Lance stepped out of the lodge when a noise in the valley grow louder. When the horse came up to the lodge, he led it into the aspens and tied the reins to a stout tree trunk. He reached up for her out-stretched hand. “Hello,” he said. There was suggestiveness in his low voice as he thought about her long limbs and the plump tush.
“Hello Big Chief,” she said forcefully, and then softer, but Lance caught it, “and Little Chief, too.”
She could scarcely breathe. The lodge was but a few steps away, a mysterious seductiveness glowing from its interior. She wanted to barge in immediately and drag him after her.
Lance was smiling about an evening that turn interesting and to move it along quickly, he said, “I’ll bring water for your horse. If you want to wash up, there’s a pitcher of water and a basin on a bench around the right side of the lodge. When you go in, remember it’s to your left.”
Stormy slipped off the horse, gracefully as a gal could do after a long ride, and walked to the front of the lodge looking for the bench. She poured the cold water from the tin pitcher into the basin. It felt refreshing to wash off the sweat from her brow and from beneath her armpits with the tail end of her shirt.
’I’ll do the ‘full Monty,’ she thought. Then she remembered Napoleon’s letter to Josephine when he urged, “Don’t wash.” Stormy chose not to wash away the musky smell from her lower body parts either.
She entered the lodge with a huge smile on her face.
The interior was a jolt. It was spacious! The peaked ceiling was taller than it looked from the outside. Light of the fading sun came in the opening at the top. It fell upon an immense animal skin stretched across the rear.
Baseball –sized stones set with a ring of larger stones near the center contained ashes from a fire. Shirts hung from hooks upon a bright red blanket stretched shoulder-high on the left. On the right, iron cookware hung from hooks over another blanket, an old-fashioned Western Hudson Bay, white with red, blue and yellow stripes at one end. Rolled jeans, boxes with magazines and books were stacked upon the grassy floor.
Lance entered. Stormy was standing with her back to him admiring the bed rests. “I patted Daisy down, gave her water,” he said.
“Oh,” she sighed, having forgotten she even had a horse.
The tall, think shadow of him flickered. He slid an arm around her waist and said softly, “your bed is the one directly in front of you.”
“Yes, if I stay tonight, it’s safer for me than if I ride home in the dark. . . the wild animals looking for prey,” she said, turning to face him. “Daisy gets spooked by a downed tree, so I don’t like taking her over the mountains. She’s the same with game, knows they’re lurking in the dark, so we take the road.” She stopped, knew she was rambling.
He was sweating, the scent of him musk and sour vinegar. The taut feel of his arm muscles as he held to her waist, the sharp intake of his breath so close removed all thoughts.
He turned her to him, kissed her lips. His hands gently outlined the shape of her full face and throat, and then his hands slid down to unzip the split riding skirt. He pushed it down, unfastening buttons of the jacket and the shirt beneath, his skillful hands unhooking the bra and cupping the full breasts.
His mouth found them one by one, until Stormy pushed him away and began to unbutton his shirt. “A damn chastity belt,” she muttered as she tried unbuckling the large belt buckle. She fumbled and tussled with it until the buckle gave way and burst apart, the parts scattering to the ground.
They collapsed onto the grass, he inside her, burrowing into a tight open for pleasure and hard into her depths; Stormy meeting her own need to take him deep into. Her joyful release came before his, her body on fire, the rhythmic tremors reverberating through her longer than she could remember.
He fumbled for a pile of blankets as they resettled upon a bed rest. “You are lovely,” he said, relishing the long limbs and shapely body beside him.
“It’s been a long time,” she sighed. “I’ve been married. But, I haven’t been with a man for so long. I’ve forgotten how good it feels. I like being with a man. I miss the completeness. Don’t want any sort of commitment again until I figure out what went wrong in the marriage.”
“Yes, married late, at thirty. Thought I’d found the right one. Good things happened in the beginning. We were happy. Then, he lost his job and couldn’t find another. He said he had to leave, that he might be not come back. Said he was going to look for work in one of the mines or oil rigs starting all over the world. Told me I should forget him. “Go on, he said, make it through life on your own.” Those were heartbreaking words.
“But, it was ugly at the end, both of us shouting at each other. I did everything to help him find work, to get his self-worth back. He was terribly depressed. Surely he’s found a job by now. I was thirty-five when it was over. Suddenly I’m thirty-seven.
“You haven’t heard from him?”
“No, nothing, not even a postcard. Fortunately, the split was quick and easy. We had few things of value. His being out work ate up most of what we had. At least he didn’t do what friend’s husband did who was an on-the-road salesman for kitchen equipment. Called her when he was out-of-town to say he wasn’t coming back. She never saw him again. He didn’t have the decency to tell her in person. She’s never really felt it was over.
“What about you? Are you married, Lance?”
He laughed. “No. Not me.”
Stormy paused. “The time in between the loving and not loving are more painful for a woman I think.”
Lance wrapped his arms around her. “I’ve known a few good marriages. They seem to have figured out how to weather the hassles of life.”
“Oh,” Stormy said softly, “Something else, too,” as she readjusted to fit herself snuggly beside him, “I’m fading,” she said and yawned. “Your lodge is very peaceful. Everything warm and cozy feeling. I’m afraid . . . I . . .”
Later, Stormy would try remembering what Lance said to her then. Was it, “When I come back from the Rainbow Gathering, I will come looking for you?” Or, was it, “I may come looking for you?”