Tuesday, August 30, 2011

chapter ten

Welcome back, electricity! If you got yourself a Blackhawks sweater, I might just write you a story.

I shouldn’t.  But I can’t help myself.

I woke up this morning with a huge smile on face.  Kristen was the first thing I thought of.  I was proud of myself for how well things were going, and surprised at how much fun I was having.  The thrill of the chase definitely had it’s appeal.  But Kristen was already more that.  I thought about her laugh.  It revealed that she her secret: she was having fun too, and almost letting herself give in.  Then I thought of a lot of other fun things involving Kristen that kept me in bed for a good half hour.  

By eleven in the morning I am post-workout, showered and staring at the iPhone in my hand.  I tell myself not to.  This little roller coaster needs a break, a day off to settle into some kind of recognizable relationship pattern.

That’s right, New Me uses words like ‘relationship.’

The truth is, I’ve just been doing the opposite of what I always do.  Well not the complete opposite - I did kiss her for about ten hours yesterday.  But I stopped myself, knowing it was more like a slow down than an actual halt.  Kristen and I have momentum like that giant boulder that nearly mows down Indiana Jones in Temple of Doom.  New Me will have to be pretty clever to avoid being run over.

Plus her work address is one Google search away.  If I wasn’t meant to have it, it wouldn’t be so easy, right?

My jeans are casual, like I may have been on my way somewhere else.  I wear a shirt that really fits, because the way Kristen’s hands squeezed my biceps hints that Old Me might not be so alone in his frustration after all.  Then I park my car and stroll into her office, uninvited.

It’s ballsy, I know.  I pray that someone in her office saw the baseball game, otherwise this could totally backfire.  Anyone who knows only my reputation will assume that Kristen gave it up like a candy machine, and I’m back to the trough for seconds.  Hey, it’s happened before.

But for me to overcome that, I have to do this.  I can’t undo my past, or how many people posted it on Facebook.  I can only move forward and hope she wants to come with me.  And a little bit of swagger might be boost she needs.

The receptionist does a double-take that could snap her neck.  A second later, a sharp whisper cuts from behind me.  Then another.  I keep my voice loud, the best I can do to announce my presence.  The front desk girl blushes as she points down the row.  

Right at an enlarged print out out of the shot of me and Kristen from the Jumbotron.


As I walk over, Kristen’s head peeks above the top of the wall like a submarine at periscope depth.  Her dark eyes go a little wide and the color drains from her face.  I stride right up, taking in the bright blue scoop neck sweater hugging her chest and the black trousers that end above ballet flats.  A tremor bolts through my body at the memory of pressing her to the car last night.

The entire place is silent.

“Wanna grab some lunch?” I say, trying to sound cool as my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

A small crash happens behind me - I don’t turn.  Probably every guy in here is twice my size, loves the Canucks and wants Kristen for himself.  If one is charging now she’ll just have to warn me.

Kristen scoops her purse up quickly and says, “Okay.”  Then she does a hundred yard dash out the front door and I have to jog her down.

“Wait for me!” I laugh, hoping she’ll actually stop running before the river.

At the corner, she spins on one heel.  That pile of hair wheels out behind her like the fight sequence in an action movie.  Her chest heaves beneath that 1950’s sweater.  The overhead sun is bright, her skin looks like cream and I ache to run my tongue along the soft patch beneath her ear.

“You...,” she stutters.  

“Surprised you?” I suggest.

Kristen exhales a short, clipped sigh.  Then she throws herself into my arms.

Do I wanna grab lunch?

Do I want to be the talk of this office until the Rapture really comes?  Do I want to obliterate all discussion of the Kardashian wedding and take over as sole water cooler topic?  They’re probably having a staff meeting right now to discuss a PR plan for my relationship.

I smile at that.  At least my co-workers would never let TMZ take me down without a fight.

Patrick catches me outside the office at a red light.  We’re barely clear of the windows, which probably have a hundred face prints on them already.  It’s a brilliant late summer afternoon, still warm and the light is like melted honey.  It pours all over Patrick’s blond locks and tan arms, all over that boy-meets-world smile.

Oh he surprised me all right.

He wasn’t afraid to be seen on TV with me at the baseball game.  But to show up at my office takes guts - these are real people and they matter to me.  He might as well have jumped out of a birthday cake riding a unicorn.

