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This is a continuation of this couple’s story, but with little explanation of their Chicago weekend in chapters 1-3. Most of these locations are real, although twisted as needed for the sake of fiction. The characters are of the imagination. Thank you!
The rain fell; a soft mist covered surfaces with a glaze of moisture. Cara looked out her office window at the gray. The tiny peek-a-boo view showed the Willamette River winding its way through downtown Portland.
“Cara. I’m getting coffee. You want one?”
She glanced up at Kevin just outside her office door with a carafe in hand. “Ummm. Sure, thanks. Do you mind taking this?” and she held out a black mug.
“Yea, you bet,” and then he was gone. Cara sat quietly, running two fingers through the hair at the nape of her neck.
It had been a month since Chicago. A whole month. On the busiest days, she almost forgot about it. On other days, her head spun. She needed to be close to him again. To feel him. She swiveled slightly in her chair and clicked open another email. Her phone gave a soft buzz.
“HEY YOU. JUST LANDED.”
Her cheeks flushed, warm and pink and she typed back.
They had texted on and off but hadn’t really talked. She had gotten loaded with projects. He always seemed busy with traveling or hosting clients. Today he was flying in for a pitch meeting.
“GETTING UBER TO HOTEL”
She smiled into her phone.
“GREAT. WHICH ONE?”
Her phone was quiet. She imagined him stretching his legs as his rose into the aisle, putting a bag over his shoulder.
And then a second later…
“HAD TO. : )”
Cara blushed. Mmmmm…..Hotel Monaco. The cheese platter, the animal print robes, the soft king bed, the prosecco. My God, what he had done with that prosecco bottle.
“Here you go.”
Cara startled at the noise from her door. “Sorry, what?”
“Your coffee.” Kevin held it out in front of him, the dress shirt pulling tight along his shoulder.
“OH!” She shrugged it off with a laugh. “Thank you,” she said taking it from him. “Hey, umm, I’ve got a new request from HP for a partner summit. Could you take a stab at the budget and review with me when you’ve got something together?’
He looked surprised at her question, but then smiled calmly. “You bet. I’ll have something for you by tomorrow. Just email me the specs if you would.”
“I will. Thanks,” she said and turned back to her phone.
Of course Tom was at the Monaco. She typed quickly.
“LOL. PERFECT. I’LL FIND YOU.”
She thought for a second.
“YOU DIDN’T BRING RUNNING SHOES DID YOU?”
She took a sip of coffee and waited. Her hand clicked open the HP email and two corresponding spreadsheets. She couldn’t concentrate. It was just a blur of lines and numbers. She needed to dump this off to Kevin, like now.
The phone buzzed again.
“U KIDDING? PACIFIC NW AND NOT SEE THE TRAILS?”
She took a deep breath.
“FREE THIS AFTERNOON?”
Putting her phone down, she tried again at the spreadsheets. No good. Still a blur.
“I AM. CLIENT MEETING IS 10AM TMRW.”
She calculated her morning…..and changing….and getting over the 10 blocks….
“I’LL COME TO YOU. AROUND 2PM. WEAR THE SHOES.”
She waited again for a response. Was he now calculating? Or maybe hesitating? But in the end, she got her answer.
Cara took another sip of coffee and smiled.
At 1:45pm, Cara left her 3rd floor office and took the stairs down and out onto the street. The rain had stopped but was expected later in the evening. There was the moist, slapping sound of car tires as they rolled thru wet pavement. It was lucky to still had the gym bag in her office. Nylon shorts felt a little thin but the zippered jacket over her tank helped. She hit the sidewalk at a light jog. A Portland street tram went by as she crossed behind it and worked her way over to the corner of Washington and 5th.
Like many of the buildings downtown, Hotel Monaco was a tall, handsome, gray stone structure. It was sandwiched tight into the core of the business district. One of the valets held the large glass door open as she entered the lobby. The jog had her feeling warm, but not sweaty, and she pulled her phone from a waist belt.
“I’M IN THE LOBBY”
She had a response within 10 seconds.
“COME TO THE BAR.”
Cara turned and walked into the doorway of the Red Star Bar and paused. Her stomach tightened. A couple of tables were occupied but he sat alone at the corner seat along the bar itself, half a glass of beer in front of him and a small empty plate. The bartender nodded, responding to something in their conversation. Tom sat relaxed, in long cotton shorts and a black t-shirt, his running shoes resting on the foot rail. She saw the line of his bicep as he reached for his glass. The bartender looked over as she approached, and Cara put her hand on the back of the second chair.
