'Sorry.' she said, reaching for the corner of the sheet near the bottom of the bed.
'Feeling cold?' Sean breathed against the nape of her neck. She sighed.
He kissed her just beneath the left ear. His lips lingered. She shrugged her shoulders.
'Sorry.' she said, 'Sorry for saying sorry again.'
Sean's hands slipped off her waist. 'You're uncomfortable. You're obviously uncomfortable again. Shall I go?'
Valerie flipped herself back over to face him. Since cutting her hair shorter, she had felt noticeably lighter. People said that she looked more attractive. She felt it was practical. She pressed her face against Sean's chest.
He wrapped one arm around her head. When Valerie picked him out from the bar she had noted that he was self conscious about his weight, proud of his body hair and prone to forming pathetic little smiles. She liked the idea of him. He felt like the right shape.
Sean breathed out through his mouth. 'You're too much for me.'
'I sincerely hope not.'
'I should have known. Who wears hiking boots to bed?'
Valerie slapped him lightly on the chest and laughed.
'The most I've ever done is Nordic walking.' he said, 'Never qualified. And you...?'
'Nordic walking's fun.'
'Should have known. Which is strange because health junkies tend to keep away from me.'
Valerie raised her head and rolled her eyes.
'For obvious reasons.' Sean said. His voice was wavering.
'You'll do.' Valerie said.
'For now.' Sean added.
Valerie looked up into his face. His long ginger hair resembled a flaming bird’s nest. She tousled it loose.
'Turn on your side.'
Sean shifted his body to the left. Valerie turned on her bedside light. She brought it closer to them, as far as the cable would allow. She watched as his silhouette gradually intensified against the far wall. She ran two fingers across his bicep. It was surprisingly firm.
'Enjoying the full picture?' Sean laughed nervously.
Her fingers rolled up his shoulder.
'Could you keep looking forward?' she said.
He shrugged his shoulders and did so.
'And keep still. If you can.'
She trailed her fingers across the slight crevice of his neck, rose up to the fractured tip of his right cheekbone and slid all the way back down to his shoulder again. She saw it. If it wasn't for all the hair, she would have felt it too. The ear and the elbow were the two main craggy peaks and the slope between elbow and shoulder was almost perfectly angular. The shadow even evoked the jumping tourist, with the flickering of Sean's thumb over his abdomen.
He glanced back. 'You haven't seen anything, have you?'
Valerie imagined the route she would take, where the lake would run through, where the rabbits would tend to burrow.
She imagined herself where the jumping tourist would be. She would ask him why he kept on waving, if it was urgent or just a bit of fun.
'You haven't-? Valerie?' Sean turned himself fully back around again.
She watched as the landscape slid into a lumpy torso and long messy hair. The fond memory collapsed back into the girth of a strange man. She reached for the light again.
'You saw a mole, didn't you?' Sean said, eyes wide and looking directly at Valerie's.
'Just a tourist.'
He frowned at her.
'I didn't see anything.' she said.
'Then what was all the finger touching about?'
She kissed him on the nose. 'Just realised there were parts I hadn't seen yet. Hadn't explored.'
'Thanks.' Sean said. He dove in for another kiss.
Valerie stumbled back but wrapped her arms around him. She realised that the hair could have easily been the grass.