I felt like a stalker as I sat in the car, parked across the street from her house, waiting for her visitor to leave. I'd arrived in town late in the morning and took the extra time to scope out my surroundings. It'd taken many hours to get to where I was, and it was rather unlike me to undertake such a journey on the spur of the moment. However, there'd been a sense of determination the closer I got that what I was doing was the right thing, and that she'd appreciate it in the end. I only hoped I wasn't mistaken.
She had initially contacted me. I received a private message from her, saying how she really enjoyed my writing. I wrote back to her with thanks and a little personal note, as I do every piece of feedback I get, and instead of that being that, I got a response in return. This prompted another answer from me, and another from her. Before long, we were good friends. We had no idea what the other looked like, but we knew we liked who we were. I wasn't gilding the lily when it came to personal facts, and I could tell she was being truthful with me, too. It was that openness that endeared ourselves to one another, and suddenly, we'd fallen in love. It was a strange kind of love, because we both knew there was a long physical distance between us, and that it'd be unlikely that distance would be traversed, although we fantasized about it more than once. Nevertheless, we meant more to one another than we ever dreamed possible.
Finally, we actually did manage to get a glimpse of what we each looked like, and we liked that as much as we liked each other's minds. We felt we did it the way all relationships should actually be done: learn who the other person is first, then worry about appearance.
As it was, I'd checked in at her work (Yes, I knew her workplace: further stalker shit, eh?) and found out that she had the day off. Therefore, I took the car farthest up in the driveway to be hers, and the one behind it, a visitor, wishing her well on her day.
I'd made a few plans along the way, asking some questions when I got into the area, and making the arrangements when I learned which suited my plan.
And now I sat and waited. I'd changed into a coat and tie at a gas station, and bought a single red rose, feeling that a bouquet would be too garish. I didn't know from wine, so I didn't bother attempting to get anything in that vein.
As I watched the house, it dawned on me that I hadn't bothered to get myself a place to stay the night. I had to get back on the road before noon the next day, but I felt like a dumbass when I realized I'd have to attempt to get a room after whatever happened, happened.
Finally, I saw a tall, young, good-looking guy emerge from the front door of the small house. From the vague descriptions I'd received in some of our correspondences, I assumed this was her son.
Suddenly, my heart felt like it was attached to a jackhammer. I felt sweat bead on my forehead and my mouth get dry as I saw the young man get into his car and drive away. Muscling my way through the onslaught of nerves, I grabbed my flower and got out of the car.
'Fuck, ' I thought. 'What if she's freaked out by this? What if I've just made an incredible journey only to find out she's going to be weirded out by the fact I'm here? Have I just screwed up whatever we might have with this unannounced appearance on her doorstep?'
Thousands of second guesses flowed through my mind in a split second as I stood there, trying to find the guts to walk the distance to the house and discover just what her reaction would be. After maybe a minute — which seemed like hours — I threw caution to the wind, quelled the indecision that raged through me and started walking.
In only a handful of seconds, I stood before her door, my heart pounding even harder. I hoped I'd be able to find my voice as I reached up a knuckle and knocked, my brain so befuddled that I missed the fact there was a doorbell.
It seemed an interminable wait once I lowered my hand, but I heard movement inside, and I saw the knob turn, and then the door began to open.
Oh my god. There she was. I'd only seen a face shot before. This was her in full, in the flesh. She wore comfortable clothes, jeans and a shirt. Her feet were bare, her dark hair tied back out of the way. She'd just been taking it easy, as she deserved. She looked every bit as good as I'd imagined. I wanted to sweep her up and kiss her madly, but I was sure that would freak her out. At the moment, by the blank expression her face held, I could tell she had no inkling who I was.
Finally, I got over my initial astonishment that I was actually in her presence and held the rose out in both hands.
"Happy Birthday, Laurie." I think I managed a smile as I said it.
She looked like she'd been slapped. Who the hell was this stranger, and how the hell did he know it was her birthday? I could see it etched clearly on her face. Then I saw the wheels click into place, and wonder and incredulity replaced it all.
