Hand in Hand
By Maureen Vreeland
Freeport, Florida

The sunlight pirouetted across the lake, dancing for their pleasure. As they walked hand in hand along the shore, neither was aware of the envy their closeness aroused in others. Nor did they notice the heads that turned or the wistful eyes that followed their progress. In their lovers' world, they were their own universe. For a time, they strolled in silence, their only communication the gentle touch of hands nestling in reassuring familiarity. Then, as if on cue, both stopped to take in the glories of the day.

It was autumn, their favorite time of year. The trees were dressed for Indian summer, each flaunting its colors in an attempt to outdo its neighbor. An occasional featherbed cloud accented the pure blue of the sky. The sun, golden in the heavens, became silver as it touched the lake. The day was as close to perfection as nature would allow.

Although it was bright and warm, the wind bore the telltale chill that presaged winter. She shivered as a sudden gust skittered across the lake.
"Let me warm you up," he whispered, wrapping his arms around her. "There. Is that better?"
"Oh yes."
She snuggled into the comforting warmth of him, resting her head against his shoulder. Even in the crisp fall air, the scent of his aftershave lingered pleasantly.
"See that sugar maple?" he asked, leaning his head to the left.
"Yes,” she said. “Those red leaves are breathtaking."
"That's what caught my attention. The color reminds me of the highlights in your hair when the sun shines on it." His lips gently brushed her forehead.
She pulled away from him slightly, rewarding his compliment with a smile. For a moment they stood gazing at each other.
"God, you're beautiful." His voice was husky, his words a soft caress. She blushed with pleasure.
"You know, you're not half bad yourself."
She reached up to trace the curve of his cheek.
"I'd like to kiss you right now," he teased, "but I'll wait. Anticipation will heighten the excitement."
"I think you just did kiss me with your eyes."
"I wish we could be alone," he murmured, "I mean, in private."
"Be patient, my love. It won't be much longer. Remember, anticipation …"
"I know, I know, will heighten the excitement. But until then..." He took her in his arms, holding her as tightly as he could. "I love you so much."
"And I've never loved anyone more." She returned his embrace with matching intensity.
They stood for a time, totally content in the sanctuary of each other. Then, with a sigh, they turned to retrace their steps. Neither wanting to surrender the intimacy of their stolen moment, their embrace remained unbroken. It simply flowed into arms about each other's waist, then once again to walking hand in hand.
"I suppose we'd better be getting back," she said wistfully. "They'll probably be wondering where we are." "And probably wondering what we've been doing," he added.
As they approached the house, he gave her hand a conspiratorial squeeze.
"Let's give them something to talk about," he suggested, pulling her close.
Suddenly, the front door flew open. A familiar voice filled the autumn air.
"Look, Grandma and Grandpa are kissing again!"

Maureen Vreeland was born and raised in Michigan. She relocated to the Florida panhandle four years ago with her husband and two cats. They live in a log home on the bayou. She began writing in grade school, and has written poetry, short stories, plays, interviews for a law journal and guest columns for her local newspaper in Michigan. Her current and most challenging project is a novel.

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