Red Roses

    The knock at the door raised Shauna from her favorite chair. She hid her book under yesterday's T-shirt and quickly attempted to straighten up her clutter. Realizing it was a lost cause, she answered the door.
    When she opened the door, she saw a strangely familiar back with reddish brown hair curling around broad shoulders. Shauna's mouth dropped open and a strange choking sound came from her throat.
    Startled, Eric turned around and smiled at her. "Hi," his eyes widened as he stepped closer to her.
    "Hi," was all Shauna could get out of her mouth without stuttering. Her smile had an air of disbelief and amazement, questioning what she should do next.
    "Surprise, I know it's been a while. Do you mind if I come in, or would you like to stand here and talk?"
    Shauna snapped out of her daze and quickly said, "Come in, I'm sorry, this is definitely a surprise." A while, she thought. It's been nearly a year since they had broken up and Shauna wasn't thrilled at Eric's sudden return.      "So, how long has it been?" Shauna's teeth were clenched but she tried to hide it with a smile.
    "Too long, I've missed you," Eric said as he walked in and looked around. The old town house hadn't changed much, Shauna's comfy purple chair, same dark cherry coffee table, he could still see the stains from the chili explosion. He lifted the T-shirt and shook his head, "Still reading those romance books I see."
    Shauna smiled, remembering the old conversations they would have about her reading choices. "Yeah, so." What a brilliant come back, she thought, I'm so stupid.
    "So, because of you, I started reading them and watching soaps too. But, that's not all that's changed about me."
    Shauna was interested, but didn't want to seem too eager. "So, what else has changed," the sarcastic tone of her words surprised her. She didn't want to seem negative, but the old anger was still there and she couldn't hide it.
    "Well, for starters, I finally made it. I got the job I had worked so hard for, I'm the Executive Producer of Special Projects at the TV station." Eric was proud of himself but he still wanted Shauna's approval.
    "That's great, I'm happy for you. You finally got what you wanted." This time her tone wasn't as sarcastic, there was a hint of sensitivity, even though for some reason she felt hurt. "Would you like to sit down?" Shauna said motioning to the sofa.
    Eric sat and Shauna sat in her chair. The actual distance between them was insignificant compared to the invisible canyon that seemed to be there. "Thanks, but I didn't come here to brag about myself. I came to say I'm sorry, for the way I acted, for the way I treated you and for the way I left. I was a real jerk and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to have dinner with me tonight."
    Eric's sincerity astounded Shauna and her mind traveled back trying to remember when she last felt that from him. After her return to Earth, she sputtered, "Is that an invitation?"
    "Yes, and I was hoping it would give us a chance to talk. I've done alot of thinking since we've been apart and I think I've even grown up a little."
    Eric's last remark brought a smile to Shauna's lips. It was a little joke they had, Eric always vowed never to grow up and she was surprised to hear him say it. "Well, in that case, I've got to see this."
    "So that's a yes, I take it."
    Shauna nodded.
    Eric leaned closer to Shauna with a deadly serious look on his face. "I did alot of soul searching and made some realizations about myself and you. For a while there I was pretty depressed and lonely, all I had was my work. Finally, I realized the last time I had fun, was with you. The last time I really laughed so hard my stomach hurt, well, you remember."
    "Yeah, I remember, you were visiting me at the zoo."
    "When that giraffe took your hat and threw it and it landed on the zebra's head."
    "Yeah and you were no help, practically rolling on the ground."
    "But it was funny, you have to admit."
    "I couldn't believe it, the one day I wasn't filming and that happened, never fails."
    "You were great though, everyone watching was in hysterics and you casually walked out, picked up the hat and put it on. I'll never forget that day. Anyway, I decided to change some things and try to make a new start. I hope you'll give me a chance to show you."
    Shauna was taken by Eric's little speech, but didn't know what to think. She had told him she'd always love him no matter what, but now she wasn't sure if she should. "Okay, Everyone deserves a second chance. So where are we going?"
    "Wherever you want to go."
    "I knew you were going to say that. I've been in the mood for Italian lately."
    "The usual."
    "Give me a chance to change, I'll be right out."
    "You look great, don't change."
    "I'll be right out." Shauna wanted a minute to herself to think. She was still quite confused and about to have a migraine as her emotions went into overdrive. She thought about their past and how they broke up. It had taken her a good six months to figure out all their problems and she felt she was past them now and didn't want to have to go through them all over again. Suddenly, her thoughts changed to their passion, that was one thing they never had a problem with. Memories of their love making rushed through her mind. Shauna closed her eyes and could almost feel his warm hands on her body and his soft kiss upon her skin.
    The sudden knock on the door startled her and she dropped the purple shirt she was holding. "Yes?"
    "Are you okay in there?" Eric asked, wondering what was taking so long.
    "I'm fine, I'll be right out." Shauna quickly slid the shirt over her head, fixed her hair, put on her earrings and took a deep breath. When she opened the door, she could see Eric leaning in the refrigerator. Nice view, she thought, it hasn't changed a bit.
    Eric stood up and turned around holding a Coke in his hand. He shook his head and smiled at Shauna, "Same old, same old huh. You ready?"
    "It's not an air conditioner," Shauna said pointing to the open refrigerator door.
    "Sorry, I still do that at home too." He quickly put the Coke back and closed the door.
    "Let's go," Shauna said grabbing her keys.
    There were three cars parked in front of Shauna's house, hers, the neighbor's, and a new teal Camaro. She looked at Eric, the car, then back at Eric. "Yes, it's mine," he stated casually.
    Shauna couldn't believe it, the first time she saw that car she fell in love with it, but knew she'd never be able to afford one. The pure fact that he owned one almost made her mad, then realizing they always did like the same cars and it was just coincidence, she forgave him.
    Eric held the door open and Shauna looked inside. It was beautiful, white leather seats, CD player, the works. Shauna closed her mouth and got in. The seats were warm from the intense July sun and she mumbled as she shifted her weight in submission.
