Family is one thing I have in common with my men. We are all loners, floating through life unattached, except to each other. We don’t talk about our pasts, our lack of familial ties. There is no point in dwelling on the darkness. Not when our new life is full of such life.
Five months before Paul, I met Stewart, on the street in downtown Hollywood. It was November and snowing. Not thick heavy snow that allows snowmen and powder fights, but a light flurry that swirled through the air and fell softly on open tongues, melting upon contact. It doesn’t snow in our part of the world—not normally, the barely-there flurries an event worth celebrating.
I was downtown, having met my stepfather’s attorney to sign some paperwork. Halfway through our meeting, I noticed the snow, my feet bringing me to the window, hands and nose pressed to the glass like a child. I was anxious to move outside, to feel the soft flurries and to lift my face to the sky. When the meeting concluded, I ran, down six flights of stairwell steps, and burst into the frigid air.
I was spinning, like a small child, when I stumbled out of place and into the hard polish of his suit. His steps were moving, pausing only to right my steps before moving on. But my ankle turned in the stumble and I let out a small cry of pain that had his eyes meeting mine, concern thick in the blue glint of his irises. He stopped, gripping my arms, his stare intent on my face. “Are you all right?”
I winced, pushing against his chest and put some weight on my ankle, moving away from him and gripping the metal rod of a street sign. “I’m fine.” I glanced up, watching the erratic swirl of flakes, my mouth curving back into a smile. “It’s snowing.”
He dismissed the miracle of snow with one shrug of his suit. “Is your car close by?”
“It’s just a few blocks up.” I leaned against the pole, putting weight on my good foot. I held out my hand and watched as dots of white sprinkled its surface. I glanced over at him, my eyes distracted from the snow as I took in the gorgeous exterior that was this stranger. Custom suit stretched across a strong, tall build. Black hair, swept back and dotted with snow. Blue eyes staring at me with a mixture of impatience and concern. I smiled. “I’m good, really.”
He sighed, glancing around, then stepped closer, holding out his arm. “May I... please. Let me carry you inside. I can have a driver take you home.”
I laughed. “And not be able to get back to my car? That is thoughtful, but driving won’t be a problem, its my other foot.”
He stepped closer, his open hand brushing my side, and I started at the contact, the brush of touch electric. “Then I’ll carry you to your car. Please.” His eyes softened, the urgency in them gone, and I relaxed.
“If you insist.” I smiled, giggling when he scooped me up, cradling me to his chest, his intense eyes staring bemusedly down at me.
“This is funny?” he questioned, a flow of minty fresh air floating down on me.
“Quite romantic, actually.” His hands supported me easily, my weight not slipping and sliding through his arms. I leaned in, resting my head against the wool of his suit, the bump of our movement slightly rocky. “Take a right here. It might be a hair more than a few blocks.” I discreetly inhaled, a delicious blend of vanilla and forest hitting my nose, and I burrow my face farther into his chest.
“What’s your name?” The words vibrate through his chest and I lifted my head, stared at the strong muscles of his neck, and had the insane urge to lift my mouth to them, to trail playfully kisses up, till I reached the fine shadow of his jaw, over that strong feature and to those lips. I swallow.
He stopped walking, the abrupt change causing instability, my arms gripping his shoulders for balance, then snaking around his neck. He looked down into my face, smiling, the bright flash of white teeth against the stubble of his five-o-clock shadow breathtaking. “Stewart Brand. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He then asked me where I lived, and what I did. We laughed over his lack of book knowledge and over his admission of no social life. We flirted, his hands tightened, and we walked two blocks past my car before I realized it and made him turn around.
We parted awkwardly, neither one of us wanting to step away, then his cell rang and he glanced at his watch, muttering a curse. He passed me a business card while stepping away, answering the phone and bringing it to his ear. “Call me.” He mouthed. “Please.” Then with a wink, he left, talking quickly, his steps turning into a jog as he headed back up the street. I hobbled into the car and watched his back disappear, waiting to see if he would glance back. But he didn’t, and I stuffed his card into my purse and left, my tender ankle almost causing my Suzuki to sideswipe an adjacent Mercedes.
I sat on the card for a week, occasionally pulling it out and running my fingers over the surface. Women shouldn’t call men. We should be pursued, should play the offhand, casual game until the men tackle us to the ground with flowers and affection. But his hurried exit, the urgency on his face when the phone rang, didn’t give us the customary time to find pen and paper, to exchange numbers. I bent the card slightly in my hand, considered tossing it the trash and ending this dilemma once and for all.
But I didn’t. Day Nine I called the number, an efficient female taking down my information in a manner that guaranteed no call back. Day Ten she called back, five times friendlier and set a lunch appointment for Stewart and I three weeks later. I repeated the date uncertainty, expecting for her to be mistaken, and her tone hardened slightly as she informed me that he was a very busy individual, and she had shifted an entire day to accommodate that time frame. I took the date. Twenty-eight months later, I don’t need her to shift schedules. I get my stolen time in the wee hours of the night, or during a business dinner, or if an appointment cancels and I am in the area to grab a quick bite or a f**k on his desk.
Snow. Falling snow is what brought us together. That and his hurried life which collided us in the first place.
VENICE BEACH, CA
HARPOONING: [verb] Copping wood while surfing.
I am woken in the night, a hand on my shoulder, shaking me gently. “Maddy. ” Soft lips brush my neck, the rough scruff of unshaven skin tickling my cheek.
I roll, pulling up on the sheet, the cool night air cold on my bare chest. “Stop,” I mumble.
“Come on,” Paul whispers, sliding under the sheet, the warm heat of his skin settling over mine, his weight gently held by knees and arms. His kisses drift over my body, the hot nip of his lips traveling up my stomach, over my br**sts, and settle on my