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Basking in the Afterglow

Unspoken Challenge Entry

By Paul StewartPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Basking in the Afterglow
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

As the morning sun shone through the bedroom window, Mark and Andrea lay silently, catching their breath and floating high on a sustained rush of dopamine and oxytocin. Their heartbeats and hushed gasps reverberated off the walls, as Mark turned and looked over to Andrea with a heady mix of adoration and lust. As her eyes were closed, she did not see the stolen glances. Turning away again, he looked up to the ceiling and tasted a droplet of sweat that had made its way slowly down from his forehead.

Looking over at Andrea again, he couldn't help but roll onto his side and caress her flushed cheeks. Gently and tenderly, he stroked the tip of his thumb across her cheek and around her lips as she exhaled happily as another aftershock of pleasure coursed through her body. She tilted her head towards his hand as he leaned over to kiss her forehead, tasting her own sweat on his lips as he stroked across her slightly parted, wet lips. Kissing at his thumb, she murmured gently.

As Mark laid back down on his back, Andrea rolled towards him, finding the perfect position for her head, against the curve of his arm. A strong sense of peace and calm came across her, as the aftershocks continued, though lessening with every passing second and minute.

Though they both knew they would eventually need to start the day and have some breakfast, neither wanted to make the first move. Stuck in that perfect, beautiful moment, where they were just Mark and Andrea. Not parents, a librarian or English teacher, just a couple.

The laboured breathing and thundering heartbeats that had provided the ambient soundtrack for their morning rest, were replaced with more relaxed and steady breaths and heartbeats. As Andrea tilted her head slightly to look up at Mark, she caught him gazing down at her. She could feel the love, lust and care. She returned a weak, but happy smile and he replied in kind, while pressing his thumb to her lips again.


As their eyes closed in unison, their minds raced, recounting the events of the last 24 hours. It had been a make or break moment in their relationship. Although both were committed to making it work, it felt as if there were so many hurdles, or an invisible force, stopping them from getting past their issues.

A meal in their favourite Italian restaurant and a bottle of crisp Chianti did not help as much as Mark had hoped. It all came down to how much they loved each other and how much they were willing to fight for the relationship.

Truths were told, mistakes were forgiven and as the night went on, all the obstacles disintegrated into thin air, as if they were never there in the first place. What was left was two people who had put so much work into a life shared together, looking into each other's eyes and asking for the bill.

In that moment, Mark remembered everything he adored about Andrea. As she sat there, with her shoulder length auburn-tinged hair draped over her round shoulders adorned in that stunning red cotton blouse that always seemed to highlight the perfect pale beauty of her skin.

He loved her tenacity, her capacity for empathy, for care and those stunning pools of the deepest, darkest brown he had ever fallen into.

As they shared glances, Andrea remembered why she loved Mark so much. He was principled, respectful and driven. She never had to worry with him, and that was part of what scared her in the first place. Previous burns had left her hyperaware of just how quickly things can go south.

But as his own brown eyes gazed into hers, she could not help feel an ache for him, for that well-manicured beard of his to be against her skin. For more than just the rush of intimacy. For the safety that his arms always provided her.


Lying in bed, recounting the evening, the restaurant, the drive home, the moonlight dance on the front lawn and then the hurried discarding of clothes as they made their way to the bedroom and the hazy heat as their bodies intertwined, they sighed contentedly. Mark gently caressed Andrea's tressles as his other hand met hers and they cotinued to enjoy the serene silence, basking in the afterglow.


Thanks for reading!

Author's Notes: This is for the Unspoken Challenge. You can find more information about it below:

You can also take a look at some of my other recently published works, if you have the time and inclination, like:

You can also take a look at the rest of my work here.


About the Creator

Paul Stewart

Scottish-Italian poet/writer from Glasgow.

I put myself into all writing I publish.

Self-pubished books and etsy store coming soon!

"Every man has a sane spot somewhere" R.L Stevenson

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Comments (18)

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  • Naveedabout a month ago

    The way you ended the story with a sense of hope and optimism. Mark and Andrea have been through a lot, but they are stronger together. a very well-written and enjoyable story. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    That was perfectly balanced, a little here a little there and then the whole thing comes together in a heartfelt story

  • Celia in Underland2 months ago

    Beautifully done. Captures the intricacies so poignantly. One small , silly thing, and tell me TSTFU but I felt a little like "aftershock (s)" just didnt quite fit the tone. Almost too violent for the delicacy. you created throughout.Stunning reagardless 🤍

  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    AWW! Paul, you are such a romantic. You beautifully captured real love and togetherness so wonderfully. So many of us never find this, and if we do, it tends not to stick. Hope this one does.

  • Chloe Gilholy2 months ago

    I thought this was beautiful.

  • Grz Colm2 months ago

    Hey, I read this the other night and then literally fell asleep after liking it and forgot about it. Once I’ve had my meds there’s no stopping it! 😅😂 so please don’t take it personally as I really loved this piece. It was so different in tone to what I’ve been use to of late in your writing. It was really evocative and had all these little details that made it ace, so well done Paul.

  • velasco liama2 months ago

    lovely story

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    Darn it. I make it a policy not to read other challenge contributions till I've done mine, but I got lulled into this, soothed by the afterglow, without seeing where we were going!

  • Brin J.2 months ago

    I'm so glad this had a happy ending <3. Love always deserves one

  • Such a beautiful moment in time for Andrea & Mark, intimately described. The only thing that seemed out of place was "parents". Everything else felt like they were fairly early in their relationship, but that one word shifted it into a much deeper more involved place. And oh, what could be done in developing that.

  • Awww, this was so lovely and sweet! Such a wonderful story! 🍩🥐

  • Alexander McEvoy2 months ago

    That was so peaceful and beautiful! What a glorious celebration of trust, love, and working towards a healthy romance! Beautifully done, Paul! As always :)

  • Paul, so many beautiful moments tugged at my heart, including "the moonlight dance on the front lawn and then the hurried discarding of clothes as they made their way to the bedroom and the hazy heat." Lovely!

  • RM Stockton2 months ago

    This is such a beautiful story, Paul. Well done, my friend. Very impressive!

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Great entry, Paul! We were right there with them. Well, maybe just watching. Okay, that's creepy, too. Enough jokes. This is awesome! Reply

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    I loved the first part and also really liked how you gave us the backstory in the second! This is excellent, Paul! Have a donut 🍩 😁

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Great work! Loved it! Did you see my entry into the challenge? I really liked yours and how they were I’m bed together. A lot of the unspoken pieces are weird or… not great. Yours was actually really good. It’s at least a good place to have a conversation without words!

  • Mackenzie Davis2 months ago

    Oh damn, Paul, this is incredible. I could feel the peace, the safety, the sweetness, especially in that first section of the story. I would say you nailed this!

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