Nicole looked herself over in the mirror once more. Not too formal or embellished but casually elegant. Tonight Thaxter was coming for dinner; a romantic dinner just for the two of them. Now that the evening had finally arrived she was as about as uncertain as she ever felt. She didn’t want to overdress, nor appear too casual.

She was happy with the ensemble she had chosen. A swipe of bright red lipstick was the perfect finishing touch and she bade the household goodnight; having packed them all off for the weekend.

She wasn’t expecting Thax to stay for the weekend of course, but a girl needed to be prepared for every eventuality.

“Have a lovely time,” her sister Emily said to her, shooting her a knowing glance.

Nicole winked back, “Oh I intend to.”

She waved them away, closed the front door and released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. The house grew quiet and still. Nicole checked the dining table and lit candles. She cast her mind back to the times when candlelit dinners between her and Thaxter would have seemed almost ridiculous. Almost. She found that flings didn’t interest her quite so much anymore and the thought surprised her a little. Was this what commitment felt like, she wondered. If so, she didn’t mind it nearly as much as she thought she would.

A quiet knock at the door stirred her from her reflections and she smoothed slightly sweating palms down her jeans before heading into the front entryway and opening the door.

Thax was wearing a navy pinstriped suit; his familiar hat and overcoat on and he was carrying flowers. A large bunch of blood red roses.

“Oh Thaxter, they’re gorgeous,” Nicole said as she received them and a gentle kiss to her cheek. She met his gaze and he looked at her with big, expectant eyes, almost like a little boy or a small puppy; somehow shy and uncertain and undeniably handsome.

“I just thought, well I- it’s what gentlemen do isn’t it, for their ladies,” he stumbled, wrong-footed already. She looked so striking in such simple but elegant clothing and her face was so open and happy to see him. He hoped he would be the reason for that look in her eyes for a long, long time to come.

Nicole found a crystal vase and arranged the blooms, placing them on the table in the living room as Thax poured them both drinks. She accepted; her fingers casually brushing his and they sat in her comfortable armchairs.

Thaxter looked at her quizzically for a moment before asking, “Is your family out for the evening?”

Nicole shook her head, biting her lower lip a trifle anxiously.

“Your sister doesn’t appear to be here either,” he noted.

“They’ve gone away for the weekend,” she admitted.

Thax nodded, “Just on a whim was it?”

“Something like that,” she purred.

“Are you orchestrating things to your own end again?” he asked quietly, fixing her with a stern stare.

“Perhaps,” she responded elusively with a dark stare.

“So,” Thax continued, “we are,”-

“Alone. Yes.” Nicole concluded. “Quite alone.”

“Good.” A slow smile broke over Thaxter’s face.

“I thought you might disapprove,” Nicole said, taking a sip of a rather good red wine. ‘Handsome and sexy,’ Nicole thought.

“Since when did my approval matter to you?” he chuckled.

She merely gave him a wry smile in return and they enjoyed their drinks in companionable silence for a while. Thax gazed at the Christmas tree, liking the way the treetop angel had settled amongst the other ornaments; looking for all the world as if it had always belonged there.

“Still no tinsel,” he noted.

Nicole laughed. “Do you ever stop noticing things?”

He laughed too, “I don’t suppose I do.”

“As a matter of fact, Emily has been dating Mark a lot more frequently of late and it was their task to add the tinsel,” she explained.

“We could do it.” Thax suggested.

“After dinner,” she suggested and she rose out of the chair. Thax followed and she took his arm as they strolled through to the dining room.

Nicole bade Thaxter to sit and throwing her coat onto her chair, went into the kitchen. She returned a few moments later in a crisp white apron and maid’s cap. Thax swallowed audibly, already having what a pious man would refer to as ‘impure thoughts.’ The woman was completely incorrigible.

She poured him some wine and placed a small plate of food in front of him and one for herself. She removed the apron but left the maid’s cap on and Thaxter shook his head at her.

“You’re enough to drive a man mad you know,” he said honestly.

“It’s not quite my intention,” she answered wrinkling her nose somewhat adorably. “I’d prefer it if you were in control of all your faculties.”

“I’m sure you would,” he replied, dark-eyed.

They consumed the first course and Nicole donned her apron once more to plate up vegetables which Thaxter helped himself to a good deal of it.

Nicole discarded her apron and cap and they ate companionably. Thax recounted his day at the law firm he was a partner at.

“But I shouldn’t really be talking about legal cases over a candlelit dinner,” Thaxter said apologetically.

“Oh I don’t mind that Thax. It’s fine as long as we’re together,” Nicole reminded him softly.

“I do like it when you use words like ‘together,’ Nicole,” Thax said.

She lowered her lids and felt warmth blossom in her chest. He really did have a way about him.

She removed their dirty dishes and returned with a peach crumble and custard.

Thax served up two bowls full of the dessert and Thax tucked in ravenously, pouring on extra custard as he devoured every last crumb.

