And here is part three of the New Year's Special. Have a fantastic New Year all of you, stay safe and have a wonderful night whatever you do.
Before I knew it, it was midnight. Everyone kissed. Nathan was quick to kiss both Julia and I, kisses that were a touch too firm and a touch too long. But neither of us said anything, just exchanged a look with each other of complete understanding. Matt kissed my hand, met my eyes and said softly, “later”. I shivered in response, but my attention was drawn to Saffron, sitting by herself. Where was Ben?
I went to sit with her. “Saffie? Where’s Ben?”
“He got a call from one of his friends, who wanted him to come to another party and he left.”
“He left? When? Is he coming back?”
“An hour or so ago. I don’t think he is Cassie.”
“Oh Saffie.” I didn’t have any words, so I just put my arm around her in a hug and sat with her. Matt raised his eyebrows at me and I shrugged. He mouthed, “Ben?” and I nodded.
Saffron roused herself. “I think I’ll get the girls and go home Cassie.”
“Saffie don’t go, stay here tonight.”
“No, I want to be alone. I need to think. Thank you Cassie, I’ll come over with the girls in the morning, ok?”
I could see she was determined so didn’t argue any further. I walked her and the girls out to her car.
“You’re sure you are ok to drive?”
“Oh yes, I didn’t drink much Cassie, I was the designated driver anyway.”
I stood watching her go, my heart heavy for my friend. It was maddening really, I was sure Ben loved her, but he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, give up his single lifestyle even though they had been married for nearly fifteen years.
I turned to go back inside and saw a shadow moving near the footpath. Nathan walked towards me.
“Cassie, you look so lovely tonight. I didn’t kiss you properly yet.”
“Nathan, you’ve kissed me happy new year, go back to Lucy.”
“Lucy’s not you Cassie, she will never be you.”
“Nonetheless she’s the one you chose.”
“It was a mistake, the biggest mistake of my life. I want you back Cassie.”
I felt a tingle of fear but pushed it down. What could Nathan do here in my own front yard with so many people close by?
“Nathan it’s all in the past now. We’ve both moved on.”
“Have we Cassie, have we really? I haven’t. I still dream about you.”
I was beginning to feel annoyed, which served to drive the fear away.
“We are divorced Nathan, you are engaged to Lucy. There is no relationship between us any more except that of parents to Mark.”
Nathan came closer, slid his hand behind my neck, tilted my chin up with his other hand. “Cassie, I could always win you around.”
I stood my ground. “No Nathan, not this time.”
He rubbed his thumb up and down my neck. “Sure I can, I know what you like Cassie, I can turn you on in an instant.”
“You can’t Nathan. I don’t want you. Please leave.”
“Cassie, Cassie, Cassie. That’s just words. It’s ok, I’m your husband.”
“Nathan you’re not my husband any more, not for a long time. Please let go of me.”
He shook his head. “Not yet.”
Keeping one hand on the back of my neck he slid the other around my waist and pulled me firmly against him. In the same motion he kissed me, grinding his lips against mine. I began to feel fear, perhaps nobody had noticed I had been gone too long and that Nathan was also missing. I pushed against his chest, twisted my head away from his mouth. Nathan just tightened his grip and held my head in place.
“Stop fighting, you know you want it.”
“I don’t Nathan, please stop.”
“That’s a good idea, why don’t you let her go?”
I sagged in relief as I heard Matt’s voice. He spoke evenly, calmly, but his voice carried authority. Nathan let me go, turned to face Matt.
“She likes it rough, you should know that by now.”
Without another word he pushed past Matt, who ignored him.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m fine, he only kissed me.”
“Did he hurt you?”
“No, he was horrible but he didn’t hurt me.”
Matt wrapped his arms around me and I sank onto his firm chest, breathing in the Matt smell that I didn’t know until now was so familiar. He stroked the back of my head, smoothing my hair under the cap that was still sitting on my head. I would have to commend Saffron on her excellent pinning skills.
“I’m staying here tonight.”
Matt pulled back. “No arguments, just ok?”
“No arguments. I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
“Oh Cassie, you’re breaking my heart. I promise, I will always protect you.”
I smiled against his chest. “I know.”
Pulling back I patted his puffy white shirt at shoulder level. “There’s a shoulder under all this puffiness isn’t there?”
Matt puffed out his chest. “The manliest shoulder you could get.”
I laughed, grateful once again that he was in my life. “We’d better go back around, folk will be wanting to leave soon.”
