|As Rollie’s mouth closed over hers again, the thought flashed through
Angie’s mind that this was a Valentine’s Day she would remember for the
rest of her life, the day that she and the man she had loved forever finally
stepped beyond friendship and became lovers. Lovers! The thought
made her deepen the kiss even more.
With the taste of her filling his senses, her soft body in his arms, Rollie felt his passion rise, growing hotter by the moment. He began to caress her, his hands sliding down her back and over her hips. As the kiss continued, his arousal grew until he knew that he had to stop now or he wouldn’t be going home tonight. With a tremendous effort, he pulled away from her.
“I should go now,” he said, his voice heavy with the desire to make love to her.
Angie looked into Rollie’s eyes, seeing the love and passion in them. She could feel his need for her, a need that was matched by her own body. “I don’t want you to,” she whispered.
“Angie, if I don’t go now, I won’t be able to stop myself from making love to you.”
Angie pulled him close, draping a leg over his thighs, almost straddling his lap. She heard him draw his breath in with a hiss. The desire in his eyes became like a flame, burning her. “I don’t want you to stop,” she told him.
The Aussie pulled her tighter against him, his hand cupping the soft roundness of her bottom. “God, Angie. We shouldn’t be doing this, not this quickly. We need time to . . . to think about things. This is all happening so fast. We haven’t even gone out on a real date. I love you, Angie. That’s more important to me than . . . this. I want to do the right thing.” His voice was shaking with the effort it was taking not to push her down onto the couch and make love to her until the sun rose.
Angie felt her heart fill with love for him. He was willing to ignore the desires of his body rather than make a mistake by rushing into consummating their relationship. She could never doubt his love for her, not after this. Though Angie’s body was aching with the desire to make love with him, she knew that if she pushed him into it tonight, he would forever feel guilty about it afterwards.
Angie smiled gently. “I love you too, Rollie, and I understand. We can wait, as long as you want to.” She pulled away from him just far enough that they weren’t touching.
The Aussie drew in a deep, shaky breath. He smiled hesitantly, hopefully. “Would you like to go out tomorrow? We could spend the whole day together.”
Angie’s smile grew. “That would be wonderful.”
Rollie’s smile became a grin. “I’ll pick you up for breakfast, okay?”
They said goodnight, not daring to kiss for fear that things would grow out of control. As Angie got dressed for bed, she thought about tomorrow and what the day, and the night, might bring. She didn’t know how long she would be able to wait for them to make love. She had already been waiting for so long. But she understood Rollie’s reasons. This had happened so suddenly for him. By the things he’d said and the way he’d acted, she realized that he had only just discovered he was in love with her. Angie smiled at that thought. Rollie Tyler was in love with her. It was a dream come true.
Angie sobered. There was something that Rollie didn’t know, something she was afraid to tell him. He would be her first. She knew that she should tell him, but if she did, she knew how he would react. He would be afraid of hurting her, and she didn’t want that. So she would keep this secret to herself until she no longer could.
Happier than she had been in a long, long time, Angie crawled under the covers and turned out the lights.
Rollie shut the door of the loft and leaned back against it, his eyes closed. He couldn’t believe what had happened tonight. He and Angie had kissed. Kissed? That wasn’t a strong enough word for what they’d done. It had been like they were giving each other their souls through their mouths. He’d never felt anything like it in his life.
It had taken everything he had to leave her apartment tonight. He wanted her so badly that just thinking about her made the heat return. But this was the right thing to do. He didn’t want to make a mistake with Angie. When they finally did make love, he wanted them both to be sure this step forward in their relationship was the right one for them. He just didn’t know how long he’d be able to wait.
As he lay in the darkness of his bedroom, Rollie thought about what tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that might bring. There was one thing that he knew for certain. He wanted to spend them all with Angie.
That Saturday was the first of forty-two days in which Rollie and Angie spent every moment they could together. The instant she got done with classes, Angie would go to the loft, or studio, or wherever Rollie was. He had started on a new movie, so there was a lot of work for him to do. She would help him so that he could get done faster, then, depending on where they were, they would spend the rest of the day either at the loft or her apartment. If she had to study, he would sit with her, quizzing her. Whenever she had too much schoolwork to spend the evening with him, he would rush to her apartment as soon as he was finished with work. On the days he worked too late to do that, he would find the time to call her.
They quickly became addicted to each other’s company, thinking about each other whenever they weren’t together. Strangely, Angie’s grades did not suffer from this. In fact, they improved. Her love for Rollie and his love for her were giving her fresh enthusiasm for life and all that went with it. Her friends noticed the difference in her attitude and appearance, often commenting on how happy and beautiful she looked. Unfortunately, this was not wholly a good thing. Angie got hit on more times in the weeks following Valentine’s Day than she had all the time she’d been at college. She politely turned down each guy, letting them know quite clearly that she was taken.
She and Rollie had not yet made love, though they had gotten close a few times, the Aussie pulling back each time. Angie was willing to wait for him, for the moment when he was ready. She knew now that he was hers alone and that she belonged to him. Even Roberta’s comments about him on the Monday following the Valentine’s Day weekend didn’t bother her. As for Diane, she took one look at Angie’s face that Monday and knew something was up. Angie confessed in private that she and Rollie had stepped beyond friendship, which pleased Diane to no end.
As for Rollie, a smile was never far from his face. No matter how tiring or frustrating work became, all he had to do was think of Angie and things didn’t seem so bad anymore.
He’d gone out for beers twice with Leo McCarthy and had found it really hard not to blurt everything out. But this was a secret that he was not yet ready to tell. Leo saw right away that something was going on and even guessed that it had something to do with a woman. The detective had pushed the Aussie, trying to get him to reveal the mystery woman’s name, but all Rollie told him was that when he wanted Leo to know who she was, he would introduce them. Secretly, he couldn’t wait to see the look on the man’s face when he learned the truth.
As it turned out, their one month anniversary fell on the Saturday before spring break began. Unfortunately, Rollie couldn’t get the time off work so that they could go away somewhere. So, instead, Angie went to work with him every day that week, helping out as much as he could. Rollie loved having her work with him and was looking forward to the day she graduated college and went to work with him full time.
The first couple of days after returning to school the following week were hard for both of them. They’d gotten used to spending all day in each other’s company.
It was now Friday, and, in just a few hours, Angie would be arriving for another weekend together. They would not have the following weekend together. He would be on location in Connecticut from Monday through Sunday.
Angie couldn’t wait for the school day to end so that she could begin another weekend with the man she loved. When the final bell rang, she was out of the classroom before most of the other students had time to blink.
Angie headed straight to the loft, which was where Rollie was working today. As she opened the door and the Aussie spied her, he stood and walked toward her, smiling brightly. She ran across the distance between them and threw herself into his arm. He lifted her up off the floor, their lips coming together in a deep kiss.
“I missed you,” he said, something he said almost every time they saw each other after a separation of a few hours.
“I missed you too.” Angie pulled his mouth back down to hers.
A minute or so later, Rollie lifted his head. “We’d better stop now or I’m not going to get my work done. I need to get it finished by Monday, and I don’t want to interrupt our weekend together to do it.”
Angie helped him with the project, and they got it finished before dinnertime. Wanting to spend the evening alone together, Rollie ordered Chinese take-out from one of the few places that would deliver to that area. They ate the meal curled up together on the couch.
After eating, they watched a little TV, but neither of them had their minds on what they were watching. Finally, Rollie shut the television off and pulled Angie into his arms.
“These have been the best weeks of my life,” he told her.
“Mine too. I never believed I could be this happy.”
“It was meant to be like this for us, Angie. It feels so right, so perfect.”
“Perfect,” Angie agreed. Deciding that they’d talked enough, she pulled him into another kiss.
