“Listen Paddy,” she said, “speaking of Paul reminds me that you’ll need to be leaving to collect him soon if he’s fit enough to come to the Parkrun tomorrow.”
“We still have a lot to talk about,” she said, “and I wouldn’t want you to keep him waiting. Can I come to your house tomorrow afternoon?”
“Of course,” I said, “Would you like a lift straight after Parkrun?”
She said it would be a great idea.
I collected my laptop and she walked me to the door. As we stood in her hall, she removed my laptop from my hand, and put it on the hall table. She moved in front of me, put her arms around my neck, pulled me towards her and apologised again for misunderstanding what had happened. I hadn’t been prepared for this level of closeness, her face so near to mine. I could feel her breath on my face. Her delicate scent in my nostrils was intoxicating. Her face lifted to mine and my arms moved around her, one hand lightly on her slender waist just above her hip, the other touching her shoulder blade beneath her hair. I could feel her hair against my face and the softness of her cheek against mine. I could feel her skin through the softness of the fabric of her top. I moved my head back to look at her face for clues as to what was happening between us. Suddenly, as our faces moved closer together, my eyes moved, from hers, to her lips. The urge to touch my lips to hers was irresistible Our bodies moved closer still as our lips met. We had to move slightly away for a moment as we adjusted our faces to avoid bumping noses, then joined our lips again in a lingering kiss. Our bodies moved wildly against each other. Our hands explored each other feverishly through our clothes. My senses were spinning. This was all my wildest dreams come true. Our kiss just felt so right, her soft lips so loving, kissing my lips, my face, my neck. We kissed and kissed, again and again.
“I love you,” I told her as our heads moved apart. I noticed that, in my desire for her, some of the fabric of her blouse was now balled in one of my hands. The fingers of my other hand were entwined in her hair, her fingers in my own hair. I could feel her body against mine as we stood, my arms now holding her tightly to me and I felt urgent feelings stirring in my groin. I could see that her eyes were damp with tears as mine were. I didn’t want to leave go of her.
“It’s taken you long enough to get round to telling me,” she admonished me gently. “I love you too,” she said, pushing me gently away, “We must do that again, very soon, but somewhere more comfortable, eh? But go on, go now while you still can. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I don’t know how I managed to find my way home: I was totally besotted. Her words, “while you still can,” and memories of our kiss accompanied me the whole way.
When I called for Paul, he was ready to go – PlayStation, pyjamas and running kit all in a colourful backpack that I hadn’t seen before. He said that his gran had bought it for him for school. Helen said that he was fine now and she was sure that the fresh air would do him good. She also said that I should wipe the lipstick from my face – it looked strange at that time in the day. She was laughing. She said that she assumed that the lipstick was Susie’s.
She said that she was happy for us and that she hoped I’d learned a lesson, and that, for me as for her, love would be sweeter the second time.
The following morning, Paul was up before I was. He was really chatty over breakfast. He asked had I trained any more this week. I confessed that I hadn’t. He reprimanded me, saying that we’d never win if I didn’t train. I promised that I’d ask his mummy if we could train on Friday nights and perhaps on some Sunday mornings. He said that he’d ask his mummy too.
We made good time on the journey to Altrincham. After parking the car, we had time to do a couple of warm-up circuits as we waited for Susie. I’d been watching some of the other runners doing preparatory exercises as we’d gone round. I showed Paul what they were doing and we copied them. Susie spotted us as we stretched our muscles and came to join us. She asked Paul how he was and then put her arm around me and gave me a kiss. I put an arm around her and kissed her too. When I looked down, Paul’s mouth was open in disbelief and he was pointing at me.
“You kissed Susie,” he said, “Won’t mummy be annoyed?”
“I shouldn’t think so, little man,” I assured him, “mummy has Cliff to kiss her now, doesn’t she?”
He thought for a minute then said that he thought so because they did a lot of kissing.
Susie’s hand was over her mouth stifling a laugh as she looked down at him.
“Can I hug you too?” she asked him.
“Yes please,” he said, “but you don’t need to kiss me if you don’t want.”
She bent down to him and held him to her in a tight hug. When she released him, he told her that she smelled nice.
“Are you Daddy’s girlfriend now that mummy has Cliff?” he asked.
“I think so, Paul,” she answered, “Do you mind?”
“I don’t mind if it makes Daddy happy,” he said, looking very serious, “Daddy has been very sad for ages.”
I put my hand on his shoulder and assured him that being with Susie made me very happy, and that I was sorry if he’d been worrying about me. I said that everything was wonderful again now. I looked at Susie and could see over her shoulder that Debbie and Jenny had arrived and were watching us. Jenny smiled at me and came to join us. She commented on how happy we’d seemed – a proper little family. Susie gave her a pasted-on smile.
The announcement for us to move to the Start point came at just the right moment.
Paul and I made reasonable time and I wasn’t as out of breath as usual when we finished, Susie, of course, had completed her run much sooner than we did and she was talking to Debby and Jenny as we made our way to the bandstand after we’d had our barmarks recorded.
“So, you two are together then,” Jenny said, “Well, it’s about time.”
I agreed. It was about time.
Susie, Paul and I donned our fleeces and made our way back to the car. He was holding Susie’s hand and chatting to her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. My eyes filled up with tears of pleasure. Susie noticed.
“You old softie,” she said.
Today my featured photo is one that I shot from Castell Dinas near Llangollen in Wales early in 2020
The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-3ii 24 MP cropped sensor camera and 16-85 mm f/3.6-5.6 lens @ 16 mm and f/8. Shutter speed was 1/500 secs and the ISO 200. The shot was mounted on a tripod and post processed in Lightroom Classic.