Annabelle raised her head to glance at Richie. She saw he was still staring at her, his mouth open and bewilderment painting his handsome face. She felt a wave of shame sweep through her, dampening the want that still simmered in her core.
Jesus, what was she doing? Why the Hell was she letting this bother her now? Of all the lovers she had had, Richie was the one who made her feel bold, free, wild, uninhibited… and safe.
So why the Hell did she just get a sudden attack of modesty?
“Annie… I….” Richie tried again to engage. “What… did… did I do something… wrong?”
Annie sighed heavily. “No. God, no, Richie. It’s not you. It’s… me.” She gave him a weak smile. “I’m sorry.”
“But… Uh… I don’t get it.” Richie raised a hand to scratch his head. “I thought we were having a good time.”
“We were. We are…” Annabelle felt her cheeks heat again with shame, as much for how unfair she was being to Richie as for her own embarrassment. She took a deep breath. “Sorry. Hey…” Annie gave Richie a half-hearted attempt at a sexy smile. “Let me make it up to you.”
Pushing herself up to sit, Annie scooted down on the bed beside Richie. He jumped when he felt her hand on his lap, her fingers curling around his still-ready cock. Richie gasped with surprise and gave Annie another wide-eyed stare.
“But… Annie…” he protested weakly. “We were gonna take our time… I was gonna…” Richie watched Annabelle drop her eyes again to his lap, a sheepish little smile turning her mouth as her cheeks darkened in the moonlight.
Suddenly he understood.
“Annie…” Richie’s hand closed around hers on his dick. He grunted softly when it throbbed in protest. “Are you… um…” Richie fidgeted a little, not quite knowing how to say it without embarrassing her further. “Didn’t you… want me to… uh… go… uh… down there?”
Annabelle didn’t answer. She just let out a little breath.
Richie could hardly believe it. The way Annie was acting was so out of character for the woman he had come to know. She was bold, self-assured, adventurous, and way naughtier than he had ever imagined her to be. Hell, last night she had drank and smoked grass with him, literally dared him to fuck her, then rode him like a Cowgirl under the wide-open Georgia sky. And then this morning… she teased him in church for fuck’s sake… and blew him on the front porch…
Despite his bewilderment Richie smirked slightly. He felt bad for Annie, but he found her modesty almost sweet. Ill-timed and frustrating, but sweet. And just maybe this was something he could help her with, after all the help she had given him.
“Annie…” Richie gently removed her hand from his cock, then laced his fingers between hers and pulled their twined hands to his chest. “You don’t have to be embarrassed. I just… I didn’t… know.”
Annie shrugged and settled onto her side, bending her arm to prop up her head. Her gaze rested on her hand, twined with Richie’s, as she chuckled half-heartedly. “I know. It’s stupid.” She looked up, her eyes meeting his as she smiled sheepishly. “But we don’t have to stop. I still want you, Richie.” She chuckled again. “Actually, I really want you.”
“Baby, I want you too,” Richie replied earnestly. “But… I just… I want it to be good for you too. As good as it is for me.”
Annie smiled. “Oh, it will be. If last night wasn’t a fluke, anyway.”
Richie chuckled, then pulled Annie’s hand to his lips. “It wasn’t. That I can guarantee.” He gave her a cocksure grin, then his smile gentled. “Can I ask you something?”
“Uh huh.” Annie nodded, her blonde waves swaying in the moonlight. “Go ahead.”
Richie gave Annabelle what he hoped was a sincere look. “Have you ever had… had a guy… go down on you?”
Annie felt warmth rush to her cheeks again but she held Richie’s gaze. “Actually… yeah. Once.” She felt Richie’s hand tighten around hers in a gentle squeeze. Reassured by the little gesture, Annie took a deep breath and continued. “The summer after high school. It was… uh…” She paused and sighed. “God, Richie. I don’t know why this is so embarrassin’ for me.”
“Just say it, Annie. I won’t laugh. Promise.”
