The old air conditioner was just a machine, it couldn't have known it picked the worst day of the year to break down. Still, Annie gave it a murderous look as the compressor coughed and died.It hadn't been able to keep up for a while, really. As a result, the apartment that Annie shared with her husband, Phillip, was already too warm to be truly comfortable. Now that the A/C had died, the temperature was sure to skyrocket. Phillip sat in an armchair on the other side of the living room, occasionally glaring at Annie over the top of his magazine. Tempers had risen today with the temperatures; the oppressive humidity of the past week had frayed nerves to the breaking point. Neither of them could really remember what the argument had been about, but neither was ready to apologize either.
Annie unfolded her long legs from under her and very carefully straightened the hem of her loose, flowing summer dress. She stood and left Phillip to his magazine, and busied herself in the kitchen with the supper dishes. As she worked, the temperature in the apartment climbed quickly. She bound her long dark hair up on top of her head in a loose bun to keep it off her neck Small drops of sweat slid down her neck and her back. She hadn't worn anything under the dress in an effort to keep cool; soon the light fabric was clinging to her body from a sheen of sweat. She absently pulled the thin material from her skin and fanned herself. "I need some fresh air", she thought and slid open the glass door and stepped out onto the balcony. The humidity hit her like a wall when she stepped through. The last glimmer of sunset was lost in a murky haze, with dark clouds looming overhead. Far off in the distance, she could see a distant flicker of lightning. The air was still, pensive. Nature seemed to be holding her breath, waiting for the cooling rain. The only sounds were the faint buzz of Sunday night traffic and a few indistinct human voices. The city, too, was waiting, hoping for relief.The clouds darkened, the lightning coming closer, faster. The distant rumble of thunder was giving way to louder crashes. The lights in the parking lot flickered on, bathing the balcony in their faintly orange glow. A faint breeze stirred a few stray wisps of her hair around her face.Annie turned her head slightly as she heard Phillip step out onto the balcony with her.
He stayed by the door, not venturing over by the rail with her, refusing even to meet her gaze. She sighed and returned to the view before her.The wind gusted again, stronger this time, lifting a discarded shopping bag and skittering it across the empty parking lot. A few drops of rain spattered across Annie's bare arms. She turned her face into the increasing wind, relishing the feel of the cooling air flowing over her skin.Annie heard a scrape of a bare foot on the balcony as Phillip stepped forward to the rail. He followed Annie's gaze to the gathering storm. Finally, he opened his mouth to speak. "Honey, I..."She silenced him by placing a finger against his lip. "I know," she answered softly, "Me too."Nothing more needed to be said between them; this is the way of love.The rain seemed to stall for a moment, but the wind still grew. Phillip stood behind Annie and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her to him. She lifted her hand from the rail and stroked the forearm he had wrapped gently around her trim stomach. He kissed her neck tenderly, and for a long time they both stood silently in the breeze. The sky blackened as night fell around them and the storm gathered itselfThe sudden flash of a bolt of lightning startled Phillip out of his reverie. It was close, the storm would be breaking soon. He kissed her again, more firmly, his tongue tracing a line along the junction of her neck and shoulder. She leaned her head back into him and sighed happily. Rain fell again, not the halting drops of before, but a steady, constant drumming. His kisses became more passionate, nipping playfully at her shoulder with his teeth. Annie moaned and pushed her hips back against him.