"No way! Allan?" Her voice was deep and musical. It was just perfect. I'd been half afraid she'd have a voice that'd set my teeth on edge - not that it'd have mattered - but the rich alto fell pleasantly on my ears.
Holding the rose in one hand, I spread my hands in a placating gesture. "Mea culpa."
Elation bubbled out of Laurie. She practically leaped at me, her arms snapping around my neck and hugging me tight. "I can't believe you're here! This is the best birthday present anybody could have got me!"
"It's a pretty good present for me, too," I admitted. "It isn't every day somebody who means as much to me as you do turns fifty."
She lifted her head and looked me in the eyes, her look suddenly serious, though there was a playful glint in her eye. "Oh sure, ruin it by reminding me."
I gazed back into those pretty blue eyes of hers and replied, "Does it look like it matters in the least to me? Twenty, fifty, I don't care. The number could be a hundred and I'd still feel the same about you."
"A hundred? Boy, you sure know how to rack up the points there, bud," she said. Still, that glint told me she was so tickled by my being there that I could say just about anything and it wouldn't matter.
"Y'know, I really want to kiss you, but I don't know what the neighbors would think," Laurie continued. "Not that I really care what the neighbors think, but still, it'd probably be good to come inside."
It was obvious she was reluctant to let me go. She hated the idea of removing herself from me as much as I did. Still, if a kiss was going to rile the neighbors, my carrying her, clinging to me like a koala bear, would probably elicit a similar reaction. Then again, if there were any nosy neighbors watching what was going on, they probably already had plenty of gossip to keep them going.
Finally, Laurie let me go long enough to get us both in the house. When she turned, I got a terrific view of her glorious backside and I watched it eagerly all the way in. With the door closed, we stood for a tense moment, staring at each other, until like two opposite magnetic poles, we slammed together in a passionate kiss.
My body responded immediately. Laurie was everything my fantasies had made her out to be, and that realization was incredible. I desperately wanted to take this further right away, but I had plans, and while I don't often make plans, when I do, I like to follow them if at all possible. Besides, some semblance of control was probably a good thing. At least that's what I kept telling myself. Then again, we were both adults, well beyond the age of consent, so why did it really matter what we did?
Eventually, we both came up for air. I'm sure our faces were mirror images of incredulity and delight. I could hardly get enough of admiring this person I'd fantasized over for so long, having to fill in so many gaps myself. For several seconds, we just looked at one another, our minds each trying to come up with something witty or profound, but still so dumbfounded at our present situation, that they simply remained blank.
Then, that inexorable pull drew us back together. This kiss was a little less frenzied, but no less passionate. It was impossible to tell to tell how long we stood there like that, locked in that embrace, but neither felt an urgent need to let go.
After a while, though, let go we did. We stood there, panting for a minute or so before either of us found a voice.
"Uh ... hi," Laurie finally got out.
"Hi," I replied, but didn't continue.
There was a pause. Then suddenly, we both burst out laughing at the absurdity of that little exchange, given what had already transpired. When the laughter started to die down, I reached out and pulled her in close to me again, this time a bit more gently. Laurie snuggled up against my body and stayed there for a moment before saying, "I'm not dreaming, am I?"
I responded, "If you are, so am I, because I'm dreaming that I just got done kissing you for like, the last five minutes, and now I have you in my arms, warm and close."
"In that case, I hope I'm in a coma, 'cause I don't want it to stop."
I stepped back a little bit, holding Laurie out so I could see her face. "You better not be in a coma. I've got plans for you tonight."
Laurie grinned. "What kind of plans?"
"Well, a nice dinner, for sure. After that, it's kind of up in the air. I said I planned. I didn't say I planned real well."
Laurie chuckled, then looked me up and down. "Judging by what you have on, I'm sort of underdressed for what you've got planned, huh?"
