Reflecting on all you’ve taught me and all we’ve learned together. Maybe, it will teach and inspire others…
Her eyes are warm pools of gold and brown. The longing in them made all of his adorable arrogance melt away. He finds himself gazing longingly at her. This sweet beautiful woman, he knows she has the potential to be so very important to him, to be his everything….
He’d never had a woman like that in his life. They were always in and out. He’d had strings of one-night stands, a few repeat dates but they always were just passing fancies. That part of his life was over for now… for a while… He wasn’t sure he wanted to return to it. Chances are he couldn’t even if he wanted.
He’s curious what it would be like to be with one woman, one steady woman. She’s so wonderful, everything I know so far, beautiful, thoughtful, fun and witty. Who knows if she can handle me… Who knows if I can handle her? She’s full of surprises, shy one minute and openly seductive the next. Her cheek is so soft, she’s so soft… The moment feels like an eternity. They stare into each other, drinking in the possibility. They’re both feeding on the potential that sizzles between them. He wants to kiss her, he can recognize the moment for what it is, an opportunity.
Before he can decide, before he can act, she grabs his wrist moving it to her mouth and tucks a kiss in the palm of his gloved hand. He can’t feel it, even without the gloves on he wouldn’t, but the sweet, honest tenderness of it made him long even more for the potential they were exploring.
She sits up, collecting herself. Her expression changes, from one of devotion to one of bright excited joy.
“Are you going to try your tart or not Ben?” she asks. Sherry lowers her eyes, like she’s trying to suppress a blush. He can tell the moment affected her too. She straightens up and shifts her body away from his slightly. She picks up her tart again and holds it up, offering him a bite. “What if we share one now and save the second one for later if we want it?” she offers, smiling warmly.
Ben takes a deep breath, trying to shake off the intense moment they’d just shared. Why didn’t you take it dummy… Don’t let that go again! He wishes he hadn’t been afraid. He’s never been afraid to kiss a woman in his life. He wishes he could have a guarantee she’d stick around, once she knows… everything.
The smell of the tart a few inches from his nose helps lure him out of his mental lecture. He fixes his charming smile back in place, braces his hands into the blanket to lean forward and take a bite.
“Mmm,” Ben moans with pleasure. “Sherry, there are no words,” Ben exclaims. He closes his eyes to experience it. The cool creamy vanilla scented custard, with a slight tang, so it’s not too sweet. The strawberries are a perfect compliment, sweet and flavorful, but also firm, yielding to his teeth. The crust is the perfect nest for all that delicious; the brown sugar adding a dark caramel note that made every other flavor blend harmoniously. “Seriously, those are special! They may be one of the most perfect things I’ve ever put in my mouth,” Ben smiles at her again.
Sherry takes another bite. “They are really good, I’m pleased with them, but I can’t take all the credit. Those strawberries you found are what make them amazing,” she passes the tart into his hand, watching how he steadies it on the palm of one hand with the other. “Let me get some napkins,” Sherry crawls over Ben to get into her bag again.
Thank you, strawberry tarts, for an excuse to diffuse all the kissy tension… She thinks to herself, rummaging through her bag for napkins. She’s sad and simultaneously relieved they didn’t kiss. It’s too soon and I’m afraid, if he had kissed me, if I let him in so soon, I don’t know if I could turn back. I’d be giving all of myself to him right then. It was how she worked, how she’d always been. It felt safer for her to let the moment pass and just enjoy the thrill of the intoxicating ride.
They barely know each other, but their chemistry obviously can’t be denied. They’re having fun. Let’s keep having fun Sherry… Don’t rush, enjoy the ride. Are you so love starved? You have the life you want, and a job you love. You’ve built that without help from anyone, completely on your own. Your life is good. Sure, there’s room in it for more, but don’t lose yourself on something that may not happen. You’re smarter than that. You pride yourself on being a strong independent woman. Be her; don’t let the lonely romantic sap get the best of you. Sherry breathes deep, shaken by the sense she’s speaking to herself. She still feels unsettled and aches to explore the depths of this new adventure.
