"Shall I walk you back to your side of the park?"
Lena smiled. "That would be lovely."
The shouts from the boaters as they crossed the Serpentine Bridge reminded Lena of the rescue. Was it only yesterday? She squeezed Charles' hand. He had taken it without comment when they began walking and she thrilled to the feel of his warm fingers. He had large hands that looked soft despite the recent scratches that adorned them.
He must be new to this kind of life. Lena's heart melted again to think of the burden he bore. What was he doing at night that he couldn't tell her? Something that shamed him? Something that worried him? Could he be in some kind of trouble? Maybe he's living rough in the park!
Once the idea had flown into her head, she couldn't chase it away. Surely he had to wait for darkness to fall and hide himself. Lena wondered if she could find a way to get him to reveal this secret, turning the thought over in her mind as they walked through the bright cheerfulness of the late afternoon sun.
"I guess we should say good-bye," Charles said when they reached Clarendon Gate. He blushed a little as he said so, looking down at his feet.
"Thank you for a lovely day," Lena said, stepping closer to him.
Charles gazed at her with a smile. The white shock of hair flopped over his forehead as he tilted his head down to meet her eyes, those blue orbs of his shining brightly. "Thank you for a tasty lunch."
And just like that their lips were touching in the first soft exploration of a kiss. Lena closed her eyes to enjoy the bliss. Charles moved his hands up to cup her face as Lena opened her mouth. His tongue thrust between her lips and she wanted to melt right there. Their chests pressed together as his fingers slipped into her hair.
This could go on forever and I wouldn't mind a bit. Lena had no concept of how much time had passed before they pulled apart and looked blinking at each other. Charles grinned. Lena grinned back.
"One of us ought to say something," Charles said at last.
"Why?" Lena leaned back in for another kiss. She slid her hands around his waist and thrilled to contours of his body. How simple but strong was the pleasure of being close enough to feel the power of his breathing, the beat of his heart.
• • •