    "What was that?" Eric asked, already knowing the answer.
    "Nothing. Well, I would have gotten the cloth seats."
    "I know." Eric reached behind the seat and pulled out a single red rose.
    "Is that for me?" Shauna asked shyly, batting her eyes.
    "There's no one else in this car that can match it's beauty," he paused, "or its color."
    Shauna was blushing and she could feel it down to her toes. Feeling the sweat beginning to form, she asked,     "Could you roll down the windows, it's really hot in here?"
    "Sure," Eric handed the rose to Shauna and started the car. "I do have air conditioning."
    "I'd like some fresh air. It's a beautiful rose, thank you."
    Eric rolled down the windows, opened the sun roof and turned all the vents toward her. "How's that?" He said playfully.
    "That's great, thank you." Now, she felt silly.
   

    They didn't talk much on the way to the restaurant, Shauna was still a bit uncomfortable with the whole situation. They arrived at The Olive Garden and got a great parking spot.
    "You still have the touch," Shauna said, shaking her head at Eric's ability to always get a great parking spot.
    "Allow me Ms. Quarters," Eric motioned with his finger for her to wait, than ran around the car and opened the door for her. Shauna was amazed at his politeness and wondered what was next. In true gentleman form, he offered his hand and helped her out of the car.
    Upon entering the restaurant, Shauna noticed several groups were waiting, "Oh no, I'm starving."
    "No problem," Eric winked.
    "What do you mean . . . "
    The host interrupted, "Your table is ready Mr. Reeves." They walked back to a secluded booth and sat down. Two red candles twinkled softly and another red rose adorned the beautifully set table.
    Shauna was beginning to feel set up. Although it did seem like Eric went through alot of trouble just for her, she couldn't help herself. Adding her rose to the vase on the table she said, "I hope I'm dressed all right for the rest of the evening, I wouldn't want to spoil any of your plans."
    "I never could get anything past you," Eric said laughing. "It's up to you, we can do whatever you want, but I have this feeling it wouldn't be much different from what I have planned."
    "Should I guess or will you tell me."
    "Well, the plan was, dinner, dancing, a walk on the beach, and then . . . "
    "And then what," Shauna broke in, the sarcasm sneaking back into her voice. "I really hope this isn't about sex, because if that's all you're here for . . . "
    "No. No! No!" Eric tried to get a word in. Finally, Shauna stopped rambling. "Please, listen to me, it's not about sex, it's about making up. You said you would give me a chance, so let me explain."
    The seriousness of his voice and the look in his eyes told her to believe him. "Okay, I'm sorry. I'm still a little confused about all this and if you can make sense of it, please do."
    Eric took a minute to compose his thoughts and get the speech straight in his head. He'd been practicing for weeks, and now could hardly remember a word. "I knew if I came back and just told you that I've changed, you wouldn't believe me. So I tried to figure out a way to show you." He lowered his head and took a deep breath. "I just want the chance to make up for all the stupid things I did." Eric raised his head and looked into Shauna's eyes. "I want to start over, with a clean slate. We can think of our past as practice for a real relationship, one with trust, equality and communication."
    "That sounds good, but why should I believe you? What makes you think you can do it this time?"
    "I'll have to prove it to you, and if you give me a chance, I will."
    "Well, let's just see how tonight goes."
    "Okay. My whole purpose for tonight is for you to have a good time. I've done fairly well so far, haven't I?"
    "Yes, in fact you have. I knew somewhere inside you someone was listening." Shauna had always thought Eric only listened to half of what she said, but now realized she might have been wrong about him.
    Eric reached across the table and lightly set his hand on Shauna's. "Well, after that speech, are you still hungry?"
    "Actually, I am but not quite as much. Would you like to share a dish?"
    "Sure, that'll be fine." Eric smiled at Shauna and began to slide his hand back when Shauna stopped him.
    "It's okay, I don't mind. I've always liked holding hands, you know that."
    "Yeah, but I didn't want to push my luck." Eric gently massaged Shauna's fingers and was serious again. "I'm sorry if I was rambling on, did I make any sense at all?"
    "Yes, maybe, I think so. Well, we have all night to figure that out. I say we slow down a little and just try to have fun, okay?"
    Eric got a silly grin on his face and tried to be serious, "You're right. I just want you to know there are no strings attached, I will take you home whenever you want."
    "Okay, I'll remember that." Shauna's left eyebrow did a Spock impersonation and they both laughed.
    They sat and talked about the old times, reminiscing over their favorite dish about the fun they used to have. Shauna mentioned one vacation they went on to the coast. It was the best time they ever had and the most passionate they had ever been. Shauna looked deep into Eric's eyes and saw the same fire still burning within him. His gaze had her stunned like a deer in headlights and she had to break the moment. She looked away and excused herself.
    Once in the ladies room, she paced back and forth trying to sort out her feelings. "What am I doing?" She said to her reflection. "You know you're crazy for feeling like this," she noticed her finger quivering back at her. She steadied her hand and realized she was helpless. What can I do? She thought, whatever happens, happens. One last look in the mirror revealed a look of excited contentedness and a certain smile she hadn't seen in a while.
    As Shauna walked back to the table, she had a smile on her face and a bounce in her step. Eric noticed the difference right away. "Do you think they'd mind if I stepped into the ladies room for a minute?"
    "What?"
    "Well, I'd like to see what's so special about it."
    "I'm lost," Shauna laughed.
    "When you left you seemed a little sad or distracted, now you look like you just won the lottery."
    "Oh," Shauna giggled.
    "So, are you going to tell me or what?"
    "What."
    Eric gave her the sarcastic, I'm not laughing, look.
    "Nothing, it was nothing really, maybe the memories were getting to me a little. I'm fine, really."
    "Ok then, I went ahead and ordered dessert. You do have room, don't you?"
    "If it's what I think it is I do."
    "It is."
    "One or two slices?"
    "Just one for you, I'm full."
