Stevie made sure she was up in plenty of time to say goodbye to Kelly and Justin in the morning. She dressed warmly as it was a very cold late November morning and when she saw Justin loading up the jeep with the luggage from her window, Stevie put on her heavy coat and traipsed up the slope of the hill to the driveway as Kelly and Turner came out of the house.
Kelly greeted Stevie with a strong goodbye hug.
"Believe in fate," Kelly whispered into Stevie's ear. "Don't question it. Just accept it and go with it."
Stevie smiled as the two women broke from the embrace. Justin kissed her on the cheek before he shook Turner's hand and got behind the driver's wheel. Kelly hugged her father tight and kissed him the cheek.
"Take care of yourself, Dad," she pleaded. "Don't be such a stick in the mud."
"I won't," he promised as Kelly climbed into the keep.
Turner and Stevie watched and waved as the car pulled out of the driveway and just like that they were alone.
"Why don't you let me cook breakfast this time?" Stevie boldly said after a few quiet moments of watching their breath in the cold morning air.
"Sure," Turner said with a smile. "It will help me take my mind off the kids. I always hate to see them go."
Turner actually took her hand in his as they maneuvered down the slope to Polly By The Lake. Stevie let them into the cottage and once she had her coat off she went to the kitchenette to begin preparing the meal. Turner stood in the doorway watching her and that made her feel warm.
"I knew that sex would make things more complicated," Turner said out of the blue. "Because of the kids."
"I understand," she said softly.
"Even not having it made it complicated because, well, that complicated things too."
Stevie nervously laugh. "I never imagined myself being intimate with anybody else besides my husband," she confessed after a few awkwardly quiet moments.
"Amanda told me the other day that intimacy is a vital and basic part of the human condition that never really goes away," Turner sighed.
"My ex is the only man I've ever been physically intimate with," Stevie said, keeping her back to him.
"I understand," Turner said.
"You really haven't been with anybody since Polly?" Stevie needed to know, glancing over her shoulder at him.
He shook his head no.
"I'm not sure if I'm capable of beginning all over again," she said. "What if I'm no good?"
"With the possible exception of yelling out the wrong name at the wrong moment, what could you possibly do wrong?" Turner asked, trying to sound serious.
Stevie couldn't help but burst out with a laugh as she finally turned to face him, even though she felt embarrassed and shy.
He smiled with reassurance. "The first time with someone new is the first time all over again, full of delight and discovery in a new way."
"What if it isn't the same?" She worried.
"It won't be the same," Turner told her.
"What if I feel guilty?" She asked.
"Like you're having an affair?" Turner asked. "I felt like that for years which was another reason why I didn't look for a relationship."
"Of course, what should I feel guilty about?" Stevie realized. "He left me."
"Kelly keeps telling me that I upheld my end of the bargain - to death do we part – so I have no reason to feel guilty or that I'm cheating, especially after so much time has passed. She says I can still honor the past without living in it."
"Do you believe her?" Stevie asked.
"I doubt my love for Polly will ever go away," Turner admitted. "But I think the mourning and grieving ended a while ago. Maybe it's finally time to come out of hibernation."
"My daughter told me not long ago that I can have pleasure without shame and that the gift of sexuality is something to be treasured so I owe it to myself to be happy."
I thought I was done with sex," Turner said.
"Are you?" Stevie tested.
"That very first day you came," Turner said quietly. "That was the day I rediscovered my sexual feelings and now I'm open to enjoying life again and to look at new things with curiosity and wonderment all over again."
"With me?" She dared to ask.
Turner stepped toward her and slowly brought his hand to the side of her face. "Kelly said that we should rename this cottage," he said.
"To what?" Stevie asked.
"Fate By The Lake," Turner grinned.
"I like that," Stevie said as Turner leaned in and kissed her. "What about breakfast?" She asked.
"We can wait for lunch," Turner said, taking her by the hand and leading her toward the bedroom.
Later, as Turner dosed next to her naked under the covers, close to her own nudeness, Stevie was amazed that she had been intimate with somebody else besides Rick for the first time in her life. The fact that it was Tommy Turner/Turner Thomas/Colt Clondike make it all the more surreal. She was officially with someone who had missed the first forty-five years of her life and all the milestones that came with it. The mixture of confusion, fright and euphoria that was flowing through her veins left her on a unfamiliar high that she was struggling to sort out.
Stevie hoped that she had excited and pleasured him, a man who had been celibate for so long. She hoped he didn't mind her forty-five year-old body, battle-scarred by time and pregnancy. She didn't think she'd find love again and the thought of making love to another man had been as foreign to her as a trip to the moon just a short few months ago.
But then she met Turner Thomas and there was something about him that attracted her to him, well before she discovered he was actually Tommy Turner who played Colt Clondike. She placed her hand on her tummy and slowly moved it up to her not-so-firm breasts wondering how she found the courage to undress in front of him so easily. What did her new lover think of her naked?
Stevie turned her head to find Turner staring at her. "Are you?" She worried.
"I'm happy," Turner reported. "I was certain I had forgotten everything but I learned today that sex is like riding a bike."
"Just keep pedaling?" Stevie asked, snuggling close to him.
"No matter how long it's been you never forget how to ride."
"I'd say your sexuality and taste has matured with age," Stevie giggled.
They both glanced out the window almost at the same time to see the lake in their line of vision.
"I believe in fate by the lake," Stevie decided.