I bent over and picked up the soft flannel.
"Here," Peter started, reaching for his discarded shirt. The day was nice enough, and now that the sun was up, he wouldn't need the layer. Disregarding him, I pulled it on. The scales from the fish sparkled in the sun and made me smile. It was still a little damp, but that didn't bother me either. The worst part had to be the smell. Fish, when living, don't smell much, but they decay fast, and the parts on this shirt were well on their way.
I turned to him, one eyebrow cocked, daring him to try to take the shirt from me.
He stopped, hung his head for a moment, and then smiled sheepishly. "It looks good on you?" he asked, offering it rather than stating.
I chuckled. "It looked good on you too. I don't know why you got so upset."
He ran a hand through his now uncapped hair and then grimaced, looking at his hand. He started to turn, but I stopped him, grabbing his arm.
"No, Peter. Tell me."
I held his eyes with mine, trying to give him courage.
They seemed to moisten as they softened. Though no tears fell, I was sure they were there.
"I... I have a... I need to be..." he tried several times, and I slid my hand to his, holding it. I didn't try to guess what he was telling me; I waited.
"People expect me to be this," he said, gesturing first at himself and then at his car. "I worked to make myself fit, and it's disappointing when I don't."
"Fit what?" I asked, starting to understand, but wanting to hear more. I pulled lightly on his hand, moving to a bench near the lake.
He thought while we walked and sat down before he answered. "The successful young man."
I blinked. "And why do you need to fit that?" I mean, I tried to be successful. I held down a decent job, hadn't needed my parents' help financially in years. I was independent, but that didn't mean I didn't get dirty once in a while, or go out without fixing my hair an make-up. I still didn't understand.
"So no one would look closer," he whispered.
My eyes widened in sudden understanding. He needed to fit to hide. Being covered in fish scales, having bed head instead of sex hair, drew attention to himself. But so did driving a Corvette. I shook my head.
"Wait. If you don't want people to look closer, why do you drive such a flashy car?"
He smirked. "Because I like to go fast?" he joked, chuckling once. "Seriously? No one notices a car like that with a guy in a suit driving it. It fits."
I nodded, realizing he was right.
"Is it okay that I noticed?" I asked tentatively. I didn't want to see the suit, the car, the office, the house. Good God, how did he afford that house?
He chuckled again and lifted our joined hands to his lips. "It is more than okay. I've been waiting for you to notice for almost a year."
I smiled and blushed. "Confession time? I noticed about that long ago. Part of the reason I climbed your tree was to get a better look. Especially after seeing you... less than your best. That night, it was like I saw a different side of you. I liked the first side, this side," I clarified, touching his cheek and a lock of hair. "I knew there was more, and when I saw that..." I didn't know how else to finish, so I kissed him, turning on the bench.
My hand slid further into his hair as my stomach flopped like the fish we'd caught this morning. It was scary and sure at the same time. My heart was pounding as his tongue came to meet mine, and I knew I wanted nothing more than this man. I liked my job, I enjoyed the freedom of being unbound from my family, but I wanted to be tied to him. I wanted him to anchor me.
His hands were on my back, pulling me closer as I moved my knee between his legs, rubbing my chest on his, relishing the feel of our bodies fitting together like puzzle pieces.
He found the bottom of both shirts and I felt his skin on mine, his thumbs on my belly, fingers on my back. I broke the kiss, turning my head slightly to gasp, leaning back a little on my ankles, trying to get a grip on myself and my libido.
"Whoa," I murmured, and he chuckled nodding.
As I sat back, I found myself astride his thigh and my breath caught when I felt the damp fabric pressed back against me.
He was looking right in my eyes and couldn't have missed the expression that escaped when I was faced with my own arousal. His smile turned to smirk as he lifted his knee, tipping me forward into him.
I gasped, bracing with my hands on his chest. My thigh came into contact with with the proof of his arousal, making me moan quietly as I kissed him again, thinking to give up, give in, let him have his way with me.
He obviously planned to do just that, pulling me by the hips along his leg and then pushing me back, rubbing me against the denim ridge of my jeans' seam.
I broke the kiss again, my blood nearly boiling. Some quiet part of my brain managed to be heard through the rush of 'yes' to say, 'wait.' It was right. He'd just shared something very important with me. I needed time to consider it, to consider us, as much as I wanted to feel Petey inside me. I took a deep breath, resting my forehead against his.
"Maybe we should calm this down a little?" I suggested, sliding one foot to the ground.
He rubbed his leg between mine as I set the other foot down, making my eyes close again.
When I opened them he was holding me. "Yeah. You're right. Damn, Beth." He breathed in my ear, making me tingle all down the one side.
"I know. I thought I was going to spontaneously combust," I admitted without intending to.
He hummed in my ear. "I'd like to see that."
My heart and stomach both fluttered, something even lower might have twitched too, and I know I felt Petey twitch where he was pressed against me.
"Calm?" I asked again, pleading.
Peter took a deep breath of his own. "Calm," he agreed, releasing his hold and taking my hand. "Where to, lovely lady?"
I lead him to a grassy hill where Jamie and I used to watch the clouds. "My best friend Jamie, her parents own the cabin next door. She's my roommate now, you might have seen her last week."
"I didn't. This is where you met?"
I nodded. "We'd spend every summer together." I was looking up at the clouds, remembering those summers when I lost my footing and fell backwards onto the slope. I started laughing at myself. Who trips on thin air? Beth Rodgers, that's who.
I looked up at Peter standing at my feet laughing at me too. "Are you alright?" he asked, squatting and offering me a hand.
I took it and yanked hard, falling onto my back again. He landed atop me, laughing still.
"What happened to calm?" he asked between chuckles, holding himself just off my chest.
"Shut up and look," I told him pushing him off me and to to the side. I pointed up at the fluffy white clouds above us. "This is what Jamie and I would do here. There's your car."
He chuckled. "Ah, I see. And that is... Gary getting lunch out of the fridge." I would have said it was chair, but I could totally picture Gary's behind sticking out of the fridge door and laughed loudly.
"Yes! And there is Mary hanging out of your tree."
We continued our random silliness for several minutes, until we were both in stitches, I rolled over, looking at his profile. He turned his head to watch me watching him.
"What?" he asked.
"You're amazing." I kissed him again, wishing the day would never end.
"You are amazing," he replied, holding my face in his hands.