Open & Honest – Part VII
She adorns herself in the blankets, wrapped in comfort. Her breath slips out slow and steady, her chest rising invisibly beneath the comforter. I stand there, goosebumps covering my body, chilled, and I’m torn.
I want to dive beneath the covers, exploring the depths of the bed until we’re wrapped tightly next to one another, steam rising from our collective warmth. To do so, however, would place my chilled flesh against hers, the shock yanking her from her reverie. And that, I could not abide.
I slide into the chair and watch her. Her auburn tresses splay across the pillow, disappearing into the ruffles of the comforter. Her lips, flush with rest, pout ever so slightly more as she slowly draws each languid breath. Her eyes, gently pursed in repose, dance with each dreamy twitch of hidden visions.
With the greatest of care, she tilts in her downy crown of pillows, pushing her hand and arm from beneath her cozy cocoon. She squeaks and bends, her lashes peeling open ever so slightly, a supple smile sliding across her face. It feels like sunrise as her eyes open, every millimeter illuminating my soul.
“Good morning,” I whisper as our gaze meets. She just smiles.
Without realizing it, I’ve crawled beside her, pulling myself close, and like that, we’re entwined.
“Sometimes I think I have kind of a high sex drive,” she admits to the bedroom.
“Oh really?” I say, mocking her. She tries to raise an eyebrow and scowl at me; her face is contrived and comical, yet cute in the effort. She huffs as I laugh at her, pursing her lips into a perfectly adorable pout. “I might have noticed,” I say as slide closer and move to kiss her.
“It can get me into trouble,” she says.
“Sometimes, I end up hooking up with guys I don’t know very well or probably shouldn’t.” It comes out like a confession, but one she can’t control, as if it’s an addiction, as if she’s unsure why she feels that.
I flash through the scenarios I’ve seen, both with me and with others: her flirty nature; the way she responds to interest, even from men in whom she has no interest; the way she cites Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs to get me into bed quicker; the times we’ve eschewed chores, food or sleep for sex. Yet, there were also the times she didn’t, when rest or sleep was more important, when gratification now might hinder plans tomorrow, when spending the night together was a matter of comfort not physical release.
And then the jealousy hits me. I can feel the temptation to ask, even though it doesn’t matter, even though it’s been clearly stipulated from the start. “Have you been sleeping with other guys while we’ve been dating?” The question boils at the back of my throat, a lump forming.
But I remain silent, instead just pulling her closer, tipping her gaze to meet mine, and looking into her eyes.
It’s not an experience I’m familiar with. I’ve never let my penis make my decisions, never been so far at the whims of my body and its needs that I’ve been out of control. The responsibility for every decision has always been mine. Even when someone or something else dictated the next action, I’ve been the one to agree or acquiesce. I’ve certainly regretted choices or made bad decisions, but I’ve always been the one at fault; not my body; not my penis; just me.
As we gaze at each other, I can feel her breathing speed up, the muscles in her back tense slightly. The gold flecked rims of her eyes shimmer as her pupils grow. The heat from her body feels comfortable against my palms. I can feel her twist toward me as we come together once more.
I wonder, as I close my eyes, if I’m one of those mistakes, one of those bad decisions.
I wonder, as our lips meet, if I care.
“Oh. My. God,” she mumbles as she savours our meal.
“I know, right?”
“If I were the marrying type,” she explains after swallowing, “I would totally marry someone over these.”
I laugh. I spear another prosciutto-wrapped asparagus on the tiny fork and hold it out for her to take a bite. “I’m glad I can please you,” I say, watching the ecstasy roll over her face again.
“But seriously,” she says after languishing on our meal, “this is something worth marrying for. This is what I would serve at my wedding.”
I’m tempted to propose right then and there. Jokingly, in a manner we could laugh at and brush off. But that’s a dangerous game to play. I feel I have far greater odds of hastening an end than creating levity. And there’s no chance she would take me seriously, not that I really want her to at this point.
“It’s not exactly vegetarian friendly,” I point out instead.
“Well they can be damned,” she says snatching another bite off the fork in my hand. She’s told me she was a vegetarian for five years. I can believe it given her other moral beliefs. Yet during the time I’ve known her, I’ve watched her down burgers, bacon, wings, and all manner of meats, save veal. She’s clearly enjoying the thinly sliced prosciutto that adorns our evening meal. “Has any girl ever told you they’d marry you when you served them this?”
“No,” I say, smirking. “Usually I get ‘I can’t believe someone hasn’t snatched you up yet,’ or ‘You’ll make some girl very happy,’ but no marriage proposals.” I feed her another asparagus. “You know, for a woman who insists she’s not interested in exclusivity, you sure talk about kids and marriage a lot. I know you’re not ready for it now, but do you think you’ll get married and start a family some day?”
