Laying the groundwork.
They sat in the kitchen together, talking for what seemed like half the night, touching hands across the table, looking into each other’s eyes. Everything was going as they both wanted.
They shared another glass of wine to help her sleep, but just having him in the house with her would do that for her.
Sheila knew that an explosion was slowly building. Her life was about to suffer a momentous change, even more than it already had, and with more changes promised, to follow that.
She was ready to fall asleep at the table, not wanting to leave him, so Peter made the decision for her; putting the lights out and carrying her up to bed. She needed something to hold on to, in her strange mood with what had happened to her today, and with this strangely rebellious feeling she had about everything happening around them and between them.
This was a day in which there had been many firsts for her. Meeting a man like him; having him help her and seeing her half-undressed, carrying her, and staying in her own home with her. Seeing her completely naked after that, and even helping her so personally with... that other thing. She blushed, thinking about that.
All, were ‘firsts’.
How many more would there be, before that inevitable ultimate, ‘first’, with him? When they made love.
It would happen, she knew that. But it was too soon to think of that moment, and she had started her period. It was both a curse and a blessing, but more a blessing than a curse when she thought about how it would give them both time to think soberly about what was happening before diving into the deep end of such intimacy.
It was very strange to be carried up to bed by a man she’d known for only a few hours. Another first, but he left her in the bathroom, promising not to go by the open door until she called him and told him that she was ready to get into bed, when he would come back for her, leaving her to do whatever she needed to do in private.
He carried the laundry hamper downstairs as she saw to herself. She even heard him get the wash started. A man doing the laundry? But being in a house with five women must have helped him become independent, and cognizant of what it would take to survive in a land of women.
He heard her peeing—a gentle tinkling sound, clearly heard, causing him to pause, smiling, imagining her doing that so personal thing, from so tormenting a place he ached with every fiber of his body to know all about. He held his breath and listened so as not to miss each little sound she made. Then the flushing of the toilet, washing her hands, and brushing her teeth. All familiar sounds to him, but never with such deeper meaning or emotional sensations for him.
He had to smile, hearing such intimate sounds in the quiet house. He missed those sounds of women, but this woman was different. Those sounds of her got through to him where the sounds of his sisters doing those self-same things never had, and his sisters didn’t drive him mad with desire as this one did all of the time since he’d first met her.
She called to him soon after that to help her.
She was waiting patiently for him to carry her to bed, leaving her with the crutches in case she needed to go to the toilet overnight, although she could wake him up if she needed him, and he would feel so privileged to be allowed to help her in any way, especially as intimately as that could be made to be.
He was going to be sleeping only a few feet away. So near, and yet so far. If he could sleep.
She sorted out a nightdress for herself that would not be too warm. He watched, waiting for her to tell him to go, so she could change, but she didn’t tell him to go.
“You’d better let me check your ankle again.”
She sat on her bed as he knelt on the floor in front of her with his hands touching outside her upper legs, and with her hands on his shoulders as they looked into each other’s faces, liking what they saw.
“If you are not easy with this, Sheila, having a man so close to you and so… attentive, as I will always want to be with you,”—it was much more than just ‘attentive’; but a gentle obsession— “please let me know. I can go downstairs to sleep, and I can use the toilet downstairs and stay out of your way. There can be no privacy for you with me up here until I fix that bathroom door.” He didn’t care about privacy for himself.
“No, Peter. You don’t need to do that. I want you where I can hear you; see you even, and to know that you are close enough for me to talk to you.”
They both wanted to say so much more to each other to explain, if they could, what they were feeling so deeply for each other, and how much they wanted to express that love, but it was much too soon, even though they had talked of falling in love.
“Then I should bid you, ‘goodnight’, Sheila, and take myself off to my own (cold and comfortless...without you) bed. It’s late.”
He didn’t move. He didn’t want to go, but he knew that he couldn’t stay where he was either. They had already talked much of the night away, immersed in each other, and they now needed to sleep.
She waited to see what he would do.
He wanted to kiss her, but he was the shy one now, so she did it for him, pulling him closer to her, and shyly kissing him on the cheek. It was a start.
“Thank you again for today, Peter. I think I shall sleep much better knowing you are here with me, and so close, but you must go.”
She smiled at him as though understanding his mood and his reluctance to leave her.
He was being kindly dismissed, though she would never utter those words, telling him to go. She didn’t want him to leave her, while not daring to let him stay. They were both being pulled in different directions, not knowing what would happen between them next.
He sighed, turned her bed down and watched her slip out of her robe with her back to him, and put her nightdress on over her head, showing him a broad expanse of her bare back, with the sides of her breasts easily visible when she lifted her arms.
Her shoulders were stiff, and she needed his intervention to get the nightdress high enough to clear her head to drop over her.
“Thank you.” She did not object to his presence.
She had little shyness now and didn’t mind him seeing her breasts in the mirror, if she knew he could see them that way, or how they moved so tormentingly as she did those things.
When she was lying down he brought a single sheet over her, hoping he could survive with her being so close to where he would be sleeping, and so easily accessible; if he had a death wish.
“Goodnight.” He didn’t hesitate this time but leaned in to her and kissed her on the forehead. They would progress from there in good time, but once anything more daring began between them it would take off like an avalanche.
“Good night, Peter.”
He walked to the other bedroom, looking first to where she was, fixing that last sight of her in his mind to think about, as he tried to sleep. There were many such images burned into his brain.
Only the nightlights illuminated each upstairs room.
He undressed totally. She could see his faint shadow on the open door as he took everything off, even catching glimpses of him in the open door as he moved around to lay his clothes over the chair, and then donned pajama bottoms. It that was what they were.
The silence did not last for more than a minute before they talked again.
“Thank you for helping me today.” She’d thanked him several times now.
“You are welcome.”
She might sleep, but he doubted that he would.
They said their goodnights again for the third or fourth time, and then lay there, each going over the events of the day in their minds, thinking of what had happened between them, and where it would go from here, before either of them was able to fall asleep.