Not My Type: Adele Ch. 07byfirstkiss©
For R – thanks for editing me so beautifully.
After Sunday morning Service had ended the parishioners of St. Andrew's trailed out the banana yellow doors and into the snow-covered yard. They stopped to chat and catch up with each other as they lingered on the church steps. Nate stood amongst them, tall and smiling, with his blond hair glinting in the sun. The sound of friendly chatter and children's laughter mingled with the crash of the waves on the nearby shore.
"Come on!" Maddy urged as she tugged at my hand. The five year-old cast an impatient grimace over her shoulder at me. I could hear her parents laughing as she pulled me through the crowd.
She worked her way through the clutch of people, all of whom sent me open smiles and warm greetings. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. Macintyre's smile falter as she caught sight of me, but I didn't have time to mull over her expression. Maddy had succeeded in reaching the centre of the crowd.
She let go of my hand and threw herself forward, wrapping both arms around Nate's leg and giving it a big hug. The sound of his chuckle made me shiver.
He smiled down at Madison. "Hello, princess."
Maddy glanced back at me with a knowing smile. "I'm not really a princess," she informed me.
I couldn't help but laugh.
"I bet its fun to pretend that you are though, cherie."
The five year-old scrunched up her face thoughtfully. "I s'ppose."
Nate crouched down until he was eye-level with the little girl.
"Did you like church today?" he asked in his best Reverend-ish tone.
Maddy nodded. "I did," she said solemnly. "I was quiet and I didn't pinch Tom once and I sang every song."
I bit the inside of my lip, trying to keep from laughing out loud. Maddy had indeed sung every song. Very loudly. With lyrics she made up herself, most of which had multiple mentions of unicorns and cupcakes.
Nate reached forward and did up the zipper on Maddy's coat. Her mittens stuck out of her pockets and he pulled them free and helped her into them.
"Good for you. Did Adele sing too?"
Maddy didn't even notice the fact that Nate and I obviously already knew each other. She just accepted it in the easy way all five year-olds possessed. She nodded and then leaned in to whisper in Nate's ear yet loud enough for me to hear, "She's not a very good singer."
Nate chuckled while I blushed. "Yes, but she tries," he said to Maddy. "That's what counts. It doesn't matter so much if we're good at something, just as long as we're not afraid to try it."
Lucy and Ed Brewster came up behind Nate just then. Maddy instantly adhered herself to her father's leg in the same manner she had Nate's minutes earlier. I couldn't contain my smile. She was such a sweet little girl.
I glanced over to find Nate watching me.
Lucy was a little out-of-breath. "Oh Adele, there you are! I do hope Maddy thought to introduce you to Reverend Fontaine!"
There was a pause in which Ed's gaze travelled between Nate and me several times. He reached down and scooped Maddy up with one arm and then slung the other over his wife's shoulder.
"Actually Lucy, I think they might already know each other."
"Oh," Lucy said before her pretty face broke out into a wide grin. "How nice."
"My best friend Lilly is dating Nate's best friend Adam," I clarified.
"Well that explains it. I'm glad you've decided to attend St. Andrew's."
I hadn't, but I didn't exactly think I should mention that.
"Come have lunch with us," Ed suggested. "I'm sure Maddy has lots of stories she could tell you."
Maddy opened her mouth, undoubtedly to launch into one of said stories, but Nate's smooth baritone interrupted her.
"Actually, she's having lunch with me."
Lucy and Ed shared a look. "I guess we'll see you next week then," Lucy said with a bright laugh. She looked around the thinning crowd. "We should find the boys and go."
"Bye!" Maddy chirruped. She waved with such enthusiasm that even if I didn't have the draw of seeing Nate to entice me to St. Andrew's each week, seeing Maddy's happy smile was more than enough to bring me back.
Nate glanced down at his vestments. "I should change, but you're welcome to let yourself into the house to wait. It's not locked."
He hadn't asked me if I actually wanted to stay for lunch, but he didn't have to. We both knew there was no way I'd say no.
The sounds of the parishioners' cheerful goodbyes faded as the last of them got into their cars and began the long trek down the peninsula road.
Nate reached forward and squeezed my hand. "I'll be right back."
I entertained the idea of getting a head start on lunch while Nate finished his post-Service routine, but on the short walk to the manse I got distracted by the quaint graveyard.
