Ranting under her breath she carried the heavy shopping up the long street home.
She let her mind drift to the waiting heater and a refreshing cider.
It was definitely raining now when she set out had been nothing more than a light drizzle.
It was only when she put her bags down at her doorstep that she came to realised her problem. Keys. She could see them in her minds eye next to the empty coffee cup with a hire company name on it, on her desk at work. Damn! Abbey sighed and took a longing look at the soggy bags of groceries.
She hedged her bets and made her way down the little lane to one side of her apartment block, sloshing in the over grown alley way until she got to her window, Abbey hoped to be able to jimmey it open and climb in through the study. After a half hearted attempted, she discovered it was tricky to get the sticky old frame to budge. By now she was soaked to the skin.
She swore and grumpily headed around into the enclosed area at the rear of the block. She had only nipped down to pick up a few things, after an exhausting day and now Abbey felt deflated and harassed. This was not a good start to a what could have been a much-needed relaxing evening. As she rounded the corner into the large, comfortable backyard area, she failed to notice it was lit pleasantly with bud lighting and the barbecue shone in the warm winter light, the glass glistened in the rain, and perhaps, at any other time the view would have been comforting. Now she eyed it with irritation. All she saw was a cold area, and a man smoking in the shadows. At least she might make her way out of the rain if she asked whoever-it-was.
How she was to enter her own apartment? Abbey cursed her lack of a phone once more and wondered if the man might able to help her. Dripping wet, her hair plastered to her head, her shirt clung to every cold inch of her torso. In a word - miserable. She felt the rain run off the bridge of her nose. Defiantly she shook her head before speaking.
He stepped further forward into the light when she addressed him. Crushing his cigarette underfoot and pocketing the butt, the man looked up in surprise. She was met with bright green eyes. His brown hair flopped in an unfashionable style over an eye. Abbey was a little taken aback at how good-looking he was and he was far more relaxed than she and drier. Abbey felt at a distinct disadvantage.
"I live here. I'm new. Why? Do you? Out drowning rats this evening I see." He grinned. "Nice weather for some."
Her heart did a strange flip flop and she put the sensation down to relief from desperation, this strange man might be able to help her get home after all.
"I've locked myself out."
His eyes smiled at her and he fought it back from reaching his lips. Abbey laughed despite herself.
"Yeah, yeah this sucks. I just need a phone to get my mate to drop some keys around, can I borrow yours?"
For a moment he met her eyes evenly without looking away. The air crackled and Abbey chose to think it was from the impending lightning storm.
He opened the back door with a key and held the door out. As she walked into the corridor Abbey sighed with relief. At last, she was away from the incessant rain and it shouldn't be long before she would be dry too. She shivered. Her clothes stuck to her frame.
"What's your name?" She asked quietly through chattering teeth as he opened the door to his apartment.
As the door swung open she was treated to a wave of warmth.
"I've just had the central heating fixed. Neat timing. I'm Highfield."
She shot him a quizzical look. Highfield extended a warm dry hand towards her and grinned.
"What's you're real name?"
"You're name is Willard?"
"Yeah it totally is."
Abbey borrowed Highfield's phone and rang Anita, who promised to make the trek in the rain in about 30 minutes. She hung up and looked at Highfield. Large toned muscles stood out from the sleeves of his powder blue polo shirt. He was hot.
"Take a photo. It lasts longer."
Abbey blushed. She wanted to sit but her clothes were sodden.
"I'll get you a towel while you wait..."
"That would be perfect."
"Like you." He said as he disappeared out the door.
"Excuse me?" Abbey doubted he'd heard her and was left wondering if she had heard correctly.
Highfield came back with a large and fluffy green towel exactly the colour of his eyes.
"Your mother bought you this?"
She took it gratefully and started to dry her dripping head.
"That she did. You're good."
Abbey found herself blushing.
"It matches your eyes."
"Yeah and I was just standing here hoping you didn't have a girlfriend."
The words were out before Abbey could hold them back. A silence offered itself to the room.
"You're hot" Highfield shot back. The moment crackled on.
"Yeah, I can see you've got talent. I like my women wet."
He walked right up to her, until they were almost touching.
"You're clothes are kinda, clinging. And those curves..."
He didn't make any move to touch her as she stood in front of him, the towel in her free hand. Her grey shirt was indeed sticking to everything; her breasts, her tummy. She made a belated attempt at dignity, holding the shirt away from her chest self consciously.
"You know what they say, what's seen cannot be unseen."
Abbey shot him a bewildered look.
"And trust me, it's ok. I'm not eager to forget."
Highfield still didn't move an inch. She thought fleetingly that he looked a few years older than she was.
"My apologies. Let me get you a dry shirt, if it's making you uncomfortable." And he ambled out of the room.
