Like a Black Dress With Brown Shoes

His breath was hot on her neck and when he whispered in her ear she could feel his voice slide through her veins and down to her toes.

You’re insanely gorgeous.

Darren.

I’m not lying.

It had been 2 weeks and they already established a routine: coffee in the mornings, riding the bus to work, him leaning against his building across the street during breaks, staring up through the window on the 8th floor, her staring down at him, neither quite seeing the other.

In the evenings they slipped away from work to the darkened recesses of Chester’s and she would let him kiss her goodbye at her gate but never enter past it.

Not yet.

It was Friday. She hadn’t heard from Tim again, or seen him. She avoided the blocks with Chipotles and taco shops just to be safe. Julie had texted her here and there, but Bee still couldn’t find it in her to forgive her for twisting her body around J two — or was it three? — weeks ago, as innocent as the picture was or wasn’t meant to be.

All Bee wanted to do was get lost. To find her way back to the life she was building here for herself in the city. To navigate around tall buildings and find patches of sunlight, to read all of the books on her bookshelf and sip wine in the park with friends.

She wanted Darren, too, or at least her body did.

The bar was crowded when they arrived. They stood near the back, him sipping his Old Fashioned and her, a glass of red wine. When they kissed she licked whiskey from his lips and breathed in deep the smell of orange rind on his breath.

What are you doing this weekend?

Things, I don’t know, I have some deadlines but not much.

Stay with me.

He wrapped his arms around the front of her shoulders and she let herself relax backward into him.

She traced the outlines of his tattoos with her fingernail, gently winding it around red hibiscus flowers, rays of sun filtering through a blue ocean, ending on a hammerhead shark underwater by his wrist.

She wondered what his apartment looked like, she had never been there.

Don’t stop.

She turned her head toward him with a half smile and he pressed a kiss onto her temple. It felt right, it felt natural, him, her — together.

The feeling hooked right behind her belly button. It was like wearing brown leather shoes with a black dress — it was a stylish match, yes, and it worked. It looked good together, was allowed — but at the same time she wasn’t certain it did. She still hesitated to put it on.

Come home with me.

She thought about Tim. She thought about J. About Tim’s messy hair and J’s big hands and how they wanted more or less of her depending on the day. She thought about how her deepest conversations with each were when they were breaking up — and how she never wanted it to be that way again.

OK. I will.

He lifted her hair off the back of her neck and pressed his lips to her skin, his beard tickling the spot where the collar of her shirt ended.

I will, I will.

She wanted more than she thought she wanted. Him, her, more than occasional hand holding and sloppy drunk kisses at the bar, late night twisting in the sheets and skirting out the door before work in the morning.

She wanted the goodnight text messages and whispers on shared pillows and the fighting to stay awake just to watch the other fall asleep. She wanted weekend camping trips and arguments on street corners ending in hugs of relief — because he wasn’t going anywhere. She wanted Our Song and Our Favorite Restaurant and Our Friends.

She decided she wanted more. And him? He was less.

Day No. 9 of my #100DayProject. 100 days of fiction, 100 days of story. Watch the story unfold here, day by day.

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