They sat on the hillock under the shade of a small gum tree. The shade speckled the ground, cooling the earth enough to create a zephyr of air sufficient to move strands of her hair. Jill knew this type of broken light would cause her skin to dapple, but in line with her recent decision to not worry about her chameleon tendencies she relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
“I wanted a few moments alone with you, Jill,” Michael said. Jill looked at him in surprise but his gaze remained fixed on the distance horizon. “I wanted to tell you that like Siobhan I have a smattering of cat genes, but mine are slightly different. Sure I have third eyelids that pop out under stress but mostly I can keep them under control.” He turned to face her and picked up her hand, holding it tight. “I’m blessed with the ability to sense wellness or illness. This makes me very good at my job and puts me ahead of many of my peers, most of whom are not g-altered like you and me.”
Jill held her tongue between her teeth, not wanting to break the spell. Never had anyone, other than James, taken her into his confidence like this man.
“I also wanted to tell you how attractive I find you. And you’re humming with good health too I might add.” His voice caught and he covered it with a chuckle. A heated blush rose up her neck flooding her face. She turned her head away, unable to help her reaction. Michael gently took her chin and slowly turned her face back towards his. “I think your hair is magnificent and your blushes are equally delightful. Why do you hide them? You should be proud of your genes, and blushes are a sign of modesty. Aren’t they?”
Tears filled her eyes and over flowed. She wondered if they changed colour as they ran down her cheeks. Two shocks within the hour. First Stella taking her through a jump to disappear behind a rainbow curtain, and now a man telling her she’s beautiful. Was he leading her on? Was this just a load of bullshit?
Michael’s moved and put one arm around her shoulder, pulling her close to his chest, her head tucked under his chin. She could hear his heartbeat. Mingling with the delicious feeling tip-toeing up her spine his soft breath warmed her ear. His chin stroked across her hair and she heard him inhale a deep long breath.
“You smell adorable as well.”
“Well that’s a first.” Completely undone, her emotions leapt like skyrockets trapped in a drum, and not knowing what else to do, she tilted her head back and broke their embrace by raising her arms above her head, stretching high to release her inner tension.
“I’ve never been told that before.” Desperate to avoid personal questions she searched for a safe sensible subject and remembered the obvious one.
“Tell me about your research project. What are your aims and how far along are you with it. Do you need to make more trips yet, or is this your last?” That should be enough to keep him talking for a while and give her a chance to regain some inner calm.
“I love the aborigines. They’re a magnificent race, largely underestimated and frequently maligned.” He picked up a small twig and began to draw circles in the red earth.
“They’ve been in this harsh land since time began, or so their legends say. The very fact they have managed to survive means they have acquired a great knowledge of the treasures the land holds. Physically they’re extremely strong and can travel great distances on foot. An ability to read the land and look for water, they use skills most of mankind has lost. An amazing people.” Michael threw the twig aside and stood up, offering his hand to her once more. Pulling her up beside him he pointed to the distant hills. “Imagine living among those hills and having to source your food and water every day.”
“I can’t. You’d find a water source and not want to leave it.”
“Exactly, yet they do. If they want to live in the old ways they must hunt on foot and their prey is quick. They can live on beetles and grubs. Things the white man would shun. Yet roasted over an open fire at the end of a long day’s walking, they’re delicious.”
“You’ve tried them?
“Of course. You can’t research tribal customs from the back of a van. You have to experience it to believe in it.” Michael’s fervour for his pet subject bubbled up in his speech.
“Most men are reluctant to tell a woman all these things. Or perhaps it’s just me they are reluctant to talk to.”
“Perhaps your beauty strikes them dumb.” Her shyness vanished. Astonishment chased it away to a dark corner, and she blurted out her question.
“Are you teasing me, Michael Scott?”
“Certainly not. I’m not free and fancy with my affections.” They stopped at the edge, before negotiating the steps down the hill. Again he took her hand and stopped her progress.
“Tomorrow I go bush, as they say. I’m off to the Aborigine camp and won’t be back for several weeks. I’d like to watch the sunset with you tonight, alone, just the two of us. I’m sure James will keep Stella at home.”
Jill suddenly remembered she had to talk to James about Stella. Distracted, she missed the rest of Michael’s words. “Pardon Michael? My mind was elsewhere.”
“I said that despite my profession I am basically a reserved person, but with you, Jill, I feel completely at ease. I’ve never felt like this before and I’m past the first flush of youth. I’ll be thirty three next month.”
She gazed at him, and her eyes studied his hair, nose and jaw line. He stood still, aware of her scrutiny, his eyes wrinkling at the sides as he smiled at her.
