Orchard House Part 30: Slow Down, Tiger

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Orchard House: Daily Serial Novel

Part 30: Slow Down Tiger

Back in the house it seemed different. The air of dread that hung over us both that morning had dissipated, replaced by a reprieve that would allow us to relax and find ourselves, and indeed each other, in all the turmoil that our lives had been. We closed the door behind us, and as she sat on one of the stools around the kitchen island, I poured us both a cup of coffee. “Would you do me a favor?” I asked as I set her cup in front of her.

“Yeah sure.”

“Get those bags away from the door and back up to your room.”

She followed my gaze to where her packed bags had sat by the kitchen door.

“In fact,” I said, “unpack them so I know you’re really going to stay.” I sat down beside her with my cup and took a sip.

“Okay,” she replied, with a little smile. “Would you do me a favor, too?”

“Yeah sure, anything.”

“Shut up.” She leaned towards me and planted a kiss firm on my lips. I closed my eyes. This was so wonderful. If I’d known her kisses tasted this heavenly I would have shut up the first moment I met her.

“You know I can’t let you pay my way though,” she said after we parted for breathing exercises.

I sighed. “Well, in actuality you don’t have to. And neither do I. According to Helen at the store, the price I paid to stay was for double occupancy. So you could just stay as my guest and nobody owes anyone anything.”

She seemed to think about that one for a minute. “That may be so, but I should still offer to pay them.” She looked at me with a teasing smile. “That way you’ll know I’m staying for sure.”

I smiled. “I’m really glad you decided to stick around, Summer. “

She put her hand on top of mine. “I’m glad you wanted me to. No one has ever tried to get me to stay when I get that flight feeling in me. They just let me go and don’t try to convince me otherwise. It really means something to me that you are….well, different than anyone else.”

I squeezed her hand and leaned close to her. “I have a feeling,“ I said. “A feeling that the both of us have needed someone to be honest with us. And that’s one thing I promise you right here, I will always be honest. You can count on me; I’m not going to let you down or make you regret your decision to stay.”

She placed her lips soft against mine and we closed our eyes. The kiss was wonderful, sending butterflies through my stomach and making me dizzy with the need to hold her and kiss her for the rest of our days here. When we parted, she smacked her lips together as if she had just put on some chap stick.

Smiling, she said, “Now that sir, was very nice indeed.”

I grinned and touched her cheek with my hand. She leaned her head into my open palm, and I found myself gazing into her beautiful brown eyes.

“If you only knew what I was thinking,” I said.

“You’re thinking that you want to kiss me again,” she replied.

Without another word, I lifted her from her stool and set her over in my lap. I wrapped my arms around her, enveloping her like a cocoon, and she in turn straddled me, wrapping arms and legs about me, two lovers desperately trying to be one. Her mouth full upon mine, lips parted and tongues darting, I rose, carrying her across the room, her legs and arms still wrapped around me, until we reached the hallway where we collapsed against the wall. Pleasantly pinned, her hands groped my back, and I found my hands sliding down her backside, as well. She grabbed my butt, giving it a loving squeeze, and I pressed myself against her, placing her back to the wall. I could feel her breasts pushing against my chest and our breaths grew louder and ragged, mouths devouring each other, hands exploring bodies through our clothes. And then just as suddenly as it had begun, it ended. She dropped her legs from around me and let them touch the floor. Gently and without much force, she separated herself from me, her breathing still hard as she took a deep breath.

“Give me a minute, tiger,” she said. “This is moving pretty fast now.”

“I’m sorry,“ I said. “I…I couldn’t help…”

She put her hand to my lips to hush me. “I know, I couldn’t help myself either. I really am enjoying this…but let’s just take it easy for now, ok?”

“Okay.”

I took a breath too, and she gave me a reassuring smile to let me know I had done nothing wrong. She was just not used to things going so fast. After all, just minutes ago she was prepared to leave, and now we were making out in the hallway like there would never be a tomorrow. In this day and age it may not have been unusual for a relationship to get heated and go to the next level in twelve hours, but I don’t think either of us were emotionally prepared for that. Perhaps our flesh and passions were, but we needed to take a time out and think about this. She was afraid of being hurt someday soon by yours truly and I was…Well, I needed to get some things out of my system before I could let my heart completely open and allow my desire for Summer to soar free.

She ran her fingers through her hair and straightened up her clothes, before letting out a long sigh. “I think what I need is a bath, and then I should go on down to the store and pay Helen for my extended stay.”

“I’ll go with you,” I said. She looked up at me with a look on her face that said she wasn’t ready for communal bathing. I laughed. “I meant I’d go with you to the store.”

