tagRomanceSolstice Ch. 02

Solstice Ch. 02


If someone had asked me, just a few hours ago, whether I'd agree to take a late-night walk with a man I'd only just met...

Stranger danger. At the nursery school where I worked we were always telling the children about that. Never go off with a stranger, never take things from a stranger...

"Not past your bedtime yet then?" Adam teased, his hand warm in mine as we strolled along the path towards St Catherine's Hill.

I smiled. "Well, it is, actually. But I'm only working until lunchtime tomorrow, so I'll risk it."

"Got any plans for the weekend?"

"Nope. Just the usual. I'm meeting my friend Lisa for lunch tomorrow --" oh, and wasn't she going to enjoy hearing about this? "-- but then it'll just be cleaning, washing and shopping. I s'pose I might go to the pub with Lisa and her boyfriend on Sunday evening, but that's about it."

"No hot dates?"

"God, no." I looked up at him even though I still couldn't quite see his face, and realised with a jolt that I hadn't actually told him that much about myself after all. "No." I gave a short laugh. "I think it's time I got a cat."


"You know. Single women of a certain age, living on their own -- have cats."

"Oh, I see." He sounded rather puzzled. "Why in the world would someone like you need to get a cat?"

"Well, I quite like cats," I said, trying to ignore the prickle of awareness zinging down my spine. "They're soft and warm and cuddly --"

"That's not what I meant."

I knew it wasn't. "I don't know," I admitted at last. "Like you, I was in a relationship for a long time. It's hard to start again."

He nodded. "Divorced?"

"No." I smiled, remembering how impressed he'd been that I hadn't immediately asked him that question. "Didn't make it as far as the altar, though everyone thought that's where we were headed."

"How long were you together?"

"Too long." I sighed heavily. "Started dating him when I was still at school, did the whole rebel thing. You know. Stayed out late and pissed off our parents, got drunk, drove too fast in his Dad's car -- lost our virginity to each other in the back of that car --"

"Romantic," Adam interjected.

"Nope, bloody painful, actually. There's not as much room as you might think on the back seat of a Ford Mondeo," I rolled my eyes when he smirked, unable to believe what I'd just told him. "Anyway, James got a job making wardrobes, we started renting a flat together and settled down into cosy coupledom."


I looked up at him and grinned. "Nah, sorry. I shouldn't be telling you any of this. Not on a first date, anyway." When he groaned, I bumped the side of my head into his shoulder, laughing. "Well! You wouldn't tell me about Claire."

"I know, I know." He spun me around and pulled me in front of him, peering intently into my upturned face. "But this doesn't feel like a first date, does it?"

I gazed at him for a moment, longing to be able to read his thoughts. "No, it doesn't," I agreed softly.

"Good." To my astonishment, he seized my hand again and marched on again, pulling me along with him.

"Hey!" I'd been so sure he was about to kiss me again I felt absurdly disappointed. "Does that mean you'll tell me about her?"

"When you've told me about James. What happened?"

As we emerged from the cover of some trees I became aware that our surroundings were no longer quite so dim, the grassy hillside before us clearly visible, picked out in numerous shades of monochrome. Turning my head, I found the light source -- the moon, a huge, near-perfect orb, rising to our left.

"We grew out of each other, I suppose," I said eventually, my lips twisting slightly as I remembered how it ended. "Well, to be honest, I grew out of him. I think James would've been happy to have trundled on as we were until it was time to stick him in a coffin. He wasn't really interested in getting married, didn't seem bothered about having kids. Just wanted to go out every weekend, spend all our money in pubs and clubs and have a good time."

"You dumped him."

I wasn't surprised to hear the note of disbelief in Adam's voice. I still found it hard to believe I'd done it myself. "Yes. But he didn't take it too well."

That was the understatement of the decade...

Having decided it would be easier for me to leave, rather than attempt to persuade him to move out of our flat, I'd stayed with Lisa for a while. To start with there'd been countless phone calls, where he'd begged me, in various stages of drunkenness, to come back. Then there'd been the flowers. Enormous bouquets of roses, lilies and carnations. Next came letters and then poems -- which always rhymed, usually in a facile 'Roses are red, violets are blue' kind of way.