    "Goody," Shauna said grinning from ear to ear. "It's been a long time since I've had their cheesecake."
    "Cheesecake?"
    "Don't even try it, I know you better than you think," Shauna said remembering how Eric always teased her. Within moments it arrived, looking so tempting Shauna could barely contain herself. The whipped cream was the first to go, with one quick swoop of her finger it was gone. She thought of picking up the slice and shoving the entire thing in her mouth, but refrained. Using her spoon, she took a large bite and cleaned every speck off the spoon as she pulled it from her mouth. With eyes closed, she savored every second of it, letting it melt in her mouth.
    Eric sat and watched her, getting almost as much enjoyment out of it as she was. She took a few more bites then realized how engrossed she was in the dessert. Taking a moment between bites, she looked at Eric and nearly had cheesecake come out her nose. He always had a way of catching her off guard with a silly look whenever she had just put something in her mouth. She quickly swallowed the cheesecake, then broke out laughing.
    "I'm glad you, like it," his imitation of Jim Carrey's, Ace Ventura character, was perfect.
    "I'm sorry, I've been ignoring you haven't I?" Shauna felt silly too, scarfing dessert wasn't polite, even if he had seen her do it before. "Would you like a bite?"
    Eric sat there grinning and shaking his head, "No, I wouldn't want to spoil your fun, besides, I like to watch."
    Shauna started blushing again, "I know." They both started laughing so loud they were getting dirty looks from other tables. "Uh oh, we're in trouble now," Shauna tried to whisper, but the giggles continued. "Maybe we should go."
    "Alrighty then," Eric said, still in character, "I'll pay the bill, then we can go back to, your house."
    "My house?"
    "Yeah, if we're going out dancing, we really should change."
    "Oh yeah, okay." We, she thought.
    When they arrived at the house, Eric reached behind his seat again and pulled out another present. "Yes, it's for you. Why don't you go inside and open it, I'll be there in a minute."
    "All right, but what are you going to do?"
    "You'll see, just go inside," Eric gestured with the back of his hands, swatting at Shauna's behind as she stepped out of the car.
    Shauna sat in her chair and pondered the contents of the thin box, shaking it back and forth. The weight was uneven and it was very light.
    Eric knocked, then poked his head in the door, "Mind if I come in?" He waited until she wasn't looking, then quickly shoved a bag behind her rocking chair.
    "Oh, get in here already so I can open this." Shauna was eager to find out what was in the box, but also a little wary.
    "You didn't have to wait."
    "Yes I did." Her eyes slanted nearly closed and her voice was sarcastically ominous, "I wanted you to be here because if this is half as raunchy as what you used to get me, I wanted you to be within throwing distance." She opened the beautiful wrapping carefully, breaking only the tape, so she could use the paper again. After neatly folding the paper and adding it to the stack of books on the table, she opened the lid. A bottle of perfume sat nestled within a mountain of purple tissue paper. "I don't believe it, you remembered."
    "You see, I really did listen."
    "You shouldn't have, it's so expensive."
    "I didn't just buy it for you, I bought it for me too. I loved the way it smelled on you, even though you did try out every perfume in the place, I distinctly remember you liked this one."
    "Thank you so much, I love it."
    Eric pointed to the box and smiled, "There's more."
    Shauna was so thrilled with the perfume, she didn't think to look for anything else. Underneath all that paper was something black. Removing the layers, she exposed delicate lace and the softest material she ever felt. She lifted it out then placed it against her body, "It's gorgeous, even though it is a teddy. Next to the perfume, it's the nicest thing you've ever given me."
    "I'm glad you like it."
    Shauna began to fold it up to put it back in the box, when she noticed the look on Eric's face. His eyes were sad and the playful look was gone. "What's wrong?"
    "What?"
    "What's, wrong?"
    "Nothing. I was just hoping that you'd model it for me, but I guess that's too much to ask for."
    "You're damn right. But . . . maybe sometime in the next century or so!" She laughed and threw it at Eric. "Here, you model it for me."
    "I've already seen it on the dummy in the store, but I knew you would look fantastic in it. A guy can fantasize can't he?"
    "Sure. Anyway, what should I wear for your evening pleasure?"
    Eric held up the teddy and grinned devilishly, looking down the length of Shauna's slender body.
    "Funny. I guess I'll have to pick something out myself."
    "No, I'm kidding. Sorry. Do you still have those white leggings and that purple silk shirt?"
    "Of course, you know they're my favorite."
    "Mine too, could you wear that?"
    "Sure. Give me twenty minutes to get ready."
    "Okay. Do you mind if I change in the bathroom?"
    "You don't have to change, you look fine."
    "Well, I'd like to clean up a little and change my shirt."
    "Fine, just don't make a mess."
    "Who, me?" Eric made sure Shauna closed her door, then grabbed the bag he stashed behind the rocking chair and headed for the bathroom.
    Once inside her room, Shauna closed the door and went to lock it, then stopped. What am I doing? It's not like he's never seen me naked before. The door remained unlocked as she got undressed and changed. Not wanting to seem in too much of a hurry, she took her time picking out the perfect shoes and jewelry.
    Eric had finished shaving and the evidence was all over the sink to prove it. Knowing how Shauna hated that, he started to look for a washcloth to clean up his mess. The drawers were neatly packed with everything from baby oil to Vaseline. Finally, the bottom drawer contained the elusive washcloths. He knew she always had a few old ones for cleaning, so he rummaged through the pile in search of the oldest one. Almost to the bottom, he saw the corner of something peaking out from under the turquoise cloths. Upon further investigation he realized he might have made a mistake. He had found their book.
    Paging through it, he remembered making the notes and checking off each thing they tried. It amazed him how open Shauna was to trying new things. He had forgotten about the book and wondered why she still had it. The sound of Shauna's door opening snapped him back to reality and he quickly hid the book and tried to clean up his mess.
    "Knock, knock," Shauna said, pushing the door open slightly. "Is everything covered?"
    "Yeah, come on in."
