Open and Honest – Part III
“I seem to recall us talking about poaching a hot tub,” I say as nonchalantly as possible. I’m riding cloud nine, the mix of beer, a wonderful night, and a beautiful woman intoxicating in the exact right measure.
“And I just happen to already be prepared for said hot tub,” I say.
“I can see that,” she says with a smile, her eyes briefly dipping to the tight speedo plastered to my nether regions. “I actually brought my swimsuit too.”
“Then may I make a suggestion?”
“Before we head to the Mountain Sun, let’s swing by a place and check to see if the hot tub will be poachable later.”
“I think that can be arranged,” she says with a smile.
It’s frigid when we arrive. Finding parking is a struggle. We finally sit in our spot.
“It’s really cold,” I say.
“Do you want to just poach the hot tub now?”
“I kinda do,” she says. I try to hide my smile.
We wander through the cold around the corner to the hot tub of my old unit. It’s on, but the cover is locked down tight. As I examine the lock, she shifts her weight uncomfortably.
“Hold on, I have an idea,” I tell her.
The cable connects to an eyelet screwed into the side of the tub. There’s just enough slack to spin and unscrew it, though it takes some effort. The cable twists as I struggle, tension rising in the twined metal almost as much as in me.
“Don’t worry about it,” she says impatiently.
“No, I got this,” I say, praying in my head that I do.
With a final twist the eyelet pops out and the cable snaps toward me, spinning down. I carefully unthread it and reveal the calming neon blue glow of the steaming hot tub.
“Quick, let’s get in!” I say, dropping my shoes and my jacket as quickly as I can. In an instant, I’m in. I watch as she changes subtly, admiring her tattoo, her back, her legs.
The water is soothing and warm, the air above frigid and cold. I move over slightly, making room for her as she slides into the tub. The hot tub could fit eight easily, but I know I want to squeeze closer.
I stare at her for a moment, wondering how to proceed, wondering if she can feel my desire, if there’s any in return.
“May I kiss you?” I ask finally.
“Yes,” she says.
I don’t hesitate. The kiss is followed by another. Soon, my mouth and hands have found their way all across her body. I pull her top off.
“Ben,” she asks playfully, “was this your plan all along?”
I consider the question for a moment, planting a light kiss on her lips.
“You’ll figure out sooner or later that I don’t really do plans very well.”
“But you had it in the back of your mind?”
“Tonight has certainly worked out as well as I could’ve hoped,” I say. She smiles and pulls closer once more.
I can’t tell how long we’ve been there when I hear a voice clear behind her. She huddles close, hiding her nakedness as I look over her shoulder. It’s one of my old neighbors, but she doesn’t seem to recognize me.
“Excuse me, but this is a private hot tub. It’s for complex members only. And it closes at 11.” She pauses, a slight look of confusion briefly crossing her face. “At least it’s supposed to.”
“Sorry about that,” I say. “We’ll close up shop.”
“Thanks,” she says and walks away.
We huddle there for a moment, mild embarrassment tempered by the excitement of the moment. I help her collect her swimsuit and rerobe.
“Shall we take this someplace more private?” I ask hopefully.
“Sure,” she replies with a smile.
As we get out, I can see steam rising from my chest. She’s shivering as she towels off.
“Here,” I say, handing her my warm pajama pants.
“Are you sure?” she asks.
“Yes, they’re super warm and super soft, and I run warm.”
“I can tell,” she says, slipping them on.
We wander back to the car and begin the long drive up the canyon. When we stop at the construction light, I glance at the light.
“We’ll be here for a minute, huh?”
“Probably,” she replies.
I lean over and kiss her, my hand caressing her thigh beneath my pants. The rest of the drive, I don’t want to let go; I don’t want to wake up to find this a dream, to find her a figment of my imagination. And for most of the night, as she sleeps beside me, I lie awake staring at her, hoping she’ll still be there in the morning.
In the rising light, I stand naked at the foot of the bed, slowly pouring coffee from the French press into a mug for her. I feel past the point of hesitating.
“You know you’re the first woman I’ve slept with in five years,” I offer as I pass her the mug.
Her eyes grow wide and she studies me. “Really?”
