“Friends and Lovers”…..chapter 23

Meg spent the first part of the following week settling into her new surroundings, feeling her way in her new life. She spent a lot of time with Jo in the shop, working out what hours she would be most needed, and what her duties would be. And in the evenings she tried to get down on paper all those ideas that had been floating around in her head for months, even years.

It was a Wednesday night, and Meg had just fallen into the first stages of sleep, so when she heard the door slowly open, for a moment she wasn’t sure whether she had dreamt it. She sat up slowly, the Japanese screen obscuring any detail, except the definite dark outline of a tall figure. Adrenalin coursed through her veins, and it felt as if who ever the intruder was they must hear her heart pounding. Meg clutched the doona to her chest, unable to move or speak, suddenly realizing with a new wave of fear, that if she could see them, they must be able to see her too. The figure hesitated, obviously recognizing the presence of another person in the room, and advanced slowly toward her. Meg’s mind scrambled for a response but her thought processes were frozen with fear, and as the intruder took the last step past the screen she let out a strangled scream, choked by her mounting terror.

“Meg?” said the man, looking down at her in the dark.

“Luke!” Meg exhaled in a strained whisper. “Oh my God!” she said, and threw herself  into his arms, clinging to him with all her strength.

“What are you doing here?” they both said simultaneously.

“Oh, I don’t care, I’m just glad it’s you….I was so scared!” Meg said, and felt her body start to shake, and the tears fill her eyes.

Luke sat down with her on the bed, holding her tightly. “I’m sorry Meg, I’m sorry,” he whispered, stroking her back through her thin nightie.

As her shock subsided, the turmoil was replaced by an equally strong feeling of familiar passion, the line between the two heightened emotions blurring. Her response to his touch sent her heart racing again. In the half darkness, the familiar touch and shape of him soothed and excited her at the same time, obscuring detail and reason. She let him remove her night dress, his kisses hot in the cool night air, his dark curls in breathtaking contrast to the creamy skin of her shoulders. When he finally layed himself on top of her chilled nakedness, she sighed again, but this time with relief and longing. Wrapping her legs in one slow fluid movement around his hips, she drew him completely, ever deeper and closer, until they were released in that fragmented fall from the height of their passion. They lay silently in eachother’s arms, slowly regathering the pieces of themselves.

“I just can’t help myself…..you’re overwhelming,” Meg sighed, speaking to herself as much as to Luke, running her hands down the length of his spine. His only answer was to pull her closer, and she clung to him, as if only to prove that all she said was true, no matter how much she wished she could escape it.

“It’s like you’ve imprinted yourself on my very soul,” she said, feeling her desire for him rising with her words, like an exquisite torture. As she wound her body around his she felt his need growing in response to hers, silken smooth against her stomach.
“You know, some would say we’ve known eachother in some previous life…..that this is just the need to consumate some unfulfilled union,” Meg said quietly into the darkness. She felt Luke’s faint hum of agreement beside her.

“I usually don’t give much creedence to all that stuff,” he answered. “But I’ve got to admit there might be something to it. I don’t know about unfulfilled though,” he said, his voice grown thick with desire. He rolled over to loom promisingly above her, the moonlight through the windows illuminating half his face in pale silver. Meg gasped involuntarily.

“All I know is it must have been amazing,” he whispered, as he buried himself slowly in her warm and willing flesh, to once again explore that mysterious and insatiable need. But as her mouth devoured his, and her hands smoothed  the taut muscles across his shoulders, it was Jonah’s kisses that also came unbidden to her mind, and the imprint of his broad back that her hands also remembered, to add a disturbing torment to her ecstasy. And a new truth slowly surfaced in her consciousness. Part of her was answering a growing desire to be closer to Jonah; a need that could find expression without inhibition with Luke. Meg felt a sudden and sickening ache at her own betrayal; a spreading grief that mixed incongruously with her rising passion as Luke moved inside her. She was meant to be with Jonah….

But Luke’s insistent rhythm eventually drove every thought from her mind, his need for her finally dominating all her senses, and she chose to drown her confusion once more, in total abandonment.

Meg woke suddenly, the shadows of her disturbing dreams following her; bizzarely erotic dreams of Luke and Jonah, first one then the other, merging and separating and spinning her in circles. They mustn’t have slept long, for it was still very dark and quiet. Meg sat up, her shoulders and arms naked in the chill night air, willing it to wake her completely, not daring to descend into the warmth again.

“You ok?” Luke asked sleepily, his warm hand making her shiver.

“Mm hm,” she said, wrapping her arms around herself. “We can’t keep doing this Luke,” she said, her voice sounding so hollow in the darkness. She heard Luke sigh resignedly as he sat up beside her.

“I know,” he answered in a whisper. “It’s just that everything seems possible right now…..” Meg leant her head on his shoulder, and he wrapped his arms around her, and brought her down to lie beside him.

“What are you doing here anyway?” Meg asked at last.

“I just thought I’d surprise everyone with a flying visit,” he said, an ironic tone to his voice.

“You sure did that!” Meg replied, nuzzling him gently.

“Well, I arrived so late I was just going to wait here ’til morning and surprise Mum and Dad. I didn’t expect anyone to be in here,” Luke said turning questioningly to her in the dark.

“Oh, it’s a long story. Can I tell you tomorrow?” Meg said, suddenly feeling very weary.

“Sure,” Luke replied, pulling her across to rest her head on his shoulder. “I don’t leave ’til Friday afternoon.” They lay quietly for a few minutes, neither of them any closer to sleep.

“I’ve been seeing Jonah,” Meg said suddenly, finally needing to tell him everything, knowing there would be no better time; the darkness like a confessional.

“Right,” he replied, his tone a mixture of quiet surprise and dawning understanding. “I can almost see you together really.”

“It’s nothing serious yet…..I mean, nothing’s happened between us. But I think it could…..be something I mean,” she said clumsily, turning to face him in the creeping grey light, wishing she could see his face better. “I feel like I’ve betrayed him Luke,” she whispered sadly. Luke drew her close, wrapping her warmly in his arms, and kissed her tenderly.

“I won’t get in the way Meg, I promise. You deserve to be happy. Jonah’s a great guy,” he said, and she moved even closer, burying her face in his neck.

“I have to allow myself to be happy too,” she answered ashamedly. “I’ll never forget what you’ve given me Luke….you showed me the way back to myself. I don’t know where I would have been without you.”

They lay quietly then, each remembering every touch, every kiss, every priceless moment.

“I better go inside,” Luke finally whispered, kissing her gently, one long, lingering, tender kiss.

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