One Weekend Standbybbonz1©
It was supposed to be a cottage, but it didn't deserve such an evocative title. For one thing, a cottage should be perched on a hill, with a lake or babbling brook flowing nearby, soothing everyone with the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of water on rock. For another, a cottage should be brightly painted, with a proper wooden porch and pegs near the door to hang up sweaters or swim toys or fish caught in the nearby babbling brook. A cottage should be welcoming, with big windows and several doors and room to move about and get away from it all, even if "it all" included the person who brought you there.
This place had none of those expected features. No, it sat at the bottom of a hill, in a valley between some hills in fact, hunched down like a small child hiding from his mother. There was no water to be seen or heard. And it was painted a dark, drab brown, a color indistinguishable from the pine tree trunks that towered all around it, the kind that were bare of branches until you looked thirty feet up, and even those were sparse and filled with painful-looking needles. And, on this side at least, there were no windows and only a single door, without a window, a metal one like the kind you'd find on the filling station rest room. With two deadbolts.
She tried to decide how to describe it. Not a shack, because the roof appeared sound and there was a stone-crafted chimney rising up to the peak. Not a hunting lodge or even lodgette, because it looked as though someone at sometime had attempted to create stone edging for a garden around the perimeter. Not a writer's retreat, because writers needed windows and things to gaze at thoughtlessly while waiting for the words to come together, and here all a writer would be gazing at was the bottom of some generic pine trees, sans branches, needles or cute woodland animals.
A cabin would be the closest, best description. One room, probably, unless some sadist had decided to put walls in what was probably only a 20 foot by 20 foot space. A cabin carefully secured from hunters, writers and other riff-raff by deadbolts on the steel door and tightly locked window shutters, the kind you see in hurricane country. A square cabin, plopped on a square foundation, sitting at the bottom of a non-scenic valley, surrounded by towering pine trees, hidden from direct sunlight, unporched, unremarkable, unwelcoming.
This is where he brought her? If privacy was what they sought, then privacy was what they'd gotten. It was, he'd explained, a favor given by a friend who owed. He hadn't explained what he'd done to get the favor. Nor who the friend was. Nor why said friend would have a cabin hidden in the woods, at the bottom of a valley, literally five miles from the nearest pavement that could even be considered a road. It's off the beaten track, he'd said. Yeah. They'd turned down one of those unpaved dirt tracks that the telephone workers use to repair the lines that cut through the woods. The kind that aren't maintained, aren't flat and aren't ever traveled by anyone other than telephone workers. Then, they'd turned down a path that was a path only because its existence was marked by a very small reflector nailed to a birch tree. He'd used a compass – a compass! – to navigate due south from the reflector, in between the towering trees, picking his own path for the 4x4, until by some miracle they'd spotted the chimney poking up from the valley. Then came some intricate maneuvering to drive the 4x4 to the entrance to the little valley so they could park next to the cottage/shack/cabin.
She stood, carrying her small overnight case while he struggled to find the right key to unlock the brown metal door, and assessed the trip so far. The story she'd concocted for her husband was messy and complicated. A combination of a girls' weekend away for a reunion with college girlfriends – no, he wouldn't know any – at a cottage one of them owned on a lake to the north. Probably out of cell phone range. Certainly not the kind of place a husband could or should pop in for a visit. Only girls allowed. She'd even set up multiple contingency stories in case that one didn't hold up, which she was sure it wouldn't. Her husband was as prying as he was insecure. He always needed to know everything about her plans.
The lock clicked open, accompanied by a small shout of success. His cover story was everything hers was not; elegant in its simplicity. As far as his wife knew, he was traveling up to a cottage deep in the woods to write a draft for a story. He might not have cell phone reception. And he'd call her when he got back to civilization. That was it. That was all. No questions. No prying. No calls to the National Guard. And to give his tale full credence, he'd already written a story draft, which he'd simply give to her to read when he returned home.