I admitted, "To me, you look fabulous. Then again, I think I'd probably think that regardless what you were wearing. The place I had in mind is a little upscale for jeans. At least, that's how I want to treat it, if you don't mind." I figured I'd better drop the bomb and get it over with: "I can't stay long, so I want to make it as special as I can."
Laurie stepped in close and hugged me. "It's that already. I can't believe this." She then backed away, asking, "Do you have reservations? What time?"
I looked around the room for a clock, then stated, "A little over an hour." It was later than I though. I wished I hadn't felt like I needed to waste so much of the day waiting. All I did was eat into the time I could have potentially spent with Laurie, after all the distance I'd come, and how little time I really had.
The little wheels were going in Laurie's brain again as she thought, I assumed, about what she was going to wear. "I think I've got just the outfit. Do you want to come in so we can talk while I change?" I was a little surprised that she invited me to be there while she got out of the clothes she was wearing and into the ones she figured on for dinner. She admitted to me quite a while back that she was a pretty private person, but she'd told me things over the internet connection that she confessed she'd never told another soul, so I had a feeling I was something of an exception to a lot of things where she was concerned.
Now, I was faced with a dilemma. Did I want to go with Laurie while she changed clothes? Absolutely. Did I think I was going to be able to behave myself if I saw her removing clothing in my presence? Of that, I was uncertain. Still, I wasn't a teenager any more, and should be capable of keeping my hands to myself when the need arose.
Nevertheless, I felt like I had to confirm. "Are you sure?"
Laurie realized what she was doing and hesitated. She then made a decision. "Yes, please. I trust you and I love you, not necessarily in that order, but yes, I'm inviting you into my bedroom. I've got you for now, and I want to get to spend as much time with you as possible. If that means having you see my bedroom, so be it. If that means you getting to see my scantily-clad body, then I'll deal with that, too."
Well, let's face it, I'd wanted to see Laurie in her underwear (or less) for some time, so now that there was little doubt to the sincerity of her invitation, I was ready and eager to follow wherever she led. "Lay on, MacDuff," I said, indicating I was ready to go, wherever and whenever she was.
Laurie grinned, apparently taking my Shakespearean quote and adding a bit of double entendre to it. Not that I minded in the least. Given some of our prior communications, I'm sure that kind of activity was in the back of her mind. It sure was in mine...
Following her to the bedroom, Laurie started stripping off clothes. I felt like a fifteen year old kid, standing there while her body was revealed to me. In only her bra and panties, Laurie turned to me and asked, "I don't suppose there's time for me to grab a quick shower?"
I laughed, "I'm trying to behave myself, now. Don't push it. Please." I could feel the strain against the front of my trousers just being in her presence while she was dressed so.
Laurie noticed my distress and gave my crotch a hungry once-over with her eyes, then returned her gaze to my face. "How about my hair? Is there time to do something about it?"
I chuckled at how embarrassed I felt at that moment. It wasn't real obvious how Laurie actually felt about the whole situation, but my adolescent discomfort seemed to afford her some degree of boldness. She trotted over to me (causing her lovely, full breasts to bob enticingly within that oh-so-lucky brassiere), placed a kiss on my cheek, then stated, "It won't take long," then went to a mirror and started fiddling with her hair.
For a while, it looked to me like she was just tangling it, but after a few minutes, she had it the way she wanted it, left the mirror, rummaged around in a drawer, where she grabbed a couple new lacy things, then proceeded to remove the underthings she'd been wearing, replacing them with the new ones.
It was with lightning speed that I saw a glimpse of round, bare breast, covered back over again with the new bra, then I caught an eyeful of her luscious ass, finally adorned with a single string up the middle.
With this new lingerie in place, Laurie then turned to me and did a quick runway turn. "Whattya think? A little sexier than what I had on, huh? It'll sure make me feel sexier while we're out."
In response I started a mantra: "I'm being a good boy. I'm being a good boy..."
We both laughed after a beat, then Laurie headed for the closet, where she brought out her version of the "little black dress."
"What do you think of this?" she asked, holding it up for my approval.
