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Stuart Aken

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Ten Love Tales
by Stuart Aken   

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Books by Stuart Aken
· Breaking Faith
· Ten Tales for Tomorrow
· The Methuselah Strain
                >> View all



Publisher:  Smashwords ISBN-10:  B004VXNV1C Type: 

Copyright:  April 9, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781458054593

Love stories to make you smile and sigh. Nothing to upset your maiden aunt here.

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Stuart Aken

 These love sotries were written to inspire smiles and happy feelings. There is no raw sex, no violence and no offensive language. Just a bunch of romantic stories to uplift the spirit.


Cooling Under a Foreign Sun

She prowled a pace behind him along Walsroder Strasse. Just taller, his muscular breadth made him appear her height. He might've been Mediterranean except that her fluent French barb provoked a growled reply in solid English tinged with northern vowels.
The clean streets of Fallingbostel blazed with heat and light under summer noon. Sunlight struck every smooth surface, slicing neat deep shadows and etching sharp reflected rhomboids onto baking pavements. As they passed through Kirchplatz, heat shook the air; melting shops and houses opposite into shimmering patches of bright colour, dazzling light and impenetrable shade.
They reached the ice-cream parlour and found the door closed against the scorching air. He opened it. She hesitated until heat and her desire for cool refreshment persuaded her to lead him inside, though she had wanted him to enter first so he would have to order. Knowing he knew this, she resented his superficial good manners.
Their tension had started at Hanover Airport: the girl in the car-hire office initiating it. As agreed, he had used his faltering German to organise the car. The girl had heard five imperfect words and, smiling efficiency, interrupted him in excellent English. This one curtailed attempt had stopped him even trying with their hostess, Anneliese, on arrival at her house.
'Her English will be almost entirely gone now, you know.' She had told him before they had left. 'You'll have to at least try some Deutsch.'
'I'll try. Promise.' And he had leafed through a dog-eared copy of German Made Simple.
In the ice-cream parlour, she sat by the window, her back to the light so he must either stare out at harsh sunlight or in at her. Only two days earlier, she had been all his eyes desired. He had cherished her presence as a treasure. But that was before she had shown her disappointment at his refusal to try the home language, as a matter of simple good manners.
Now he glared perversely into sunlight, the brilliance crinkling his face to a squint that hardened his eyes into dark slits of truculence.
She ordered: a concession, except she spoke colloquial Italian to the waiter, underlining her criticism of his reluctance to try another tongue. Once the waiter left, her man looked at her.
'We can't all be linguists, you know.'
Her stare was cooler than the ice cream the waiter brought her with his warm smile.
In her slender hand, the long spoon was elegant as she shaved soft curls of flavour from the fantasy. As each spoonful approached the dark cavern of her mouth, her sensuous lips parted in deliberate provocation.
He dug in: shovelling great dollops of light confection into his jaws, hardly sampling the flavours, barely noticing the succulent fresh fruit as he gulped each mouthful down and shoved in the next. She viewed him with distaste, understanding his boorish display was punishment for her continued coolness. Before her spoon was level with the top of her tall glass, he was finishing; his spoon clattering the sides as he scoured out final traces.
With no more to consume, his eyes made tired by the glare outside, he was drawn back to her. Though he tried to stare elsewhere, she pulled him in. It was her mouth that spoke so many tongues, the mouth that had kissed his long before he had had the courage to brush it uninvited with his lips, that attracted him; she knew. Yet gender and the game demanded he remain aloof and distant for as long as she was cool.
Growing impatient at her provocative dawdling, and torn between his need to capitulate and his male desire to make her give in first, he began tapping the table with his fingertips.
She bore the irritation for some minutes, her cold treat slowly vanishing with her patience. At last, she would stand no more: between moist voluptuous lips she cleaned her spoon then rapped it on his knuckles.
His surprise and brief annoyance at her assault was quickly replaced by triumph that she had reverted to their native tongue. He saw it as submission; a sign of truce.
He was magnanimous in victory. 'Pardon, ma Cherie.'
No match for her mastery, nevertheless his schoolboy French was also a signal. Two days at loggerheads were more than enough for both of them. She assessed him for sincerity and found it lurking behind his public mask of gentle mockery. Her free hand softly enclosed the one she had attacked, acknowledging his apology. He made to cover hers with his other but she withdrew, not yet ready for complete surrender.
