As the two trudged on
they came upon
a verdant glade.
In the center of it was a fountain
from which sweet, icy water flowed.
cooled by the deep and pure below.
One turned and asked,
"Shall we stop to drink and pray
that the flood will work its spell,
lift us from our private hell,
soothe our hearts and wash what stains it will away,
to 'fresh our heads and feet
and whatever lies between
to let anew our spirits play?"
Avery lay on his back. Jolene was dozing on her side next to him. Her head rested in the space between the ball of his shoulder and pectoral muscle, a kind of pillow, improvised years before. He searched under the covers, and found his discarded pajama bottoms. He draped them over his bare groin, lest the final, tardy drops of fluid leak onto the top sheet.
He knew Jolene hated it when he covered himself that way while she stayed completely nude. He could never understand why she thought it important that the remnants of their love-making drain out of him uncontrolled to be smeared on the sheets while they slept. It was most unpleasant. He didn't know how to tell her.
"Perhaps she wants proof in the morning," he thought, "like a golfer leaving a divot."
Ever since they were first a couple, and through marriage—breaking into its third decade—Avery had always laid on his back after love-making with Jolene nestling herself alongside him, her head resting in that space on his chest. They never spoke during the after-time. He felt the familiar softness of her breast nuzzled to his ribcage. He'd felt it every time—hundreds of times. Only little things had changed over the years.
For example, Jolene used to idly tease and pinch his nipple as they lay together sorting their thoughts. He really missed that. He wished he had the courage to tell her that he wished that she would go back to doing it, and perhaps suck the bud between her lips, as he did to hers during foreplay. His maneuver didn't seem to please her very much any more. So, he didn't tell her his secret wish. It wouldn't have been right to tell her—too one-way and there was also a risk of derision.
He did continue with breast play during the arousal phase, just in case...
Another thing that had changed was that in the old days he would have put up with the gooey little mess. Jolene's nipple ploys would get him going again and before long they were thrashing about in the sheets anew—spare semen be damned. In youth, lovers are never ready for sleep.
One thing that hadn't changed much was Jolene. She still wore her chestnut hair long, over her shoulders, like she did when Avery had first seen her walking across the quad on the campus. Most women would have cut their hair into a shorter style by the time they reached Jolene's age. She didn't—she just kept it long.
The years brought a few crevices and creases in her face, but no one seemed to notice that. She was taller than most women, but not as tall as Avery. To most it seemed like she could fit into the same clothes the she wore in college. There were some lumps and extra bumps that most did not see, but Avery knew where they were. He knew them all.
"I love you, Avery," she whispered. He thought she'd fallen asleep.
"I love you, too," Avery answered back. He meant it; Avery knew she did, too.
It was the signal that in a few seconds she would dismount her old makeshift pillow, taking her soft breast with her, and turn over on her other side and drift off to sleep. As always, Avery would lie still for a short while longer, reviewing his recollections as they became thoughts.
He supposed that it truly was love-making after all these years. As it matures, intimacy tames and neither climax nor thrills matter as much as they once did. It had taken decades for the quest to fade to contentment, he told himself as he stared into the darkness. It was only important to achieve intimacy. It was important to do so on a regular, if not frequent, basis.
Sleep was important, too. There was no reason to neglect either need. A check mark on the mental calendar, a good night's rest—no complaints registered by either party.
Avery had, of course, begun their intimate contact in the usual way. He was always quite careful to allow for a full period of arousal. He educated himself on the subject on many and varied websites which, he judged, offered sage advice.
He knew she needed time; he was familiar with the 'plateau'. He reviewed the process just gone by in mental playback.
She was in bed first. The lights were out. He was quiet when he came into the room. If she had been already asleep he wouldn't have wished to wake her. If not, she would be waiting for him.
He shed his clothes and crept into the master bathroom, brushing his teeth and donning his pajama bottoms. Through the darkness, he could make out the shadow of her motionless form under the covers.
He could sense that Jolene was awake when he slipped into bed beside her. It was the way she was breathing and how she'd moved to the center of the bed to allow just enough room for him. She was lying on her side with her back to him, as always.
He lay on his back for a few seconds, not wishing to appear presumptive. Then he turned on his side, casually touched her hip. If she chose, she could have pretended not to notice him.
She didn't. Jolene moved backwards and spooned herself against him, canceling any doubt. His hand rested on her flank again for a longer stay—a confirmation. She turned to face him.
Avery always worked top to bottom. He began with a kiss. First came kissing, then breast play, a slow and careful route to the vulva. It was the correct way to go about it. He was always careful to be patient with her.
Their lips met in a tender kiss. He let it become more demanding. After a minute or so he pushed his tongue through her lips. She always liked that. She pushed back and the game was on.
At first he spread his hand over a breast, through the fabric of her nightie. He tested the stiffness of the nipple. There it was—very nice. It was important to him to find her nipple hardened. It was, in fact, pleasing to the touch. More than that, it told him that she was in the process of arousing.
He always made sure that her acquiescence was borne of desire, not courtesy. He would never have been able to bear it if she submitted to be polite. He never detected she'd ever done that, but the fear of it never left him.
Her encouragement led to a caress of the soft roundness and then a return to the nipple. She sat up and pulled her nightie over her head. It always surprised Avery how good Jolene looked in those initiating moments. She appeared as a shadow in the darkness. Her feminine form was not very much changed from what so inspired him when they were first married.
He knew that she wasn't the same in full light, of course. It was amazing what darkness could do for a body. It must have been the reason that love-making was saved for the night. Was it cheating to allow the darkness to create the illusion or for him to accept the ruse? He shuttered his mind and reached around and pulled her down to him.
He held her back to his front and wrapped his arms around her. His hands closed over her nude breasts. He knew she wouldn't lie still for very long, but while she did he would do what he might to bring forth the remaining pleasure from the soft, roundness and the hard nipples.
He was gentle, stroking and lightly pinching; doing to them just as he would have had her do unto his own, if he could have asked her. He hoped that she liked it. He knew better than to expect passionate writhing or moans of pleasure. She didn't push him away.
Before too long, as was her custom, she disengaged and turned to face him. Her body was open to him. He debated for a few seconds if he should let his hand venture below. It was hard to be certain that she was ready. He knew that breast-play was over for the night but he kneaded them again for a few moments, just to reassure her that he still liked them. He hoped for a purr of contentment. It was not to be.
He felt her hands. They stroked him through his pajamas. She tugged on the elastic waistband. It was her signal to him to slip out of the sleepwear. She insisted on equality in nakedness. He rose up on his elbow and tugged them over his hip. He shrugged them down, out of the way where he could retrieve them later.
When he was finished taking care of his pajamas he turned back to her and they hugged. He knew she liked that. There was no kissing; no erotic noises. Only silence and two unclothed bodies pressed to one another, and an occasional hand stroking where it could reach—between the shoulder blades or on a thigh.
She was warm. After a while he clutched her bottom and pressed her against him hard. He measured her response. She opened a thigh and then closed it, capturing him between her flesh. It was a pleasant warmness and it seemed to excite her.
When he thought it was the right time he slipped his hand lower; a check her for wetness.
Everything was good. While he was stimulating her with his hand down there Jolene pushed up at his shoulder. He knew what that meant.
"She wants to take me in her mouth."
.... There is more of this story ...