Romance at a Glance

Hi Lovelies! Below is a cut scene from ‘Faithful Lies’. Enjoy! xoxoxox

*****

Bertie was coming over to Mitch’s house for dinner after she met with Adverb Arthur to rehash the dive bar scene in his latest novel. She had said the meeting shouldn’t take too long and that she’d be right over afterward. Mitch was outside barbequing steaks when he noticed a dust storm heading toward the city from the south. It loomed brown and cloudy and he estimated it would blow through in the next twenty minutes. He was glad Bertie would be off the road by then- she should be pulling up in her little dark green MGA coupe any minute now.

Desert cicadas ramped up their loud buzzing noise in anticipation of the storm. The sound was almost deafening as the large fly-like insects vibrated their tymbals in a maddening cacophony.

Mitch pulled the large steaks from the grill, placing them on a clean white platter. He watched with satisfaction as the juices ran out and down the sides of the meat. The only good meat is red meat, he thought, as he took the rare mouth-watering porterhouse cuts inside.

He had already prepared a crisp ceasar salad, and baked potatoes were roasting in the oven. Mitch set the steak platter down and rubbed his hands together in anticipation. He also had a spectacular dessert lounging in the refrigerator… a messy, chocolate concoction with lots of whipped cream. He imagined Bertie tasting it, her eyes closing, the fork passing between her sensual lips… maybe a small moan of appreciation would resonate from her delicate throat as she savored the confection Mitch had spent most of his afternoon trying to perfect. He couldn’t wait to see Bertie again. It had only been since the evening before, but the hours without her seemed pointless and banal. He couldn’t explain the intense chemistry between them, nor the uncanny familiarity that permeated their conversations and their lovemaking. It was almost as if they’d always been a couple, always enjoyed one another’s company, always… Mitch’s body grew hot as he thought of how much he wanted Bertie. He wanted her all the time. It wasn’t quite obsession, no, it was just that he couldn’t get enough of her. He wanted to know all of her secrets, her passions, her likes and dislikes. He wanted to know what it would be like to have her be angry with him, annoyed at his little idiosyncrasies, or piqued over a religious or political debate. What made her tick? What- or rather who– was in her past?  There had been moments over the last several days when Mitch had wanted to ask Bertie very personal questions, for he knew she would answer them truthfully. She was a direct person, confident, comfortable in her own skin. Mitch didn’t imagine anything could shake Bertie. But those moments when he was warmed up to start a deep, meaningful discussion he would get lost in her chocolate brown eyes, in the scent of her skin… and the urge to be as physically close to her as possible would take over. All conversation would stop as he held her, caressed her, drowned her in the seduction of his hands and his body. Mitch had always been a phenomenally consummate lover, but with Bertie he was completely different- there were no rules of engagement, no playbook moves that were tried and true. When Mitch made love to Bertie the only thing going through his mind was how he could bring her pleasure over and over again. Watching her face and her body respond to his touches made him crazy with desire. Oftentimes, after Bertie lay trembling and satiated, he held her close to his chest and let her fall back from heaven before allowing his own needs to be met.

The winds picked up outside and Mitch noticed the branches of the large mesquite tree out front were waving and blowing about frantically. Concerned, he walked out his front door and peered down the dirt road leading to his house. The storm was getting closer for he could clearly see the defined brown lines of the fast encroaching dust cloud against the blue of the sky. Palo verde trees across the street began to sway erratically and a gust of wind slammed the front door shut behind Mitch. A crack of thunder sounded in the distance and Mitch pulled his cell phone out of his pocket to tell Bertie to find shelter within the next ten minutes. He was beyond worried about her being caught on the road because, by the look of the incoming dirt and the cloud formations behind it, Phoenix was in for one hell of a storm.

Just as Mitch pressed her contact information on his cell phone, Bertie’s dark green car raced up the driveway and she slammed on the brakes, spewing gravel. She leapt from the coupe, a huge smile on her face. The wind whipped her hair into an ebony tornado and she laughed and called out, “It’s going to rain! I love monsoon season!”

Mitch jumped off the porch and gathered her into his arms. “I’m so glad you’re ok.”

She smiled up at him, her brown eyes shining.