"And then he started stalking me," I said, my attempt to sound matter of fact rather spoiled by being out of breath. We'd been climbing the hill for a while now and it was becoming apparent how unfit I was. "Waiting for me outside the nursery school, outside Lisa's house -- everywhere he knew I'd be. Even Lisa couldn't make him stop -- and believe me, she's usually good at stuff like that -- so in the end I had to take out a Court injunction."

"Well, you broke his heart."

"Right." I gave a snort of derision. I hadn't expected Adam to take James' side. "Okay, thanks for that."

"He didn't stay in the flat, did he? He moved back home."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "How did you know that?"

"It's obvious. He was never going to wash his own underwear." He shook his head gravely. "You weren't his girlfriend, you were his Mum."

"What? No!" I punched his arm, appalled that he'd said it and even more appalled by the thought he might be right. "It wasn't like that."

"Really?" He grinned. "Okay. Who cooked all the meals?"

"He burnt everything --" I hesitated in surprise as we strayed from the path, Adam tugging me on to the grass. "Short cut," he said simply, glancing down at me as he led the way across the moonlit meadow, now taking a brisk diagonal route towards the summit. "There's a much better view if you go this way. So who cleaned the flat?"

"Well --" I stopped to slip off my sandals then ran to catch up with him, the cool grass feeling wonderful beneath my hot, aching feet. "I did. But only because he got eczema on his hands sometimes. And he hated wearing rubber gloves. He said they made him --"

"Who did all the shopping?"

"Look, if I sent him, he'd pack the trolley with chocolate biscuits and family packs of crisps and forget to buy milk. It was easier just --"

"To do it yourself," Adam finished. He flashed me another smile. "Hmm. I think, as Claire used to say, the case for the prosecution rests."

I had no defence.

"Oh no," I muttered, shocked to the core. "I really was his mother."

"No, he was just a lousy boyfriend." His tone softened abruptly. "Sweetheart, you deserved so much better."

The endearment caught me by surprise. Unsure how to react, I stopped and turned around, only for my breath to catch in my throat.

The city was a distant sprawl below us, the straight, criss-crossing roads of the old Roman settlement defined by lines of streetlamps, the orange glare they cast across the city making it easy to pick out landmarks. The university college to the north. My old school. The glass tower of the ASG building where Lisa worked. The roof of the nursery school where I worked away to the left. And then, below all that, the spire of St Michael's Church where I'd been christened as a baby and the ancient cathedral, floodlights bathing both in gold.

"Why haven't I done this before?" I whispered, shaking my head in disbelief. "Beautiful. So beautiful."

"I couldn't agree more." Behind me, Adam's voice was unexpectedly near, his breath warm on my ear. I let him prise the sandals from my fingers, watching as he placed them with his jacket on the grass. When he straightened up, one warm hand landed on my bare upper arm, the other gently swept the hair away from the nape of my neck. The knowledge he was about to kiss me there turned my knees to jelly and by the time his lips actually made contact I was trembling violently, my heart racing so fast I could barely breathe. "It's okay," he murmured, his steadying hands dropping to my waist. "This is only going to go as far as you want it to go. I know you aren't sure whether you can trust me, but I promise you that you can. And, oh God --" he gave a short, rather uncertain laugh "-- I can also promise you that I've never done anything as impulsive as this in my life. It's completely freaking me out."

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't hear Lisa's voice in my head imploring me not to trust him. Oddly enough though, another version of Lisa's voice was telling me that I should. Confusing...

"Why are you doing it then?" It came out as a whisper. My own voice didn't seem to be working properly at all. He laughed softly. "Good question. There doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. I have to kiss you."

When I turned in his arms he did just that. His mouth was gentle at first, his tongue tentatively seeking my own as he gathered me close, fitting my softness into the hard planes of his body. And just as before, when he deepened the kiss, I began to lose all sense of space and time, my eyes closing as I surrendered to him, wholly and completely. I knew his hands on my shoulders, sliding down the spaghetti straps, his fingers teasing a path over the taut skin of my back, then travelling downwards, finding the zip at the back of my dress. But when he lowered it I whimpered into his mouth. "Hey," he murmured, sounding concerned. "Should I stop?"

I shook my head, still dazed by the pleasure of his kiss. He smiled, but made no attempt to recapture my lips. Slowly, his gaze holding mine the whole time, he brought his fingers around to my chest, hooking his thumbs into the front of my dress then easing the fabric forward and down. I gasped, the shock of exposure turning my already-hardened nipples into pebbles.

