“Do you want to wait? We don’t need to take off. I can run inside, see if there’s a bigger plane I can charter.”
I shook my head. “I’ll be fine,” I managed to say, the words muffled a little by the bag. “It’s just nerves.”
When he reached across me, his hands gently searching for, and pulling out, the seatbelt, I inhaled. Got a whiff of his cologne that took me back to last weekend.
I feel the rough prickle of his cheek, wet suction as my right nipple makes its way into his mouth, his soft play of tongue against delicate skin, probing and teasing, a low moan coming out of me when he gently bites the tip of it.
Okay, I could do this. I was a big girl. The edge of his hands brushed against my bare thighs, my sundress pushed up by my seated position. He glanced my way, his breath pausing slightly, and when our gazes met it was all I could do to keep my legs still, to not open them, the final movement of his hands - clenching, then tightening my belt - done with his eyes on mine, our mouths just inches apart, the bag dropping from my hand as I stared at him.
“Thank you for coming this weekend.” He let go of my belt, one hand settling on my bare knee. I felt every finger of that touch, five hot points of contact that seared through my skin and lit a path directly upward.
I swallowed. “Thank you for inviting me.”
He didn’t smile, didn’t acknowledge, just moved his fingers in a slight caress. I inhaled and put my hand on top of his. “Unless you plan on doing something with that hand, please stop. I literally can’t think straight.”
He laughed and his breath smelled like peppermints. “I’m trying to distract you. From the takeoff.”
Oh. We were taking off. I curled my fingers around his hand and he tightened it a little on my knee.
“And.. we’re off.” He tilted his head to the window, and I glanced over, the rumble beneath us quieted. I felt his hand move underneath mine.
I bit the inside of my cheek. “I wasn’t scared of flying. The nerves were more about us. This weekend.”
He frowned. “I didn’t mean to pressure you to come.”
I smiled. “It’s a weekend in Aruba. I’ll survive.”
“If it’s the sex that worries you, we don’t have to. You take the lead on that.”
“Okay.” I spoke quickly, before my pacifist side denied the request.
“Good.” He reached back out, squeezed my hand. “You still need the bag?” Reaching down, he plucked the crumpled brown paper off the carpeted floor.
“No, I think I’m good.”
I rolled my hand over, looped my fingers through his, and felt myself begin to relax.
In the hotel lobby, I stared down at my key, the marble floor below framing it in waves of tan, and tried to fit this piece into the puzzle that was Brett. This was my key. He held his, for a different room, and signed the bill, the front desk clerk all but climbing over the counter in her attempts to flirt with him.
When he stepped away, reaching for my hand, I held up the key. “We didn’t have to get separate rooms.”
He stopped, the two of us in the wide expanse of the lobby, the ocean glinting at me behind the glass. “It was presumptuous to assume anything else.”
Presumptuous. I’d be willing to bet I’d never heard a prospective boyfriend use that word before. I shrugged. “I mean ... we’re adults. We can share a bed without having sex.” God, what an awkward and unnecessary conversation. Why was my mouth still moving? Why didn’t I shut up and stuff the key in my purse like a good girl?
He chuckled. “Let me be a gentleman. Please.”
I shrugged, sticking my key in my purse. Yes, Riley. Let the man be a gentleman. I followed him into the elevator.
The damn car just had to ding with every floor, a sound that only made the silence between us more obvious. Brett coughed. I played with the leather fringe of my key chain. I should have left my keys at home, or in the glove box of my car. My luck, I’d lose them in Aruba and be screwed. Screwed. I felt an adolescent giggle swell in my throat.
The doors opened. Third floor. I stepped out, he followed, and this awkward carnival moved down the hall. My key card worked, he opened the door, and I stepped inside.
Wow. I’d been expecting a traditional hotel room, but this one had two bathrooms, a sitting area off the bedroom, and a balcony that overlooked the oceanfront pool. I looked down, verified that it was, in fact, my key that had opened the door. If this was my room, I couldn’t imagine his.
“You like it?” Brett stood in the doorway, his own key flipping through his hands.
I nodded with a smile. “Yeah, I like it.”
“The bellman will bring up your bag. How much time do you need before dinner?”
I shrugged. “Five minutes?”
The corner of his mouth turned up. “Five minutes ... how low maintenance of you.”
“It’s less about that, more about my hunger.”
He laughed at that, tapping his card against his leg. “Okay. In that case, I’ll wait here. Let you change and then we can go.” He pulled out his cell, gestured to the balcony. “I just need to make some calls.”
“Go for it.” Behind him, a bellman appeared, and I waved him in. Watched him set out my bags as Brett stepped to the railing, the glass door closing behind him, his phone out. So identical to last weekend, yet so different. Before, with him outside, I’d had a hundred doubts, had felt out of place and only wanted to escape. Now, I felt similar unease, but it was more over his actions than mine. Why was I being weird about having my own room? He was being polite, a gentleman, giving me my own space, one without pressure or expectations. It was just … our prior meetings had been so passionate and quick, his hands—once we’d entered the room—grabbing me with such need that there’d been no doubt about his desire. This Brett, the one settled in a balcony chair, had such control, such patience. It calmed my nerves, but poked holes in any confidence I’d had in my sexual allure.
Any awkwardness dissolved in the hotel’s restaurant, an oceanfront palace that felt fancy until I saw the maître‘d’s flip-flops at the base of his seersucker suit.
“Favorite movie?” I spun the Corona bottle cap, watching it flip off the table and onto the sandy deck.
“Ugh.” I took a swig of beer. “That’s every man’s favorite movie. Pick another.”