Annie regarded Richie for a moment before sighing again. “Okay. It was a guy I’d been seein’ for awhile, most of senior year. He always wanted to… uh… go ‘Down South’. I would never let him.” She smiled sheepishly. “I may be a modern girl, but I was brought up by a proper church-goin’ Southern Lady. And doin’ that ain’t proper.”
Richie had to fight to stifle a chuckle at Annie’s choice of words. No, “proper” was definitely not a word anyone would use to describe muff-diving. Of that Richie was certain.
“Uh… okay. So it was kinda like… guilt, huh?” Richie gave Annie a little grin. “I get that. I’m Catholic, for fuck’s sake.”
Annie giggled. “Yeah, I guess so. Maybe ‘guilt’ is a little too strong a word, though.” Her nose crinkled as she grimaced. “It’s just… just so dirty.”
“Yeah, but… That’s what makes it so good.” Richie’s grin softened. “I mean… it’s so… like… intimate, ya know? It’s like a privilege or somethin’, when a girl lets a guy do that.”
Annie couldn’t hold Richie’s gaze as she felt another flush of shame paint her cheeks. “Well… maybe.” She dropped her eyes to their clasped hands and wiggled her fingers against Richie’s chest, not really knowing how to counter Richie’s argument. Or if she wanted to.
“So, you finally let this guy do it, and… You didn’t like it?” Richie couldn’t help but cut to the chase. He didn’t want to embarrass Annabelle further, but he was getting impatient.
Annie shook her head. “No.” She chuckled quietly. “Now mind you, I’m all for some good foreplay. What you were doin’ to me earlier, strokin’ me…” Annie purred softly, then gave Richie a shy smile. “And I’m no prude. Ya know, sometimes it’s a good long time between boyfriends and… Well, a Girl’s got needs.”
Richie couldn’t hold back a chuckle at that. Annie had obviously relaxed a little; her humor had returned. “Yeah, I know. Guys got even more needs than Girls do. Like daily needs.” Richie grinned self-depricatingly.
Annie giggled. “Yeah, well… Anyway. I finally figured ‘Well, Hell. It supposedly feels really good, and if I just don’t watch, just get caught up in the moment… well, I’ll be happy, he’ll be happy. It’s a win-win, right?’ “
“Sounds like it to me. But it didn’t work out that way?”
“No. Most certainly not.” Annie’s firm tone made Richie stifle another chuckle. “It was awful. And uncomfortable. He just was too… Well, too… hard, or fast, or eager, or somethin’.” She blew out a frustrated little sigh. “And I just… I just don’t like…” Annie paused, then gave Richie a little grin. “Gawd, I can’t believe I’m tellin’ you this. I just didn’t like that guy nosin’ around down there.”
Richie couldn’t help himself. He snorted a laugh at Annabelle’s choice of words. Almost immediately he gave her a guilty grin. “I’m sorry. Really… I’m not laughing at you. It’s just…”
Annabelle giggled softly and pushed at Richie’s chest with their joined hands. “I know, I know. S’okay.” Her smile gentled. “So anyway, now that you think I’m crazy, that’s that. And I am sorry, Richie. I didn’t mean to ruin the moment.”
Richie’s smile softened as he gave Annie’s hand another squeeze. “So that guy. The one that was really bad at… that. Did you like him much?”
Annie shrugged. “He's okay. Nice enough. I’ve known him forever, still see him now and again. But I wasn’t exactly interested in spendin’ the rest of my life with him. Why?”
“Because.” Richie dropped his gaze to their joined hands, pausing for a beat. His lips pursed thoughtfully before he looked back up at Annabelle. “Maybe the problem wasn’t you. Maybe it was the guy.”
Annie’s blue eyes widened as she heard the persuasive note in Richie’s tone. She shook her head slightly. “Naw, I don’t think so… I just… well...” Her husky voice trailed off as she realized she couldn’t really explain her hangup over this particular act.
“You said he… it… was uncomfortable.” Richie felt his pulse quicken a tic as he saw Annie’s hesitance. She could have flatly closed the topic, but he could almost see the wheels turning in her pretty head as she considered his words.
Suddenly Richie wanted more than anything for Annabelle to let him show her how it should be done, to erase her guilt or modesty or fear or what the Hell ever she had about being on the receiving end of oral sex.