“Microbrew?” she questioned.
Tom swung his gaze to the right and smirked ever so slightly.
“Well…as a matter of fact…” He public agent porno pulled slightly on the back of her stool, so she could slide onto it.
“Hey you.” His voice deep and warm.
Cara smiled and dipped her head shyly. “Hey.”
Tom half turned in his chair, swinging a thigh toward her. “Thanks for coming over.”
“Are you kidding?” her eyes wide. She looked down at the bar top, and then met his gaze again. “Couldn’t wait.”
Tom watched her quietly. She saw his tongue gently touch the roof of his mouth. She reached forward very slowly, just brushing the backs of her fingers against the growth of his three-week beard. “This is new,” she offered smiling.
“Yea, I needed to change things up,” he said as he shrugged. “Is that ok?”
She chuckled softly. “Sure.” Pausing, she added “I’m not a fan of mustaches…but I like this. A lot.”
Her hand came back to her lap, but she stayed quiet.
“Sooooo, we’re going running, huh?”
Cara laughed through her nose and smiled, sitting a bit higher in her chair.
“Yup! She rubbed her hands on both thighs. “There’s a nature preserve in the hills just west of downtown. Forest Park. It’s awesome.”
Tom could smell the faintest scent of her. Like shampoo maybe, or lotion. He watched her thighs move and her hips fidget on the hard barstool. Damn, those nylon shorts.
“Nice. So, what’s in the park? Just trails?”
“Oh no…it’s huge. It has a Science Center, Portland Zoo, Arboretum, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden…everything. Also, this old mansion at the top. Killer view.”
Tom’s eyebrows lit up a bit. “Ahhhh. Ok, you had me at killer view. Let’s do that.”
She nodded once. “Good. Ready?”
Cara slipped off the bar stool. Tom signed his room number to the check, took a sip of beer, and they walked toward the front desk.
“I think I’m good without this,” she said pulling off the jacket and looking up at him. “Could I leave it here?”
Tom handed the Gortex to the front desk to hold. Then they turned and headed out past the valet. He put a hand on the small of her back, guiding her out the last set of doors. She pretended not to notice, but felt his touch run through every inch of her.
“I take the train into work, so I don’t have a car here downtown, however the park isn’t that far. We can Uber to the mansion at the top and then run the trails down.”
She ordered a ride and put the phone back in the fabric belt around her waist. Tom paused, looking down at her.
“How was your morning?”
Cara thought for a minute and sighed.
“It was alright. New project in from Hewlett Packard. I have one of my planners doing a quote.” She shrugged. “He’s new so we’ll see what happens.”
“Did you just hire him?”
“Yea, two weeks ago. But he’s pretty good. I need some redundancy and back up so I want a couple of people who know what I know.”
She crossed her arms to trap the warmth against her chest. “Who’s your client?”
Tom smiled slightly. “Can’t tell you. Haven’t landed them yet.” Cara thought he was teasing but then realized he wasn’t. He shrugged. “This one’s kinda sensitive.”
Cara raised her eyebrows feigning disappointment and pouted. She mocked a serious look. “What if I torture it out of you?” she teased.
His eyes roamed from her mouth to her shoulders and back again as he breathed in through his nose. “I dare ya.”
Before he could continue, the Uber arrived, and confirmed their destination of the Pittock Mansion. On the ride, she asked him about the plane ride, his trail races, his friends. After Chicago his texts would come in a short flurry, and then be gone, and then come again…describing his new car….how his dog wakes him at 4:30am…photos of trail running in shin deep mud.
Hermosa Blvd was tight and windy, and Cara turned away from him to look out the window. Tom saw her hand flexing against her knee. She breathed slowly and deeply.
“Hey, you ok?”
“Yea,” she smiled shyly. “My stomach doesn’t handle curvy roads unless I”m driving. We’re almost there anyway.”
The driver passed thru a stone gate and turned left into a parking lot. They jumped out and walked past a family with a stroller, two couples looking at maps, and a group of older women getting into the ticket line.
“Dang, I didn’t bring money,” Tom paused. “Thought we were just running.”
Cara tugged on the corner of his t-shirt sleeve and pulled him past the ticket booth.
“We are. It’s ok….tickets are for inside tours. We’re just going to the grounds.”
She guided him up a sidewalk path where a huge three-story stone mansion rose on their right-hand side. Smokey leaded glass obscured the interiors but as they passed the arched carriage drive-through and rounded the back, a wide terrace flowed onto a manicured lawn. Beyond the lawn, was one of the most beautiful views Tom had ever seen.