"No bra?" He seemed pleasantly surprised.

"No point," I countered, casting a nervous glance at my breasts, pearlescent in the moonlight. Mother Nature hadn't seen fit to give me an hourglass figure to make the most of my curves. I was a classic pear, all bottom and no top.

"I don't know about that." Adam didn't appear at all disappointed, taking a step back to look his fill, his hands holding the dress at my waist. "They're beautiful." His eyes lifted, his expression softening when he saw my disbelief. "You're beautiful."

It occurred to me that I should be afraid but I wasn't. There was something more than a little surreal -- dreamlike even -- about standing there half-naked in front of him, alone on a hillside. I was centre stage in an empty theatre, the illuminated magnificence of the city serving as backdrop, Adam the only person in the audience.

"Really?" My voice had deserted me again, the sound coming out as a rather hoarse croak. "They're -- they're too small."

He looked incredulous. "Who told you that?" Once again my expression must've spoken volumes for in the next moment he gave a disgusted snort. "Wanker," he said, shaking his head. "He really didn't deserve you."

I laughed weakly, heartened by the vehemence in his tone. "And you do?"

Whoa... Where had that come from? I hadn't intended to throw down the gauntlet.

He smiled. "Well, I guess I'll have to let you decide." Closing the space between us, he sought my lips and I was lost, drawn into a swirling vortex of bliss, my body becoming boneless beneath his assault. I moaned in protest when he paused, only to moan again as he turned his attention to my jaw, trailing kisses along to my ear, across my neck, my shoulder. He moved lower to the rise of my breasts then higher again, teasing and tormenting me into such a state of need that by the time he sank to his knees in front of me I was taut with anticipation. And when he finally drew one painfully erect nipple deep into the moist heat of his mouth, I cried out, powerless to stop the sound, a surge of pleasure flooding my body. His hands tightened to support me, a delighted grin lighting his face. "You nearly came."

It was true. I could feel the moisture pooling between my thighs, dampening my knickers. "Adam," I whispered helplessly, more aroused than I'd ever been in my life but too scared to ask for more, a tiny fragment of rational thought urging caution. "I've never done anything like this --"

"I know you haven't. I haven't either." Though the words were spoken calmly enough, I heard a faint tremor to his tone. "But I want you."

I gazed down at him, weak with relief. "I -- I want you too."

"Thank God," he muttered, releasing my waist. There was a soft swishing sound, a slight breeze and suddenly I was standing there in nothing but my knickers, my dress in a crumpled heap around my ankles.

"Wow." Standing up for a better look, Adam appeared gratifyingly stunned. "How could you possibly believe you aren't beautiful?" Heart thudding noisily in my ears, I took the hand he offered and stepped out of my dress, not daring to look anywhere but at his face, in that moment feeling more attractive, more desirable -- hell, sexier -- than I'd ever felt in my life. A moment later it occurred to me that one of us was still wearing altogether too many clothes. "It's your turn," I gulped, my shaking fingers reaching for the front of his shirt. He chuckled softly, watching as I struggled to undo the ridiculously tiny buttons, his own fingers coming down to help. When the last had popped free, I spread open his shirt to discover a broad chest and an abdomen rippling with muscle. "Oh God," I groaned, awed -- and frankly, a little afraid. "You work out."

He laughed again, stooping to kiss me. "And now I know why," he murmured into my mouth, cupping my bottom and pulling me against him until I could feel the hard bulge of his arousal.

I nearly came again, the mere thought of his body driving into mine sending my womb into spasm. Without further preamble, I grabbed his hips, pushing him away so that I could get to the fastening of his slacks.

"Wait." His voice hoarse, he stilled my hands with just one of his own, reaching into his pocket with the other.

"What? Oh..." As he produced his wallet and flicked it open, I felt a stab of relief. Protection. I'd completely forgotten.

"Oh no..."

"Adam?" But it wasn't difficult to guess what was wrong.

He gazed at me in dismay. "I'm so sorry. I was sure I still had one. Shit, I don't believe this."

I stared back, not quite able to believe it myself. "It's okay," I murmured automatically.

"No, it's not bloody okay. God --" He grasped my shoulders and drew me into his arms, his erection between us a cruel reminder of our predicament. "I don't suppose you've...?"