    Shauna peered around the door and saw that back again. This time it was shirtless and by his reflection in the large wall mirror, his front was too. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. "I see you've kept in shape," she said seductively as she stepped in and walked around him, drinking in every inch of his toned body.
    "I try. I work out three days a week at the gym. But you know, I don't want to look good just for me, I was hoping you'd appreciate it too."
    "Believe me. I do." Shauna's smile went from ear to ear, but her eyes still clung to his chest.
    "You look great, I love that outfit on you. It always seemed to bring out the best in you. I'm almost done, but I can get out of your way if you want me to."
    "No, that's okay. There's plenty of room, I'll just move around you." As Shauna slid behind Eric, she let her hand run around his waist. He flinched but didn't make a sound. "Still ticklish?"
    "Yes, and don't even think about it."
    "Oh come on, I owe you." Standing behind him, she reached for his sides barely touching him before he turned around and grabbed her wrists gently. Eric held her arms to his chest and looked deep into her eyes. Shauna was stunned by his gentleness. The look between them became sensuous as he leaned closer, she could feel his heartbeat pounding in her hands as she pressed them against his chest. Suddenly, she pulled back and took a deep breath, "You're in my view," she said exhaling, her voice a bit shaky.
    Eric moved back and released her wrists, "Sorry, I'll move." He turned around and began to slide his things over when Shauna slid her nails around his waist. He jumped, yelled and dropped his razor on the floor. "Hey, now I owe you one." Gathering up his things, he decided to put some distance between them and finish changing in the living room.
    Shauna finished her makeup and fixed her hair just the way Eric liked it. Adding a few finishing touches, she called to Eric, "Are you ready yet?"
    "Yes. Are you?"
    "Of course, unlike some people I know."
    "You don't mean me do you?" Eric laughed, knowing he had been the one that always made them late. He finished tucking his shirt into his pants, then sat to put on his shoes.
    Shauna came out of the bathroom and Eric's mouth dropped. "Well?"
    "Perfect. Just like I remembered." His eyes made a visual inventory of every detail as Shauna obliged him by turning around and modeling for him.
    "Would you like me to wear the perfume you bought me?"
    "If you want to, no pressure."
    Shauna opened the bottle and the evocative scent filled the room. Dabbing a little on her finger, she slid it along her neck, then, with slow deliberation, added a dab behind each ear. Finally, to Eric's delight, she undid one button on her shirt and ran a long shimmering line of the essence along her body. He was mesmerized by her fingers, watching them do their work, searching out the perfect spot. Shaking himself out of her trance, he asked, "Are we ready to go now?"
    Knowing full well where they were going, Shauna had to ask, "Where exactly are we going anyway?"
    "You know, I know you know, don't tell me you don't know."
    "Of course I know, I was just wondering if you knew."
    Synchronously, they both said, "Let's go."
    On their way to the car, the setting sun glared in Shauna's eyes. She reached into her purse for her sunglasses and instantaneously caught a glimpse of Eric's shirt. Looking closer, her eyes widened with amazement, "That's it. That's the shirt. I don't believe you bought it."
    Eric was glad she finally noticed. It was a black dress shirt, very soft and loose, like something Yanni would wear. Shauna had wanted to buy it for him, but he didn't want her to spend the money, it was quite expensive. They had fought for two days about it and as usual, Eric won. "I was in that store one day and found myself looking at this shirt. I didn't even realize it was the same one until I tried it on with these pants and looked at myself in the mirror. Everything you said was true. It did look great with these pants, and I looked great in it. I should have trusted your instincts more often."
    "That's okay, it's history. It really does look great on you."
    "It's funny, I was looking for a new shirt to wear to my first big production meeting. I wanted to make a statement. Professional, yet casual. Stylish, but not uptight. This was it."
    "Told ya'."
    "Next time, I'll listen to you."
    "Promise?"
    "I'll do anything you say."
    "Oooooh!" Shauna laughed, thinking of the possibilities.
    "I thought we weren't talking about sex."
    They exchanged naughty smiles and got in the car.

    The ride this time seemed more comfortable and went by quickly. Everything went as planned, the parking spot, no waiting to get in, it was all just too much. "I won't ask," Shauna remarked. She took Eric's arm and he escorted her inside.
    Eric brought her to a table with yet another beautiful red rose and candle. The light danced on her face as she leaned forward to smell the rose. "You're going to spoil me, but I like it," Shauna said as she lightly kissed Eric's cheek, then quickly sat down.
    Eric was still in shock when a waiter came up behind him bearing champagne, "Mr. Reeves, for you and Ms. Quarters, on the house."
    Eric's brain was still reeling from the kiss as he tried to make a complete sentence. "What? Oh, uh, what?"
    Eric's look of complete confusion brought a warm feeling to Shauna's heart, she still had an effect on him. She suddenly felt sixteen, and almost broke out in the giggles.
    Having regained his composer, Eric asked the waiter, "Is this from Charlie?"
    "Yes sir, he said he was happy to see you two together again."
    "Well, tell him thanks from both of us." After pouring the drinks, Eric sat down and raised his glass. He began to speak, stopped, then started again, "To, a perfect evening with the most beautiful woman on Earth."
    Shauna blushed and raised her glass to meet Eric's. The bubbles tickled her nose as she took a sip. "Very good."
    "Yes, it is."
    "I meant your toast."
    Eric grinned and seemed quite pleased with himself.
    Shauna figured it was her turn, raising her glass, she said, "To friends," pausing a second to lower her eyes, she continued, "and lovers."
    Eric's heart skipped a beat as Shauna leaned forward and wrapped her arm around his. They drank together, staring into each other's eyes. After a few minutes, Eric got up and excused himself.
    Shauna tried to watch where he was going, but lost him in the crowd. Feeling a bit tense, she finished her glass and poured herself another. It had been a long time since she had champagne and knew what it did to her, but didn't care. Tonight, I'm gonna' have fun, she thought. Upon Eric's return, she asked innocently, "Where'd you go?"
