Long Time ComingbyJenna Grey©
It was nearly time to punch out and go home when Kerry stopped stacking the Computer section of the book store she worked at and looked around. He was here, in the store. Kerry could feel him, practically smell him. She licked her lips. She could taste him. Practically.
"Kerry?" As if on cue, his melodious voice resonated from behind her, causing Kerry to drop the stack of books she cradled in her arms.
"Let me help you," he offered as she blushed like the school girl she hadn't been for ten years or so now.
"Mr. Markham." Her voice was breathless and low as she peered up at him through thick, dark lashes, sure he had absolutely no idea what the sound and sight of him did to her.
Nor did he have any idea that she waited like a young child waits for Christmas, every week, for her Saturday's with him. Her time with him. He had no idea that the memory of his voice kept her awake at night sometimes. He wouldn't believe her if she told him that sometimes she would hear a man speak at work, on the phone, in a store or restaurant and for a split second she would think it was him, Mr. Markham, speaking.
Yes, he was absolutely clueless.
"I was wondering if you could help me find a book." He smiled as he knelt down beside her. Heads bent close together, he helped her pick up the books she had dropped. When the task was finished they stood up together and he placed the books he had collected into her arms. The backs of his fingers brushed her soft, pale skin ever so lightly.
It was as if he had just passed a candle's flame near her skin. Kerry melted a little. The longer he stood beside her the more she began to feel as if she was the candle's flame. She burned for him. His nearness, the musky, sweet smell of his skin, the way his eyes danced as he peered down at her kept her flame lit. Kerry kept her head bent, studying the books she held tightly to her chest. "Which book is that?"
This was how their Saturday's always went. He would search her out, ask for her help in finding a book, and she would do her best to give him what he wanted. Regardless of how long it took. Some days he produced a long list. Other days they focused on just one or two books. Regardless, he would usually end up occupying a good hour of her time before heading off.
While their routine seemed to be the same, today his timing was very different. All day she had waited for him to pop in. By lunch she was sorely disappointed. By afternoon break she was down right sad. But now... Now she forced herself to listen to his request, the singing of her heart nearly drowning out his voice. He was here. Finally. Unfortunately, now it was nearly time for her to punch out and go home.
This week he needed a book on the history of the Revolutionary War in the Mohawk Valley as told from a specific Native American's point of view. His exact requests were always very difficult to find. More often than not he never knew both the title and the author. He usually only knew one or the other. Today it was the last name of the author he knew, not the title of the book.
The computer in the back corner of the store was hardly ever used, so over the last year this had become "their" computer. It was the Reference section employee's computer. No one ever came to Reference on Saturday mornings. Kerry typed "Revolutionary War," and a list of hundreds of books appeared on the screen.
They scanned the information silently for a moment or so, until Kerry found a name similar to the last name of the author Mr. Markham had suggested.
"Is it this one? She brought a tapered, neatly manicured finger to the display, underlining a book title with an invisible line drawn by her peach painted nail.
His breath came near her ear, soft and smelling of mint, as he peered over her shoulder. His arm came around hers and he pointed as well, his hand hovering just above hers, which still rested on the display. "No. I think this is more like it.."
The heat generated from his hand warmed her own, as she trembled with his nearness. He smelled of Spring air and leather. She closed her eyes and swallowed thickly, searching for her voice. "Looks like it's out of stock. Would you like me to order it?" Looking up at him she found his face was just inches from hers. His eyes were beautiful and blue, the kind of sky blue you see on Autumn days, crisp and sharp.
"No, that won't be necessary. How about this one?" He continued to lean over her, his chest ever so slightly grazing her shoulder.
She inhaled sharply and bit her lip to stifle a soft moan, exhaling as she turned away. "This way, Mr. Markham."
Walking a few steps behind her, studying the curve of her lower back and how easily it swept into the curve of her buttocks, he admonished her and teased, "Please don't call me that. You make me feel old."
"I'm sorry," she turned around to apologize and bumped into his chest. "Oops. Damn. I'm sorry." Kerry took a quick step back, maintaining her personal space. "You're not old. I just use that name because it's on your credit card."