“Honestly, I don’t know where you put it all,” Nicole observed.

“I’m feeling the inexplicable need to build up my strength,” he replied fixing her with a look that moved their conversation from gentle teasing to something far more sinister.

“Coffee?” Nicole queried, her breathing already speeding up and pulse racing.

“Thank you,” he answered and she left the table and her half eaten dessert for the relative safety of the kitchen. There she rested her hands upon the counter to steady herself.

“You look lovely, by the way,” his voice from the doorway startled her and she jumped a little.

He smiled and carried their bowls through to the sink.

“I should do the washing up,” she commented, looking at the mounds of plates and glasses gathering in the sink.

“I can help,” Thax said.

“You’re my guest,” she noted.

“Surely I’m more than that by now,” he whispered darkly.

All she could do was nod. He was so different tonight somehow. Perhaps it was the fact that they could not be discovered or disturbed. The fact that the people who mattered most to them knew about them and did not disapprove. The fact that no matter how honorable and good a man he purported to be, he desired her with a single-mindedness that sometimes frightened them both.

She lifted the kettle from the stove and caught her finger in the steam for a moment.

“Ouch!” she exclaimed, waving her finger about before turning on the tap and running the cool water over it.

Thax was beside her in an instant, “Here, let me see.”

He took her hand, examining the finger before placing it back under the tap once more.

“I don’t think it’s badly burnt,” he said, holding her hand under the water.

“It’s fine,” she said and unbelievably as their eyes met, she trembled.

And there it was.

His eyes fixed on hers and he surged forwards, gathering her to him. She expected him to kiss her passionately and with abandon as he appeared so overcome with emotion but Thax remained as surprising as ever.

He took her injured hand and examined her fingertip. “You’ll live,” he pronounced and then raised the fingertip to his lips, kissing the pad softly while his eyes met hers.

“You’re shaking,” Thax said, still holding her hand.

“I know and I don’t know why,” she answered truthfully. She didn’t understand this at all. Nicole was always in control. Always had the upper hand with men.

He dropped her hand. “You’re afraid?” he asked in concern, “Because you must know by now that I would never hurt you Nicole. Not ever.”

“Thax, darling. I know that. Of course I do. I’m not afraid. I’m…I don’t even know how to explain it.” She stepped closer to him and ran her fingers along his cheek. “I just. I want you.”

He leaned into her and captured her mouth in a soft kiss. She melted into him, her hands running into his hair as he cupped her face, kissing her like she was precious and priceless and the world to him.

His tongue brushed the seam of her lips and she parted them willingly, feeling the gentle probing of his tongue as it met and withdrew from hers with a delicious slowness. She moaned; her hands sliding down his shoulders; holding him in place as much as it was to anchor herself.

His hands spanned her back as he began to work his kisses along her jaw. He pressed himself closer to her and she felt the stirrings of his desire against her thigh.

Her hand wound around his neck pulling his mouth back to hers as she kissed him deeply; desperately; trying to convey her need for him.

He turned her and they banged into the kitchen table knocking cutlery to the floor with a loud clatter. It was enough to break the spell of the moment and they parted, panting and glassy eyed.

Then they both burst out laughing.

“Oh Thax, how I do adore you,” Nicole blurted out.

“Mutual, Nicole,” he replied joyfully.

She leapt into his arms and he spun her around and around in the cramped kitchen until they were both dizzy and breathless. And kissing again…

His kisses were gentle and patient and she was so aware of how different this felt to anything she had ever known before. She trusted Thax. Truly trusted him completely and while other men had been dangerous and betrayed her trust, she instinctively knew this man’s heart. And he would never treat her poorly.

Eventually, they sat at the kitchen table and they drank their coffee, barely resisting one another. They did the washing up together. Thax washed and Nicole dried. Their hands touched occasionally which always resulted in one or the other of them leaning in for a sweet kiss.

After all plates were clean and dry and put away (“Emily will be so proud!” Nicole laughed) they retired to the living room and Nicole slipped easily into Thaxter’s lap on the lounge chair. His arms wound around her without hesitation and she pressed kisses along his jaw. For once this was all she wanted. This was all she desired. This was perfect.

Thaxter noticed the box of tinsel and insisted they put the finishing touches on the tree together. Nicole willingly went with him and she picked up several strands of silver, placing them on his head and claiming he looked, “Very fetching.”

His retaliation was swift. He tipped the entire box over her head and glittery pieces of tinsel cascaded around her. Some catching in her hair and some in her clothing.

“Thax!” she laughed and batted his hands away as they sought to rearrange threads to look like a silver and gold wig atop her head.

“You look beautiful,” he teased, “golden hair suits you.”

“Oh stop it! Stop it!” she shrieked as his hands followed the tinsel and he began to tickle her sides.

She writhed mercilessly as they tumbled to the rug; his weight atop her and their breathing ragged with exertion.

