when you’re alone in your bed?
And remember just who you are
~ Peter Sarstedt
Kneeling in front of her coffee table, Catherine caught the tip of her tongue between her teeth as she worked. Intense concentration was clearly written across her frowning features as she finally secured the ribbon around the third foil-wrapped box. “All done! Now for the hard part. Delivering them, and hoping he understands.”
She compressed her lips, sitting back on her heels to survey her handiwork. Three gifts were laid out before her, and only she knew their contents. In the department store it had been easy to make her purchases, passing them over the counter along with her credit card and a shy smile. Guessing the right size was not an issue. She had always been a good judge. Besides she’d had her arms around Vincent’s waist often enough to be reasonably certain of his measurements.
Her mouth lifted ruefully at the corners. She was not about to ask Mary for them!
The smiling approval of the department store sales clerk had given her courage. It had buoyed her all the way home. Now Catherine did not feel quite as certain.
She was taking a huge risk this time. A giant leap of faith and she prayed Vincent would forgive the sudden intimacy of her intended gifts.
“Surely it is time.” After three years of their slowly evolving relationship, Catherine had decided it was up to her to take the plunge, and move them both forward in one giant leap. After all Vincent had already seen her in that filmy nothing of a lace-edged silk nightgown, one unforgettable evening during a recent thunderstorm.
“So, I think it is well past time for him to come clean and confess,” she reasoned. Even if it did seem she would have to make him.
More frequently now, she desired to ask Vincent what exactly he did wear beneath his jeans. The firm curves of his rear end and thighs, whenever he shed his all-concealing cloak, often attracted her undivided attention. But to no avail. Lately she had become addicted to watching him walk ahead of her down the tunnels, allowing her time to speculate…
To her critical eyes there were no tell-tale lines or slight bunching of fabric showing beneath all that skin-hugging, worn denim, helping to signify which style he followed. It was a mystery, and she had been forced to bite her tongue and not ask the burning question.
Vincent would stop and look back at her, puzzlement in his blue eyes at her fixed attention on his lower regions, but he forbad to comment. That was the signal for Catherine to hurry and catch up, a slightly breathless excuse framed and ready on her lips. Vincent studied her flushed cheeks with thoughtful attention.
Catherine’s eyes narrowed as she contemplated her gifts. “If I didn’t know better I could almost swear he goes commando…” Her heartbeat quickened.
Surely this last could not be an option given the chill of the tunnels and the frequent dampness of the stones. But still…her mind’s eye entertained the delicious idea and she spent several minutes staring into the middle distance, flicking through a collection of tantalising imaginings.
“Okay, so what did that do for you?” Catherine felt her cheeks warming. She blew a sigh upwards at her fringe, as she ran her fingers lightly over the gifts.
The men of her social circle seemed to be evenly divided between their love of boxers or briefs. Each style had their place and following. She longed to ask Vincent which he favoured. It was breathtakingly daring, but she was finally willing to take the risk of causing possible offence.
Catherine smiled mistily. Her father had always reminded her of a Chandler family maxim, whenever she puzzled over what gift to buy him. If in doubt for a Christmas gift, he had insisted underwear or socks were always a good standby and never went amiss. The drawers in his bedroom were full of said items, testament to how often Charles received the bounty of his own words with good grace, and a faint smile of dubious appreciation.
Catherine’s father fell neatly into the briefs-only camp. He disliked the looseness of boxers. Where Catherine was aware younger men like Elliot favoured boxers for that very same reason…
“This really is getting you nowhere fast!” Catherine stood from the floor and reached for a convenient hold-all.
Soon she would descend to the secret world beneath her feet and perhaps now she would receive an answer to her long-held question. In the privacy of Vincent’s chamber where no prying eyes could see, they would open her gifts together…
“Boxers…” She held aloft the first gift, balancing it in her hand, before sliding into the bottom of the bag. “Maybe…”
“Briefs…” She picked up the second box and weighted in her palm, before it followed the first. “Possibly…”
“Or commando…” Those images of unfettered masculine freedom rose anew in her mind, and she shuddered with anticipation. If that is truly the way of it…
“Then there is this.” She snatched up the third box and tossed in it her hand. “If in doubt there’s always safety in a good pair of warm socks.” She laughed shakily as she added that last to her bag and tied the opening shut before picking up the keys to her apartment...
only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
~ Albert Einstein
Illustrations supplied by the author