I wandered up and down the rows, brushing snow from the tops of tombstones, bending to uncover and read the inscriptions on a few of the more curious ones. It was a beautiful place, a peaceful place—just the sort of cemetery to spend eternity in—out of the way and with one heck of a view. Contentment settled into my bones.
I thought I was alone, so when I raised my head from reading the inscription on the grave of Elizabeth Huggins d.1899, I damn near jumped out of my skin to see someone standing on the other side of the cemetery fence, watching me.
The young lady was short, rather squat, with mousy brown hair and an unhappy grimace. She took a few steps towards me.
"I know what you're doing."
I froze in place, confused.
"With Reverend Fontaine." she added. "I know what you're doing."
I knew in an instant who she was. With that sour expression she could only be Jenny Macintyre, niece to Nate's battleship of a church secretary.
"I'm not doing anything." I tried to keep my voice calm and professional, hoping she'd miss how much she startled me.
Jenny reached out her chubby hands to grip the top of the nearest gravestone. She held on so hard her knuckles turned white.
"I see the way he looks at you," she continued as if she hadn't heard me. "And I see the way you look at him."
To say I was shocked would have been the understatement of the year. She could only have seen me twice. Maybe I'd been foolish to think Nate and I were doing a better job of hiding things. Of course our friends had picked up on the undercurrent of attraction between us, but they were our friends and we spent a lot of time in their company.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't be daft," Jenny spat out. "I didn't peg you for stupid." Her glare deepened until her eyes were nothing more than slits above her fat, red cheeks. "I saw him first."
I almost laughed out loud, but I didn't dare risk hurting her feelings. If anything, she seemed a little unbalanced to me. One didn't go around confronting total strangers about the romantic intentions of their minister—in a graveyard no less.
I took a deep breath and let the expression melt off my face. "I'm quite certain Reverend Fontaine has made no promises to you."
Her lips took a petulant turn south. "N-no," she admitted after a time. "But it doesn't matter. Eventually he'll change his mind and see what's always been here waiting for him, right under his nose. He's a man. Men are fickle. They chase the beautiful girls, but they don't marry them."
I fought to keep my face blank because her words had hit deep.
"He's a Minister," Jenny continued. Her voice gained volume as her argument gained strength. "You don't actually think you'd fit into this world, do you? You know nothing about this. You're probably not even Presbyterian! You don't know what he needs and even if you did, you couldn't give it to him."
The absurdity of the situation hit me then, just as strongly as the brisk breeze off the ocean. Apparently my arrival had ruffled a few hens' feathers. Jenny Macintyre didn't know me as well as she thought she did but she was about to find out. It only took three strides to stand towering over her. The cold granite tombstone was the only barrier between us.
An unexpected fierceness bubbled up in me. If Jenny wanted to play dirty then so be it.
"You think you know him," I said in a low, even tone. "You think you know him, but you don't. Do you honestly think that what you see of the man while he stands up and preaches to you every week is all that he is? There's more to him than you'll ever know. If all Nate wanted from a woman was someone who baked him muffins, kept his house, popped out a few babies, and followed him around with a worshipful smile, he'd already be married. He's never going to open up to you, not as long as he has me. He's never going to want you as long as he has me. I'm not going anywhere, so you better get used to it!"
The look of surprise on Jenny's face said she hadn't been expected me to challenge her. Still she rose up on her tiptoes and jabbed a finger to the middle of my chest.
"If you sleep with him I will ruin you both."
How foolish of me to think Jenny would back down. Then before I could think of a reply, she whirled about on her stout legs and stomped towards the parking lot. A rust-pocked grey sedan was there waiting with Jenny's aunt at the wheel.
I was making almost as many enemies at St. Andrew's as I was friends.
I sighed and sunk onto the top of the nearest tombstone, worried that I hadn't handled the situation at all well. What in heaven's name possessed me to get so... well... possessive?
Nate found me there a few minutes later.
"You crazy girl," he chided as he crossed the graveyard to meet me. "Why didn't you go inside?" He grabbed my hand, entwining his long, slender fingers with my own. "You're a block of ice!"
I glanced down at our hands, barely feeling his grasp.
"I didn't notice."
"You look like you have something on your mind. Should I play confessor again?"
I chuckled, more to myself than him. I didn't know why, but I couldn't tell him about my confrontation with Jenny Macintyre. I didn't want him to think less of her, or of me.