What was happening to her? Perhaps the storm was driving her crazy. Here she was, in the lounge room of a man she barely knew, saying the strangest bluntest things. Something about the whole situation was making her blood sing, her heartbeat pound in her ears. Abbey didn't like it. The whole evening was beginning to spiral completely out of her control.
He came back with a whisky, a pair of tracksuit pants and a large, light blue sloppy joe.
"Bung these on for the time being, Spunk-Rat, before I do weird things to that lovely body"
Abbey blushed red to the roots of her hair, Boldly she decided to accept the situation for what it was.
"Why?" she heard herself saying. She was wide eyed. "What would you do?"
"Well first Crazy Rain-Lady, I would... hey what's your name?"
"Well Abbey" Highfield began huskily "I'd like to give you a hand getting out of these clothes."
And in a moment Highfield was closing the distance between them. He clasped her cold wrists between his thumb and forefinger and raised her hands above her head. He smelt of spice and sandalwood, slightly musky and very male. Her shirt came off. Highfield whistled but he made no move to touch her. He slipped the hoodie on, over her head. Next, he helped her ease the wet sweat pants from her cold, clammy legs. They puddled sadly on the floor. Grabbing her hand in his much larger one, he helped her step free of the wet mess. Her small frame was swamped in the blue hoodie and already, she felt much warmer.
"Fine lady?" he said softly.
Highfield was quite close. She inhaled his intoxicating scent.
"Do you feel better?"
"I couldn't have been wetter" She immediately regretted her words, worse, her comment did not go un-noticed. Highfield raised an eyebrow.
"I'm much better now." She quickly added.
"Your friend will be here soon with your keys."
Suddenly remembering the whisky he scooped it up from the small coffee table.
"Share this with me?"
She gratefully accepted the glass and took an appreciative sip. All things said and done she was heating back up nicely. It was a relief to be away from the rain.
"It's been a hairy afternoon" Abbey offered lamely.
"I'm a hairy afternoon."
Charmed, Abbey laughed. She sat on the vinyl couch, her wet thighs and knickers made a rubbery noise as she shifted. She ignored it. Highfield looked at the tracksuit pants still in his hand and the woman in front of him comfortably sporting one of his jumpers like a dress. He folded the sweats over a chair and sat with her.
"How come we've never met?"
"This is my sister's place."
"Oh. Do I know your sister?"
"I don't know, do you? She's short, her name's Dinkum"
"I'd remember that."
She looked at him steadily, wanting him desperately to touch her again. He didn't.
"Thank you for doing all this. I... I'm just an idiot really. I left my keys at work. Holey fuck is this place a fortress."
"It does have some crazy security. I mea, that's good. I guess. At least I got to meet you."
They sat in silence. Abbey sipped her drink, feeling the whisky curling around her frozen insides and unlocking the icicles, dislodging the discomfort.
"What do you do?"
"I don't want to talk about my job, or the evening. How about we concentrate more on the beautiful, semi-naked addition to my lounge room."
At that moment Abbey felt brave and indestructible. Giving him a long, slow, assessing look that traveled from his lap up to amazing green eyes, she felt the moment pop and burn around them. Then very gently, almost imperceptibly, Highfield lent towards her. Abbey let him. He kept his eyes open until he was within millimetres. He set his warm, soft lips atop hers, planting a kiss. Just as gently as he had descended, Highfield retreated. Her lips tingled.
"I'll stop this if you want me to."
She turned towards him and cupped his unfamiliar, stubbly face in her hands. God, he was beautiful.
"I don't think that's really necessary."
Highfield grinned back at her, the kind of full scale grin that lit his sexy eyes from within. Abbey felt a rush of emotion and pushed it to one side. For tonight, she did not want to think. Highfield ran a finger along her jaw.
"You have a magic about you." Highfield said softly.
"Don't be ridiculous. We're both attracted to one another, tell it like it is."
For a moment Highfield looked taken aback. He tried to hide it.
"I'll take whatever you want to give" Highfield heard himself saying.
The seconds that ticked by were warm and ponderous. He leaned in to bridge the distance between them, but instead of planting a kiss, he let his hands wander, feeling his way through his own jumper onto her curves. Abbey closed her eyes as his big warm hand continued, first up to her ribs, close to the throbbing underside of her heavy breast and then on her thigh, where the material ended.
Only then did he really kiss her, a slow sultry exploration, almost like a question mark. Her full lips met his and she sighed into his mouth, the molten heat of his tongue probing deeper. Abbey became aware of the knock at the door.
"Anita" she said softly, creating distance between them.
As she got up to answer she looked back at the disheveled man on his own couch. Through his jeans she could see the strength of his erection. She smiled to herself and then back at him.
"I'll get the keys."
Abbey opened the door without looking back and stepped out into the hall.