PIERCING BEAMS OF LIGHT. A crimson veil tells me my eyes are closed, but the sun still penetrates, irradiating my vision. I squint without opening them, and gradually come to realize that I have been asleep.
Now I feel guilty. I told him I wanted to come along, to be with him today while he was working . . . and I couldn’t stay awake. How can I not feel I’ve disappointed him? But—again, in degrees, as I move into waking—I recognize the feel of his skin, warm and dry, against mine. He’s holding my hand. Has probably been holding it all the while I slept.
Still guilty but moved almost to tears, I let my eyes open slowly and turn my head to the left, where I have sensed his presence. My mouth opens in a silent gasp when I see him. He is always beautiful to me, of course. But at this moment his face is gilded with light and shadow in a way that makes my heart, my throat, my womb ache. His eyes are closed, his face relaxed, his breathing measured . . . he is creating. The sun flows in through the window, slides gently over his face and hair, seems to illuminate his thoughts as well. So intense and open is his concentration, I can almost see the images in his mind.
I want to touch him—stroke that gold-limned hair, run my fingertips over the shaft of light falling across his cheekbone, kiss his closed eyes . . . but I dare not. I will not break his concentration, not now. And I must admit, I am moved beyond words to be able to watch this happen. This is both his greatest strength and his most fragile vulnerability, this space in his heart and mind where truth and honesty burn like flames. Songs . . . images . . . stories . . . he crafts them all from the same place, deep inside.
Then he turns toward me, breaking the spell of that moment, and the connection between us grows stronger as he languidly opens his eyes and smiles. I can allow myself to touch him now; I brush the back of a finger along his jaw line, and he leans into the caress like a sun-warmed cat being stroked. You’re breaking my heart in two, I think, I love you so much . . . maybe more than I should. And my hand falters.
He stares at me, demanding my honesty even in thought, even in the privacy of my own heart and soul. And why not? He’s shown me his own depths. So I let him see it all: the fear of loving him so deeply . . . the joy I know in watching him in his most unguarded moments . . . the awe and gentleness I want to express with my hands, my lips, my body. You make me feel things I have never felt before, I confess with my eyes. Your strength is somehow in me, too.
I seek shelter behind my eyelids—I’ve shown him enough. He doesn’t agree. Those warm, slightly roughened hands encircle my face, tilting it up, and I know his own sea-blue eyes are there in front of mine as he waits. But I stay in hiding, letting the sunlight play over me; imagine it spilling across his face and onto mine, sharing its illumination.
He will not let me retreat into safety. I sense him as he moves in closer, and then his lips are on my forehead . . . the tip of my nose . . . down to my neck . . . lingering there. I am aching again in a second—moved past the fear and straight into the sweetest pain I’ve ever known. Needing him.
I must look. See and be seen. There is nothing else with him. My eyes open and find his, staring into my soul. Again. Even when our lips meet—at last—he will not close his eyes or allow me to close mine, forcing me to acknowledge that pain and fear that he feels. I am not alone, even in that. This is the truth he wants me to see, right now, in this moment. Naked to each other . . . and I begin to tremble.
He pulls me closer, impossibly nearer, and his mouth moves to my cheekbone, blessing it with a sigh. Then my hair, my ear . . . and he whispers. The sound he makes is nothing, and everything. It comforts me without one discernible word, and my arms go up around his neck to keep him there, as if I can hold onto his strength, his light. And I feel those things melting into me as we rise to cling to each other . . . feel his hand on my back, pressing me closer . . . the other hand tangled in my hair and moving in slow, sensual circles.
The heat of his body is beginning to warm me in places not touched by the sunbeams that surround us. Held tightly against his chest, I can feel rather than hear his heart beating, pulsing with life, with that fire I saw so clearly on his face a few moments before. My senses are overwhelmed by his intensity. Doubt returns, with a different force behind it. Am I in there, in that flame? I want so much to be. . . . A moment ago, I feared it; now I feel bereft at the thought of being left outside that storm.
Head tilted back, now I am searching his face, looking for the truth, no longer afraid to ask or show how desperately I must know. Trust . . . a thorny path for both of us, but everything I need, all the reassurance, is there as he smiles down on me. Gentle and fierce—he is both in that same look. Anything he asked of me, anything, I would give to him at this moment. For I can see, now that I have let myself look into that unbearable brightness, that same love in him. And it makes such a dangerous surrender possible . . . inevitable.
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