Mitch kissed her until they were both panting for air, and for each other, and said, “I don’t think this is going to be a normal storm. Let’s get you inside.” He put his arm around Bertie and guided her into the house.

She sniffed appreciatively as they entered Mitch’s clean, and now familiar, adobe home. He closed the door behind them and she kicked off her business heels. “Smells delicious in here.”

He led her into the kitchen and poured her a glass of wine.

“How was your day?” she asked, sitting up to the big kitchen island while she watched Mitch expertly mince chives with a sharp knife.

“Good. Jerry is marking the pine trees we need uprooted on the Greer lots as we speak. Tree removal starts soon.” Mitch stopped chopping and looked at her earnestly. “I love my work, but I am not looking forward to spending weekdays without you.”

“Did you decide when you’re leaving?”

“As soon as I’m back from San Diego.”

“We’ll see each other on the weekends.” Bertie looked at him slyly. “And I’m sure I can manage a few road trips during the week days every once in a while.” Mitch looked excited. “But you have to let me get some work done, Morrison. Editing can be mobile, but I need to concentrate.”

“How about you concentrate on your manuscripts while I concentrate on your body?”

Bertie laughed. “I would get nothing done. Nothing.” She turned suddenly serious, her eyes soft. “I can’t think about anything other than you and how much I want you when you’re touching me. It’s like I’m transported to another world.”

Mitch put his knife down and seriously considered letting the steaks grow cold and the potatoes burn themselves to little piles of starchy ash in the oven. Did he really need to eat? Eating was overrated. Eating food wasn’t as much fun as nibbling, biting, licking…

Thunder rolled above them and the wind outside picked up even more speed. Mitch and Bertie went to the big kitchen window and watched as tumbleweeds rolled across the desert floor like unraveling yarn balls. It was starting to become darker outside- the sky was a weird, brownish color, not like normal dusky nightfall approaching. The wall of dust was beginning to block the sun. Light filtering through the dirt was eerily unearthly.

Mitch put his arms around Bertie. “I’m glad you’re here safe with me.”

“Me too.”

The lights flickered and a gust of wind rattled the patio door in the living room. Thunder pounded the sky above and sand began pelting the windows.

Like a couple who had been married for years, Mitch and Bertie instinctively parted and made domestic preparations. Mitch pulled several candles from the cupboards and began lighting them all over the house. He went to the garage and returned with two flashlights, testing them to make sure the batteries worked. Bertie set the dining room table, took the potatoes out of the oven, put sour cream in a small bowl and sprinkled the chives on top of it.

They sat at the old, wooden dining table which had been hand carved by Mitch’s dad in the 1940’s. It was weathered and old-fashioned, strong, sturdy and very unassuming- much like Mitch himself. The couple sat in the dancing candlelight, cozily chatting and eating a delicious dinner, while the storm raged outside and the electricity twitched on and off.

Bertie brought the last piece of her steak to her mouth and slowly chewed, savoring the juicy tenderness. “This is amazing,” she said.

Mitch grinned. “Wait until you taste dessert.”

“If you’re the dessert I’m all in.”

“You sure know how to woo a guy. But, no, there’s an actual food dessert.”

“Hmmm. Remember how I ate that chocolate lava cake off of you in bed on our first date?”

How could he forget. “Are you suggesting…?”

Demurely, Bertie sipped her wine. “Why don’t you finish your dinner, then we’ll talk about what I want to do to you tonight.”

“You’re killing me, Collins.” Mitch shook his head at her, his eyes warm with affection. He stood up and kissed her nose. “I’m going to put on some music and get the dessert.”

George Jones’ mellifluent voice floated through the air and Mitch began banging about in the kitchen. In the dining room, Bertie stacked their dishes on a corner of the carved table and then ran her fingers over the rough wood, admiring the workmanship and labor Mitch’s dad had put into it. She wondered what it would be like to be gifted and talented with your hands- to be able to create something magnificent and useful like this. Mitch’s dad had been an artist in his own right- that much was obvious. Over the years, Bertie often found the mind of the artist to be like a beautiful kaleidoscope. She highly respected the creative thought process, but was perfectly content having instead been born pragmatic, objective and very intellectual. Most of the fiction writers she dealt with were dreamy, scattered, off in their own worlds, caught up in the magic of their imagination. While that seemed like it would be fun for a time, Bertie knew she would grow dissatisfied with such an existence. When it came to business, she could not let herself go. The work of a writer was emotional and vulnerable. But the work of an editor was detached and analytic and she was perfectly suited for it.

