“Why would I? It’s not like I’m on bad terms with her. We’re just not right for each other as romantic partners. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”
I thought about my only real ex. Marty. We weren’t exactly on the best of terms. The idea of being friends with someone you were once romantic with seemed pretty foreign to me, but it worked for some people. “So when was the last time you guys were intimate?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, five or six years?”
The way he was so casual about sex was often a turn-on, but right now it made me feel pretty insignificant. I had to keep the conversation going or I knew I’d dwell on it. “So all that innuendo from her was just joking around?”
“She was probably trying to get a rise out of you. I’m sure she knew we were together so she was probably testing you by seeing how you would react if she flirted with me.”
Did he just say we were together? It didn’t feel like it, especially after he’d let Ariel test me like that. Did I want to be with someone who would let me squirm?
“Are we together? Because I felt invisible while you were talking to Ariel, and it’s even worse if you were conscious of the fact she was trying to do that.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Felt invisible?”
“Please. You didn’t even introduce me as your girlfriend.” Granted, I wasn’t sure whether I was his girlfriend. We hadn’t talked about what our status was as a couple, or even if we were a couple.
He let out a deep breath and grimaced. “Sorry, that was an oversight. I was surprised and not really thinking.”
That was a non-answer. “But you knew she was testing me and you just let her keep going. Why did you do that?”
“What did you want me to do? The way she was doing it, I would’ve had to say something very awkward and it would’ve made things uncomfortable for everyone. What she was doing was pretty harmless.”
“It wasn’t harmless to me! And why did you disregard the surfing we did on our first date when she asked?”
He blinked. “I didn’t. I said ‘not really’, which was true given what she asked. From what I remember, I was a lot more focused on you than I was on the surfing during that date. ”
“So you can’t actually have fun surfing with me because I’m not good enough?”
“I had a great time and I think we could have fun doing it again.”
If we ever went surfing again. “You’re not bored with me?”
He looked up and shook his head. He was getting frustrated. “What have I done that makes you think I could possibly be bored with you?”
I started to tear up. I said something that had been in the back of my mind for a while. “You can’t surf or do a lot of the other thrill-seeking stuff you love so much when you’re with me.”
“Kristen, I’m a big boy. If I didn’t think we were compatible, or if I was getting bored, or anything like that, I would just tell you. The fact is I don’t feel that way. Compatibility is much more complex than shared hobbies. And a relationship is much deeper than thrilling moments. We haven’t been together long, but you and I both know we have great chemistry. I’m still crazy about you, and you’re still the only woman I want or need.”
Warmth spread from my face around my entire body. It felt good to hear those words. Even after the day before and that morning, seeing him with Ariel had shaken my confidence in how attracted Vincent was to me. If you had shown me a picture of Ariel Diamond when I was doing my initial research on Vincent, I would have said they were a perfect match. But that was before I knew him. There was more to him than he let on to the public.
“Promise?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, smiling, “I promise.”
I beamed. Vincent, as if coming to a sudden realization, jumped up and went to the counter. By the time I turned around to track him, he had a camera up and snapped a picture.
“Perfect. I’d been meaning to get a good picture of you as a keepsake.” He looked at his handiwork on the camera’s screen. “Take a look. I think it’s a great shot.”
He came over and handed me the camera. He had caught me smiling wide and staring right at the camera. I was a little teary-eyed but I still looked happy. He was right, it was a perfect shot. Candid but well-framed. A professional photographer would be proud.
“I’m getting two copies. One for the cabin and one for my condo. You don’t mind do you?”
I shook my head. I pondered the significance of my portrait sitting next to his cherished photos including the one with his sister. Mine would be the only one with a single person in the photo.
“I’d get one for my office desk. But I don’t want to put your job in jeopardy if your employer finds out we’re together.”
Night fell and we curled up outside in the beach tent watching the stars, which were much more numerous than they were in New York, where you were lucky to see any. I had put on the black lingerie I brought and we had sex that night but it was more slow and intimate than the lustful frenzy the night before. My clothes weren’t torched and there wasn’t any chocolate involved. Vincent came once again inside me and we cuddled afterward for the remainder of the night, sharing tender kisses and small irrelevant details about our lives.
The next day was spent packing up for travel and then traveling. It had been a mostly relaxing trip, and as we landed at JFK, I wished it could have lasted just a little longer.
By the time the cab dropped me off at my apartment, it was almost eleven p.m. Exhausted, I walked in and found Riley watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She was drinking a diet coke as always and wearing yet another pink and blue sorority t-shirt and shorts combo from when she was in college.
Riley paused her show and got up off the couch. “You’re back! I didn’t know if you’d be home tonight. How was the trip?”
I put my stuff down on the counter and opened the fridge hoping for something to eat. Thankfully, there was some string cheese that was mine. I grabbed it. “It was good. He has a private island with a cabin that we stayed at. The entire area is gorgeous.”
“A private island? Are you fookin kidding me?” Riley took a seat on a stool in the kitchen, where I was standing. “I’m so jealous. Look at that tan you’re getting with all these trips. I need to find myself a billionaire to jet me down to the Caribbean on the regular.”