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Lionel is still courtly, Jean thinks to herself as he strokes her breast. He still won’t touch her until he’s absolutely, utterly positive she’s receptive to his touch. She approves of this part of his personality; it’s what drew her to him when she was so much younger and in pursuit of the heart-stopping brand of romance most young girls lust after. She runs her fingers sleepily through his chest hair as he kisses his way over her shoulders and collarbone.

If the creases by her eyes have grown deep and ruddy in time, he pays them no mind; if the skin of her neck has sagged a trifle, he seems not to notice it as he touches her. She minds them about as much as she minds his bald spot, or the droop about the corners of his mouth that she’s kissing now, while he reaches to stroke. Age has gifted them with wisdom and experience; there’s much more time to caress and play before they have to rush along to the penultimate moment of the act. This made things much sweeter, so intimate, more like the long love epistles they’d written one another those many years ago. She nuzzled the side of his head and took him into her palm, feeling the familiar pulse of life and knowledge run beneath her fingertips. It was new and yet familiar, and utterly enchanting.