For her part, she was unsure how she would act if faced with that much trust from her husband. Somehow, his distrust made this act of rebellion easier to contemplate, and less likely to create a guilty conscience. She glanced over at her friend as he propped open the door. She'd wondered on the trip up what he thought of all of this. He'd never second-guessed their plans. Never warned her of what would happen if she revealed their secret. In fact, he trusted her the way she wanted her husband to trust her. But then, if her husband trusted her that much, she might not even be standing here. But then... ah, shit, a person could go crazy over thinking like that.
Shaking her head, she headed over to the now open door. After seeing the outside, she could barely wait to see what the inside looked like.
He waited by the door for her, wondering for the hundredth time that day what was going through her head. Even after ten years of friendship, they knew so little about each other. Yet he would bet money that he knew more about her than her husband, who, once he'd captured her, seemed to have little interest in getting to know more about her. One man's loss was another man's gain, he though wryly. But that was only a cynical way to look at it. He was, to use an old-fashioned term, enraptured of her. And it wasn't hard to see why. Curious eyes set in delicate features gave her the look of a quizzical cat, the kind of animal that could be playful, serious and exasperating, all within the blink of an eye. She was quick to smile and radiant when she did, her smile as sunlit as her short blond hair. Thin, lean, lithe, athletic, maybe even skinny, her angular limbs only served to accentuate her full breasts and curvaceous hips. On the ride to the cabin, he'd had to physically force himself to concentrate on the road; his eyes kept straying to her cleavage, where the seatbelt strap neatly divided her breasts and pressed her sundress down against her, giving them even more prominence.
Not that she minded the attention. He'd flirted with her the whole ride up, and she flirted back, a lot more freely than during their previous times together. It had been a very pleasant ride, except for those times when her husband had called. And called. And called. He'd been tempted to disparage the man's insecurity, but that would only be stating the obvious. And it wouldn't stop the calls from coming.
Finally, in the last semi-civilized town, the cell reception began to fade, just as the cabin's owner had warned. He stopped the car at the local Starbucks – the damn places were everywhere – and bought her a latte frappe café flaffe banaffe, or whatever it was that she liked. And paid for extra whipped cream, until it towered almost as high as the cup itself. Then, back in the car, spoon-feeding whipped cream to each other as well as can be done in a moving vehicle, he'd driven around town until they found a live, actual pay phone, complete with the little blue phone symbol, so she could call her husband and once again reassure him of...whatever it was he was worried about this time.
He'd waited out the phone call, far enough from her to not seem eavesdropping, but close enough to share her smiles and grimaces as she spoke to him. Finally she hung up the phone, her "Love you's" sounding a little forced. Her eyes had flashed as she began to gripe about him again. This time, though, he was ready for her, and as she came near he pulled her close, kissing her soundly. Her lips fluttered against his as she continued to talk. When her lips snapped shut, he was sure he'd made a fatal mistake. But then they softly parted and she leaned closer against him, not so much kissing him as allowing him to kiss her. He could feel her breasts against his chest, her thighs just barely straddling his right leg, her shoulders beneath his fingertips. He released her reluctantly, his lips leaving hers only after their bodies had parted.
It had been their first real kiss, and hopefully had left no doubt as to his intentions, in case she didn't share them, and what could or shouldn't be discussed from then on. She'd recovered quickly, climbing back in the car, all smiles and sparkling eyes. Right away she moved her purse to the floor from the seat next to her where it had sat between them all drive. And didn't bother to straighten her sundress, leaving her legs bare and exposed right up to her thighs. As they made their way out of town, he rested his hand on her thigh. And wondered, completely unromantically, just when would be the right time to let his hand drift a bit farther upward. But that was a part of him that he didn't want to reveal, just yet.
The rest of the drive they'd talked only of the scenery out the window, the rolling hills, the deer most certainly hiding in the trees. She wasn't all that surprised when they turned down the telephone pole path; he'd warned her of that. Nor did she react much when he told her they were electric lines, not telephone lines. She seemed almost relieved not to have access to a phone. Only when he'd pulled out the compass and turned into the woods did she begin to show some consternation, pulling her bare feet up under her on the passenger's seat. Maneuvering through the woods took all of his concentration, so only after they finally spotted the chimney and he'd found a way into the valley, did he get a chance to gauge her reaction to their lodgings for the next two nights.
