“I can see you-
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got that top pulled down and that radio on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone
I can see you-
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone”
Sometimes that’s what Summer is. Long days. Long night. Finding love, losing love… The memories coming back, making you yearn for those carefree days and what slipped away.
And sometimes, there’s a little bit of Summer, all year ’round, found in the most unlikely places…
So, I’ve taken a completely different approach to our theme and am giving you a little something to cool you down from the heat wave many have been experiencing…
“You have something warm to wear? Gloves? Heavy shoes?”
“My other shoes are back in my car and so are my gloves. I have some sweaters and such.”
“No. I hate it and didn’t expect I’d need it. Why?”
“Hold on. Let me see what I can find for you.”
He winked and moved away from her to rummage through a chest of drawers. He pulled out a few sweats and thick socks and tossed them on the bed. “What are we doing?”
“We’re going outside. You get dressed, and I’ll be right back.”
Holli was still standing there confused when he left the room and then left the apartment. “What the hell?”
Still a little uncertain, she took off the clothes she’d slept in and grabbed the clothes he’d laid out and went into the bathroom. The least she could do with the loaned, too-long-in-the-leg and too-snug-in-the-hips-and-ass, ill-fitting sweats and pair of men’s wooly socks was put on some deodorant. Brushing her teeth, washing her face, and combing her hair couldn’t hurt either. She could make herself a little more presentable.
She was rummaging through her makeup bag for her moisturizer when she heard the door to the apartment shut again. After pulling the ends of the sweats up over her feet and ankles and grabbing the sweatshirt, she went to see where he’d been.
“Boots,” he said, holding up a pair of galoshes. His gaze narrowed on her. “Everything fit okay?”
“Just peachy. It’s snowing, and you want to go outside?”
“Have you ever played in the snow?”
“Not really, not this kind of snow.”
“Well, put these on, and let’s go. You’ve been cooped up inside for days, and some time outside will do you good.”
Holli took the boots from him and sat down to put them on. “It’s cold out.”
“Taking me outside to play in the snow isn’t going to violate my house arrest agreement?” she asked as he was walking into the bedroom and she was tugging the sweatshirt on over her head. Layering clothes had never been her favorite thing about winter, but at least it kept her warm. She reached up inside the arms and pulled the sleeves of the long-sleeved T-shirts down and smoothed everything into place as best she could. Everything she wore was black. She had to look like a charred marshmallow.
“No more than what was going on before in the bed and no more than the attraction between us.”
He was pulling on a sweater over a long-sleeved T-shirt as he walked back into the living room. The sweater being pulled over his head ruffled his hair, and the casual intimacy of the moment struck something deep inside her. Spending time with him alone, playing, laughing, talking as though they were friends, involved…it wasn’t a good idea. She was going to fall for him, and it was going to be more than his good looks and his kindness that wormed its way under her skin. “Maybe you should have taken me to a hotel and had someone else guard me.”
He tweaked her nose as he passed her to get some boots sitting by the door. “No. Trust me; there’s no one better for the job than me.”
“I’m not going to run.”
“That’s not what I mean. C’mon. Put some of that lotion on your face and let’s go.”
He was like a kid, and his excitement was contagious. Holli quickly put the moisturizer on and set the tube on the counter before letting him help her into her jacket. He shoved a baseball cap on her head and ushered her out into the cold hallway. She shivered.
“Oh damn. Here.” He handed her a pair of gloves he pulled from his pants pocket. “I forgot to give these to you. Mrs. Collins said you could hold on to them until you leave.”
“Nice of her.” Holli quickly put them on, and though it wasn’t immediate or scalding warmth, they were wonderful against the bite of the wind as they stepped outside. “These her boots too?”
The snow was even more blinding outside and even more beautiful. She stood there, looking up, letting it fall on her face. “This is real snow. We don’t get this in Atlanta.”
“What do you get?”
“It’s not powder. It’s wet and icy, but this is…this is delicate, and there are actual snowflakes.”
“We get the icy stuff too, but we’ve gotten a lot more powder this year than normal.”
Holli walked a little farther out into the small backyard but stopped short when a ball of snow hit her square in the chest. “Hey!” Michael’s smile was all innocence. She didn’t buy it for a second. “Weren’t you ever taught not to hit girls?”
“Yes, but snowball fights don’t count.”
“How do they not count?” He was already rolling another ball between his hands, his eyes trained on her. “Oh I see. You’re not gonna play fair.”
“I always play fair.”
He drew back his arm, his fingers… Wait. Were those his knuckles on top of the snowball? She squinted and tried her best to focus, to see clearly. Was he going to…? Oh hell no. He was going to send a knuckleball her way? Two could play that game. One of the greatest knuckleball pitchers of all time played for the Atlanta Braves, and Officer “Pretty Boy” Hunky wasn’t about to show her up. “Unless what?”
Holli dropped down, shed her gloves for the time it took to mold the snow into the right size ball. Her fingers were so numb and cold she could hardly feel what she was doing, but it was going to be well worth it. She pinched off little bits of snow until she had the perfect size pile of powder sitting in her palm. “Unless what, Hunky?”
