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Chapter 24

Jacques, the owner of Café de Paris, smiled at Mary. “Bonjour, my beautiful Mary. Here are your croissants. Is Judge Kristin coming over this morning?” Mary patted his arm, a silent thank you for the compliment. She and all the beach residents were delighted that he had moved from St. Tropez several years ago, transporting baked goods and crepes that tasted like a small piece of Provence.

“Uhmm, not today Jacques. She has a fishing trip tonight and some errands to do first. Another friend is joining me for breakfast.”

Jacques eyed her closely. “Is this a special friend? Are you going to break my heart and leave me for someone else?”

Mary chuckled. “Your heart? What about my heart? I told you I would marry you for these croissants three years ago and you never mentioned your wife. Do you remember?”

She left the bakery with the bag of warm croissants. She had extras so she could break one open on the way home. The warm buttery taste melted in her mouth. This was going to be a good day, she thought, returning home just minutes before Raphael arrived.

Mary opened the door to her condo before he knocked. He kissed her softly on her lips.

“Someone didn’t wait for me to eat a croissant,” he said.

“I tried, but my good intentions died in the parking lot,” she laughed.

“I think I need another taste.” He kissed her again. “It’s hard to improve on the taste of your lips, but a buttery croissant may just do that.”

“I’m happy you’re here. Last night was great.” She reached up and brushed the front of his hair that stood straight up. She liked the feel of the gel he used. His khaki shorts and white, cotton v-neck were perfect for the sunny morning.

On her balcony, Mary set a breakfast of fresh pineapple, grapes and mangoes, warm croissants and hot coffee, hoping he wouldn’t notice hands that weren’t too steady. Thankfully, Raphael poured them each a cup. He took his black; Mary, with steamed milk.

Afterwards, they walked to the beach lounge chairs and umbrellas. Mary felt self-conscious before taking off her cover-up. Any worry disappeared when Raphael eyed her new bikini.

“Is that thing legal to wear?” he asked, the laugh lines at the corners of his eyes evident.

“Please, it’s modest compared to everyone else,” she muttered.

Mary returned his glance when he slipped off his shorts. She’d never seen a pair of red boxer-style trunks look so good. My own Adonis? As they walked along the beach, the water warm and calm, Mary felt anything but calm inside.

“I think about you all the time,” he said. “Sometimes I would go to a courtroom just to run into you.”

Wow! Mary couldn’t believe that Raphael felt so strongly. She reached for his hand. “No need to make excuses anymore.”

He squeezed her hand gently. “I hope not ever again.”

Mary thought her body would jet to the clouds and back when Raphael’s hands gently applied the sunscreen to the back of her thighs. Was it possible to melt into a puddle of feminine desire in broad daylight? She returned the favor when she carefully coated his broad, tanned shoulders with the white liquid. She could swear she heard him sigh beneath her fingers.

“Do you think you’ll stay much longer in the state attorney’s office before your run for circuit judge?” she asked when they were peacefully laying side by side under the umbrella.

He shrugged. “Long enough to learn what I need to learn, I guess. What about you? Think you’ll open your own practice someday?”

Mary laughed, “Goodness no! I want to be the best child psychologist in the courtroom.” And, she thought to herself, a wife and mother, someday. “I like being part of a team that helps these kids to get better. To live productive and happy lives.”

By mid-afternoon they had had enough of sun and surf. The air conditioning in Mary’s condo was a welcome relief. She dropped her towel in the hamper by the door.

“I’m going to take a shower,” Mary said. Raphael reached out and took her by the wrist.

“Would you like some company?”

Mary paused. They’d known each other for well over a year. There had been plenty of flirting, but nothing serious until last night. She knew what his question meant. Not only the physical aspect, which made her drool, but what it meant to their relationship. There would be no going back to the casual banter after the shower. They would be in a relationship for real.

“Well, that depends. Do you like jasmine soap?”

“I know I’m going to love jasmine soap.” He looked at her intensely. “I’m ready, Mary. I’ve wanted this for a long time.”

She led him into the bathroom with a smile.

Mary stood under the rainfall shower head as Raphael put the jasmine soap on a sponge and carefully washed her body. She put her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, kissing him deeply. Raphael caged her against the shower wall, all pretense of gentleness gone. “I don’t think I can do slow this time, Mary,” Raphael groaned, looking into Mary’s eyes.

“Slow is over-rated. Show me what you’ve got,” she answered looking back at him. Raphael let loose, hands all over Mary, kissing her as if his life depended on it. Mary’s last rational thought was, “This is what I’ve been waiting for.”

Wrapped in a turquoise bath towel, still warm from their shower, Mary looked at Raphael lying on the bed. She felt tingly and warm and satisfied. I didn’t know that sex could be like this. At thirty years old, and while not a virgin, she’d had little experience. She moved closer to him as he slept and put her arm around his waist.

“I’m ready for what’s next,” she whispered.

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