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Dear Reader, Thanks to all those of you who read the first five chapters of this story, and have waited patiently for the end. I hope you think it has been worth the wait.
The concert that day was thrilling to Karen, who had never heard so much African music all at once, and who found the blends of rhythms and sounds delightfully exotic. She forgot where she was and simply basked in the music. When it was over, she could still feel the drumbeats in her hands, as though she had played them, and she could hear the bass voices blending with the others in perfect harmony ringing through her ears and resounding in the spaces around her.
“That was brilliant!” she enthused, as Peter walked her to a local eatery for dinner. The food was plain fare, but delicious, and perhaps it was a suitable counterpoint to the richness of the music she had just enjoyed. And she basked in the warmth of her lover’s regard, seeing in his eyes when they rested on her a depth of feeling and hunger that she had never expected ever to see in a man’s eyes for her, though she had hoped.
“I had a really lovely day, Peter!” she enthused as they shared a decadent double-sized banana split. “Thank you for inviting me.”
His smile warmed every corner of her being. and his words only enhanced the feeling. “You’re welcome, liefje! I did, too. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a concert as much in a very long time.” He reached for her hand as he spoke, squeezing her fingers gently. “Would you like to stay one more night, and hear the rest tomorrow?”
“Sure, if it’s all right with you,” she replied, “but what about Scrooge?”
“It’s no problem to ask Elke to watch him one extra night for me. I’ll do it now.”
She listened idly as he made the arrangements, and as it occurred to her to wonder where they would sleep for the extra night, he said, “I made a reservation for two nights, on the off chance that you might like to stay.”
She chuckled, amused at the sly look on his face as he spoke. “I’ll decide later whether to be concerned that you have a sneaky side or not,” she announced, trying to sound severe and failing.
His laughter filled the space between them, low and surprisingly sexy. He was like a man half his years, and she felt a powerful surge of pride that she had been the one, after all this time, to bring his heart back to life. She loved the way he spoke, the way he pronounced English words, the way he called her “darling” in his language, the way he touched her with fire and reverence. She wondered how she had managed to become so connected to him after only a few months, most of them spent with him online or on the phone.
“A penny for your thoughts?” His voice interrupted her musings, and she smiled again, suddenly deliriously happy.
“I was thinking about you,” she said, blushing faintly.
“And what, in particular, were you thinking?” he wanted to know.
She hesitated a breath, then answered his curiosity. “I was thinking how I like your accent and the way you pronounce English words.” Better some truth than a lie, she thought.
“And here I was hoping you might perhaps be thinking of what we shared last night, and again this morning, and hoping we could share it again.”
The faint pink in her cheeks bloomed under the suggestive sultriness of his words, and the look she caught in his eyes before he turned to summon a waiter. A fine trembling began in her fingers, and she clasped her hands together in her lap to stop the movement. She could not remember ever having been so thoroughly seduced before this man and this moment. She watched him pay for their meal and took the hand he held out to her as they walked out into the evening air. They drove sedately to the small bed and breakfast he had booked their room in, though she knew he was feeling the urgency of their shared desire beating against him as it was against her.
The room, at any other time, would have elicited delighted commentary from her, but she was past noticing anything other than the man whose arms wrapped her in heat and hunger, whose tongue demanded and received entry into her desirous mouth, whose leg pushed between her own, and settled her core over its rock hardness, allowing her to set herself aflame as he helped her ride his thigh. The vivid blue curtains that twinkled with a firmament of silk escaped her gaze; the jeweled beauty of the matching bed coverings onto which he lowered her disappeared beneath the weight of his heated gaze. The warm yellow lamplight that he had dimmed was nothing to the blazing light of love and lust that illuminated the space between her eyes and his.
“I cannot begin to explain to you how very deeply you affect me, liefje. The last time I felt this out of control around a woman, I was barely out of my teens.” His whispered words sank into her soul, into her very bones, as he kissed her again, and finished what he began with those first kisses by the door.
