All Things Come... Vol. 2 Ch. 08


* * * *

Later we went out into the world. She was quiet, and I didn't feel too communicative either, and we walked aimlessly along the narrow paths that separated the little plots of olives and vines.

'I feel different now,' she said finally. 'You know why I was so twisted up and everything, don't you?'

I can guess some of it. You're smooth again, and that means something. Something happened to make you do it, and you're the persevering type, and it wasn't me, so it must have been him, and it must have been pretty negative or you wouldn't have been so upset..' She took my hand and raised it to her lips, then bit my knuckle gently.

'Am I that obvious? You make me feel like Doctor Watson listening to Sherlock Holmes. Dieter was angry and I knew it was probably the end. He said things that he shouldn't have said, things we'd talked about before, and I thought we'd laid them to rest, and he said them to try and hurt me and it worked.' Her face was calm as she talked, and I felt a rush of relief that she was handling it. 'So I shaved him away, and cried on Lottie's shoulder, and I'll call him when I get back, but only to say that we shouldn't try to repair it. It's too broken for that. I hadn't realized how much it had affected me.' She lapsed into silence again.

'When people are hurt and angry they say unforgivable things, but you didn't make him say them and you can't pretend they weren't said; you're not willing to fake it, so there's nothing you can do.'

'How do you know?'

'Been there, done that, got the scars. Come and see the castle.'

At the top of one of the crumbling towers we sat with our backs against sun-warmed stone and watched an early lizard basking on the wall below us. She shifted and stripped off her T-shirt, and stretched out along the top of the battlement, putting her head in my lap. I ran a finger down her ribs.

'You need to be browner, and I can see these bones way too clearly. You haven't fretted away three or four kilos in just forty-eight hours, kid. Let me guess: you'd been working on the relationship as hard as you could, and doing all your other work as well, but nothing you did made any difference and it all kept getting worse, and you couldn't make him happy with what you had to offer, so you started wondering if it was you, and whether you were doing something wrong, and if it was going to affect your college work next year, since he's there in the same department, so for the last couple of months at least, you've very cleverly forgotten to eat properly. Say it ain't so, Joe.' She nodded mutely.

'You see way too much, and way too clearly. Lying about emotions is a sin, though. You taught me that. I won't do it, and he wouldn't let me be who I am, so the only thing I did wrong was love you, and that's not his fault or mine. What am I going to do?'

'Nothing. The work's done, mostly; I mean, you've done most of the work. Now it's just a matter of getting some resilience back and deciding what happens between now and the summer. A day at a time is the way to handle this sort of stuff. So it's going to be three meals a day for the next week, my girl, and if I don't see clean plates, there'll be no sex for you.'

'I bet I don't leave a single crumb.'

'We'll go and test that now. Breakfast was a long time ago, and then it'll be time for a siesta. Put your T-shirt on though, or you'll attract a crowd.'

* * * * * *

The days fell into a rhythm. We woke late and breakfasted, and went out: to the beach, to the mountains, to small town markets, to Alicante for a spot of urban chic. We had aperitivos at Manuel's when we arrived home, then ate and went back to bed. We talked a lot, but when the silence lengthened there was no pressing need to break it. On the Saturday before Easter I loaded food and beer into a daypack and we walked up the valley, climbing gently, and quickly leaving the village behind. A narrow path followed the course of the stream, and the walls of the little arroyo were too steep for cultivation. The water chuckled beside us and Uli slipped her sandals off and waded along the bed, slipping on the water-smooth stones.

Three kilometers from the village the valley broadened and then closed, the stream arching down over a lip of rock and cascading into a small pool. I watched her take the setting in, and a delighted gurgle rose from her.

'It's a fairytale cliché, Luke. I feel as if I've wandered into a remake of The Lost Unicorn or something. There isn't even a coke can anywhere. We can't be the only people who've ever been here.'

You can't cultivate it, and there's no bright lights or phone cover, so the kids don't come up. I'm the only person I've ever seen here.' She stared round some more.