Carefully she laid the mock baseball down, then picked up the gloves again, making sure to pick a few pieces of fuzz off. After slipping her fingers back inside the blessed semiwarmth, she scooped up the snow baseball, packed the fuzz from the gloves into it so that it could be seen clearly, and took her stance.
“Unless it’s something I really want.”
He looked for all the world like he was waiting patiently, but she knew better. He was in competition mode, just like she was, and there was no patiently waiting about either of them.
“And then I stop at nothing until I get it.”
He let his snowball fly the second she drew her arm back, then shot it forward to let hers go. She moved as soon as it was out of her hand, narrowly missing getting tagged dead center of her chest. Officer Hunky wasn’t quite so fortunate.
He placed a hand over his heart. “Where’d you learn to throw like that?”
“My family, namely my grandpa and my dad, watch baseball religiously. I watch too. It’s what we do in our house every summer. Hot dogs, chips, sodas, baseball. If we aren’t at the games, we’re planted in front of the television watching them.”
“But that was a knuckleball.”
Holli grinned. “It was,” she said proudly. “How could you tell?”
“I saw the dark speck of something coming right at me.”
Her grin grew bigger. “My dad was a big Phil Neikro fan, and when he left the Braves, dad kind of broke tradition and would watch Phil play wherever he was and when I was old enough, he taught me how to throw one. I can throw all kinds of pitches. My aim is generally way off, but well, you’re a pretty good-sized target.”
As she’d been talking, she’d been kneeling down in an ever-growing pile of snow, making snowballs. She kept her eyes on him for the most part, making sure she didn’t look like a threat, making it appear she was just playing in the snow.
“I’m a baseball fan too.”
“I didn’t see anything in your apartment for a team.”
“I’m a Phillies fan. And you’re wearing my Phillies hat.”
She yanked the hat off her head. Sure enough she was. She hadn’t noticed what was on the cap when he’d stuffed it on her. “Yuck.” She tossed it at him, then made a sour face and stuck her tongue out as though she were spitting something out. “Terrible taste. I can’t believe I had that on. If my family ever finds out, they’ll skin me alive.”
He looked so affronted she forgot her own distress, genuine though it was, and had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing out loud. “Yes, terrible. A Braves fan does not wear a Phillies hat, no matter the circumstances.”
“You’re just jealous.”
“Oh yeah, that’s exactly it.” Sarcasm dripped from her tongue and another snowball hit him square upside the head.
“Now you’re playing dirty. I wasn’t looking.”
“Me? Play dirty? No.” She shook her head. “I wouldn’t do that.” Two more snowballs flew at him, small ones that, when held together, were about the size of a regulation softball. Her aim had been his stomach but went a little south. “Oh God.”
She ran toward him as fast as the cockamamy outfit and boots would let her. The piling snow didn’t help either. He dropped to his knees and fell over, clutching his crotch. She dropped down beside him, wanting to touch him but afraid of hurting him. “Oh God, Michael. I am so sorry.” And she was. She’d been hoping to play with that part of his anatomy later, and now she’d just drilled him with hard-packed snow. “How bad are you hurt? Do you need to go to the hospital? Talk to me, say something.”
“You play dirty snowball fight,” he croaked out. He followed that with a great deal of whimpering and rolling around.
“Michael?” When he didn’t answer her and just kept mewling like a wounded animal… “Well, I guess there’s nothing else to do but hide your body.”
Holli scooped up an armful of snow and dropped it over his hips and groin area.
“What the –”
She followed that with an armful dumped on his chest and then one over his face.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Burying you.” She pushed snow up against his body and packed it in tight. “You’re evidently on death’s door, what with all the dramatics. Your body should keep for a few months as long as the temperature stays around freezing. In the spring they’ll find you, and I’ll be long gone.”
He blew snow out of his mouth and shook his head against the ground to dislodge even more from his face. “You’re a coldhearted woman, Holli. I was trying to show you a good time, and you insult my choice of baseball team and then fire shots below my belt. That’s just wrong.”
“And has the snow reduced the swelling and the pain?”
He laughed, low and dark. The sound made her shiver, and for once since she’d been in the north, she welcomed it.
“No. In fact, it’s even more swollen now, and the pain is excruciating.”
Holli clucked her tongue and shook her head sadly. “I guess the only decent thing for me to do then is to put you out of your misery.”
“Definitely. I think that’s your only recourse.”
Next thing she knew, she was flat on her back in the snow, and he was braced on his arms above her. They stared at one another for a few excruciatingly long seconds before his mouth was on hers, his tongue in her mouth, his body heating hers from the inside out.
He tasted like chocolate, like a fantasy, and she kissed him with an urgency she absolutely felt. She only had him for a couple of days, just a small moment in time before life would return to normal again.
If you have some time today, take some of it and read through snippets on the following blogs:
Mandy M. Roth
Have a great weekend!