This Wretched Heart

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' I want to be with you everywhere.'

Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac


He closed out of the laptop and smiled at the secret project he was working on to surprise Lara. She was with Peter this particular evening so he had decided to go for a jog on his own. He hadn’t done this for quite a while and he was looking forward to the memories that would envelop him as he entered the cast iron park gates. As he tied his shoelaces he caught sight of Lara’s hair clip on the floor. He smiled again as he remembered her lying on his chest earlier that morning, her perfectly shaped breasts pressing against him as he was forced yet again to try and subdue the stirring in his loins. He was like a horny teenager around her. Never had any woman had such an effect on him the way Lara did.

‘ Have you really never been in love?’ She had asked him as he had walked her home earlier that morning. Peter had been heading up North to visit his mum so there was no fear of any awkward collision.

‘ I suppose I thought I was once’. He knew that was what everyone said when a relationship was no more. People always seemed to repaint their emotions to suit their present situation. No they hadn’t really been in love with the person they had spent the last few years with. They would second guess what once they had been so sure of. This had up to now been completely a strange concept. He had held on to the fact that he had been in love once. It seemed like a long time now. So long that he had never even mentioned it to Lara, not even when they had spoken of such things in the park. It had been when he was in college and she used to work in the college coffee shop where he dropped into every morning and then as time went by every afternoon. Her name was Mara and she had jet black hair and eyes so blue that his own were like wanton puddles in comparison. She was friendly enough but not flirty. He wanted to believe she was attracted to him but he couldn’t read her expressions. She seems to be the same with all the customers and he couldn’t kid himself into thinking that asking her out wouldn’t shock the socks off her. He had however, asked her out. Months had passed and her image would not leave his thoughts.

‘ Umm I don’t normally do this but would you like to go to a play with me next week?’ He had stuttered this after she handed him his fifth coffee of the day. That had been the magic number.

She had said no at first and he was pretty sure that everyone had heard the tiny crack that inched its way through his body. His face puce with mortification he had wandered out of the shop into the harsh daylight. He was just hopping onto his bike when she had come up behind him.

‘ I’m sorry. Sam is it ?’ He had introduced himself before.

‘ I’m just out of a relationship so this is all kind of strange to me’. Her red lips had quivered slightly and he wondered what it would be like to kiss them. He found out later that week. What followed had been a few weeks of blissful, lusty and what he had always believed to have been love. Everything revolved around his need to see Mara. Every film he saw, every bite he ate , they were all in honour of her and what she might think. He hadn’t examined it all too closely at the time. If he had he would have noticed the far away look she often got when he played her a new song or the pacifying smile she would throw his way when he was explaining to her a book plot he was thinking of writing. So it had hit him like a spiked cannon ball when she had told him that she was still in love with her ex. It was spectacular how love had changed him within a few weeks from confident exuberancy to mumbling fool. He had begged her to reconsider and this he would always regret. The heart he was now finding out did the choosing and that was pretty much that. Nothing since had altered him quite like those few weeks with Mara, not until now. He hadn’t told Lara he loved her yet. He wanted to but it felt especially odd considering she was in love with Peter. He was terrified it would make her feel sorry for him. That she would feel bad that he had all his emotions vested in her but not the other way around. The truth was he was completely in love with her and had been for a very long time. He couldn’t see how it would all pan out but he had to make do with wooing her for the moment.. Did he really want her to leave Peter ? He couldn’t honestly answer that question. He still felt unworthy enough to even consider this. His life was sol unsorted. Foolishly perhaps he pictured the day his first novel would be published and that somehow magically he would be transformed into husband material. Right now he was content to be in love with Lara without the weight of the word pulling her away from Peter. He had no resentment for the man, wonder yes but no resentment. How could he resent a man who had the self-control it must have taken to not bash his head in when he saw him in the shop that day. There was a part of him who wanted to ask him so many questions. How could he be ok with this set-up really ? But instead he had smiled back at him nervously and continued on his way. Maybe one day they would all be able to hang out together but right now that seemed pretty impossible. Instead he was enjoying the bliss of being Lara’s lover. The pressure to be everything to her wasn’t there the way it had felt when other girls had tried to get him to commit. Was this because he loved Lara so much or was it because he didn’t have to be ? He had always found it strange when couples, especially women expected to spend every waking and sleeping second of the day together. How many times had his friends complained to him.

‘‘ I swear she wants us to go to bed together, get up together, watch tv together, It’s never ending’ Keith had just moved in with his then girlfriend.

‘ Oh and she never stops chatting. I mean I love a good chat mate but first thing in the morning ? Jesus I just want to scream shut up I’m just waking up !’

He had smiled sympathetically at the time and thanked his lucky stars he didn;’

Still he was enjoying discovering the little pleasures of starting a new relationship. Just the other night he had tried to make risotto for her. He grinned as he recalled how how he had pictured the evening panning out. He had read somewhere that risotto was a sensual meal and that by dotting it with asparagus and prawns he would be creating an aphrodisiacal concoction that would get Lara’s blood flowing ever before they went to bed. Instead of her sitting back as he casually stirred in the ladles of stock she had to jump in and rescue the risotto from turning into a congealed gloop. He had wrapped his arms around her smooth waist his fingers circling her belly button until eventually she had given up the rescue and they had made love on the kitchen floor. Who needed asparagus and prawns when every part of each others bodies turned them in puddles?