Cara sat down on the stone terrace steps and watched him, with hands on his hips, look out onto downtown Portland and the mountain range in the distance. Clouds had separated and cleared reality kings porno over the section looking East.
She waited a few moments and then filled in some blanks for him.
“That’s Mt. Hood. Over the city. Pointy…triangular. Glacial snow at the top all year long. It’s too cloudy today, but sometimes you can see 5 of the big volcanos from here. Including Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Saint Helens.”
From her seated position, Cara gazed at the back of his legs…past his calves and the tendons at his knees, to the shorts hanging off his hips and layered by the hem of his t-shirt. His hamstrings flexed as he moved to sit next to her.
“There’s also the aerial tram. Over there,” said Cara pointing to the left. “It goes from downtown up to the Health and Science University. Nice view from there as well. But that costs money. And this view is better.”
She crossed her arms and held her elbows, suddenly shy. He put his right arm around her shoulders. She chuckled and felt the warmth all along his arm.
“Sorry…I like playing tour guide.”
“Don’t be sorry. I love it.” Tom stroked her arm under his fingers. It was the first skin to skin contact he’d made.
As Cara tipped her head toward his shoulder, he felt his thighs tighten and wondered how long the run would take to get all the way to that front lobby again.
He was concentrating on the part of her hair that brushed his jaw when a preschool aged boy ran across the lawn in front of them. His yelling only vaguely caught Tom’s attention, but then he watched the set of parents to whom the boy had run. The woman was pointing off to the North.
Tom squeezed against Cara’s shoulder.
“Uhhhhh, that doesn’t look so good,” he said, nodding to the left.
The normal gray sky was showing a sharp line of heavy clouds, and the air was breezy.
Cara sat up straighter. “Shit. It’s not supposed to do that till tonight.”
She pulled away from his arm and stood up. “We gotta get going.”
They wound through groups of people, all heading to the parking lot. Cara lead him down the driveway and then broke into a jog on part of the twisting road until she turned onto a forested path. Tom glanced at the wooden sign as they went by…”Upper Macleay Trail.”
“Ok,” she said, “You ready?”
He nodded confidently. “Your forest. Lead on.”
Cara took off on the single-track path, her shoes light on the dirt. They were losing elevation, with a hill of ferns rising above them on the left and a drop-off on the right. He could hear water. Hundred-foot evergreen trees rose up from the depths beside him. Tom felt himself getting warm from the running but cooled from the misty wetness.
For half a mile they curved and swung around families of trees, sometimes rising short hills, but generally on a flat or downward pitch. The air smelled like bark. And mushrooms. It was harder to see the full sky, but he wondered when the weather would catch them.
“This is beautiful,” he called out.
She yelled back without stopping, “It’s better in the sun.” She took a few more strides. “I’m sorry, I really thought we’d make it back without getting wet.”
He gave her running room but stayed right with her. “I don’t care. This is just fine.”
He watched the soles of her feet kick back, one after the other, as each calf flexed hard. Her shoulders were relaxed but she occasionally lifted an arm out sideways for balance.
There was a light drizzle at first; he could feel it on his neck. And then raindrops, light but insistent. Cara seemed to push the pace and he kept up, watching for branches and small rocks. On one curve, Cara slid on a tree root, squealing, before regaining her footing. She continued running about 20 feet in front of him.
“Hey, don’t twist an ankle. I’m not carrying you.”
Cara laughed tightly. “Awe c’mon,” as she jumped a boulder lodged halfway into the path. “That sounds fun.”
“Seriously though, be careful when it downpours,” he yelled out.
Cara called back over her shoulder, breathing heavily between words.
“Dude…this is…Oregon. It doesn’t…downpour. Just…drizzles.”
She hurdled two more tree roots, and he did the same just behind her. He watched her ass flex and then jiggle on each stride. Yup, he liked the Oregon forest.
As his face started to moisten with raindrops, a deafening crack of thunder ripped directly overhead. Cara jerked, ducking on reflex.
“What the hell?!,” she cried.
Tom wasn’t sure how nervous to be amid all the damn trees.
Still keeping pace, he watched her curving left and then right around giant Douglas firs. Her auburn pony tail swung back and forth in a figure eight, turning a shade darker as it got wet. He felt the black cotton sticking to his chest. It made him wonder what she looked like from the front.
They could hear a downpour punching thru the top canopy of evergreens. Cara’s arms flailed out for balance and then pulled back into her body, swinging her forward. The large branches couldn’t protect against this volume of rain. Within seconds, she was wet…pouring rus porno rain dripping over her shoulders and down her arms.