Rollie felt the now familiar passion grow. He deepened the kiss, searching her mouth hungrily. She felt so good, tasted so good. He couldn’t get enough of her. The Aussie felt his arousal grow until it reached the point where he usually stopped things. But, this time, he couldn’t stop. He was powerless to stop. With a moan, he pulled her more tightly against him, his hands wandering across her body, wanting her even more badly than he had the night they first kissed. And the fires rose still higher. Soon, he had pulled her onto his lap so that she was straddling his thighs. They began to rub up against each other, the friction of the clothing between them sweet torment.
Angie was quickly losing control. She could feel the evidence of Rollie’s desire for her, and it was driving her crazy. Her need for him was becoming too great to deny. She wanted him now, tonight.
With a groan that sounded like he was ripping part of his own body away, Rollie separated from her, pushing her back a few inches. “Angie, we have to stop now or I won’t be able to stop at all.”
Angie looked into his eyes. “It’s time to stop fighting it, Rol. I don’t want to stop. I want you to make love to me.” She closed the distance between them and placed her hands on his cheeks. “Please make love to me, Rollie,” she whispered.
The Aussie’s eyes looked deeply into hers, and, suddenly, he lost the will to fight. With a groan, he crushed her against him and devoured her mouth. His self-control vanished in a bright explosion of desire, and they began rubbing against each other in earnest.
Angie felt heat flood her body. She’d never been aroused even close to this point before. She could not believe how hot she felt, how every cell of her body seemed to be humming with desire. Abruptly, Rollie got to his feet, still holding onto her. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he carried her upstairs to the bedroom.
Rollie set her on her feet, his eyes running over her face intently. Slowly, he released the buttons of her blouse, then slid the material off her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. His hands slid up her arms, then down her back, his eyes bright as they took in the sight of Angie’s nearly naked upper body. Angie pulled Rollie’s top off. She caressed his chest, glorying in the feel of his firm muscles, in running her fingers through the hair there. This was incredible. It was actually happening. They were going to make love.
Rollie’s hands cupped her breasts, kneading them through the material of her bra. Angie’s body began to tremble as her passion became mixed with nervousness. As his hands slid behind her to undo the catch of her bra, the nervousness escalated dramatically. Her eyes closed tightly, and her respiration grew so fast that she was almost hyperventilating.
The Aussie felt the fine tremors passing through her body, and, suddenly, a thought hit him. “Angie, look at me,” he commanded softly. She opened her eyes and lifted them to his. There, he saw the confirmation of what he’d guessed. “You’ve never been with a man before.”
“No,” she whispered.
Rollie was immediately hit by a wave of fear. “Angie, you should have told me. I don’t want to hurt you.” What an idiot he was. He should have known that she might be a virgin. She was only nineteen years old. But some part of him had thought that someone as beautiful and passionate as she was would have found a man to cross that line with by now.
She looked into his eyes. “I’ve never been with a man because I was waiting for you, Rollie. I wanted you to be the one, the only one.”
The Aussie’s eyes closed. He swallowed deeply. She had waited for him. She had wanted to give herself only to him. He pulled her into his arms, burying his face in her hair. “Oh, Angie.”
Angie nestled her face against his chest and took a deep breath, bringing his male scent into her lungs. Her nervousness faded as she began to kiss his chest. She let her tongue sneak out, tasting him. He tasted so good. The last trace of nervousness disappeared as she kissed her way down to his flat male nipple.
“Angie,” Rollie groaned, feeling her lips encircle his nipple, a bright flash of ecstasy bursting through him. Desperately, he tried to bank the fires, to pull back. ‘She’s never done this before. It’s her first time. I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want--’ The Aussie’s thoughts shattered as she wrapped her leg tightly around his thigh and began rubbing her hips against him.
With a superhuman effort, Rollie stopped himself from throwing her down onto the bed. Somehow finding the power of speech again, he gasped, “An . . . Angie, please s-stop.”
Rollie’s voice slowly penetrated through the haze of passion in Angie’s brain. She looked up to see the Aussie’s eyes burning into hers, desire and anguish mixed together within their depths.
“Angie, I can’t do this. I want you so much, but I can’t hurt you. It would tear me apart if I hurt you.” His voice was raw with agony.
“I don’t care, Rollie. I don’t care if it hurts. I want you to love me,” she told him.
“But I do care, Angie.” He pulled away from her, though it was ripping him apart. “I can’t do this, not like this, not like--” His voice cracked. He snatched his top off the floor, and before Angie could say another word, he had bolted out of the bedroom.
“Rollie!” she cried, hearing him running down the stairs. By the time she reached the landing, he was escaping out the door, his coat only half on.
Wincing at the sound of the door slamming shut behind him, Angie began to cry. She went back into the bedroom. Finding Rollie’s robe, she wrapped herself in it and huddled on the bed, sobbing, aching for him. The minutes passed, and the tears finally stopped. Not knowing what to do, Angie remained there as an hour, then two, then three passed. She did not move from the bed. Occasionally, she dosed, each time waking up hoping to find Rollie lying beside her.
At last, Angie rose and got dressed. She drove home, her heart breaking. She had to talk to someone. Hoping that her friend was home, she called Diane. Her schoolmate answered on the third ring.
“Diane? It’s Angie. Did I wake you?”
“No. I was just about to go to bed. Angie, what’s wrong? You sound upset.”
Slowly, Angie told her friend what happened. “Oh, Diane. It was so wonderful. I’ve never felt anything like it before. And now I don’t know what to do. He’s afraid of hurting me, and I don’t know how to make him see that it doesn’t matter to me, that I could bear any pain to be with him.”
There was a long silence on the other end, then a deep breath. “My God, Angie. Do you have any idea how lucky you are?”
“To have someone love you like that. A lot of men wouldn’t really care all that much if it hurt the woman. Well, okay, they might care, but not enough to keep from doing it. I know this from experience. I lost my virginity when I was sixteen years old. The boy was seventeen. I thought that we loved each other, but that first time. . . . It wasn’t his first time. He had other girlfriends before me, but never a virgin. It didn’t slow him down a bit when I told him. In fact, he got even more excited. And, well, it wasn’t a great night, not for me. But it could have been if he had shown just the tiniest bit of care for me as Rollie is showing toward you.” Diane’s voice became earnest. “Angie, it doesn’t have to hurt. The first time isn’t always a painful experience for a woman. That is a bunch of garbage. Many, many women feel no pain at all the first time, and many more only feel a slight discomfort and soreness. There are some Web sites you can go to that talk about this and explain ways that most women can reduced and even completely eliminate any pain.” She gave Angie a few Web site URL’s. “Read what they have to say and print them out to show Rollie. It’s going to be all right, Angie. The fact that he loves you that much proves it.” There was another pause. “I envy you. Mitch and I, we’re great together, and he’s a terrific guy, but I know that what we have couldn’t hold a candle to what you have with Rollie.”
The two women said goodbye. As soon as she hung up the phone, Angie went to her computer to find the Web sites that Diane had told her about. She printed out everything she found, hoping that the facts would ease Rollie’s mind about making love with her.
Satisfied that she’d done all she could until she saw him again, Angie went to bed, wishing that he was there beside her.
Rollie had been walking for hours. He was only vaguely aware of where he was now. He felt horrible, guilt over the way he’d run away from Angie eating at him. He had panicked, plain and simple. He had thought about the fact that he would be taking her virginity, her innocence, something he could never give back, and that it would physically hurt her, and he suddenly just couldn’t do it.
Throughout these hours, he’d been thinking about Angie’s father, about the promise he had made to the man. He had sworn to look out for Angie, keep her from harm if anything ever happened to Manny. Angie didn’t know it, but Rollie had been named in Manny’s will as her legal guardian in the event that her father died before her eighteenth birthday. What would Manny think if he knew about what almost happened tonight?