"Well so is Steve--"
"Stephen." It was said before she could catch herself.
"Yes," he smiled at her. "Stephen."
It's funny how sometimes a few seconds can drag painfully along, a wordless bridge between uncomfortable moments, stretching out solid and shakey at the same time.
"Are you going to show me?"
Her mouth formed a tight, faint smile. "Show you what?"
"The book." His smile grew wider, if possible.
"Yes. But then I have to go. You can browse the section if you'd like. If you don't see what you're looking for, have someone at Information order it for you." Her pace quickened and she led the way.
"Have a good day." When she turned to leave Steve caught her wrist. Kerry jerked away and stared at the spot where his fingers had just touched, almost expecting to see the burn mark.
"Why are you going?"
"I have to."
"Don't leave me yet. Help me find what I need."
Her green eyes narrowed as she studied his face. He was so handsome. Strong jaw, broad smiling mouth. Always smiling. Crinkly, laugh-lined blue, blue blue eyes.
"Please?" He asked again, boyish charm in full mode.
"I have to punch out. No overtime allowed and my shift is over."
A glance at his watch set his course for action. "Do you have plans?"
A shake of her head was all Kerry could muster.
He nodded. "Great. Let's grab a bite to eat."
"My son is with my mom. I really need to get home."
"What's another hour. Or so?"
Or so. There it was. Just those two words woke the butterflies in her belly and warmed the already tingling place between her thighs.
"Great. I'll pay for this and meet you out front. Leave your car here."
"My mom dropped me off. She's supposed to be here in a half hour."
"See? It's Fate."
She shrugged. "It is?"
"Yes. Just call her and tell her a friend is giving you a lift." He flashed another perfect smile at her and was gone.
Kerry watched him for a moment. He did his jeans and long sleeved tee shirt justice. His pants hugged his butt and legs nicely, but not too tightly. He wore the dark blue Old Navy tee shirt loosely, yet it was snug around his shoulders and upper chest. The sight of him made her heart quicken.
What would one little hour hurt? An hour out of her day that would otherwise be filled with responsibility. An hour. Or so...
It was as if her brain had shut down and only her heart and her body were thinking for her. It had been years since she had interacted this closely with a man. Her heart was a carefully guarded fortress that not one male had been able to penetrate. Not that many had wanted to, she noted with a sour frown. As soon as they heard about Kasey they took flight, abandoning their effort to break through her barricade.
But Mr. Mar- Stephen. He knew all about Kasey. He asked about him regularly. He showed a genuine interest when Kerry spoke of her son's achievements or problems.
He was too good to be true. Looks, compassion. Intelligence. What more could she want?
Want? What she wanted was to be left alone!
Or did she?
Kerry wove her way through the aisles toward the employee's room and clock, grabbed her things and punched out. A quick phone call home and she was gone.
As she walked through the front doors into the bright sunlight to look for him, she wondered what in the world had gotten into her. What happened to her vow? Her oath of celibacy? Raising a six year old boy was tough enough without having a man around to complicate things. That was exactly what put her in this spot to begin with seven years earlier.
Living on her own for the last four years now suited her just fine. She didn't need a man around to mess things up. Besides, what would Kasey say? He'd be devastated!
A black Jaguar pulled up in front of her. Seconds later the dark tinted window rolled down, giving her a view of the driver. Stephen threw her a lopsided smile before getting out of the car to walk around to her side. Before she could protest he held the door open and ushered her into the front seat.
"I called in for Chinese take out. I thought we'd head back to my place where we could... talk."
Talk. That one word sent a myriad of responses coursing through her body. Her heart beat quickened and her breath caught up as she struggled to control her treacherous body.
Rather than protest, which would be a lesson in futility Kerry was learning quickly, she just nodded and stared out the window.
"Uncomfortably comfortable" was the phrase that rang repeatedly through her mind. Her body was singing right now, a song of want and need and desire. If this man had any instincts he would be able to hear it. As if he read her mind he leaned over and turned the radio on.
She watched his strong, tanned hand gently push the power button. His finger pressed on the seek button until soft classical music filled the car. "How's that?"
