(day 27 of #30 in 30)
We’re standing on the curb waiting for the valet to pull my car around. He’s behind me, his arms laced loosely around my neck and shoulders, his chin resting on top of my curls, his entire front pressed against my entire back. We don’t find ourselves particularly in need of words. Periodically he leans down to whisper something in my ear. Or worse, to drag my sensitive earlobe with his teeth. I struggle to keep my face passive for the passerby.
The valet comes, giving him the keys to my car. If I were in a different space, I would be irritated by the slight, the assumption that he must be driving. But as it stands, I am more concerned with retightening my usually iron grip on my self control. And besides, I was going to let him drive anyway. He feels like he should drive, some old fashioned Southern thing he picked up from his daddy and his grandfather and a long line of men that open doors and drove and walked on the outside of the curb. And this small thing I can surrender.
He steps around the valet who has moved to open my door for me, slipping him a $10 and dismissing him, opening the passenger side door and closing it behind me once my feet are tucked inside. I watch him as he walks around the front of the car. I am enamored by his stride, its intoxicating mixture of command and grace and masculinity. He smiles at me through the windshield, returning my own smile I hadn’t even realized had played across my lips.
In the car he drives like he does everything else; self-assured, aggressive. I give my eyes to the scenery flying by outside, humming at odd intervals to whatever song comes on the radio. I close my eyes, kind of sleepy from the martinis. He traces his name repeatedly on the top of my thigh.
We pull up at his parents’ place, a big, beautiful home far outside of the city, each and every window aglow with light. I take a breath and reach for the door handle. He shoots me a look.
“Stay put,” he says. This is not a request. He grabs his mom’s bouquet and comes around to open the door for me. He laces his fingers through mine and guides me to the door.
The rest of the night is a blur of introductions and names I won’t remember and dancing and music and raunchy jokes and love. So much love, seemingly big enough, palpable enough to push against the walls of the house and spill out into the front lawn. In between helping out in the kitchen and listening to stories from his crazy aunts about the men they have loved and left, I pretend not to notice that every time he passes me, he touches me. Or scoots past far closer than he has to. That he brushes my hair off my shoulders or leans in to tell me something in my ear that he could say aloud. That he is finding any excuse, really, to invade my personal space. I ignore all of that and focus on the conversations and the laughter and the drinks and the food.
But he knows I’ve noticed.
Long after today has become tomorrow, we leave, showered with hugs and kisses and thank yous and an invitation for me to come back whenever I want, whether or not he’s in town. I utter a thank you at being so openly welcomed. I lean down to hug his mom, even smaller than I am, and take care not to knock askew her birthday crown.
“I hope you two can work it out this time,” she says in my ear, and kisses me sweetly on the cheek. When I pull away, I notice her hazel eyes have the same mischievous sparkle as her son’s. I hug his father, a big bear of a man, who hugs so fiercely he almost lifts me out of my shoes. He hugs his son much in the same manner and we head back to the car, his hand finding mine in the darkness once again.
We talk most of the ride, trading stories we culled from opposite sides of the room all night, laughing at his big, crazy family. Before I know it we are back at the valet, dropping off my truck and walking into the lobby. In the elevator, on the way to the floor almost at the top, he takes his customary place behind me, leaning his frame over the top of my head. I trace the muscles in his forearm as he speaks into my ear.
“I wanna talk to you,” he says. I turn to face him. Both of us know what he wants to say.
His mouth finds my bare shoulder, trailing lightly up to the curve of my neck. He’s murmuring something, the words obscured by my hair and his kisses and my inability to concentrate. I don’t hear a word. But I feel everything he’s saying.
Before the door clicks shut, I am pinned against it, fitting against him naturally, like we’ve done this always and forever, despite the fact that we haven’t.
“Listen,” he says, before he kisses me, so intensely, so ferociously that I forget momentarily that I have to breathe.
I don’t recall what happens to my shoes or my dress, but they are gone without my assistance. Before long the only thing covering me is hands and lips and his skin, soft and smelling like the cologne that drives me crazy. I feel flush with heat and dizzy, trying mightily to hold myself together. He turns my face towards his with just his index finger.
“Are you listening?” he asks me, hovering over me, his eyes fixed on mine.
I hear every word.