Afterwards, as they lay panting in each other’s arms, Karen wondered where their new relationship would end up. Neither of them had spoken poker oyna of anything beyond their feelings for each other. And she was old enough, and cynical enough, to know that just because he wanted her body, and couldn’t seem to get enough of it, it didn’t mean he wanted a firmer commitment to her. He had been married once, and by all accounts it had not been a happy marriage at the end. She wasn’t sure she could blame him if he chose not to pursue anything further with her. She knew it would hurt her to have given her heart to someone who didn’t want more, but she would not press him, or even let a hint of her feelings show. She would let him decide on his own.
She fell asleep in his arms, and when morning brightened the room in the blue glow of the curtains, she woke to find herself alone in bed. Peter was standing by the bathroom door, speaking softly into his cell phone. She wondered who had called so early, but when she looked at her own device, it showed that she had been asleep for almost nine hours. She sat up and stretched as he finished his call and walked back to the bed.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked, smiling warmly at her.
“Yes, I did,” she replied. “And for far longer than usual. It’s almost eight o’clock.”
She watched him look up in surprise, and she explained. “I don’t normally get as much as six hours of sleep a night. I just can’t seem to stay in bed long enough. My body starts to hurt, and the muscles feel strained and I have to get up. So nine hours is a very long time!”
He reached over and bussed her gently on the lips. “Well, I’m glad you were able to catch up on some sleep, then, love.” He stood again, and said, over his shoulder, “Shall I order breakfast in bed for you?”
Karen chuckled. “No, of course not! I’d rather we eat out and then go back to listen to some more of that lovely music!”
“It’ll be different artists today, and the concerts end in the early afternoon.”
“Let’s hurry then, shall we?” She hopped out of bed, and only once her feet touched the carpet did she remember she was naked, never having had a chance to put on the pretty nightie she had packed for the trip. It was too late to be modest now, but she could not stop the suffusion of color that warmed her skin all over as she walked past him to the bathroom. Once inside, behind the closed door, she exhaled and wondered when she would get over being embarrassed to be naked with him. They had only been lovers for two days, after all, and this would take some getting used to.
A hot shower behind her, she wrapped herself in a towel and returned to the bedroom to find Peter sitting in an armchair, obviously waiting his turn. He put down the magazine he was thumbing through when she announced “All yours!” and rose to have his own shower. She hoped there would be enough hot water for him. By the time he came out, drying his hair with another towel, brown slacks riding low on his hips where they settled, zipped up half way, she was putting on light makeup. Her eyes caught the trail of hair, some silver, that snaked down inside his pants, and she dragged them away before she got entangled in thoughts of what they had shared for the last two days. She didn’t want to make more of it than he did, though she did see him go hard, as though he felt her eyes on him.
She turned back to apply mascara, but finding her hand was trembling a bit too much, she decided to go back to powdering her cheeks until her nerves were steady enough. Eventually, she felt presentable and turned to find him right behind her, his button-down shirt tucked into his pants, his belt buckled, the signs of a waning erection still evident behind his zipper. She raised her eyes to his face, and saw the hunger he did not try to hide from her shooting from the depths of his own, but before she could utter a word, he was on her, his mouth consuming hers, his hands kneading the muscles of her shoulders, before sliding in a tenacious grip down her arms to her back, thence to her bottom, where he massaged her as he pulled her in to his body.
“Are you hungry?” he wanted to know, his voice low and rusty. He nipped her earlobe as he waited for her to respond.
Karen cleared her throat, which was suddenly clogged, but even then could only manage a weak, “Yes,” hoping he would think she meant for food, and not for the thrust of his body inside her own.
“So am I, meisje,” he said, licking the pulse that beat in her throat, trailing his lips up to the one that beat in her temple, and kissing her there, leaving her in no doubt as to the kind of hunger of which he spoke. “So am I.” He suckled the vein there lightly, then raised his head and inhaled deeply. “But I can wait. Let’s go have breakfast. The concert will begin at ten today.”
He stepped away from her then, which gave her the room to move, and the time to recoup her lost composure and gather her scattered wits along with her pocketbook. He took her arm and escorted her from the room, out to a full breakfast in the large country kitchen of the house, before they went for a second day to listen to songs and stories, canlı poker oyna and enjoy the art work on display at the show. Before she knew it, the concert was over, and Peter was leading her away from the stall where she had purchased a wooden carving of lovers just about to kiss. She fancied she could feel the warm breath passing between their lips, and she smiled as she thought of where she could put it in a house, if she had one.