All she could do was lick her lips and nod. Her heart was hammering so strongly that she would not be able to form a word anyway. It was as if her body had come to life after a long, long hibernation. She closed her eyes and immediately opened them again, to escape a vision of the two of them entwined in a passionate embrace. Naked.
"Lovely." She watched him pull up in front of the restaurant, unbuckle his seat belt and shut the car off.
"I'll be right back."
A wane smile was cast in his direction as she flipped the visor down to shield the descending afternoon sun from her eyes.
Kerry exhaled slowly and tried to regain some of her senses. She rubbed her sweaty palms on her thighs and took a few deep breaths to still her wildly beating heart. There was nothing much she could do about the buzzing she felt between her legs, so she just squeezed her thighs together and hoped it would go away.
That only made it worse.
The trunk door slammed, startling her from her misery.
"I hope you're hungry."
"You have no idea." She muttered this, more to herself than him, but he laughed before responding.
"Oh, I think I do."
His remark froze her for a moment before she dared a look at him. His eyes were dark- no, smouldering was more like it. Stephen's penetrating, unwavering gaze kindled the fires she had been fighting to keep in check for so long.
"You feel it. I know you do." He said this quietly, nonchalantly, as he reached out and placed his hand over her own that she kept tightly gripped in her lap.
The slightest nod of her head was all she could offer in confirmation. Confirmation of what feeling, though? The evident desire he was emanating, the fire burning and now pulsating throughout her body? Or was he confirming a mutual hunger for food? was she just misreading his words and glances. She looked down at his strong, tanned hand covering hers, just inches and a slip of fabric away from a treasure she would more than willingly surrender if he would only ask.
Misreading him? No. She didn't think so.
A half smile curved on his lips as he pulled away from the curb.
"How's Kasey?" His hand remained steadfast in her lap.
"Kasey?" His attempt at normal conversation threw her off guard. "Um. Fine. A bit perturbed that I won't be able to take Saturday's off completely once Little League starts, but he'll survive."
"My ex wants to give me Robbie- full-time."
"What??" Robbie, Kerry had learned a few months ago, was Mr.Mark- Stephen's- five year old son whom lived with his mother ever since the divorce became final two years ago.
"She says I made her life miserable by always working and I'm the reason for the split, so it's only fair to her that I take Robbie and learn what its like to be responsible for someone for once."
"Whoa. I don't know if I should say congratulations or I'm sorry."
"Congratulations, of course. I love him. I just don't know how I'm going to do it with my schedule."
"It'll all work out. You'll see."
"Once I get him she will never get him back. He can't be tossed back and forth between us at her whim."
Kerry nodded. The laughter and desire that had filled his eyes earlier was gone. His face was a mask of grim determination. "Good for you. I'm sure you two will be fine once he gets settled."
"How do you do it?" He pulled into his driveway beside an old Victorian house on the outskirts of the village, and killed the engine. "I mean, you've never mentioned a husband- or anyone except your mom before."
"My mom helps me out a lot."
"What about Kasey's dad?"
"He doesn't have a dad." Her eyes glittered with anger. She bit her lower lip and stuck her chin out defiantly.
"Test tube baby, eh?" The mirth returned to his baby blue's and he smiled.
"I wish." Kerry was not prepared to talk about the mistakes she had made when she was younger. This was happening to fast for her liking. Although, she did like it, she mused as she stared at his hand in her lap. Her lap! As if it had suddenly hit her, Kerry picked up his hand and placed it on the stick shift dividing them.
He laughed, a hearty, amused laugh. "Can't blame a guy for trying."
She grinned back at him. "Can't blame a girl for saying no."
Kerry studied his mouth as he uttered the words ever so softly. Even after he stopped speaking, as he watched her, she continued to study his mouth, wondering if he was ever going to get around to kissing her sometime today.
He leaned forward slowly, a teasing light dancing in his eyes. She missed it, of course, anticipating the moment she expected to be happening as she locked her gaze on his lips.
"Let's eat. I'm starved." He whispered as he drew ever near her slightly parted lips, then turned and got out of the car. He grabbed the Chinese food order from the trunk before making his way towards the front door, leaving her stunned and alone in his front seat.
