The bell tinkled merrily as he tugged open the door. Looking up at it, he tripped over the threshold and took two staggering steps into the store. The woman behind the counter giggled.
“You always make such an entrance Michael!”
Too used to these sorts of things these days to even be embarrassed, he pushed his glasses up his nose, and tried to clear the thick knot of nerves from his throat.
“Hi Patty. Yeah. I get that a lot.” His voice sounded strained. He looked around, ran his hand through his hair. Where to start?
“You look…” she paused, seeking the right word. He wondered if she thought, and discarded, ‘troubled, freaked-out, or crazy’–all would be apropos, actually. “…like you need some guidance.”
A rush of relief flowed through him and his smile gleamed. That was the magic of Michael, Patty thought to herself. That smile, and that helpless/lost little boy look he wore so often. It was so endearing. She’d had such a crush on him in high school, but cheerleaders did not date boys in the chess club, an unwritten rule she often wished she’d broken. She wasn’t in any position to make a move these days, what with her being married these last two years.
Moving from behind the counter, she laid her hand on his arm, but thoughtfully didn’t mention to him that he was actually trembling. Smiling, she steered him around the store.
He burst out of the store feeling drained. The sky was growing overcast, and he recalled that storms were forecast for later today. It was getting on towards lunch and his tummy grumbled. He decided that a hot dog in the park was just what his mouth wanted. Heading off, he spoke to people he knew as he moved south on Main Street. He wasn’t going far enough to swing by Heavenly Eats, but he could always swing by there later to get some dessert. Thinking of Shae’s wet, juicy pussy as he’d had a morning ‘snack ‘o snatch’ as he’d quipped, he almost smacked his lips. Pussy to start the day was much like eating dessert first at dinnertime. Yet if he went down there now-he laughed aloud at his own pun. OHboy, he was such a goner over that woman!
He walked into the stop sign pole, bounced and corrected his path, not noticing that the people in the car stopped there were snickering at him. His smile was dreamy as he recalled the heat and sweetness between her thighs, and the hot smell of her lust as he slurped and sucked her to several powerful orgasms.
Walking down the tree-lined paths, he was reminded that it was just about this time last year that he’d first seen her gleaming hair, heard her delightful laugh. What a distance they had both traveled. Lost in his memories, he found the vendor almost by happenstance. Apparently his nose could trace the scent of steamed meat that wafted through the air without his brain disengaging from thoughts of Shae.
Sitting at one of the benches, he closed his eyes, taking a hearty bite. He grunted as he felt the unmistakable *splot* in the center of his chest. Opening one eye and canting his head a bit, he saw a blob of ketchup, mustard, and chopped onion right over his heart. He closed his eye again.
“I seem to recall seeing this exact thing, in this exact spot, at this exact time last year. You are truly a creature of habit, aren’t you, Michael?”
Hot dog half-in his mouth, his eyes flew open at the sound of Shae’s laughing voice. The sun struck her hair, gleaming off of the soft waves. Her face looked like she had been carved from porcelain, so perfect did she appear.
“You’re going to choke.” Laughing, she wheeled up to him, swabbing at his chest with a napkin. Why did women always seem to have napkins on their persons? Perhaps he needed to create a “Napkin Woman” for his next novel.
“I faid,” He chewed and swallowed fast, like the Neanderthal he felt he likely resembled. Clearing his throat, he tried again.
“What are you doing here?”
“Trolling for handsome slobs. Looks like I found one.”
“Cute. I could make you pay for that later you know.”
“You could…if you could catch me. You and I both know it’s more likely that you’d trip over your shoelace before you ever did.” Her laugh filled the air around them, curling little ribbons of lust through his belly.
Looking down he discovered that, indeed, one lace was untied.
“Have I mentioned that you’re a smartass?”
“Oh, once or twice.” She grinned, then in a smooth movement, slid from her chair to his lap.
“Isn’t this better, slobberman?”
She leaned against him, her head cradled under his chin. She could hear his heart beating, a steady tah-tunk under her ear, smell the sharp tang of the mustard and onion residue. Her Michael. What a sweet, klutzy man! She kissed him, right there on the spot on his shirt, right there over his heart. His hand smoothed over her hair, followed by his lips.
“I love you, Shae.”
That had been easier to say than he expected. He dug in his pocket, palming the small box.
“I love you too, Michael.”
“I love you as my girl, as my slut, as the bright light that makes my life shine.”
Her eyes welled with tears. He touched something deep in her, this silly, clumsy man. He tied her up in words every bit as easily as he did with rope.
Neither heard the rumble of thunder in the distance, nor noted the wind chasing last autumns leaves in swirling, scurrying whirls.
“Wait. Let me finish.” He paused, their noses nearly touching. He slid the kiss onto her lips softly, then sat tall. He lifted the box into her line of sight, watching as her eyes widened, glowed. There was blue fire in the depths of her, shining for him.
“I want you, Shae, to be mine….for always. You’ve wrapped my heart in one of your cannoli shells, and you’re the only one who can break it. Your laugh is the tether you bind me with, and your smile, ah, sweet woman, that smile is worth all the creamy custard filling in the world.”
She giggled. Leave it to Michael to do something this unconventional.
He flicked the toggle on the box, opening it. Inside was a sapphire, nearly as blue as her eyes, with a single small diamond on each side.
“Blue, for your eyes, Shae. Diamonds for the spark that ignites in me, and that I ignite in you.”
A fat drop of rain hit his nose, splashing onto Shae’s head. Moments later, a second, crashed onto his head. The sky opened up and a fury of rain doused them both.
“Will you marry me?” He asked.
“What? Michael, I can barely hear you!” Shae shouted at him, rain streaming down her face, pooling in her lap.
“WILL YOU MARRY ME????”
She looked at him, at the speckles of raindrops on his geek glasses, the water streaming over the planes of his face, his hair plastered to his head.
“Of course I will, you nut,” she smiled.
“OF COURSE I WILL YOU NUT!” she shouted up at him.
Rising, twirling her in the downpour, he stopped before he got dizzy and dropped her. She slid down his body until they stood, arms wrapped tightly, entwined one with the other. His mouth lowered to hers in a tender kiss. Tenderness became an inferno as heat burst between them.
“Jesus Christ, get a room. It’s fucking pouring out here you morons.”
They broke apart, watching the jogger move on down the path. They had, it seemed, come full circle.
“Best wedding present, ever.”
“No threshold at the door, either. I made sure that Dave kept it level access.”
“Good for your chair to move in and out.”
“I like in and out.” Her hips moved in a little bump-n-grind in her chair, and her smile spoke of naughty things.
“Mostly it was because you’re such a klutz, Michael. No threshold means one less thing for you to trip over.”
“I’m not a klutz. That’s just my alter-ego so you don’t guess who I really am..”
“Really?” Shae drawled at him, as she turned a slow circle in Michael’s newly completed art studio. Light poured in through the transom-style windows, gleaming on the aluminum-framed pictures. He’d noticed that right off, naturally, that she’d taken some of his characters and had them blown up into poster-form, and mounted here in his space.
“Really. Have no fear, my dear…”
“Michael. I am not afraid of anything with you by my side.”
“Exactly as it should be.”
She smiled up at him.
“Go on…say it…you won’t be happy until you get it all out.”
“UnderDom is here!”
Laughing, she grabbed him around his waist hugging him hard.
“That he is, indeed.”