He groans, moaning my name, breathing hard for a few moments before he reaches for the tissues beside the bed and delicately cleans me up.
I take off the mask, blinking at him and the flush on his face, the lazy slant to his eyes. So at peace. So gorgeous.
“Good morning,” I tell him as he lies down beside me, holding me to him.
“Good morning,” is his throaty, languid reply.
Together we lie there, lost in the sheets, in each other’s arm, in the silence of nothing but our beating hearts.
I nearly fall asleep this way but he shakes me gently.
“Come on, let’s take the dogs to the park,” he says to me, getting off the bed. “Unless Emily was raised outside of California before she was a stray, she’s probably never seen snow before. She’s going to lose her shite over this.”
“I’m going to lose my shite,” I tell him, mimicking his accent. Though I’m reluctant to leave the warmth of the covers and that post-orgasm bliss is still fogging my mind, aside from never having had a white Christmas before, I’ve only seen snow a handful of times.
I get dressed quickly, pulling on fleece joggers, fuzzy socks, and a thick sweater (or “jumper,” as Lachlan and everyone else in this country calls it). The dogs are going nuts. Lionel is running in circles around the drawing room, Emily is hiding under the coffee table and barking, and sweet, elderly Jo is sitting by the door, waiting for her leash, tail thumping against the floor.
We slip the muzzles on Jo and Lionel—though I was only away from the UK for about three months or so, I had been hoping they’d relax their dangerous breed ban, but no such luck—then put on our coats and head down the stairs and outside.
“Wow,” I say as we stand on the stoop surveying the winter wonderland. My breath freezes in the air and floats away, the morning sun shooting through low clouds and lighting the snow in columns of pale gold. I can’t think of a more beautiful place to be swathed in snowfall than Edinburgh. All the stone row houses look like they’re made of gingerbread. Most are trimmed with Christmas lights and wreaths, and through some windows you can see giant trees in the drawing rooms done up in shiny tinsel.
“When I woke up this morning it was still coming down,” he says, squinting up at the sky. “I was hoping that by the time I got back from boxing it would still be falling.”
“This is beautiful,” I tell him, and though I wish I could have seen the snow fall, I also know that Lachlan gets up at six in the morning and that’s out of the question for me. Sometimes he goes boxing, sometimes he just takes the dogs for a long walk. He’s doing phenomenally well in his effort to remain sober. Going to a psychiatrist, taking low dose anti-anxiety medication. Above all, extra exercise seems to keep his demons in check. As if playing rugby professionally wasn’t enough, now he has to keep himself nearly exhausted. Not that I’m complaining though—his body is looking better than ever, something I never thought possible, and it’s made him even more vigorous in the sack. We’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for.
He grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze. With the other he holds Emily’s leash while I hold Jo and Lionel, the muzzle twins. I guess they’re less scary when I hold them, the tiny Asian girl, versus Lachlan and his big, badass, tattooed self.
Also there’s the fact that Emily is skittish around anyone except for him. Although at this moment, she’s especially freaked out, gingerly sniffing the snow, her eyes wide, hair standing on end.
We carefully make our way down the steps and cross the street toward the park. I marvel at the way the snow shimmers in the light, the chill in the air that seems to drive out all the city smog. I lean into Lachlan’s solid mass, feeling absolutely cozy. Happy. Whatever uncertainty I had about coming here, no matter how brief it had been, seems to have been wiped clean.