There is something lovely about preparing for an evening.
The shine of gloss on lips, the sparkle of a ring that's just for pretty. Polish on nails - red on toes, palest of pinks on fingers. A debate over underthings - bare legs or tights? Black lace or sheer white? Flats or heels? A dress that's a bit too low cut or with a hemline that's a little flirtatious.
Smoothing lotion over sugar-scrubbed skin. Sniffing experimentally to ensure the fragrance is tempting, not overpowering. Smudging shadow across eyelids and deciding between heels and flats. Nodding approval over a new dress with a subtle floral print (if I'm permitted to call a garment with orange and purple blossoms subtle) but playing with the neckline and wondering if it was too shapeless and comfortable for a date. A first date. With someone I already liked very much.
He arrived with flowers after we'd corresponded for upwards of 3 weeks. Said email exchanges were sparked by a shared affection for lilacs.
I'd wanted to meet him sooner - almost immediately, actually - and had been thwarted by travel plans and family visits. And though I offered to postpone when he called to tell me he was running late, he refused. So I reached for my flowers before he was even inside (I love flowers and wanted to claim my first-date bouquet), putting the stems in water while he dealt with my overly-friendly dog.
We went to a chain restaurant after he opened the car door for me.
The location wasn't what I'd planned but my suburb is rather sleepy and since we were getting a bit of a late start, I wanted to go somewhere close. Still, as I watched him arrange himself in his seat and start the car, I sighed for a moment and hoped I'd get a chance to take him to the place I'd selected near the river downtown.
We chatted over dinner after sharing guacamole and an affection for the avocado.
I cursed myself for not being more interesting - not having set conversational topics in favor of curling my hair once more in preparation for the evening. He carried the conversation, bless him, and I smiled at the freckle on his nose and the way he structures sentences. And told him his blue jacket was pretty. I would later rest my hand on said jacket while he kissed me.
I invited him in after dinner after taking deep breaths of the chilly evening air to calm my nerves. That is how I let men know I like them.
So I offered him water (or milk with pink syrup left over from my family's visit) before convincing Chienne to let us have the loveseat. She very much wanted me to sit across the room while she snuggled with her new friend. I refused and took my customary place in the living room while he sat a respectable distance away, inches separating my thigh from his knee.
We talked for nearly two hours before I shifted the conversation toward men and relationships and sex. Because my dating history is fraught with failure. And I have questions.
I'd fantasized about him for weeks - nothing scandalous was written in our emails but the gentle hints were enough to leave me smiling into pillows. And I glanced at him and touched his arm again and thought he really was attractive - solid and steady and articulate and sexy. I was talking about not liking to be forced - in relationships or anything, really - and that I was stubborn enough to dig in my heels just to prove I could.
"I'm not going to force you," he noted, and I caught my breath and let my eyes drift almost-closed before his lips met mine. A gentle invitation - warm and soft and slightly wet - my toes curled at the sound it made and I slipped my arm over his then behind his back at some point to clutch at his jacket and tug him closer.
I opened my mouth to tell him that I couldn't think clearly but forgot what I was going to say. I remembered tensing a bit as I remembered I've not been crazy about having a man's tongue in my mouth in the past (and had, in fact, wondered if it was just a quirk - Katie doesn't like to touch tongues) and was surprised when I felt his and wanted more. Well, that's just lovely, I decided hazily, finding taste and texture and timing wonderful, and guided his hand to my breast before I realized I wanted it there.
I blinked in surprise, more at my moving his hand than in his response, and arched my neck when he pulled aside layers of black material - the silky fabric of my pattered dress, my soft camisole because said dress is ridiculously low-cut, and the black lace on my favorite of bras with the floppy peach bow. It is the first time a man had seen it, I realized when I removed it before bed, smiling as I realized I was pleased it had been him.
Chienne interrupted us - the movement of his lips on my breast and his staring down at my bared flesh as I hoped the sugar scrub and subsequent lotion left me suitably soft and pretty. I trembled and leaned closer to him for a moment, slipping my hand under his to hold on to his fingers. I liked it - despite not being very good at it - and swallowed because it still felt so new and sexy and tenuous - ready to topple over and shatter if I did or said the wrong thing.
I want to know him better. To ask more questions and hear more thoughts and receive more email and kisses and trail my fingers through his soft blonde hair.
"I wasn't sure you would," I murmured of our kisses. "I wanted you to." And after a few quiet moments, he indicated he should leave and I nodded, wanting the time to reflect and write so I could be ready for whatever comes next.
"We'll talk," he said and I nodded and replied that I'd like that very much. And I closed the door behind him, watching him walk down the path under the glow of the porch light before turning the lock and moving into the kitchen.
I moved to the flowers perched in the vase, opening the packet that had come with the bunch and pouring it in the water, stirring with a stem. I carefully plucked the leaves from the stems, smiling as I fussed with the flowers and allowing myself a bit of delicate hope.
"I like you," I had admitted after we kissed. "So I'll be waiting for you not to like me back. Because that's how my pattern goes," I reminded him when he looked confused.
"Or we could like each other," he replied and I nodded. Because that would be lovely.