Shadow Swinging
“Shadow Swinging”

Should Have Been

Her laugh broke the silence of the predawn morning, during those few moments when the crickets and moths scurry to find hiding places before the robins awake, eager to break their overnight fast. But Leti’s laugh, like water dancing along the streambed, made the crickets and the moths and the robins all forget their morning rituals. Even the sun seemed to pause as it peeked above the horizon, looking for the source of that melodic twittering.

Leticia Hernandez leaned against my shoulder while stretching one golden leg out to press her toes against the floorboards and rock the porch swing gently. Her other leg was tucked under her on the swing, and as she snuggled against me, a wave of jealousy crashed over me. How I longed to be that leg, her bare foot nestled into the moist warmth between her legs. I sighed and slid my arm around her. If I was ever lucky enough to enter her Eden, I knew I would become her prisoner.

“You smell nice, Gusi.”

She was the only one who would ever get away with calling me that. Then again, I’d let her call me anything just to hear the honeyed notes of her voice.

“I smell like I haven’t showered in twenty-four hours.” My chuckle grated on my ears.

She stretched up to smell my neck, making a production of her scrutiny. I got a whiff of mint and berries and wondered what shampoo she used.

“Mmm. Faded Drakkar Noir with a hint of dried sweat and a touch of horse.” She snuggled back against my shoulder. “Manly.” She sighed, then giggled once again.

We watched the sun surge over the horizon, and I was grateful she wasn’t looking at my five o’clock shadow and bloodshot eyes. I was a man who liked my sleep and tended to become quite growly when I didn’t get enough, but Leti hadn’t wanted to be alone. She’d called and I’d pushed my old ’78 F-150 to its limits to race over to her. She’d met me on the porch and we’d waited out the darkness, talking about everything except why she didn’t want to be alone.

I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up and risk losing the feeling of her breast pressed into my side.

The robins were awake, adding their morning song to that of the swallows and orioles. We sat listening to the symphony, rocking in the swing as Leti’s breast created a heat in my side that was spreading to other, more dangerous parts of my body.

“You working today?” Her voice had thickened, and I imagined her eyes drooping. I blinked several times as my own eyelids felt weighted down.

“Yup.”

“Be careful the horses don’t buck you.” She giggled. Her laugh was going to be the death of me.

“Buck me?” I asked, feigning disbelief. I dropped my hand from her shoulder, letting my fingers graze her side just under her arm.

She reacted on instinct, pressing closer to me to escape the tickling fingers. I paused in my assault to bite back a groan, my jeans now uncomfortably tight. Leti saw her opening and attacked my side with both hands. When she didn’t get the reaction she wanted, she slid her hands under my old t-shirt, her nails flickering over my skin.

“Leticia,” I growled in warning, which only made her try harder. I jumped up from the swing and walked to the edge of the porch, forcing my body to forget the feel of her fingers on my skin. My body rumbled in protest.

I glanced over my shoulder to see Leti affecting an overdramatic pout. My body rumbled louder, screaming at me to turn back to her, sweep her up in my arms, and make love to her right here on the porch, with the birds serenading us.

The rumbling grew until my feet were vibrating against the porch’s floorboards.

“Finally,” Leti squealed. She pushed herself off the swing and raced down the steps to meet the Harley that pulled into the drive.

The leather-clad figure was barely off the motorcycle before Leti was launching herself into his arms and covering his face with kisses.

Kisses that should have been mine.

I squinted into the sun, trying to burn the image of Leti kissing another man from my memory. I stared at the giant orb until my eyes watered, but the image would not go away.

Then Leti was leading him up the porch stairs, their arms wrapped around one another.

“Gustavo, man, thanks for this.”

I shrugged off his gratitude.

Leti pulled away from him, but her hand still held his, as if they were inseparable now. She stood on her tiptoes and balanced herself against my chest to kiss my cheek. “You’re the best brother-in-law a girl could ask for.”

My brother clasped my shoulder. “I owe you one, man.”

“Get on day shifts.” I pushed past them and headed for the steps to my escape.

“That’s what I keep telling him,” Leti called out to me. To her husband she said, “I would spend the nights showing you just how grateful I am to have you home.”

I gritted my teeth and walked faster to my truck, desperate not to hear anything else, desperate to get home and take an ice-cold shower, and desperate to forget that I was in love with Leti.

***

This story originally appeared on Romance Novels in Color Love Bites 2 prompt.

“Shadow Swinging” by Tim Samoff  via https://www.flickr.com/photos/timsamoff/51177780/in/album-453832/
used under CC BY-SA 2.0