They had lain on the cold tiles afterward, staring up at the fairylights that Lara had bought him for his kitchen ceiling.

‘ It’s needs romancing up’ She had winked at him as she stood barefoot on a chair hanging them around the kitchen.Now it was if she had foreseen this occasion and he smiled despite the cold tiles.

‘ Did you always like me ?’ He had always wondered whether her attraction to him had been immediate like his own.

‘ What do you mean?’ She leaned up and looked into his eyes making him feel self-conscious in a way his exposed crotch wasn’t.

‘ I mean when did you first feel attracted to me ? Was it that day in the office ?’ He knew the answer.

‘ I’m afraid I was pretty preoccupied at the time and in a weird place. I’m sorry but it’s like I had blinkers on.’ She ran her fingers through his hair, giving him goose pimples all over.

’ No it wasn’t then. It was that day in the park. The moment I looked into your eyes I felt something I hadn’t felt since I met Peter. It felt like everything changed in those few seconds when I looked up at you ’. He knew exactly what she meant. He wasn’t religious or superstitious but something about Lara had made him believe that there were forces greater than them at work.

‘ There’s something magical about a first glance.’ She smiled sheepishly ‘ at least the first mutual glance between two people. It’s always my favourite part in the movies. That moment when two people look into each other’s eyes and know that life will never be the same again. I could nearly switch off after that’.

‘ But then you’d miss out on all of this’. He had made love to her again , the cold tiles heated by their molten bodies.

Now as he left his flat he realised guiltily that he hadn’t called into his parents for a while.

‘ Is that the young lady you were moping about?’ His mother had tried to ask him in a casual way after one of the first times Lara had spent the night.

‘ Who’s that ?’ He was trying to think of a way of explaining it to her.

‘ The girl I saw leaving your house this morning ? Was that the married woman you told me about ?’ She sounded stern but her eyes had been concerned.

‘ Yeah that’s Lara but don’t worry it’s all sorted’ That had been the only explanation he could come up with.

She had left it at that but he could sense the disapproval wash over him anytime he mentioned that Lara would be over and that he didn’t want to be disturbed. He wished he could explain to her what was going on but he knew that no matter what, this situation would not get her approval one way or another. He hadn’t even told any of his friends. He didn’t want anyone to ruin what he was now enjoying. If they were curious about his love life then let them ask but he wasn’t going to put it out there.Most of them would find it funny but the last thing he wanted was for them to see Lara as some weirdo swinger type . No one would understand how this had all unfolded. He barely did. he last few weeks he had seTen them less frequently. Perhaps part of him was avoiding any further questions but also because he was having a very productive writing flow. He knew that his relationship with Lara had gotten his creative juices flowing.

‘ You know you’re my muse’. He had blurted out to her when she asked him what he was writing about.

Grinning she had lain back on the bed in a thoughtful pose.

‘ Paint me like one of your French Girls’ Her throaty chuckle, made him smile at the memory.

He was writing a fantasy novel (think of genre and elaborate)

‘What are you sniggering about ?’ His mother smiled at him as he went into the kitchen.

‘ Ah nothing,just happy to see my wonderful mum’. He planted a big kiss on her cheek, hugging her because he felt guilty about how little time he had spent with either of his parents of late.

‘ Well that Lara girl is certainly putting a spring in your step. You’ll have to bring her over to meet us sometime’. Yikes. Lara already had one mother in law something told him she mightn’t feel so keen on the idea of meeting her lover’s mother.

‘ Yeah I will.’ No point starting another barrage of questions.

‘ Where’s Dad?’

‘ He’s out in the garden somewhere, planting something else. As if we need any more plants !’ She smiled but it was tinged with sadness. ‘ We’ve missed having you around’. He felt awful. They hadn’t done anything wrong and yet he was cutting them out just to avoid any awkwardness. He resolved to change it.

‘I’ll be over for dinner tomorrow mum sorry I’ve just been so busy with book’.

‘ Hmmm the book’. Her smile took the sting out and he kissed her again as went out the door.

‘ Just going for a jog see ya later’. He breathed in the warm evening air. He loved the summer and especially the summer evenings. It had made him gasp in surprise when Lara told him about her preference for Autumn and Winter.

‘Each season has its thing though doesn’t it?’ She had shrugged reluctantly.

‘Summer can be sneaky. It promises more than it gives’. He hadn’t delved any further.

As he picked up his pace he pondered how funny it was that people spent years trying to find someone who was similar to them to settle down with, when really all the magic lay in the realisation of how wonderful a different perspective on life could be. Lara had made him see the world through new eyes. He was the new born vampire with all things heightened and sharpened and she was his immortal Goddess guiding him through the realms of possibility. He was reaching the cast iron gates where they had their first jog together. What if he had never asked her to join him? What would he be doing now ?

‘ Lara ?’ The word came out of his mouth as he spotted her at the gate. Strange he thought, they hadn’t arranged to meet. Her wide smile indicated that nothing was wrong and this time instead of nervously walking towards her, he ran.

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