitchen on the first floor. I was making tea. Your muffled sobs were unmistakable.
I fought with myself - she's in need of help and sympathy - I should just let it go - it's not my business - etcetera, etcetera - but I couldn't help myself. I poured you a cup of tea and stole silently up the narrow stairs and down the little hallway to just outside your door.
Yup - you were crying and it tore at my foolish heart. I stood there hesitating then rapped on your door. The sound inside abruptly stopped - then some sniffs. I knocked again. Your feet shuffled on the floor inside. You opened the door a few inches.
Soft brown eyes. Tear-streaked soft dark skin. Hair pulled back and disheveled. Night gown. Faint light from a candle inside and pale blue from a sultry moon in your unseen open window behind you.
You are five-foot two - six inches shorter than my own sixty-eight. Our eyes met. It wasn't the first time I'd felt an electricity pass between us. Once before in passing on the stairs on the day you carried your belongings in from your car, then again when you handed me the mail a week later - but that night - I actually saw you shiver. I knew you felt it too - the electricity. You said, "Oh - dids I dishturb you?"
Your speech was slightly slurred. I caught the faint perfume of gin on your breath.
"No, no. No disturbance at all. But I couldn't help but hear you - and be concerned. I brought you tea."
Your lovely eyes filled with tears again and the tears ran down your cheeks. You opened the door all the way and turned back into your room - a little unsurely - a little wobbly. You were tipsy and sad. You sat down on the little love-seat by the fireplace, buried your face in your hands, and began to weep as if the stars would fall.
I stood in the door for a moment or two unsure of what to do but then I crossed the room, placed the tea on the little table by the hearth and sat down next to you at a safe distance and put a hand on your shoulder.
"There, there. What's wrong? Tell me all about it." I figured that ninety percent of what was wrong was your state of inebriation but I also knew that some talk would make it better. I took out my handkerchief and handed it to you. "I'm a good listener. Listening's part of my stock in trade."
You lifted your head and chuckled through your tears, taking the handkerchief. "I shhould hope sso. You'd ssing ssour halllf the time if you ccouldn't heeer."
Your slur was spelling the words wrong but - good - a chuckle - half the battle won, or so I thought; but no - the tears again.
"Now, now. Tell me what's made you so sad tonight. What's made you so sad?"
With my hand on your shoulder I felt your shiver - and I felt a current run up my left arm. I pulled my hand away. You stopped crying.
You looked me steady in the eyes. You wiped your cheeks with your hands. You slurred, "Djaddy, I've ffallen in lufve."
I chalked the "daddy" up to drunkenness, but I confess, I was flattered - having no daughter of my own. "Oh, I see," I said warmly. "And so is your love unrequited?"
"I tthinnk it musht be. There's no chhansce for it."
"You know - there's almost always a chance for love even though it may not work out in the long run. But what boy would be silly enough not to love you in return?"
I was thinking I'd better get you to sleep it off. Things would look better in the daylight.
"I wwent out affter wwork. I tthought I ccould dishtracct myself. Wwith my friensh from shkul. But I drank ttoooo mush."
"Yes." I chuckled. "Yes, I think you must have. Why don't you go to sleep? We can talk later in the morning."
Your eyes teared up a little. "Promish?"
"Promish" I smiled. You smiled faintly.
But then it happened. You leaned in and kissed my mouth.
In retrospect, I could have avoided the kiss. I could have parried. At the time it seemed like it would be insensitive to hold you away; impolite, somehow. But your kiss wasn't a polite one.
It was tender and lingering. I could taste the gin strong on your breath, but on your young lips it was like an exotic night flower. The shock made me respond in like kind. I wasn't thinking. Your tongue firmly slipped against my teeth. Your hand slid around my back. You were kissing me like a woman not like a girl. It was a kiss full of desire and I was sucker-punched.
You wriggled closer to me and I could feel the warm pressure of your unrestrained breasts through my shirt against my chest but you ended the kiss and your head slumped to my shoulder. Your breath went suddenly deep. Your body leaned against me completely. You were sound asleep.
I sat with you like that for a long moment -- or two -- or fifty -- contemplating what had just happened. There was no hope of getting you to bed. I made you as comfortable as possible on the love-seat - a pillow, a light throw. I blew out the candle on the mantle. I took the still-warm teacup from the table.
It was when I turned to close the door, looking at your sleeping form still clutching my handkerchief in the moonlight, I felt the wave of a song begin and I quickly went downstairs to capture it - to play it out and write it down before it could escape me - to try to get the words just right.
That was our first kiss. I thought I'd deal with it later in the day if you even remembered it. And if you didn't - well - it sure had been a sweet thing. Song-worthy.