    "You'll see," he answered, giving no clue to his intent. Filling his glass, he looked at Shauna and gestured with the bottle, to see if she wanted a refill.
    "I really should take it easy with this stuff, you know what happens . . . "
    "Don't worry, you're not driving and I promise to be a good boy."
    Shauna took a sip, then suddenly jumped up, "I love this song, let's dance." She grabbed Eric's hand and dragged him onto the dance floor.
    Eric had always loved dancing with Shauna, even though he wasn't the greatest dancer, with her he didn't care. Although, he did care how he was starting to feel. The way Shauna danced was so sensual, that they always ended up in bed afterward. He watched her take over the floor, everyone was watching her, and she didn't seem to care. Eric wanted her, he longed to hold her and kiss her and tell her how he felt, but he couldn't. He knew it would take time for Shauna to forgive him and trust him again.
    For Shauna, dancing was an aphrodisiac, and tonight was no exception. She also knew how Eric reacted when she danced with him. Not wanting to tease him, she tried not to get too close, but soon the floor was packed and she had no choice. The champagne, the music, the lights, it was all taking its toll on her self control. She found herself intimately close to Eric and couldn't help herself.
    When the song changed, Shauna smiled at Eric with that, it's all going to be okay look, knowing he was probably as confused as she was.
    Feeling better, he had no expectations, he just wanted to be with her and have fun.
    When the D.J. began to make an announcement, Shauna and Eric popped back into reality and listened to what he was saying. "Well, we have a very special couple here tonight, they just got back together after a long break up and we just want to say congratulations to Shauna and Eric and this song's for you."
    Shauna was blushing ten shades of red and didn't know whether to slap Eric or kiss him. Leaning forward, she kissed him lightly on the lips, and then whispered in his ear, "Thank you."
    Eric smiled his, dashing smile, and took Shauna in his arms. Their song played and they held each other close, moving to the rhythm like it was music from their souls.
    When their song was over, Shauna took Eric's hand and said, "Hey you, c'mon." Eric followed her outside to a corner of the patio that was empty and a little darker than the rest. Shauna sat on the wall and looked up at the stars. "What a beautiful night."
    "What a beautiful woman. Who needs the stars, I have you." Eric spoke in a soft romantic voice that came from his soul.
    Shauna was red again and looked down at the ground. Eric moved closer to her and put his hand under her chin. Shauna lifted her head and looked at Eric, his eyes were sparkling like diamonds. "A little too much, huh," his words soft as velvet. "Well, you are beautiful."
    Shauna laughed, "Sometimes you're so smooth. But, I don't mind, you can continue."
    "Well," he said pointedly, "when I'm with you, I forget about everything else, I seem to get lost in you. Your beauty blinds me and I have no choice but to be your loveslave."
    "Stop already, please, that's enough."
    "Seriously, I planned this night just so you could have a good time and maybe forgive me. There were no strings attached, but now I'm not so sure I can leave it that way. The way I feel about you is . . ., is . . . "
    Shauna put her finger on Eric's lips, she took his hands and pulled him between her legs. As she put her arms around his neck, she stared right into his eyes. Eric put his warm hands on her thighs and leaned closer to her. Shauna could feel the heat between them and took the plunge.
    It was just like their first kiss, their lips touched gently and Shauna felt the excitement within him. As the kiss grew more intense, Eric wrapped his arms around her waist, cradling her luscious body. Shauna laced her legs around his and pulled his shirt out of his pants. She ran her fingers along his back, and felt the goose bumps appear. Eric flinched slightly as she slid them around his waist to his hard stomach. Losing his composer, he began to laugh. "How romantic," Shauna said knowing what she did.
    Eric instantly replied, "You did that on purpose, you know how ticklish I am. And I also remember how ticklish you are and where."
    Shauna immediately put her arms at her sides to cover her waist. "Don't even think about it."
    "All's fair in love and tickling," Eric said while he ran his fingers up Shauna's thighs, around her hips and as close to her waist as she would let him go. "Not bad, you hardly flinched."
    "I've been practicing," Shauna said slyly.
    "With whom?" Eric prodded.
    "Myself, happy now?"
    "Yes, very." Eric stepped back and slid his fingers down her hips toward the inside of her thighs.
    Shauna grabbed his hands and whispered, "Not here, not now." She realized what was happening and knew Eric felt it too. She didn't want to ruin the mood, but had to explain some things to Eric before they went any further.
    "I know this evening isn't supposed to be about sex, but inevitably it will be. It's what we were best at, about the only thing we never screwed up. I really admire the way you've changed your life and grown into a caring, sensitive man. I mean, I think we have good chance to make this work. But right now, all I want to do is rip your clothes off."
    Eric was a little surprised by Shauna's speech. He wanted to tell her he still loved her, but knew now was not the time. Not wanting to push too hard and maybe go too far, he decided to control his hormones. "Shauna, I would love nothing more than to hold you in my arms and make mad passionate love to you, but I think you were right before, we should slow down."
    Shauna knew he was right and respected his control. Clearing her head, she looked at him squarely and said, "You're right, and I'm thirsty."
    Eric laughed, picked her up off the wall and gently set her down, taking her hand he said, "C'mon thirsty."
    After a while, the D.J. announced the last dance. Eric stood and offered his hand, Shauna accepted gladly and followed him to the floor. She rested her head on his chest and her hands on his backside. Eric's arms embraced her like never before and she felt more emotion from him than she ever knew existed.
    When the dance was over, Eric held her like he never wanted to let go. After a minute he realized what he was doing and asked, "Would you like me to take you home now?"
    "Didn't you have anything else planned?"
    "Well, there was the walk on the beach, the pie and hot chocolate at Denny's, and well, it's up to you."
    Shauna pretended to think for a second, then declared, "Sounds like a plan to me." She grabbed her purse and they headed for the door.