Mitch came back into the dining room, holding two small plates heaped high with some sort of chocolate and whipped cream indulgence.

“I reckon it doesn’t look too pretty,” Mitch said apologetically, “but it tastes real good.” He set one of the plates before Bertie and took his seat. “Oh,” he said, half rising, “did you want coffee to go with your dessert?”

“No, thank you. It’s too late- if I drink a cup now I won’t sleep tonight.”

Mitch reached over and stroked her smooth cheek with his large, rough hand. “That’s the idea, Collins.”

Thunder boomed loudly over them and the lights flickered several times. Dust and dirt pounded the outside walls, pelted the windows and had slowly and completely blocked the sun. As Mitch and Bertie turned to look out of the dining room windows, lighting flashed brilliantly and a huge crack of thunder shook the house. All went quiet for a moment except for Josh Turner singing “Your Man.” It was as though the air was catching its breath before the tempest arrived.

“I think we’re going to lose power soon,” Mitch said. “Hopefully it won’t stay off too long or it’s going to get real hot and muggy in here without air conditioning.”

Bertie nodded and dipped a finger into her chocolate dessert. She licked it off and her brown eyes went wide. “This is delicious!” She picked up her spoon for another taste, but Mitch grabbed it out of her hand.

“Don’t, Collins.” His eyes didn’t leave her lips. “Use your finger again.”

She did. But this time she was slow about it, purposeful, seductive… titillating.

Mitch groaned in despair. “I wanted to have a deep conversation tonight. I want to get to know you better… to learn about your past, your… your… hopes and dreams… your…” He was rapidly losing any train of thought.

The tip of Bertie’s pink tongue swirled around the top of her finger and she luxuriously lapped up the remaining chocolate from it. She gave Mitch a cheeky smile. “So let’s talk. What would you like to know?”

“Um…”

“My life is pretty uncomplicated and fairly boring, Morrison. Let’s talk about you instead.” She took her spoon back and dipped in into her dessert. “Have you talked to Mary lately?”

Mitch, disappointed about Bertie using a utensil, shook his head to clear it and focused on thoughts of his daughter instead. “Not since I called her after I got off the phone with Owen.”

“Have you heard from Owen again?”

Mitch’s eyes took on a ferocious glow. “No.”

“Maybe you should call Mary tomorrow. Just to make sure she’s ok.”

“I’d like nothing more, but… It’s hard, Collins, because you want to know your child is alright and you want to make everything alright. But Mary is an adult. Her life is her life and there is a fine line between being there as a parent and being intrusive. I called Mary because we’d gone on too long without really talking- I knew something was wrong- but I had no idea the issues ran as deep as they did until Owen called.”

“I think Owen is under a lot of pressure from his parents. At least that’s the impression I get from you.”

“He’s a good kid. I know he loves Mary. I used to trust him.” Mitch rubbed his thumb across his chin. “He’s changed a lot. Or maybe he hasn’t. Maybe the influence of his parents’ agenda was always just at the surface, barely contained, and his career simply let the genie out of the bottle in terms of being controlling.”

“Is their marriage ok?”

Mitch looked out the window. Large rain drops were starting to splatter on the desert floor and on his wrap-around porch. The wall of dust was moving on and a microburst was about to follow. “Mary was upset Owen called me, but she said he’s been obsessed about her not being pregnant the past few weeks so she wasn’t entirely surprised that he reached out. I think she was more hurt by it than anything. Seems it was just one more thing he’s done lately that’s made her feel… well, unloved. He’s going to need to lay off this baby idea if he wants things to work out with Mary.”

Bertie ate another spoonful of dessert and Garth Brooks started singing “Shameless.” The rain outside began to patter insistently on the roof and a streak of nearby lightning lit the dining room with a flash of white radiance. Mitch’s face looked strangely sad as he gazed out at the storm and Bertie longed to comfort him.