Richie’s lips curled into a persuasive smirk. He knew he could open Annie up to a whole new plane of pleasure. After all, if there was one thing he was good at besides playing guitar, it was eating pussy.
Richie gave Annie’s hand a little squeeze before he began to pull it slowly down his torso, their fingers still entwined. “Just maybe…” His voice had lowered to a silky croon. “Maybe this… Boy… didn’t know what he was doing.” He felt his abs clench as the back of Annie’s hand brushed over his navel, then bumped against his head. He swallowed his quiet gasp at the contact.
The husky timbre of Richie’s voice drew Annie’s gaze to his face. Her lips parted in a silent gasp when she saw his soulful brown eyes shining in the dim light. His knowing smile sent a little tingle of nervous anticipation through her core.
“I…” Annie could barely whisper, hypnotized by Richie’s expression.
Gently Richie untangled his fingers from Annie’s, nudging her hand a bit toward his groin in the process. He bit back another little groan as his cock jumped at the contact. Turning his hand over, Richie traced his touch around Annie’s navel, then downward.
“Annie… do you trust me?” A long finger slipped through her curls and between her slickened folds. Richie felt another surge through his groin at her damp warmth.
“Oh!” Annie gasped softly, her breasts lifting with the abrupt exhalation. “I… yes…” Annie’s fingertips curled against Richie’s groin, tangling in the wiry curls there. She saw the question repeated in Richie’s smoldering gaze. “Yes, Richie. I… I trust you.”
“Okay.” Richie’s slow stroke reached the hardened little bud of her womanhood. He watched Annie’s lashes flutter as he circled her clit, then slipped his fingertip downward again. “This feels good, yeah?”
“Yeeessss….” Annie breathed.
Richie leaned forward to brush his mouth over hers. “Trust me, Annie…” he breathed against the kiss before moving his lips to her shoulder. He gave her warm skin a gentle nip before pushing himself up on his elbow.
Annie watched him, her eyes wide and swirling midnight with arousal. Again she felt a little flush of shame as she realized Richie’s intent. She swallowed hard, shoving her embarrassment aside. When Richie withdrew his hand from between her thighs she sucked in a deep breath before allowing him to guide her onto her back with a gentle push at her hip.
“Relax, Baby,” Richie crooned. He hoped he sounded calm and soothing, since inside his heart was racing with excitement and his pulse was pounding in his head. The last thing he wanted to do was make Annie nervous now, as he was coaxing her to let go of her inhibitions. “Trust me.”
Shifting downward on the mattress so that his hip was on the lower edge, Richie dropped his mouth to Annabelle’s hip. He sucked lightly at its point before trailing a lighter line of kisses across her pelvis, tracing the line where the lacy band of her panties had lain.
Annabelle moaned softly at the warmth of Richie’s lips on her sensitive skin. Again she felt a spike of nerves as Richie’s soft hair trailed across her hip while his mouth traversed her lower abdomen. Her hands curved into a half-clench as she fought the urge to tangle her fingers in Richie’s mane and stop his delicious torture before it went too far.
“Trust me, Annie…”
With a soft snort of frustration Annie raised her hands to tangle in her own hair, depriving them of the chance to interfere. She heard Richie’s soft chortle as he pulled his mouth from her skin, then she felt the mattress shift as he slid off its edge to kneel on the floor.
“Oh, God…” Annie breathed. The utterance was as much a repent as it was a sigh of pleasure. Her womb clenched in anticipation of Richie’s next move.
Richie paused for a moment, kneeling at the foot of the bed. His eyes swept hungrily over Annabelle’s beautiful naked body. She looked absolutely delicious, her long lashes closed against her cheeks, her soft hair glinting gold in the moonlight, her creamy breasts cresting and falling with her quick, shallow breaths.
He knew she would taste even more luscious than she looked.
As if in response to his thoughts, Annie shifted on the bed, pulling her thighs closer together. Richie smirked at her reaction. She wouldn’t be in that position for long.