'I don't expect you to be a linguist.' She made it sound self-evident. 'I simply hoped you'd make an effort.'
Neither of them needed other words and she finished her ice cream in silence but with her eyes and his engaged. He paid; using faltering German for the transaction. Delighted at his effort and the unspoken acceptance of responsibility it carried, she smiled for him.
Outside, heat burned into them, baking skin with its intensity. Dark glasses hid their eyes from light and from each other, obscuring temporarily required signals and sentencing them to silence in case words alone were misunderstood.
In the Kirpark, he commented again on the cleanliness and order: memories of omnipresent litter marring flowerbeds and shrubberies back home, calling into doubt his previously unquestioned faith that their homeland must be best.
They crossed the gentle Bohme on the elegant arc of sun-bleached wood. At the turnstile he paid cash for tickets without prompting. She marked his halting German and squeezed his hand in gratitude.
He released her fingers and stepped into the men's room as she moved to the women's changing area. When he emerged, confident in black Speedos, she surprised him, waiting and ready; hair tied back, exposing neck and shoulders: only the lilac halter lace trespassing.
Their eyes connected and fingers joined as they walked barefoot over spotless tiles. Beneath the cold shower he accepted icy water on his cropped head, his toned and honed bronzed body. She was tentative; her hair untouched by freezing needles, skin barely moistened as she kept her distance. He grinned at her shrinking from the cold sprinkling but neither teased nor dragged her squealing under it; too soon for such lovers' games.
At the bigger pool, underpopulated in spite of the heat wave, she faltered. He dived; cutting clear blue water with barely a ripple. Shamed by his daring, she crouched and sat; legs dangling before she eased herself into the pool. Cool liquid rose around her and she gasped and moved shapely limbs from side to side as if to warm them by the motion. By the time she let the water cover her, he had swum a length and was returning.
His brisk crawl brought him level as her careful breaststroke took her five metres from the edge. She watched him pass, marvelling at muscled arms that pulled him through water with such ease.
He turned and swam up close beside her, slowed his pace to match her own and flipped onto his back to swim with her. 'Slowcoach.'
'Show-off: we can't all be gold medallists.' Her mild rebuke came with laughter, love and not without some envy of his mastery and grace in water. She saw the love and humour in his eyes and visited the memories she saw in those dark pools.
Cool water cradled them as they were passed by a lone determined swimmer and they, in turn, passed through the small group of social water lovers playing tag. At every turn, they changed position to keep each other in sight and present alternate faces to the unrelenting sun.
An hour passed and water finished what ice cream had started.
This time he had to wait, his short dark hair quickly dried. He hovered close by the door to the women's room and she heard him disarming with charm Die Frauen und Die Fraüleins who came and went around him.
At last, she came; her long hair, dried and glossy over shoulders, offering her reason for delay. He touched her hand, pressed a kiss against her mouth, received another in response.
The long walk home to their widowed hostess was a tedious trek in broiling heat. And, though the raw edge of their disagreement had been smoothed, the argument itself remained.
It was such a simple thing to ask of him: to talk in her own tongue to her old friend and one time tutor.
'It's such a hard thing you expect. It's difficult enough speaking a foreign language to strangers. Talking to your friend is almost impossible.'
The house was cool, empty, silent as they entered, but her friend soon appeared from the hidden reaches of her garden, bearing her proud produce. Asparagus in fine white spears larger than any they had seen and strawberries, so shiny red and succulent.
He squared his shoulders, ready for the fray, and greeted her, 'Guten Tag, Anneliese.'
In slow imperfect German, he thanked her for her hospitality and apologised for failing to attempt her language earlier.
She touched him softly for his effort and winked over his shoulder as Anneliese responded to his speech with rapid local dialect that lost him after two words. He turned to plead and found her grinning.
'Think he's earned his reward?'
The widow nodded. 'English from now on.' She laughed at his surprise and turned to her friend. 'Hollandaise sauce for the asparagus?'
His wife kissed him affectionately before she replied. 'And crême fraîche for the strawberries.'
He frowned at them.
She explained. 'If you'd known Anneliese spoke English so well, would you have bothered at all?'
She required no response. But he embraced and kissed her, acknowledging that she was right whilst reminding her what mattered most.
She took his hand and turned to face her friend. A silent message, needing no translation, passed between the women.
Anneliese smiled and spoke in English, so he would understand. 'I'll do the dinner. You two go and…rest. No need to hurry.'


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