Chapter Six

Claire nervously waited for David and the kids to leave for the day so she could say goodbye to Tom on his last day in Hillsboro. She had cheated on her husband but she didn't care. Tom had revived something lost inside of her and he made her feel complete again, as though she mattered, as if her thoughts, opinions, comments and insights meant something. The sex was almost beside the point – although that was pretty good too! Tom made her feel loved and fulfilled and whole.

When she was certain her husband and kids were gone, Claire opened the door to her mother in law's apartment and entered Tom's abode for the last time. He had already packed up the apartment and loaded his car, returning the place to the way it looked when he moved in five months ago.

What a wonderful five months it had been. Their daily naked sessions reading books and his student papers, researching his projects on line, talking about current events, and debating topics of interest had been an education for Claire and she would be forever grateful to Tom for his interest in her – in mind, body, and soul.

Her lover was sitting on the end of the bed with a sad smile on his face when Claire appeared in the bedroom doorway.

"So, this is goodbye," he said, almost as if he couldn't quite believe it.

"This is goodbye," Claire confirmed as she began to disrobe for their final naked session together. The May sunshine brightened the room, leaving Tom in a glowing ray of warmth and beauty. He stood and began to undress too.

Naked now, her clothes clumped in a pile on the floor, Claire walked across the room, lay on her back on the bed and stretched herself, opening her legs for Tom as he fell on top of her to make love for the final time. There was renewed and energized passion between them knowing this was goodbye, Tom kissing her as he pumped himself inside her.

"I'm a writer but I have no words to tell you what you mean to me," Tom confessed as he slowly brought her to climax.

When they were finished, they lay cuddled together on the mattress in body sweat and the aroma of sex.

"I wish I didn't have to go," he mumbled. He turned his head to look at her. "And I can't convince you to go with me, can I?" He sighed knowingly.

"I wish I could," Claire replied honestly. "But you know I can't."

"I will miss our morning sessions," Tom said.

"Me too," she smiled bravely.

"I'll be in Albany for the summer," he said.

"It doesn't matter," Claire replied. "Once you walk out that door, you're gone from my life." She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. "But I won't forget you. And when I'm sitting in my class at Blue County Community College this fall I will remember all that you taught me and all that you impressed upon me."

"You'll be the best student in the class," Tom said with confidence.

She sighed and Tom felt her tears on his chest as she tried to stifle a sniffle.

"Don't cry," he said quietly. "You'll break my heart."

He rubbed his hand along her back in a soothing manner and he gave her ass a squeeze to try to break the emotional tension in the air.

"Keep reading," he instructed her. "Find a woman's reading group where you can express your thoughts, ideas, impressions and opinions."

"I won't be naked though."

Tom laughed and Claire sat up on the bed, sucking in her breath as Tom lifted his hand to her cheek and gently brushed it as they looked at each other with sad realization that it was over. Claire leaned down and kissed him one last time before climbing off the bed and going to her clothes.

"You should go," she told him.

He watched her dress as he reluctantly got off the bed too and put his clothes on.

"No texts, no e-mails, no social media, no contact," Claire ordered. "When you walk out that door, you're gone."

He walked to her and wrapped her in a hug. "I don't like that rule," he complained.

"No regrets," Claire reminded him one last time as she kissed him before pulling away and he watched her walk down the hall to the door to her house and her life. She turned and looked at him, smiling bravely as she opened the door.

"I shall forever miss The Man On The Other Side of the Door," Claire said before she disappeared through the doorway and closed the door behind her.