Oh, my. I was completely speechless. And his words, I found, were stirring a desire in me that had lain dormant since the accident. I was human, after all. My sex life had been abruptly and violently ripped away from me. Now this incredible man from my past was awakening sexual desires I feared I would never again satisfy. And he was doing it without laying a hand on me. His soft words had become like whispers on my skin, making me shiver so that I pulled the blanket up to my shoulders. I wanted more, but I knew he had to stop.
“Dominic, you can’t talk like that. I can’t see you if you do. It wouldn’t be fair to either of us.”
“But you like it, don’t you?” he asked teasingly in his gravely whisper.
“It doesn’t matter if I like it. It’s wrong, and you can’t do it.” I was trying to firm, but softly so.
“What’s wrong, Ella? Is it my words, or your reaction to them?” He was still being smooth. There was no accusation in his tone. “You deserve to be touched as a woman. You deserve to be admired in all your natural beauty. That’s what I want to give you. I love you, Ella. I’m sorry if it’s wrong. I can’t help what I feel.” He didn’t sound apologetic. He sounded almost hurt, disappointed. “I’ll try to behave myself and not touch you, but I can’t make any promises. I think you’re denying yourself more than you’re denying me.”
“I realize what I’m denying. But, no matter what desires I may have, I am married. Just because Michael can’t give me things that a normal woman wants, and thinks she needs, doesn’t give me the right to go find them elsewhere.”
“You might as well vow celibacy.” He suddenly sounded irritated. “I’m not saying to go to bed with me, though God knows I’d savor that. I’m just telling you that you deserve to have a good sex life. Have you even talked to Michael about it? Do you even know how he feels about what you’ve given up for him? For all you know he hates himself because he feels he’s keeping you from happiness, no matter how much you love him. He may worry that you’re already having an affair. Are you, Ella? Have you?”
“How dare you.” It was my turn to be angry, and my voice simmered with the bile it stirred. “You know nothing about me, Dominic Sterling. You know nothing of the woman I’ve become, the life I lead. I would never, have never cheated on my husband. I am a loyal and honest wife and mother.” I had to struggle to keep my voice down.
“Calm down. Calm down. I was just trying to point something out to you. I’m sorry. I did it the wrong way. I meant nothing by it.” I heard him sigh through the line. “I don’t want you angry with me. I couldn’t stand that. Look, Ella, it’s like I said. I’m happy just to have you in my life again, whatever role you play. But I don’t want you to be the angry ex. And I don’t want to be the one who splits a happy marriage.”
I paused and let his apology take root before I spoke. “Apology accepted. So, lunch tomorrow, and we’ll talk about you meeting my family. I just need to figure out how to tell them who you are.” I was about to end the call, but something else popped into my head. “Oh, you’ll need to meet Lynnette, too.”
“Michael’ nurse. I’m going to ask her to move in with us, but I can explain that over lunch.”
He put on his sexily intrigued voice. “A live-in nurse, huh? So, is this Lynnette single? Maybe she and I could have a go since you turned me down.”
It got the reaction I knew he was going for. I was instantly jealous. “Yes she’s single. And no, you can’t have a go with her.”
“Why not? You have me all kinds of turned on, but I can’t have you. So, maybe I can have a little bit of Lynnette.”
Why was he doing this? Was he trying to prove a point? “She’s too young,” I said simply, hoping that would be enough. But deep inside, I knew better.
“There’s no such thing as too young. Unless she’s jail-bait, of course. But I doubt that if she’s a private nurse. Is it maybe because you’d be jealous?” His mocking tone had me on the edge. He had me.
“OK. So what if I am jealous. Isn’t that to be expected? After all, you were mine just a couple minutes ago.”
“Well, it’s nice to know I can stir that kind of emotion in you, beautiful. But don’t worry your pretty little head. I’ll leave Lynnette alone. I’m waiting for you. How ever long it takes, I’m waiting for you.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Dominic. You can come by around eleven-thirty, twelve o’clock.”
“I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see you again. Sleep well, and sweet dreams.”
“Good-night.” I hung up the phone and laid it on the table next to my untouched coffee. I sat there on the porch swing staring out toward the quiet street. Very few lights were on in the neighborhood due to the late hour. Only the soft halo-glows of the old-fashioned street lamps lit the darkness of the night.
Sitting there lost in thought, I lost track of the time. When I finally went inside to get ready for bed the grandfather clock was chiming one. I poured my untouched coffee in the kitchen sink and rinsed the mug.
I undressed and slipped into my nightshirt. Climbing under the covers with Michael, my mind was on Dominic and our lunch date the next day. When I finally drifted off to sleep my dreams were graced by Dominic’s unyielding presence. For the first time in a long time I awoke with memories of sweet dreams.