And what if Angie hadn’t been a virgin? Rollie had no doubt that they would have consummated their relationship tonight. He had almost been unable to stop himself as it was. She was so beautiful, so loving, so passionate, so totally sexy. He still wanted her, even knowing what he did. So, why couldn’t he just go back and make love to her? Because he couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her and because the first time should be something precious and special, and she deserved all that he could give her. She deserved to have it perfect. She deserved for it to be right. So, what does that mean? What was perfect? What was right? He only knew that, until he got past this guilt and fear, he could not make love to her.
Sighing, Rollie headed for home. He didn’t know what he was going to say to Angie. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but that was bound to happen when he told her that he couldn’t give her what she wanted. Maybe if they waited a few months, until she turned twenty, it would be better. The fact that she was only nineteen was still something that bothered him deep down inside, even though he had seen tonight how very much a woman she was.
But what if they did wait, and, in those months, Angie found someone else? What if she realized that she didn’t love him after all. He didn’t know how she could be in love with him in the first place. Maybe what she was feeling was just the crush that she had felt when she was a kid. Could crushes last that long? He didn’t want to believe that. He had seen the love in her eyes when she looked at him. He had felt it in her kisses and caresses. It was real . . . wasn’t it? Yes, it had to be real. He could believe nothing less. If it wasn’t, he couldn’t bear it. He loved her with his whole heart and soul. He wanted to spend forever with her. He wanted to-- Rollie abruptly stopped before a store window, staring at the display, a thought coming to his mind. No. It was crazy, it was foolhardy, it was something that they could very easily regret later. Not moving away, he kept staring in the window. But it was also something he was only just realizing that he wanted with all his heart.
Hurrying his steps, Rollie quickly headed back to the loft. He had to talk to Angie. He had to talk to her tonight.
Angie rose out of sleep at the sound of someone calling her name, at a gentle touch on her shoulder. She opened her eyes to find Rollie kneeling on the floor beside her bed. Instantly, she grabbed hold of him, clinging to him.
“Rollie! Oh, Rollie,” she murmured against his neck.
“Angie. I’m so sorry, baby. I shouldn’t have run like that. Please forgive me.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, Rol. I understand. I do. I know you don’t want to hurt me.” She sat up and turned on the light, squinting until her eyes grew accustomed to it. When she spoke again, there was excitement in her voice. “I found out some things, Rol. Diane told me--”
“Diane? You called Diane?” A blush spread across Rollie’s face at the thought that Angie had talked about what happened.
“I’m sorry. I just needed advice, someone to ask what to do. I didn’t tell her everything. I only told her the, um, basics. But, Rollie, she told me some things, and I found some stuff on the Net.” Angie picked up the printouts and gave them to the Aussie. He looked over them, the blush returning, then fading as he realized what was being said.
“You see? It’ll be all right. It doesn’t have to hurt. You don’t have to be afraid.” Angie pulled him to her, kissing him deeply, passionately. The Aussie did not pull away, but, instead, returned the kiss with every bit of passion in which it was given. Angie moaned inside Rollie’s mouth, feeling the heat stirring to life again. But then, he drew away. He gazed at her, a confusing mixture of emotions in his eyes. Love, passion, happiness, nervousness, excitement. They were all there, plus other things she could not name.
The Aussie took her hands. “Angie, ever since I left you, I’ve been trying to decide what to do. I left because I couldn’t stand the thought of causing you pain, but it was more than that. I was feeling guilty.”
“Because your Manny’s daughter, because you’re a . . . a virgin, because you’re so young, because I felt like it wasn’t right to do it like that.”
The Aussie covered her mouth with his fingers. “Shhh. Let me finish.” He waited for Angie’s nod, then continued. “Heaven knows I haven’t always done what was proper. I’ve made love to other women, though, um, not . . . not very many.” He wasn’t about to tell her that he’d gone all the way with only three women, and that he hadn’t lost his virginity until he was twenty-two. He was certainly not going to tell her the circumstances surrounding that first time, Cassandra Delarosa’s seduction of a young, innocent Rollie Tyler. “But it’s different with you. I want to make things right for you.”
“Rollie, just having it be you makes it right for me.”
“I know, Ange. But I want. . . .” His voice trailed off, and he sighed. He closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, then looked at her earnestly. “Angie, I want to marry you.”
“M-m-marry m-me?” Angie stuttered, her mind spinning. Rollie had just proposed to her!
“I want to marry you today, the instant that we can find someone who will do it.”
“B-b-but . . . m-married?” She couldn’t believe this was happening. She suddenly felt like she’d gotten on a roller coaster without a safety bar.
“I know it’s crazy, and insane, and that it’s way too soon, that it could be a terrible mistake, that--” He stopped himself. He had begun to babble. Taking another deep breath, he continued. “But I want this, Angie. I want to make love to you knowing that we’re doing it right the first time, that we have committed ourselves to each other. I want to wake up with you tomorrow morning and know that you’re truly mine, that you are my wife, that I’m always and forever yours.”
Angie stared at the Aussie, wide-eyed. This was insane. They’d only been dating for a month, and now Rollie wanted to marry her?! But then, they had known each other for eight years. That had to count for something, even though she had been a child for most of those years. What was she thinking?! They couldn’t possibly do this. It was nuts!
Rollie looked at the stunned, open-mouthed expression on Angie’s face. As the silence continued, his hopes died. He released her hands and pulled a little away from her, his eyes cast downward. “I’m sorry, Ange. It was a stupid thing to ask. Of course we can’t get married. What was I thinking? You’ve got school, and I’ve got work, and it just wouldn’t work out. It’s too soon to even be thinking about this. I’m sorry. Forget I ever said anything.” He got up to leave. “I . . . I’ll see you in the morning, okay? That is if you still want. . . .” He cut himself off. Turning, he headed toward the door, feeling like a fool.
Angie watched Rollie shut the door quietly behind him, his shoulders slumped in defeat. He wanted to marry her. He wanted to give himself completely to her. Wasn’t this what she’d been dreaming about since she was eleven years old? So why was she sitting here, letting him walk away? Because she was scared. She was a nineteen year old college student who still had her whole life ahead of her. She should be thinking about school, going out on dates, having fun with her friends, parties, and all the other things that the average college girl thought about, not getting married.
But how many college girls had the man that they had loved utterly and hopelessly for eight long years ask them to be his wife? How many found a man whom they knew loved them with all his heart, someone as wonderful as Rollie Tyler?
With a small cry, Angie leapt off the bed and hurled out of the bedroom. There was no sign of Rollie. She quickly went to the front door and looked down the hallway. He was gone. She had waited too long. Not knowing what to do, Angie went back inside. Should she wait to talk to him until morning, until their heads were clear and they’d both had time to think? Angie kept seeing the look in Rollie’s eyes when he left, the pain there. He had offered her the rest of his life, and she had rejected it with her silence. He probably wouldn’t want to see her again tonight. In fact, he might not want to see her at all this weekend. She wouldn’t blame him a bit.
“I’m sorry, Rollie,” Angie whispered to her empty apartment. She returned to her bedroom and sat on the bed. An hour ticked by as she thought about Rollie, about what it would mean to her life if she said yes to his proposal, what it would mean if she said no. Finally deciding that she had to talk to him tonight, Angie picked up the phone, but all she got when she called the loft was the answering machine. Should she go over there? It would probably be best to wait till morning.
Her decision made, Angie lay back down. But sleep would not come. Why hadn’t she said something to him? Why did she just sit there like an idiot when he had just handed his heart to her? What if he thought now that she didn’t love him? That thought sent her leaping out of bed and to the closet. She had to talk to him tonight. It couldn’t wait.