The bark path turned to dirt, and then to mud. She wasn’t kicking mud onto him yet, but it was starting to splatter onto the backs of her calves, making brown streaks.
Another clap of thunder. And then a small flash. That’s what had him worried.
“How much longer do you think?” he yelled forward.
She slid down a steeper part of the path and slowed their pace to keep from falling.
“Maybe half mile on trail,” she called. “And then a mile or so from the park back through city streets.”
Up ahead the trail split at a fork. She had been taking the run at a decent pace but just caught the sign name in time…Wildwood. Cara skidded in the mud. As he tried to stop without crashing into her, his hands grabbed her on both hips as his chest just grazed her back.
“Whoa! Baby, what’s up?”
She grabbed his hand and pulled.
“Here. Better idea.”
She took off down the right-side path, letting go so he had room to run. They went another 100 yards down a narrower trail and pushed aside branches and a few ferns at their feet before breaking into a tiny clearing.
Tom jogged right into a fairytale.
Before him was a small, two-story cottage, completely in stone, sloped rafters but no roof, a stone staircase rising from the first to second floor that was exposed and only enclosed by two remaining walls. Every corner of the crumbling structure was covered in soft green moss where it dripped from the edges, glistening in the rain.
Tom halted, his mouth open and breathing deeply as he pulled in air. “Oh my God.”
Cara smiled. “No kidding,” she said breathing hard. Her eyes squinted and blinked in the heavy rain. She walked toward a blackened doorway and turned around to him with both arms outstretched.
“Welcome to the Witches Cottage,” she beckoned.
A flash of lightening and deafening crack of thunder, made her flinch again.
“Crap. Get in here,” she commanded.
Although the second floor and staircase were completely open to the weather, it covered the first floor, leaving it dark and dry. Cara walked thru a small archway and Tom ducked in behind her. Within the darkness, he could make out one main room with a smaller room, pitch black, attached at the back through another doorway.
Cara talked as she caught her breath.
“I knew about this but had forgotten it until seeing the remains of the old trail sign. Given the lightening, it’s a good spot to wait it out.”
It was the first time they had stopped running since leaving the mansion and Cara bent in half to put her hands on her knees and catch her breath.
Tom was breathing deeply, but still standing. He leaned a shoulder against the cool stone of the room and watched her. Strands of wet hair fell forward along her cheeks, dripping to the ground in front of her feet. He watched her back expand and contract with every deep breath she took, the wet tank plastered to her skin.
She answered a few of his unspoken questions.
“This is”… gasping…”the site of an old family home from the 1800’s. Lots of drama.” She breathed out. “The father killed a man who wanted to marry his daughter. Said his wife had ‘bewitched’ him and made him do it.”
She lifted her head and threw him a look with an evil twinkle in her eye.
“Some think it’s haunted.”
Tom took a step toward her along the wall. She was now only 3 feet away, her bottom backed up against the stone for support. Calming, Cara stood up and wiped the wetness from her forehead and temple back into her hair.
“The storm will move pretty quickly,” she offered.
Tom gazed at the whole front of her…the mud splattered up her calves, the sheen of her nylon shorts sticking to her thighs, the soaking tank plastered across her stomach and pulling between her breasts as they moved with her breathing, the faintest bud of her nipples showing hard beneath her running bra. Although smiling, she held her lips apart and licked the bottom one.
“I don’t know…” he said, “This is pretty nice.”
He wanted her. He’d thought of kissing her at the hotel, but needed to find out what that preoccupied, crazy mind of hers was thinking. She hadn’t really flirted much. Or touched him, besides the stroke of his beard. Did she not want Chicago? He had to find out.
One step closed the distance between them as he cradled her wet head in his fingers. Her lips parted as she relaxed her neck and tilted backward. That was permission enough. He covered her mouth with his.
He was kissing her again. It was mind numbing. Cara moaned without thinking. His face was wet, but his tongue was warm and soft as it caressed her upper lip. Fingers pushed further onto the back of her head, digging into the wet mass of hair, as he drew his tongue to the front of her teeth and then slid in, caressing her again.
She pulled against him, kissing the corner of his mouth and suckling his tongue. The beard tickled her chin as she moved over him. Her hands curved around the middle of his back, holding the ridge of muscle to balance herself. And to pull him closer. He could feel her breasts molding to him, at the bottom edge of his chest. He left one hand under her jaw and slid the other around her shoulder and down her back, splaying his fingers across the flair at her hips.
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