'If anyone painted this it'd be pure chocolate box and nobody would believe it.' She slipped out of her tank top and shorts, folding them carefully, then eased her panties down, and dropped them on the pile. 'Give me the beer.' I shrugged out of the daypack and handed her the cans. She took them and walked across the soft turf, flexed her knees and jumped into the pool, then surfaced, shrieking. 'Christ, it's freezing. Why didn't you tell me?' I was laughing too hard to answer, and she leapt out as quickly as she'd leapt in. 'I left the beer in there, Mr. Cleverdick, and if you want any you can fetch it yourself.' There was gooseflesh on her skin and her nipples were shriveled berries, jutting from her shivering body like organ stops.

'Come here, sweetheart, and I'll warm you up again.' She smiled reluctantly, and then genuinely, and flung herself at me.

'You're such a bastard. Why didn't you warn me, and why don't I hate you, and your bloody English sense of humor too?'

Because I love you, you daft woman, and we both know it.' There was a sudden silence. The words had taken us both by surprise.

'I didn't know it.' Her arms were strong and determined round my neck and her eyes were gazing steadily into mine,

'Neither did I, I don't think.' My voice was a little shaky. I took a deep breath and pulled the lid down over me. 'But I seem to have told you, and I'm not a liar, so it must be true.' She closed her eyes and leaned into me, her cheek on my chest, her water-dappled body dampening my clothes. After long minutes, she raised her head.

'That's settled then.'

'I suppose.' I was still rolling the syllables round my tongue, tasting them, and wondering where they had come from. 'What happens next?' She snorted and squeezed me till my ears rang.

'Nothing, silly. Everything's the same, except now I need to worry a bit more about whether I'll be able to handle it.'

'I'm glad that's all. What the hell are you talking about?' She smiled up at me.

'You've got too many clothes on and the beer should be cold by now, and I've had a bit of a shock, and I'm thirsty, so...'

'Oh, that's what you're talking about.'

I rescued the beer without compromising my masculinity, and we sprawled on the grass, not saying much. She looked up as I put my can down and lifted one long leg temptingly.

'Want to slip in between these, big boy?' she asked lightly. I stretched out and pulled her ear.

'Only if it involves getting between these as well. I need to know stuff.' She opened her thighs wider and rolled onto her back.

'You always say the right thing. Just put yourself here till I get properly wet and you can slide in and we can be quiet together. Nothing frantic.' I did as I was told and we lay, barely touching, feeling shared desire rising slowly. 'Don't expect more than we've got,' she murmured. 'Words don't change anything: all they do is confirm things. We've got a lot of time to get the details right.'

'What about practical stuff though?' I asked, hating the anxiety in my voice. I was stiffening gradually, and I nudged her pussy with the swollen head of my prick. 'There's my work, which I love and which involves moving about a lot, and there's college and the career you're going to have, which is going to tie you down somewhere else, and there are the other people in our lives, and the money thing, and... Ow! What are you doing?'

'Shutting you up.' Somehow, without appearing to have moved, she had drawn me into her, and now the strong muscles of her pussy were clamped over the head of my cock, holding me fast. She squeezed me again, hard. 'What happened to the guy who told me that the way to handle this sort of stuff is one day at a time? You said once that life's not about closing things down, but letting more in. Everything you've said so far has been you secretly saying "what am I going to have to give up?" The real question is what we're going to do with the extra.' I thought about that while her pussy rolled over my glans and I reached full erection.

'OK. But if we pretend that a day at a time is going to last till the end of our summer terms, how are we going to work round what we're already committed to? You said once that long-range relationships were sad and doomed, and I sort of agree with you.' I slid deeper into her as she thought, and she twisted and gasped.

'Don't distract me. Listen, you mumbled something ages ago about the world being full of ex-couples who loved each other, and had believed that love gave them the right to demand things, and that's why you're all nervous. But we know about that pitfall, and we've got lots of practice at not demanding. What I said about handling this wasn't a joke. You're a dominant male and you're used to getting your own way, and I'm not one to be ordered about, except by you in bed, so we're going to take a lot of care. I've wanted you to say those three words for ages, but now you've said them I'm not sure what to do with them. So we'll think and digest, and you carry on with your coven in Brussels, because what you've got with them is important too in its own way, and... I won't exactly go looking for a Luke substitute, or a Dieter substitute, come to that, but if anyone tickles my fancy I might have a little adventure, and then when summer comes and we've got some time, we'll go and lie on a beach somewhere and talk and think and decide about next year. And now I'll shut up and you can fuck me. How does that sound?' I lowered my mouth to hers and spoke round her lips.