She sits next to Ben again, napkins in hand she rests them on the blanket beside them. He’s leaning back into the pillow totally relaxed, chewing. She notices the cute little pudge of his tummy sticking out. Stick with me pal, I’ll likely make that pudgy belly bigger… Poor guy, me and my love affair with butter and sugar, it could get him in trouble. She thinks to herself. She looks at his hand to see only about 2 bites of tart left.
“Hey Buster, Did you forget we’re sharing?” Sherry challenges him with a laugh and a poke in his ribs.
“Oops!” Ben says, flashing that wicked grin again. “Sorry Sherry, They’re just so good. I got carried away, last bite?” He offers his hand to her.
“You can finish, I have 6 more at home,” Sherry teases, hoping it will make him a tiny bit jealous.
“Hmm, any chance I could talk you out of one, two or ten more?” Ben asks, finishing the last bite.
“We can negotiate…” Sherry gives him a critical eye. She notices a smudge of custard on his face, just at the corner of his mouth. She leans in closer to wipe it off with her finger. Before she can move her hand away he turns his head to kiss the custard clean off. Sherry sucks in a breath, feeling the warmth of his lips caress over her thumb. Breathe, Sherry breathe… We’ve crossed the barrier… We’re going to be openly affectionate with each other… I can do this… sounds fun… and technically you started it silly, kissing him on the first date… It was just a peck though… THAT, kissing custard off my thumb was almost an invitation…
She blushes, averting her eyes away as he lets her finger slip away from his mouth. Could she be avoiding another moment like before? Ben wonders. She doesn’t seem flustered or uncomfortable… Hell, she’s playing footsie with me every time she relaxes enough to have a good time. A moment of awkward silence passes between them.
“Ok, time to put up or shut up. I want to try this soup. It was good when I poured it out of the blender but it’s had a chance to kind of sit and get happy.” Sherry holds a spoon up for Ben to grab. She’s watching him critically, and curiously. Ben raises his hand to grab it. He scissors in between his knuckles before bringing it to his other hand to help wrap his fingers around it. Sherry unscrews the lid from the mason jar.
“Sherry, would you be willing to lay a napkin over my lap?” Ben asks.
“Of course Ben,” Sherry says, smoothing one over his lap.
Glad I can’t feel that… Ben thinks to himself watching her hands move over his legs. Sherry is eyeing him curiously now and Ben feels himself tense. Why is she watching… he wonders? Feeding myself isn’t hard; it’s messy sometimes but not hard… feeling a little like a freak show right now. I don’t like it!
Sherry averts her eyes now and focuses on dipping her own spoon into the jar for a taste. Ben tries to shake off his discomfort and instead focuses on watching her. It’s a worthwhile distraction for him. He notices how her mouth caresses the spoon. I can’t wait to kiss that mouth and taste her… even if she tastes like pea soup. Ben braces one hand on the blanket to shift his body a little. She moans softly, audibly.
“Mmm, it’s fantastic Ben, I hope you like it too!“ She tilts the jar in his direction so he can take a taste as well. “Try it, it’s sweet from the fresh peas and the mint is subtle, but makes it really refreshing.”
Ben dips his spoon in the jar and pauses so it can drip back in before carefully raising the spoon to his own mouth for a taste. He leans back against the pillow holding the spoon in his mouth, contemplating.
“Well, you’re right it is good, and it does taste like peas. The mint is nice too. I’m not sure how I feel about cold soup though,” Ben confesses, but dips his spoon in for another taste. Sherry watches again.
“I’m glad you gave it a try at least. I’m very open minded about food. There’s not a vegetable I don’t love. Some have to be fixed a certain way, of course!” Sherry explains, still eyeing Ben as he takes another taste.
“Is there cream or something in it?” he asks.