    Eric saw Charlie at the bar and asked Shauna to wait for him. He walked over, they shook hands and laughed, while Shauna watched and wondered. When she saw Eric coming back, she looked to Charlie and waved. Charlie's face lit up and he waved back, giving her the "thumbs up" signal. Now, Shauna really wondered what was going on.
    As Eric opened the door for Shauna, a cool breeze blew in and startled her. He wrapped his arm around her and said, "I'll keep you warm."
    Shauna knew what that meant, but said nothing. They walked down to the beach and took off their shoes.  Shauna had hers off in a second and said playfully, "Race you to the pier."
    Eric barely had his second shoe untied when she took off running. He quickly pulled the shoe off and ran after her. Not watching where he was going, he tripped and yelled out in pain.
    Shauna immediately stopped and turned around to see him lying in the sand, holding his foot and moaning. She ran back to him and knelt by his side. "What happened, are you all right?"
    "Have that log removed," Eric said, rolling around pretending to be in pain. "I'm fine. Actually, I feel ridiculous lying here in the sand all by myself." With ninja like agility, he pulled Shauna down next to him and pinned her.     "That's better, now I'm not so lonely."
    "Well, that makes two of us," Shauna replied after spitting out some sand. "If I would have known we were going to play in the sand, I would have dressed for the occasion."
    Eric began to feel bad, he didn't want Shauna to be mad at him. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have pulled you into the sand." He released her and knelt between her legs.
    "Oh, it's all right. Don't be sorry, be afraid, be very afraid." Shauna had an evil glint in her eye as she dug her hands into the sand.
"Oh no, no, no you don't." Eric tried to back away but his feet kept slipping in the sand. He finally managed to get up and thought about running, then changed his mind. He challenged her, standing slightly hunched over with his feet wide apart, bouncing from side to side. "Come on, go ahead and try it."
    Shauna was ready, she had two handfuls of sand and enough champagne in her to really want to take this challenge. She mimicked his every move, faking left, then right. Pretending to get ready to throw the sand, she dug her toes in the sand and kicked it at him.
    "Ah, you got me, I don't believe it." Eric brushed the sand from his pants and zipper, then looked at Shauna playfully. She looked somewhat worried, so he comforted her, "Don't worry, I'm not gonna' get you back. Not yet anyway."
    "Good, because I didn't want to have to hurt ya'." Shauna made fists and jumped around like a boxer.
    Eric relaxed and walked over to Shauna, his eyes smiling and his cheeks glowing. The corners of his mouth slightly upturned in a content grin, "If ever there was a perfect moment, this is it. I love you."
    Shauna's face went from playful to blank in a millisecond. She stood there dumbfounded with her mouth half open, not knowing what to say or do.
    Eric was in shock himself, he couldn't believe that came out. The silence was deafening, but he managed another three words. "Please say something."
    "I have nothing to say," Shauna replied coolly, then proceeded to jump into Eric's arms and wrap herself around him. The sudden jolt startled him and he lost his balance in the sand. There they were again, right back where they started, lying together in the sand.
    This time Shauna was on top, and she hadn't stopped kissing him since her arrival into his arms. Their intensity grew as she unbuttoned his shirt, moving down to his zipper, she stopped and looked up.
    "What?" Eric breathed.
    "Do we really want to do this here? I mean, we're in the sand, in the open, and in our favorite clothes. Do you think we can make it to my house?"
    They looked around, at each other, at the car, at each other again and said simultaneously, "No."
    "What about a hotel?" Shauna suggested.
    "There's a really nice one right over there, and I just happen to have reservations. Now don't hit me, it's where I'm staying until my apartment is ready."
    Shauna broke in, "Okay, let's go."

    They brushed off the sand, got their shoes and quickly walked to the car. The drive to the hotel was short but to Shauna and Eric, it lasted an eternity. Eric pulled up to the main entrance and the valet opened the door for Shauna. The valet then quickly walked to the driver's side and held the door for Eric, who slipped him a five and gave him a wink. Eric hurried Shauna inside then stopped at the front desk and asked, "Do I have any messages?"
    The clerk handed Eric a piece of paper and said with a wink, "Your room is ready sir."
    "Thank you," Eric nodded and winked back. He took Shauna's hand and walked her to the elevator. When the doors opened, they walked in and Eric pushed the button for the penthouse.
    As soon as the doors closed, Shauna spun around and pinned Eric in the corner. "Have you ever made love in an elevator?" Shauna asked seductively.
    "No, but I've been meaning to," Eric replied quickly as his breath got heavy and his pulse quivered. He took Shauna's arms and spun her around pinning her in the corner. Giving her a light teasing kiss, he pulled her long auburn hair back and kissed her neck slowly moving down to her exposed shoulder.
    The elevator slowed and the floor signal rang loudly in Eric's ear. He pulled the room key out of his pocket and handed it to Shauna. She was puzzled, but took it anyway. Like a prince sweeping his princess off her feet, he cradled her in his arms and carried her to the room.
    Shauna unlocked the door and Eric pushed it open with his foot. The room was dark but a shimmering light came from another room. Shauna threw the key on the table and said, "You've got a nice place here."
    Eric smiled devilishly and whispered in her ear, "Just wait until you see the rest." He carried her across the room to a pair of French doors slightly open and said, "Are you ready?"
    "Yes," Shauna breathed.
    "Then, open the doors."
    Shauna pulled open the doors and saw the shimmering light was coming from about twenty candles lit all around the room. The scent of the dozens of red roses became so intense she felt like she was in a garden paradise. "It's beautiful, it's perfect."
    Eric walked to the bed and lightly set her down. "I wanted it to be perfect, just like you."
    Shauna looked deep into Eric's eyes, she felt a passion for him she couldn't deny. Tonight Shauna didn't care about tomorrow, she wanted this night to last forever. "How did you do this? When?"
    Eric walked over to the stereo and pushed play. "When I was talking to Charlie, he called and told them to set it up. Please believe me, this was not my first intention, but I figured, just in case."