“Jesus, Annie… you’re so damned beautiful…” Richie’s soft voice carried a soothing, almost musical note as he raised his hands to rest lightly on her knees. Gently he slid his touch up her thighs, his fingers curling to the insides of her legs. Richie watched Annie’s full lips part with her soft gasp as his calloused fingertips inched higher. Her eyes remained closed though her expression betrayed her arousal.
Richie sank into his kneel to place his lips against the inside of Annabelle’s thigh. “Baby, I’m gonna make you feel so good…” he crooned against her skin. As he licked at her flesh he pushed gently against her knees, urging her to open further to him. With a little whimper Annabelle responded.
“God, yeah…. There you go…” Richie purred in response. He shifted again on his knees, standing up a little more as his mouth traveled higher up Annie’s thigh. As he turned his head to give attention to its twin, Richie’s shaft pressed against the side of the mattress. He groaned as he felt a little surge of moisture at the impact.
Richie realized he was so aroused by what was about to happen he could barely control his cock. He hoped fervently he didn’t lose that battle and blow his load before he was able to finish Annie off.
“Richie…” Annabelle sighed hoarsely as she felt his soft hair brush over her thighs. She squirmed a little at the tickle, but the sensation was quickly replaced by the warm pressure of Richie’s mouth moving over the flesh of her thighs. “Oh… Oh God…” Annabelle’s fists tightened in her hair.
The breathy pitch of Annie’s soft moan excited Richie even more. He sucked a little harder at her thigh as his dick throbbed again against the side of the bed. He could smell her, he could taste her on her own skin. Richie raised his head just enough to look up, across Annie’s supine body and between the mounds of her breasts to her beautiful face.
Annabelle felt Richie’s mouth leave her skin, and his movement still. Despite herself she slowly opened her eyes and looked down her body at him, wondering what he was doing. Her heart skipped when she saw him gazing back at her, an expression of pure passion painting his handsome features.
“Baby… Trust me.”
Annie stared at Richie for a moment, then felt another wave radiate through her body. But this time it wasn’t nerves or shame or even passion… it was calm. It was as if Richie’s husky command had soothed her at this most delicate moment, the one she feared. Annabelle’s fingers relaxed in her hair, letting the thick tendrils slip from her grasp. Her eyes not leaving Richie’s face, she pushed herself up to her elbows and gazed back at him for a long moment. Then she nodded before her whisper.
Her look, her word, her beauty, her breath… they set Richie aflame. He sucked in a deep breath and leaned hard against the mattress as his dick surged mightily. Richie’s eyes squinted closed as he held his breath, willing his impending climax to subside, to hold off until he could fulfill his promise to Annabelle. He hadn’t counted on her submission being so fucking sexy.
“Richie?” Her voice was husky, with a faint note of concern.
“Yeah…” Richie gasped. “I.. I’m okay. Gimme a minute.” He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, in and out, until he felt the heat in his groin subside a bit. Then Richie forced his eyes open. Annabelle’s face swam into focus, her expression a cross between concern and amusement.
“I… Sorry.” Richie rasped. “You just look so Goddamned sexy, looking at me like that.”
Annie gave him a demure little smile. “Sorry. You okay?”
Richie gave a quick nod of his head as he felt his balls tighten again. It wouldn’t be long for him. And judging from the darkness of desire in Annabelle’s eyes and the little beads of perspiration shining in the valley between her breasts, it wouldn’t be long for her either. Especially with what he was about to do for her.
“Stay there.” Richie commanded softly. “Watch.”
Annie’s lower lip quivered slightly, then she slowly nodded as she stuffed down one last little pang of embarrassment. “Okay.”
Richie kept his gaze locked with hers as he lowered his face between her thighs. He didn’t have to look; her sweet, musky scent guided him to the place he sought. He saw Annie’s blue eyes widen as his lips parted, then closed over the apex of her downy cleft.
“Mmmmm….” Richie couldn’t help but groan, his lids drifting closed with pleasure. Her scent and her taste engulfed him, overwhelmed him. He suckled at the damp golden curls in his mouth for a moment before allowing his tongue to press forward, sliding firmly up the tender flesh to the firm little bud at the top.