“What are you thinking?”
Peter’s voice brought her sharply back to the moment, and to the sidewalk down which they were strolling.
“Just wondering where an item like the carving I bought could be placed in a house I might some day own,” she answered. It struck her, as she said it, that he might think she was angling for some kind of statement from him, and as she knew that was not her intention, she hurried on, without letting him speak. “Anyway, Toni and Niall are in Amsterdam, and she asked if we could pop over for lunch with them.” When he did not immediately respond, she added, “I know it’s a long way from your home, so if you’d rather not, that’s all right with me. I can see her when I get back to England.”
His continued silence began to unnerve her, but just as she was about to tackle it in her usual head-on way, he turned to her and said,
“That sounds like a marvelous idea, meisje. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join you. Something has come up that I need to attend to.”
His tone was cool, almost aloof, and Karen tried not to feel hurt at what seemed like a withdrawal. Perhaps that phone call this morning was what had come up.
“It’s all right, Peter. I understand. Life happens while we’re having fun.” Her answer sounded lame, even to her own ears, but she was determined not to let any of her inner turmoil show.
“Let’s have dinner then, shall we, and plan how to get you to your friends, and me on my way.” His hand at her elbow urged her into a restaurant she hadn’t noticed, and as they were seated, she debated asking him what exactly had come up that was taking him away from her before the week he had invited her to stay was fully underway. She accepted the glass of water the waiter brought, and drank deeply, as though preparing herself for battle. When prompted, she placed her order, and left him to choose the wine that went with their meal, while she marshaled her thoughts for the conversation she did not want to have.
“You seem preoccupied.” His voice, an echo of worry in it, brought her sharply into the moment.
“I’m not,” she replied, denying it without heat. “I just wondered what had come up, and if it would spoil our time together.”
She gave herself full marks for sounding matter-of-fact, as aloof as he had sounded earlier. She had long ago learned to disguise what she was truly feeling beneath a mask of cool reserve.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I meant to tell you before. I have a few interviews coming up shortly. I was trying to make arrangements to have them rescheduled for next week, but it’s not possible. So I’ll be away from tomorrow till Wednesday, I’m afraid.”
His eyes were troubled, and Karen felt gratified that he was not any more happy with the situation than she was. It wasn’t as though she had anywhere she desperately needed to be, so she could lengthen her stay, but it would cost her money to change the booking to return home, and she was determined not to pass the cost of that on to him. If he wanted her to stay longer, she would pay her own way.
“You’ve gone again,” he murmured, sipping the wine that had been brought to their table, watching her with patient eyes.
“Sorry.” She changed the subject when he remained quiet. “What are you interviewing for? A new job?”
“Yes, in a university.” He offered no further explanation, making her wonder if he was reluctant to discuss it. When he changed the subject, she thought her conjecture correct. “What do you think of Leeuwarden?”
She smiled. “It’s a nice city, what little I’ve seen of it. Have you lived there long?”
“Alijd and I moved there fifteen years ago.”
Their salads arrived and the meal proceeded, with conversation being more of the general sort, no further mention being made of either his interviews or of the city where he lived, nor of Toni’s visit to Amsterdam. After dinner, they went back to the bed and breakfast, and as they got ready for bed, he said,
“We’ll go home in the morning, and look for a place for you to stay in Amsterdam. I can recommend a reasonably-priced place if you like. You’ll be able to spend some time with your friends and then I’ll come and pick you up. I’ll have to put you on the train to get there, though. Will that be all right, love?”
His voice was faintly worried, and she hastened to reassure him. “That’ll be fine, Peter. Just let me know how much it costs, okay?”
“I’ll take care of…”
Karen interrupted him. “No, that’s all right. I’ll handle it!”
His lips thinned, and she wondered if they were about to have their first not-quite-a-couple argument. She braced myself, suddenly wishing she was the internet casino sort of woman who could just let it slide.
He inhaled deeply, then said, “Why don’t we go Dutch with this, too, hmm? It would make me more comfortable.”
