tagRomanceThis Time, Forever

This Time, Forever




"You're meant to be up already, I can't keep doing this, at some point you're going to have to start getting yourself up in the morning." I was trying to be stern with him but failing hopelessly.

"Maggie?" His voice was scratchy with sleep.

"Now who else might it be at this time in the morning?" I said, making a passable attempt at mimicking his lilting Irish accent.

"Ah well, if you took me back then we wouldn't have all this trouble with early morning calls would we, and I could make you so happy all over again." I could hear the smile in his voice but I wasn't falling for his charm.

"If I took you back then I'd have to be dragging you out of bed every morning the same way I used to, and as for happy; we did have some happy times, but at the cost of my sanity. Whereabouts are you working this weekend anyway, just out of idle curiosity?"

"You're a tough woman Maggie Ross. I'm not sure; the boss has relegated me to covering the arty type crap so who knows." I wasn't but I was trying to be.

"Not so tough at all Dan, now I think you've got twenty minutes to get up and washed and out the door." I checked my bedside clock and confirmed it.

"It's morally wrong to make people work on a Saturday I tell you, but I'd better make a move, talk to you before the weekend is over, just so you don't miss me too much." He joked.

"You don't give me a chance to miss you, take care of yourself." I hung up quickly and snuggled back down under my duvet, dislodging the two tabby kittens that had made themselves comfortable in the warm space where my head had rested.


It couldn't be me. The person standing naked at the docks beside the Cutty Sark, her skin cast in a slightly bluish tone was definitely not me, Maggie Ross; former wife of Daniel and foster mother to two slightly deranged kittens, one African grey parrot and an assortment of tropical fish. It was six o'clock on Sunday morning; I should have been snug and warm under my winter weight duvet trying to ignore the two cats vying for pillow space on top of my head; but not this morning. There was only one person to blame, and it sure as hell wasn't me.

It was James Goodman's fault. I had been lead, duped and infected with his enthusiasm as he had conducted his first interview of the morning the previous day with Spencer Tunick. Not that I had ever heard of Spencer Tunick up until that point, my sole artistic experience consisting of multi-coloured finger painted pictures from various nieces and nephews, and the one or two Da Vinci posters in my bedroom. The fact that I was a thirty-something woman, independent, with one fully operational mind of her own didn't even merit a consideration.

I had been half way through my third pre-breakfast coffee, listening to the radio and blessing the fact that I didn't have to go anywhere for the weekend as the traffic reports came through. The soft voice of the traffic reporter faded out and I heard the dj announce the latest song on the play-list, after which he would introduce his special guest for the morning. He was giving nothing away, going silent as Billy Idol's 'Hot in the city' filled the airwaves; I cast my eye out of the window at the trees being bent back and forth in the stormy weather and thought that it must have been a feeble attempt at humour on the part of the dj; hot in the city my ass, if it wasn't for the fact that the calendar was flipped over to June I would have sworn it was the middle of October.

I heard the thud of the mail on the mat behind the front door and stopped short of getting up to retrieve it as the dj introduced his guest.

"If you haven't already seen the billboard posters plastered all over the city, and you haven't seen any of his television interviews, then where the hell have you been? Spencer Tunick is here and he needs your help... yes you lot! He's giving you the chance to be part of his next work of art, excuse me, 'installation', but I'll let him give you the details himself." The dj sounded hyper and as Spencer Tunick started to speak, I was still wondering which particular drugs he was taking.

Slowly, almost without being aware of it, I felt myself being drawn into the world of Spencer Tunick. When he spoke of the different countries he had worked in, the thousands of people he had persuaded to shed their clothes, I felt as though I had been denying myself the simple pleasure of being completely naked in public, free of inhibitions, with only the breeze to cover my skin and cool my blushes. I found myself listening intently as he made a plea to the population, asking for people from every ethnic background, all shapes and sizes to make their way to the Cutty Sark the following morning. I mentally checked my social diary, realising quickly that I had a clear spot all the way to Christmas, which meant that I would have nothing to stop me being there. I quite fancied myself as a piece of art, even if I would only playing a miniscule part in it; the only thing that troubled me slightly was that he wanted everyone that turned up to get naked. I was a goddess in the privacy of my own bedroom; Spencer Tunick would single me out, declaring that he had found his muse, and I would turn and smile enigmatically at him before disappearing into a writhing sea of naked flesh. Well, there was nothing wrong with my imagination at any rate.


