The Space Between

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Chapter 9

Madalyn

“In my dreams, I learned that all good things were felt in your presence. The space between sleep and awake, brought me the closest to your caress.”

Thursday Evening

As I pulled up to the bakery, I saw Jack’s truck parked under the tree in the grass. All the parking spaces were on the front end of the bakery, facing the Marina. On the opposite side of the entrance to the bakery, facing away from the marina, was a set of stairs that would take me to his apartment. From the corner lot the apartment was on, I could see the ocean, and the sun sitting just above the horizon, on the late September evening.

I parked my old 1959, light blue Lark, which I called The Old Lady. She was acting like an old lady, running like she was about to croak.

I checked for signs of life before I made my way up the stairs. I didn’t know why I felt nervous about going up and knocking. I swallowed my insecurity, and closed the door to The Old Lady, trying not to make too much noise. The traffic on that evening was scarce.

I walked to the top of the stairs, holding the bottom of my white beach dress so I wouldn’t trip. As I began to make my first knock, the door creaked open. It hadn’t been shut all the way, or maybe the latch was broken.

I nonchalantly peeked in the crack to see if Jack was inside. I could see past the kitchen, into a bedroom. His bed was facing horizontal to the entrance of the bedroom door. Jack was laying in his bed sleeping soundly. Had he not set an alarm? I really felt stupid walking in and waking him up. Then again, his door was left open. I took a deep breath and decided I would just go in.

The apartment was clean, although there were a few moving boxes on the floor and a full set of dumbbells in the living room. He even had a punching bag that hung from an iron pole that sat on the floor. There was a bench press on the other side of the living room. And he truly did not have a television.

I decided I would just call for Jack. I did it softly, however, so that he wouldn’t be startled. I was already apprehensive about going into his apartment without him knowing, but it was making me anxious thinking about waking him. I noticed his work clothes, which he had worn to dinner the night before, made a trail to his bedroom, so he was probably not decent.

“Hey, Jack? It’s me. It’s Maddy. Are you okay?” I called out.

He didn’t say anything. Actually, he didn’t even move. He was sleeping on his side, facing toward me, with his hands tucked under his pillow. He looked cute, and peaceful. I called to him again a little louder, but he still didn’t move. My calling for him was not working, so I decided to stop being mundane about it. I walked toward his bedroom, and when I passed the threshold I crouched down, and then put my knees on the carpeted floor beside his bed.

His breathing was light, and he didn’t snore, so that was good. Before trying to wake him, I looked around the room for a brief moment, and sitting on an end table that didn’t really look like it belonged in a bedroom, was a lot of camera equipment. I didn’t know anything about photography, but they appeared to be expensive Canon cameras.

Was Jack into photography?

I was surprised he had not woken up. He must have been really tired, or maybe he wasn’t feeling good.

I pushed away my nerves and reached my hand up, placing it on his naked shoulder. The moment my hand touched his skin, his eyes opened and he quickly seized my wrist. I gasped and covered my mouth with my free hand. He took in a breath, and I could tell he was not quite awake.

“Jack, it’s Maddy,” I quickly said.

I felt his grip slacken, and he let my hand fall back on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Jack, your door was open, and I was worried,” I reassured him.

His eyes focused on me, and I could see his brain working.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“After five,” I replied.

“I’m sorry, I overslept,” he told me.

I moved closer to him.

“It’s okay. I’m just happy you’re alright. Well, are you alright?” I questioned.

“Yes. I guess I was just very tired. It’s strange, I could hear you saying my name, but I thought it was in my dream,” he told me.

“Was I in your dream?” I asked softly.

“I was in that space… between sleep and awake. You were there too. I’m not still dreaming am I?” he asked me.

“If you were, would you still want to wake up?” I answered with a question.

His eyes drifted toward my body and then traveled over me.

“I’d want to stay in that space,” he replied.

His answer was endearing, as was the way his eyes drifted over me.

Whenever I dream about you, Jack, I try to stay asleep as long as possible.

“Is it okay that I’m here?” I asked.

“Yes. Thank you for waking me up. Just give my body a moment to catch up,” he replied.

Jack stretched beneath the blankets, then sat up. Seeing him shirtless was stirring, even more so when he climbed out of bed in his underwear. I looked away as I moved from the floor to the edge of his bed, so he wouldn’t feel uneasy. He did have a very muscular physique. He was lean and cut, with broad shoulders. He looked to have a swimmer’s body.

Jack stood there for a moment, rubbing his eyes. I had to force myself to stop staring at every inch of him.

He pulled a white cotton shirt over his head.

His kind eyes found mine, and we only looked at each other. They were the same eyes I remembered, and would never forget. I’d seen them many times over the years. And when I wasn’t dreaming about them, I was imagining them. Every glance from him created memory quakes in my head.

“Jack, can I speak honestly with you?” I asked.

“Yes. Of course,” he answered.

“I’ve never been with anyone before… and I’ve also never let anyone touch me the way you did today. Just… please don’t think of me as just a silly girl with a crush. I don’t pursue something if my heart is not in it completely. I actually don’t know how.”

His brow furrowed as he contemplated my words.