"There's nothing on my mind." I pushed down the upsurge of guilt at the fib, all the while hating how easily it came to me. "It's just so beautiful out here. I didn't get to see much of the view last week."
"It's the prettiest corner of the Island."
I laughed. Joe had said the same thing to us about his patch of land only a few weeks prior. "This island is chock full of pretty corners."
Nate winked at me. "Only if you're standing in them."
"Joe would probably argue you on that point too," I teased as we made our way towards the manse. "He would say that about any corner Rhiannon was standing in."
Nate ran his free hand through his blond hair and shot me a sheepish smile. We climbed the steps to his front door and paused.
"And Adam would say it about Lilly. Just as it should be. Rhiannon is beautiful, yes... in that full-blown, overt, lush sort of way. And Lilly is just so sweet and pretty and adorable you want to pick her up and hug her. But you..."
Nate trapped me between the door and his body. "You are... ethereal." His mouth hovered above mine. "You are a muse. You are the angel who haunts me."
"A-angel?" His sincerity left me breathless. "Far from it."
"Not to me," he whispered. "You are perfection."
I shook my head and in our closeness my curls brushed both our cheeks. "Perfection is boring, don't you think?"
Nate chuckled. "You could never bore me." His deep, rolling laughter felt like a warm caress. The naughty voice in the back of my head rejoiced in knowing Jenny Macintyre would never have this with him, no matter how much she wanted it. It was mine. Only mine. I was so wrapped up in the moment, it didn't matter that we were standing in the February cold.
He took my mouth with his own. There were none of the gentle preliminaries of the week before, only a deep, frantic hunger I thought I'd bottled up. Let loose, the kiss was fierce.
I moaned into his mouth and it turned into a continuous wail of pleasure as he devoured me. Nate growled low in the back of his throat in response and pinned me more against the door. My arms were trapped against his chest and he pressed me so hard against the wood that I could feel every inch of him against me.
Kiss begat kiss until I could no longer sense when one ended and the next began.
I shuddered in Nate's arms. Beneath my palms, his heart raced in his chest. The heat radiated off him and warmed to my toes. I ached for him and knew he felt the same. If kisses were all I could have from him then at least I could satisfy myself knowing they shook me to the core.
We kissed for hours, days, months, eons—until my heartbeat drowned out the sound of the nearby sea. I wanted to stay like this forever with the sun on my face and Nate beneath my hands. But a whine from the other side of the door interrupted us. Impatient scratching followed soon after.
"Someone's hungry," Nate said as he came up for air. I blinked, trying to focus on his chocolate brown eyes as he took a step back. It took a moment to comprehend he wasn't talking about me.
Nate turned the knob and held on to me as he swung the door open and I found myself standing in his front hall, being glared at by a very exasperated golden retriever.
"Sorry Esther," I apologized to the dog at my feet.
She huffed before turning down the hallway towards the kitchen at the back of the house.
"I have offended her," I murmured.
Nate chuckled. "She's just mad she didn't get fed on time. She'll get over it. She's hardly going to starve to death in the time it takes me to say hello to you."
I laughed. "Saying hello? Is that what we were doing?"
Nate shot me a wry, sexy smile as he shucked off his boots and coat. "Can you think of a better way to say hello?"
"Not really, no. Your method is a lot nicer than a handshake."
He helped me out of my coat and hung it on the peg closest to the door. "It's one I reserve especially for you, sweetheart."
"Oh good, I'd hate to think you were 'saying hello' to other women too."
It was a joke but his eyes darkened and the smile fell from his face. He cupped my cheeks in his hands.
"Never," he promised.
I couldn't swallow the lump in my throat, nor could I speak past it. He was a man who understood the enormity of vows, having made a significant one in his life and I felt that he'd just made another.
Why couldn't I feel as if I deserved it?
"Don't say anything," Nate murmured. "Just know I mean it."
I nodded into his hands.
And so began what Lilly teasingly called Nate's 'courtship' of me. I went out to St. Andrew's every Sunday morning for Service after which Nate and I would spend the day together. Rhiannon and Joe reinstated Sunday night suppers out at the cottage less than a month after Sophie was born so Nate and I would have lunch together, spend the afternoon at the manse, and then cross the Island in time to hang out with Adam and the Tanners late into the night.