Her blouse had ridden up and all at once his hands were tickling her bare skin. He stopped suddenly; quickly removing his hands from her ribcage.

Nicole grasped his wrist; her eyes fixing him with a dark-eyed gaze. She kept hold of his wrist, bringing his hand down to her stomach until it lay palm down across her heated skin.

“This is what you do to me,” she breathed and then moved his hand up until it covered one of her breasts.

“And this,” she panted.

She released his hand but he did not remove it. Nicole awaited his next move breathing heavily but with the patience even a saint would have envied.

His hand shook but remained pressed against her as he raised himself over her and kissed her mouth; an open mouthed kiss as he began to move his hand more firmly against her.

She whined and raised her hips to meet his hand and he deftly pressed against her again.

“Oh Thax, yes,” she breathed into his ear.

She moved her hands to her jeans and undid the buttons. Thaxter took the hint and pulled them slowly down her legs. Thax mouth watered. He’d read about men who enjoyed the taste of a woman but he had never indulged. Suddenly he could understand what the appeal might be. But he pushed the thought aside. That was for another time. When he was surer. Not tonight.

He removed her shoes and ran his hands delicately up her stocking clad legs until his fingers encountered the soft satin of her underwear. His long fingers toyed with the fabric while Nicole made deeply encouraging noises and kissed his jaw and neck.

Nicole felt her release nearing rapidly. She had so long awaited his touch that her body was aflame for it. His mouth at her neck, his hands palming her breast through her blouse. The tinsel gleaming over his wrist and in her eyes and all over their bodies; the image of it was almost too much to bear.

Thaxter shifted position ever so slightly to better reach her mouth for kissing and that was all it took. Nicole’s body stiffened and shook through a considerable orgasm; Thaxter’s mouth on hers, capturing her cries as the tremors shook through them both.

“Oh Thax,” she panted, finally breaking free of his kiss and grabbing his wrist to stop his questing fingers as it all became too much sensation.

Thax withdrew his hand at once; a contrite expression on his face. “Good gosh. I don’t know what came over me. I am so sorry Nicole. That was unforgivable.”-

“And incredible,” Nicole replied, stretching languorously along the rug, reminding Thaxter momentarily of a particularly contented cat.

“There’s no shame in it, Thaxter,” she went on. “I most certainly wanted you to. And you most certainly obliged.”

Thaxter straightened his tie and sat shakily on the nearby armchair, “I’ve never,”- He stopped completely unaware how to explain.

Nicole pulled on her jeans and crouched in front of him, “For someone who has never, you did a very thorough job of satisfying me,” she said with her usual candor.

“I enjoyed it,” he said quietly.

“Not as much as I did, I’ll wager,” she smirked.

He looked up and slowly smiled back at her.

“But what about you?” Nicole asked, leaning into him and resting her hand on his upper thigh, stroking gently. He shifted in his seat as her fingers brushed higher and higher up his inner thigh.

He stilled her hand, “No. Nicole. I can’t. Not tonight. Not like this.”

Nicole’s hand stilled on Thaxter’s knee, “I’m sorry. I thought,”-

“I do want to Nicole, believe me, I do,” he said.

“Then why?” she asked, her voice small and disappointed. “We don’t have to go to bed. I could use my hands,” she kneeled in front of him, eyes dark.

“No Nicole, that’s just it. Tonight was what you needed. You asked and I was happy to oblige, believe me. But I want my first time with you to be in a bed with soft linens and comfortable pillows. I know it’s conventional and old-fashioned but I want to be joined with you, body and mind and soul that first time. And- Nicole are you crying?”

Nicole’s eyes had filled with tears as her heart filled to bursting, “I don’t know that any man has ever said anything quite so perfect to me before. I’m so used to taking pleasure when and where I like; I never considered how lovely it might be to wait for that perfect moment. You are so different to any man I’ve ever known.”

He took her hands and pulled her onto his lap, “Is that a good or a bad thing do you think?” he asked.

“Good, Thax. Very, very good,” she answered and then buried her face against his neck and just let him hold her for a while.

She and Thax eventually finished placing the tinsel on the tree and surveyed their handiwork with pride.

“I won’t be able to look at that tree without thinking somewhat impure thoughts, Nicole,” Thaxter laughed.

“I won’t be able to look at it without remembering tonight,” she smiled.

Thaxter flushed.

“Will you stay the night Thax?” Nicole asked.

“I’d love to, but no. I’m expected at the office at seven. In fact, I should be going,” he answered. Nicole nodded her understanding.

She walked him to the door and he put on his coat and hat. He took her face gently in his hands and kissed her; a slow, deep, bone-melting kiss.

“Goodnight Niocle,” he said as he stepped out the door.

“Goodnight Thax,” she replied.

She watched him as he was swallowed up by the darkness and then she closed the door, feeling a kind of peace she had never known before.

She wasn’t afraid anymore.

Submitted: December 11, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Dr. Shenita Etwaroo. All rights reserved.

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