After a moment, I managed, "If it looks this good on the hanger, it's going to look fantastic with the proper filling." I could hardly wait to see her in it.
To her credit, Laurie started to blush a little at that comment. It appeared she'd been basking in her control of the situation, but my little comment had sort of turned her short-lived confidence on its ear. In my mind, her brief sheepishness made her just that much more attractive. Amazing how a flash of vulnerability can make a woman look a bit better to a man, isn't it?
Without a word, Laurie started getting into the dress. It only took moments, and when she turned her back to me, with the back open and the zipper all the way to the bottom, I picked up the cue immediately. A quick zip and she was in. She didn't turn to me for approval after that, though, instead she headed for the closet again, bent over and came back out with a pair of shoes, which she sat on the bed to put on, then over to the dresser where she took out a set of earrings and a necklace, Once she had herself properly done up, she stood and gave another little runway turn.
"Whattya think? Do I pass muster?"
I was stunned. I mean, holy shit! What a knockout! Fifty? You've got to be kidding!
Finally, I croaked out, "Outstanding," which brought a pleased smile to her face.
"Thank you," she came back, blushing again.
"You're very welcome. I calls 'em as I sees 'em, babe."
Laurie took a few steps toward me, glancing right and left at her legs. "You don't think I need hose or something?"
I held out my hands to her, which she took with a smile. "I think you're going to make the twenty year olds envious."
A glance at the clock said it was time to go. I had a vague idea how long it was going be to get to the restaurant, but as this wasn't familiar territory, I wasn't exactly sure. Better to be early than late.
During my excursion that afternoon, trying to get my bearings and figure out just what it was that I'd done to myself, I discovered a historical trolley tour that I thought would be really fun and interesting — for me if not for Laurie, but I was pretty sure she'd have suffered through for my sake — but unfortunately, those tours ended before we were getting out. I guess I should have taken advantage while I was out and about, but my mind was elsewhere at the time. My thoughts had been almost exclusively on the knockout woman I had with me now, so I hadn't really taken the opportunity to avail myself of much of anything else.
Holding my elbow out to her, I said, "Shall we go?"
Laurie placed her hand in the offered spot, and we exited the house. "So much for conversing while I changed, eh?" she said as I opened the car door for her.
My god, it was so sexy watching her just get into the car! I don't know who was having more fun with my being here, but I guess it didn't really matter. "Well, you were busy, and I was speechless," I said just before I closed the door and went to the driver's side.
Starting the car, I told her, "I hope you like where I've chosen. I know nothing about this area but what I've been able to gather from the web and from my little bit of exploration once I got here. It's supposed to be a surprise, but if I get lost, I'll have to ask for your help getting there."
Laurie laughed. "It's a deal. I promise to be surprised when we get there, either way. We could be headed for the golden arches and it'd be perfect, as far as I'm concerned."
Fortunately, I remembered the route to where I'd placed the reservation. It was in a historical building, right in the town where Laurie lived. I'd gotten a glance at the menu for the evening, and it sounded fantastic. Locally supplied ingredients, and with the ocean just a couple hours away, the seafood could hardly be fresher.
Laurie looked out the window at where I'd pulled up, saying, "Oh, wow. I've only been here a couple times — and I've lived here all my life. The food's fantastic, but it's lonely not getting to share the experience."
I was proud of myself that I'd chosen well. Reaching for her hand, I told her, "It'll be an honor and delight to get to share this with you." Isn't it funny how such Hollywood lines come to us at certain times?
"We're a little early, would you like to take a short walk?" I wanted as many people as possible to see me with this fabulous woman. I also wanted to show her off. It was her birthday, she should get some admiration from those around her. Heck, she should be admired, regardless what day it was.
"Sure," Laurie answered. With the look she gave me, I wondered if she wasn't thinking the same things I was. It was my turn to feel a little sheepish.
I helped Laurie from the car — a sight as titillating this time as it had been previously — then gave her my elbow once again.
