It was late and the house was asleep, all except her, of course. Being asleep at 3:00 a.m. might be an option for everyone else, but she had long ago accepted her nocturnal nature and had even come to love the long hours before dawn. This was her alone time. Her only complaint was when the insomnia kept her up for more than three consecutive nights. Seventy-two hours without sleep tended to depress her and, on those lonely nights she would often stand at the door staring endlessly into the dark, longing for company.
This was just such a night.
She had expected to be up tonight. The week had been particularly nerve-wracking and, to make matters worse, her husband's parents had flown in today for a four-day visit. Sleeping in her own bed was difficult enough; sleeping on the lumpy futon in the study was out of the question. So here she is, book forgotten in hand, cocoa steaming in the oversized mug on the end table, favorite soft blanket over her legs, staring out the window beside the recliner that was her husband's during the day but which became her prized possession in the middle of the night. Her eyes are large and unfocused as she roams a million miles away through the midnight mists.
In this insomniac fugue state, she doesn't hear the bedroom door open and close softly, nor the footsteps padding quietly down the hall toward the den.
The soft light from the den was both comforting and ominous as he crept down the hall, hoping he wouldn't trigger any squeaks in the unfamiliar floor. He had lain in bed wishing for sleep as long as he could and now just wanted to stretch his legs and find a way to occupy the time before morning, hopefully without waking the rest of the house. Though he was grateful for the den-light, he hoped it didn't signal unrest in the house, a sick child perhaps. Maybe someone had simply forgotten to turn the light off, or maybe it had been left on in case someone couldn't sleep, so they could find their way around in the dark. The door was partially closed and he stood listening outside for a long moment to make sure he wasn't going to barge in on some private moment. Hearing nothing, he tentatively pushed the door open halfway and stepped forward. He saw her at once and was able to accurately take stock of the situation. He hadn't known she was a fellow night dweller until now, but it was obvious to him at first sight. She appeared perfectly at ease, surrounded by all manner of comforts; not looking at all put out or surprised to be awake at this ungodly hour. And she had that blank, faraway stare he was so familiar with in himself. She senses his presence as she always senses other people, the strange charge of the air that she always associates with the particular sound a television makes when it's just been turned on, before the "volume" activates. Turning to see who has joined her, she smiles at him and motions for him to come on in. For a moment she feels completely ill-at-ease, but then realizes this is ridiculous. How many times, after all, has she wished for a companion at this hour- someone to talk with who understands how the mind wanders upon all manner of unusual circumstances when it has all the time in the world to wander. And now she has just such a companion, even if it is just for a few minutes. No matter that they'd never had the opportunity to become close and that she still feels nervous in his presence, here was a kindred spirit.
He accepts her offer of cocoa and is pleasantly surprised that, even though the kitchen is in the next room, she manages to return a couple of minutes later with a small tray carrying cocoa and some cookies she had made earlier, all without making a sound. Just as he suspected, she was an old pro at staying up all night without disturbing anyone else.
They find each other easy to talk to and conversation flows between them as it does between old friends, or complete strangers who find it shockingly easy to bare their souls to someone they don't know and will probably never see again in their lives. Their talk ranges from their shared insomnia, its origins and the failed remedies each has attempted, to books they had both read and movies they had both seen, music they both appreciated. It seems that within an hour they have discovered they have very much in common and each of them are surprised by the sameness they share.
Looking back, she realizes the turning point of the night had been the book. They'd been talking about art and she'd gone to one of the well-stocked bookcases and extracted the book he'd said he would like to read. She had only read it recently and had loved it and had sat down beside him on the sofa to point out some of her favorite paintings to him. She's never been this near to him before and she finds herself very aware of that nearness as their legs touch, the spine of the book nestled between their thighs as they share their thoughts on this painting and that drawing. Their hands brush against each other while pointing out this detail or that background work.
He had never really made up his mind about her until tonight, when he found himself liking her immensely. She was charming and funny and a joy to be around. She was perfect company. In fact, everything was fine until she had sat next to him with the book. He really didn't know how he had managed to continue the conversation after that point. That's when his mind had gone into hibernation and his body had taken over.
What else could explain his near complete fixation with the feeling of her thigh against his? And the way she smelled, it was driving him to distraction. He felt he had been enveloped in a cloud of femininity when she had come near him. As she looks down at the book, he looks at her- the back of her bended head. Her hair is long and shining and he finds himself wondering what it would feel like to touch it. It looks so soft, alive. A tendril falls into her face as she turns her head and she reaches up absently to push it behind her ear. He pulls his eyes away from her face before she catches him looking at her. For the first time he realizes she is wearing a pear of silky pink pajamas, very feminine and very sexy, though not improper, although she's made them that way by leaving the top three buttons undone, along with the bottom two, only leaving the three in the middle fastened to cover her breasts. The bottoms rode low on her hips and had a drawstring top that was tied in a little bow. He can see her belly above the bottoms and he panics for a moment at the sight of her navel. He thinks he will surely die if he doesn't touch her there. God- he has to get out of here before he makes a complete fool of himself!
She can feel the muscles of his thigh tensing as he leans forward to see the picture she points out. Soft cotton flannel pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt is his wardrobe for tonight. His feet are bare. She's never noticed how well built he is. And he has nice hands, soft and delicate. The hands of a man who makes his living with his mind and not his back. Hands that would appreciate the soft skin of a woman... What's she thinking? Time to get away from him before she does something stupid!
But, for all the intentions they had of getting away from each other, each were just too selfish to actually move away. Long hours of wakefulness over the years had given them both a long time to accept their own sensualities, and each was basking in this private moment of forbidden fantasy. After all, the other person was sane and reasonable and neither of them are mind readers. The real problem arises when each of them, almost simultaneously, makes the unconscious decision to revel in this newfound passion. Thighs that were only brushing moments ago now push together. Hands that only met over the occasional illustration now seem to find something of great interest in each tiny detail (all the better to touch you with, my dear). And, with the brains fueling the bodies instead of the minds, the conversation falters. Neither of them cares, yet both note the change in the other and wonder if the other can sense the unholy thoughts they are having.