Moments later Kerry sat at Steve's dining room table as he waited on her hand and foot. Small talk flowed as freely as the red wine he poured, and before Kerry knew, dinner was finished, the dishes were done and the wine bottle was nearly empty. She laid the dishtowel on the counter and as Steve put away the last plate she studied his broad back, the way his torso whittled down to his well-formed butt, not too wide, not too small, Just right. His legs were muscular and lean beneath his jeans and Kerry had to clench her thighs together as a visual of the two of them in his bedroom popped into her head.
He turned around to face her, resting against the countertop. As he did so he spoke. "I've been wanting to take you out for a long time. But things have been so messed up with my ex and my life that I didn't want to complicate things further."
"It doesn't have to be complicated." With those words she came to him, again offering up her parted lips, seeking that she was so recently denied.
Head bent, he brushed his lips lightly over hers, in the subtlest of caresses. Her mouth parted of its own volition and she moaned softly, reaching her arms up to rest around his shoulders.
After the briefest moment Stephen moved away from her. His gaze never left her face.
She studied his eyes, looking for some sort of denial, some sign that he was not affected as much as she was by the kiss. She found instead his unchecked desire, hot and burning, smouldering within his blue eyes. It emanated from his every fibre.
Her own emotions mirrored his apparent reaction. She answered his passion with her own needs, her own passion, and claimed his lips in another kiss. She felt his heat. She felt his need. She felt his hard on as it formed a thick knot between them.
They melded and molded together as if they were meant to be one. So Kerry was most surprised when Stephen took great effort to separate their bodies. His breathing was tortured, his eyes heavy lidded with his desire. "I think I'd better take you home now."
"Home?" Her disappointment sounded in her response, showed in her face and in the slump of her shoulders. Her heart beat loudly in her ears. Her legs felt as though they would buckle beneath her if he released his hold.
His restraint erupted away like a damn overflowing. Strong, sure hands came up to caress her hair, fingers entwined in her long brown curls. He tilted her head back and stared into her face. "I've wanted to do this for months." He moved his hands slowly over her shoulders, down the length of her arms and up again. He kissed her deeply then, once more coaxing her response. He moved his hand over her shoulders, down to cup her breast. He kneaded the firm supple mound gently and slowly, as if milking her response. His other hand moved slowly down her spine, pausing when he reached the curve of her lower back, as he pressed her closer to his body.
He could take her right now, he was so ready. He wanted her, wanted to feel her body writhe beneath him as he drove his hardness home. For too long he had dreamed of doing this. This. But not like this.
For a second time he pulled away, his breath ragged, as was hers. "Yes. Home. Now."
Their eyes remained locked in a visual embrace as they each caught their breath and fought for composure.
She was the first to turn away, head down as she inspected her nails. "You're right. Kasey is probably worried about me."
"What are you two doing tomorrow?"
Her head bobbed up quickly. "The two of us?"
"Yeah. Robbie will be here. Would you like to do something? The four of us."
A slow smile spread across her face. "I don't know. I'll have to check my calendar...."
It had been a long day. Stephen and Robbie picked up Kerry and Kasey just after 7:30 a.m. They spent the day at the caverns, exploring rock formations and hiking through caves. The two boys bonded instantaneously and after a full day of being boys, and an evening of video games both were now sound asleep in Kasey's room.
Norah Jones crooned softly from speakers hidden behind large fern plants. Candles were lit and placed strategically around Kerry's living room. A bottle of Merlot sat before them on the table, nearly empty.
The steady thump of his heart beat sounded loudly in her ear as Kerry rested her head against the solid wall of his chest. Their hands lay entwined in his lap. All she had to do was move her thumb just a little north and she would be touching the hardness that now strained against and threatened to burst through his zipper. She wondered why he wasn't making a move. His body was ready, she could sense the tenseness.
"Did you have a good day?" She knew the answer to that without him even responding. The four of them had a great day. The boys got along as if they had known each other their whole lives. She and Stephen had gotten along as if it were their honeymoon. It all seemed so easy, too perfect.