Chrissy, who has no last name, is the narrator of a story called The Haven in my collection of love stories, My Last Romance and other passions. She is a woman in a difficult situation, a girl from a middle class background who married a man she truly loves but does not feel worthy of. While doing volunteer work to restore an old seaman's haven in their waterfront town, Chrissy meets Stash, a retired mariner who runs the haven. Everything about him mesmerizes her, and, though she loves her husband, this quiet, simple man can give her something that her affluent husband cannot. I struggled a lot with Chrissy. I found her difficult to understand. But I finally realized that sometimes loving one person opens up a heart enough to make room for more love.
I slip into the warm silence and inhale the winsome fragrance of ancient wood, morning coffee, and men. Only two sounds invade the space, the steady tick-tock of a sea captain’s clock on the fireplace mantle in the common room and a steady thumping sound, crockery moving back and forth on wood, that comes from the kitchen.
He stands in the light-filled kitchen. Everything here is simple—plain, scrubbed wood, undraped tables, walls covered with unframed charts and maps. This could as easily be a Shaker meeting room or a monastery.
His back is to me as he bends over the table. His arms and shoulders move steadily, rhythmically, and I realize he is kneading bread dough in a glazed brown bowl sitting on a folded linen towel. Whish-thump, the bowl rocks back and forth on the table under the expert movements of his big hands. Whish-thump.
I step quietly toward him, slide my arms around his waist, and snuggle as close as I can get, pressing my face into the rough wool of his well-felted sweater.
"I smelled your perfume," he says and from the tone of his voice I know he is smiling.
"I couldn’t wait to get her today," I say, kissing his back between his big shoulder blades. "I’ve wanted you all morning."
He turns holding his sticky, dough-caked hands out and away. He sits on the edge of the table and lets me cuddle close wrapping his forearms around my shoulders. I kiss him. God, I love his face! It is hard and lined and bony with a nose and jaw that are too big and eyes that are like hematite nuggets set under bushy, untameable brows. Everything about Stash has a wildness to it, a rocky, brokenness just on the edge of ruin, and yet so delicious in its wanton imperfection.
"You didn’t come to work then?" he teases. His eyes twinkle and I am lost.
I kiss his mouth and he kisses back gently, sweetly. "I want you." I feel bold and wicked speaking my desires to him.
He smiles and turns back to his bread dough. It is a charming thing to me that this huge, wise, self-assured man shies in the face of my desire for him. It has been like that from the beginning. The man I met on my first foray into the no-man’s land of the Seaman’s Haven was warm, friendly and cooperative. If he felt desire for me he never let it show but now when I catch him looking at me he brims over with it.