Jessie tried to get up. A jolt of pain cut across her forehead and she fell back. “Ouch. What the hell?” she said, touching her forehead for cuts or bumps.
“Hold on,” Eli said, coaxing her to lie still. He was kneeling at her side.
Jessie looked up at him, trying to focus.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I was in the neighborhood.” He chuckled.
“What happened? Where’s the old man?” Jessie said.
“I told him I knew you, and he said that he was sorry, but he couldn’t stand on his leg any longer. He waited for a while, but I could tell his knee was hurting really badly so I told him I’d take care of you. He gave me his phone number. He wants you to call him so that he knows you’re okay.” Eli unscrewed the cap off a bottle of water and gave it to Jessie.
“Oh, thank you,” she said. She drank some and then tried to get up again.
Eli wrapped his arm around her waist and helped her to her feet.
“You’ve got a nasty bump there.”
“How long was I out?” she said, trying to get her balance.
“At least a half hour, are you okay to walk back?”
“Yah, I think so; my head hurts like a bitch, but I’ll be okay.” She drank the rest of the water. “So did he get his dog down?”
“When I showed up, you were on the ground and the dog was still up in the corner digging. I tried to wake you, but you were out cold. You must have hit your head on the railroad tie when you fell. So, I got the dog down and tried to wake you again. He said he couldn’t wait any longer or else I’d have to carry him home, so I just told him to go.”
He still had his arm around her waist.
Jessie found herself staring into those deep blue eyes.
“Shall we go?” he said.
She shook her head, “Yah, I’m ready.”
She put her arm around his neck and he held her steady. They tottered along through the first field and after they got to the woods, she was able to make it on her own.
“I’m surprised to see you here. How do you know about this place?” Jessie said.
“I have been coming here since I was a child,” he said. “My parents used to take me and my sister here.”
“Yah, remember the Valentine party you had?”
“Remember the drunken girl who came looking for me?”
Jessie felt like she just got struck by lightning with the realization that her secret admirer was not in a bad relationship with a crazy girl after all. Her heart started to race, her face felt flush, and her legs gave away. Before she could hit the ground, Eli caught her, and they both gently fell into the wildflowers.
“Are you okay?” he said, looking down into her hazel eyes, beyond her eyes, into her soul.
She watched the leaves above dance in the breeze, and then she met his mesmerizing gaze. “I am now.”
He leaned closer, his golden blond hair falling around his face. Her heart pounded in her chest, a hundred butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and blood raced in her veins. There was an absence of time and space as, as last, his full, moist lips enveloped her bottom lip, her top lip, her entire mouth. He caressed them at first, then, as the hunger grew, he became intense, fierce. With every touch of his lips on hers Jessie’s stomach ached, her heart seemed to pound in her ears, and her pelvis started to come to life.
Eli found his way on top of her, his left hand under her head, in her hair, his right, under her top, undoing her bra. He pressed against her and she let out a cry of ecstasy. She writhed like a snake in the grass, wanting him so badly that her groins seemed to be on fire. He kissed her neck, fondled her breasts, found his way to her zipper. She was lost, lost in the passion, craving the contact, filled with desire for him. He slid his hand down her shorts and found that she was more than ready. Her pelvis danced with delight, her thighs tensed. He unzipped, and when he dove into her she screamed. They were like animals; wild, untamed, running on instinct, pumping like well-oiled machines, racing to the finish. And when the end was in sight, they howled like wolves baying at a full moon until finally, he collapsed beside her.
When their breathing became normal again, and they had composed themselves, Eli explained to Jessie what had happened the night of the party. He had promised his sister that he would take her back to Australia to visit their parents’ grave—they had both died in a car accident ten years ago on Valentine’s Day—but he wanted to go to Jessie’s party. They got into an argument and she showed up hurt, drunk, and angry. Eli told Jessie that he meant to call and explain, but he and his sister left the very next day. His sister wanted to stay there with relatives, so he had spent a few months with her, helping her get settled and find a job.
Jessie was quiet; her head began to ache again.
She asked him to take her home. He was glad to. They got up and he took the leaves out of her hair. She smiled at him. They walked through the woods single file and when they reached the weeping willows, he took her hand in his. It was getting chilly with the evening coming on, but all Jessie felt was the calming sensation of warmth in her heart.