Late

Miranda left Anthony’s house in the dead of the night, while he slept. It was Anthony’s house. Not her’s. She was his wife, but Anthony had lived in that house before their marriage. His father and mother had lived there. It was his house.

She slipped silently out of bed, wrapping herself in a robe. She tip-toed out of bed, leaving her shoes behind so her feet would make no noise. She went out into the hall, down the stairs, and through the back door. She ran down the hill behind the house, between the woods and fields, to the river. She looked up at the full moon. It was high in the night sky now.

She was late.

She hurried faster. She came running over the rolling green, hoping she hadn’t missed him. He was there, waiting for her.

She ran to him, nearly knocking him back into his small boat on the muddy river banks as she threw her arms around him. She felt the mud squish between her toes as she held him, pressing her face into his chest and sighing.

She hadn’t missed him, but she had missed him.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” she said, not breaking her hold of him.

“Forgotten,” he said smiling. He ran a thin, calloused hand through her golden hair. He let it slide down to her neck, caressing it softly as it continued down to her shoulder, and then her back. He pressed her into him. She sighed again, contented, enjoying the warmth of his body in the cool of the night. Oh how she had missed him.

She nuzzled the space where his neck and shoulder met, breathing in his scent. When they had met, almost a year ago, she had hated the way he smelled. He’d stunk of mud and sweat, but she’d grown used to the sweat, and the mud became a more vivid, rich earthy smell.

It was his smell, no one else’s. She drew it in hungrily as she squeezed her arms around him.

When stretched up to kiss him, he kissed her back. She’d been taken aback the first time he’d done that. Anthony didn’t kiss back. He just let her kiss him. But this man, he kissed her back with passionate intent.

Miranda preferred that.

As they kissed, their hands sought out familiar places, catching breaths and eliciting pleasant moans from them both.

They fell into the grass above the bank, pulling at garments and whispering desires to one another. She covered his skin in kisses, and each of her kisses were met with a caress of his strong hands on her flesh.

She gasped at a kiss that Anthony would never make, and felt her whole body shiver.

She knew this was wrong. She knew exactly what would happen if Anthony found out.

She didn’t care.

She didn’t love Anthony anymore. She had once, but she didn’t think he had ever loved her like she’d loved him. She’d done everything she could think of to turn his resignation to their marriage into something stronger, something like love. She had given up years ago.

When she’d met this man, this stranger by the river, fishing by the light of the full moon, she had not been afraid of him. She had not been afraid when he’d pulled his boat ashore, or sat down beside her to ask her why she cried.

She had been afraid though, when she’d kissed him that night. She had scared herself with how easy it was to kiss this man. How easy it had been to love him, simply because he loved her back.

She tangled his hair in her fingers, and held tightly as he worked. She would have let this go on till dawn, their bodies tangling together like hair and fingers, but she knew she couldn’t.

Even on a normal night, she would need to be back before Anthony stirred. He was hardly an early riser, but she would also need to clean herself and slip back into bed. She would need to get at least some sleep too.

On a normal night, she would let it go for an hour or so, no longer.

Tonight was not normal though.

She was late.

She pulled herself away from him and said as much.

He misunderstood, so she said it again.

“I am late,” she insisted.

The dawning of meaning came over his face.

She had expected him to be angry, or afraid, but instead he touched her bare stomach and smiled. He kissed her, and she had no words.

He did not ask if it was his, he simply kissed her.

Miranda wept. She threw her arms around his shoulders and sobbed into him.

They held each other, there on the wet grass by the river bank, until he said three words in her ear.

“Come with me.”

She pulled away. She knew she couldn’t.

She was married. Even if Anthony didn’t love her the fact still remained. She couldn’t simply run from that. And if she did, what kind of life could she have? She would run away with this fisherman she had known for less than a year? Leave behind the life she had tried to build here these last several years? She couldn’t. She shouldn’t. She wouldn’t.

She looked into his eyes. Kind eyes, warm eyes, so unlike Anthony’s.

And she said, “Yes.”

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