I wasn't even close to being the first person there, which was kind of heartening, but I found myself scrutinising every female in sight to see whether I measured up to them or not, making myself feel better when I noticed their little imperfections; not that I didn't have any of my own. I was only too aware that the perky breasts I had proudly flashed at Daniel during my twenties had drooped slightly; they were more rounded than they ever had been before. My hips were a little plumper than I would have liked and I had spent a good half hour the previous evening, craning my head over my shoulder to get a rear view of my ass in the mirror; wishing that it were a little firmer and tighter. In the end I had to console myself that everything changed with time, it was the same for everyone. It was obvious that the men present outnumbered the women, but the cold had taken its toll and more than a few had a hand or two covering their rapidly shrivelling penises. I counted my blessings though, because it seemed that the stormy weather that had kept us company for the better part of the week had fizzled out leaving the air cold and damp and the skies slightly overcast.

Looking around at the people setting up ladders and shouting orders I couldn't tell which one might be the great man himself, I had never seen a picture of him, so he could have been any one of the gofers that were zipping around. From the way he had spoken on the radio, I couldn't imagine him acting the part of the arty mood-swinging superstar. I gave up trying to pick him out and decided to make my way over to where everyone seemed to be congregating, at the same time willing my nipples to soften even slightly, but with the cool breeze playing across them, it was a no win situation. I listened to the chatter and laughter, feeling insecure for a moment as though it was directed at me, but no one had even cast a glance in my direction. As soon as I drew level with the crowd, I felt as though I was slightly invisible, just one more ripple in a sea of nudity.

I could feel my head being drawn round slightly, a magnetic feeling; when you just know someone is watching you. I found myself the object of a very interested stare from a tall, very naked stranger with dark brooding eyes, rich brown hair shot through with strands of silver grey, his hands were on his hips, and my eyes were irresistibly drawn to his cock, which despite the cold, hung heavily between his slightly parted thighs. I was far beyond the notion and belief of love at first sight, but I was a regular victim of spontaneous sexual attraction. I couldn't turn away, he was holding me there just with a look, and as he moved closer; a smile curved his mouth, warming his eyes, heating me. His hands dropped to his sides and I was captivated by the slow swing of his cock and the way his balls bounced gently as he walked towards me; my mouth was dry, my palms were sweaty, it was cold but I was beyond feeling it.

"We must be mad." He laughed softly as he drew up next to me and I found myself smiling in response.

"I don't know exactly why I'm here; I don't normally do this sort of thing." I felt self-conscious as his eyes roamed my body, suddenly wishing that I had thought to bring a shawl or something to wear until the photos were ready to be taken.

"You'll find it liberating, the human body is a very beautiful thing. By the time we reach the third location you're going to feel as though you've been going round in public without your clothes on forever." I made no move as his hand stroked down the length of my arm; he was being forward; I was letting him.

"Lord, I think one is enough for me, I don't think they'll notice if I nip off after this one do you?" He shot me a wide grin at my words.

"Now what better way can you think of to spend a Sunday morning? Besides, this is a particularly special shoot; these photos are going to be part of the National Nude Day exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery." I felt my eyebrow raise in surprise and my notions for legging it as soon as the first photo was taken were fading fast.

"Well maybe I will stay, like you said, what better way to pass the morning." I started to shiver as the cold penetrated once more, my muscles were aching and even the damp heat of arousal between my legs was doing nothing to warm me up so I rubbed my arms quickly in vain hope.

"Spencer?" My heart sank in my chest as I saw a tall, fully clothed willowy blonde with impossibly perfect skin and high perky tits sashay up behind my newfound friend, not realising for a second how she had addressed him.

"Spencer? As in Spencer Tunick, guy that's supposed to be taking the photos this morning?" I was torn between feeling insecure with my nudity faced with the tall blonde goddess and disappointment that my new friend had been snatched out of my grip, just by being who he was.

