The Third Time
It had been a long night coming and even so, after the frenetic escapade at The Castle, winding up with Mrs. Tishell's taking a trip to hospital in Truro, Doc Martin and Louisa Glasson still had to get home, care for James, make dinner and allow the tension to slip away like the bright harrowing day did as the sun set over the ocean. There was cleaning up the dishes and Martin calling two patients who had left messages, and the long calming of a crying baby.
Finally, there was silence, various toiletries and getting ready for bed.
"Don't put on your pajamas," Louisa said, already in a thin, black nightie, as Martin bent over an opened drawer of his dresser. She was sitting in their bed, her lush dark brown hair falling around her neck and down passed her shoulders.
"Why not?" Martin asked.
"Say it again."
"You know. For the fourth time."
Martin stood up. "Again?"
"I don't understand—"
"Just say it, once more."
He stared at her a moment, and then obeyed. "I love you."
At those words, Louisa took off her nightie, allowing her naked upper body to gleam in the rays of the early moonlight. Her eyes looked down, and for a moment her insecurity and awkwardness overtook her, and her hand tightened on the nightie. She dared to glance up, and was rewarded. Martin stood staring at her, the dresser forgotten, his eyes grey and soft, like the early magic of twilight.
"I'm so happy hearing you say that. Now, tonight, I was thinking we should…you know…it's been too long…." she whispered, hating herself for struggling with the words, as her heart beat hard both in trepidation and anticipation. Martin held the cards—he could so easily ruin it by a word, a phrase, or he could make it wonderful.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
"I'm sitting here naked, so I think—"
"No, I mean….are you….no longer sore?"
Oh. "No, I'm not sore."
He came to the bed, undressing in a smooth yet urgent manner; off came his tie, his jacket, his shirt, his socks, shoes, and trousers. She named each item in her head as they fell, unusually for the tidy Martin, to the floor. Only his boxers remained and only her underwear. He slid under the covers and for the first time in months, did not impress in the covers a dented line between them.
There was only the slightest pause, a moment of nervous hesitation. She prayed he would not speak, not ruin anything, and just caress her, just do what he knew so well to do. Her memories of his cunning fingers made her shiver with need.
"Louisa…" was all he said, so softly she barely heard it, but it set her skin tingling. Being so near Martin her blood blazed a fire coursing through her womb, and she felt that urge to merge into him, to lose herself in him.
"I love you," Louisa blurted out, terrified of those words, the pain and rejection associated with them in her past, risking it all to say them.
It had been a long time since she had said those three words, and the cursed spell seemed miraculously broken.
Whether it was telepathy, or simply the mutual desire to be silent, he blessedly received the words by closing his eyes, and when they opened, they seemed a touch moister. She leaned her head towards him, his hand caressed her face, and she brought her lips to his. There was an ardent flurry of touching and kissing, a rediscovery of bodies aching to be found, explored, and conquered. In their eventual joining, tangible pleasure emanated from them as a primitive force, and glorious cries filled the room. Their arms were entwined around each other's bodies and held fast and tight, parent to parent, partner to partner, and, once again, finally, lover to lover.
When they were resting in bed, slightly sweaty and immensely contented, Louisa lowered her head onto Martin's chest, as he rubbed her back, and she listened to the lub-dub of his heart drumming his personality in the beat: steady, stolid, routine. It was all good right then, very good, a good day, a good outcome, good words, and, she smiled adding, good sex. If it was always like this…
Martin spoke, "We shouldn't need birth control while you're still breast feeding. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method can last up to six months after birth."
Louisa inhaled an extra gallon of air and let it all out in a slow and saddened sigh. She pulled away from him and turned on her side, facing the bedroom wall.
"Did you mean what you said?" she asked a few minutes later.
"Yes, you shouldn't menstruate for another four months."
"No, no, not that. That you would stay here, for me, if I wanted to stay here, to be with me."
"I've signed a contract."
"I know. But, did you mean what you said?"
She wished to feel his hand touch her back, and there it was, resting against her spine. She leaned back into it.
"Yes," he said. "I'll stay here to be with you."
"But, you really want to leave. To be a surgeon again in London."
"Yes." His hand moved to her hip. "And you resigned."
"I know…" she said, turning to kiss his forehead goodnight. "I know."
"If you persist in working in London, at least the students there likely won't lick the floor in dares."
Louisa clenched her lips together. She was so irritated with Martin insulting her students, again, and questioning her need to work, she couldn't even focus on what to say, or where to begin. Anger boiled up in her and she felt as if her fury inarticulately erupted, it would give voice to a scream they'd hear in Bude.
"And, if you want, we can get married. If you want," Martin added.
Her mouth dropped open. She turned her whole body around, so that it was fully facing him, knowing he didn't know how to joke, but wondering if he had suddenly learned. The vexation was held at bay, but not entirely dissipated. For a moment, facing him, she wished she wasn't naked. "Are you asking me to marry you?"
"I still can't bear to be without you," he said it softly, like a moth floating in the evening air. She remembered that line, what he had said nearly a tumultuous year ago, and what she had so fervidly responded to.
"We made love the first time that night," she recalled.
"Yes." He waited, his eyes so glistening soft it almost seemed like they would melt into a pool of salt water.
"I'll marry you, Martin, yes. But, after things are settled down." Painful memories flooded her brain. "Not in three weeks."
The two omnipotent words he used to express nearly everything positive.
"Yes, good," she agreed.
An unbelievable day—had every emotion been felt since morning? Longing, frustration, fear, panic, anxiety, anger, concern, confusion, realization, love, connection, lust; it was exhausting to think about. And, now, ending with commitment-a second chance, a hope that this time they could get it right.
They kissed and allowed their fatigue to overpower them; resting arm to arm, they slipped away into a long needed sleep.