The drive to the loft was made as quickly as she could manage without risking a speeding ticket. When she arrived, she quietly unlocked the door and went inside. Tiptoeing upstairs, Angie made her way to Rollie’s bedroom. She opened the door--then froze when she saw that the bed was empty. She turned on the light.
“Rollie?” There was no answer. That’s when she saw that the closet doors were open. Her heart thudding painfully in her chest, Angie looked inside. The suitcase, which had always been kept in there, was gone.
“No,” Angie whispered. He couldn’t have left. He wouldn’t have left . . . would he? Feeling numb, in shock, Angie went back downstairs. Where could he be? His car was still here. She looked back outside to confirm it. That’s when she looked over in the garage area and realized that the van was gone. Rollie had gone away, and she had no idea where he was.
Tears filling her eyes, Angie went back home, hating herself for the way she’d hurt him. When she passed her phone, she saw that the red light was blinking on the answering machine. Rollie! Nearly breaking the machine in her haste, Angie listened to the message.
“Ange, it’s Rollie. I . . . I’m sorry for tonight. You were right and I was wrong. It was stupid and selfish of me to ask you to give up your freedom like that. You have your life in school and with your college friends. You deserve to have fun, live a normal life, not be tied down to a husband. I just wanted--” Angie heard a deep sigh. “I got a call from the studio. There was a sudden change in the schedule. The shoot on the coast has been bumped up. We’re starting today. I wish I could have said goodbye in person, but . . . maybe it’s better like this. We’ll talk when I get back.” There was a pause. “I love you, Angie.”
Angie stared at the answering machine as the tape clicked off, then rewound. Feeling both relief that he had not gone away because of her and pain over the sorrow she had heard in his voice, she returned to her bedroom. Rollie would be gone for a week. It seemed like forever.
She got undressed and crawled under the covers. For a long time she lay in the darkness before sleep finally claimed her.
Rollie sighed in exasperation as people scrambled here and there like a bunch ants whose hill had been disturbed. The unexpected change in the schedule had thrown everyone into a frenzy. The Aussie looked up at the sky. It was clear except for a few fluffy white clouds. But, according to the long-range weather forecast, that was going to change dramatically by the end of the week. Storms were expected to slam the area, which was the reason for the last minute change in the schedule. The producer and director were hoping to beat the bad weather.
The stars of the movie had done nothing but complain all morning. They were not at all happy to have been dragged out of bed on a Saturday morning. That attitude was shared by pretty much everyone else--except Rollie. After the fool he’d made of himself to Angie, he welcomed the chance to be someplace else where he didn’t have to face her. He was sure that she was glad too. These seven days would give them both a chance to sort things out and forget about his ridiculous marriage proposal.
But he couldn’t stop thinking about how much he missed her.
Sighing again, he returned his attention to work.
Angie had been miserable all day. When she woke up that morning, she’d had an almost irresistible urge to drive to the location where Rollie was filming, but common sense had stopped her. It would take her hours to get there, and Rollie would be hip-deep in work. They wouldn’t be able to spend more than a few hours alone together, then she would have had to make the trip back. It would be better to wait until next Saturday to talk to him.
But she couldn’t stop thinking about how much she missed him.
Lost in her reverie, Angie was startled by the phone. Maybe it was Rollie. Eagerly, Angie snatched up the receiver.
“Hi, Angie,” came Diane’s voice.
“Oh. Hi, Diane.”
“Well, that’s not a very warm welcome,” her friend complained good-naturedly.
“I’m sorry. I just thought you might be Rollie.”
“Rollie? Is he gone?”
“Yeah. There was a sudden change in the filming schedule of the movie he’s doing. He’s in Connecticut.”
“I see. So . . . does that mean that you didn’t. . . .”
“No, we didn’t.” Angie sighed deeply.
“What’s wrong? Is he still worrying about hurting you?”
“No, it’s not that. He. . . .” Angie stopped, uncertain if she should continue.
“He . . . he proposed, Diane. Rollie proposed to me last night.”
There was utter silence on the other end for several seconds, then, “He did?”
“Yeah. He wanted to get married right away, today. This was before he got the call about the schedule change.”
“Angie, did you accept?”
“No. I . . . I was shocked. I didn’t expect it. I just sat there like an idiot with my mouth hanging open. And he. . . .” Angie’s voice caught. “I hurt him, Diane. Because I didn’t say anything he thinks I rejected him. He apologized for asking, then he left. I didn’t even get a chance to talk to him afterwards because he got the call and was gone before I could see him or speak to him on the phone. How could I have hurt him like that? He’s the most wonderful guy in the world, and I did that to him.”
“Angie, stop beating yourself up. He took you by surprise. I’m sure he understands. I just can’t believe he asked you to marry him. Of course you’re going to tell him that you can’t consider marriage until after you graduate.”
“Why do you say ‘of course’?”
“Angie, think about it. What’s marriage going to mean for you? Even if you wait to have kids, it will be a huge adjustment in your life. Your social life would take a header right into the toilet. No more parties. No more group studies with us. He would expect you to come home after classes every day, spend all your weekends with him. He might even want you to quit school.”
“Stop it, Diane. Stop it right now,” Angie said, anger boiling up inside her. “Don’t you dare talk about him like that. Rollie would never ask or even want me to quit school, and he isn’t going to demand every second of my free time. As for parties, I’d rather spend one hour with him than party all night with other people. He is the best thing that ever happened in my life. I love him more than you will ever know. I don’t care about my damn social life if it means not being with him.” Her voice was quivering by the time she stopped speaking.
“I’m sorry, Angie. I didn’t intend for what I said to be an insult to him. I’m just speaking from what I know. I’ve heard of other girls who got married while they were in college, and a lot of them ended up leaving school because either their husbands wanted them to or there was just too big a conflict between being married and going to college. Couldn’t you just live together part time? That’s what Mitch and I have been talking about doing. No commitments, no unreasonable expectations--”
“I don’t believe this,” Angie interrupted. “What kind of statement of love is that? ‘Hey, let’s live together from time to time and see how we like it. If we decide we don’t like it, then no harm done. We’re still free to find other fish in the sea.’ That makes me sick. Rollie loves me and wants to marry me. He wants to commit himself only to me for the rest of his life! He wants to have children with me, to grow old with me. He isn’t the kind of man to marry someone with the thought that if things don’t work out, they could get divorced. It would be ‘until death do us part’ for him. He’s offering me forever, Diane. Don’t you realize how wonderful that is?”
Her friend sighed. “And do you want forever?”
“Yes. Yes, I do,” Angie said, her mind and heart filled with complete conviction. “I don’t know if I’m ready to marry him quite yet, but when he comes back, I’m going to accept his proposal.”
“Well, that’s a decision that only you can make, Angie, but I hope that you don’t make a mistake and get married too soon. I still think you should wait until after you graduate. In three, three and a half years, you’ll be a lot more prepared to take on the responsibility of having a husband.”
Angie said goodbye and hung up the phone. She probably shouldn’t have been surprised by her friend’s attitude. Diane’s parents’ marriage had not been a good one, and they had divorced when she was ten years old. They had both been quite young when they got married.
The blonde sat down and began to think about a lifetime with Rollie. She thought about the days spent knowing she would be going home to him, then, after graduation, the days spent working by his side. She thought about the nights spent in his arms. Into her mind came the picture of their children, the passage of the years together. It was a life that she wanted more than anything in the world, and when Rollie got back, that’s what she would tell him.
With a satisfied smile, Angie stood and headed for the kitchen to make her dinner.
Just one more day and this time away from Angie would be over. Rollie had done a lot of thinking these last few days. The pain of her reaction to his proposal had faded. She had been right not to say yes. Though he didn’t know if they would have regretted getting married so impulsively, he did know that it would not have been wise, even though he knew of a successful marriage that had started with a sudden elopement. But just because it had worked for his friend Rob and his wife didn’t mean that it would work for him and Angie. No, it would be better to wait. He felt certain that, someday, Angie would be ready to say yes.
