She stood in the cooling sand of the deserted beach, the froth of the warm waves bursting around her toes and sending tiny shivers up her legs. Silently, she stared up at the moon, watching as it climbed higher into the clear evening sky; above her, the cloak of night was adorned with millions of stars that shown like diamonds. It was a beautiful evening, perfect really, but it didn’t matter. Had it been storming she would have still been here, waiting, needing, wanting. Tonight he would come, as he always did. Every year he would visit this spot, searching for her; every year she was here, ready to be found. No matter how many years passed she was inevitably drawn here, unable to ignore the call of her heart. No one questioned why she came to the lonely beach house every year by herself. Her husband believed it was because she needed time alone, her children were too wrapped up in themselves to wonder, and her friends joked with her about sabbaticals. But none of them were right. None of them could have any idea why she came back here; none of them would believe her if she told them. After all, spirits of the departed weren’t supposed to come back, especially not every August for eighteen years. But he did.

“You came...”

His voice floated on the wind, dancing across her skin as the breeze pushed her white nightdress around her knees. She felt her heart lift, her soul reawakening as it always did.

“Yes, I’m here,” she whispered back, closing her eyes as heated air rushed past.

Then he was there, just there, his rich scent wafting to her as his presence became tangible. Her lids fluttered open, her glowing green eyes meeting his deep brown gaze. He was as handsome as he would forever be, his lithe, twenty-year-old form athletic perfection, his black hair thick and unruly. His lips drifted into a smile as he watched her, his aura beating in a steady silver haze.

“I’ve missed you,” he breathed, reaching out to stroke her warm cheek. “But I knew you would be here.”

“Where else would I be?” she asked, cuddling into his touch. “I live for this one night a year.”

“And not your husband?” he prompted, pulling her into his unearthly embrace.

“I love him, but...but not as much as I still love you,” she admitted. “You had my heart first; you were the one that I planned a future with, the one I imagined growing old with. My husband is a good man, but he’s not you.”

He stroked her honey brown hair, soothing and enticing at the same time, and dropped a tender kiss on her head. “When I died here, I didn’t want you to follow, love. I wanted you to have a long, full life, a happy life; I still want that.”

“I’m as happy as I can be without you. I’m a good wife and mother, a loyal friend - but this, these meetings with you, is the one thing I’m selfish about. This is just for me and for you.”

He paused a moment, pulling away as he gazed down at her. “I never meant to leave you. When the tow took me under, my soul cried out for you. But I couldn’t stay.”

“I know,” she said, hushing him with a gentle finger across his lips. “But they gave us this one night, the night you died, the few hours between dusk and dawn to be together. Please, let’s not waste it.”

With a gentle, searing look he nodded, then carefully cupped her beloved face in his hands. He had yearned for her while the time had trickled by; he had thought of her, of how much he needed her. He knew he would be caught in an ethereal limbo until her soul was released from the earth to join his, but he couldn’t find it in himself to resent the fact. She was his precious love, he would wait for her, and they would take and give in what time they had together.

Slowly, he lowered his mouth to hers, promising her everything he could in that one, feather light touch. She responded in kind, gently brushing her now tingling lips against his, savoring each taste and sensation. There was a sigh, though neither knew where it came from, as their bodies sank closer together.

His hands brushed over her hair, down her back, over her bottom, then back up again. He felt the tiny shiver that quaked through her body as he touched her, and felt himself quicken in response. She deepened the kiss and he followed, their tongues meeting, tangling, exploring. She was exquisite, he thought, as she always had been.

As his fingers moved to gather the hem of her short white nightdress, she felt herself fall back in time, becoming an eighteen-year-old girl again, her heart hammering with love and excitement. The moment she was freed, she retook his mouth and molded herself against his bare chest, reveling in the rioting vibrations that his surprisingly hot skin sent through her. She didn’t want to be impatient, but she had missed him, and she needed this with an intensity she only experienced with him. Restlessly, she pulled at his jeans, groaning when they fell away to the damp sand.

With tender hands, he wrapped her naked body in his, carefully pulling them down to the beach as the waves lapped at their feet and ankles. He gloried in her, became intoxicated with the musky scent of her skin and the heat that reached out to engulf him. She was perfection, every piece of her, and she was his, just as he was hers. Slowly, he covered her, sheltering her in his arms as tremors of their contact rocked both their bodies. Then with one easy stroke he joined them, reclaiming her as she accepted his invasion with a throaty moan.

She rode the spirals of velvet colors as they surrounded her, curling in her blood and snaking to her core. Beautiful, beautiful, she thought, then gasped as her lover increased his pace. She held onto him, her fingers tight in his thick hair as his mouth moved to explore her throat, nipping and laving as he pushed her into the tangled loops of desire. She felt herself climb as his teeth found her breast, giving her flesh small love bites while she called out to him. When his tongue lapped the peak she shattered through the wall of glass, crying out as the knots splintered into fine shards of piercing completion, their warmth raining down like molten rain.

He hurdled with her, breaking over the edge as she clung to him, panting and quaking while she chanted his name. His head fell back in passionate pain, his body shuddering as his release overtook him.

Moments later he tucked her against him and deftly rolled to his side, her limbs wrapped securely in his. He stroked her moist skin with gentle motions, smiling with satisfaction as her heartbeat slowly eased and her breathing calmed. Finally he felt her move, snuggling closer to him before placing a lingering kiss over the place where his heart would rest.

“I love you,” she whispered, her face soft now as she curled against him. “I’ve always loved you...I always will.”

“Forever, love,” he promised. “I’ll be here every year until your soul leaves your body; and then I will come to take you with me, and we won’t have to count time anymore.”

She smiled gently and leaned up to study his face, tenderly tracing one fingertip across his bold features. “Forever,” she breathed, then kissed him again, locking away each moment as a memory to keep her until their next reunion.