“OHHH!!!” Annie’s whimper made Richie’s eyes flicker open. But this time her cry was one of pleasure, not of panic. Annie’s hips automatically pulsed forward against Richie’s mouth as again his tongue swiped slowly over her inner flesh.
“Mmmf… Ammy…” Richie wasn’t willing to pull his mouth from her to fully form his moan. His hands moved to Annabelle’s hips, pushing down, restraining her gently against the bed as his mouth widened to more fully taste her.
He hazily reminded himself to go slow, to take it easy. He wanted to devour her, to satisfy his own hunger, to bury his face in her pussy and smear her sweet juices from ear to ear. But he didn’t want to freak her out like that other guy had done, to make her cut him off again.
No, this was for Annie, not for him.
Annabelle could hardly believe what she was seeing or feeling. She stared, shyly fascinated with the sight of Richie’s mouth on her. It was somehow erotically beautiful, watching Richie’s dark bangs curling over his forehead, his hair fanned across her creamy thighs, and his lush lashes fringing his smooth cheeks just above her own tawny curls.
And how it felt… A low moan slipped from Annie’s throat as Richie’s tongue swept over her tender flesh in soft, full strokes. It was as if he was burning her womb with each long lick, leaving trails of sparks along the path. Again she tried to buck up against his mouth but found her hips restrained by his big hands.
“Oh… Oh Hell… Oh Richie…” Annie could do little more than pant. She almost cried out when he stopped, raising his face to look at her.
Annie felt her cheeks flush with heat as the moonlight glinted off Richie’s mouth and chin, shiny with her juices. But her blush was mirrored by another jolt of electricity through her core as her pussy protested the sudden cessation of attention. The primal urge quickly overrode the more modest one.
“Oh… oh… Yeah…” Annie breathed, staring back at Richie between the heaving mounds of her breasts, now slick with perspiration.
Richie smirked at her expression. “Feels good, don’t it, Baby?” He lowered his head again, still smirking up at her, to nibble at the moist curls covering her mound. “You taste so fucking good…”
“Richie…” Annie’s whine was plaintive as she again pulsed her hips up toward Richie’s mouth, silently begging for more.
Richie chuckled in reply. His hands slid from Annie’s hips down her thighs to her knees. Hooking underneath the joints, Richie firmly pulled Annie’s long legs into a bend, resting her feet on the mattress on either side of his waist. Then he circled her ankles with his hands, pulling them up a bit more as he shifted his kneel beneath her.
Annie fidgeted a bit as she realized her new position opened her even more to Richie’s mouth, making her totally vulnerable to his ministrations. Her unease was quickly forgotten when Richie resumed his task.
“Oh GOD! RICHIE!” A sharp wail of need tore from Annie’s throat as his tongue flickered around her clit, sending fiery fingers of sensation ricocheting through her womb. Annie’s head dropped back as her hips bucked up again, this time restrained only by Richie’s mouth against her. The increase in pressure made Annabelle gasp again.
“Ohhhh…. Baby…” Richie hummed against Annabelle’s clit, sending a shudder of pleasure up her thighs. “Fuck, Annie… So sweet… So thick…” His voice was a feral growl as his tongue rasped over the length of her, lapping away the increased evidence of her arousal. He felt his cock throbbing with the rhythm of his tongue's strokes.
Wicked arcs of pleasure whipped through Annabelle as she felt her muscles clench in anticipation. She couldn’t wrap her brain around what was happening to her body, how Richie was doing this to her. How he knew how to do this to her. Surely he was possessed of some sort of Dark Magic or VooDoo that gave him this incredible talent.
Annabelle felt her arms shaking with fatigue as her back arched in response to another heavy stroke of Richie’s tongue. She let out a strangled moan and collapsed panting onto her back, relieving the pressure on her tired muscles. She gasped when Richie responded to the shift in her position by lifting her legs to hook over his shoulders.
With a rough growl Richie grasped Annabelle’s hips to drag her closer to the edge of the bed. She responded with a breathy whimper.
“Baby… you ready?” Richie panted, already knowing the answer.
“Ye… Yes. God, Richie… Yes!”