The Aussie looked up at the lowering sky. The weather report had been right. There was a big storm brewing, and they’d be lucky if they finished tomorrow’s shoot before all hell broke loose. They were already getting strong wind gusts.
The final shoot of the day took five takes to get right. The winds kept knocking things over, not to mention the challenge the leading lady was having keeping her skirt from blowing up around her waist. Everyone sighed with relief when the director said it was a print. The relief was short-lived, however, when they all remembered that things were probably going to be even worse tomorrow.
Rollie began packing up the van, his mind on Angie. He couldn’t wait to see her again. He couldn’t wait to pull her into his arms, to taste her lips, to tell her how much he loved her. It was all he’d thought about every night as he lay alone in his bed.
A couple of the women who had smaller roles in the movie had been making overtures toward him. He’d managed to deflect one of them by telling her that he already had a girlfriend, but the other woman was more persistent. Even as he thought about her, a pair of shapely legs came into view. Rollie looked up to see Marian James smiling at him invitingly.
“Hello, Rollie,” the actress purred.
The Aussie sighed silently. “Hello, Marian.”
“Have any plans tonight?”
“Yes, I do. I’m going to get a pizza, eat it in the trailer, do a little work on some equipment for tomorrow, then go to bed . . . alone.”
Marian pouted. “That sounds so boring, especially the part about going to bed alone. You’d have much more fun if you spent the evening with me.”
“Marian, I’ve already told you that I’m involved with someone,” the Aussie said as he continued to load the van.
“So? She’s not here, is she? There’s nothing wrong with you having a little fun. It’s not like you’re married.”
Finally deciding that he’d had enough, Rollie put down what he had in his hands and looked straight into her eyes. “Look, Marian. I’m flattered that you like me, but you need to know something. I love this woman with all my heart. She is the only woman that I will ever want to be with.”
The seductive smile on the actress’s face vanished. “I see. Well, it’s your loss, Rollie. We could have had a good time.” She walked off.
Rollie stifled the laugh that rose to his lips. He shook his head. The woman was barely more than a bit player and she already had the conceit and vanity of a star. He shuddered to think what she would be like if she ever made it big.
The Aussie finished loading the van. He looked over at the crew and saw that they were in the process of taking down the lights. The darkness of the day had required setting up extra lighting.
A fine rain had stared to fall, and the wind gusts were increasing in frequency and strength. He knew that everyone was anxious to get out of there and off to someplace warm and dry. Deciding to go give them a hand, Rollie headed toward them. He was about ten feet away when a particularly strong gust hit. One of the wires holding a light stand in place snapped with a loud ping, and the light toppled toward a hapless grip.
“Watch out!” the Aussie yelled as he dove forward. He hit the man, shoving him out of the way. Rollie felt something hard and heavy slam into him. A blinding pain ripped through his head, then blackness closed around him with its iron fist.
Angie sat down at the kitchen table, her dinner before her. A couple of girls at school had wanted her to join them for burgers, but Angie hadn’t felt in the mood to socialize. These days without Rollie had been hard. Every day she had wished that she could see him, and every night she had wanted to be lying beside him, his warm body pressed against hers. She was so happy that their time apart was almost over. Just one more day.
The phone rang. Rising from the chair, she went to it. “Hello?”
“May I speak to Angela Ramirez please?”
“This is she.”
“Ms. Ramirez, this is Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. There’s been an accident.”
Angie’s heart flew up into her throat and lodged there like a fifty-pound brick. “Rollie?” she whispered. No, please, no.
“A Roland Tyler was admitted to the emergency room this afternoon. He has you listed as emergency contact on a card in his wallet.”
“What happened? How is he?” Angie choked the words past the burning lump in her throat. Her heart had sunk back down to lay like a lead weight in her chest. He had to be all right. He had to be! But if he was, he would be calling her, not the hospital.
“There was an accident, apparently during the filming of a movie. He received a head injury. We do not yet know the full extent of the damage. The doctors are still running--”
“I’ll be there on the next plane,” Angie said, not waiting for the woman to finish.
The woman’s voice was silenced as Angie hung up the phone. Barely taking time to grab her coat, keys, and wallet, she ran out of the apartment and to her car. The trip to the airport was made with tears blurring her vision. What if he died? What if she never got the chance to tell him that she loved him with her whole soul and wanted to marry him? A sob welled up, and she stepped harder on the accelerator.
Thankfully, Angie arrived just in time to catch a flight out. But the flight was nothing short of a nightmare. She wanted to believe that he was all right, but her imagination kept picturing the worse possible outcomes.
Rollie was alive but would be physically disabled for the rest of his life.
Rollie was alive but would be in a coma forever.
Rollie was dead.
By the time the plane landed and the taxi had delivered her to the hospital, she was on the verge of completely losing control.
Angie asked at the main information desk where Rollie was. The instant the woman gave her the room number, she was heading to the elevator, not even hearing what else the woman had said. It took every shred of control she had not to run down the hallway once she arrived on the right floor. Finding the room, she pushed open the door.
Rollie lay on the bed, his face pale and his eyes closed. His head was covered with bandages.
“Rollie,” Angie whispered. She went to the bed and grasped his hand in both of hers. The Aussie’s eyes fluttered open. He looked up at her blearily.
“Rollie, oh, Rollie. I thought I’d lost you.” Her tears started flowing in earnest. She laid her head down on his chest.
The Aussie blinked a few times, trying to clear his muddled brain. Angie was sobbing against his chest, her body shaking. Lost him? He reached up and began to stroke her hair.
“Oh, Angie. I’m sorry, sweetie. I’m okay. You’re not going to lose me. I just got a bad bump on the head. The doctors say I’ll be fine.”
Angie lifted her head and took his face between her hands. “I love you” she whispered, kissing his cheeks and forehead.
Rollie wrapped his arms around her and guided her lips to his, sighing in contentment over finally getting what he had been aching for all week.
As they drew apart, Angie looked intently into his eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not saying anything when you proposed. It didn’t mean no, Rol. It didn’t mean that I don’t want to marry you.”
The Aussie wiped the wetness from her face. “It’s all right, Ange. I understand. You were right not to say yes.”
“No, Rollie, I am saying yes. I want to marry you.”
Rollie’s breath drew in sharply. Yes? Had she just said yes? Joy flooded through him. He pulled Angie back into his arms, his mouth claiming hers. As their lips separated, they both began to laugh. The Aussie caressed her face.
“This is not exactly the picture I had in my mind of how we would get engaged,” he said with a smile.
“No, but with your penchant for getting hurt, it doesn’t surprise me.”
The Aussie grinned and kissed her again. Immediately, Angie opened her mouth to him, feeling his tongue plunge deeply into it. Her own tongue plundered Rollie’s mouth, seeking out every crevice, sliding and entwining with his tongue. Moaning, she climbed onto the bed. Angie began to move against him, feeling the heat of desire flare hot and wild inside her. But then, Rollie pushed her back. Making a sound of protest, she sought to close the gap between their lips, but he wouldn’t let her.
“Angie, we’re in a hospital,” he gasped.
“Yeah, I guess I can’t ravish you here, can I,” she said huskily.
Rollie gazed up into her eyes, amazed that a woman this phenomenal could love him. “Are you sure you’ve never done this before?” he asked, only half-teasing.
Angie became serious. She touched his cheek. “It’s you, Rollie. You do this to me. You make me feel so incredible.”
“You do the same for me, Ange. I’ve never felt anything even remotely like this before.” He cupped her face. “If you want to get married in six months, a year, I’ll wait. If you want to wait until after you graduate, then that’s what we’ll do.”