“You’re a good father, Morrison.”

Mitch turned to her, his eyes conflicted. “I hope I have been. Maybe I’ve protected her too much. She’s so innocent, so untouched by the difficulties of life. She went straight from under my protection to being under Owen’s. She’s never stood on her own two feet, never felt the taste of independence. I guess I was glad for that in a lot of ways- I never wanted her heart to know pain or suffering or betrayal.”

“That’s not realistic…” Bertie said lightly.

Mitch buried his head in his large hands. “I know,” his voice came out deep and muffled. He looked up, his eyes soft. “Why didn’t you ever have kids?”

“I wanted to. I can’t have children.”

“I’m sorry,” Mitch reached over and kissed her gently on the lips. “You would have been a great mother.”

Bertie smiled sardonically. “Would I? I don’t know. I love my career- it takes up all my time. Would my work have suffered because I loved my child? Or would my child have suffered because I loved my work?”

“I reckon that’s a question only a woman can answer.”

“And only Mary can answer the questions she has burning inside her right now. Owen needs to give her time.”

“Well, she’s about to get that time. He’s being deployed for training exercises pretty soon.”

“Sounds like serendipity. That will give them both a little space. So Owen won’t be there when you get to San Diego?”

Mitch’s eyes took on a vengeful gleam. “Lucky for him.”

Bertie laughed. “Tough guy. Listen, I’m not trying to stick up for Owen, but whatever he’s going through right now is probably partially due to the influence of his parents. Although there is such a thing as the age of accountability, there are also the wounds people carry with them from the very vulnerable years of childhood. I imagine Owen has a lot to live up to because of who the Crossfield’s are and most of us want our parents’ approval, even as adults.”

“You’re very introspective tonight,” Mitch said, watching her thoughtfully.

Bertie waved her hand . “Probably too much wine.” She smiled at him and said, “I think I’ll take that coffee now, Morrison.”

A clap of thunder exploded above them and the entire house lit up with blazing light.

“That’s it!” Mitch yelled above the din of the sudden downpour outside. “Here it comes!”

The electricity went out and torrents of rain pounded the adobe house, water streaming down the windows like small currents of tiny rivers. Thunder rumbled again, this time long and low and ominous. Except for the candles Mitch had lit earlier giving off small pin points of light, the house was completely dark, enveloped in velvety black air heavily laden with humidity.

“I need to check that window in my office!” Mitch called to Bertie, raising his voice to be heard over the roar of the microburst.

“I’ll come with you,” she shouted back.

Bertie held a small candle as they felt their way through the dimly lit house to Mitch’s den. He hadn’t had a chance to replace the window he’d busted after hanging up on Owen. The window frame was boarded up to keep out the hot Phoenix weather, but it looked like the raging rain might breach the temporary fix.

Mitch placed a big hand on the slats of wood. “They already feel damp. Damnit!”

“Morrison!” Bertie called from behind him and he turned around. She placed the candle she had been holding on his desk and then pulled her soft, grey blouse over her head. Slowly, she slid her skirt off, allowing it to fall to her feet. She stood there, elegant and seductive in her silky bra and panties, her chocolate brown eyes roaming down over Mitch’s body.

Rain sounded all around them as Mitch reached down and undid the buttons of his jeans, leaving the fly open. He tugged his white t-shirt over his head and tossed it at Bertie.

“Come on, Morrison, let me see the rest.”

Mitch pulled his jeans off. He was completely naked, and oh, so hot and tempting.

“No underwear?” Bertie coyly raised an eyebrow.

“Didn’t want to waste time tonight with little inconveniences.”

“I must say… I am extremely turned on by that.”

“Why don’t you come over here and I’ll turn you on some more?”

“Why don’t you come over here?”

