Love Was an Understatement
Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
The skies were dove-grey and thick with clouds when they returned to the house, hands full of local treasure: two bottles of Eastern Cove Cygnet from the Florance vineyard, a jar of the island’s famed Ligurian honey, and four southern rock lobsters caught just hours ago. These had been carefully prepped for transport by the mongers, lovingly placed in a styrofoam cooler lined with layers of damp newspapers and seaweed.
“Put it straight in the fridge, loves,” they were advised, and sure enough, on the north side of the house was a large outdoor refrigerator Joe and Jean had installed specifically for the storing of live lobsters.
“You’re coming?” Jean had squealed last week when they had phoned from Adelaide. “When? Oh dammit, we’re going to Tassie for a wedding. Too bad. Oh well, take the house anyway. Don’t be ridiculous, take it, you can look after the dogs and that saves us the hassle of boarding them. Win-win. We’ll leave you the key. You’ll love it.”
Love was an understatement. They were smitten the instant they walked through the door, and had exhausted their curse words as they wandered from room to room, taking in the view of the ocean from every window, the open floor plan, the soaring ceilings, the air and light and space and utter perfection of this beach house, right down to the two sober border collies that were in their care for the next four days.
Lobsters safely stowed, they flung the rest of their loot on the kitchen table. It was four o’clock, not quite dinnertime. Katherine wanted to nap. Will said he wasn’t tired, he’d take the dogs for a walk. So in one of their rare instances, they parted ways, she upstairs to the bedroom, he out the back deck and down to the sand, the collies following close on his heels.
Like a femme fatale, she pushed back the thin, voile drapes of the bedroom window and watched him stride over the dunes, hands in the pockets of the grey drawstring pants he seemed to live in these days, rolled up around his calves. The temperature had dropped and he’d pulled on a blue chambray shirt. It flapped around and behind him like a sail.
Out of the house ten seconds and she missed him.
Her fingertips traced the window, touching his far-away image, keeping it in sight. She watched him walk along, kick at the ground with his bare feet, bend to pick things up. Some he flung ahead, a few he put in his pocket – maybe he’d found her a shell. He was always bringing her little things from the beach and she had a collection of them on her bedside table, shells and pebbles and sea glass and feathers.
He was almost out of sight now, but then he stopped and sat down on the sand. One of the dogs lay in a dark heap beside him, the other continued to romp around down by the waves. He was too far for such details, but she pretended anyway she could see how the wind was catching his hair, how one or two tiny grains of sand might have caught in his eyebrows, how his face settled into that smooth, expansive expression that meant he was thinking intently of something, or not thinking at all.
She toyed briefly with the idea of grabbing a shawl and walking out after him, but she was chilled off now, as well as sleepy, and the bed beckoned with soft sheets and blankets. She let the drapes fall and crawled in, pulled the covers nearly over her head and tucked her cool hands under her chin. He’d be back soon. And with that, the edges of her mind dissolved away rapidly.
She slept hard, dreamlessly, slowly came back to now, up through levels of consciousness, forgetting where she was, then remembering. Will's head dipped below her chin, covering her neck with long, lingering kisses. She sighed with him, her hands roaming. His hair smelled like wind and sea; his shirt was a little damp.
“Did you have a good walk?” she hummed, her eyes still closed.
“No, not really,” he whispered.
He had pulled the sheet over their heads, making a dark, secret cave. His hands were cold and he crept them along the back of her head, digging his fingers into the warmth of her hair. She moved closer to him and he kissed her softly.
“Why?” she said again, and began undoing the buttons on his shirt.
His fingers spread wide to cradle her head and his mouth closed gently on her bottom lip, then let it go. “Too many years,” he said between kisses. “There were too many years without you. And now…I don’t like not being around you. Any time I go away, or do something without you, I only want to come back and tell you about it. Maybe someday I’ll get into solitude again but right now…I just want to be with you.”
He pulled his arms free of the sleeves, tossed the shirt onto the floor, then pulled her own t-shirt over her arms, slid her skirt and underwear off and threw them away as well. She took his head now, and kissed him, kissed his lips apart and tasted him. She didn’t like to think about the lost years, didn’t like to think of time in general where they were concerned. They had the luxury of being able to ignore time, throw it away. No past regrets. No future plans. Only now. Only here. Only him.
“I just want you,” he said. His skin to hers, she could feel the heat rising in him and her own body rising up to meet it. He rolled onto her and they kissed, then he rolled on his back and pulled her on his chest and they kissed more, her hair falling around their heads. Back and forth like the ocean waves they rolled across the bed, and then settled down on their sides once more, curled into each other, tangled like vines, kissing deep.
“I’m so hard for you,” he said softly. She reached down, pulled his drawstring and closed him up in her hand, helped him kick the pants away. Fresh desire settled thickly in her chest, along with the damp ache of wanting to feel him in her again. Again, again, they were making love all the time and it was never enough. She rolled and put her back to his chest, snugging her butt up into his lap, guiding him into her.
“Slow, put it in me slow,” she whispered.
Inch by inch he took her, her hipbones snugged in his palms. Then he wrapped his arms around her waist, covering her back with all his body, and groaned into her hair, “God you make me crazy.”
She was beside herself with pure, primal want. He rolled up on his knees, bringing her with him. She reached and flung her arms around his neck, loving the feel of him against her back, he was so strong. They kissed deep, mouths soft, slippery and reckless. His hand slid down between her legs. He ran his lips over her back, whispered to her, encouraged and cajoled her, bringing her around with a skilled ease that made her think, not for the first time, that he was born to love her.
She cried a little, she couldn’t help it. “Too many years,” she joked weakly, trying to hide her face but he wouldn’t let her. So unbearably sweet to her, he held her head, made her face him, and gently kissed the wet trails on her face.
“It’s all right,” he whispered, before he enveloped her in his arms and pulled her against his chest. She could feel his heart pounding against hers. His mouth was so tender on her forehead, she thought she might die.
“This,” she whispered. “This. It’s all I want."
“This,” he echoed. “I’ve waited years for this…”