The next four weeks were just heavenly. Everything happened perfectly. That’s not to say there weren’t a few unexpected bumps in the road. But those bumps usually arose because of a misunderstanding. After all, we were just beginning to learn about each other. Take Gelert Gardens for example. Things didn’t turn out quite as planned. But somehow that seemed to make the night even more memorable and enjoyable.
Before we even got in the car we agreed that we would whisper inside the restaurant. Peters’ voice was pretty weak and I didn’t want him spending the night tapping away on the iPad when he could be looking at me so we decided to whisper. But just in case we brought the iPad. When he picked me up at my cottage he looked every inch the gentleman. He wore a loose fitting shirt per doctors instructions. And his suit was so pressed and crisp you could cut paper on the pleats. He even wore a tie! It was a clip-on tie but it was still a tie. And when he could he took it off. So when he looked at me his eyes just about popped out of his head. After I opened the door and he took one long at me. After that he rapidly pulled the iPad from his pocket and typed….
My slit skirt really got his attention. And the dragon was a nice touch. He put his head next to my ear and asked about the significance of the dragon.
I leaned seductively against a wall and answered very slowly. I gave my lips a tiny lick, just enough for them to glisten and make Peter…well you know.
He stood in the doorway, cleared his throat a few times, and looked at my dress. He pointed at the dragon and gurgled “Who”.
“That’s Murray. He’s supposed to protect my…well let’s just say something rather important.”
I wasn’t going to tell Peter that particular train had long since left the station. No reason to. At least not yet. Besides a girls got to have some secrets.
“Am I allowed to kiss you or do I have to get Murray’s permission?”
“If you want to kiss me you have to get my permission first then his. Murray is very protective of me and he just might scratch you.”
I pretended to scratch Peters’ face. We both started to laugh.
“Now you be nice. Murray’s very sensitive.”
“In that case, it might wise of us if we started moving. I don’t want to get maimed by a dragon. The insurance bill could be enormous.” Peter held my hand as I walked over the slippery bedrock.
Note to self…bedrock and high-heels don’t mix. Think Flats.
PJC. Intentions noted and appreciated. Very appreciated.
Peter carried a small bag with him. And the top was covered by a newspaper to guard against some purely accidental snooping. Who am I kidding? I love to snoop. A reporter may report while I snoop. When we arrived it was your typical Chinese restaurant complete with complimentary Chinese calendars. However, the aroma from the kitchen made your mouth water. After we ordered and while we were waiting for the Won-Ton soup to appear Peter picked up the bag from the floor. He noticed my gaze darting back and forth between him and the bag. He decided to put me out of my misery.
“You’ve been eyeing this bag just since you got in the car. You look like a cat just waiting for the right time to pounce. Are you sure you want to know what it holds?”
I nodded my head slowly.
“In the short time we’ve known each other I come to value your counsel and company. You’ve rekindled some feelings in me that I thought were dead. And I want to thank for coming into my life and introducing me to Murray. This is a two prong surprise. Since you’re not allowed to write on toilet paper-”
I still can’t believe I actually said that. But I am surprised he remembered. He really likes looking at Murray. I wonder which part he’s looking at? The head or the tail? I should remember that store in Lindsay. I think it safe to say this dress is definitely Peter approved. As Peter bent his neck he winced a bit. Evidently, his throat didn’t being bent. Things were getting worse. Fast.
“I got you your own computer where you can write to your heart’s delight. It’s not a clumsy desktop computer like mine. It’s a laptop computer with a much faster memory than mine. Plenty of room for e-books, music, and pretty well anything else.”
Peter reached into the bag and pulled out a black Acer laptop. The initials “C.C.” were monogrammed onto the outer cover. In white. They were my initials. They could be somebody else’s too.
“I want to really thank you” he said as he handed the computer to me. It was so thin and so light compared to the one I had left back in the city.
He reached back into the bag. Oh no!
And pulled out a small box. Stop!
Meant for engagement rings. Oh please stop!
Oh god please say it’s not true.
I held the box in the palm of my hand. I was shivering with fear.
Peter looked at me and was puzzled at my behavior.
“Aren’t you wondering what’s in it? Go on, open it”
I opened the box and saw a friggin’ key!
“I don’t understand. What’s with a key?”
“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. You know how sick I am and you know after talking with Dr. Willowby that I’m going to get a whole lot sicker. And I’ve discovered that the best way to get better is with your help.”
As Peter was talking he suddenly held my hand. Not quite sure what he was talking about I asked him to clarify what he was trying to say.
