I think I might be in trouble. Everything about Ian does it for me. Sexiness oozes around him like vapors, tugging me into his aura and making me want to do all sorts of naughty things. He is in a whole other bracket as far as his looks. I feel bad for even thinking it, but in every area … well … he makes Michael look somewhat homely in comparison.
I am a hideous, hideous human being.
The things that came out of his mouth; he’s so irreverent. I’m not used to people saying exactly what they think. Filtered talk is as popular as filtered water these days. More than all this, though, that hour with him made me feel more alive—more awake—than I have ever felt. I realize heart poundage does not a relationship make, but land sakes, feeling alive sure is worthy.
“Spaaaaarrrow! Miiiichael’s here!” My mom calls.
“I’ll be right down,” I yell back.
I slip on my shoes and grab a light jacket. The City always cools down at night.
Michael looks swoon worthy in his suit. I take it back about him being anything near homely. He’s not at all.
My gut twinges guiltily as I think about how Ian would look in that suit.
The drive goes by quickly as we speed and sing along with the radio. The lighthearted mood changes a bit once we get to the restaurant. I’ve done fairly well not obsessing about Ian, but it is taking considerable effort. Michael seems more serious than usual as we’re seated at a beautiful, candlelit table, overlooking the ocean. There are roses at the table and when I look at them closer, I see a little card with my name on it.
“Michael! You did this?”
He grins and for a moment, I think I’ve misjudged his seriousness. He kisses my cheek and tells me I’m pretty.
“The flowers are gorgeous! Thank you!”
I open the card and it says,
For an unforgettable night with an unforgettable girl.
Yours forever, Michael
I hug him. I don’t deserve any of this sweetness from Michael after practically ripping all Ian’s clothes off—I know it was only in my mind, but they say it’s what’s in the heart that matters.
Who said that anyway? Oh yeah, the Bible.
“That’s so sweet. I can’t believe you.”
“Well, I have big plans for tonight, so get ready,” he smiles at me.
“What plans? Flowers? A swanky restaurant? What are you up to?” I smile back at him.
He laughs and locks his lips, throwing away the key.
Maybe I don’t need to be all awakened anyway, when I have such a thoughtful guy in front of me.
To be honest, I’ve been really nervous about what leaving will mean for Michael and me. We’ve barely talked about it, but for the last couple of weeks, I feel the cloud hanging over both of us. I will really miss him. Skype, texting, and talking on the phone all the time—not my idea of a fun relationship. He’s promised to come see me and I will try to fly home for the longer breaks.
I look out the window and get lost in the water. Give me the ocean and it’s the equivalent of a yoga class or meditating in India … not that I’ve ever done either of those things. Wherever people go to find peace—that’s what I find in the ocean. Hopefully, I’ll find a favorite beach out east.
Michael clears his throat and startles me. I turn and watch him fiddle with his tie.
“So today was interesting,” he says.
“Yes, it was. Did you like Jeff? He’s nice, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, he really is. I liked him a lot.”
I pick up my menu and slowly read through it. A minute or five ticks by and when I look up, Michael is still watching me.
“What is it?”
“Ian Sterling sure was into you.”
My face goes hot. “He was just being friendly.”
“Yes, very friendly,” he mutters.
I look at my menu again and am torn between being ecstatic about Ian, while also feeling bad that Michael was there to witness it. I thought he was too engrossed in conversation with Jeff to notice. I wonder how much he heard. How would I feel if he talked to another girl like that with me sitting right there? And even if he didn’t hear anything, he must have noticed how we looked at each other.
The more I think about it, the more awful I feel. I know now that I didn’t imagine the entire thing with Ian. Who knows? It might be the way he talks to every female, but I should have shut him down. It was just such an unexpected thrill. Ian Sterling, for crying out loud.
Michael takes my hand and his eyes are intense. “You’re so beautiful. Any man would be crazy not to want you.”
I seize the napkin in my lap and suddenly fold it into square after square until it’s too tight to fold another. My own shame is threatening to swallow me up. Michael looks pensive. I’m afraid to know what he’s thinking.
The waitress comes and we order. The sunset gradually takes over our conversation; it’s spectacular. There is nothing like watching the sun disappear into the water. Michael relaxes more and more. Soon I find myself doing the same. The anxiousness melts away, and I’m happy to be here with him. I’m happy he doesn’t bring up Ian again.
The sea lions are making a racket on the wharf below. Sea gulls swoop around the sea lions, teasing them with their catch of the day. Our food arrives and the steak and scallops are delicious. I eat every bite.
We’re sharing a chocolate soufflé when Michael goes serious on me again. It’s hard for me to concentrate on anything but the chocolate. I am passionate about good food and this is perfection: warm cake with a gooey chocolate center and two chocolate sauces on the side. I pour another dollop of the dark chocolate sauce over my last bite and moan—it’s that good. I wish I hadn’t agreed to share. Why did I do that? Maybe we can order another…
As soon as I set my spoon down, Michael takes both of my hands. “I want to talk to you about something.”
I take a deep breath, and Ian flashes through my brain. Chocolate and Ian. And Ian with chocolate. Ian and me and chocolate…
I blink and Michael swims into focus. Dang, I’m hopeless. I will get Ian out of my mind and focus on my boyfriend.
“You know I’m in love with you, right, Ro? I have been since I first laid eyes on you a year ago. Being with you the last several months has been the best time of my life.” He reaches down and kisses my hand. He looks up at me with those crinkly, smiling eyes, and I can’t help but smile back at him. He’s so sweet. “I thought we would wait—I know we’re young—but I can’t wait. I know that I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”