We walked around the side of the house back to the party. Nathan was chivying Lucy along to get going as it was time to go home. She looked from him to me, but said nothing. I felt sorry for her, Nathan had not changed, but her life was going to change in ways she could not imagine. Nor could I warn her about it, she would not listen to me any more than I would have listened to Julia.
I went over to where Julia was sitting with John and Andrew, Matt my shadow.
“Is Saffron ok?” Julia was looking concerned.
“Honestly? I don’t know. I hope so.”
She leaned in close to me. “I saw Nathan go around the side of the house and he looked angry when he came back. Are you ok?”
I patted her hand. “I’m fine Julia. I’ll tell you what happened another day.”
She nodded. “Ok, so long as you’re ok.”
“I am, don’t worry.” In a louder voice I added. “Thank you so much for coming tonight Julia. And lovely to meet you too John, I hope we see you again.”
We chatted amiably for a few more minutes, before they got up to leave. “We’d better get going. Emmie has that party for her friend tomorrow.”
Within an hour everyone had left except Matt. “I’m still not leaving. Nathan is in a snit, I’m not leaving you alone.”
“Really, I don’t think he will come back, but I’m glad you’re staying Matt. I feel a bit shaken.”
“I’m not surprised.” He looked around. “Right, let’s get this place cleaned up so we don’t have to do it in the morning.”
“I knew there was a good reason for letting you stay.”
With the house set to rights I turned my attention to Mark, sleeping on one of the mattresses in the lounge.
“Will you leave him or do you want him in bed?”
“I think I’ll leave him. I don’t want to wake him.”
“Your call. Would you like a glass of wine? Or a cup of tea?”
I considered it. “I don’t think I’ve drunk anything since just after dinner. I think I’d like a glass of wine.”
I followed Matt into the kitchen, watching as he fished around in one of the esky coolers next to the fridge. He came up with a half bottle of wine, moisture glistening like miniature diamonds on its sides.
“Champagne. The girl at the bottle shop gave it to me this afternoon.”
“Oh she did? She probably hoped you would split it with her.”
Matt shrugged. “Maybe, but I only want to share it with you.”
He poured two champagne flutes and handed one to me.
“Cheers lovely wench. May this year bring you all that you desire.”
I clinked glasses with him. “Cheers rakish pirate. May all your wishes come true.”
I sipped the champagne, which was excellent. Matt was staring at me. I looked up at him, surprised that he hadn’t tasted his yet. “Matt?”
Matt put down his glass, took mine and put it next to his, and pulled me unresistingly into his arms. His lips found mine and he kissed me gently, slowly. I sighed into his mouth, it was the sweetest kiss I had ever received. I could feel my bones melting – I thought that was just a corny line in a romance novel but it was actually happening.
Matt deepened the kiss and I responded without reservation. Sparks were shooting all over my body, I felt like I had been plugged into electricity. It was delicious, he was delicious.
When he raised his head I felt deprived.
“That’s one of my New Year’s wishes, to taste this wine from your lips.”
Oh my. “And your other wishes?”
“To taste all of you.”
Did you know that your knees really can give way? I didn’t. Luckily my groping hand found the back of a chair and I sank down into it, quite possibly the most ungraceful movement ever as I hit the edge and nearly fell off.
Matt smiled at me, brown eyes glowing. “Klutz.”
He pulled up a chair and sat next to me. Taking my hand in his he traced little circles on the back of it. My whole body was so sensitized it felt like small circles of fire. I had never been so deeply affected by anyone, not even Nathan at the start of our relationship.
“Cassie I’m not going to push you. I’m not going to kiss you senseless and take you to bed – although you can be sure I want to. We’ll take this slow, even if it kills me.” He shifted uncomfortably on his chair. “And it just might.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“I walk you to your room and kiss you goodnight. Then I spend an uncomfortable night on one of the mattresses in the lounge, cursing my gentlemanly ways.”
He stood and extended his hand. “Come on comely wench. Bed time.”
I took his hand and let him pull me to my feet. As he did so I realized how exhausted I was. It had been a long, eventful day. At my door Matt took my face in his hands, echoing the previous evening when Barney had ruined the moment.
“The dogs, I haven’t fed the dogs!”
“I have, and Barney is here too. I went to get him earlier.”
I relaxed. “Where would I be without you?”
“Not being kissed senseless.”
Matt proceeded to do just that. When he raised his head I put my hand on his cheek. “You don’t have to spend an uncomfortable night on a mattress.”
He smiled. “I know. But I vowed I would never push you, hurt you, or make you cry. So slow it is, and the mattress for me. Besides, I want our first time together to be unforgettable.” He winked and gave me a gentle push into my room. I went, and sat on my bed. Oh my.