Weeks slipped by into months. Little Sophie grew and we all watched her progress with shared joy. The day she first pulled herself up onto her hands and knees Rhi called me and we both cried over the triumph together.
Sophie was a beautiful, easy going baby – she hardly ever cried, she never fussed. She was so used to being passed around between aunts and uncles that she had no fear of strangers. The first time her big blue eyes looked at me and focussed, really focussed on my face, I felt a deep twinge of recognition and love. It wasn't just Rhiannon and Joe who parented her—I think we each felt responsible for her upbringing and her happiness.
I didn't tell Rhiannon and Lilly but my favourite moments were those when Nate played guitar for Sophie while I held her, he and I sitting cross-legged on the floor, with the baby gurgling along to the music. It was then that the crowd of Tanners around us faded away and I pretended that I could have a family of my own some day.
And always underneath it all was the endless want I had for Nate. He never did anything more than kiss me. His caresses never strayed into inappropriate territory. He held himself so sensibly when we were alone that it t began to feel normal to always be left wanting.
Yet Nate never left me doubting that he wanted me in every sense of the word. He spoke of it with such ease, as if it was an eventuality rather than an impossibility that I grew to accept someday it would be.
The drab grey of a long winter gave way to a bright spring. The change seemed to magically sneak up on us. Easter preparations kept Nate busy with the church but he still found time to call every night and I'd be treated to the occasional mid-week lunch. We spent every Sunday together after Service.
The parishioners at St. Andrew's grew so used to seeing me that it almost felt as if I'd always known them, al ways gone there. The Brewster family introduced me around and only the Macintyres made me feel unwelcome. I learned quickly that everyone else just sort of tolerated the Macintyres, who seemed to think they ran the place. Jenny Macintyre certainly didn't have any qualms about being outwardly unfriendly to me and I think Nate was the only one who didn't notice.
The Sunday after Easter we retired to the livingroom after lunch. Our post-lunch routine varied from week to week. Sometimes we sat and read in companionable silence, sometimes we curled up on the couch and chatted away, sometimes Nate sat at my feet and played guitar for me – but no matter what activity we started out doing, we always ended up kissing until it was time to drive to Rhi and Joe's.
Nate settled into his corner of the couch and patted the cushion beside him. I sat and curled up into the crook of his arm as I'd done countless Sundays before.
"Adam told me the other day his pardon cleared."
I grinned. "It did! I'm so pleased."
Nate was silent for a moment.
"I couldn't tell you myself," I explained quickly. "Lawyer-client privilege, you know."
I couldn't see Nate's face, but I felt him smile into my hair.
"I know, sweetheart."
I worried at my bottom lip. "I guess he'll be proposing to Lilly any day now."
Nate trailed his fingers down my arm. Gone were the sweaters of winter, thanks to the warmer weather—I was wearing a short-sleeved olive blouse. I quivered with delight when his thumb grazed my bare skin.
"I'm happy for them. They'll be good together."
"You wouldn't think so to look at them, would you?" I laughed. "But yes, they are.
"Just like Rhiannon and Joe."
"The Island's favourite odd-couple, I don't know who dreamt that pairing up."
Nate kissed the top of my head. "I do. It has been said He works in mysterious ways."
It was a dissertation I'd heard before. "Ah, the Grand Plan."
"He's got one for you too, sweetheart."
A year ago I would have argued that point. Now I smiled and let it go.
Nate checked his wristwatch. "Three hours until we leave for Rhi and Joe's...plenty of time to say hello."
The innuendo hung between us. I laughed, tilted my chin upwards and offered him my mouth. He took it and time flew.
"Oh, thank God," Rhi gushed as Nate and I stepped into the cottage. She thrust a crying Sophie at me. The smoke alarm near the kitchen shrieked in conjunction with what sounded like the beeps of an oven timer.
"Joe and Adam went for more propane for the barbeque and Lilly's sulking down at the beach. She and Adam are having a big fight." Rhi waved me towards the stairs and Sophie's bedroom on the second level. "Sophie needs to be changed. Can you do it? I have to rescue my cake out of the oven."
Stunned, I took the crying baby from her mother's arms. Nate laughed behind me, but I barely processed it. I didn't know which was more surprising – hearing that Adam and Lilly were fighting or the idea of Rhiannon Barnes-Tanner baking a cake.