“Kind of makes my uncle’s waterfall look like a trickling brook,” Ethan called over the roar of the falls.
“My grandparents spent their honeymoon at Niagara Falls,” Natalie said, resting her hands on the railing overlooking the churning river below. Millions of gallons of crashing water flowed like silk over the cliff creating a mist that fell almost like rain around them. They hadn’t thought to grab raincoats before leaving the motorhome.
“This sounds like a cold, wet location for a honeymoon.” Ethan wrapped his arms around himself, his short-sleeved shirt providing no protection against the chill of the unseasonably cool day.
“That’s what the hot tub at the hotel is for.” Natalie looked up at him with a teasing grin.
“If that’s the case I think we need to check ourselves into a hotel because I’m freezing.”
Natalie turned and wrapped her arms around Ethan’s waist. “I’ll keep you warm.”
“That’s much better already,” he lied, loving the feeling of having her in his arms even if the gesture didn’t protect his forearms or shoulders, or neck. He physically shivered but forced himself to focus on the beautiful woman smiling up at him. She awakened a warmth inside him that he wondered was still there after having struggled through several years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He was tempted to pick up the conversation they’d almost had in his uncle’s kitchen. The nonverbal invitation that continued in her sparkling emerald eyes. “That honeymoon sounds good right about now.”
“Maybe we should skip Mackinaw Island and head straight to Vegas,” she teased. Or maybe not. Ethan suspected Natalie wasn’t teasing anymore.
“You’re not thinking with that incredibly intelligent brain anymore, my dear.” Ethan leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose.
“Probably not.” Natalie leaned her head back in a full, hearty laughter that was swallowed by the roar of the thundering falls beside them. She pulled herself back to a serious demeanor. “I’ve been thinking with my brain all my life. Maybe it’s time I start thinking with my heart for a few days.”
“A few days is all we’d have, Natalie.” Ethan’s voice was husky but frustrated.
“I know.” She bit her lower lip, her own frustration showing in her countenance. “But it’s fun to think about. Have you ever, ya know… thought about… getting married?”
He knew what she was really asking, and it wasn’t really about a marriage contract. He wasn’t sure how he wanted to answer her.
“Did things ever get serious between you and that exotic Indian princess?” Natalie tickled him playfully. “You mentioned she wore a diamond that wasn’t big enough.”
“I was teasing,” Ethan said. “You’re the only woman I’ve ever given a diamond.”
“Really?” She seemed to like that answer.
“There was one semi-serious relationship with a girl from my university, but ours was more of an intellectual passion than the potential for long-term commitment.”
“Intellectual passion? That sounds intriguing.” Natalie’s smile invited elaboration.
“We were in a study group together with other business majors and lived in the same building so our relationship didn’t make international headlines or cause social media scandals, like it did every time I went out with Saanvi.”
“Saanvi? What a beautiful name for an Indian princess,” Natalie said.
“She was not a princess; she just hoped to become one.” Ethan sighed. “It’s really easy to be turned off by a woman who’s only dating you for your money and crown.”
“Okay, no money, no crown.” Natalie put her finger to her lips feigning deep thought. “Now that I know what turns you off, I just have to figure out what turns you on.”
“You,” Ethan whispered. “Everything about you turns me on.”
“Really?” the teasing smile left her face and a smoldering intensity replaced the sparkle in her eyes.
Ethan lifted his hands and brushed back the tendrils of her strawberry blonde curls that hung limp from the dampness of the spray from the waterfall. “Your playfulness, your beautiful emerald eyes, your intelligence.”
“Ooh, so we’re back to the intellectual passion, are we?” She laid one hand on Ethan’s chest, right about where his heart pounded faster than normal. With one slow movement, Natalie’s hand traveled up his chest and wrapped around his neck, providing just enough pressure to be a clear invitation.
Ethan lowered his face to hers slowly, hesitating a few inches away, allowing her the choice to close the distance and connect. She lifted onto her toes, pressing her lips to his with careful precision.
Throwing caution and reason right over the top of the waterfall, Ethan allowed himself to be caught up in her kiss, pulling her body close to his, wrapping his arms around Natalie as she wrapped her arms around him.
They were alone on a deck at the top of the waterfall, tourists forgotten, vacation forgotten, cancer forgotten, impending outcome forgotten. Ethan wanted that moment to last forever.
The wind shifted and the mist blasted them in a shower of droplets almost strong enough to be called rain. They pulled apart in shock and laughed at each other.
“You’re soaking wet, Ethan.” Natalie brushed the water from his arms, and he brushed the water from her face.
His hands roamed her face, brushing his thumb against her lips, which she parted in invitation, his fingers wrapped gently around her neck and jawline, lifting her face to his for one more passionate kiss.
Ethan pulled away suddenly. “Okay, I really am freezing.” He laughed and grabbed her hand to lead her back up the stairs and away from the offending mist that had interrupted their first kiss. He hoped they could continue this conversation from the warmth of their motor home.
A stand alone novella in the All's Fair in Love and Sports Series by Julie L. Spencer.