The ‘L Word’
Daniel held a candle to her face looking into her eyes and straight into her soul. Kathleen felt stunned and shaken. She locked her eyes on the ground but he lifted her chin gently, firmly denying her ability to hide inside herself. She turned away quickly, whispering, “Stop.”
Softly, he said, “Kathleen, stop what?”
She stood with her back to him, her eyes resolutely riveted on the sand, unable to speak. He laid hands on her shoulders delicately, fearing she may break into a million pieces, only slightly aware that she feared the same.
After a long moment, she whispered the question that plagued her since she had agreed to see him, “Why did you come, Daniel?” “
“I came for you,” he replied.
“Stop, please,” she issued her broken warning, hiding tears that rolled down her cheeks, “Tell me the real reason.”
“Because I love you,” he answered. Kathleen feared him as much as loved him. She wanted to scream, swear, and curse his name for uttering the horrendous lie, but couldn’t suffer through it again. She had to know and couldn’t bear to know. Instead, she shook her head hotly in disbelief. She had so little strength left and knew the ensuing fight came down to the same lie that tumbled so easily from his lips. It hurt too much to hear it from him.
It would drain what was left of her to run away; to escape before her soul was damaged beyond her ability to recover, but the thought held her like a vice. The only thing she knew with certainty was there would be no healing; no recovery this time. It was ‘do or die,’ for her. It was time to ‘put up or shut up.’ It was dire need of proof she didn’t have.
“Did you hear me,” he questioned her.
“I can’t,” she cried, “I, I… can’t!” It was all she could say in her intense pain.
“You do love me. I know you do. You don’t believe me? After all this time, you don’t believe me?”
By the time he could question her further, she bolted for the highway. Gripped by terror, she didn’t hear Daniel one step behind her. He tackled her to the ground and flipped her over to face him. Kathleen swiped tears from her face and fought him violently.
Lying atop her, she was no match for him. He caught her fists to pin them down, asking angrily, “What the hell, Kathleen? What is going on with you?”
She couldn’t tell him; couldn’t explain so she fought, writhing and struggling for all she was worth, and finally released a discouraged cry, “Let me go!”
Daniel moved his face closer to hers, kissed her hard and answered angrily, “No!”
“No,” she asked stupefied, “Haven’t you had enough? This is too hard! I just… can’t,” she sighed feeling the last of her fight desert her body. Kathleen went limp. This is it, she thought, I should have run into the ocean. At least my suffering would be over by now.
“Talk to me, Kathy. Why are you crying and running away? I don’t understand.” He was obviously angry, confounded and tired too. It showed, yet he maintained an unnerving, controlled calm. She wondered why he didn’t wrap his strong hands around her throat and strangle her. Yet strangely, she wasn’t afraid. I wish he would just do it and get it over with.
“Kathy, what are you so afraid of,” he asked in exasperation.
“Don’t call me that,” she ordered weakly, “That girl is… she’s,” Kathleen stopped short, not having strength to continue, knowing this was only the beginning of all that she hadn’t explained to him… and never would.
“Go on,” Daniel persuaded.
Again she attempted to avoid the ensuing explosion that would surely destroy her and sternly said, “I can’t breathe!” She hoped she had said it louder than it sounded.
“And you won’t until you start talking,” Daniel yelled.
“I can’t,” she screamed. This confession would likely be the death of her. She turned her head and set her jaw defiantly, determined not to go down without one last all-out warDaniel gripped her wrists in one hand and forced her chin up to face him.
For a moment she was afraid but would never show it. He watched her eyes intently, pleased with the surprise and fear he saw there. It was gone in a blink, replaced with stone-faced, icy silence but he knew Kathleen well enough that he didn’t need to question what he saw in her.
Daniel summoned all his strength and spoke with quiet reservation, “We’ve known each other a lifetime already, Kathy. Thirty years is a long time to deny what we both already know.”
