It happened so fast.

She sat in a chair her arms folded across her chest. Fear climbed inside her. One thing was certain. If the river continued to rise her home would be flooded in no time. She shuttered at the thought. All her belongings swept away by the surging flooding rapids. Maybe even her house too.

She had moved into the bungalow in the small town of Cavater near the river’s edge not more than a year ago. Soon after a bad breakup with her lover. Others warned her that flooding could happen there. But she was so enamored with the quaint little place she didn’t give the warnings much thought. Maybe she should have listened.

Too late now.

She rose from her seat and went to the door opening it just a crack. The winds whipped up a furious storm and rains poured down relentlessly. Slamming the door tight against the onslaught, she leaned back breathing hard. 

Before the electric had gone off and the cell towers cut out, the Weather Service had issued flash flood advisories for the entire area. Earlier she had sat in quietness by the fireplace caught up in reading. She hadn’t given the alerts much thought, figuring the rains would pass as usual with no damage.

But suddenly things changed for the worse. Rapid flood waters pounded a fearsome cadence just outside. The river was rising quicker than she thought it ever could.

A helpless feeling gripped her. There was no way to get out the front door. Or the back either. The road near her house had turned into a gushing rambling river.

“Oh god, I'm going to die here.” At that moment, the probability seemed imminent. She glanced toward the ceiling. “I could use a real miracle right about now.” She sighed and tried to think of something, anything she could do to get to safety.

She shook her head and tears blurred her vision. She noticed water seeping in under the door and retreated to the top of her dining table. The fast invading waters rose deeper and higher around her. 

Suddenly, a loud noise echoed over the turbulence, startling her. Something pushed with great force against her door. “What's happening?” She yelled as a rush of dirty river water slammed into her legs. The surge quickly overtook her and knocked her from the table. She went under. Struggling and gasping for air she tried to reach for anything to grab onto, pull herself above the raging river that flooded the inside of her home.

But nothing was there. And she knew. She knew she was drowning...

In her half-conscious state, she imagined she felt strong hands touching her pulling her upward through the rising river waters. She gasped and coughed as air filled her lungs with a sharp pang.

A deep masculine voice said, “Hold on, I’m getting you out of here.”
She winced and pulled back from him, confused.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said in a gentle tone. “I won't let you drown.”

Her body quaked with shock and coldness. “But…” she rasped. "Who? How…”

“Shh, I’ve got you,” he whispered close to her ear as he wrapped her against his warm chest. “I’m taking you out of here.”

He lifted her into his arms and carried her as he trudged through the murky waters holding her tight. Her head lolled against his shoulder and she drifted in and out of consciousness. Was she alive or was this some sort of blurry vision. Did a stranger just save her from drowning? Sometime later, she couldn’t tell how long, she heard other voices.

“I’ve got her,” she heard him call out. “One of you guys toss me a blanket will you.”

She felt herself being wrapped in more warmth and turned to look at the one who held her close. He secured the blanket and snugged it around her body. She stared at his handsome face. “W-who are you?” she asked.

He looked at her and smiled. “Glad to see you’re awake.” He paused. “I’m with the emergency rescue unit out of Cavater. My name is…”

She moved, lifting her head which interrupted his words. “Yes,” she said as recognition struck her. “I do know you. I’ve seen you at the coffee shop.” An instant attraction filled her. The same one she had the first time she saw him standing in line ordering a double espresso.

Freezing rains pelted against them and the undertow of the river knocked them around. But a lifeboat was there and others were too. They helped him lift her into the boat. He rolled over the edge and sat down behind her. The motor roared to life and they were moving fast across the water. She shivered as she looked back. Her house and all her belongings were gone. Taken by the torrid floods engulfing everything in sight.

“Don’t look back,” he said over the din of rain and motor.

“Everything—Everything I had is gone…” She murmured.

“Come here.” He pulled her against him. “Not everything. You’re still alive and that’s something.”

Her smile was weak, but she nodded and let her body relax as he held her close.

“And I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” he added, nestling her in the safety of his arms.

It would take a long time to recover from the disaster that just befell her. But she knew instinctively that he would be there, helping her, making things easier. 

“Thank you. I know this is your job. It’s what you do. You comfort people and help them get through when things like this happen," she said. "You're a very special man, you know that?" 

He brushed a strand of long dark hair away from her cheek. "And you are such a lovely lady." He paused and she felt his body moving, breathing with hers. "You don't know how many times I wanted to talk to you whenever I saw you in that coffee shop."

"Yeah? And why didn't you?" 

"Because you are just so beautiful, so delicate." He laughed a little. "And here I am this big ole' oaf."

She grinned and her hand reached up to touch his face. "How come you don't know how handsome you are?" She jested, "didn't any of the other women you've rescued ever tell you that?"

"Ah, well, you're the only woman I've ever saved from drowning. And," he, stammered then blurted, "truthfully, the only one I've wanted in a long time."

With his words her body began to tingle, and not from shock or loss or fear, but from something deeper, something sweeter and more abiding. "I want to kiss you," she said low. "Can I?"

He stirred behind her. "Out of gratitude?" He asked. He moved, angling around so his face was only a hair's breath from hers.

"No" she replied. "Because I've wanted to since the first time I saw you, and yes, in that coffee shop." 

"You're not kidding are you?" 

Her lips brushed across his and she kissed him, fell into him as if she'd always been a part of him. His breath quickened as her mouth mingled inside his and she heard his fevered moans.

"My god lady you touch me so deep.” Then he added, “I've never wanted my heart so close to someone’s soul before. But you make me feel that way."

She couldn't stop the tears from welling up again and she buried her head into his chest. "No one has ever said anything so profound to me," she said finally.

He lifted her head so he could look at her. "I don't know how to say this and maybe it's too soon and I shouldn't. But I love you."

"You do?" She sniffled. "I think I love you too."

He took her face in both his hands, wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed her deep and long and forever.  

Story by Kaye Manro

© copyright Kaye Manro 2017

(photo courtesy of © Mystic Photography)

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