High heels clacking on the marble tiles of a church. A soda can being opened. A plastic covered library book being pressed flat, crunching the binding. A marble rolling on a wooden floor. Wood popping and crackling as it burns. An orchestra tuning.
The steamy hiss of hot water and then an abrupt squeak as it is turned off. A low creak as the bathroom door swings open, the towel rack on the other side banging against the wood with a metallic rattle. She opens her eyes from the half dreams and listens as he steps into the room, damp, naked. She half smiles as he steps over to the dresser and slides open a drawer. The floor creaks beneath his feet as he stands on first one, then the other, to pull on his briefs. He closes the drawer with a muffled thump.
“Morning,” he says cheerfully. Even that word conveys his accent; softened by how long he’s been here, but still flat, clipped. She knows how often people ask him if he is Australian (He isn’t.)
She smiles in response and stretches like a cat, slowly – feeling, more than hearing the joints pop in her knees and shoulders. He takes two steps towards the bed, the wooden floor creaking slightly beneath his feet and leans down to kiss her shoulder, while snaking one hand beneath her thigh. She hears the rustle of the sheets and then the bed sways a little as he climbs onto it, lowering his weight onto her.
She hums appreciatively and walks her fingers up his chest to his neck, turning her face up at the same time to nibble at his jawline until her lips find his. Her fingers stroke down and find the elastic edge of his briefs and slip beneath them, feeling his smooth skin, and the taut muscles beneath the stretchy fabric. His body is warm from the shower, his skin still slightly damp. She smiles as his lips and then his teeth find her sweet spot just at the base of her throat, and then she flattens her palms against the side of his hips and rolls down his briefs.
Afterwards, he pulls her back against his chest and curls his groin against her butt, one leg thrown over hers possessively. They lie like this for a while, until she begins to feel the warmth of the sunlight caressing her exposed shoulder through his bedside window.
“What time is it?” she asks, reluctantly. She feels him turn away from her briefly, hears the click-thump as he fumbles for his phone on the window ledge where he put it down last night.
“Almost nine,” he says.
“I should get showered, and you should probably get to work.”
He chuckles and kisses her shoulder.
“It’s not like they can fire me. I own the company.” But she feels him roll away from her, off the bed. She sits up and stretches again, savouring the sunny warmth against her back from the open window. It suddenly occurs to her that the blinds must be wide open.
“Did we just give your neighbours an early morning eyeful?” she asks with a laugh. He chuckles back from the other side of the room, near the dresser and says,
“No, there’s a tree in full autumn bloom outside the window. All the privacy we need.”
She laughs softly. “Good.”
She stretches one foot off the bed, setting it down carefully out of long habit, then puts the other foot down and stands up, taking a moment to orient herself, then turns towards the bathroom. A few steps and then her foot comes down on something soft and cottony, which slides against the polished wooden floor. She lets out a yelp as her foot flies out from under her, but then she feels his arms grab her and pull her against his chest before she can properly begin to fall.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry, I just tossed that down without thinking,” he says as he rights her. He continues to grip her shoulders until she laughs and says,
“It’s okay. It’s a good thing you’ve got such long legs or I’d have been forced to remember how to get up from a split!”
He laughs nervously and she feels his lips press briefly against her forehead. He insists on walking her to the bathroom.
When she comes out, steamy and damp, she still hears him pottering about the kitchen.
“I made you an avocado and chicken wrap,” he says coming into the bedroom as she’s dressing up.
“Thank you,” she says simply, smiling in his direction. He doesn’t say anything for a moment but she knows he’s still there.
“What?” she says with a laugh.
“You look so beautiful right now,” he says. “The way the sunlight is coming through the leaves and falling on your skin…you’re like a bronze statue. It’s mesmerizing.”
“What colour are the leaves?” she asks with a smile.
“Most of them have turned orange and gold, but there are still some pretty stubborn ones that are sticking with the green look,” he says with a laugh. She giggles, then crooks her forefinger and beckons him.
He comes over and kneels in front of her, and she kisses him, then ruffles his hair and gives him a slight push.
“Go. Don’t be late for work.”
He makes an amused sound, then says,
He stands up and she pulls on the rest of the clothes he laid out for her while she showered. A moment later she hears the click as he puts down her stick beside the bed, within her reach. He kisses her again, on the lips, then on the forehead.
“I know,” she says with a grin. “See you later.”
She listens to his shoes squeak against the floor and then hears the apartment door swing open, then closed with a quiet click.