“No, I’m not joking. Have you read it?” I thought I would have to defend it to him, but then he comes back to bed and lies next to me, exposing his inner arm.
Up close to his armpit there’s a passage that reads, ‘Once you accept your flaws no one can use them against you’.
“Tyrion Lannister!” I say, sitting up and leaning in closer for a better look. He has several other tattoos on his body that are sayings and I wonder if they are from other books.
“He’s my favorite character and that’s one of my favorite quotes,” I tell him.
“I never would have pegged you as a fantasy buff,” he says.
I give him a sideways glance and smile. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“Like what?” He rubs the skin of my inner thigh, tickling me, but in a soothing, wonderful way.
“Like, under all the makeup and hair dye lives a supernerd.”
He props himself on an elbow, his smile taking up most of his face. “You? There’s no way.”
I lift an eyebrow. Challenge accepted.
“When I was in high school, I read every book in the Forgotten Realms series,” I say.
“As in Dungeons and Dragons?”
“That would be the one.”
His laughter shakes the bed.
“Kia used to tease me relentlessly about it. She thought I was the biggest geek in the world until she jumped on the Harry Potter train and finally understood. The struggle is real,” I say.
He shakes his head, laughter trailing off.
“I wish you could’ve met her,” I say.
We sit there, quiet for a moment when he asks, “Do you cosplay too?”
“No, but I’ve done makeup on friends who do. I’ve been to a ton of conventions.”
He takes my hand, holding it and playing with my fingers. “You’re officially my favorite person on Earth.”
“You’re mine too,” I say.
A few days later, once Max has gotten his passport and ties up all his loose ends at work, we have everything we need to travel and we leave for Peru. I’m so glad he’s with me. There’s not a single boring moment when he’s around. Even on the long plane ride. Sometimes we read, sometimes we play Mad Libs or other games like Scrabble and Boggle. Mostly we just talk. The more I learn about him the more I want to know.
We finally land in Peru. It’s more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen. Max insists on paying for everything, even though I tell him I can pay my own way. He’s not having it. We stay in luxury hotels, but on the hike, we sleep in a tent and that’s the most romantic part of the whole trip. Every night, even though we’re both incredibly exhausted from miles of walking, we make love. Not sex. This isn’t two naked sweaty bodies thrashing together. What happens in that tent is sensual and lovely and makes me feel more whole than I’ve felt in a long time. We look into each other’s eyes, and he whispers to me, telling me how beautiful I am and how much he wants me. It truly is making love on my part because that’s exactly how I feel. I love this man. There’s no denying it anymore. I won’t be the first to say it out loud, but I might be the first to admit it to myself.
After two weeks, we leave Peru and go to Scotland. Jet setting is more tiring than I thought it would be. We arrive in Edinburgh and go straight to the bed and breakfast we booked. It’s an adorable little country home surrounded by gardens and Scottish Highland cows roaming in the fields around it. They are the cutest things I’ve ever seen, all long-haired and fluffy with long horns. Our cab driver, in his thick accent, tells us that they are a protected animal kept as pets only and are treated better than most dogs in the states.
Max and I both get some much needed sleep before we set off to see the sights. I could live like this, every day lying next to him, breathing in that scent I’ve come to know and love, waking up to that face every morning. The way he looks at me makes me certain he feels it too, but he hasn’t said it. Maybe he’s waiting for me to say it first. Maybe he’s as afraid of getting his heart broken as I am.
When we wake up from our nap, it’s still early. The sky is overcast and it’s cold out. That’s the weather in most of Scotland on a daily basis. They basically have two seasons: cold and colder. I really liked Peru, but I love Scotland. I can feel this place in my bones, like I belong here. Just being here makes me feel healthier and happier, both mentally and physically.