Ulf couldn't remember when he had last been welcomed that way. Whenever it was, if it had ever been, it lay more than half his life in the past.
Before he managed to break free of that last kiss he felt a burning desire to undress her. She had been anything but shy, clinging to him suggestively enough that they could as well have been naked.
It's been more than half a year. He'd never been together with a girl for that long before sleeping with her before.
“Should we get inside?” Ulf suggested.
“Uhum?” Christina answered, but she didn't let go of him.
“You're getting drenched,” Ulf tried again. “Like really drenched.”
“Uhum,” she offered, this time a statement rather than a question.
I guess I'm not going home tonight. It scared him a little, because it meant taking yet another step away from his previous life. But damn I want her! Which scared him as well.
Whatever mind-reading techniques Christina used must have worked, because she finally let go of his body and pulled him inside her tiny flat.
He had been here a few times. More often than the friends he visited, but still not as frequently as he remembered from his earlier girlfriends. Now as in his previous life that word resonated strangely in his mind.
After close to a quarter of a century spent married to Maria that word only represented a very scant part of his life. Marriage was the normal state, but for the friends he had made in this life marriage was an abstract thing in the distant future.
Looking at Christina's back as she hurried to the small stove he realised that despite being his age she couldn't share his reflections. To her marriage was just as much an abstraction. In her case probably more a matter of a lingering question and possibly regret as she was bound to have wondered when she saw those around her get married and raise children.
The smell of food brought Ulf out of his meandering thoughts and he went to the cupboard and helped setting the table.
As usual her cooking showed more signs of gusto than any real ability.
“It's good,” Ulf said after they sat down to eat, but he knew Christina was well aware of her limits in the kitchen. Hers hadn't been a life where she could indulge in domestic chores. “It's really good,” he said when unexpected flavours mixed in his mouth.
“It is, isn't it?” she said and beamed at him. “I might have overdone things a bit, but I wanted to give it my best shot.”
How long did you spend learning to cook this meal? “I'm honoured you'd do this for me,” Ulf said. He heard how hollow his words were. Rather he would have preferred to tell her how the warmth in his stomach had less to do with the food he ate than the feelings burning him from within. I love you, I really do love you, but I can't tie you down with those words.
“Happy to oblige,” she grinned. She still had some food in her mouth, and when she giggled some of it threatened to come out.
Ulf stared at her when she blushed violently with both hands clasped to her mouth. Her sudden poor table manners just made him ache for her even more.
From there on their meal got more awkward, and it was with a sense of relief Ulf rose and made the dishes.
When he returned with a small teapot and two mugs he noticed that unlike the times he had visited Christina before her futon didn't lay rolled up against the wall. That meant it probably lay neatly stacked in its cupboard, and from that thought Ulf gave her flat a closer look.
She really did clean it up this time. Food and flat, hmm. Ulf looked at Christina where she sat pretending to decorate a tray with cookies. I can't tell from your clothes or make-up, your skills are way beyond my awareness. But your desk is disorderly in just the right way for me.
There were a few other signs Christina had spent more than the normal time preparing for his visit. Her small home had been thoroughly made to make him feel welcome, even to the point that he wouldn't want to leave. The suspicions he had on his way here grew stronger, and along with rising anticipation a feeling of discomfort spread through him.
Won't it be unfair of me to sleep with her unless I tell her I love her? But that was the thought of a teenager, and he wasn't really a teenager any more, was he? Shouldn't you decide what's unfair to you or not, the way I decide for myself. And that was the thought of an adult. Each person was responsible for his or her actions and reactions. There was an academic construction, interpretative prerogative, which could be applied to a situation like this.
“Christina,” Ulf began, “how close have we become?”
She looked up from her cookies and met his eyes. That was a question he wouldn't have dared to ask thirty years earlier, and one she couldn't have answered when she was that young.
“We're boyfriend and girlfriend,” she said. “still in the infatuation phase because we haven't had sex yet.”
Yep, definitely two adults playing teenagers playing adults. Damn this is confusing!
Ulf felt his body reacting to her words exactly the way she had known he would.
“And now is when you want us to take a step further?” he said in a rather failed attempt to play it cool. It didn't really matter. From here on he could only keep up his part of a script with an ending Christina had decided from the start.
“We're not kids.”
“That doctor said we still are, despite our subjective age.”
“I don't plan to take that doctor with me into the shower.”
Damn, you sure know how to play this game. She hadn't as much as loosened her clothes, but Ulf felt the heat rise just from her words.
“I could use a shower,” Ulf said in a last attempt to take control of the conversation with a poor joke.
He shared that shower with Christina, and after that he shared the night with her. In the end half a year's worth of pent up desires won, and his last remnants of reluctance evaporated when she clearly showed him that hers was half of them.
When they woke and spoke she told him that to her surprise there was a bit of pain. While she had the experience her body didn't.
He didn't go home until late morning.