“Peter I still don’t understand. What are you trying to say?”
Peter was obviously uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell if he was in pain or nervous. And that bothered me. Peter took in a deep breath and tried again.
“Cassie. It takes a lot for me to trust anyone let alone anyone as special as you. After she left me I thought I’d never trust anyone ever again. I’m trying to say I trust and care for you. And I’d like you to move into the cottage so you can close by.”
Close by. Close by? Close for what?
Now it was my turn to get frustrated. I started to tear up. I grabbed the serviette and dabbed my eyes.
“For pity’s sake, Peter will you please say why you want me close by. Close by for what?” I needed to know, really know.
“For those times when I’m stubborn, when I’m sick as a dog, for those times I won’t eat. I need your strength. I don’t know how to say it any plainer. I need and want you.” He pointed right at me. He really did need me. But for what?
He pushed his chair back and stood up clearly frustrated. He ripped off his clip-on tie which he pocketed and buttoned his jacket. I couldn’t hear everything he muttered but did say the word “mistake”.
“Can we go outside and thrash this out. I want you to move into the guest bedroom…” As soon as he said “bedroom” he understood why I needed him to “say” exactly why he needed me. We both stood up and he apologized.
When we went to the veranda they were serving green tea. Peter apologized again. He held onto the wooden railing with his head bowed.
“Oh my god. I feel so stupid. Did you think I was asking you to move in with me? I’m in a battle for my very life. And right now I need the strength, the stubbornness, the drive of Cassie Carter. I apologize for not making myself clear but I need the strength of the woman who knocked on my door. I need her help“.
I don’t think Peter realized it but he was holding my hand when he apologized. We sat in some wicker furniture which obviously mass produced and I ordered some tea for both of us. Peter was clearly upset by his inability to make himself clear. He apologized again. Only this time there was more emotion in his apology. He was so anxious and nervous he couldn’t stay seated. He paced like a caged lion.
“You mean so much to me. I need your help. And I would like your company. You mean so very much to me. More than you can possibly imagine. I don’t want you to return to the city. I would like it very much if you’d consider staying up here……with me.” While I sat in a chair watching him pace back and forth I composed myself. Or tried to. Peter suddenly got down on one knee to beg me not to return to the city. I’m have no idea where he got that from. I hadn’t discussed returning to the city with him at all. Ever. I know he didn’t ask but I can’t help but wonder if he knows he came dangerously close to proposing.
There was very little conversation in the car on the way home. I had some serious thinking to do. I told him I’d need some time to process all that he said and to think about his request. What he was suggesting would be a gigantic leap in our for our relationship. For both of us. It was pretty late by the time we got home and I forgot to leave the porch light on. He left the car lights on and carried me over the dew-soaked bedrock. Again high-heels were the culprit. He deposited me on the porch of Blue Cottage. He didn’t wait around for a good night kiss or anything. He simply said “please” and vanished into the dark. He must have walked to his cottage. You couldn’t even hear the gravel crunching under his feet. The man was a cat. Soon a light appeared from inside his cottage. He was safe and sound. OK, he was home he wasn’t that sound. Note to self. Skip the green tea. The caffeine was too potent. I was too wired. Plus I couldn’t sleep with what Peter had asked rattling around in my head. So I changed into an old sweat suit. It was warm and cozy like a hug Peter gave me. And I thought. More than I ever have before. About everything. I weighed the pros and cons. And thought some more.
I must have fallen asleep on the couch. Mental exhaustion finally took its toll. When I woke I went into the kitchen and made myself some coffee. I checked the label to make sure it was decaffeinated. I went the large picture window to greet the day and that’s when I saw it. Peter had done it again. I suspect he got about as much sleep as I did, but somehow he had the getup and go to get the second section of my dock off the beach and into the water. I went down to the boathouse and found him rummaging through some old boxes. I think I startled him. He didn’t expect to see me so early. I asked him just what he was doing. He answered in fragments of sentences.
“Couldn’t sleep….felt like an ass…came over here to make myself useful.”
I was surprised to see him. And a little horrified. I must have looked like hell to him. I tried to excuse myself to freshen up a bit and to make myself look a little human. That’s when he grabbed me by the waist and gurgled something I’ll never forget.
“You look beautiful all the time.”
Then he kissed me good morning. At least, I think he said that. I was in shock. I needed to get out quick before I did something we both might regret.
“I’ll put my wet suit on and help you. Back in a jiff”.