“Not cream, but yogurt. It’s my new secret ingredient,” Sherry explains. She ducks her head a minute, laughing at herself. “I have to tell you something Ben, and I’m sorry, please don’t think less of me,” Sherry’s body language changes, like she’s ashamed of something. “Well, last night after I got home, I was thinking about our time at the market. I was kind of reliving the excitement and the flirting.” She blushes again, Ben can see the flush creep over her downcast face. “It made me kind of wonder if you could feed yourself. I was ok if not; it wouldn’t have kept me from wanting to know you. I was just, well, curious. I’m sorry I was staring at you. I hope it didn’t make you uncomfortable.”
“Ohh geez, woman, is that all,” Ben is relieved, and laughs. “Why did you think I couldn’t?” he asks. Suddenly, it dawns on him, “The peach sample,” Ben chuckles and rests his spoon on the napkin in his lap. He pushes his knuckles into the blanket to sit up a little straighter. “I can absolutely feed myself, as you’ve seen. I don’t always have the best table manners, so I won’t be dining with the Queen anytime soon, but I can feed myself. I can’t run a marathon, not anymore, but eat, absolutely. Yesterday, well, it’s hard to pinch tiny toothpicks with these,” he leans back into the pillow and raises his hands to show her his limp, curled fingers. “I was also flirting just a bit,” he explains, winking at her again.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable Ben,” Sherry apologizes. “It was silly, and I was making gross assumptions. I don’t really know anything about disability, but it’s important to me that you know it doesn’t bother me,” she explains. She looks awkwardly at her lap before hesitantly raising her eyes to meet his…
“You can ask Sherry, I’m ok. I’m a big boy, you won’t offend me. I’d rather you ask than guess or assume,” Ben offers, hoping to lure her out of her uncertainty. He drags his fingers gently over her arm. “I’m more likely to be upset if you assume or don’t ask. Even if you ask and still do something wrong, I’ll know you’re trying. There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” Ben offers, hoping to reassure her. Just don’t ask about sex! Please, please… not only is it pathetic and cliché but… I don’t fully know myself yet…
“Thanks Ben,” she responds, smiling. “It feels weird to ask, like too personal or something. I don’t want to assume things. Can I take a “learn as we go approach” with the promise I’ll ask questions when I need to?” Sherry asks, meeting his eyes and smiling with warm sincerity. “It was very naughty of you flirting like that by the way,” she teases and pokes him in the ribs with her finger. LIAR, you can’t wait to get personal with him! You know you have a lot to learn, but he seems just as worth it as he thinks you are. Be fearless if you’re going to do this. Be honest with him and yourself!
“I want to get to know you,Sherry, I want to see if maybe we could have something special,” Ben offers, trying to put her at ease. “I want you to know me,” he says, trailing off. “Like just now you poked me in the ribs, I didn’t feel that, but I appreciate you did it because it shows me you’re not uncomfortable around me,” he explains.
“Oh, you didn’t feel that?” Sherry seems surprised. Should I avoid touching him if he can’t feel it? she wonders.
“Nope, and a few minutes ago, did you kiss the palm of my hand?” Ben asks.
“Yes, I did,” Sherry blushes. She’s remembering all of the heat of that moment and her attempt to diffuse it.
“I didn’t feel that either,” Ben offers, stroking his fingers down her arm again. “And… I don’t know if you’ve even noticed this,” Ben says, with a chuckle. “Your feet have been periodically stroking over my legs and playing footsie with me, every time you relax. It’s totally ok, because I want you to touch me. I want affection and touches even if I can’t feel them. It shows me you see beyond the superficial stuff. It shows you see me,” Ben continues explaining.
“Oh, gosh, you’re kidding right?” Sherry blushes furiously and hides her face in her hand. I am such an idiot, how did I not realize… I was being so forward, so intimate… so soon. I do see you though Ben, every fascinating inch… Her heart sighs.
“Sherry don’t blush, it’s ok, it’s really ok, unless, you don’t want to be touching me? I’m pretty sure you do though. In any case it tells me I’m right about you. You’re totally at ease if you’re touching me without even realizing it. I love that… that’s huge for me,” Ben explains. He raises his hand to her cheek, so she looks at him. He pulls her hand away from her face to reassure her with his kind, caring eyes that everything is ok.