“Mmm. No grey hairs, hardly a line on your face and no sign of baldness. I’d say you are weathering pretty well, Dr. Scott—and I don’t even need cat genes to know that.”
“Now you’re teasing me, Jill Corban, aren’t you?”
“No Dr. Scott, I never tease. James is the tease in our family. I’m just the chameleon. I may change colour but I don’t change my mind. You are weathering very well and are quite handsome yourself.”
They stood at the second story window and looked over the night lights of Alice Springs. Michael took her in his embrace, pulling her around to face him, one arm around her waist, his hand resting in the small of her back. He ran the fingers of his other hand through her hair, brushing the long red threads from her face and moving to grasp the ends of her green silk scarf.
“May I? Can I take your hair down?” She nodded and he untangled the knot to drop the scarf to the floor before running his fingers through the topknot releasing her hair from the pins that had held it loosely in place. He cupped her chin in his palm turning her face to his, covering her lips with his. A kiss so deep and long, so overpowering in its sweet taste, it melded her body into his and their breath flowed and exchanged, their love released at last.
Michael lifted his lips from hers and murmured in her ear, “We’re wasting time.”
“I’m shy Michael. It’s so long…I’m scared I’ll disappoint you.”
“And you think I do this on a regular basis and I’m in a position to judge and make comparisons?”
“I’m as nervous as you are. Being a doctor doesn’t mean I don’t have self doubts like everyone else.”
She buried her head against his chest, a sudden onrush of anticipation causing her legs to tremble.
“Let’s just start slowly and follow where it leads us,” Michael said.
She allowed him to lead her to the edge of the bed, and stood frozen, her nervous tension making her body rigid. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears as he turned off the lights and folded back the bedspread before wrapping her in his embrace once more. She shivered from either nerves or the evening chill, she didn’t know which.
“Cold? I’ll soon warm you up” and with a deep intake of breath Michael removed her pashmina shawl, slipped the straps of her sun frock off her shoulders and turned her around so he could unzip the back of her dress. He eased her frock down to the floor and in response to his gentle pressure behind each knee she lifted her feet to step out of it and kick her sandals off at the same time. Now she stood barefoot in her bra and panties and his warm hands lingered to stroke her hips before turning her around to face him. He took her hands in his and placed her palms on the front of his shirt, against the buttons.
Oh, they were taking turns? Now she had a plan to follow her shaking eased. She unbuttoned his shirt, easing it off his shoulders and taking each arm out of its sleeve tossed the shirt aside. Relaxing into the rhythm she knelt to untie his shoes, to slip his feet out and slowly peel his socks off his feet. The idea that removing socks could be so sensual had never occurred to her before. They too went the way of the shirt, thrown in the general direction of a chair in the corner.
“My turn.” Michael’s husky tones sent a shiver of anticipation up her legs to end deep inside her. He reached behind her, his hands gentle on her skin and unclipped her bra to slip the straps off her shoulders arm after arm, releasing her breasts from captivity to freedom. Pouting proudly, her nipples stood so stiff they ached, their dull pain matching the beat of her heart.
Bending his head his tongue flicked and circled each nipple taking turns to tease them. Muscles deep in her pelvis tightened and dragged and between her thighs dampness tingled. He slid his hands down her back to slip under the gathered band of silk and lace. Twin travelers they caressed her skin taking the fabric down as they moved lower over her buttocks until his fingers grasped her cheeks, moving ever closer to her heat.
Desire rose like a flood and she pressed his head against her breasts with one hand while her other hand pushed her silk panties down her thighs and legs to quickly step out of them. She cupped his chin in her palms, running her fingers up his jaw line into his thick brown curls, urging him to meet her lips with his. Her hunger rose to another level as his tongue explored her mouth. His scent excited her. Not the smell of aftershave or cologne, but Michael, all hers.
A long breathe, and she slid her hands down his chest following the silky trail of curls to his waistband. Still locked in their kiss she blindly felt for and found the top catch and then the zip, sliding it down, pushing the cloth away. It hindered her. He shrugged out of his trousers and her hands searched and found the evidence of his lust erect and hard, straining to be free of its prison. Now it was her turn.
She searched, fingertips leading her palms, pushing fabric away and down until she could free his pulsing rod and cup his warm tight sacs. She broke their kiss, and wrapped her other hand around his penis, curling her fingers and walking them up and down its length like playing a piano, her tongue circling his erect nipple. Michael moaned a low note and began to tremble, his desire tensing, his body hard against hers.
Her nervousness vanished, drowned by desire, and she spread her legs ready to receive him as his knees buckled pulling his shaft from her grip and leaving her hands resting on his shoulders, where she stroked her fingers over his neck and the top of his back…