I have no idea of how this happened, no clue of since how long we are holding hands, but now that I’m aware of it, I cannot think about anything else. His hand is big and strong, rough and soft at the same time, I can feel the little harshness everyday gestures gave to it, the little hard buds up to his palm, due to hold the steering wheel or the motorcycle’s handles, and the heat radiating from his skin, which run like a lava wave up to my wrist, and up along my arm, until made my cheeks burn.
I have no idea, honestly, we were just walking side by side, looking for a good location where to film near his cottage at the Lake District. Autumn was arrived by a while, painting the woods of marvelous colours, shades of red and brown were all around us, contrasting hard with the glimpses of blue sky hitting our eyes through the branches of the trees.
The cracks of our steps echoed loud in the silence around, as we walked, talking quietly like we were scared to break the peace which surrounded us. The sound of his voice was so pleasant, his tone low and calm, so different from the one he usually has while filming, a little peaceful smile curved his lips, while we kept talking enjoying the beautiful warmth of the colours around us with the variegated smells of the forest tickling our nostrils.
Then we arrived at the end of the trees, the magnificent view of the lake opened in front of our eyes, and our hands were tangled. We suddenly stopped, he was surprised the same as me, by how naturally we got closer until our hands slept into each others. At first my first impulse was to let him go, feeling my cheeks on fire, aware of the fact we shouldn't, the metal of his ring on my skin reminded me how much that was wrong, but he held my hand tighter, looking at me with such a sweet look to make me melt.
“Please...just for today..."
He said coyly, a little, sad smile appeared on his face, hitting me like a dagger. We kept walking until the shore, where we are now.
His thumb softly stroke the back of my hand, while we look at the reflection of the sun on the lake, our walk took long, and now the sky is painted of many shades of pink by the approaching of the sunset.
We're silent, there's no embarrass between us, just a growing coziness, as our hands keep tenderly touch, the little, pleasant, touch of his fingertips on my palm sends shivers up to my arm. We arrive near the lake, until stopping at the last edge of grass where our hands get free while we sat down.
We are close, and silent, perfectly knowing there's nothing to say, speak now will just hurt us, say out loud our feelings would only make them real and unbearably painful. He turns in my direction and he’s smiling sadly, soon the back of his hand is caressing my cheek, and I have to stop him, taking his hand on mine, unable to hold the intense look of his, instead I look at his hand, holding it open over my lap, trailing my index along the lines on his palm. I follow his heart line, deep and slightly twisted, going gently up to his middle finger, then down and back, up along the annular, playing with is wedding ring aware of the bitter smile which is curving my lips.
My fingertip follows the groove of his lifeline from up to his wrist, softly tracking his length, it’s long and almost interrupted in two points, I linger over the second dash, while my mind automatically recalls his last crash, the overwhelming panic I felt at the thought of the possibility the worst happened. The terrible sensation of my legs be turned into jelly, refusing to move, instead of making me run towards the smoke, the heart racing mad while my thoughts were a confused mix of denial and desperation.
Then the desperate, breathtaking run, stumbling on my own feet, until fall on the grass, shaken by sighs of relief at the sight of the paramedics all around him, apparently unharmed.
The memories are still so vivid my eyes burn, he drags me closer, holding tight my hand, while he sweetly stroke my hair.
“Sorry...I’m so sorry…”
He whispers, too close to my ear, his beard is ticking my skin, the heat of his breath pleasantly warms me up.
“Don't be sorry...it wasn't your fault…”
I replied, sure he didn't crash on purpose, he’s been the one hurt the most, I told him a million times he had not to be sorry about since I saw him in the hospital just before his knee surgery began.
“I worried you...and the guys...and…”
He stops to talk and suddenly moves a bit far away but without leave my hand. I know how the sentence would have ended, the thought of her didn't come across my mind for all the afternoon until we found out we were holding hands, then she was here, like if she was looking at us from a distance, now the thought of her is floating in my mind, I feel so stupid right now.
I free my hand from his, more abruptly than I wanted to, I 'm suddenly uncomfortable, I just want to go away, as I try to get up he grabs my arm for stop me, apologizing again.
“Sorry for what I made you go through, you know what I mean…”
I shake my head, too confused about getting what he meant at first, suddenly I’m pulled in his arms, his forehead leans against mine while he keeps talking.
“ She told me what you did…”
I’m still not sure what he’s talking about, I can't think straight right now, my heart is beating so hard, I’m wondering if the noise it makes is just in my head or if Richard can hear it as well.
