I stood in front of the full-length mirror that hung on the back of my bathroom door looking at myself from all angles. I am not sure why it mattered what I looked like because this was just going to be a birthday dinner for my best friend Marie.  The only other guest would be her husband; no surprise blind dates that Marie was famous for…or so I thought.  Satisfied with how I looked, I went into the bedroom and slipped on my heels. When I arrived at the steakhouse, I gave the hostess Marie’s name and followed her to their table.  As we approached, I noticed that they were not alone; that there was another man sitting at the table with them.

She lied to me.  She told me there would just be the three of us, I thought to myself, fighting the urge to turn on my heel and leave but I saw Marie wave at me so I knew it was too late. I swallowed hard and plastered a fake smile on my face, telling myself that Marie was going to get a piece of my mind when they got back from their weekend trip.

“Allison,” Marie said standing up to give me a quick hug.

“Happy birthday,” I told her returning the hug before taking a seat in the chair that Marie’s husband had pulled out for me. “Thanks,”

Once I was seated, I turned my attention to the other guest. One look and I suddenly felt cold all over.

It can’t be.  Derek is dead.  OMG, it is uncanny how much he looks like him.  Get a grip girl; you know Derek is gone.  You have his dog tags.

Allison, are you okay?” I heard Marie asked me breaking into my thoughts.

“Ah…yeah,” I finally managed to get out as I looked once again at the man sitting across from me, trying hard to convince myself it was not Derek but someone who looked like him but it was not working too well.

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It was made even worse when he asked in a questionable tone of voice, “Allison?”

Marie looked from one to the other, then to her husband who just shrugged his shoulders, as bewildered as his wife.  I swallowed hard a couple of more times, still looking at the man seated across from me.

“Hello Allison, it has been a long time,” he said smiling.  “You look great,”

I just sat there, unable to say a word. Marie looked at me and then at her husband again, hoping someone would tell her what was going on.

Her husband reached out and took his wife’s hand in his, giving it a slight squeeze.

“Will someone tell me what is going on?” Marie demanded again.  “This is supposed to be a birthday celebration but for some reason or other, I feel like I am caught up in an episode of The Twilight Zone.  Mark, what is going on?”

“Ah,” I said breaking the silence before Mark had a chance to say anything, “this is Derek, a man I thought all these years was dead but now I can see he has been very much alive all this time,” feeling myself going from bewilderment to anger.  “And as you said, this is supposed to be a birthday celebration, not a day when people rise from the grave,” as I caught the eye of the waitress, motioning for a waitress to come to the table.  I gave her my drink order and asked, “Anyone else want a drink?”

The rest ordered a drink and then once again an uncomfortable silence came over the table. When the waitress brought the drinks, everyone placed their orders.  I looked across at Derek; so many questions that I wanted answers to but knew now would not be a good idea to get into it.  This was Marie’s birthday celebration.

“So Marie, how does it feel to hit the big 5-0?” I asked as I pulled a card from my purse and handed it to her.

“Thank you but I told you no gifts. And honestly, I don’t feel any older.”

“And she doesn’t look a day over 30,” her husband said reaching out and squeezing her hand.

For the rest of the celebration, we all made small talk, avoiding the elephant in the room.  As we were leaving I pulled Marie to the side, whispering, “I am sorry about this awkward dinner Marie.  Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend with your husband.”

We hugged and I headed outside, anxious to be away from the situation.  I was not sure exactly how or what I was feeling at that time; all I knew was that I was confused.

“Allison, wait up,” Derek called after me.  “We need to talk,”

I stopped and turned to face him, “No we don’t Derek.  You chose to let me think you were dead,”

Placing his hand gently on my forearm, Derek asked, “Please, can we go somewhere private to talk?”

Thinking a moment, I finally said, “Alright, follow me to my house.”

When we walked into my home, I headed for the kitchen, putting my purse and keys on the counter.  I pulled two beers out of the refrigerator, handing him one.

“Okay, talk,” I told him as I walked into the living room and sat down in a chair. “Just tell me why?  I deserve to know,”

Derek took a big drink of his beer before sitting on the couch to face me.  Finally, he said, “My platoon was caught in a firefight and somehow my dog tags came off and were found on a badly burned body that the Army assumed was me because of the dog tags.  I was a POW for three years.  When I came back to the United States, I came back to our hometown.  That is when I found out you thought I was dead.  Then I heard you had gotten married so I left you alone.  I did not want to destroy your happiness.  Mark and I met a year ago during group counseling at the VA and we became friends.  He asked me to come to dinner tonight to help celebrate his wife’s birthday.  I had no idea you would be there or even that you were in the same city,” as he drank the last of his beer and set the empty bottle on the coffee table.  “I will see myself out.  And for the record Allison, I never married because I was, and still am, in love with you. Your husband is a lucky man,”

“Derek, I am divorced,” I stated matter-of-factly. “I thought I loved him but realized I was still in love with you,” as I stood up and walked toward him.

Within seconds, Derek had me in his arms kissing me passionately.  Stepping back, I took his hand and led him to the bedroom, no question in my mind where this was going to end up.  We had waited for twenty-five years for this day.  We helped each other undress, leaving our clothes where they fell, finally tumbling in bed, our lips and hands exploring every inch of each other’s body.

Breaking the kiss, Derek started to kiss his way down my body, taking each nipple into his mouth, sucking hard while his hand explored between my lips, two fingers slowly moving in and out, his thumb rubbing over my clit.  I moaned and arched my back.  Slowly he kissed his way down until his hands were on my nipples and his mouth was on my pussy.  His tongue licked up and down my slit, stopping to suck on my clit.  I could feel my orgasm building up inside of me. My juices began to flow as I pushed myself closer to his mouth.  My body began to twitch and I could feel the flush over my body.  Giving out a scream, I tumbled over the edge as my orgasm rushed over me.

Not giving me a chance to settle down, Derek moved up and kissed me as he reached down and guided himself inside of me.  I wrapped my legs around his waist pulling him deep inside of me, my inner muscles squeezing him tight.  Slowly he began to move in and out, each thrust becoming harder and deeper until I felt as if he was going to push me through the mattress.  Derek stopped for a moment to put my legs over his shoulders before he began again, the headboard bouncing off the wall.  My juices began to flow as we both rushed toward our release.

I grabbed the sheet in my fists, our breathing fast and heavy as we both tumbled over the abyss at the same time, our panting and cries filling the room.  Our lips met, our tongues dancing frantically as wave after wave of pleasure went through us.

When it was over, Derek rolled to the side, pulling me in his arms, his hand rubbing my back as he kissed me gently.  “I love you Allison and I have dreamed of this day for so long.”

“I love you too Derek,” as I snuggled into his arms, feeling for the first time that I was where I belonged; in the arms of the man I have always loved.