She turned a venomous glare at him for using the nickname again, “She’s dead,” she spat, choking back tears.
Daniel shook his head.
“Don’t shake your head at me. I wanted her dead!”
“She’s angry and hurt but I assure you she’s alive… and she’s you,” he said, measuring every word, making sure to speak with intuitive knowledge and sensitivity that wouldn’t push her back to fighting him again.Kathleen closed her eyes summoning strength she didn’t have.
Instinctively, he brushed his hand across her cheek and gently kissed her lips. Feeling more asleep than awake, she forgot herself. Suddenly she was acutely aware of his hard frame on top of her, the heat of their bodies in the slight chill of ocean air, how tender his kiss was, how their bodies fit together and the memories returned like a deluge.
Kathleen kissed him back with an urgent desire that caught her completely off-guard. “Oh shit!”
Daniel pushed up slightly to watch her eyes and grinned happily.
“Daniel, I’m sorry. Why does this keep happening? Shit! Shit! Shit!”
“Because,” he began.
She immediately shushed him but that didn’t hamper his spirits, “Because you were half asleep, not listening to your thoughts.”
“But I didn’t,”
“Shhh,” he cut her off, “Your emotions, instinct and intuition take over when you turn off thoughts. Kathy is in there and I won’t give you a moment of rest until I revive her.”
Already beyond any exhaustion she had ever known, all she could comprehend was how his body melded to hers, how hot and hard he was against her and how much she craved him, how badly she wanted him deep inside her.
Eventually, she started to wonder if any man would go to this length to maintain a lie, then broke down and began to explore her curiosity, “Daniel, if I feel what you think I do, where does it leave us? If we actually do share more than just lust, we’re practically at opposite ends of the states. It’s hopeless.”
Still grinning, Daniel replied, “I know you do and it’s not hopeless. It’s hopeful.”
Wanting to squirm just from the heat between her thighs and wanting to be able to move her aching arms, she asked, “May I have my arms back, please?”
Daniel’s face grew serious and again she felt him looking into her eyes and straight down into her soul. Several minutes passed and he asked, “You won’t fight me or try to run?”
Kathleen readily agreed and he slowly eased pressure on her wrists until she drew her arms to her sides rubbing her wrists and laughed, “That was one hell of a tackle, Danny. Honestly, you should have gone out for football!”
“Danny,” he asked, with a wide smile.
“Daniel! I meant Daniel! Shit!”
“Nooo! You can’t take it back now! You haven’t called me that since high school!”
At last, thirty years later, she was ready to throw in the towel, wave the white flag and let herself love and care for him, even if she couldn’t say the ‘L word’ quite yet.
“Okay, Danny, you win. I give. I’m saying ‘Uncle.’ I surrender! Okay?”
“Well,” he hedged, biding his time and plotting, “Exactly what am I saying ‘okay’ to?”
“I need to know because I have all weekend to lay here pinning you down!”
“You know,” Kathy laughed and socked his arm.
“No, I don’t. Not until I hear it from you.”
“Alright! The ‘L word,’ damn it!”
“You ‘L word’ me?”
Kathy rolled her eyes as a low growl escaped her, “Yes! Can we go to bed now?”
Danny pinned her wrists again and asked softly, sincerely, “Say it. Okay? I know you can do it. Just try.”
Kathy wondered if she had ever not loved him and blurted, “I love you, Danny! Nobody else makes me nuts like you! If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care. I’d tell you any lie and leave. I love you! Take me to bed please!”
“Best offer I’ve heard all night,” he smiled, pulling her to her feet and into a bear hug.
Danny had known. He knew that his Kathy was still in her soul. She’d been wounded too deeply. She didn’t want to love anyone. Her heart had been through the shredder, but her soul was still intact… and her love and devotion was his.
Denial, Desire, Discovery, Dominance, escape, Love, Love And Stuff, Love’s-a-bitch, Overcoming Emotional Wounds, Proof, Romance, Running away