Elizabeth had a revelation when she returned home from Summer's Beach: She did not plan to be like Caffey and spend the next twenty years of her life mourning Rick to the point that she should be living in a convent. She missed Rick beyond imagination and she thought about him constantly but she knew he wouldn't want her to waste her life just as she wouldn't expect him to live the life of a monk if she was the one who had died.
Elizabeth thought Caffey was a great guy and she would be eternally grateful for him being there with her during her time of grief. He was a terrific boss and a wonderful friend but she was forty five years old and she knew that she needed something more in her life. She missed the intimacy of her marriage and she was ready to broaden her horizon now that time had passed and she was in a new emotional place in her heart. She wasn't sure if Caffey was interested in her in a romantic way but she wasn't going to let that stop her from pursuing other options should the right opportunity or person present itself.
But first there was Gretchen Maddern's wedding to attend. Elizabeth previously agreed to attend with Caffey since they both worked with Gretchen and Elizabeth wasn't going to back out of that commitment now although a part of her was hoping she would run into some eligible middle-aged bachelor who was on the prowl, unlike Caffey who seemed to be marred in the past and oblivious to Elizabeth's presence and willingness to take the next step.
It was forty-year old Gretchen's second marriage so the ceremony was held in the mountains underneath beautiful pines in the late afternoon sun, followed by a nice reception at a nearby local inn. Elizabeth enjoyed the event and Caffey was, as usual, his polite, proper, kind, funny self but he didn't ask her to dance and he only briefly held her hand (that during the ceremony itself).
It was dark when Elizabeth and Caffey stepped outside after dinner for a breath of fresh air. Elizabeth noticed that there was bright full moon in the night sky.
"I've been taking a dance class at the gym," she told Caffey as they walked along the path around the inn property. She glanced up at the full moon. "I wish we had the class outside underneath the full moon!"
Caffey smiled and thought about his high school science class. "I remember Mr. Martin talking about the gravitational pull of the full moon and how it increases the tides as well as the risk of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes."
"I don't think I remember one thing Mr. Martin ever said!" Elizabeth groaned. "He was kind of a dry boring teacher."
"He explained how birds and animals follow the moon cycles to migrate, to hunt and to mate," Caffey recalled.
Mate!? Elizabeth raised her eyebrow with interest.
"Plants absorb more water and the tree growth is connected to the lunar cycle too," Caffey continued. "Humans are also closely tied to the lunar cycle. Did you know that our emotions become more heightened, we have more energy, we dream more and sleep less during full moons?"
"That's great!" Elizabeth countered, feeling liberated from the drinks she had before and during dinner. "That means we have more time to dance and celebrate life!" She threw him a look. "Haven't you ever wanted to dance underneath a full moon? Like the Van Morrison song?"
"I guess I never really thought about it," Caffey admitted, glancing up at the night sky.
"I bet dancing under a Full Moon would help the natural rhythms of the inner soul," Elizabeth theorized, daring to take Caffey's hand in hers. "And the more we're in tune with those rhythms, the more we might ride the emotional waves of life."
"I guess," Caffey agreed.
"Isn't that temptation enough?" Elizabeth wanted to know. "An inspiration to allow free expression, lightening up, unwinding, and allowing our bodies to do what they're supposed to do?"
"What's that?" Caffey wondered.
"Dance!" Elizabeth laughed.
They were still close enough to the inn to hear the music spilling from the windows but they were alone in the private seclusion of the path.
"Dance with me!" Elizabeth pleaded, lifting Caffey's arm into the air by the hand she was still holding.
Caffey did his best to keep up with her moves although it had been years since he last danced – with Sharon, of course. Elizabeth was dancing almost wildly, spinning in circles, kicking her shoes off, letting her dress drift up with her swirls. She laughed as if she hadn't a care in the world, connecting to her pre-grieved younger self and blissfully aware of the new freedom she had just now discovered. She felt the energy of emotion flowing through her body and Caffey was struck by how beautiful she looked in her movements as she let go of all her pain and hurt and limits and sadness.