“No, I don’t want to wait, Rol. I want to marry you now. You could have died. I don’t want to wait to begin the rest of my life with you.”
“Angie, I want that too, but I don’t want you giving things up for me.”
“What would I be giving up? My freedom as a single woman? You are the only man I will ever want to be with, and living alone is not something I want to do, not anymore. Parties and spending weekends with the girls? I’d rather be with you. As for school itself, nothing has to change, though I won’t be spending as many evenings studying with my friends as I did before.” Angie smiled. “You can be my study partner with some things.” Her smile widened. “And I might teach you some things along the way, like computers.”
“What about children?” Rollie asked softly.
Instead of answering, Angie asked a question of her own. “What do you want?”
“I want to have kids with you. I want to see your body filled with a new life growing inside it, knowing that I helped put it there. I want to have little boys and girls who look like you. But . . . but I think we should wait until after you graduate.”
Angie nodded. “I agree. I’m on The Pill, you know.”
The Aussie eyebrows lifted. “You are?”
“Uh huh, ever since I turned eighteen. What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic. I kept hoping that, someday, you’d sweep me off my feet and make wild, passionate love to me.”
Rollie grinned. “Well, at least you didn’t have to wait too long after starting the, uh, preparations.” The smile faded. “Are you sure, Angie?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything. When are they letting you out?”
“They want to keep me here overnight for observation, and I have to finish the shoot tomorrow.”
“Rollie, you shouldn’t be working, not after getting hurt like this. The doctors would probably have a fit if they found out.”
“I have no choice, Ange. The filming can’t be delayed, not with the way the weather is deteriorating.”
“All right, then I’ll help you.”
“You need to get back to school.”
“Missing a day isn’t going to cripple my grades. There are no tests tomorrow. There’s no way I’m going to leave you to handle things on your own.” She looked over at the chair, judging how comfortable it would be. “In fact, if I can get away with it, you’ll be having company tonight.”
“That isn’t necessary. You should get a motel room, be comfortable.”
Angie searched Rollie’s face. His accident had scared her even more than she had let him know. At this moment, she didn’t want him to leave her sight. If things had gone differently, if he had been killed, she would have died right along with him.
“I’m staying here with you. Don’t argue,” she said firmly.
Rollie’s lips twitched in amusement. “Yes, ma’am.”
The door opened to admit a doctor. She blinked in surprise at the sight of Angie lying in the bed, half on top of Rollie.
“What. . . .”
“Hi, Doctor Karns,” the Aussie greeted. “This is Angie. She’s my fiancée.” He smiled inside at being able to say those words.
“Well, I should hope so,” the middle-aged physician responded. She looked at Angie. “I’m afraid that you will have to move.”
Angie got off the bed and moved out of the way as the doctor checked Rollie over, asking him a few questions.
“Well, Mister Tyler, it definitely appears that you were a very lucky man. You could have sustained a far more serious injury than a mild concussion and a few bruises. Unless something unexpected shows up, you will be able to leave us tomorrow.”
“Good. I have very important plans for Saturday.” A bright grin lit his face. “I’m getting married.”
“Well, congratulations.” She glanced at her watch. “Visiting hours are over. However, being his fiancée, hospital policy allows you to remain past hours.”
“Thanks,” Angie said. So, that’s what the woman at the main desk had said. She had been so intent on reaching Rollie that she hadn’t paid any attention.
Once the doctor had left, Angie sat on the bed. Deciding that wasn’t enough for her, she lay down beside him. Putting an arm around her, Rollie gave a deep sigh and closed his eyes in contentment. A couple of minutes later, he was asleep.
Angie watched him sleep as the minutes went by. She knew that a lot of people would consider them foolish for what they intended to do, but she didn’t care. She didn’t care if the whole world called them crazy. She was going to marry this man in two days, no matter what.
But she was not going to tell anyone. The decision came suddenly. Let Diane and everyone else at school think that she was still single, at least for now. There was still four months left on the lease on her apartment. She would keep it until then. People would wonder why she was never home, but once everyone knew that she had a steady man in her life, they would just assume that she was with him most of the time.
Angie didn’t quite know why she didn’t want her marriage to become public knowledge at school. Maybe it had something to do with Diane’s words. She wanted to prove to her friends and everyone else that she could live a happily married life and still do fine in college. Angie smiled faintly, thinking about the looks on everybody’s faces when she told them after summer vacation that she had been married for the last five months. That would be a sight.
Angie had been watching Rollie sleep for around an hour when a nurse came in. The woman paused when she saw Angie.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was in here. I saw that the light was on and was just coming in to tell him he should go to sleep. But I see that he already is. Are you his wife?”
“Not yet. We’re getting married on Saturday.”
“How nice. But what a terrible thing to happen just before your wedding.”
“I’m just glad that it wasn’t worse,” Angie told her softly.
“Yes, that’s what’s important. I hear that your fiancé saved another man from being injured, and that’s why he got hurt.”
“Oh? I didn’t hear what happened. All I knew was that there was an accident where they were filming.”
“I don’t know all the details, but I heard that the wind knocked over this big light stand. It would have fallen on top of a man, but Mister Tyler shoved him out of the way, and he got hit instead. From what I understand, if the light had been a bit heavier, he might have been killed. As it was, he could have been hurt a great deal worse than he was.”
Angie looked down at the Aussie. It didn’t surprise her a bit that Rollie had leapt into a dangerous situation to help someone. He’d done it before, and she had no doubt that he would do it again if something ever happened. He was that kind of person.
“Thanks for telling me.”
The nurse nodded. “Would you like me to bring you a blanket?”
“Yes, thank you.”
The nurse returned a few moments later with a blanket. Angie slipped off her shoes, then spread the blanket over herself and lay her head on Rollie’s chest. Her first night sleeping with him. It was not the way she had always fantasized. They were not exhausted and satisfied from passionate lovemaking. It was certainly not happening in a place she had imagined they would spend their first night together. Yet, even so, it was a memory she would cherish forever.
Lulled by the beating of the heart beneath her ear, Angie fell into a deep sleep.
Rollie awoke to the wondrous experience of Angie sleeping in his arms. A smile curving his lips, he watched her, her face peaceful and childlike. Tomorrow, he would be making this woman his wife. He could hardly believe it. What had he done to deserve something so wonderful?
Angie stirred and her eyes opened slowly. She smiled when she saw him looking at her.
“Hi,” he murmured.
“Hi.” She slid upward and kissed him.
“I really like this a lot,” Rollie said after their lips separated.
“I wish we could stay together in bed all day.”
“So do I, but I’d like it to be someplace a lot more private so that I could have my way with you.”
The Aussie grinned. “You’ll get your wish on Saturday, Love.”
With an answering smile, Angie got up and slipped on her shoes. “I wish I could take a shower and change clothes.”
“Well, I can’t do anything about the shower, but you could always go down to the store and buy a change of clothes. I’m not going to be released until later this morning.”
“I think I’ll do that. These are a bit crumpled.”
Angie stayed with Rollie for an hour and a half, then went off in search of clothes. She returned an hour later wearing her purchases.
“What’s the weather like out there?” the Aussie asked. “It looks pretty nasty from the window.”
“It is. They’re going to have fun filming today. I think that you’re going to be glad you have me along to help.”
She was right. The day was a nightmare. Rain showers and wind gusts repeatedly stopped filming. They ran out of daylight before they could finish. Because the weather was supposed to be even worse on Saturday, the director decided that, rather than stay there another day, they would have to ‘fake it’ back in New York for the scenes that didn’t get shot.
The day had been made all the worse for Rollie by the headache and occasional dizziness that he was suffering because of the concussion. By the time they wrapped for the day and all the equipment was packed, all the Aussie wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for a long, long time.