“Yep,” I say. Internally, all I feel is calm relief. That everything still worked ok after all that time, that my talents in bed were ample enough for another round, that my body didn’t disgust or bother her, that my hernia surgery and the added sensitivity it brought didn’t cause me to be a one minute wonder or less.
She lets the comment sit there, and I wonder what’s going through her mind, but as I crawl back into bed, all she does is snuggle close. I glance at the clock.
“You know,” I say, “we have plenty of time this morning.”
“Oh really?” she says, looking up at me. “For what?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I say, as I lean in and kiss her. “Many things.”
“I’ve never lost a lot of weight, but I want you to know that you don’t look bad,” she tells me.
“Thanks,” I reply. I wish she had said she likes my body, or told me what traits I have going for me. I wish she had said something I could file away in my little happy place for when I need it. But I guess it’ll do.
“Given the way you talked about your body, how you didn’t like your torso, I guess I didn’t know what to expect.” I shrug and slide up next to her in bed. “Do you feel comfortable being naked around me?”
I think about our night at the condo, how I woke up before dawn and watched a movie, cooked pancakes, and made coffee completely nude. I think about how she came out and looked at me, and I felt completely at home, completely comfortable. “I do,” I laugh.
“Good,” she says. “You should.”
I wonder how much of that is her, how much is me, and how much is that little experiment at Rookie Party. For the first time in forever, I suddenly feel like my body isn’t an issue, and I know she had a lot to do with it. Despite the remnants of the stretch marks, despite the gut, despite the leftover fat and flab, the ever-present excess flesh, I feel at home in my own skin.
No matter what else happens, I know she’s been good for me.
“And your beer,” the waiter says, setting the Tecate topped with a fresh lime wedge down next to me.
“I’m sorry?” I say confused.
“Oh no,” she says, an angry look appearing on her face, her eyes looking around accusingly.
“You didn’t order a beer?” the waiter asks.
“Nope. I’d drink it, but it’s not mine,” I say.
“Hmm,” he says. “Sorry about that.” He picks up the beer and turns to seek its real owner.
“What was that about?” I ask her.
“Well, if some bitch ordered a beer for you, I might’ve had to kick some ass.” I laugh and lean back.
“How can a girl in an open relationship, who expects no exclusivity, be jealous?”
“I’m very in the moment,” she says. “We’re in a very intimate setting. Just you and me at this table. If some girl thinks she can hit on you while you’re with me? Well she’s got another thing coming!” She has an amused sort of angry plastered on her face. “How does that make you feel?”
“Good,” I say. “Wanted. I still think it’s hypocritical, though.” She glares at me playfully. “But you’re pretty when you’re angry.” And suddenly we’re back in the moment.
He sits there, trying so hard, so obviously wanting something. And she isn’t declining the $40 glass of aged scotch he bought. He’s obviously perturbed that I’m next to her, between them.
“You know,” I remark to him in a moment she’s not paying attention. “Until recently, it had been a long time for me. It’s not easy to get things started.”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do,” he tells me wistfully. “Get something started.” I’ve noticed.
She’s not the only one he’s been pursuing. He’s been hard up so much that he’s hitting on every girl at work. She just happens to be more willing to let him do it. He’s a good guy. I could see him being sweet and fun, but he’s in a similar boat to me. He wants a relationship, not just a fling, not something casual. And I feel somewhat sorry for him. Cause even if he gets her like I have, that’s not what he would get.
That’s not what I’ve got.
I wonder if I’ve integrated that knowledge. I wonder if I truly realize it. Because that’s not how I act with her. That’s not what I want from her. And yet I’ve accepted it logically even if I haven’t emotionally. In the moment, it feels like more, but now, away from the moment, I can feel him wanting her, and I’m just sitting there idly.
As the night wears on, everyone slowly fades into the night. He disappears into the darkness with the others. Everyone but she and I are gone. And before I know it, I’m being more forward than I have been. I’m pushing boundaries. I’m asking to take her home, threatening playfully to carry her. I think about how he kept hitting on her, how he left without her.
And when we finally walk into the cold, it’s only a moment before she’s in my arms.
Open and Honest – Part IV