She raised her arms and locked her hands behind her head. She said, “Untie me.”
I set her breasts free, touched them, tasted them, and stood back again. She said, “More.” I put my arms around her, kissed her mouth, her neck, her breasts, her belly, then slipped the zipper of her skirt and removed it.
She had remembered. More French cut panties, like the first time I had seen her, but these had been transparent even before they were wet. I slipped them off.
She said, “My turn.”
When I was also naked, we got towels from bureau and wiped each other dry. It became a game, and when we could stand the game no longer, we fell upon the bed, clinched, grasping, straining, and trembling toward climax.
Then again. And yet again. Raven was infinite in her variety and inexhaustible. She was frenzied, hungry, insatiable. It was as if she were trying to wrap up a lifetime of lovemaking in one night.
# # #
The morning sun was pale and watery, but it found its way through a crack in the blinds and straight into my eyes. The bedside clock said nine o’clock; late by my standards. I stretched, and found the bed beside me empty. I lay back, listening for sounds of her movement in the bathroom, but the silence came back to mock me.
My clothes were in a damp pile on the floor, but hers were gone. I pulled back the blinds. The sun was weak and rain was threatening. People were crossing the square, but she was not among them. I shook my head, not ready to admit to myself what I had begun to fear.
I found her note propped on the sink.
Ten minutes later I was still sitting on the bed with the unread note crumpled in my hands. I could not open it and admit that what I had feared for weeks had come to be. As long as it remained unread, I could think that it was harmless. She had gone out to cancel our tickets to Rouen, or to buy some little lover’s present.
Finally, I had to open it. She had written:
# # #
I am not like most people. You surely know that by now. Every day with you has been an adventure, and I thank you for all of them. But love can be bondage, for a person like me. Lately, I have been afraid that I was falling in love with you, and last night I proved to myself that I was. For someone else, that would be cause for happiness. Not for me. It would spell the end of all I have tried to become. Maybe we will meet again some day, and we will no longer be enthralled to one another. Then I can explain. I can’t explain now. The explanation would also tie me to you. I’m sorry. More sorry than you can ever know.
# # #
“More sorry . . . I doubt that,” I said it to the empty room.
I would be talking to a lot of empty rooms from now on. more tomorrow