I feel the gentle pressure of his hand on my back as we dance. Our sons and oldest grandchildren watch us with smiles, yet all I can think about is feeling Eric’s hand splayed against my bare back, my breasts pressed to his chest as we move in a different type of dance. I shiver and he pulls me closer, his lips softly kissing my temple, which only makes me want him more.
This is crazy. What am I doing thinking these sorts of thoughts in the presence of our family? And why would I be thinking that he’d want me that way? After all, he’s had a young, perfect woman in his bed until just recently. What in the world would he want with this old, worn body? Perhaps that part of my life is over. Perhaps it is only to be lived in my dreams now…dreams which are memories of times in our past when he’s loved me with passion and fire.
“Sweetheart,” he whispers, sensing that I’ve drifted away.
“Mmm hmm,” I murmur as I rest my head on his shoulder.
“Where did you go?”
Pulling back a bit, I smile up at him. “Just drifting in memories a bit.”
“Happy memories?” he asks with a look that makes me wonder what he’s thinking.
“Yes,” I answer, not wanting to tell him that my drifting hadn’t been all in memory.
“Do you know how happy you’ve made me?” he asks, apparently satisfied with my answer.
I feel my eyes water as I lay my head back on his shoulder. “It’s me that should be asking you that question,” I whisper.
A few moments pass with no words being spoken, just his soft kisses against my temple, my cheek, and his gentle touch on my back as he slowly sways our bodies to the low sounds coming from the string quartet in the background. I know that our family is still watching us, the stupid grins still on their faces, but I find my thoughts returning once again to the same place as before.
I want to feel Eric’s hands against my skin.
Coming out of my wishful thoughts just as the music is ending, I pull back and smile. “I feel like we’re on stage,” I mutter good naturedly.
“Oh I think we are, and it’s opening night.” Eric agrees with me causing me to chuckle.
“And we’re looking at the next generation.” I point to our family behind us, those smiles still on their faces as they join in the conversation before Thorne decides that he’s hungry and the men all leave to get us something to eat.
Two hours later, I’m standing staring into the fireplace, sighing in relief and nervous anticipation that we’re finally alone.
“They’re all gone, Sweetheart.” Eric whispers as he comes up behind me, his hands caressing down my arms.
“I wonder if any of them will sleep,” I chuckle. “They were all still wearing those silly grins.”
“They were all very excited.”
I feel his warm breath against my ear as he wraps his arms around me. His fingers are now splayed against my stomach, his thumb moving back and forth in a gentle caress. “You surprised me tonight.”
“A nice surprise?”
“Wonderful,” I answer a bit distractedly.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?”
I sigh, caught in my wayward thoughts again. “I just,” I start then stop, biting my lip as I ponder if I should tell him what’s been on my mind.
“Stephanie, I know something’s wrong. I’ve known since we were dancing. You weren’t just lost in memories.” He pulls me closer, his arms tightening their embrace. “What is it?”
“It’s just that,” I try again, my hands coming up to cover his.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to me, Stephanie. You know that you can talk to me about anything.”
I close my eyes, my heart rate increasing. “While we were dancing, my thoughts drifted to you and the feel of your hand against my back. I kept thinking about feeling it touching my bare skin and wishing that our family wasn’t here.”
“Really?” he asks, his lips warm and gentle against my neck.
“But then I thought about her, about how young and perfect her body is and I,” I stopped, once again biting my lip. “I couldn’t help but wonder about us. Do you want me, Eric? I’m old, my body changed with time. I’m not perfect. Is that part of our lives over for us? It’s alright if it is. I’ll understand. No man in his right mind would,” his sudden jerking me around to face him, startles me into stopping before I can finish.
“Stop. No more,” he hisses at me, his hands cupping my face, forcing me to look at him. “Her body may be perfect because of some doctor’s scalpel, but that’s all that’s perfect about her. She’s empty headed. She lacks depth, understanding, substance. There was no challenge with her. It was sex, which was fine in the beginning, but I grew bored with that. She’s not you.” His forehead rests against mine. “Your body may have changed, you may be older, but to me you’re perfect. You always have been. Your body,” he pauses and moves his hands down to my top, fingers working the buttons through their holes. “This body, no matter what changes it’s gone through, has always satisfied me. I’ll never not want you, Stephanie.”
I shiver as his hands move inside my top, pulling me to him and pressing me close, one hand splayed against my bare back just as I’d longed for earlier. “Eric,” I say his name on a breathy moan.
“I want you, Stephanie. Just as you want me. That part of our life together isn’t over,” he whispers. “As a matter of fact, I think it’s only going to be sweeter than it’s ever been before.”
“Oh god, I love you,” I whimper as I lift my hands to cup his face, my mouth moving to his, our tongues gliding one against the other. I feel my body responding to his touch, and I know that I’ll be spending tonight in his arms.
Eric breaks our kiss, his hands still caressing me as he looks into my eyes. “You’re home, Stephanie,” he whispers.
I smile, my finger reaching up to trace his lips. “In your arms, I’ve always felt at home.”
“Then come upstairs with me,” he breathes as he takes my hand and starts leading us toward the stairs.
“Eric,” I say his name, stopping him as we near the landing.
“Not that room.”
He shakes his head and smiles that gentle smile that he’s always, and only, used with me. “Our room is ready and waiting. I had it cleaned and aired out in anticipation of you saying yes.”
“Then lead on, my love, lead on.”