While she didn't jump for joy, she didn't look disgusted either. He could see that she was curious to see what the inside was like. Was it as rustic as the outside? As primitive? So unlivable that they'd have to sleep in the car? He knew the answers from pictures his friend had already sent him, and from the written tour he'd received via email. But he wanted it to be a surprise for her.
In thinking about this trip, he'd imagined how they'd go from friends to something more. He had planned to ease into it, always testing the waters, making sure he wasn't forcing her to do something she didn't want to. But that first kiss had left him breathless. He liked to kiss. Liked it, at times, more than actually having sex. Liked drawing passion directly from the other person. Liked the intimacy. Liked the closeness.
Capitulating to his desires, he'd pulled her close again, kissing her deeply, passionately, letting his tongue slide inside her mouth, mentally urging her to respond. When she did, when she pressed her lips back against his, pulled him closer and kissed him deeper, he knew he could let another curtain pull back and open himself to greater possibilities without fear.
She prepared to enter the cabin, as she'd decided to call it, with an anticipation that made her tingle. It wasn't just wondering what kind of furnishings she'd find inside. No, it felt as though she was about to take a more momentous step. Walking across the transom leading to... what? That, she realized, was the best part. She didn't know what she was walking into. It was the first time in a long time that her future didn't seem scripted.
And she wasn't even sure what man would be waiting for her once she got inside. She'd imagined, as they started planning this excursion, how things would go. A little flirting. Friendly touches. An awkward meeting of lips. And later, much later, a move to more intimate pursuits, all soft and slow and, yes, hedged. His kiss in town had caught her off guard. And the one on arrival here had definite undertones of passion in it. Something she'd often sensed in him, but that he'd never really allowed her to see. He'd always covered it in self-deprecating humor, or looked at her as though he was testing her, wondering how far he could press her. She'd always been careful to not respond too approvingly of his advances, so he wouldn't get the wrong idea at the wrong time. But now, she had to wonder who had been playing who?
Setting aside those thoughts, she stepped into the cabin and looked around in wonder. The interior wasn't nearly what she'd expected after seeing the ramshackle exterior. Oh, it was only one room. But much better appointed than anyone would have guessed. Dominating the room, in the corner opposite the door, sat a huge queen-size brass bed, with a white comforter decorated with calla lilies strewn across the top. At the foot of the bed was a large wooden trunk, with black iron edges and hasp. To her right, and directly opposite the foot of the bed was a small fireplace, situated so you could lay in bed and watch the fire crackling in the hearth. Not that they'd need it now, in the middle of the summer, but it looked welcoming nonetheless.
Incongruously perched on a shelf to her left was a large screen plasma TV, a strangely modern touch in a cabin where all four walls featured wood paneling. Below it, behind glass doors, sat a stack of audio and video components, with names she didn't know and couldn't pronounce. Which meant very expensive stuff. No sign of any DVDs to watch, though. In the final corner lay the kitchen, with its high-end green laminate cabinets a perfect contrast to the wooden walls. Two large windows met at the corner, shafts of light leaking through the still-closed shutters. There was a small refrigerator, it's door currently open, though the light wasn't on.
The floors were highly polished oak, protected by a scattering of patterned rugs. Up above, the wooden ceiling followed the contours of the roof, with four huge crossbeams helping to give the whole room the feel of a much grander lodge.
"Let's get this place set up," he said, pulling a folded sheet of paper from his pocket. "Keys, keys, keys..." he mumbled, reading off the paper. "Ah!"
Opening the trunk by the bed, he felt along the top and pulled out a key. "The key to the kingdom," he declared, smiling as if at a hidden joke. "C'mon!"
She allowed herself to be pulled along, resolving to search through that trunk, indeed, the whole cabin, as soon as she had a chance. There was more here than she could see. She was sure of it.