Mitch was on Bertie in a split second, his mouth voraciously taking hers, his arms holding her tight against his muscular body, his hands moving from her hair to her breasts to her bottom. Thunder rolled above them again and Mitch picked Bertie up and sat her on his desk. He ripped off her silky underthings and she responded by wrapping her legs around his waist, gripping his thighs with her hands and pulling him closer and closer…

Mitch trembled slightly, adoration making him want Bertie more than any other woman he’d known. He buried his hands in her ebony hair and pulled on it until her face tilted up. He wanted her to see the full effect she had on him. This wasn’t about sex or need- he wanted her to see the passion raging in his eyes for her and only her. She was doing this to him, she was making him crazy with desire and the beginning stirrings of what he was sure was love. He didn’t know how or why it had come about so suddenly, but he knew, without a doubt, that they were meant to be in this place right here and right now. Doing what they were doing… pleasing one another in every physical way possible.

Roughly, he picked Bertie up off the desk, his hands under her bottom, her legs still wrapped around his middle. They stayed like this, not moving, just reveling in the sensation of being joined. Mitch kept as still as possible; he was on the ledge of his endurance and every nerve in his body was rigid and burning. One slight move and it would be over for now. He wanted to prolong this, to make this moment last, to enjoy the soft, delicateness of Bertie’s body wrapped around his in every sense of the word.

Ever so carefully, Bertie laid her head on Mitch’s muscular shoulder. “This is heaven,” she whispered. And then a soft sigh escaped her lips. “I think you’re my heaven.”

In a rush of emotion, Mitch crushed Bertie to him and in so doing the slight friction ignited his craving beyond control. He rasped her name and carried her across the room, kissing her hungrily and deeply until her back was against the wall. There he allowed himself the pleasure of giving Bertie what they both wanted, their bodies drawing tension and excitement from one another as he pressed into her over and over, fast and slow and slow and fast.

Sandwiched between Mitch’s strength and the hardness of the wall, Bertie leaned her head back so Mitch could see into her eyes. The intensity of his gaze and the love she saw there sent her over the edge and she whimpered his name before her body convulsed in ripple after ripple of pleasure. Mitch, unable to maintain control with Bertie writhing against him, and on him, gave way to the ravening sea of erogenous waves roiling inside. He groaned loudly as he let himself go in a paroxysm of euphoria.

Weak and spent, the couple tumbled to the ground, overflowing with the repletion of fulfillment. They lay on the office floor, panting and listening to the cadence of the rain outside. The drops were falling gently now, the winds tame and balmy. The microburst was moving on.

The air conditioning kicked on and blew out the candle still sitting on Mitch’s desk. Light spilled into the den from the doorway and “Shameless” began to play again…

“I don’t break easy, I have my pride
But if you need to be satisfied… I’m shameless, baby, I don’t have a prayer
Any time I see you standing there
I go down upon my knees.”

“Well, that about sums it up,” Mitch said, catching the lyrics drifting in to them. He reached over and drew Bertie close, kissing the top of her head.

“I’m glad the electricity is back,” she said, snuggling into his side.

Mitch’s office phone rang and they both jumped at the intrusion into their tranquility.

“Do you need to get that?” Bertie asked, not wanting to move.

“Nah. Let the machine get it.”

Bertie laughed. “The machine? You have an answering machine?”

“I’m old school, Collins.”

Mitch’s pre-recorded voice wafted over them. “You have reached Morrison Home Builders. Leave a message and we’ll call you back.”

“Succinct,” said Bertie.

The machine beeped and there was a pause and then the line crackled. “Allô?” a female voice with a heavy French accent said. “Allô ? Iz… Mary Morrison there pleaze? Allô?”

Mitch bounded to his feet and snatched up the phone. “Hello? Who is this?”

Bertie sat up and hugged her knees to her chest, concerned.

“This is Mitchell Morrison,” Mitch said. “No, Mary is not here.” A pause. “How did you get this number?” A long silence followed and then Mitch sat heavily on his office chair, listening intently to whatever was being relayed on the other end of the line. He uttered an, “Uh-huh,” a couple of times and once asked for clarification. The caller spoke broken English. Mitch knew no French.

“I understand,” said Mitch after a few minutes. “Yes. Yes, I have the same address.” He was quiet for moment. “I will make sure she gets it. Ok. Thank you.” He hung up the phone.

Bertie stood and went to him. She placed a small hand on his shoulder. “Is everything ok?”

“No.” Mitch turned sad eyes to Bertie’s lovely face. “Have you ever had to lie to protect someone you love?”

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