I love it when cities appreciate their past and take pains to preserve it. Many of the buildings were on the National Register of Historic Places, so they were painstakingly kept in as close to original condition as possible. It was delightful walking along the sidewalk, knowing that many of the structures had been around for over a hundred years. We got many a look as we meandered — there were a lot of people out for a Wednesday night — and I think Laurie appreciated it as much as they did.
Finally, it was time to head back to the restaurant, so we turned around and started the walk back. Although I was sure Laurie was full of questions, and had been since she'd found me on her doorstep, she'd managed to keep them to herself for quite a while, though I knew she was bursting to ask. Our entire walk was done mostly in silence, each of us just enjoying the comforting, unexpected fact of the other's presence.
The restaurant was lovely. Modern fixtures were integrated well with the 19th century interior, and the ambiance was exactly what I'd hoped for. Most of the other patrons were dressed more casually than we were, but there were one or two other couples who had dressed up for the occasion. Laurie was enchanted. Even when something's right outside your front door, you often don't get to take advantage like you might hope. This was one of those places.
Reading the menu had my mouth watering as well as my cholesterol soaring. Unfortunately, good food doesn't mean good for you food, but what the hell: once in a while, you gotta splurge, eh?
"Order what you want," I said to Laurie, whose eyes sparkled while she read the menu, then glanced up at me, "this evening's all on me."
She laid down her menu on the table with a look of incredulity. "But you came all this way. You've already spent so much just to be here."
I put my menu down, too. "That may be, but I wouldn't have made a trip like this if I hadn't expected to put out some money. Besides, it wouldn't be fair to bring you to a place like this and then make you pay for the meal." I interrupted Laurie before she could protest. "It's your birthday. I came out here to celebrate with you. This whole experience is meant to be your gift."
That quieted her for a moment, but then she started, "But why did you come all this way? Surely it wasn't just for me. How long did it take? Did you drive the whole way? Didn't you stop to rest along the way? Did you do any sightseeing?"
I held up my hands to halt the flurry of questions. "Hold on there. Let me answer before you shoot another question at me." I took her hands in mine and looked her right in the eye.
"Why did I come all this way? I'm sitting across the table from it. Hopefully you realize I did come all this way exclusively for you. I wanted your birthday to be something special. Just seeing you in that dress, and the way you've been looking at me makes it all worthwhile.
"Mapquest said 29 hours, but that'd be with no stops. As it was, I think it took me somewhere in the neighborhood of about 35 hours or so. I pulled over a few times to sleep, so if you add it all up, I'm working on a tremendous sleep deficit here. I stopped to eat a couple times, where I could sit in a seat that wasn't moving, but for the most part, it's been me and the open road on my way here.
"While I wanted to stop and see the sights, my schedule wasn't going to allow it, unfortunately. Besides, I hoped to spend the bulk of my time with you if possible, so I wasn't going to waste it any more than necessary.
"And I can hear the next question before you can ask, though it hurts like hell to have to admit it: Yes, I have to be back on the road in the morning. By the amount of time it took to get here, and figuring it'll take roughly as long to get back, I can't stay longer. I wish I could, it's beautiful here, and more than anything, I wish I could have the prettiest tour guide for hundreds of miles ... whatever her age."
Laurie gave me a chastising look. "You keep bringing up this age thing, as if I can't remember it, or as if it matters to you - especially my being older than you. Does it?"
Once she pointed it out, I realized I did keep mentioning age, as if it was something vastly important. I had to think a moment whether there was any tremendous significance to it in my mind, and if so, whether it did matter. If it didn't, why did I keep dwelling on it? The difference between us was less than the fingers on one hand, and if I had to actually admit it, it didn't really matter to me. I loved her no matter what, so what difference did it make?
"I'm sorry, it just keeps popping out. To me, like I said before, it doesn't matter. You're gorgeous, and you're so much more sure of yourself than a younger woman, which is pretty erotic in itself. I know you probably don't feel especially confident at times, but I can tell you have a pretty good idea who you are and what you want, and it makes you more beautiful yet.
