I stirred as she slid her arm across my wrist. The phone was ringing. I looked up to see her shoving the newspaper toward the wall with her left hand as she reached for the phone with her right. Still on her stomach, Annette bounced, and her torso landed across my forearms and the book I was reading.

As she slid in front of me, I was obliged to pull myself forward, both to allow her to reach the phone and to stop her from falling off the day bed. As she moved back, telephone in hand, she turned her head and caught me smelling her hair. For that instant, Annette was a little girl. She must have seen something similar in my face, because she flashed the most debauched smile I'd ever seen, and with that, she became a woman again.

I heard a murmur from the handset, and the movement of my eyes reminded her that she was holding the telephone. She put the phone to her ear and rolled over, turning her back to me. "Hi, sweetie", she purred. I made a move to leave the day bed. She needed privacy, and I was in no mood to listen to her carry on with Bryan.

She rolled back quickly and placed her palm on the small of my back. I turned back and she mouthed the word "no" with her wonderful lips. I looked in her eyes, but saw nothing there. I settled back next to her, reached the floor with my right hand and found my book. The pages were crumpled and torn, so I occupied myself by smoothing the paper.

And so I lay there, wanting to tell her I loved her. I knew better, of course. Sometimes, she would talk about her past, in which, usually, someone would confess his devotion to her. Bryan was no different. She had never reciprocated. Maybe she wasn't capable. What is love itself worth, I would wonder, if everyone professed it to you?

I thought of sandalwood and smoke – Annette's hair. I could still feel the texture of the fine hairs on her arm, as well as the heat of her body. The words on the crumpled pages had lost all meaning. I stared intently, struggling to block out the sound of her conversation.