It began innocently enough. The trip was billed as a cathedral tour after all. We touched down in Heathrow at 10:20 pm. My body thought it was late afternoon, so the next morning I was in the full throws of jet lag when we entered the first historic house of worship. I wondered away from the group, hoping some outside air would rid my brain of its
He sat cross-legged on the ground, his back against an ancient stone wall, a sketch pad in hand and half smile on his face—the kind one wears when amused at an inside joke no one else will understand. His fingers were stained with charcoal, especially the left pinky which he used to blend and shade the shadowed drawing. I wanted to see it. The way he studied the arched pillars as if they told him secrets and then copied down their tales in his little book was too much for my curiosity.
I was almost beside him, intending to take a quick look and be on my way before he noticed my spying. But he looked up.
“If you’re going to peek at the goods, you should at least tell me your name,” he said, mischievous eyes twinkling.
I was caught. I blushed.
“Marian,” I said.
“Well, you’re no maid,” he retorted and returned to his work without a second glance
“What? Did ya cough, love?” he asked, still not looking up.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Most know what a cough is, even bloody bold Americans.”
“No,” I said, getting more than a little flustered, “The bit about not being a maid.”
He raised his eyes and, starting with the tips of my Cole Haan knee boots, slowly took in every inch of my body. I took his scrutiny with a raised eyebrow, daring him to find something wrong. I knew I was dressed like a lady. I always made sure I presented
“I’ve never met a maid who looks like you,” he said. “You don’t even have a
Oh, he meant the housekeeper type of maid. I had taken his bait and swallowed the hook. Involuntarily I bit my crimson-stained bottom lip and turned to go before I made a bigger fool of myself.
“Don’t you want to see the drawing?”
I stopped, retraced my steps and waited. He stood in one fluid motion with the grace of a gymnast and held open the book. I gasped. He hadn’t been drawing the columns at all. He had drawn me. Nude. From every angle. Accurately.
“My name is Kyle,” he said and closed the distance between us with one step.
An old abbot rounded the corner just as he put his lips on mine and I jumped away guiltily.
“There’s to be no fornicating on cathedral grounds,” he croaked at us.
“It’s not fornicating when you’re married, sir,” said Kyle, and pulled me close again.
His fingers were entwining themselves in my hair as he pressed me up against the cold stone wall when the bus horn honked, signaling the end of the tour. I broke the deep kiss. He took my right hand and pressed his lips to the inside of my wrist, feeling my pulse race.
“Farewell Marian who is not a maid,” he said.
“I think this has been the loveliest marriage I’ve ever had,” I called over my shoulder as I ran to catch the waiting bus.