"So, no more comments about age, and I apologize for having harped on it so many times already, whether I realized I was doing it or not."
Laurie seemed satisfied with that, and her look of consternation was once more replaced with the amazed satisfaction she'd exhibited all evening.
It dawned on me that while we talked, the restaurant staff hadn't bothered us. They apparently were keeping close watch on whether we were ready to order or not.
Picking up our menus once more, we started talking about what we were reading there.
"My arteries are clogging just reading the menu, but I want one of everything." There was butter and cheese and cream sauce, all those things the doctor would frown at me for even considering putting into my body, but this once, I was going to live it up. Truly good food is darn hard to pass up, and I could tell this was going to be just that.
Laurie laughed, "Yes, but if you have one of everything. Then you'll be too stuffed to do whatever you've got planned for after this." This comment got my attention, and I looked up to see her blue eyes twinkling naughtily over the edge of her menu at me. I couldn't see her lips, but I knew there was a saucy smile on that gorgeous face. Was that an invitation? Did I even have to guess? My heart started pounding all over again and I felt myself getting hard at the implication.
Fortunately, the waiter came over and saved me from making a vocal response to what she'd said ... that is, if one came to me. While the innuendo in Laurie's statement was certainly in the back of my mind, I was still making the attempt to not take this farther than either of us were ready to deal with later. We were both well beyond the age of consent, but regret's never out of the question if you end up doing something that changes a situation you never wanted changed.
Laurie ordered a glass of wine, and I've lately been sticking mostly to water, so I maintained that. We admitted we weren't ready to order even an appetizer yet, so the waiter went to fetch our drinks while we tried to decide on something to eat.
"I suppose we should discuss food, if we're going to eat."
Laurie asked, "How hungry are you?"
I admitted, "Any more, it doesn't seem to matter much. I can feel famished and still not eat more than I would normally. I guess the primary question is: how good would you be at eating leftovers, including mine? I probably won't be able to take anything I don't manage to eat along with me, which leaves it for you."
"Well, I hope you order something I'll eat then."
Deciding to throw my own hat into the innuendo ring and up the ante a bit, I responded, looking Laurie directly in the eyes, "I don't know if it is, but I sure know what I want." I waited a beat, then continued, "I suppose I'd better stick to what they'll bring from the kitchen, though."
Laurie squirmed a little at that, and her face darkened just a bit. I had a feeling this joust would go on all evening, and where it would lead, who really knew? I had a good idea where I hoped it would go, but maybe we'd just end up teasing one another all night and that'd be it. I found myself okay with that notion. It'd be frustrating, sure, but it was worth it, considering who I was dueling with.
I carried on like there was no double meaning to what I'd said a moment earlier. "So, how would you like to do this? Could we decide on a single entrée to share? I guess one thing I'm not too sure of with you, is what kind of food you like. The five-course option sounds like it'd be fun, but I'm afraid we'd both end up too stuffed for anything later."
Finally, Laurie said, "Sharing would be fine. I'll eat whatever you order. That way, neither of us will be too full to enjoy anything after this."
While my wishful mind was reading plenty into that, I didn't dwell on it too much and decided on what to order.
When the waiter came back with our drinks, I ordered the blue cheese crème brulee appetizer, the seared tuna and an extra salad. I held off ordering dessert, though I was sure - comparing everything else - that it'd be fantastic.
"So," I turned to Laurie as the waiter left with our menus, "you didn't have to work today. What did you do with yourself?"
She took a sip of her wine and started, "Oh, that was the best thing they could have done for my birthday at work. It wasn't that long ago that I got done with the end of fiscal year stuff, so I was more than ready when the boss poked his head in yesterday and told me to take the day off. I'm sure when I get in tomorrow, they'll have some kind of celebration, complete with black balloons and everything.
"As far as what I did all day, I can proudly say: not much. I rolled out of bed without the aid of the alarm clock, and first thing I did was get myself a shower." She gave me a significant look. I'd written her emails with detailed scenarios of what might happen if the two of us ended up in such an enclosed environment together. The shower had become something of an event for Laurie, I could say proudly.