“I want to touch you Ben, It’s just how I am, affectionate and touchy feely. I don’t want to make any mistakes though,” Sherry says, almost in a whisper. I didn’t screw up! Good thing, I don’t think I could stop myself from touching him! The more time I spend with him, the more I want to touch and interact… be close…
“I won’t complain, and you couldn’t make any mistakes,” Ben explains, “Yesterday at the market, when you saw the fresh herbs. You put your hand on my shoulder. I felt that. It was good, I heard you of course, but it got my attention. Most of the time people don’t touch me, they’re afraid to, like I’ll break. Other people touch me because they have to. They touch me to help me with things. There’s a lot I can do for myself, but there’s a lot I need help with too. The way you touch me is completely different from the way anyone else touches me, with a few exceptions. My best friend, Tom, he’s my roommate too. Sometimes he touches me and it’s like, my best friend punching me in the shoulder. He helps me with a lot of things too and when he’s touching me that way, it’s not the same. I’m kind of glad I don’t feel most of it. It’s hard to disconnect. When you touch me, it’s different. You’re touching me because you want to, you’re being affectionate. It’s amazing for me to see that, even if I can’t feel it. I can’t tell you what it means to me,” Ben takes a deep breath and pauses. “Someday, some time, I may need you to touch me to help with things. I hope I won’t have to disconnect with you. I hope it will still be sweet and affectionate even if it’s… unpleasant,” Ben offers, testing the waters of her acceptance.
“Wow, I had no idea, but I can’t imagine anything about touching you would be unpleasant Ben, and I do want to touch you. I have been apparently without even realizing,” Sherry is dumbfounded. Her brain is reeling while she tries to take it all in and she finds herself leaning in closer to Ben.
I can’t imagine not wanting to touch him, I can’t imagine anything being unpleasant about it… More and more all I want to do is tangle up in his arms and feel his fingers stroke my face… I’m a goner… Sherry tries to silence her thoughts and process everything he said. She has feelings she can’t describe or name. “If I want to touch you, and I want you to feel me touch you… where should I touch you?” she asks, tentatively.
“My shoulders and some of my chest,” he says, dragging his hand across it. “The tops of my arms and the back of my hands,” Ben finishes.
“Good to know, I won’t stop touching you. It’s just part of how I work, but if I do something you don’t like please tell me!“ Sherry explains.
“Of course I will, you do the same. My hands don’t work the way they should. I know you’ve noticed,” Ben says suddenly a little embarrassed. “I may not be able to touch you the way you like, or need,” Ben confesses.
“Don’t worry about that, ok, not for a minute!” Sherry reassures him, cupping his face in her hand. “I’m totally flattered you want to touch me at all,” Sherry confesses, blushing again. “We just met Ben, it seems silly to worry about such things so soon…” Sherry responds, her eyes shifting away from his shyly.
“I want to be honest, didn’t I tell you, I think you’ll be worth it? There’s a lot more to me than other men. The last 2 years my whole world, my whole life has changed,” Ben laughs, sarcastically, with a hint of bitterness. “I’m a different man than I used to be, I can’t play games anymore, not like I used to. I want to be honest with you. I want you to be honest with me. I don’t want to waste our time. I’d rather know if you’re in or out… Ahh Fuck,” Ben says, tucking his hand under her chin and raising her face to his mouth to kiss her. His mouth finds hers and captures it in a deep passion filled kiss.
Sherry is so taken aback by his heartfelt honesty and openness. He expressed his feelings and fears in such a raw way. Before her brain can fully register everything he’s said it’s clouded by the sheer pleasure of the kiss he’s drinking from her mouth. She whimpers softly, surrendering to the passion and desire that’s been simmering between them. He opened up he shared himself. He’s just as vulnerable as I am in so many ways… Maybe, together they could… Make it work… Maybe they could learn, could grow, and could tangle their hearts together. Maybe a new life was about to start for them both….