As she proceeded to talk, he hesitantly inched his fingers closer to her, as if casually stroking the bench, hoping to reach out and touch her hand resting on the bench between them. Not knowing what to expect, he didn’t dare breathe when he saw her hand stir toward his. Slowly, tentatively, their fingers drifted toward each other as her chest rose and fell in a visible flutter, and his breath suddenly became belabored.
When their fingers finally touched, it jolted through him like the time he reached into a rat hole in Five Points, and felt the sharp sting of those tiny teeth nibbling at his hand.
He shook his head. Rats? Ridiculous. Breathing more easily now, he curled his large hand over her small one as a sense of belonging washed over him. It seemed as if he had come ‘home.’
She must have felt it as well. She shifted her body closer to him, enabling their hands to intertwine more tightly together. There was no talking now, just holding onto each other as the afternoon air chilled, foreshadowing the nip of evening.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her swivel her head casually toward the western edge of the park, and following her gaze, he spied two indistinguishable female figures, one thin, and the other stout, like two anamorphic shapes against a darkening background.
Excerpt from Genteel Secrets by S.R. Mallery
Included in Love in Times of War