Richie groaned with want as he buried his face between Annabelle’s thighs. He pushed her legs apart, holding them wide as he voraciously consumed her. Her hips jerked against his grip at each rapid circle of his tongue around the pulsing knot of her clit, and her buttocks clenched while her thighs quivered with each long, hard stroke of his tongue over her length. Annabelle let out a strangled cry when Richie’s wicked tongue drove into her aching center, lapping at the thick juices that were now flowing freely from within her.
“God, RICHIE! I… I can’t… I can’t take… anymore…” Annie panted. She could no longer stand the torture, couldn’t take another stroke of his wicked tongue…. She tried to scream, to demand a cease to the pressure… to beg for quarter…
Her release was cataclysmic. It erupted from deep within, drawing her muscles tight, clenching her thighs around her tormentor’s head with an iron grip. The shockwaves rocked her, rolling through her body like powerful forces of destruction. Behind her closed lids stars exploded in a supernova of indescribable pleasure.
Richie let out a muffled shout as he was flooded with Annabelle’s climax. The hot, thick, sticky, sweet nectar engulfed him, covered him with reward. He eagerly drank of Annie’s sweetness until he had to come up for air.
Panting heavily, he glanced up at Annie’s face and saw it contorted in a grimace of pure rapture. Her lips were parted as she gasped for oxygen, her chest heaving with every labored breath. Around him, her legs quivered and clenched along with her pussy as the aftershocks of her orgasm continued.
Richie couldn’t hold on any longer. Fingers of flame raced up his spine as his climax built to explosion. With an urgency born of intense need Richie grabbed Annabelle’s hips and dragged her further up on the mattress, then parted her thighs.
“God, Richie… YES!!!!” Annabelle gasped as he plunged inside her, burying his shaft to the hilt. He was already coming as he shoved into her, only managing a trio of powerful thrusts before his orgasm blasted forth.
“Oh.. FUCK! ANNIE!” Richie’s back arched with the intensity of his eruption, his head falling back as his eyes squeezed shut and his face contorted in a fierce scowl of ecstasy. His torso shimmered with sweat and his hair matted to his neck and shoulders. He gasped in a breath then fell forward, catching himself on his braced hands on either side of Annie’s shoulders.
They panted wordlessly, staring at each other as the clouds of passion slowly cleared from their eyes. Finally Annie smiled weakly.
“I… God, Richie… I just… Oh.. Oh My.”
Richie laughed raspily at Annie’s incoherent attempt at communication, then slowly pulled away from her. He carefully shifted on the bed to lay beside Annie, one hand propping up his sweaty dark head.
“Uh.. yeah. Wow.”
Annie turned her head to give Richie another dazed little smirk. “That was… was… somethin’ else.”
Richie snickered and reached up to brush a damp tendril of honey-blonde hair away from Annie’s cheek. “Liked that, huh?”
Annie giggled hoarsely. “I think you can probably guess the answer to that question.” She drew in and blew out a deep breath. “That was certainly nothin’ like I remember.”
Richie smirked. “Yeah, well… Gotta have a Man to do a Man’s job, Baby…”
Annie arched a brow at Richie’s boast. “A man, huh? Ya mean a Man… all of nineteen?”
Richie’s jaw dropped as he remembered his fib about his age when Annie had given him a ride into town. Shit. How did she find out about that? He grinned sheepishly. “Uh… well, yeah. But I’m almost twenty. In a couple weeks.”
Annie gave Richie a faux-stern look, then smiled. “Well, then. I guess that’s okay.” She giggled at her tease. “ ‘Sides. You know stuff full-grown men don’t even know.”
Richie grinned and leaned down to give Annie’s cheek a nuzzle before brushing a light kiss across her mouth. He noticed her wince slightly as she realized he still had her taste on his lips. “Hmm. Maybe I’ll have to do that again, then, huh?”
“Maybe.” Annie and Richie gazed at each other for a long moment, sharing a sweet smile. Then Richie spoke, softly and earnestly.
“Annie, I’ll make love to you every night, if you want.” His hand moved to her stomach, tracing the little dimple of her navel with a gentle fingertip. He gave her a mischievous grin. “And twice on Sundays.”