“When my hobbies and the things I want to do that would take me away from my family become less important. Like snowboarding, and shows, and travel. I mean, there’s just so much I still want to do.
“I would want to do it before I’m forty. I don’t want to be that fifty year-old mother, unable to keep up with her kid. But I’m also only twenty-five. That’s too young to settle down.”
“I have friends who got married at eighteen or nineteen,” I counter, “friends with kids in their twenties.”
“So do I. And that’s way too young. I mean, I have cousins, younger than me, who are getting married. Twenty-three, that’s still way too young. Think about all the things they’re going to miss out on. The shows, the hobbies, the travel. You can’t travel with kids. I’d want to be settled.”
“Sure you can. I’d still travel with my family. I did when I was a kid. It’s how I got the travel bug in the first place.”
“But I mean traveling for work. I don’t want to be moving every year. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. I’d want that for my kids.” I nod in agreement, remembering how nice it was to have playmates and neighbors. “I mean it wasn’t always nice,” she says twisting her mouth to the side.
“You mean the frogs in the A/C unit.”
“And the boys stomping on frogs. And biking over frogs. I mean, they’d have to hold them down to do that. And then it was ‘Hey, go get us some more frogs!’”
I can see her distaste and can feel my face contorting in empathy into a mild grimace. “Sorry.”
“It’s whatever,” she says, brushing it off. “Anyway, a neighborhood with kids would be nice.”
“And I’d need a stable father. I don’t want some asshole who runs off and leaves me with the kid. And I’m not putting my kids through a divorce.”
She’s stalwart, strong and beautiful in her determination. “Was your parents’ divorce hard on you? You’re parents are amicable now if I recall.”
“Now, sure. Right after, during, not so much. And the years leading up to it were unpleasant. I don’t know why anyone would try to keep something that’s failing together just for the sake of the kids either.” Her face pinches with a sourness I haven’t seen before, almost sad and resigned. “I mean, I was young when it happened. But I still noticed. I still remember.”
“Agreed. I don’t want to end up in a relationship destined for divorce. It’s one of the reasons it couldn’t be just any woman who’d make a good mother.”
It strikes me as odd, talking about marriage and kids and the trappings of a settled life with a woman insistent that she isn’t built for commitment. And yet here we are, two months into whatever one might call this dalliance, and this is what we’re discussing.
“What time were you born?” She asks.
“I don’t know. I could call my mom and ask.”
“No, that’s ok.”
“I’m doing your horoscope.” I smirk. Her spiritual nature has struck me as silly, and yet I envy her balance between the logic and the mystic.
“It was early in the morning,” I tell her. I remember my parents telling me I was almost born the day before, but I held out. “Not long after midnight, I’m pretty sure.”
“We’ll go with two AM,” she decides.
I sit there, reading, sipping my drink, as she reads. She punctuates the practice with small glances from behind the screen of my laptop, occasionally humming knowingly or dropping a mild huh.
“What?” I ask after one of her verbal cues, my eyes meeting hers as we both look up.
“Oh nothing,” she says. “I’m just learning a lot about you.”
“Oh really?” I say, eyebrow raised in incredulity.
“Well,” she says sheepishly, “I think so.” She examines me with a deft eye. “Would you say this is accurate?” she asks after a cautious pause. “It is hard for you to separate love and sex,” she reads, quickly turning her eyes back up to meet mine.
I snicker. “Yes.” She sits back and watches me. “I’ve said it before,” I continue, sensing she wants more, “sex without emotional connection just doesn’t really do it for me.” I’ve all but admitted I love her with the statement and I watch to see if she flushes in response.
Her smile shows comfort, but anything else I see I could be projecting.
As I think more closely about it, I realize this is the first time we’ve been apart forty-eight hours in nearly three months. For a non-relationship that certainly seems like a lot.
But duty calls, and I need to head to Fort Collins. It’s an opportunity I would be remiss to pass on. It’s a chance at a new job, a new position, and one, which while not paying well, would be prestige, fun, and an amazing networking opportunity.
Still, every moment I’m not working or socializing or busy, I can’t keep my mind off her.
My heart skips a beat when my phone flashes with a text from her. It’s one of the rare instances where she’s showing some initiative in the relationship. I banter distracted, more excited for the next text than the next beer or interview. Each time my phone flashes with a response, I’m titillated, my mind and body wishing I were with her instead of here.
“So is this doing it for you?” she asks.
“You do it for me,” I reply.
“So you’re getting back Monday and then flying out Tuesday. That doesn’t give us much time,” she says. “I guess Monday night and then you’re on your own.”
For a second, I’m hit with this fear that our brief connection between my travels will mark the end of our relationship. But the fear quickly subsides beneath the hungry lust.
“I guess that’ll have to do. What’ll do it for you?”
Her one word response ends any ability I have to concentrate for the evening. I stare at it, surprised, shocked, utterly in love and read it again.
Open and Honest – Part VIII