“I understand. And I really hope you are not getting the impression that I think you are a just a silly girl. That thought never even entered my mind. To me… you’re a beautiful woman… through and through. I too am afraid of being hurt. I really don’t think I could take it. So I really appreciate you telling me that. And I would never intentionally hurt you, nor do I plan on it.”

I nodded my head at his comforting response, feeling completely powerless at the sound of his voice. I would have done anything for him in that moment, if he had requested it.

“I believe you,” I said.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “I didn’t scare you the way I grabbed you, did I?”

“Just a little,” I said as I swallowed, and shuddered in a good way when he walked over and touched my face. “I’m okay now.”

“Good, I wouldn’t want to do anything to scare you away.”

How close he was got the better of me, and I crashed my lips into his. My hands naturally made their way around him, but they immediately lost their altitude, dropping below his waist. I firmly squeezed, pulling him against me. He allowed his body to fall against mine, or maybe I pulled him down with me. Either way, his hands caught me as I fell backward onto his bed.

He was so beautiful to me. The coincidence of being here with him, in this way, came pouring over me, physically, emotionally, intimately. Past and present feelings were aroused within myself. The man who’d saved my life once, and whom I’d obsessed over for nine long years, had a hold of me and I still knew almost nothing about him. I didn’t care. The only challenge I faced was containing the intruding nostalgia. My containment of this feeling came out of my eyes in the form of light tears that rested on my eyelids. I attempted to keep the tears in their proper dwelling place; they betrayed me, however, when they fell down my cheeks. I had never experienced this, but the euphoria of it being him and not just anyone, left me feeling powerless.

My heart was beating at such a rapid pace it exhausted me. The way he kissed the small nook just under my jaw line brought unfathomable arousal. I lost all of my strength, and my arms fell from around him. What was happening? I felt Jack still holding me as his lips departed from my skin, and my body lay almost limp.

“Madalyn? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Wonderful, actually,” I said in a trance. “Don’t stop kissing me. Nothing is wrong, everything is right.”

“I’m confused, did I do something? You have tears. You’re crying?”

“Yes, you did do something, but it wasn’t wrong. They are good tears,” I replied.

“Why aren’t you moving?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I feel weak. I’ll be fine, please don’t stop,” I exhaled in yearning desperation.

He continued to kiss me all over my face, moving up the trail my tears had made, while I lay motionless.

“Thank you for waking me up,” he whispered.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for saving my life,” I replied, immediately biting my tongue at my unintentional comment.

“What?” Jack rightfully questioned.

“I don’t know. I’m rambling. Never mind,” I said.

He only laughed in confusion.

The driving force in my heart was telling me to climb on top of him, and thank him for the actions he had no memory of. Just being with him was intoxicating. The need for more of him was overpowering, and I could barely hold it in any longer. I pushed my way out from under him and lifted myself off the bed. I stood in front of him breathing like I just ran a great distance. I didn’t want him to think I was not enjoying every part of our moment, though I had to regain control of myself before I scared him away again with my aggressively sensual behavior.

“Is everything okay?” he questioned.

“Everything is fine, Jack,” I answered. “It’s more than just fine. You are destroying my resolve, and I can hardly control myself. Do you understand?”

Jack smiled, roving over my body with his eyes as he sat up.

“Yes. I understand fully. I’m sorry.”

I raised an eyebrow at him and lifted my shoulder as I noticed his roving eyes. “Are you undressing me?” I asked.

“No… maybe… I don’t know,” he answered.

“Well, are you?” I questioned.

“It’s just that beach dress looks stunning. You are timeless. I could frame you and hang you on my wall,” he told me as delicately as possible considering the moment we had been in.

“Oh,” I replied, glancing down at myself.

Jack stood up and walked over to the table that didn’t belong in a bedroom. He picked up the Canon camera and twisted the lens off, replacing it with a much larger one.

“Madalyn, may I photograph you?” he asked.

“What would you do with a picture of me?” I asked in return.

“Frame it. Probably hang it right by that window, where the sunset is coming in,” he answered.

I walked in front of the window, letting the light hold me in frame.

“Have you been into photography long?” I questioned as I carefully posed my body.

Jack didn’t answer immediately, as he focused on my pose. He reached forward and lightly moved my head with his finger, pushing it against my right shoulder to face the sunlight. He took a step back, and crouched, looking into the camera view finder. I heard the camera shutter snap as it captured my photograph. Jack looked at the digital preview momentarily, and I caught him smiling.

“I was always into photography. I just took a break, I suppose. I had not seen anything that made me want to snap a photograph in a while… until now,” he answered.

I smiled, and he quickly snapped another photo. Jack looked down once more at the preview.

“This feels a little bit silly,” I said, feeling put on the spot.

“You couldn’t take a bad photograph, Maddy. So be natural and pose your body anyway you wish, even if it feels silly.”

I began to make poses from ballet class, picking up my dress, bunching it up into my fist, and standing on my tip-toes. Jack dropped low to the ground, appearing to take a picture of my ankles or legs. He then jumped up and snapped a few more, moving closer to my face. I started feeling very comfortable, and his complete interest in my every gesture made me want to give him more.

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