"I just woke up!" Elizabeth told Caffey as she danced along the path, dragging him with her. "I've dealt with my pain and I got through it all."
She suddenly stopped spinning and moving and she stared at him while trying to catch her breath. "Are you ready to release your pain and welcome the new?" Elizabeth wanted to know.
"The new?" Caffey asked in confusion.
"Me!" Elizabeth groaned. Her feet were wet and covered with grass and she felt ecstatic. "We've been dancing under the full moon, Caffey!" She marveled. "Are you ready to listen to your heart? Listen to the special whisperings of the night? I'm here, waiting."
"Waiting for what?" He asked blankly.
"You!" She whispered. Then she frowned at him with annoyance. "What are we doing, Caffey?" Elizabeth demanded.
"We're at a wedding," he said.
"No, what are we doing?" She asked. "Are you ready to leave the monastery? Are you ready to commit to me? Do you want to be a couple? I'm tired of waiting and I need to know if you're interested, otherwise I need to move on and find somebody who is. I can't wait any longer to resume my life and I can't keep waiting for you to figure out if you want to live yours."
He stared at her for a long moment with his mouth fallen open, apparently in shock – she could only hope it wasn't in disgust or rejection. She expected him to say something, even if it was to admit to missing Sharon or thinking they were just friends but suddenly and without warning, Caffey startled her by grabbing her and pulling her close to him, merging his mouth with hers in a desperate need to kiss her.
Elizabeth felt his hands in her hair and on her back and she immediately returned the kiss and the embrace, not sure if she should laugh with delight or cry with joy. Caffey walked her off the path and behind some bushes, bringing her to the ground on a soft bed of pine needles and moss as they made out with their mouths and explored each other's bodies with their hands.
Elizabeth felt Caffey's hands hiking up her dress and she didn't resist when he tugged her panties down her legs. Her hands found his belt buckle and she helped him loosen his trousers. She felt his hands on her bare bottom underneath her.
"Be gentle," she whispered.
She was surprised when she felt him slide into her slowly and gently and then ever so slightly he began to move gradually in and out of her as she felt his length and his strength. Elizabeth was making love to another man after all these years and she tried not to think of Rick or the past. This was her new beginning and it went on for a very long time. She smelled the pine needles beneath her and she heard her own pants mixed in with his quiet moans. In the distance she heard the music from the inn and some far off peepers making love song noises of nature and she was very happy, very contented, and very alive.
She hadn't envisioned herself making love outside, behind some bushes, under the stars and moon like two teenagers but she was tickled by the unexpected passion and her long awaited moment of bliss. She clung to Caffey and she slowly rocked her hips to his movements as if they were two ballerinas. This is what she wanted and she hoped it was what he wanted too.
At long last, Elizabeth felt Caffey tense up and then finish and that pleased her immensely as she gave out a very slight but happy moan as she too felt her own ecstasy she wasn't sure if she would ever feel again.
Elizabeth smiled as she looked up into his eyes as Caffey remained perched above her. The calm naturalness of their lovemaking had soothed and relaxed her and she lifted her head up to kiss him.
"Thank you," she said, realizing that he was still inside her. She opened her mouth and stuck her tongue toward his mouth and he licked it in reply, causing both of them to giggle like children.
She saw his eyes twinkling.
"I guess this means you actually like me," she said.
"I most definitely like you," he confirmed.
"Well, I like you, too," she grinned as she searched his face.
"I'm glad," he smiled.
"How long are we going to stay like this?" She wondered, still feeling him inside her.
"As long as we can," he answered.
She saw the moon hanging in the sky behind Caffey's head and that made her want to dance some more, naked even. But she remained on the ground with her lover on top of her thinking about what she wanted out of life and she felt her spirits rise in a cloud of happiness, liberated and at peace.
"I don't want to be alone," she said, gazing into his eyes. "I don't want to be lonely. Are you okay with how things are turning out?"
"Thank you, Elizabeth, for restarting my life," Caffey answered. "I never thought someone would truly excite me again. It took a very long time but it was completely worth the wait."
She nodded in full agreement as the full moon shined down upon them and her heart danced.