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    The sun was low in the sky. Valium mixed with visions of Patrick and Dara having sex on the office couch as Sage pulled onto the highway and joined the other drivers in the race to see who could get home the slowest.  It was six o’clock and already the traffic was hardly moving.  Eventually, they said, the traffic would be alleviated.

    But why should Sage worry about eventually?  Who knew if she’d even be here tomorrow?  For today, driving home from work, her hold on life felt as tenuous as a two-second diversion.  Two seconds was all the time it would take to check her makeup in the rearview mirror.  Two seconds to forward a Billy Joel disk onto the next track.  Two seconds to lean over and take a Percodan and a sip of coffee from a Styrofoam cup in the cup holder.  Two seconds of distraction is all the time it would take to swerve into the oncoming lane and be hit head-on by a ten-axle truck.  Life could be over quicker than you could say goodbye.

    Sage reached up and pulled down her sun visor.  She didn’t remember anyone ever specifically telling her, “don’t look at the sun.”  She guessed it was just one of those things you pick up along the way.  Everyone in the entire world knows that you just don’t look up at the sun; it can scorch your eyes out.  But there it is, day in and day out, flagrantly shining up there brighter than anything else in the sky.  So one day you take a peek.  Everyone takes a peek sooner or later.  And you don’t burn your eyes out.  And the rest of the world isn’t walking around blind either, so you know it’s been a lie all along.  All along the sun has been nothing more than one more temptation hanging over your head, threatening to annihilate your curiosity.

    The way Sage saw it, her desire to sleep with Patrick was just another one of those taboos.  

     Sage sang Only The Good Die Young as softly as she could and reached across the passenger’s seat, felt around, and plucked a syrupy, dark-chocolate-covered cherry from a box of candy she had put there this morning.  She finished with Billy Joel and put the last of the chocolates into her mouth, followed by her fingers.  The red cherry syrup she sucked off as best she could.    She pulled into Dara and Patrick’s driveway to drop off the Kerry Files Dara needed to study tomorrow and as she turned to leave, who came bounding up the steps.  “Patrick!” Sage said, flustered by the sight of him.“I just stopped by to leave these things for Dara.  I forgot to leave them in the office and she needs them tonight,” she explained.  “They were much too bulky to fit in the mailbox and...”    

     "Sage, come in,” he said, his deep voice luring her forward.  Grabbing a key from under the doormat, he put it into the lock.  “Dry off for a while.  You’re all wet.”
    “I know.  It’s raining,” she said stupidly.  “But, I’m okay.  Really.  I can go now.”
    Sage was flustered.  “You really should come in,” he said.  “Wait until the rain lets up.”
    He opened the front door and she looked in.  “Dara won’t be back until midnight,” he said, as if she didn’t already know.
     She stepped through the door.  He followed her through and closed it.
    There was no preamble, no discussion, no preliminaries.  They stood in the hall looking at each other.  Sage licked her finger.  Patrick watched her intently.  “I got chocolate all over my hands,” she explained.
    “That’s not a problem,” he said.  “I can help you with that.”  He reached for one of her hands.  Sage waited for a napkin or a handkerchief to emerge, but no, gently taking her hand into his–he started with her pinky–and she watched, too stunned to move, as one by one he placed each of her fingers in his mouth, finishing what was left of the chocolate.  Her heart was pounding as she looked up into his eyes.  It was no more dangerous than looking at the sun.
















    He led her up the stairs, seven steps she counted, then the landing and three more to the little bedroom at the top.  She hesitated, startled to feel her whole body aching–not as it always did, with pain, but with a longing for him that would not allow her to squander one precious moment.
    When they had passed over the threshold into the bedroom, Patrick encircled Sage’s body with his arms, his hands pressing on her hips.  He kissed her and she opened her mouth, and he backed her up against the windows.  “I want to undress you,” he said.  “I almost ripped your clothes off the last time we were together in this room.”
    “Dara was here then,” she reminded him.
    “I didn’t care.  She might not have cared either,” he said, as he pulled her sweater off over her upstretched arms.
    “Dara might not have cared?” she said incredulously, as he threw her sweater on the floor and unhooked her bra.
    He put his hand up to her mouth.  “Shh,” he said, “Let me look at you.”
    The sun had set and the waning moon reflected through the curtains, casting a glow on Sage’s face and her breasts.  Sage saw a look of approval cross Patrick’s face.  She stepped toward him, wrapped one of her legs around his legs and unbuttoned his shirt.  It was a dance.  Sex was always a dance.
    He removed his shoes and trousers quickly.  Sage looked at the man before her, her eyes lingering on everything perfect about him.  She turned, her soft shoulders leaning against his chest, her arms twined around his neck.  He cupped her breasts in his hands, then slipped her rain-drenched skirt down around her ankles.  She stepped out of her panties.  The allure of the dance.
    He picked her up and placed her on the eyelet-covered quilt.  “Do to me what you do to Dara,” she begged him, surprised at the words coming out of her mouth.
    The windows overlooking the lake were open and the draft blew Patrick’s unbuttoned shirt around his naked hips.  Together they lay on Dara’s bed with the ruffled pillows, with all the windows open.  It was pouring.  The wind blew from the north, scooping water from the lake, mixing it with rain from the sky, and hurling it in gusts upon the tiny house.  The wet wind blew in through all of the open windows, swirling around them and sweeping over and into them.  The sound of the rain falling in puddles was clean and sweet and wet.  Everything was wet, outside and inside.  The ground was soaked and Sage was soaked and when Patrick entered her, she could feel herself drowning.

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