    Shauna shook her head and laughed, "You really do know me." Shauna realized what music was playing but tried to ignore it. She looked at the bottle of champagne chilling next to the bed, then pointed to the tray on the table, "What's that?"
    "Fresh fruit, would you like some?"
    Shauna nodded and Eric lifted the cover off the tray revealing a wonderful assortment of the most passionate of fruits and a bowl of whipped cream. "Shall I pour us some champagne?" Eric said with an English accent.
    "But of course," Shauna replied with an equally stuffy accent as she kicked off her shoes.
    Eric handed Shauna her glass and raised his to her, "To the woman of my fantasies, my dreams, and now my reality. I give you my heart for all eternity hoping you'll let me love you for as long. To you."
    Shauna blushed slightly and brought her glass up to meet Eric's. The perfect crystal tone resounded throughout the room and the candles danced about creating wild shadows on every wall.
    "My turn," Shauna said in a soft girlish way. "To a man who's not the only one in my fantasies or my dreams, but as of tonight, the only one in my reality, and the only one I wish to spend eternity with. To you."
    Eric's eyes seemed to penetrate Shauna's soul, he raised his glass and added, "To us."
    After they drank, Eric set his glass down and looked very serious. "You know, the only thing I'd change about tonight would be that we were in our own house and not in a hotel."
    Shauna grinned as she looked around the room, "Well, let's not worry about that right now okay, besides, this is beautiful and I wouldn't change a thing." She looked back at Eric and smiled, "Which one's your favorite?"
    "What?"
    "Fruit."
    "Oh, the mangos I think, or the strawberries."
    "I love strawberries and cream, but of course you know that, don't you." Shauna gave Eric a deep sensuous look, reached for a strawberry and dipped it in the cream.
    Eric watched her as she brought it up to her lips and licked the cream off. He took a deep breath and bit his lip trying to control himself.
    "They're very good," Shauna whispered romantically.
    "What?" Eric said, half startled.
    "The strawberries, they're so fresh and sweet."
    "Yes they are, I had some this morning at breakfast and I thought of you."
    "Really, how delicious," Shauna said as she reached for a slice of mango. She dipped it in the cream and offered it to Eric. He opened his mouth and Shauna teased him with it, pretending to give it to him then pulling it away. She finally took it in her mouth and pulled it out slowly licking the cream off.
    Eric was in awe, his mouth still half open he said, "I could watch you do this all night, but I have a better idea." He stood up, pulled off his shoes and offered his hand to Shauna.
    At his touch she could feel his desire and knew what was coming next. They stood facing each other for a moment. The song changed abruptly and Shauna's face with it. "I can't believe you still have this tape. I wondered if you kept it."
    "I kept it as a reminder of you, of every time we made love. These songs were as much a part of it as we were. I don't think we ever made love without them."
    "Well, there was that time in the park."
    "Oh yeah." Eric's thoughts ran back in time to that night at the park. It was one of the first times they had made love together. He still remembered the smell of her hair, the feel of her velvet skin, the touch of her lips on his, her . . .
    "Eric, Earth to Eric."
    "Oh, what, sorry."
    "It's okay, I was reminiscing too. So why are we standing here?"
    "I wanted to dance with you to this song, but it's almost over now."
    "I can fix that." Shauna rewound the tape, then rejoined Eric in the middle of the room. She stood facing him and waited. The song began to play and Eric's eyes moved down the length of Shauna's curves. She could see his mind at work and decided to make the first move. Wrapping her arms around his neck, they slowly swayed to the music. Their perfect fit had never been so perfect.
    With the song almost over, Shauna slid her arms down Eric's chest and began to unbutton his shirt. This time, there was no turning back. The final button undone, it fell to the floor as her fingers slowly caressed themselves back around Eric's neck.
    Eric's heart was pounding steady and hard, his breath quivered as he started to unbutton her shirt. His fingers fumbled nervously with each one. Finally done, he slid the shirt off her shoulders, as she brought her arms down it drifted lightly to the floor. From past experience, Eric knew the pantyhose would be difficult to get off, but he decided to just go for it. He slid the leggings off quite easily, then Shauna helped with the pantyhose, getting them down past her hips. Eric pulled them down the rest of the way, running his fingers along her legs. They were even softer than he remembered.
    Shauna was in ecstasy as Eric lightly fondled the backs of her knees, but she didn't want him to have all the fun. She tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to stand up. Her inner fire was raging as she quickly undid the button and unzipped his pants, in one quick motion. With a light tug at his hips, the pants fell around his ankles.
    Eric tried to be graceful, but had no such luck, stumbling around trying to get the pants off, he nearly fell down.     Shauna giggled uncontrollably, trying to keep from completely breaking out in full hysterical laughter.
    After a minute of stomping around the room, Eric finally got out of the pants and looked as though he was ready for a fight. Shauna could take no more and burst out laughing. Eric glared at Shauna for a second, then burst out laughing himself. The tension broke and they both smiled at each other.
    "Look at us, you'd think it was our first time," Shauna said laughing.
    "It feels like it. I don't know why I'm so nervous."
    "I know, I feel weird too. It has been a long time."
    "Too long. I just want everything to be perfect."
    "It is. Now, pick me up, throw me on the bed and make mad passionate love to me," Shauna demanded.
    "Your wish is my command," Eric declared, placing one hand on his chest and thrusting the other out to the side. Eric took it upon himself to remove his own briefs, then swept Shauna up into his arms and brought her to the bed. "Are you ready?"
    "More than you'll ever know," Shauna answered with a devilish grin. Eric dropped her on the bed and pounced on her like a cat. He savagely kissed her neck and shoulders breathing in her luscious scent, letting it fill his senses.
    Normally, Shauna would have been ticklish, but her desire for Eric filled her soul as she let out little sighs of pleasure. She wrapped her legs around him and whispered softly in his ear, "I want you, now."