"Fuck, Lauren, I told you already, we wait another ten minutes, the light isn't quite right yet and I want to see if any more people turn up, I just wanted to get a feel of the crowd." God, he could feel me any time he wanted.

"Darling, you could do that with your clothes on, let's get moving." The other woman gave me no more than a cursory glance before turning on her well-shod heel, quickly striding off to where several men were busy setting up the ladders.

"Well I guess the cat is well and truly out of the bag and I never got the chance to find out your name." He said, looking suitably crestfallen.

"It's Maggie, Maggie Ross." I knew as I told him that as soon as he took his place on one of the ladders, he would promptly forget and our brief encounter would be lost in the rush of adrenalin as he took his photos.

"Well, no need to introduce myself now, but I've enjoyed meeting you, hopefully you'll hang around longer than the first shoot. I'd better go before Attilla the she-hen makes a secondary attack.

I let my hand cup the side of his jaw as he moved in close, brushing his lips against my cold cheek; then he was gone, one dark head among many. Once he was out of sight, it gave me a chance to have a good look at the assembled crowd of people; there were easily four or five hundred there, maybe less than was expected, but a big gathering none the less. I had a little smile to myself as I watched people that could have been my parents and grandparents stashing their clothes in plastic supermarket bags before gasping their way over to where we were. The cold stone would play havoc with those suffering with arthritis but all were smiling through their grimaces.

All too soon I heard a cough through a loud haler and knew that it was nearly time for us to pose. My stomach muscles and my nipples clenched with nervous excitement, the blood thundered through my veins and at that moment I ceased to hear a word he said although I was aware of a voice deep in the murk of my brain. Out of the corner of my eye I could see an all too familiar person come into my line of vision... Daniel. I felt my jaw drop, my eyes grow wide as I saw, like me, he was completely naked and equally shocked to see me there, standing on the fringes of the crowd that had laid themselves prone on the ground at Spencer's command.

"Okay, one more time people!" The fog lifted and everything settled back into sharper focus and I dropped to the ground, shrieking with the shock of the cold as my breasts mashed against the cold concrete of the pavement.

"Fuck sake Maggie, what are you doing here?" Daniel's voice was nothing more than a hoarse whisper as he dropped to his knees beside me, wincing as he felt just how cold it was.

"I would think that's bloody obvious, I'm looking for some really hung guys and I'm hoping at some point that all this will descend into an orgy of biblical proportions." I was beyond blushing even as I watched several heads crane towards me, interest in their faces as they registered what I had said.

"They have clubs for that sort of thing Maggie, you should have mentioned something while we were together, but if you need some company, I'd be only too willing." I grabbed his shoulder and brought him down swiftly, laughing as he swore loudly.

"Now Daniel, you know that I am not interested in that sort of thing." I scolded him quietly and watched as the several once interested faces registered disappointment and turned back again.

"Well, I'm sure we'll have some time for explanations later." He whispered for me to hush up while Spencer yelled that we were done and it was on to the next location.

I took the hand that Daniel offered as everyone got to their feet, a collective murmur of relief as they all stood up, but with Spencer down from his ladder, making a run for the Naval College Road, they all started to move; giving a stunning view of wobbly arses and pumping arms and legs. I made my mind up there and then not to follow them, maybe it would have been different if Daniel hadn't shown up, but I felt chilled to the bone and suddenly self conscious as I stood before the man that I had spent ten years married to. It was a strange feeling, we still had that spark jumping between us, but it had been close on to a year since we had both been together in a more physical sense. I missed the closeness and even although I had met a few men in the intervening time, I had never taken things further than the platonic friendship level.

"I think maybe if we stand here much longer, we'll get arrested for public indecency or something like that Dan, I'm going to get dressed and head on home." I started to move away but felt a restraining hand on my arm.

"I'll join you, the cold isn't doing much for my male ego at the moment and if you don't mind too much, I'd like to go back the house with you to warm up, it's closer than my flat." I glanced down quickly and saw that his cock was making a desperate bid to climb back inside his body for warmth; I laughed softly and nodded my head and together we jogged over to where our clothes were.