He's so close, too close. I’m wrapped in his natural, musky, scent, mixed to the leather and wool of his clothes, driving me mad. I try to make the atmosphere lighter.
“I just did my job...don't be so dramatic…”
His hand reaches again at my face, stroking tenderly my cheekbone.
“Not like that…”
I'm silent, still confused, torn between the coziness his gesture it's drawing me on and the subtle itch of self-deprecation for what I did. I took care of all when he was in the hospital, collected his wife from the airport and left my hotel room to her, because there was no rooms available near the hospital, as you may expect from a personal assistant to do, but I went farther. What an utter imbecile I have been. She was worried, and so upset, and fed up. Fed up with him always be in dangerous situations, always far from home, claiming that was the last drop, and what have I done? I listened to her rants, calmed her, telling her all my heartfelt reasons in his defense, until she changed her mind. Maybe, if I’ve minded my business, now, I wouldn't feel the cold metal of his wedding ring on my skin.
“ Jeremy told me all…”
I huff, feeling a little wave of anger, I’m aware Jeremy did it with good intentions, but the idea he spoke with Richard about that night is embarrassing. He found me cuddling a bottle of gin in the car park of the hotel, smoking, and crying, almost lose Richard made me conscious of how desperately I loved him, and I fell apart.
“ Apparently no one minds its own business…”
I mutter, avoiding his look, sweeter now, in front of my mot of grumpiness.
He whispers, getting even closer if it's possible, his lips are so near I can feel the hint of chocolate flavor of the bar we ate earlier in his breath, just a little motion of my head and I will finally find out how he tastes, but I can't.
“I should resign…”
I spit out, panicking, I don't know how long I can hold myself, he's too close, too warm, he's like a magnet and I can't fight for longer his unyielding attraction, his hand move up in my hair, making me face him again, and it's hard to hold his look.
I smile sadly, neither I would, but it's become too hurtful work with him, too flustering, we both enjoy the time we have by ourselves and us don't at the same time, there's always that little stingy consciousness we shouldn't enjoy each other company so much.
“It's the best thing I can do…”
Leave, go away, try to forget him, before going insane. More than I’m already, I smile bitterly.
“ I can't stay without you…”
He says coyly, his nose snuggles against mine, while he keeps nervously play with the tips of my hair. My voice cracks while I speak.
“ ...let's be honest...how long will take us to do something utterly stupid? Weeks? Days?...”
He murmurs, so close, I can feel his beard tickle my skin, then he brush his lips on mines, so softly and briefly to make me shiver. I’m twisting the hems of his jacket, trying to stay calm, to resist the impulse to run my fingers through his hair and kiss him, as I wanted to do since months.
“ I want you so bad it hurts…”
He says hoarsely, looking at me with such a sad frown to melt my heart, then he leans forward in pursuit of my lips again, and despite all, I gently stop him, placing a hand on his chest, holding him backward, I can feel his heartbeat, under my palm, it runs so fast.
I try to smile, but I can feel the tears tickle my eyes, his words had left me speechless, I’d never thought to hear such a phrase for real, that's something you think happens only in books and movies, it was like be stabbed, and I honestly have no idea of where I found the will to stop his action. I try to say something, but no sound comes out from my mouth, I shake my head biting my lip.
He fell back on the grass, covering his face with the hands and sigh :
“I wish we met in other circumstances, many years ago…”
I nod, genuinely smiling now at his heartfelt wish, at the utter adorableness of his gestures, I wish the same, the image of a younger version of him, just popped into my mind, a mix of all the old photos of his youth he showed to me once, and I can't not to ask
“ And what would have you done then? “
He stops stroking his eyes, raising an eyebrow in a thoughtful expression.
“I would have taken you here”
He rolls beside me and then he pulls me down at his side, he keeps talking, we are face to face, a little distant, but I can still feel the warmth of his hand on my waist, underneath my jacket.
The words flow smoothly, while he told me about driving here with our motorcycles, like we did today, about put up a tent, because “hey I was young and with no much money” we naturally get close while he keeps going, describing blankets and wine around a fire camp, our legs cross, and our noses strokes, the whole scenario is so vivid, and sweet that we are smiling, both adding details to this imaginary situation.
“ Can't we pretend it's happened?”
He asks timidly, pulling me even more close.
I take a moment, playing with the tuft of hair upon his ear, the temptation is huge, he's beautiful, his looks it's so sweet, I could drown in his eyes, and die happily in his arms.
“Can we?...Just for today?…”
He asks again, pulling off his best puppy eyes, and I don't know what to do, can we?