    Eric's body instantly responded to Shauna's touch as she guided him inside. He knew he would not be able to last very long, but he also knew they had all night. He let their passion overwhelm him and gave in to Shauna's eagerness. Making love to her was something he never forgot how to do.
    Their bodies moved in unison, responding perfectly in time with each other. As their passion built to climactic intensity, Shauna clenched Eric's arms, digging her nails into his steaming skin. She tensed as she felt the kundalini rush throughout her body. Eric's moans and the look on his face of complete satisfaction told her more than words ever could. Eric collapsed next to Shauna, then pulled her on top of him.
    "I like that," she said as Eric ran his fingers through her silken hair.
    "Is it me or is it really hot in here?"
    "It's you and it is hot in here. Want to take a shower?"
    "Yeah, a nice cool shower."
    Shauna sat up quickly and said, "Last one in has to call room service," then she jumped off the bed and ran for the bathroom with Eric right behind her.
    Shauna made it just in time to turn on the cold water only, then Eric caught her and held her back. Feeling he had won, he jumped into the shower and immediately screamed at the temperature of the water. Just as fast as he jumped in the tub, he jumped out, with revenge in his eyes. He closed the bathroom door and shook his head like a wet dog, getting icy water everywhere. Shauna screamed and tried to cover herself with a towel to no avail. Eric cupped handfuls of water and threw them at her, flooding the entire room.
    "I give up, I give up! You win," Shauna yelled out among her screams. "Now look what you've done, all the towels are soaking wet."
    "Me?"
    "Yeah you. You call room service."
    "You call."
    "You're the one who got them all wet."
    "Okay, fine, I'll call."
    "I'll be in the shower."
    Eric made the call and quickly blew out the remaining candles. Not wanting to miss another drop of hot water, he ran into the bathroom, "Whoa!"
    Shauna peaked out around the curtain smiling and pointed at the floor, "You should be careful, the floor is wet."
    "Cute," Eric said sarcastically.
    "I thought so."
    Eric peered into the shower and asked nonchalantly, "Mind if I join you?"
    "Oh, I guess so, but be careful, the tub's slippery."
    After a few minutes there was a knock at the door. "Room service." The maid waited a second, then opened the door and said again, "Room service."
    Eric heard her and yelled out to her, "Just leave the towels on the chair please, thank you."
    "Yes sir," the maid replied and went to work cleaning up the room.
    With all the hot water gone, Eric turned off the shower and told Shauna to stay there. He peeked his head out into the bedroom and whispered, "The coast is clear."
    "Why are we whispering?" Shauna whispered.
    "It's really late."
    "You mean really early."
    Eric's crooked smile and raised eyebrow made him look like Groucho Marx, especially the way he was leaning over surveying the room. "I'll get the towels," he said tip toeing out into the bedroom. He grabbed the towels and ran back to the bathroom stopping at the doorway. He stepped casually inside and handed Shauna a towel, "For you m'lady."
    "Why thank you sir, it's the nicest thing you ever gave me," Shauna said like a southern belle.
    "There's alot more where that came from."
    "Do tell," Shauna giggled.
    The mirror started to clear as Shauna dried her hair. She stepped out into the bedroom as the first rays of morning gleamed through the windows, making stripes along the wall. "It's beautiful isn't it? I'd love to stay up and watch the sunrise, but I'm kind of tired."
    "We'll have plenty of sunrises, but if you want to stay up and watch this one, I will too."
    "Actually I want to fall asleep in our arms, and wake up the same way."
    Shauna cuddled close to Eric, resting her head on his chest. Within minutes she was asleep but Eric stayed awake. He watched her face and caressed her cheeks with his fingertips. He thought of the old days, how they were so good together sometimes and so bad together other times. In this time away from her, he grew up alot and realized he was usually the cause of their problems. He knew he loved Shauna and decided he would try anything to make the relationship work this time. Quietly grinning to himself, he knew it wouldn't be easy, but true love never is.
   

    The brightness of the room made Shauna squint as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Eric was still sleeping and she didn't want to wake him. She gently got out of bed, grabbed the phone and took it in the bathroom. "Yes, hello, room service, can I still get breakfast? I'd like a western omelet, two orders of bacon, two eggs sunny side up, sourdough toast with strawberry jam, and two cups of herb tea, mint if you have it. Thanks." Shauna snuck back into bed and cuddled with Eric, who was still sound asleep.
    It seemed not minutes went by and there was a soft knock on the door, "Room service."
    Shauna eased out of bed and opened the door. "Just put it over there," Shauna whispered. She handed the woman a five and winked, "This looks great, thank you so much for making us breakfast so late in the afternoon."
    "No problem, you're welcome," the woman replied. "Have a nice day."
    Shauna quietly pushed the cart into the bedroom. The aroma of the bacon filled the room and with the added scent of onions and peppers, Eric started to move. "What's that?"
    "Breakfast."
    "What time is it?"
    "Somewhere around three."
    "What did you get me?"
    "Do you always ask so many questions?"
    "I know, let me guess. Western omelet, bacon, toast and mint tea."
    "You forgot the strawberry jam."
    "Couldn't smell it."
    "Pretty good. Now sit up like a good boy or you don't get any, food I mean." Shauna took the lids off the food and brought the tray to Eric.
    "Shouldn't I be bringing you breakfast in bed?"
    "Maybe next time, now eat before it gets cold." Shauna uncovered her food and without spilling a drop, got in bed.
    "I'm impressed."
    "It's a gift," Shauna said coyly. "I'm starving."
    Eric ate like he hadn't seen food in months, but tried not to be obvious about it.
    Shauna always finished last, even if she had less food. "It's your turn to do the dishes," Shauna said when she was done.
    Eric gladly gathered the dishes and rolled the cart outside the door. He ran back to the bedroom and tried to catch his breath, "Now what?"
    Shauna lifted the covers on his side and patted the bed. Eric joined her in bed and said as romantically as he could, "Now what?"
    Lifting the covers to reveal her naked body, she whispered, "I don't think I have to tell you what to do next, do I?"

THE END