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Winnie pushed up against me in welcome response and returned my kiss with pressing passion. She pulled my shirt out from my pants and reached under it and ran her nails deliciously up and down my back. I moaned in pleasure and she giggled.

“Hey,” she whispered into my ear, “it’s still daylight and the neighbors can see everything we’re doing. Do we need to go inside or can we, you know, just, be with each other a while longer?”

I felt certain that if she was as eager as I she would have led me to her bedroom rather than asking if I could wait. The eternal fight between quick pleasure and a more lasting encounter raged inside of me and I elected to follow her lead and slow things down rather than hurry through an intense but less meaningful coupling. “If you’re what I get for waiting then I can wait, sweetie. I told you that I find you an amazingly intriguing woman.”

“You did,” she said grinding against me once more before biting my ear. “This is so much better than Tinder Man,” she giggled.

As much as I wanted to shed clothes and inhibitions and have at it with wild abandon I had to admit that there was a delightful, adolescent flavor to our date and that our furtive groping was an immensely pleasurable dance. “Who sings that song about things getting hotter when the sun goes down? I think I can wait till then, but no promises after that.”

“Kenney Chesney? Are you into country?”

“Good lord no! Just what I hear on the radio. Are you?

“You might be surprised by what all I’m into,” Winnie responded, patting the inside of my thigh. “It is cooling off fast now that the sunshine’s gone.”

“Snuggle up with me. I’ll keep you warm.”

“I will, but let’s add some logs to the fire.”

I hated getting up from our compromising position but adding fuel to the flame was literally what I’d been asked to do. I took half a dozen pieces of three-inch-thick wood and built a pyramid around the single burning log that rested in the fire pit. My ardor was cooled, though far from sated, when I returned to the bench and again sat next to Winnie. I took her hand and resisted the overwhelming desire to place our hands in my lap and instead set them atop our touching thighs. We sat, watching the fire and listening to the wood crackle, and I was content to just be close to her.

After a few minutes of companionable, motionless sitting I asked the question that had been niggling at me since Winnie had suggested we dine together, the question that had grown when I realized how lusciously delicious the woman I was with truly was. The question that I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer to. I asked, “Why me?”

Winnie turned to me, tilted her head and asked, “How do you mean?”

“Well. You know. You’re beautiful and nice and giving and I’m, well, let’s just say that my glass isn’t even half empty anymore, it’s even less full than that. So. Why me?”

“Is that how you see yourself? As used up? Because that’s not the man I’ve come to know over these cold, dreary months. I think you’re great, Henry. I kept hoping you’d ask me out sometime but you never did. I just wish it hadn’t taken me this long to finally ask you out.”

I had no response for the honesty with which Winnie had spoken. I feared that when she got to know me she’d be disappointed but for now my goal was to be more like the man she thought I was and less like the one I thought I was. Who knows? Maybe having a high standard to live up to, other than my mother’s nagging voice, was exactly what I needed to turn my life around.

“Well,” I said, “I’m sorry it took so long but it’s been really nice getting to know you without the pressure of dating.”

“You know what?” she asked, “I don’t think I could have said that any better.”

She turned to me, hiked up her skirt, straddled my legs, leaned down to kiss me and said, “I think the sun is down, don’t you?”

The sun may have sunk but one of my essential elements had certainly risen. We kissed deeply, groped a bit in the near dark and then  at the sound of a car door closing froze Winnie.

“Oh, Henry, I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I think that’s April just getting home.”

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