It was 1:48 am. My Nextel was buzzing under my pillow. I had just gotten home about an hour ago so I wasn’t asleep yet. I pulled out my phone to see who it was.
The number wasn’t saved, but I knew it and didn’t wonder why he was calling. He had never called before, but I wasn’t surprised he was now. I was nervous though, my heart was pounding as I answered, “hello?”
“Hi.” His voice was drunk and calm. I liked hearing it.
“Hi.” I wondered if he could hear my heart pounding through the phone. It felt like he could.
“What are you doing?” His smooth confidence swallowed me up. It was almost 2am. What did he think I was doing? But, ever the conversationalist, he always started with small talk.
I tried to swallow quietly. “Nothing. What are you doing?” Why was my throat so dry? Could he hear my voice shaking?
“Nothing, I just got back to High Rise with Connors.”
“Oh?” My throat is so dry.
“I need to see you.” He said. “I want to see you.” His deliberate confidence quickly returned.
My pounding heart moved into my dry throat. I didn’t know what to say. And until this very moment, I didn’t realize how much I wanted to see him, too. But I needed a minute.
The silence went longer than I intended and I felt my cheeks go flush in the dark. “Ok, I’ll come get you, see you in a bit.”
When I arrived at the High Rise apartments he was standing outside. I pulled up in front of him. He settled easily into the black leather. I asked if Connors knew where he was going. “Yea, he’s cool.” He breezed.
I felt the tension leave my body with a sigh of relief. Good. Ok, so hopefully this won’t blow up in my face tomorrow… or ever.
Back then, driving around was all we did. Packing as many people in a car as possible, we’d find someone to buy the alcohol and someone to provide the weed.
We’d burn all the best music from The Rolling Stones and The Doors to John Mayer and Jack Johnson. Mix CDs were awesome.
We’d get drunk and high, and listen to music until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. Then we’d go home, eat, sleep, wake up, and repeat.
Mike and I had driven around in the same car hundreds of times, but never alone.
Still, it was familiar and comfortable. Something about him — about being alone with him — made me feel grounded and confident.
Citizen Cope was playing quietly on the radio. Neither of us spoke, but we weren’t trying to fill the silence. I drove down all the regular routes, heading toward The Cove. We passed through a set of traffic lights and immediately pulled up to a stop sign. I looked left, and then right.
Mike was staring directly into my eyes. Without looking away, I put the car in park. He leaned in and I breathed out. I felt his warm hand on my cheek, then slowly move around my jaw to the back of my neck. His mouth pressed into mine, it was so soft and powerful.
I was melting. My mind was swirling. I grabbed his face and pushed up against him, shoving my tongue deep into his mouth. It felt so good. So perfect.
He sounded perfect talking to me, he felt perfect touching me.
Did I ever want him before this?
Did I ever not?
As we made out passionately across the center console of my Infiniti G20, idling at the stop sign, surrounded by thick trees and the glow of the dashboard, I realized I wanted to kiss him forever.
I wanted that kiss, forever. Our very first kiss wasn’t ours, but this one was.
So I keep it hidden, deep in my mind, in the dark of those early morning hours without sunlight, or anything else that could expose us.
Our secret. Forever mine.
On that 4th of July weekend, we had plans to party at the Lake. Connors' boss had a house on the water and everyone was going.
Mike and I were still seeing each other at night after everyone else went home.
It was always the same. He’d call, I would tell him we shouldn’t (even though I never meant it.) He would plead, and I would melt, and ultimately give in.
From the minute I woke up, I’d wait for every day to end just so I could kiss him again.
Half of me knew I’d always go to him when he called, the other half pretended to be logical and tried to put an end to it.
At home, I was struggling. There were reasons I didn’t want to be there and being with Mike was my escape. I didn’t care if I was being selfish, I needed it.
Our nightly rendezvous went from a few hours of talking, laughing, smoking weed, and making out, to falling asleep while holding hands in the front seat of his car, because I never asked him to bring me home, and he never tried to take me.
That night, the 4th of July, was different.
“Do you want to go to a hotel or something?”
The party had ended—the fireworks were amazing—everyone had gone home.
I was drunk and felt so free. I didn’t get drunk often. And all I had been thinking about since the fireworks started was the secret we kept and how I couldn’t wait to get back to it.
But then his question stopped me in my tracks.
Did I want to go to a hotel? He had a girlfriend.
I had never actually met her because he wouldn’t dare bring her around Ally— my friend, his ex. And to be honest, I don’t know if he loved her, or was serious about her… or if she was just a lifeline. A lifeline from Ally, who never stopped pursuing him. She was relentless in pursuing him and sometimes, she was successful. He cheated on his girlfriend before and I assumed he’d have no qualms about doing it again.
But it really didn’t matter to me because we weren’t having sex. He had a girlfriend, and I had self-respect.
I had made it clear before and he was gracious, but I briefly wondered if a hotel room would change our dynamics.
“Just to hang out.” He blurted out.
It must have been obvious that I needed reassurance, I instantly felt better.
“Ok.” I couldn’t resist. I really wanted to sleep in a bed that wasn’t my own.
Before we went to the hotel, we continued our tradition of driving around, smoking weed, talking, and making out. Once we got tired, we headed toward the hotel.
Mike paid for the room in cash. It felt dirty and exciting. I imagined it to be what prostitution feels like. I giggled to myself as I reveled in that feeling.
We got to the room and laid on the bed. We talked until we fell asleep.
In that cheap hotel room, with the scratchy sheets and old-rug smell, lying next to a man who was already balancing a girlfriend and an ex who never let him go, drunk and fully clothed, I got the best sleep of my life.
It was perfect. He felt perfect next to me.
And from that night on, we would sleep together, sexless, in hotels.
Months had gone by. I still tried to tell Mike I couldn’t see him, and I’d avoid him for a couple of days, and then I’d go see him anyway. It was a game we played every few weeks.
He still had his girlfriend, but I stopped dating.
I didn’t want to date him but I was finding myself out on dates, bored, constantly checking my phone for some sign that he was thinking of me, wondering when he’d be free and when I would be…
I didn’t want to date him, but I liked that he wanted me.
He was suddenly coming around more often and staying longer. He was acting less and less interested in his girlfriend and our familiarity with each other started to become obvious to our friends, especially Ally.
“I feel like people might know…” I wanted to bring this up for a while but I never wanted to waste our moments.
“I don’t care.” He was stern. He meant it. And with those three words, I knew. If I agreed to be with him, he’d break up with his girlfriend. He’d cut off ties with Ally, or anyone else for that matter. I liked how it felt to know so I leaned in to kiss him. I wasn’t ready, but I liked how I felt.
Being with him would mean the end of my friendship with Ally and everyone I considered my close friend, because they were her friends first.
If I chose Mike, it would be all or nothing.
“I’m going to marry you someday.” My thoughts broke. He sounded like he was joking, but I didn’t think he was.
“Oh, yea?” I was sitting on his lap in the driver seat, my arms were around his neck. I kissed his cheek, and his jawline, and his neck.
I kissed him again.
We weren’t even dating, he wasn’t my boyfriend, and I was never getting married.
But I believed him. Because I wanted to.