The Big L-Word

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Chapter Five

A lighthouse perched on a hill had just come into our view as we wandered to the edge of the forest when the rain started coming down a little harder than before. At first, we contemplated going further, hoping it would let up again, but then the sky began to dump buckets of it over us. We pulled the hoods of our jackets over our heads and Gene took my hand, leading me back toward the campground in a hurry. We weren’t terribly far away from the yurt but by the time we reached it, we were totally soaked and shivering.

Struggling with my clingy wet clothes, I stripped them off me, desperate to cover up with something warm and dry. I didn’t even care if Gene was standing right there or if he’d never seen me past my pajamas. He was sitting in one of the dining chairs, busy peeling off his drenched layers as well.

He must have stolen a glance at me, though, because he suddenly asked, “What is that on your ass?” I was less concerned about him stealing peeks at me and more relieved that he sounded back to his normal self. I had just peeled off my base shirt, so I was standing in the middle of the yurt in my bralette, panties, and socks with my disheveled hair all over my face. I swiped the hair away as if it would help me see behind myself while I simultaneously swiped at my backside, not feeling anything besides wet underwear. Before I could say anything, he added to his first question: “Are those, like, animal astronauts?”

I stopped swiping at my behind and put my hand on my chest as if to calm my racing heart. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gene, I thought there was an insect on me or something.”

He squeezed his eyes shut, erupting in silent laughter. He put his elbow on the table as he covered his mouth with his hand, barely concealing his massive grin. His whole chest was quaking from laughter beneath his miraculously dry, white undershirt.

“I thought I was about to get stung!” I exclaimed. I leaned toward him, my messy hair falling over my shoulder, and I poked his hairy knee, but not too hard.

“I’m sorry, Kittie,” he said between laughs. “I was just asking about the print.”

“Do you not like my animal astronaut underpants?” my voice was slightly higher than normal.

He turned his palms upward as he shrugged, still grinning with his eyebrows reaching up to his forehead and his cheeks turning a shade of pink. “I didn’t say that. I was just asking. Actually, I feel a little bit boring in my plain blue boxers.”

I furrowed my brow at him, forgetting my heart-thumping fright, and shook my head. “Well, there’s nothing wrong with blue boxers. I’m not judging.”

He said OK just as I leaned in closer to him and kissed him. I was about to straddle myself over his lap, but then I involuntarily shivered because, despite the yurt’s heater, it was still cold. He stood up and rubbed my arms as if to generate some heat over my skin.

“You’re freezing,” he said, looking around the yurt. He pulled a throw from the pile we’d unloaded and wrapped it around my shoulders. “Why don’t you put on something warmer, and I’ll make us some tea?”

“Why don’t you put on something warmer and I’ll make us some tea?” I felt bad because he was always the one doing things for me.

He laughed at me. “Do you want to argue about it?”

I dropped my mouth open slightly as I thought about it and reluctantly admitted, “Noooo.”

“Then I’ll make the tea,” he was already moving over to fill the electric kettle with water before I could protest further.

I tsked at him, but I dug out a new set of dry underwear, socks, and clothes. This time he kept his eyes averted while I changed. Then he left the tea to steep and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. When I looked up again, there were two steaming mugs on the table with tagged strings hanging over them, and the smell of chamomile filled the yurt. Gene was looking out the window at the rain. I stood behind him and circled my arms around his waist, leaning my head on his shoulder as I peered outside. The rain was leaving huge puddles on the ground that were creeping beneath the porch canopy.

“I don’t think we’re going to explore the trails much today,” Gene remarked.

“Hmm,” I murmured, pressing my lips into the curve of his neck, spying another dark freckle on his tan skin. “Well, we could explore each other instead.”

He kissed my forehead and said, “You wouldn’t even have to twist my arm.”

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