Time became fluid, slipping away a bucketful at a time, hours passing over me in what seemed like mere seconds.
People came and went all day. Some sat in the room while I slept. Some came and went regardless of my conscious state.
Finally, late the night of the third day, as I made my way back to bed after a painful trip to the bathroom, the sound of someone coming into the house greeted me.
Shaped by a lamp in the next room, casting a pale yellow light into mine, her dark, supple silhouette entered. Coming closer, she hopped a little, bending at the waist, raising her right foot, removing her shoe. A step or two more and the sound of the left falling to the floor followed the first. Another step, and to my astonishment, the soft, slow, sound of a zipper and her skirt slipped to the floor in a muffled heap.
My heart pounded so hard I could not swallow and feared the need to blink, certain it was a dream and she would be gone if I did so.
She stood near the foot of the bed, undoing her hair with both hands, shaking it lightly to hang loose about her face. Closer now, her features became more clear and she smiled.
She stood in the delicate light and began to unbutton her blouse. Slowly, one button at a time, she undid them all, allowing it to hang open, unencumbered.
"I have never been so afraid," she said softly.
"Afraid, I would lose you," she said, easing herself onto the bed, crawling on hands and knees, to sit next to me.
"Gabriel, we can't... I can't..." I stammered. I couldn't breathe... I couldn't speak... I couldn't think.
"Are you not my piggy rump? Am I not your Gabby?" she asked, placing a hand at the center of my chest. Her voice, low, husky, her French accent thick with desire, pulled at the core of me.
"You know Connie and I..." I protested, trying to push away her hand.
She held mine in return, pulling it close to press it against her cheek.
"I am beautiful for you, no?" she asked. Her voice held an edge of concern, as if I might actually say no.
"You are very beautiful. You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met," I answered honestly.
Her expression lightened, becoming more contented.
"It is not what you think, being beautiful. Men ignore me, thinking I am out of reach. Women hate me because they think I am prettier than they and that I am one of those... how do you say...?"
"Bitch," I offered.
"Yes, that one," she returned cheerfully, sitting up right, pointing at me and then to her nose as if we were playing charades.
"Gabriel, we can't," I protested.
"Do you not want me, piggy rump? Do I not please you?" she asked, leaning forward, coming closer.
"More than I can say, but Connie and I..." I started.
"No one will know," she whispered, placing a hand across me on the bed, lightly pressing her lips to mine. Her mouth was soft, warm, inviting. The feeling was electric, thrilling. Her shirt had fallen open, exposing her exquisite skin and ample charms. My heart fluttered with excitement, accelerated by a flush of wild desire.
The smell of her need, the perfume in her hair, mixed in my nostrils becoming an intoxicating cocktail, scrambling my brain.
"The stars knew we were to be together when they were young and the world had not yet come to be. We could live in that moment... in that passion... in that hope the stars have waited all this time in expectation. We could be happy, you and I. No one but the stars themselves would know," she whispered, kissing me again, more urgently this time.
"I would know," I said, holding her out at arms’ length.
Her expression shifted. Tears began to fill her eyes. She pulled her blouse closed with both hands, moving away from me.
"There is no room in your heart for me?" she asked softly, half to herself, half to me.
"I'm sorry, Gabby, but I love Connie," I said, offering my hand in comfort.
"You have not said these words to me before... then she is the sun at the center of your universe and I am but a moon, hidden in the shadow of her
brightness," she said sadly, getting up off the bed to find her clothes.
"Gabriel," I called, throwing off the blankets to follow her.
Without another word, the house filled with the sound of her running down the stairs, followed a moment later by the thud of the front door closing.
My heart sank and I felt like crap.