Annie returned Richie’s smile even as her heart squeezed at his words. He still wanted to stay here in Darien. “That sounds like a plan,” she said softly. “But... but what about… your music?”
“What about it?” Richie watched his hand, circling lazily on Annie’s flat belly.
“Well… You were pretty into your writin’ and playin’ earlier…”
Richie raised his eyes to meet Annabelle’s. “Yeah?” he replied, not understanding her meaning.
“Well, I just thought maybe you… you may be thinkin’ about givin’ music another try. You know, working at it?”
Richie shrugged and returned his gaze to his hand. “Dunno. Maybe someday.” He smiled wistfully. “Hell, Annie. I just figured out how to write again. That don’t hardly make me a candidate for a music career.”
“Well, it’s a start.” Annie reached up to trace a finger along Richie’s jaw. “And you love it, right?”
Richie nodded and turned his smile back to Annie. “Yeah. And I love…”
He hesitated, his mouth hanging open as he realized what he was about to say. “I.. I have you to thank, Annie.” Richie’s smile turned wistful as he flattened his palm against her belly. “You inspire me. You’re my Muse.”
Annie’s heart skipped a beat as she realized what Richie had left unsaid. Just last night he had told her he loved her. Even if it had been in the afterglow of sex and weed, he had said it. And now… Now he had avoided those three little words.
Annie knew she should be relieved. But the stab of disappointment in her gut told her she really wasn’t.
“Um… well, I’m glad.” Annie mustered a smile, pushing aside her silly emotion. “Maybe someday you’ll get all famous and I can tell everybody I know that some big Rock Star wrote a song about me.”
Richie grinned. “Yeah. Hell, maybe I’ll write one about tonight. About me showing you the Ways of Love.”
“Don’t you dare!” Annabelle slapped playfully at Richie’s arm as she giggled at his dirty leer. “That ain’t no topic for a song.”
“Sure it is! Hell, lotsa songs are about sex.” Richie countered playfully. “In fact…” Suddenly he stopped. “Oh, Shit!”
Richie abruptly sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “My guitar. I left it outside.”
“Huh?” Annie pushed herself up onto her elbows. “Oh. I’m sure it’s fine.”
Richie stood and strode around the end of the bed. He leaned down to pluck his wadded up jeans from the floor, then sat on the edge of the bed. “Yeah, but I can’t leave it out there all night. It’ll get wet, warp the wood.”
He shoved first one leg, then the other into his jeans, then stood and fastened the waist. He turned and gave Annie a little smile before leaning down to give her a soft kiss. “I’m just gonna go get it, bring it inside, ‘kay? Be right back.”
“Alright.” Annie watched Richie make his way around the bed and to the door. Then she listened as he traversed the little hallway, crossed the living room, and pushed through the screen door.
Letting out a little sigh, Annie fell back against the mattress and stared up at the ceiling.
He hadn’t said he loved her.
But he still wanted to stay in Darien.
And tomorrow his car would be fixed.
Annabelle tried for a few long minutes to sort through the thoughts swirling around in her brain. Finally she gave up and rolled onto her stomach, pulling a pillow beneath her chest and cradling her chin on her folded arms. She gazed at the window, watching the curtains stir in the breeze and the moonlight shining on the yard beyond the porch.
She wanted him to stay too. The thought of making a life with Richie, of sharing her days and nights with him, was a beautiful dream. One that could easily become reality.
But she couldn’t tell Richie that. This wasn’t where he was meant to be.
She had to let him go, to make him go.
Annie heard Richie’s footsteps on the steps and the porch. She held her breath as they hesitated, then continued. Her brow furrowed in puzzlement when she didn’t hear the screen door. When Richie’s shadowy form passed by her window she realized what he was doing. The creak of the porch swing’s chains confirmed her suspicion.
Seconds later she heard a gentle melody and a soft voice.
I never knew what love was
‘Til I met that Georgia Peach
Even though a woman like her
Seemed so outta reach...
Turning her head to rest her cheek on her pillow, Annie sighed.