AnneMarie stood on the middle level of the garden deck. Some guests walked on by. Others stopped to offer congratulations. This was not her party, she too was a guest, but many of those in attendance knew she had also just graduated.
As she accepted the well wishes of several people, she frequently glanced to the level above her. In the far corner was a small group of men, including Andrew Benson and a few of his friends and associates. She had felt his eyes on her for most of the afternoon, yet when she looked at him, his attention seemed elsewhere.
Although the party was held in the large yard of his house, Andrew had appeared late with no explanation. AnneMarie had not yet spoken to him. In fact, she had not even seen him for more than a month. It was beginning to bother her that each time they did speak, Andrew acted as if he wanted to put as much distance between them as he could. His earlier friendly, teasing, and gregarious attitude had grown increasingly solemn and morose. At times, he almost sounded angry. A man shouldn't act that way toward his future daughter-in-law.
A month before graduation, Drew, Andrew's only son, had asked for her hand, promising her a ring after he spoke to his father. AnneMarie said yes but a week later Drew explained they needed to delay their announcement. His father insisted he first establish his presence in the firm.
She glanced at the wide expanse of yard behind the home, paying little attention to the spoken congratulations and inane small talk surrounding her. AnneMarie spied Drew, still laughing together with several of his classmates at one of the tables under a large shade tree She couldn't hear the conversation of the man she would marry, but he looked in a jovial mood.
Several steps behind him posed the long-legged blonde, Cheryl. Whenever AnneMarie and Drew were doing something together, Cheryl seemed to show up more and more frequently. AnneMarie didn't know why she wasn't more concerned about the raised eyebrows of their friends as they noted the hushed conversations between Drew and the young college sophomore. Each time AnneMarie looked toward Drew, Cheryl had moved another step closer to him.
This party was for Drew. It was the launch of his professional career, something Andrew had anticipated since he saw his son for the first time on the day of his birth. Drew was the continuation of their family name as one-half of the oldest law firm in the city.
A sound from the corner of the deck drew AnneMarie's attention. She looked up at Andrew and saw his gaze fixed on her. She gasped but did not smile. A string of chills worked down her spine. She shuddered as one side of Andrew's mouth relaxed in the first muscle movements of a smile. She dropped her eyes, unable to maintain the contact. Her growing attraction to Andrew had begun to concern her.
Instead, AnneMarie directed her attention to Drew and saw Cheryl's hand on his shoulder. Drew put his hand over Cheryl's and rubbed gently as the young woman leaned over to speak near his ear.
As Andrew watched AnneMarie, his gut churned. He listened to the comments around him, hearing the business talk and occasional congratulations. He responded in the conversations, barely knowing if the response he gave was appropriate. His eyes and his thoughts kept going to AnneMarie. He took another drink of the golden liquid in the glass then leaned over to place it on the table in front of him. The whiskey burned but did nothing to help him relax. The young woman, with her gentle smile and light laughter, denied him any calm.
She mesmerized with her elegant movements and cool façade. She might appear reserved; she dressed in a conservative manner. However, Andrew knew she was passionate, warm, and caring, the kind of woman he had never known. For more than two years, he had seen the passion peeping out of her when Drew kissed her. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, he had heard their coupling and her stirring cries of pleasure.
Andrew no longer mourned his wife's early death. Her cold-hearted, unfriendly manner with his friends, her thighs locked together to turn away his love had left him a solemn man. During the past two years after her death, little had changed for him. In one more year Andrew would be fifty. He had decided, with the right changes, he could have many years of enjoyable life, as his father still did and his grandfather had before him.
During a break in the line of guests arriving, AnneMarie backed up a few steps and turned to slip through the French doors at the end of the deck. She removed the light jacket that covered her sundress, leaving it on a chair beside the door. She lifted her chin and felt the cooled air brushing across her sun-warmed skin. Looking around for a moment, she realized Drew had never shown her this room. It was small, with delicate furniture and a baby grand piano presiding over one corner.
AnneMarie walked across the room, which was clearly designed for a woman but had nothing personal in it to indicate a woman had enjoyed it. Trailing her fingers along the curved edge of the piano, she continued to look around. The only sound in the room was the gentle tick-tock of a china clock on the wall.
"Do you play?" Andrew spoke as he entered the room, quietly closing the door behind him.
Her voice was little more than a whisper, "Yes, did your..."
"My mother played. Beautifully. This was her room."
Andrew walked to AnneMarie and took her hand, then led her to a corner of the room, holding her close, resting his hands on her waist.
"Are you angry with me?"
"No." AnneMarie shook her head. The ringlets of her hair, gathered on top of her head for the warm day, bounced with her movement.
Andrew smiled. He could not avoid doing so. Without the jacket to her dress, with her hair piled on top of her head and the faint mist of perspiration on her upper lip, she looked like a fifteen-year-old. Yet the swell of her breasts, her narrow waist, and the fullness of her hips under his hands revealed the maturity of her almost twenty-five years.
"I hoped you would understand," Andrew explained as he took a step to the rear and sat on a backless cushioned bench. He kept his hands on her waist pulling her toward him, almost lifting her to settle on his lap, facing him. Their focus on each other was intense. Neither was concerned about how close they were or the intimacy of their position.
A small bead of perspiration had left a faint trail in front of her ear. He imagined the salty taste on his tongue.
She did not take her eyes from his. "Andrew, I..."
"No, AnneMarie, don't say it." He watched as her eyes closed, depriving him of knowing her thoughts. "I've watched you all afternoon. I've seen Drew with his friends, leaving you alone, caring only about himself."
"I know how wrong this is, how inappropriate..."
AnneMarie's eyes opened as her hand came up to rest against his cheek, giving him comfort, as if he were a child. At the same time, she relaxed, settled more comfortably on his lap, her folded knees moving closer to his hips.
Andrew struggled to keep his voice calm, "I thought I would have a few more months before the announcement of an engagement. But I'll be damned if I'll let him play games with someone I care for."
Her eyes moved with her hand, reaching up to brush the fallen lock of hair off his forehead. AnneMarie had not been terribly bothered by the delay in announcing her engagement to this man's son. However, Andrew's statement filled her with a tingle she had never felt before. What was happening to her? What was he telling her?
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When they opened, his look told her he had made a decision.
"This is madness, but it will not keep me from taking what I want. Nor will I be deterred from giving you what I know you need." His final word was said against her lips.
The kiss began soft and gentle while he waited for her to understand and join. His intensity grew, she responded. He turned her slightly, leaning over her, pulling her closer into his arms. His tongue invaded her mouth and the devouring of each other escalated.
.... There is more of this story ...