"No, but --" I had no experience of condoms -- James had refused to wear them, insisting instead that I took birth control. Typical, I realised, with a blinding flash of new self-awareness, that he'd make me assume responsibility for that as well as everything else. And despite our relationship being long over, I still took those tiny little tablets, reluctant to lose the order I'd gained over my naturally irregular cycle. "I'm on the pill," I said, blushing furiously. "I've been taking it since I was eighteen. You wouldn't get me pregnant." At least, I was fairly certain he wouldn't. Sometimes I missed a dose here and there, but I was sure it hadn't happened lately.

As he pulled back to look at me, I thought I saw a flicker of hope in his eyes, so when he shook his head my heart sank. "It's not just about that, though, is it?"

"But I've never been with anyone but James -- I told you -- we were both virgins. And I know he didn't sleep with anyone else while we were together -- still hasn't, if what people tell me is true." I hesitated, growing increasingly desperate. "And you -- you were with Claire -- for what, ten years? Was there -- have you...?" I couldn't bring myself to say the words.

His expression seemed to darken. "I never cheated on Claire, if that's what you're asking, and no, there hasn't been anyone since. And for what it's worth, I've never had sex without protection. Claire couldn't take the pill, and before Claire -- well, like I said --" He held me at arms' length and gazed at me for what felt like an eternity, his hungry eyes devouring my near-naked body. "Sweetheart, it's a crazy idea."

"Going to dinner with you was a crazy idea," I whispered. "But I still did it." And with that same feeling of recklessness that had started all this, I leaned forward and kissed him.

For a moment, I didn't think he was going to change his mind. He let me take charge this time, let me seek entrance to his mouth, my tongue mating shyly with his. But then, with a loud groan, he wrenched his mouth from mine and swept me -- quite literally -- off my feet. "God help me – I want you!" he growled, whirling me around before setting me down again, planting kisses all over my face, neck and breasts, his hands seeming everywhere at once, stroking and caressing me into a state of breathless need.

I reciprocated as best I could, kissing him wherever I could reach, my own hands heading for just one destination -- the front of his trousers. Having managed to undo his belt, I battled in vain with the button, growing increasingly frustrated. "Adam -- please!"

"Here." Relenting at last, his fingers replaced my own, unsnapping the button easily and drawing down the fly. He kicked off his shoes then let me help him shrug away his trousers and underwear.

It was my turn to sink to my knees. "Oh God," I breathed, unable to close my hand around him, my excitement rapidly turning to alarm. "You're huge."

He made a sound that was half groan, half snort of laughter. "That's very flattering, but I'm not."


His eyes widened. "You're serious?"

"You're not going to fit." I ran my fingers over his cock, marvelling at the girth, his length. I still wanted him -- needed him -- so very badly, I could cry with disappointment.

"Sweetheart." Adam lifted my hand away, his voice gentle. ""I promise you, I'm not that big. Maybe a tiny bit bigger than average, but not much." He knelt beside me, tilting up my chin with his finger. "So, either you've been reading some cheesy magazine article on what you should always say to your man, or, your ex-boyfriend was hung like a hamster."

I stared back at him, disbelieving. "A hamster?"

He nodded, biting his lip.

"This --" I reached down again, weighing his heavy cock in my palm "-- this is normal?" I couldn't help but stroke it, the skin was so soft, a stark contrast to the rock hard flesh beneath.

"So I'm told. Whoa -- I can't let you do that again." His voice was taut, his breathing harsh as he caught my hand again, snatching it away. "Go easy on me, gorgeous. It's been more than two years."

I watched as he plucked up his jacket and spread it out on the grass behind me, all the moisture deserting my mouth. "Two years, eh?" I squeaked as he seized my shoulders, toppling me backwards and following me down. He froze, his lips hovering millimetres above my own. "Why?" he demanded. "How long has it been for you?"

I swallowed hard, revelling in the feel of his warm flesh against mine. "Four."

"Four years?" He rolled his eyes. "Oh dear God," he muttered. "I'm not going to last ten seconds. I'd better look after you first."

"Look after -- unh!" His talented mouth came down again, swallowing my words, driving them straight out of my head. Before tonight, I'd never thought much about kissing. I'd always enjoyed it -- sort of. But with James there'd always been a point where I'd stopped enjoying and began enduring, half-suffocated by his lust. With Adam, my need for oxygen was gone. I was breathing pure Adam. Nothing else mattered.

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