As he opened the car door to get out, he saw Ana walking towards him. Her face was flushed with anticipation. She doesn’t look like a woman who wants to be just friends, Michael told himself. As she approached to kiss him on the cheek, he moved his mouth slightly to the left and planted a kiss on her lips. He savored the minty flavor of her tongue. She’s just brushed her teeth for me, Michael noted, feeling emboldened by this little detail. Before Ana had time to pull away, his hands were already upon the straps of her tank top. He lowered them to expose her breasts, which he hungrily greeted with his mouth.
When Ana began to protest, Michael instantly moved up, his mouth once again planted upon hers. Since that act didn’t put a stop to the flutter of her nervous movements and semi-coherent objections—“Michael,” “married woman,” “my kids,” “husband,” “restaurant,” “in public”—with one swift motion he swirled her body around and pinned her hands upon the hood of his car. His torso held hers in place while his lips became glued to her ear. “Don’t worry, nobody can see us here,” “He never has to find out,” “We’re all alone,” he enticed her. Yet all she heard, all that truly mattered to her at the moment, was his low murmur, “How I want you, Ana, my love.” Then suddenly the soft caresses were replaced by quick slaps on her bare skin. She was struck by the clement brutality of that gesture. He had not used full force. All she sensed was the titillating contrast between his tenderness and roughness. “Au, why did you do that?” she cried out. Michael delivered his reply with the heat of his breath: “So you’re trying to make my life more difficult?” he said tugging demonstratively at the lowered layers of protection--panties, pantyhose and skirt—that separated his body from hers.
Then Ana felt a dull pain inside as he thrust his way in with no further preamble, following his own preferred rhythm, fast in, slow out, until she felt concentric waves of desire disperse from that focal point to her legs, her knees and her chest. Even her grasping hands were trembling upon the warm hood of the car. Light is a particle yet functions a wave, Ana recalled a basic principle of physics. Now, feeling concentric circles of expanding desire, she understood much better what that meant. Each time Michael penetrated her, a particle lost in the ocean of her pleasure, she felt that focal point of desire expand with the resonant frequencies of consecutive waves. Her senses exploded with scattered, disorienting emotions that intermingled pleasure and pain, desire and regret.
When Ana turned around, Michael kissed her cheek, her forehead, her mouth, even her eyelids, with the unspeakable reverence that only a hedonist can have for the privileged object of his desire. “You’re so beautiful and you’re mine now,” he said to her. His fingertips traced the graceful flow of her curves. He felt too moved by the experience to enjoy the sense of triumph he usually reveled in after conquering a woman. He was still under the spell of the tactile impression of her skin, of the warm moistness that had greeted him, of the ridges that he had felt each step of the way, of the doll-like perfection of her body.
Ana felt too confused to immediately readjust her clothes. Their unleashed desires had momentarily swept away her sense of feminine modesty. She looked into her lover’s eyes and thought, he’s right. I’ve crossed the line and now I’m his. As if reading her mind, Michael kissed her again, this time more lightly, barely touching her with the tip of closed lips. Then he made her a promise she’d never forget: “I’ll be good to you, my sweet Ana. If anything happens to us, it won’t be because of me.”
As they were about to walk to the restaurant, Ana suddenly turned towards him and tugged at his sleeve. “You know what? I’m not hungry. Are you?” Her almond eyes beckoned to him. “Not for food,” he said. They made love once in the car and twice at his place. Then they lay side by side on the bed, the moist skin of their hips still touching, each contemplating their experience. Now I have to detach myself from Karen and make sure that Ana’s all mine, Michael resolved. For him, the act of making love was the logical conclusion of a set of premises he had established in advance. He hadn’t decided which came first: breaking up with Karen or becoming more entangled in Ana’s life and removing the rival he saw in her husband.
Ana, in turn, recalled a debate about the nature of love she had had with some of her friends back in college. The women tended to say that what attracts them most is a man’s personality. The men had countered that without the looks, the personality meant nothing. Back then, she had taken the women’s side of the debate. But after so many years of marriage, she realized that both arguments were equally trivial and, at root, one and the same. Now that she was embarking on a new relationship, Ana felt that what truly counted in love was not how it got started, but how it kept on going. One could be attracted to countless others, both physically and emotionally. In the end, the forces of attraction tended towards entropy. It happened in her own marriage; it happens to millions of couples. The body ages and expands. The personality becomes familiar and dull. It takes extraordinary energy and creativity, Ana sensed, to take the point of departure of any relationship, however exceptional, and bring it to fruition as beautiful and exciting as it began.
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