"After a very satisfying shower..." another significant look, "I had breakfast and did a little straightening up. Had lunch with my mom, then had a couple visitors. My son was the last person to come see me before you showed up so unexpectedly." Her hands stretched out onto the tabletop. I took them in mine. " ... And it's the best present anyone could give me. Thank you."
I gave her hands a gentle squeeze. "You're very welcome. I'm just glad I could be here. I never thought I'd ever make this trip, see you for real..." I couldn't help my voice getting low and husky. " ... See how beautiful you really are."
We sat there for at least a full minute, in silence. I could see Laurie's eyes glisten a little, and it made me truly happy that I touched her so much, at the same time feeling an empty tug at the fact that I wasn't going to be able to be with her long.
The longer I sat looking at Laurie, who seemed to be getting more emotional by the second, the more I thought about our rather unusual situation and the consequences and limitations of it, I felt myself starting to get choked up, too. I was amazed at how much I loved her, a woman I'd only itruly met a little over an hour previous, if physical proximity was necessary for the word "meet" to really be applicable. I thought about the conversations we'd had over the computer, the things we'd shared, the secrets we'd revealed to no one but the person on the other end of the connection. Sure, we played, letting the innuendos and suggestive talk lead us to having to take matters into our own hands, but the most meaningful part of those exchanges were the ones where we'd learned more about who the other was.
Now, I don't consider myself uber macho, but the idea of coming to tears in a public place doesn't exactly appeal to me, so I was relieved when the waiter finally brought our appetizer, breaking the somber mood that'd set in between us.
The blue cheese crème brulee was amazing. I'd never tasted anything quite like it. I've had the regular kind, but this was far different from that. From the look on Laurie's face, I could tell liked it, too. "Good choice," she told me between bites.
"Thank you," I returned, enjoying just watching her enjoy herself.
Suddenly, she noticed me not eating, my attention focused on her and what she was doing.
"What?" she asked, self-consciously.
I remained silent a moment more, then answered, "Just enjoying the view," which elicited a smile and a blush.
"I can't help it. I just can't believe you're here, in front of me. I know I'm the one who set this all in motion, but I half expected you to be so freaked out by the fact that I came all this way just to see you, that I'd be sitting here alone tonight.
"Yet here you are." This time, I couldn't help the hitch in my voice. The emotions were starting to overwhelm me, and I was proving unequal to the task of combating them.
I tried to excuse myself, not wanting to blubber all over the place in a nice restaurant a long way from home, but Laurie grabbed my hand. "Wait, Allan," she said softly, earnestly.
"I am a little freaked out, to be honest, and have been since you appeared at my house, but in a good way. I can barely remember the last time I was so happy. Of all the people in the world that I know, you happened to be the one that I most wanted to see, that I knew I never would.
"Yet here you are."
I smiled, hearing her use the phrase I'd used earlier. The emotional attack was over for me, between hearing Laurie's voice and her clever use of my own words. Would it come back? I didn't know. I'd just have to wait and see. If it did, I could tell Laurie would be okay with it. She seemed far from repulsed by my near miss a moment earlier, so I took a deep breath and got myself back together.
"Thank you," I said, both for her kind words and her defusing of what could have been a really ugly and embarrassing situation.
"You're welcome," she replied with a smile. "Now, help me eat this before our salads get here."
I laughed and we finished off the crème brulee just as the salads hit the table.
Now, I'm not much of a salad eater. They're more a necessary evil in my book, but this wasn't at all bad. I wrapped mine up at about the time the tuna was served. Laurie finished a little after.
Now, the tuna was terrific stuff. I love fish anyway, but this was simply tremendous. Laurie liked it, too, and before too awfully long, it was gone.
When the entree plates were taken away, I wasn't sure about Laurie, but I was pleasantly full. Splitting the entire meal was the way to go. I hoped she agreed, though I was pretty sure I'd never know.
