The night was clear, crisp, but it was late spring and a warm breeze was wafting down from the north, keeping the cool at bay.
The bed was a permanent fixture, usually protected from the weather, but tonight, revealed in all its glory. He had spread soft cotton sheets and decked it out in layers of pillows and cushions. He had unfolded the side tables and added essentials such as wine and chocolate. There was even a small tray of fruit and cheese.
The sun had just set beyond the horizon, its glow still lighting the mountainous landscape. From this position on the tallest hill in the district, he could see one-eighty degrees around, the far dots of farmhouses far, far off in the distance as if to be barely there.
Darkness was falling and once it fell, it would be total.
The wind sighed in the low scrub at the top of the hill. A stand of she-oaks hissing a short distance away, adding their own melody to the chorus.
Tablet in hand, he sat waiting.
Soon a set of headlights lit up the trees along the track that led to this place. Tyres crunched on gravel, twin beams shooting across landscape, interrupted by the house, the shed and then coming to a stop before being extinguished.
A footstep crunched as a car door was shut.
The clip clop of heels on concrete.
The soft sigh as they stepped onto the grass.
He lit the small portable lamp to make it easier for her to locate him. Its light slowly sculpted out her figure as she came into its halo. Her formal uniform sparkling in all the right places.
He smiled at her. “Welcome home present.”
“And perhaps a little celebration of our finally managing time off together.”
“Scott let you go?”
“That he did.”
Her smile lit up in yellows and dark shadows. She dropped her bag onto the grass and moved closer. He discarded the tablet and replaced it with her, wrapping his arms around her waist and drawing her close.
“So this is what you’ve been storing out here.”
He let his cheek rest against her belly, feeling her warmth. “This is the stargazing bed. From here you can see almost everything in the southern sky.”
He could feel her gaze on his head. “Did it always come with chocolate?”
A grin. “No, but until now it has never come with you either. So, chocolate, just a little icing on the cake.”
“So I’m cake now?”
He rocked himself backwards, pulling her off her feet. She yelped, but he caught her in a kiss muffling her protests and smiling against her lips. “You are so much more than cake.”
Playfully she wriggled against him, pushing him into the mattress. “So you want to teach me the stars? Point out a few cosmic wonders and awe me with your knowledge?”
“I’m awed by you.” He brushed a hair out of her eyes. “I thought perhaps you could teach me something new.” And he drew her in for another kiss.
She answered willingly, but broke it off disappointingly quickly. “On one condition.”
“I get paid in chocolate.”
“That could depend on the quality of your teaching skills.”
She ran a finger through his hair, circled an ear, her fingernail leaving a track down his throat, before parting the first button on his shirt and teasing the finest of chest hairs. Leaning down she kissed him gently on the end of his nose.
“John Tracy, time for an education.”