'Like a good plan.' Her muscles relaxed and the full length of me glided into her. I knew that she wanted stillness, and so did I, and it was what we offered each other. Her pussy was firm and warm round me and I could feel myself filling her completely. Gymnastics and contortions are fine, but what we needed to share that afternoon was different. To my surprise my erection didn't flag, and her own movements around my cock were the soft contractions of comfortable acceptance rather than demands for action. The sun moved across the clearing and pressure began to build slowly between us. Her eyes sparkled and she squeezed down on me hard; my prick jerked and swelled reflexively and she shuddered gently.

'Just like that, darling: squeeze and push back and take us where wherever we're going.' She closed over me again and the rhythm built inexorably. Our bodies began to tremble with the strain of resisting the shared urge to plunge into each other, and sweat beaded our skin. Flickers of electricity danced between the joined parts of our bodies, and I shifted so that my nipples brushed against hers, and her breathing caught and quickened. My heart was pounding, and I felt the familiar surge as my balance shifted and my body prepared itself. She felt the change and twisted to nip my ear.

'About time too. I've been holding back for ages.' I closed my eyes, letting my body take over, and quivered helplessly in her arms as my seed boiled through me and jetted into her. At the moment of my release she whimpered and her pussy convulsed round me, her own climax rolling irresistibly through her. My vision contracted till all I could see was her face under me, twisted in concentration as she drank the last drop of sensation. There was something hovering round her, just out of my reach, but now it didn't worry me. She was right: it would come in its own time.

After a while, when time had restarted, I swiveled round and we sat, propped against each others' knees. She reached out and tugged my ear, then slid a finger down to her pussy.

'We were completely between both of these that time. We're so clever. Is it a bit cheeky to say well done for not grabbing? I know you felt it, but you didn't get all desperate like you did in February.'

'Very cheeky, but sometimes you're worth listening to.' She pulled my ear harder and blew me an exaggerated kiss.

'I've got sweat all over my front, and bits of grass and God knows what all over my back, and ants exploring my nooks and crannies by the feel of it. Shall we be really brave and have a dip?'

'Is this what love means?' She giggled

'I just feel like celebrating.'

* * * * * *

'I don't want to leave', she said as we left the village on Tuesday. Our bags were on the back seat and an end of holiday feeling was crouched over them, sneering at us.

'If you were looking forward to it that would be worse.' She smiled and punched my knee.

'You're obsessive about looking on the bright side. Promise me you're not still scared? I've managed to get it down to mere apprehension. I've never been properly loved before: Mum loves me now, and I love her, but that's different. It's going to take some getting used to.'

'I'm a dominant male so I'm not scared either. I'll need to cling to you for comfort once in a while, but that's all.' She ruffled my hair.

'That's my brave Luke.' A faint ringing sounded, and she jumped. 'That's my phone!' She scrabbled in her bag. 'Hello?... Lottie? What on earth... no, we're on our way to the airport... what's happened...' As she listened her face fell, and when she spoke again her voice was heavy. 'Oh, Jesus ... No, of course you couldn't... Every day?... And phone messages too?... He said WHAT?... Oh, shit, exactly what I need...OK, Lottie, thanks for warning me. I'll be careful. See you this evening... Thanks, Lottie, Bye.' She disconnected and sat staring at the phone as if it were a rattlesnake.

'What the hell's happening?' I asked. She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes.

'That was Lottie. Dieter's been sending flowers to the flat every day and leaving messages on the answering machine, and the reason she called was to say that when she listened last night he'd said that he knew I wouldn't hear the message till afterwards, but that he'd forgiven me, and that he'd meet me at the airport and we could celebrate my return, and God knows what else. He must have gone loopy.' I glanced at her and wondered what to say. No dominant male stuff, I told myself sternly.

'Do you want to go ahead and handle it by yourself, or change your flight, or call Lottie back and ask her to meet you, or another friend...?' She didn't reply, but her fingers were twisting and pleating the hem of her skirt, and I stumbled on. 'I won't offer, because it might be exactly what you don't want, but if you asked, I'd say yes.' She opened her eyes and looked at me for a long time.