I dressed with the speed of an Olympic athlete and waited for my ex-husband, my eyes taking their fill of his tanned limbs and his floppy over-long dark hair; I missed him, I had mourned the loss of the closeness that we had shared as lovers, but my memories always blocked out the bad times, perhaps it was just loneliness that was making me think this way. Whatever it was, it reminded me that I needed him just as much these days as I did in the time that we were together. Quickly we made our way to our respective cars and drove the short distance back to my house, but I didn't get out immediately, I felt instinctively that if I let him in then something would happen, it might only be a kiss, possibly more but I just knew.

I waited at the top step for him to join me and made no protest when he took my door key out of my hand and unlocked the door; holding it open for me to walk inside in front of him.

"What the friggin hell was that Maggie?" I felt his hand tight on my shoulder as twin blurs of stripy kitten fur cannon-balled between my lounge and kitchen.

"Jacob and Marley, the two men in my life, didn't I mention I'd added to the menagerie?" I gave a shrug of my shoulder, dislodging his hand.

"Ah, well I was wondering who was keeping you warm at night since I left, guess that answers the unasked question." He trailed behind me as I walked quickly to the kitchen, switching the kettle on for a much-needed cup of coffee; only then did I gesture for him to sit down at the table.

"What about you then? Is there anyone brave enough to share a duvet with you these days?" He was a first class bed hog; many nights I had woken up teetering on the edge of the mattress while he slept on his back, arms and legs flung wide apart.

"Many possibilities but none match up to your high standards, woman you've spoiled me for anyone else, I might become a monk." I laughed along with him, knowing it was an unlikely career change.

"I'm assuming you were down in Greenwich to do a write up on the Spencer Tunick shoot, won't your editor be slightly peeved when he finds out you forewent two of the locations? Perhaps a career change might come sooner than you think." I filled two cups with rich fragrant coffee and went to sit at the table opposite him.

"I'll use some bullshit and lots of Irish charm my darling, it never fails. Now, what are your plans for the rest of the day?" We mirrored each-other's actions; wrapping our hands around our mugs.

"Sure you'll come up smelling of roses, nothing changes. I had nothing planned as it happens, but I don't think I'll heat up until I have a good long soak in the bath, maybe an hour or two extra sleep."

"That sounds good to me Maggie; I know that tub is big enough for two, so lead on." I laughed at his barefaced cheek while at the same time remembering the times when we had flooded the floor by taking a bath together. I wondered what his reaction would be if I said yes, that his idea was a good one and that there would be nothing I'd enjoy more than to spend an hour soaking in the bath with him.

"Not so sure that's a great idea hun, tell you what though, you can go feed Dickens and chat to him while I go take a bath and I'll make us a cooked breakfast after I'm done." I stood up quickly and took my cup to the sink, rinsing it before facing him once more.

"Well if that's the best offer I'm going to get, then I guess I'll take it. Do you still keep his food in the same place?" I gave a brief nod of my head and left the kitchen, taking the stairs two at a time and hurrying into the bathroom

Soon the scent of vanilla filled the air along with clouds of steam, fogging the mirror above the washbasin. I retrieved a dressing gown from the bedroom and went back to the bathroom, stripping off quickly before topping up the bath with some cold water, leaving it hot, but not hot enough to scald. As soon as I slid down into the water I felt all the stresses start to ease away and my skin start to tingle as the heat seeped into my muscles and joints. My head rested on the edge of the bath and I let my eyes drift shut, feeling more relaxed than I had been for ages, the haze of sleep washing over me. I started to doze and made no attempt to sit up, there was no rush, the water wouldn't cool down for ages; Dickens would keep Daniel entertained for ages with his newly learnt phrases.

There was no real way of telling how much time had passed; the water had cooled only slightly, but it had been long enough for the skin on my fingertips and toes to begin to wrinkle. I was having trouble opening my eyes, the lids felt as though they were weighted with lead; it made me wonder how I would have felt if I had hung around for the other two shoots. I dipped my hands in the water, cupping them before splashing my face with the scented water, choking in surprise as a liberal amount managed to make its way up my nose. Spluttering, my eyes opened immediately and I found myself staring into Daniel's face as he sat on the toilet watching me.

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