by Angela Guillaume
The first time I saw her she’d emerged from behind a mountain of magazines and newspapers. Like a mermaid rising from the ocean, a forest goddess surfacing from a blanket of autumn leaves.
Hair the color of night, a pair of doe eyes, pert nose and bow-shaped mouth that resided on unblemished olive skin. Proud, slender body. Lissom hands. Sweat glistened on her brow as she’d hauled inventory into her father’s store.
As beautiful at twenty-two as she was at seventeen. Inside and out—and so endearingly unaware of it. To her, beauty was just a word.
Tendrils of silky hair teased her face and caressed her elegant neck. I watched her move about, feet glued to the concrete under the store sign, Ghassam’s Corner Newsagent, glad the man for whom it was named was not in situ today.
The sight of her set my heart in a feverish rhythm, had me crave her touch. Because of her, I’d endured mistrustful looks and severe chidings for doing what I had no business doing—I, a son of Israel, daring to show interest in a daughter of Palestine.
Sensing my presence, she lifted almond brown eyes and smiled. Her expression contained an emotion I knew well; she’d given me the keys to her heart. She beckoned me in with a wave of her hand.
“Noah.” My name dripped like a honeyed sigh off her lips.
“Are you all set?” I asked, flicking a rogue strand of hair behind her ear and absently playing with the gold chain circling her neck. The one that held the ring I gave her last year.
She moved closer and slid her hand up my chest. I ached for her.
“My uncle takes over in an hour. I told everyone I’m meeting a girlfriend by the Hudson. They won’t expect me until late. My bags are in the back; you can take them with you now.”
“Good. Our flight leaves at eight sharp. No delays. The company will reimburse me when we get to Chicago. We’ll make a stop at City Hall first thing tomorrow and make sure you’re mine forever,” I said with a grin.
“Oh Noah . . .” She rose on tip-toe to press her lips to mine. My greedy hands explored her back through the wool of her sweater. I felt her body tremble, hungry like mine. Before we got carried away, she leaned back and gently cupped my face with her palms. Moisture brimmed over her eyes. “I can’t believe you waited this long for me. Seeing you at school, not able to love you openly—it was torture. Now you got this great new job and you still want me. To risk losing your family . . .”
“Shhh, stop that,” I interrupted. “We’re in this together. And there’s only one reason why, love.”
“If it wasn’t for us, how would peace begin?”
She laughed huskily and rewarded me with another kiss. A real one this time.