I tore up the stairs that led to my cottage like a demon with its tail on fire. Things were happening just a little too fast. I ran into the bedroom and locked it. I replayed what just happened in my mind. It must have been an eternity before I got into my wet suit. It was a one-piece thing opposed to Peters which was a two-piece suit. Inside were instructions for first-time use.
“Apply baby powder to the skin. The suit will then slide over the skin”.
I went into the bathroom and put baby powder all over me. I then climbed into the monokini and then the suit. As I went back down to the boathouse Peter was floating the third twenty foot section into place. Apparently, when I made my earlier appearance Peter was looking for the metallic links that joined the sections together. Joined together they formed an L-shaped dock that would be sixty feet out from shore. As I approached Peter the water went in from the top of my wetsuit. It was a bit of a shock but not as much as the one Peter got when saw me approaching. For some reason my backside wanted to float, and it made walking laborious. When I finally got to the dock there was only one link remaining. A minute later the dock was complete. I took Peter by the hand and pulled him under the dock.
“This is for helping me with the dock. Nothing else. I still haven’t decided about moving in”. Then I surprised him by kissing him very passionately. My tongue was swimming with his. Then I tried to swim away quickly. My plan for a quick escape crashed and burned. Every time I tried to swim downwards I popped up like a cork. Peter roared with laughter.
“No weights” was all he said and needed to say. Now I know why Peter wanted me to have a weight belt. I gathered up what dignity I had left and swum over to him. We were nose to nose.
“Interested in breakfast?” was all I had to say.
Peter nodded his head approvingly.
“Meet me upstairs. I may need your help.”
I went upstairs with the intention of getting out of the wetsuit by myself. After I entered my bedroom I unzipped the suit. I quickly learned you almost had to be a contortionist to get out of a wetsuit. I unzipped the wet suit to my waist. But try as I might I couldn’t get my pants off. I was about to lose all of my dignity. How do tell a man you can’t get your pants off? I went back into the boathouse and explained the situation to Peter. He started to snicker. I started to regret asking him for help. Thank god for the monokini.
“Lie on the floor and stick your legs up.” I suddenly felt like a toddler learning about snow pants. He tugged. He pulled. He coughed. He laughed. A lot. The floor wasn’t very comfy. Then he asked if I put baby powder on my legs.
“I put some there, at least I think I did”
Peter explained that if there wasn’t enough baby powder on my legs the best thing to do was to wait until I dried up.
“Great! What happens if I need to go to the ladies room?”
“You don’t. Now, what’s for breakfast?”
“Be realistic. I can’t cook like this.”
Peter studied me. I kind of liked the attention but at the same time, it was sort of creepy. I felt the same way when we first met.
“OK, desperate times call for desperate measures. Unzip as far as you can then kiss me like you did under the dock. Then I’m going to lie on top of you and try turn it inside out. But hold on to the other suit. It might rip.”
I knew what he was getting at. He was going get me out of it by almost tearing it off me. But I drew the line at having to lie down. I was to kiss him and get his juices really flowing. He grabbed the top half as firmly as he could. I kissed him as passionately as I could. Even gave him a tonsillectomy for good measure. All of a sudden the suit was peeled off me and it was inside out. It worked and my dignity was intact. So was the monokini.
“You, kind sir, get bacon!”
As we sat eating bacon and eggs in comfort Peter let the cat out of the bag. “Works just as well without the kiss too”. I could have killed him. Still, it did feel comfy kissing him. Good practice too.
Peter has this massive DVD collection in his cottage. One of the films on a disc is a favorite of both of us. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is great because of the characters. One of the characters names was Nurse Ratched but if you say the last name quickly you get an entirely different sounding word, or maybe I should say words. Lets just say its something you don’t want to step in. Ever. As I threw my things into a large suitcase (thank you Aunt Heather) I kept going over this decision in my mind. I held the key in my fingers. Was I doing this for him, for me, or both? We both felt an attraction. And I knew I could trust him. But could I trust myself? If Peter wanted to ravage me he could have done it when he popped me out the wetsuit. But he didn’t. And I could have really made his day under the dock. But I didn’t. It was clear we both needed to know where this relationship was going. I lifted the heavy bag onto a small trolley. The fun part would be getting it over the bedrock just behind Blue Cottage. From there it would be clear sailing. When I got to his front door I pulled the key Peter gave me from my back pocket and inserted it in the lock and unlocked the door. Peter was at his computer and leaned out of his chair to see the front door. As the door swung open I yelled at the top of my lungs “LOOK OUT WORLD. NURSE RACHED HAS ARRIVED”.
…much more to come