tired. Her once beautiful hands now ached with arthritis, as she knew they would
after so many hours with the clay. It was a small price to pay for what
she knew would be her greatest work. It would be her own private gift to
him of the immortality of their love. She wanted him to feel her
warmth and her love every time he gazed upon its luminescent form.
He had arrived home to find her lying on the bed. She had been too tired
to bathe the splattered and hardened clay off her face, arms and hands.
She smiled. He was still so strong and so beautiful. He'd picked her up as
if she were a doll, and carried her to the large spa bath. Fifteen minutes later
they were both immersed in the hot, steamy bubbles. But Tessa could feel
only him - the cocoon of him, surrounding her. Protecting her. Bathing her
now wrinkled body - still his most precious possession.
She had been with this man for many decades and knew beyond knowing that he loved her passionately and unconditionally. His avowal that this would be so, all those years ago, had been true.
His rich voice floated around her in the bath - captured inside the bubbles, surrounding her in the steam...
"Sweet hairt, I lay in bed last nicht
Alane and yet with ye
Alane I lay but no my lane
for the lane bed was full of ye."
She sighed. "Hey Mister! That's not fair. You know I can't resist you when you whisper Scottish love songs to me..."
He laughed, and reached for his glass of golden whisky on the side of the bath. "Yeah - you're a real tart. So easy..." He gently massaged her hands, gently moving the joints, distracting her from the pain with heated kisses across her shoulders and neck.
She turned and gazed at him, her eyes filled with love. "Have I ever told you that I love this place?"
"Hmmm...let me think," he mocked. "Only one hundred times today. You're slipping."
The Mediterranean island had been a gift from Methos. The greatest gift, however, was that it was all holy ground. The white-washed walls of the centuries old convent stood in stark contrast to the brilliant blue sky. She had lost track of the numbers of times they went to every different part of the island. He had carved out new tracks to allow her to paint and sculpt from any viewpoint, depending on her mood and her inspiration.
On the island he didn't have to gray his hair - or use the walking cane. Here he could be her warrior lover. She had even made him grow out his hair, ignoring his worried protests that it would reinforce the difference in their ages. She had been adamant - and what Tessa wanted, Tessa always got (she'd reminded him). It only took a few days, after their arrival, for his skin to glow with a suffused golden hue. Her own skin was soon bronzed and she had felt herself come alive as its warmth re-energised her wearied bones.
His movement in the bath brought her back to the present, and he slid the sponge down her arms and across her breasts, whispering more Robert Tait into her ear.
"We ken the flame inflames the flame
As the wind brings in the sea -
Ken, tae, that fire consumes itsel
Are ye, and me."
He stopped only to tell her how much she was loved.
He had read to her from the old poetry book only that morning, telling her how much it meant to him. She had given it to him decades ago - one cold, blustery day in Paris. It was no special occasion - just because she loved him. She had been so proud of herself, she recalled, rushing into the Barge, waving the book, having found it at one of the book stalls that lined the Seine.
The book was now well worn, Duncan's fingers having long ago left their oily marks. Its cover was beautifully embossed - its green "...the green of Donan Woods in spring..." he had said. Back in the present she felt his fingers run through her wet hair, and then clasp it all in both his hands, as if capturing the gold. She refused to let it go gray, despite his telling her that he would love it no matter what the color - because it was a part of her.
The water was cooling - as it always did. "Come on sweetheart - we're turning into prunes." Gently he lifted her out of the bath, wrapping the huge warmed bath sheet around her. But now she was feeling all the beneficial effects of whatever strange oils he had used in the bath. He gently lowered her to the floor and sank to his knees. She ran her hands over as much of his body as she could reach, before speaking to him in the language of his youth:
"Air oidhche robach gheamhraidh,
ma bha sud an dan dhaibh,
dheanadh iad daoine."
He threw his head back and laughed as she continued to speak to him of the Herring Girls - those women who "...made men..." on cold winter nights. He stopped laughing as her silken mouth took all of him deep into her throat, and drank deeply of his creamy, heated semen. With no other living beings on the island there was no-one to be disturbed by his cries of passion. He had always been a vocal lover and she doubted that he would have remained silent, even had others been there. She had never known any lover to so lose himself in the loving...
"How is it that we just seem to get better and better?" he asked her, pulling her up to hold her tight and close. Taking her once gain into his arms, he arranged her long bath robe and carried her to the balcony to watch the sun set over the azure waters.
Easing her into her wheelchair, he sat beside her, lifting her hand to his lips. In silence they watched the last rays of the sun glisten off the water before it sank over the horizon. Pouring two glasses of wine, they toasted the coming sunrise and the new day that would find them together, for another precious day, in their bed.
She would work on the Inamorata and he would do as he had done for years - practise his Katas and his meditation, spend hours on his computer and his valuations, - plan, build and repair the island's dwellings. Her Conservatory with its stunning vaulted glass roof and walls would be ready before the first hint of winter arrived on the island.
And in all the spaces and silences throughout the
coming days, he would continue to remind her
of how much she was loved.
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