“Why don’t we stay here for the night and get a start early in the morning?” Angie suggested.
“No, I’d rather get out of here tonight. Driving conditions are going to be worse tomorrow.”
“All right, but I’m driving. You can take a nap in the truck.”
“I won’t argue with you. I don’t think I could concentrate on driving with the way I feel.”
Rollie slept most of the way home, waking up when they were half an hour from New York City. He and Angie talked quietly the rest of the way. Finally arriving at the loft, Angie parked the van, and they got out.
“What time do you want me here in the morning?” Angie asked.
“How’s eight sound? We can get some breakfast.”
“Sounds good. Are you going to call Leo and invite him to the wedding?”
Rollie shook his head. “He’s gone on vacation. His captain finally forced him to take one. He won’t be back for two weeks.”
Angie searched his eyes. “Do you want to wait until he gets back?”
Rollie thought about it for a moment. It would be nice to have Leo there when he got married. Though he had only known the detective for a year and a half, they had grown pretty close. Rollie considered him to be one of his best friends, along with Rick Forsythe. Rick was also gone right now. The stuntman was in Tennessee working on a picture.
The Aussie gazed at Angie’s face. Now that they had made the decision to marry, he didn’t know if he could wait two weeks to do it. He wanted to make Angie his wife as soon as possible.
“No,” he said finally. “I want to marry you now. Leo will understand--once he gets over the shock of finding out we’re married.” Rollie’s gaze intensified. “Angie, are you sure this is what you want? Are you sure you don’t want a real wedding with flowers, and bridesmaids, and all that other stuff?”
Angie drew him close. “None of that matters to me, Rol. All I want is you. I don’t care where and how we get married.”
Rollie kissed her softly and slowly. “I love you.”
“And I love you.”
“Ange, how about if on our first anniversary we take our vows again, only we’ll do it with all the trimmings?”
Angie smiled brightly. “That would be wonderful.” They came together in another kiss.
Reluctantly, she separated from him and drove home in his car.
As she lay in bed waiting for sleep, Angie thought about the fact that this would be the last night she’d have the name Angela Ramirez. Tomorrow she would become Angela Tyler. The dream she’d had for so many years was coming true.
With that happy thought, she finally drifted off to sleep.
The first thing they did that morning was pick Angie’s car up from the airport and drop it off at her apartment. After that, they went to breakfast. Throughout the meal, they were both a bit nervous, speaking little. Afterwards, they went to a jewelry store. Looking at the wedding bands, the knowledge of what they were about to do really began to hit them. They were getting married! Today, they would become husband and wife. The thought was a bit overwhelming. Later, as they stood in line waiting to get their marriage license, they held hands tightly, looking at each other often.
Marriage license in hand, they went to a women’s then a men’s clothing store, neither one of them seeing what the other bought. Twenty-five minutes later, they were standing before the doors of a chapel, both of them feeling breathless. Again holding hands, they went inside.
“Hello and welcome,” a plump woman in her fifties greeted. “I’m Loraine Carter. You must be Mister Tyler and Miss Ramirez. What a lovely couple you are. The reverend will be with us shortly. Are those changes of clothing that you have in those bags?”
“Yes,” Rollie said. He had called the chapel that morning to arrange the wedding.
“Good, good. The men’s changing room is through that door. The women’s is over there. If you’d like, Miss Ramirez, we have lovely flower hairpieces and corsages.”
“Thank you. That would be nice.”
“All right, you go on in there, and I’ll be in to help you in a moment.”
Giving each other a last long look, Rollie and Angie separated. Feeling more nervous than he ever had in his life, the Aussie dressed in the black suit he had purchased. He stood looking at himself in the mirror.
“This is it, Rollie. You’re getting married. What would Dad say if he knew?” It would have been nice if his father could have been here to see his son get married, but Rollie had no idea where he was. He hadn’t seen his father in two years, and, for all he knew, it could be another two years before the man showed up.
Pushing his bitterness aside, the Aussie left the changing room. A man in his late fifties was standing by the pulpit.
“Good day. I’m Reverend Marsh.” The man shook Rollie’s hand.
The minister studied the Aussie’s face. “Nervous?”
Reverend Marsh chuckled. “Grooms usually are. Don’t worry, you’ll get past it. Do you have rings?”
Rollie nodded and fished into his pocket for the rings. He handed them to the minister.
“I’ll be giving them to Loraine, then she will hand them to you and the bride at the proper time.”
They stood in silence for a few moments, then Rollie heard a door opening. He turned to see Angie walking toward him, looking breathtakingly beautiful. She was dressed in a long-sleeved white satin dress, the full skirt of which came to just below her knees. A garland of tiny white flowers adorned her golden hair. A matching corsage was pinned to her right shoulder. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes glowing. Seeing her walking toward him, Rollie felt his breath catch and his pulse quicken.
Angie gazed at Rollie, her heart flitting about like a moth around a flame. He looked incredibly handsome in the black suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie. His eyes were bright as he watched her come toward him.
Angie drew up before Rollie. They gazed into each other’s eyes for a breathless moment before turning their attention to the minister. With a smile and a nod, the man began the ceremony. Barely hearing the words he spoke, Angie’s and Rollie’s eyes kept going to each other. At last, the time came for the vows.
“Roland Tyler, take the ring.”
With trembling fingers, Rollie took the ring from Loraine.
“With that ring, you make a vow to love and honor Angela Ramirez,” Reverend Marsh continued. “You promise to cherish her as if she were your own body, to stand beside her through the good times and the bad. With that ring and that vow, you become one. Do you accept this vow?”
“I do,” Rollie said, his voice shaking.
“Then place the ring upon her finger.”
His whole body feeling like it was trembling, Rollie slid the ring on Angie’s left hand.
It was then Angie’s turn. She listened to the minister speak the vow. At last, he got to the part where he asked her if she accepted it. Her voice cracking, Angie said, “I do.”
“Then place the ring upon his finger.”
Feeling like her heart was going to come flying right out of her chest, Angie shakily placed the ring upon Rollie’s hand.
“The vow has been made and two have become one,” Reverend Marsh said. “You are now husband and wife. You may seal your union with a kiss.”
Rollie and Angie went into each other’s arms, their lips joining in a tender kiss. As they drew apart, they each saw tears in the other’s eyes.
As they left the chapel a few minutes later, neither of them spoke. They made the journey back to the loft in silence, both of them feeling a little numb.
Unlocking and opening the door, Rollie turned to Angie. Abruptly, he swept her up into his arms and carried her inside, shutting the door with his foot.
“Mustn’t forget the carrying over the threshold part,” he said with a faint smile. Setting her down gently, he gazed deeply into her eyes. “I love you, Angela Tyler.”
“I love you, Rollie Tyler,” she said, equally as softly.
Rollie lowered his mouth to Angie’s, knowing that, this time, he would not stop. This time, there would be no fear, no hesitation. He was going to make love to her, to his wife.
Taking her hand, his eyes warm and deep, Rollie led Angie up the stairs. Silently, they entered the bedroom. His eyes locked upon hers, the Aussie slowly lowered the zipper of her dress, each inch making their respiration grow a little faster. At last, the dress fell with a soft rustle to the floor. Filling himself with the sight of her, Rollie began to touch her, gentle hands caressing, exploring. The Aussie’s jacket, shirt, and tie joined Angie’s dress on the floor, then his hands returned to her. This time, as he reached for the catch of her bra, Angie felt no nervousness. She felt only the fire in her veins and the calm that had possessed her from the moment they began ascending the stairs.
Rollie released the catch, and the bra fell unnoticed to the carpet. He drew in a quick, deep breath as he laid eyes upon her beautiful breasts. Gently, he cupped them, running his fingers over their pliant softness. Angie’s respiration increased, and she let out a soft moan, his touch making her body thrum with desire.
