Much later, Anna turned in his arms and laid her head against his chest.
“Will it always be like this?”
“Like fire and ice in my blood. Like a thunderstorm overhead. Primal.”
“I don’t know babe. I don’t know if intensity like this is built to last. But it will always be an expression of our deepening love. And good. So good.”
For a while they dozed, then Anna got up to see to Bonnie for the night. Sam followed her to the kitchen to find her standing in the doorway watching her dog check the garden for feline incursions.
“Pinch me, please. I never thought I could have this kind of happiness.”
“Only if you’ll pinch me too.”
He wrapped his arms around her from behind and they stood together breathing in each other’s smell. Finally, Anna laughed a bit shakily.
“Come on doc. Bed. Or you will nod off in theatre tomorrow.’
The week passed quickly, and Sam almost got used to a welcome home kiss and a hot meal at the end of the day. He learned that Anna was briskly efficient in any task she set herself, while remaining a kind, sweet human being. She fascinated him; so hot under a cool exterior, so funny under a bland face, and so loving all the time.
Friday night, and Sam went to the gym after work. He got home and, kissing Anna hurriedly, headed for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, he walked out of the shower to find clean clothes laid out on the bed.
“How do you do it?” he asked almost plaintively.
“Sort my life out seamlessly, while remaining so calm and serene on the surface.”
“Managing a dementia patient for a lot of years. The calmer you can appear the easier they are to handle. And it seems men are much like the demented in that respect.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“But you seem to have taken it to the nth degree. Or was that part of the camouflage?”
“Initially. Although I’m naturally calm, I think.”
“Serene is a better word: an ice maiden with a banked fire under the ice. So sexy…”
She blushed, then grinned and leapt across the room into his arms.
“Never mind me. Here’s you, all warm and wet and naked. What say we build up this fire you are going on about?”
He groaned and bit her neck.
“Hard and fast?”
She growled deep in her throat, and Sam took that as assent.
Hard and fast it was, and it left them sprawled like limp dish-rags across the bed.
“I now need another shower, and in about two hours I’ll be able to get up and do something about it.’
Anna levered herself into a sitting position, and ran her fingers through her disordered hair. She sniffed.
“I smell of sex, and your shampoo. Maybe I need a shower too. I’ll race you.”
Sam opened one eye.
“Only if you give me six hours’ start. If you remember I went to the gym. Did an hour of kick boxing, then half an hour on the running machine. Came home for a quiet evening and some insatiable woman had her wicked way with me.”
Anna tickled his ribs mercilessly until he held up his hands in defeat.
“Okay you poor tired old man. I’ll shower first, then rustle up some food.”
She headed for the bathroom and he watched her go, amazed by how comfortable she was in her own nakedness. I am, he thought, a very lucky man. I should never forget that.
Later, as they sat over supper, he told her what he had been thinking and she blushed.
“Oh Sam. I’m nothing special. Just a computer geek, who got lucky for the first time in her life.”
“Well then. We both got lucky. Let’s swear to never take it for granted. But tell me about computer geek. I have so much respect for anybody who can do anything with computers. I can barely make my laptop work.’
“You and about ninety-five per cent of the population, love. Which makes it very easy for the bad guys. You know I worked in the fraud department of an accountancy firm, but what you don’t know is that my job involved what is called forensic examination of computers. I got sent on courses to learn how to do it, and very quickly became better at it than my teachers. There was some talk of moving me to Los Angeles, where the parent company is based, but I said no. They weren’t best pleased, but they wanted to keep me, so I was allowed to work from a little back room in the Brighton office. And I became more and more skilled, and I trapped a lot of naughty boys. But nobody ever knew it was me. I didn’t want to wind up on some gangster’s list of people to liquidate. So I worked quietly, anonymously, and safely. I let the big mouth boys swan around taking the credit. I just got the satisfaction.”
“Blimey. Real cloak and dagger stuff.”
‘I guess you could say that. Even the moron who was, nominally, my boss had no idea what I actually did.’
“And will he know now you have gone?”
“Nope. As far as anybody in Brighton will ever know. Miss Marshall was just another colourless accountant.”
“So. If you are so good at computers why don’t you have more than an iPhone and iPad?”
“I do. At Ted’s. And when I get my laptop I fully intend to sort out your system here. It looks as full of holes as a colander. And you need a new laptop. Yours was a piece of shite when you bought it, and now it’s just a liability.”
“Yes ma’am. You tell me what to buy. On the condition that you can set it up and transfer all my files.”
“Piece of piss. That’s a bargain.”
He laughed delightedly.
“Any more surprises?”
She wrinkled her forehead.
“I don’t think so.”
One week together grew into two, then three, then four. Sam and Anna grew closer and closer, and he woke each morning with a smile on his face. However, there was one tiny thing bothering him – Anna’s possessions stored at Ted’s house. Almost daily he expected her to announce she was going to fetch them, but she never did. He knew he should ask. Just mention it casually. But he was afraid. Afraid to know why she wouldn’t take the ultimate step of moving all her things into their home.
He came home one Tuesday evening to find Anna on her phone in the kitchen. She blew him a kiss and then ended the call with a casual ‘see you sometime, then’.
“What’s up Sam? You look half pleased and half pissed off. You wanna tell me?”
“I do. Pleased first. I’m not working weekends any more. I’ll still be on call one weekend in four, but I won’t be hanging around in the hospital in case I’m needed. That’s a junior doctor’s job, and I ain’t a junior doctor. I only did it for so long because I was lonely. But I’m not lonely any more.”
“Good. Me neither. And if you are not working weekends any more do you fancy a trip to Brighton to collect my stuff?’
Then the timer buzzed on the cooker and she turned to attend to it. When she looked back, Sam was standing in the same position with slow tears running down his face.
“What is it, love? What is it?”
“Relief, I think.”
“You are finally fetching your stuff from Ted’s house.”
“How’s that a relief, Sam?”
“I worried. I thought you might be keeping stuff at Ted’s as a fall back for when you got fed up with me. I was so scared.”
“Oh Sam. I’m sorry. I should’ve explained. I should’ve told you. Ted’s been working in Aberdeen for the past few weeks. We couldn’t get my stuff until he returned home. I’m so sorry you worried. I didn’t even think to tell you. Comes of not having had anybody to tell things to before.”
She hugged him tightly and he buried his face in her neck. “Stoopid,” she said lovingly. “I’m going nowhere.”
He lifted his head and his eyes searched her face. Whatever he saw there seemed to reassure him as he smiled down at her.
“I am a fool, aren’t I? I should have just asked.”
“Yeah. You’d have saved yourself a lot of worry. Now. How about a nice glass of wine?”
He grinned and picked her up in his arms.
“I have a better idea. Anything need your attention here?”
“No. Not now.”
“I need your attention upstairs.”
She sighed theatrically and rolled her eyes, before spoiling the effect by sinking her teeth into his neck.