“This house is very sexy, Annie.”
They were wandering around the house, staring, together and separately, out its dozens of panes of glass large and small, vaguely astounded, fuzzy in their fatigue.
As Annie had remembered, it was like living in the trees. You entered at ground level, with its two ordinary bedrooms, then walked upstairs into the woods—glass walls on three sides, only one other house visible in the distance. The kitchen tucked in against the one un-windowed wall and the rest of the floor consisted of places to sit—at a large wooden table, on a couch, in chairs.
Upstairs, at the top of the trees, was the master bedroom with its glass-walled sitting room and sky-lit bathroom.
They stood now at the window in the sitting room, the king-sized bed in back of them.
“And you’ve already discovered this,” Andrew went on thoughtfully, as much to himself as to her. “Looked out all the windows. Jumped into the bed. Soaked in the tub.”
Annie shook her head. “It was different. Trust me.”
They observed each other, hatless now, unprotected.
“We got here, and I didn’t want to leave,” she said. “For Ed, it was just a home base, to get to the beach. And we had the dogs, remember. It was like being here with two three-year-olds.”
“Hm.” Andrew gazed around the room, taking in the late-afternoon light, the openness, the suggested mix of freedom and comfort. “This house is wasted on three-year-olds.”
“For all I know, it’s like the beach house you had with Polly.”
Andrew blinked, startled. “Architecturally, no. Emotionally, no way.”
Annie sat on the small white couch that looked out into the trees, and Andrew joined her. Together they filled it, hip to hip.
“At our age, there’s always history,” she said, “OK, maybe this is a little intense, but at home we do things that Ed and I did.”
“We do not have sex in your bed.”
“We haven’t. Think of this as an intermediary step. If you want,” she added.
Andrew felt laughter welling up inside of him. He looked away, then back at her, trying not to grin. “You can do this.”
“Yes. Can you?”
He could not take his eyes off her. “You’re probably the weirdest girlfriend I’ve ever had.”
Annie thought for only a second. “Probably.”
* * * * *
“There is one more thing I should tell you.”
Andrew had showered and dressed in gym shorts and a white T-shirt, one with a V-neck that still hid his chest. Annie, sitting at the big wooden table with a sliced peach, wondered if he would always wear a T-shirt. But first, this—
“You don’t have a penis,” she said.
“Arrgghh! This isn’t funny!” he said, realizing he was about to laugh again. “Except I guess it is.” He sat down at the table and took a piece of peach.
She nodded. “I’m just being hysterical. It’s the 1990s. No one our age should have unprotected sex with a new partner.”
“You’ve been talking to Warren.”
“No, I read it somewhere. Several somewheres. Think of it this way: you don’t know who I’ve had sex with.”
“Who have you had sex with?”
“Ed. But we don’t know who Ed had sex with and who I had sex with before Ed . . . blah blah, it’s so boring.”
“Want to just forget it?”
“. . . You’re clean?”
“As of two weeks ago. Are you?”
“—I’ve never been tested. I brought some condoms. Did you?”
“About a pound of them. Warren would kill me if I didn’t use them. Of course, I could lie . . .”
“Can we think of this as the last—the only—irony in our relationship? I can’t get pregnant but we still have to use rubbers.”
* * * * * * * *
“I want to see you,” he said, “but I don’t want you to see me.”
“I’m going to see you this week, Andrew.”
“Still. Do something for me, just tonight. Let’s turn off the light . . .” He flicked the switch for the lamps at the bed, and the room went black. A sliver of a moon had risen above the trees.
“There’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
“What?” Annie stiffened.
“Nothing weird. Here, take this off . . .” He drew her T-shirt over her head, and they finished undressing.
“I lie here,” he said, lying down on his back, “and you lie on top of me.”
She hesitated, wishing she could see his face.
“It’s OK,” he said gently, with only a trace of urgency. “That’s all. Nothing weird.”
So she lay on top of him, her chest to his, her legs along his. He took her hands and stretched out their arms together. They lay cheek to cheek and he rubbed his entire face slowly, softly, against hers.
“That’s it,” he said. “In my fantasies, you fly me. You fly me around the world.”
So she flew him, that night and for the next seven days and nights. That first time, when they got back to the bed, his face was wet.
“What’s wrong?” she said.
“Nothing,” he said, “nothing’s wrong. For six years, I’ve been underground, in hell . . . and now I’m flying.”
Copyright © Debby Mayer