A few feet from the side of the house stood a small shed. The bathroom and shower, she supposed. He'd warned her of the lack of indoor facilities, like he was testing to see if that would throw her. Fortunately, it didn't look as bad as she'd imagined. The toilet closet was spotless, and even had a small cabinet with a mirror. They had to walk around the side of the shed to find the shower. It consisted of little more than a hose with a shower head on the end, suspended over a small cement slab. There were no walls or privacy screens. She walked over and stepped under the shower, then turned to face the cabin. It was as she thought. One of the large windows in the kitchen faced right out to the shower area. So anyone inside could watch someone shower, with no obstructions in the way at all. She smiled inwardly. Privacy was probably not the number one concern for anyone staying at this cabin. At least none of the neighbors would see her, she thought as she surveyed the surrounding, tree-studded hills. And the nearest ones probably lived over five miles away, as the crow flies. A woman could indulge her nudist tendencies out here.
She followed him into the shed, letting her eyes adjust to the gloom. Covering one wall were padlocked lockers, numbered one through four. The other wall held a couple of breaker boxes. At the end was some machinery, probably the water pump and a water softener. A couple of lawn chairs were leaning against the wall. She'd come back for those. And in baskets on the floor were... well, she didn't know quite what it was. A hammock, maybe? Or a collapsed tent?
He'd stopped to look when she did, then turned to her expectantly.
"Ah. You don't know what that is?"
He said it like it was a challenge, and it felt kind of condescending. For a moment, she thought to dispute him. But then he'd challenge her to identify it, and she wouldn't be able to, and that would be worse. So she just shook her head, daring him to say something insulting.
"We'll get it out tomorrow, then. It's not something you see everyday," he simply replied, without even a hint of superiority. She felt kind of deflated and then realized why. She'd been girding for a confrontation, which would've happened with her husband. But there hadn't been one, and now she felt off-balance. Weird.
With a flick of a few switches the power was on, and immediately the water pump growled to life. For the next half hour they busied themselves getting the cabin fit for habitation. They both carried their bags and groceries in, and she set about storing the food while he unlocked the window shutters, letting the light stream into the cabin. Funny how they both settled into typical domestic roles, she thought. But maybe they just needed a typical routine to help them feel secure during what both expected to be a very atypical day.
Finally all the windows were open and the groceries stored and the lamps positioned just so, in case one or the other would be inclined to read in bed. And they stood, somewhat awkwardly in the middle of the room, their busywork exhausted, knowing what could come next, but neither moving toward it. I should kiss him, she thought. I should take the initiative, so he doesn't think that he dragged me here. And, she realized, so it wouldn't feel like she was giving up all her power for the weekend.
I should, she thought. And then, suddenly emboldened, she did. Stepping up to him, she reached up and pulled his head down to hers, pressing her lips against his, holding him hostage and kissing him with feigned passion, which quickly and somewhat amazingly turned to real passion. Where was this coming from, she had time to think, before he responded in kind, pressing his lips against hers so fiercely that she wondered how they'd avoided this moment for so long. All coherent thoughts fled from her mind. Fragments fired her actions. She was aware only of his lips against hers. His arms as he held her close. His hands, traveling up and down her back, caressing the back of her neck, tracing her hips, cupping her butt. Tongues fencing, delightfully playing.
She pressed herself against him, wriggling with the barely suppressed urge to mount his leg, yes, mount it and bring herself closer to him, as close as you could be without being closest, right at the edge of being completely there for him. Just in case. Just in case...
Just in case what? She wondered. There was no just in case, she knew, as soon as his hands skooched between them and cupped her breasts, the friction firing her neurons even through the layers of dress and bra. And suddenly those too were swept aside and his hand was cupping her flesh, the same place he'd been staring at the whole drive up here and now they were in his hands and she wanted nothing more than to be free of all her clothes and his too and his hands felt so good on her skin...
He still didn't release all his passion, still reined it in a little, because what if that scared her so much that she wanted to go back to where they'd been? He wouldn't be able to stand that so he'd never be able to see her again and he wouldn't be able to stand that either. So he let loose, mostly, feeding off the freshness of the experience and how playful her tongue could be and how she clung to him, her legs almost wrapped around his body. There was no mistaking that sign. Anticipating and eager, he pushed his hand between them, cupping her firm breasts, as full and sexy as he'd imagined them. Then, meeting no resistance, he pushed aside her dress and pulled down her bra – why was she even wearing one! – and caressed her soft flesh, eliciting a soft gasp and smiling at her pleasure.