Before Laurie could ask about dessert, the waiter brought two cups with some of the inn's specialty ice cream. One had a single candle in it, which he lit. Now, I'd requested that no big fuss be made, no "everybody sing" or anything like that. All that was said was, "Happy Birthday, ma'am," as the cup was placed before her.
When the waiter left, I sang to her quietly,
"Happy birthday to you. "Happy birthday to you. "Happy birthday pretty Laurie, "Happy birthday to you."
A tear formed at the corner of Laurie's eye as she closed them both tight, this time having emotional difficulties of her own. "My wish has already come true. But if I have to, even though this one's more unlikely, I'll give it a try anyway." She then leaned over and blew the candle out.
When she sat back and opened her eyes, that one rogue tear let loose and streaked down her cheek.
Reaching out, I wiped the tear away for her. "Want to tell me what that new wish was?"
She shook her head. "I can't. It won't happen. It won't happen and I don't want to throw a huge wet blanket over this evening by saying it."
Immediately, I had a fair idea what that wish was, and it tore my heart in two. I knew what she wanted, and I wouldn't be able to give it to her.
"I'm sorry," I said. I wished I could reassure her that she was wrong, but I hated to admit that she wasn't. I'd have to be on the road in the morning, and she'd have to go to work, and once more we'd be in the same situation we had been before I hit the road to head out this way.
Once again, I reached for her face, cupping her cheek in my hand. Laurie pressed her face against it as I said, "I'm here now. I don't have to go for at least another twelve hours...
"And our ice cream's melting," I said, looking down into Laurie's half melted dessert. The candle had tipped over and was leaning against the rim of the dish.
As it had me, the change in mood brought a chuckle, and we finished off the rest of the meal once more simply enjoying being together.
Before too long, dinner was over, the bad news was placed on the evil plastic card, and we were again on the street of the historic city that Laurie called home.
"Well, that was perfect," I said, "I don't feel like I ate a bus or anything. And everything was fantastic!"
Laurie snuggled up against me, taking my arm and squeezing it. Her face turned up to look at me. "It certainly was," her words conveying a meaning far beyond the food we'd just eaten.
I released my arm from Laurie's hands and slipped it around her waist. She still looked simply incredible, and my hand on the sensuous curve of her hip felt tremendous. "There's still some daylight yet. Is there anything else we can do?"
"If there is, I'd rather not do it in these shoes," she replied. "I like them, but I don't have occasion to wear them very often, so I'm not really used to them."
"Even so, you look great in them. Heck you look great, regardless.
"So, back home, then?"
She looked up at me and asked, "Is that okay?"
I pulled her in tighter to me, saying, "Baby, it's your day. We can do whatever you want."
Laurie wrapped her arms around me and hugged. "I was hoping you'd say something like that."
On the way back to her house, we chatted a little bit more, but the conversation stopped suddenly when I felt her hand on my thigh.
Oh my, the feeling of her warm hand on me was spectacular! And we were both fully clothed! I started to respond immediately.
There was nothing overtly sexual along the way, just Laurie's hand resting gently, almost innocently, on my leg. A glance to my right showed me a nymph-like smile on her face. She was pleased by how the evening had turned out, she was especially ecstatic by my presence, and she wasn't ready for her birthday to be over quite yet.
This time, I got to be the vehicle pulled in behind Laurie's in the drive. Continuing to be the gentleman, I rushed around to the passenger's door and helped my lovely date out of the car. Halfway to the house, Laurie's shoes got the best of her, and she stopped, dragging on my arm. She started to bend over to pull her footwear off, but I took a chance and scooped her up off the ground and carried her to the door.
"But, Allan, your back..."
"I'm being as careful as I can. I've always wanted to carry a woman across the threshold. It's something I've never been able to do." From the look of Laurie's face, she was concerned for my well-being. I've had low back problems in the past, and she was afraid I'd aggravate that by carrying her. I loved her concern for me, but the deed was done.
We giggled a little when she had trouble getting the key in the lock in her sideways orientation, but eventually she got it accomplished, and we were inside.