“Remember what I said about cheating?”
“That if you have the urge to cheat on someone, it’s better to just break up with that person?”
“Yeah. Well, I had the urge to cheat…with you…multiple times last summer. I thought that maybe you becoming a mother would somehow make me see you in a different light now, make me less attracted somehow, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s been the opposite. You’ve never been sexier to me. But even if nothing were to happen between us, my attraction to you is a sign that something was off between Jade and me. You shouldn’t covet someone else like that if you’re in a healthy relationship. It’s an indication that something is missing, even if you don’t know exactly what it is. I don’t believe in dragging things out if the outcome is already determined in your mind.”
“Is Jade okay?”
It really did pain me to know that she was hurting. I felt bad for her and remained confused about where things stood with Justin and me.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“I’ve already told you what I want to do.”
“I thought this morning you said you came to the conclusion it was a bad idea, that you didn’t want that with me anymore.”
“I never said that. What I meant was that I was out of line in the way I presented it to you. I was being overly aggressive because I felt threatened, came on to you like a caveman. I never explicitly said I didn’t want it, and for the record, neither did you.”
“I explained my reservations…”
“And I understand them. I fully get why you’re afraid to take things to a sexual level with me. The logical side of me thinks you’re right, but the illogical side of me doesn’t give a fuck and is only thinking about lifting you over my face right now and making you come while you ride my mouth.”
Those words hit me straight between the legs.
He went on, “The fact that you just squirmed in your seat is proof that you also have an illogical side. Maybe our illogical sides need to meet sometime.” He leaned into me and grinned. “But not tonight. Despite your threatening to find a fuck buddy…you’re not ready. That would be like jumping over all the letters of the alphabet from A to Z.”
“You’ve been watching too much Sesame Street with Bea.”
“Fuck. Maybe. Anyway, you’re at level A right now. My dick is at level Z. And it doesn’t match up. That was one of the things I figured out on my drive tonight. That you’re not there yet despite all your talk about hotel sex.” He got up. “I’ll be right back.”
When he returned, he was holding something behind his back. “What’s the one thing we did when we were younger whenever we were in a shitty mood or just didn’t know what the fuck to do with ourselves?”
“We’d watch The Big Lebowski.”
He displayed the DVD from behind him. “Bingo.”
“I can’t believe you still have that.”
“Always have it on hand.”
“I’ll pop some popcorn,” I said, eagerly running to the kitchen, relieved that the tension in the air had lessened. He was right. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to lose him, but as much as I wanted him, I wasn’t ready for a sexual relationship with him or anyone.
We sat in comfortable silence watching the cult movie that in retrospect was probably way too inappropriate for our former thirteen-year-old selves. But neither of us had parents who’d monitored what we watched back then. The opening scene where the main character got his head shoved in a toilet brought back so many memories. We used to think it was the greatest thing ever.
Midway through the flick, Justin lay on his back, resting his head on my lap. Without thinking it through, I did what felt natural and massaged my hand through the silky strands of his hair.
He let out a slight groan of pleasure as he continued to watch the movie while I played with his hair.
At one point, he turned to me, and I instinctively moved my hand off of him, remembering the time last summer when he’d told me to stop. “Why did you stop?” He realized it on his own. “No way I’m telling you to stop this time, Amelia. Please keep doing it. It feels so good.”
I kept at it for the better part of a half-hour.
My attention was no longer on the movie when I asked, “What else did you figure out on your drive tonight?”
“That I still love your dimples.” He looked up at me. “I haven’t figured it all out; but I know that for sure.”
September turned into October as we welcomed autumn and the changing colors of the leaves on the trees surrounding the island. In the month since the night we watched The Big Lebowski, things stayed pretty innocent between us; we hadn’t discussed sex again nor attempted to define our relationship. But we were getting closer organically.
Bea was now seven months and developing more of a personality every day.
Justin had taken one short trip to New York at the end of September to meet with his music agent who’d set up a studio session to record some of his original songs for a demo. Overall, we were still taking it day by day, and there was no clear indication of when, or even if, he’d be going back to the city for good.
Halloween fell on a Saturday this year. We decided to take Bea to a local pumpkin patch. Justin snapped lots of photos of me and my daughter amongst the sea of orange and hay. We took a few selfies of the three of us as well. I knew I would always treasure those pictures. Justin and I sipped hot cider as we enjoyed the crisp air with a rosy-cheeked Bea, who was bundled up in a hat and mittens. Despite the fact that there are thousands of days in the course of a life, this was the kind of day you just knew you’d never forget for as long as you lived.
The plan was to spend a few hours out then return home to give out candy while dressed in our costumes.
Knowing that Halloween was always my favorite holiday, Justin went all out. After the pumpkin patch, he dropped Bea and me off at the house before heading to the Christmas Tree Shops in nearby Middletown, where they sold lots of seasonal Halloween items.
It was nightfall by the time he returned with a ton of bags. He’d purchased a plethora of orange and black decorations along with packages of candy and a bumblebee costume for Bea.
“They didn’t have any suitable costumes for us at the Christmas Tree Shops, so I went to a couple of other places. That’s why I’m late. I couldn’t decide on yours, so I got more than one.”
“Well, let’s see.” I reached out my arm. “Hand them over.” One of the bags was from Island Costumes, and the other was from…Adam and Eve. “Isn’t Adam and Eve an adult novelty store?”
“Yeah. It was right next door to the costume place.”
He flashed a wicked grin as I squinted my eyes suspiciously. Opening the other bag first, I took out a Catwoman costume which was one-piece and made out of black nylon. It also came with a mask.
“That’s for tonight…for the trick or treaters,” he said.
“What’s the other one for?”
“For…whenever. I just thought you’d look good in it.”
I reluctantly opened the Adam and Eve bag and pulled out a white sheer piece of material with red accents. There were little patches in the shapes of crosses at the nipple area, and you could literally see right through the fabric.