His heart filled to overflowing, Rollie fell to his knees before her. He laid his head upon her breast and wrapped his arms around her hips, overcome by joy and love.
Angie held onto Rollie, her eyes filling with tears. Many times she had dreamed of her first night with him, but none of those dreams could compare to this wondrous moment of two people sharing their love for each other.
Rollie reached down and, caressingly, lifted each foot, slipping her shoes off and pushing the dress away. As he came back up, he ran his hands up the backs of her legs.
The fire in Angie’s veins had grown to an inferno. Rollie’s touch was like branding irons, making her gasp, tremors running through her. Then his lips found her body, and she could not stop the deep moan that rose in her chest. He started at her stomach and worked slowly upward, each touch of his lips and tongue scorching her skin.
The taste of Angie’s skin was like alcohol to Rollie. He felt drunk, giddy, as high as any drug ever made could take him. He kissed his way up the underside of her right breast, then around the inside curve. At last, he reached his goal. He pulled back for an instant, then closed his lips over the nipple, moaning as he drew it into his mouth.
Angie’s body was vibrating, heat flooding through every inch of her as Rollie’s lips and tongue moved across her breasts. Then his mouth took her nipple. Angie cried out, her whole body reacting to the unbelievably intense explosion of sensation. She shuddered convulsively, jerking her hips against him, her head thrown back, eyes tightly closed.
Rollie heard Angie’s outcry and felt her body shudder. Her hips bucked up against him, making his body’s need for her become almost more than he could bear. He suckled upon her deeply, hardly aware that his hips had begun to rock against her. Finally releasing the nipple, he kissed his way over to the other breast to give it the same treatment.
At last, he stood and looked down into her passion-darkened eyes, letting her see his naked desire. Angie’s hands ran across his chest covering the territory that she had discovered a week ago. With her lips and tongue, she tasted him yet again, moving unerringly to a nipple. Taking it into her mouth, she began to suck on it, re-experiencing the taste of it.
A searing bolt of electricity lanced through Rollie’s body. A low moan vibrated through his throat, changing to a choked gasp as she lightly bit down on him then soothed the skin with her tongue. Rollie’s hips bucked against her, his eyes closing at the exquisite explosion of pleasure that raced through him.
Her hands trembling now, Angie undid Rollie’s belt and the button of his pants--then paused. Gently, he took hold of her hands and guided them in pulling down the zipper, the fires growing even hotter at the sensation of her touching him. Angie shuddered, her breath catching in her throat.
Rollie’s pants fell to the floor. He stepped out of them, toeing off his shoes. With only their underwear separating them, Angie’s gaze rose to his. Searching her eyes deeply, the Aussie lowered her to the bed. He lay down upon her, his mouth claiming hers in hungry, searing kisses. His hips began to rock rhythmically into hers. As his lips moved to her neck, he took hold of the last piece of clothing covering her and pushed it off her hips. His mouth moved down her body as he slipped her panties off, then he slid back up to take her mouth with his again.
Angie was burning up, her body consumed like kindling in a bonfire, feeling things that she had never experienced before. Rollie was on top of her, his weight like a living blanket, his skin bare against hers except for the tiny piece of clothing that separated them. Then, suddenly, it was gone, and she at last felt his nakedness against her.
“Rollie, Rollie,” she moaned. The moan became a cry as he began loving her with his hands, preparing her body slowly, gently for the moment when they would become joined. Pulses of fire were shooting through Angie, making her feel like her blood was boiling. Tremors shook her body, tiny earthquakes that cracked and shattered her ability to think. She needed him now, desperately.
Rollie looked down at her and saw the need in her eyes. It was time. “I love you, Angie. I love you,” he said as he joined with her.
Angie heard his words of love, and then . . . then . . . heat, fullness, throbbing, a vague feeling of discomfort drowned by a thousand unbelievable sensations, by the feeling of her body being filled with him. She gasped, her eyes closing, her mouth opening in a soundless cry.
Rollie was weeping as their bodies became one, never having known anything in his life so perfect, so exquisite as the sensation of uniting with Angie. Joined with her fully, he lay still upon her, unable to move because of the overpowering emotions pouring through him, making him tremble down to the core of his being.
Angie lay utterly still, her senses overcome by the amazing feeling that was centered in the place where they were joined. She could feel him, his life’s pulse, beating with hers; two hearts, two bodies, two souls no longer separate, but merged into one. It was the most incredible, beautiful thing she’d ever known.
Lost in the sensations coursing through her, it took her a moment to feel the wetness on her face and realize that Rollie was crying. Tears came to her eyes, and she cupped his face between her hands. They looked into each other’s souls, then came together in a long, gentle kiss, tasting the salt of the tears that had mingled and become one as their bodies had.
At last, their lips separated, and Rollie began to move, slowly, rhythmically, a soft, sighing moan rising out of him at this feeling that was beyond heaven. Angie’s eyes closed again at the exquisite sensations flooding her body. It was more incredible than she’d ever dreamed, than she could ever have imagined.
Gradually, Rollie’s movements grew faster, and she found herself starting to rock with him, her body knowing instinctively what to do. As they sped up even more, all the rapture of her body became focused in the place where they were joined. She could feel a wondrous sensation of tension, heat, ecstasy pulsing within her, making her body quiver, making her want to cry aloud for all the world to hear.
Rollie’s whole being was lost in the feel of Angie’s body, his body. He was enveloped in her, in her heat, her passion, her soul. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before. It was consuming. He was being consumed in the rapture of their connection as he rose toward the culmination of his passion.
From deep inside her, Angie felt a burning, pushing sensation of pressure rising upward like a balloon, expanding, growing hotter, higher . . . higher . . . higher. Suddenly, it exploded outward in a raging conflagration. Angie cried out as her body flew apart, each molecule erupting in an incandescent burst of indescribable ecstasy.
Rollie felt Angie reach her climax. In awe, he watched her face fill with the rapture of it, becoming more beautiful than he had thought humanly possible. The sight and sensation of it sent him careening out of control. Seconds later, he cried out, feeling as if every cell in his body was exploding in a climax beyond anything he had ever known before.
Angie was just descending from the dizzying heights she had rocketed up to when she felt it, felt Rollie reach his release, heat flooding into her as he gave himself to her. The knowledge and sensation of what was happening was enough to send her flying upward in a second climax, her cry echoing the one that had escaped his lips.
For a moment that was forever, Rollie and Angie shuddered deeply, drowning in the liquid heat of the ultimate rapture. Then, slowly, it subsided to the warm glow of the aftermath. Together, they experienced a feeling of completion, fulfillment, and pure, perfect joy that brought tears to their eyes once again. Rollie’s lips passed over her face, kissing the wetness away.
Angie held onto him, not wanting him to separate from her even though the soreness of her first time was now becoming more evident. Rollie looked into her eyes and knew what she wanted. He rested his cheek upon her shoulder and just held her. They lay, silent and content, the only movement of their bodies the rise and fall of their chests.
Finally, when he sensed it was time, he moved away from her. He immediately gathered her into his arms. “Are you all right? Did I hurt you?” he asked in concern.
“It only hurt a little, hardly at all.” She stroked his cheek. “I love you, Rollie. I love you so much. It feels so perfect being here like this with you. I want it to last forever.”
“I want that too.” He kissed her softly. “I love you, Angel.” Pulling her tightly against him, he brought his lips to hers again, showing her what words could never truly express.
Husband and wife kissed and caressed, their bodies feeling the warm,
pleasant languidness that comes after lovemaking. After a few moments,
they crawled under the covers, then continued their caressing. Gradually,
the movement of their hands grew slower and slower until they both slipped
into the peace of slumber and their first time sleeping within the haven
of each other’s arms as husband and wife, the first of many times yet