'Really? Just like that?' I nodded. She took a deep breath.

'I didn't think I'd be needing you so soon, and it's exactly the sort of thing I'm scared of, but I think I could do it better if you were there. Please, Luke, will you come back to Munich with me?'


* * * * *


As the plane turned and began its approach path Uli glanced across at his face. He was sitting quietly, inside his head, like he often was, but he sensed her movement and squeezed the hand he'd been holding since they took off. Warm and dry and reassuring. The knot in the pit of her stomach loosened, then tightened again as she imagined the coming encounter. She hadn't believed he was completely serious till they'd arrived at the ticket desk to be told the flight was full. She'd thought amusedly that Spanish sounded like a good language to argue in.

'First class then, Señora, if there's no room in economy, and you can upgrade this lady's ticket at the same time. Please have no doubts that we're both going to travel on this flight.' His voice had been unhesitating and confident and the desk attendant had finally nodded and turned to her computer terminal. She'd tugged at his hand.

'Can we put it on my card?' He'd looked at her and smiled.

'I'm glad you said that. They're not going to give me a refund on my Brussels ticket, and you're ten million times richer than me, after all. I'll buy supper tonight though, and if you don't let me I'll sulk.' She'd wondered again what it was that let him be so relaxed about money. Most men who knew she was the daughter of wealthy parents either sponged and pretended they hadn't, or insisted on ostentatiously paying for her, as if expecting a prize. The plane's nose dipped and she leaned across the seats and kissed his cheek.

'If he really is there, what will you do?' He turned and looked at her closely, his features reflecting concentration.

'Stay out of the way as much as possible and let you do what you have to, I guess, and be prepared to jump in if things get too silly. But I won't do the job for you, because that's not why I came, and I don't want you to have to feel grateful.' He looked uncertain for a moment and her heart splintered with love. 'Does that make sense?' he asked. 'I truly don't want to screw anything up.' Her face must have said "yes", because he looked relieved for a split second before the gentle irony filtered back.

He dropped back and let her precede him as they approached the entrance gate. The usual sea of faces was waiting, peering for friends and relatives, and her heart pounded as she scanned the crowd. Then she gasped, and behind her she sensed Luke stiffen. She hardly knew whether to laugh or cry.

"WELCOME HOME, ULRIKE FISCHER, LOVE IS MY GIFT TO YOU". The words were clear and uncompromising, and he held the sign aloft in one hand. The other cradled an enormous bouquet of roses. Sadness overwhelmed her as she understood how desperate he had become, and how wretched she was going to make him, but beneath the sadness she felt a flash of annoyance that he should assume that his love was a gift. He saw her and dropped the placard, opening his arms to receive her. She stopped two paces away.

'Hello, Dieter. Lottie warned me that you might be here.' She looked at him steadily, waiting for his response, and his arms fell slowly to his sides. She couldn't help comparing him with Luke. Both tall and lean, both around the same age and of the same physical type: that had been part of the initial attraction; but where Luke was calm and thoughtful, Dieter was a bundle of nervous energy, his spirits soaring and sinking from moment to moment, exhilarating and exasperating a dozen times in the same day. It was what made him good at his work, sharpening his creative edge, and she knew it was what had driven him to meet her. "But there's no comparison between them at all, really" The thought flashed through her and she felt the door marked 'Dieter' finally close completely. It must have showed in her eyes, because he flinched.

'Come and stand out of the way,' she said. 'We might as well talk now as later.' She swung on her heel and wheeled her case rapidly into a corner of the arrival hall. He followed her, clutching the flowers. She knew without looking that Luke was a little way behind them, outside their space, and she felt grateful for the knowledge and irritated by the fact that she was grateful.

'I bought these for you,' he said, offering the bouquet, aware that something had happened, but not sure what. 'Ulrike, we need to be together and find each other again.' She parked the case and turned to face him.

'I'm sorry, Dieter, but we can't, not any more. It was fading away before Easter, and now it's gone, and I think it's mostly been my fault. I've been asking for something you can't offer, and you need more from me than I'm willing to give. We'd spend more and more time fighting and hurting each other, and I won't do that.' She looked at the flowers and shook her head. 'I can't accept roses from you, Dieter.' He looked at the bouquet as if wondering what it was and then hurled it against the wall.

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