San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together.
Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as an aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering love, passion, and adventure. Now a well-known author, Marek loves his calm life in an isolated farmhouse, and he knows their relationship would never work : he and Felicity are just too different. Besides, why risk having his heart broken a second time?
But Felicity is as fascinating and joyful as ever, and the wonderful sexy magic is still there too. Can love be more delightful the second time around?
She didn’t even bother hiding her bold curiosity, or that she was observing, noting, judging. Well, let her judge him if she wanted. He didn’t have to justify himself, his life, or his taste.
“A simple student’s apartment, as you see,” said Marek, dryly, breaking the silence.
Her smile was amused as she turned to him, her gaze unwavering. “At least there’s nothing horrible.”
“Horrible?” He arched an eyebrow, attempting to meet her condescension with a sneer of his own. “Such as a corpse under the desk? A blood-stained hatchet? You must be disappointed.”
She laughed. It changed her entire face, transforming the almost severe, hawk-like features into something warmer, something infinitely touching. Her teeth were white, perfect; her smile was broad. Her head tilted back slightly on a long, elegant neck.
He was intensely aware that his fingers ached to reach out and touch her, pull her toward him, press her body against his, but he didn’t dare. Indeed, he hardly trusted himself to move lest she vanish.
“I should have said vulgar,” she corrected, still grinning. “That’s even worse.”
“A blood-stained hatchet sounds good?”
“Wait!” She held up one hand in delighted protest. “This has nothing to do with blood and hatchets and corpses. And the word tacky is even better than vulgar.”
“Tacky. I see. More or less… ”
“You know. Posters of bare feet glued onto the ceiling, drinking glasses with nude women, or ceramic cups that look like breasts.”
“I strike you as the kind of person who’d own stuff like that?” He forced himself to look offended.
“Looks can be deceiving. They usually are.”
What image did she have of him? “How about a deck of pornographic playing cards with bare-assed men wearing short black socks and shiny shoes? Is that tacky enough for you?”
“Right! That really is one hundred percent tacky.” She stopped, looked at him. “Don’t tell me you’ve got those!”
“Okay. I won’t.”
“No. Wait. I didn’t mean what I said. If you do have dirty playing cards, I want to know.”
Why did she want to know? “Tell me first if tacky is positive or negative.”
“Are you joking? I just want to see you implicate yourself before things get going.”
“Before what things get going?” A wild desire to laugh bubbled up inside of him.
For the first time, she seemed to lose a little bit of her bright assurance. Something flickered in her eyes. Her expression changed again.
“Mind if I take a seat?”
Writer, social critical artist, and impenitent teller of tall tales, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a mud house on the Great Hungarian Plain, in a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, a haunted house on the English moors, and on a Dutch canal. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects spiders, snakes, and weeds. Observing people in cafes, in their homes, on trains, or in the streets, she eavesdrops on all private conversations and delights in hearing any nasty, funny, ridiculous, sad, romantic, or boastful story. And when she can’t uncover really salacious gossip, she makes it up.
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