The shocked look left her face, and with a little embarrassment, returned my smile to me. “Oh, okay. Guess you can tell where my mind is at.” She looked away so I couldn’t see the red growing on her cheeks. “Yeah, well okay, bath time,” she stammered.

“I’ll be in my room. Just give me a shout when you’re ready to go.” I leaned towards her and kissed her on the cheek. “See you in a bit.” Then I headed to my room and the task I had been avoiding ever since I had arrived at Orchard House.

I sat down at the writing desk and looked at my cellphone laying there. I wasn’t real anxious to do it, but I knew I had to call my brother and get all this over with. I hit the speed dial and waited for it to connect. “Hello Eric,” I said, when he picked up on his end.

“Matthew!” he shouted in my ear. “Man, I have been worried sick about you! Where the hell did you take off to in such a hurry?”

My leaving hadn’t been that big of a hurry, but I didn’t want to start off the conversation with a disagreement. We would get to that soon enough. “I needed to get away for a little while, brother. Clear my head and just go for a drive.”

There was silence on the line. I knew he was trying to work it out in his head if I was talking about getting away from him or Ashley. “Long drive,“ he finally replied.

“Yeah,” I said.

“So, did it work?”

“No, not really,” I quietly answered. I figured why sound happy; let him feel guilty awhile.

“Look Matthew, I’m sorry about the talking to Ashley thing. I know I should have told you, and I was wrong. I know you feel I betrayed you…”

“You have no idea how I feel. And neither does she.”

He sighed. “Maybe not, but I’m still sorry.”

“I needed you, Eric. I needed for you to stand up for your little brother. You stood up when I got picked on in school. You stood up for me when I was in the hospital last year. But when it comes to a woman, you won’t stand up for me at all. You just took her side without asking how I was holding up or how I felt.”

“All I did was talk to her,” he reasoned.

“You don’t get it. What if Liza took herself and the boys and left you, then I started talking to her immediately afterwards and didn’t tell you. Wouldn’t that hurt?”

“I’d be furious,” he admitted.

“Then maybe you can understand why I don’t want to come back anytime soon.”

“What are you going to do, Matthew? Stay on your getaway from life forever?”

I didn’t care much for his sarcastic tone, but I didn’t say anything in response and he seemed to understand.

“This is like the hospital, isn’t it?” he said. “Look, bro, none of this is your fault. Mom and dad wasn’t your fault. You and Ash wasn’t your fault. It’s just everything has its season, and when that season ends, you either wait for it to come around again or you leave it behind and get on with the next season.”

“That’s exactly what I’ve done. Because I’ve learned that my time with Ashley was a season cold as winter. But I’ve discovered there’s nothing like Summer.” At this point the ideal thing would have been to hang up on him or tell him about Summer herself, but I didn’t. “I don’t want to fight with you, Eric. I just called to let you know it’s okay, I’m over it.”

“Okay, good,” he replied.

“But I don’t think I’ll see you again, though.”

“What do you mean?”

“I won’t be coming back.”

“What made you decide that? Me? Ashley?”

“From the moment I left, that was my intention,” I answered.

“Where are you going then, if not back home?”

I took a deep breath. “I don’t know where this particular journey ends, but I’m ready to let everything go. Mom and dad, Ashley, you.”

“Listen, Matthew…”

“No, you listen to me for once. We were happy brothers. Inseparable. We took every journey together. But you can’t go on this journey with me.”

“Where are you?” he asked. “Please, tell me where you are.”

“Tell Ashley I’m sorry.”

“What do you mean, you’re sorry?”

“That she could never take the time just to talk to me and say how she was feeling. “

“Okay, I’ll tell her you’re sorry.”

“Not like that Eric. I’m sorry for her. That she’ll never love anyone , nor ever be happy, because she can’t be honest about her feelings. It’s sad, but she’ll always be haunted by the one that she threw away.”

“What are you planning, Matthew?”

“Orchard House and the heart of everything.”

“What?”

“That’s where I’m staying, and that’s what I’m planning. See you, brother.”

I hung up on him. I set the cellphone down on the desk top. My hands were shaking. Not because of nervousness, but from anger. Calling my brother should have made me feel better, but all it did was upset me more. It made me think of what I had originally set out to do when I first pulled in the driveway of Orchard House. I felt a tear well up in my eye, but I wasn’t going to cry over this anymore. I wouldn’t waste another tear on anyone. No one but Summer. I looked in the mirror to make sure my composure would be okay when I faced her. After the conversation with my brother, I was convinced only one thing would make me feel better, and I could hear her in the kitchen. I faked a smile at my reflection and went out into the hall.

Part 31: Under The Apple Trees

“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.

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