“Sure. I don’t mind that.” She sighed inwardly, feeling as though she had dodged a bullet. “I’ll just go brush my teeth now.”
The bathroom mirror was still somewhat misted, and she watched it clear as she brushed her teeth and cleaned the makeup from her face. Peter’s voice calling her reminded her she was not alone, and she walked quickly back into the bedroom.
“Sorry…had to remove the warpaint!”
He chuckled and switched off the light as she crawled into bed next to him, and reached for her, pulling her up against his hard body.
“I thought for a second at dinner that we were going to have our first quarrel,” he murmured into her hair, stroking her arms tenderly. “I’m glad we didn’t, or I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this.”
He left her in no doubt as to what “this” was, and by the time they fell asleep, she had been well and truly loved, and taken and fucked harder than she had ever been before. She had been well used, and her last waking thought was that she could get accustomed to being so thoroughly loved by this man. And when his kisses woke her up a few hours later, and his hands raised her blood pressure, and his fingers opened her, and his hard rod drove into her, she was replete with pleasure.
They drove back to Leeuwarden later in the morning, and after collecting Scrooge, they went for a walk in the park. The air was balmy and they lingered, holding hands and enjoying each other’s company. Karen felt contentment sweep through her as they walked up the stairs at his apartment behind Scrooge. She could live like this.
Once Peter had booked a room for her stay in Amsterdam, and they had eaten dinner and cleared the things away, she packed an overnight bag with things for her trip, and watched Peter pack for his interviews.
“Where will you be for the next few days?” she asked him as he closed his overnight bag.
“Groningen, Haarlem, and Nijmegen,” he answered. “Perhaps I could join you on Wednesday evening instead, after my last interview, if you wouldn’t mind,” he added, turning from placing it by the door to look at her. “We can leave on Thursday morning.”
“I’d love that,” she replied. “Toni sent me a text message to say she and Niall would be in Amsterdam for a couple of days, so I won’t be on my own on Wednesday.”
Peter watched her settle herself into his bed, and felt his heart turn over. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for this woman, and he hoped she would come to see that they could be happy together. But he had never been one to rush into action, despite his behavior with her the last few days. And with the upheaval that a change in job would bring, he wasn’t sure he should be doing even what he had already done with her until things were more settled. But he worried that her seeing Niall again, a man whom he knew she liked, although she would not come between her friend and him, might still make her think twice about anything more permanent with him. He knew she enjoyed their lovemaking as much as he did, but he wasn’t certain she understood that for him, loving her was everything, and that having said the words, he was committed to her.
He got into bed, feeling his body stir as he touched her warm skin, and he wrapped his arms around her, determinedly pushing all worry from his mind, so that he could immerse himself in her. She was so receptive, giving him back kiss for kiss, opening herself to his caresses, to his desires, that he hoped she might also be committing herself to him. He loved the way she moaned when he slid his hands down to knead her breasts, and when he slid his fingers between the lips of her sex to play with her clitoris. He loved the way she opened her legs to accept his invasion, and thrust up against him as he drove into her. She made him mindless with lust, until all he could see was her eyes, and all he could feel was her heartbeat and the wet slide of her flesh cradling his. He loved her cries of ecstasy when she came, and pushed him over the edge.
When he was able, he rose to clean them up, but by the time he returned she was half asleep. He wiped their juices from her flesh and slid back into bed beside her, hugging her against his chest and letting himself fall into sleep. There was a lot he had to do over the next few days, but for now, he had the woman he loved in his arms, and he would savor that.
After a quick breakfast next morning, he took Karen to the train and kissed her goodbye before taking himself off to Groningen for his first interview. Arriving half an hour early, he sat in the vestibule sipping the mediocre coffee put out for visitors, and considered his options. He could accept the job in Groningen if it were offered, because he could stay in his flat and live as he had for the last fifteen years. And Karen said she didn’t mind Leeuwarden, though Groningen was a lovely old city as well. The program he would be teaching in was an excellent one, and he would be happy there, he was sure. But he had lived in Groningen when he and Alijd had first married, and the memories were bittersweet, at best.
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