Patrick bites his lip.  His blue eyes drop just barely and I know he’s checking out my boobs in this sweater.  What I don’t know is why - why on God’s green Earth?! - do I like the weight of his gaze as it imprints my body on his brain?

The next thing I know, I’m kissing him in broad daylight on a busy street.  Patrick fucking Kane.

“Woah,” he chuckles, lips still pressed to mine and his good hand cheating up a sliver of bare skin at my lower back.

As quickly as I jumped into him, I jump back.

“Oh my God, I...,” but I lose my train of thought.  Blood pounds in my ears like a dam has broken.  People are looking at us.  Just another girl throwing herself at Chicago’s most eligible STD.  Happens all the time.

“Hey, hey.”  He takes my hand, weaves between people and draws me out of the traffic flow into the shadown of the closest building.  “You okay?”

I must look freaked because his baby blue eyes get darker, like worry is black and they’re filling up.  It matches how I feel.  Why did I kiss him like that?  And why did it surprise me so much?

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.” I stutter.

“To kiss me, or to panic?”


Patrick sets his jaw like he’s just going to have to accept the referee’s bad call on this play.  The stern look compliments his new bulkier physique and sculpted jaw -it’s very manly.  My knees wobble

He turns his shoulders a little, blocking us as best he can from the pedestrian horde.  That one good hand pushes hair behind my ear, then cups my cheek.  

“It’s okay to like me, Kristen.”

My heart stops.  Is it okay?  I want to scream.  It’s never okay.  Okay tells you one thing and does another.  Okay is a razor blade in a perfect apple.  Okay is a lie that lets you walk in on someone else screaming its name.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice...

“It’s okay,” he repeats.  “I like you too.”

I try to look at my feet but he’s not having it; my chin firmly in his big, warm hand.  So I give up and let him stare me down.  And now I know what that look is he’s been giving me the last few days.


“I like you too.”

I wasn’t going to do that.  I promised myself I wouldn’t play that card until I could be sure it wasn’t a joker.  But in the space of a second, right on the side of the road, I lost her.

Kristen kissed me so hard she surprised herself.  A wave of lust and energy and release glued her to me.  Her tongue swiped across mine as if I were the spoon from a bowl of ice cream.  The she bolted like a spooked horse, landing five feet away and shaking.

The fear in her eyes makes my blood boil.  Someone did this to her.  Some guy took advantage of her, made her doubt herself and me and everything.  I am paying for this guy’s actions and I want to cash in by punching him in the face.

Of course there is a tiny knot at the bottom of my stomach, one that never really goes away.  I have done exactly the same thing to other girls before.

If only I had two good hands.  I hold her upper arm with one, but my casted wrist is just about useless.  Kristen proves right there she’d make a great addition to the Blackhawks.  She darts left, exposing my weakness, and runs.

It’s not really a run.  It’s more a an undignified tumble through a downtown street.  I don’t look back to see if Patrick follows, I just plow through bodies with no destination in mind.  At the corner, a seam opens and I follow it onto the side street.  It’s quieter here and I press my back to the building.  If Patrick is chasing me, he may run right past.

I stand there for a minute, breathless after fifty feet, and consider what has happened.  I’m pretty sure Patrick Kane has been a charming, forgiving and dead-fucking-sexy gentleman who has gone out of his way to see me four times in as many days.  He almost kissed me on the jumbotron.  He surprised me at work.  The guy got me penguins.

Then he said he likes me.  And I reacted like he wanted me to help him load a couch into his windowless van.

Over the Defcon One alarm blaring in my mind, I hear the scuff of a shoe on pavement very nearby.  I crack one eyelid open and Patrick is leaning against the end of the building.  He’s doing the hands-in-pockets slouch with a very convincing shoulder slump, and giving me a patient gaze.

“Sorry,” I say.

He smiles thinly.  “You didn’t go very far.”

Patrick slowly comes nearer, pausing in mid-step to make sure he won’t scare me off again.  After five paces, he leans back against the building.  “If you’re not ready, you can tell me.”  He is so patient I want to cry.  “But if we keep hanging out I’m probably going to keep liking you.”

If we keep hanging out, I’m going to have to let a lot of things go.  Starting with the urge to bail every time something seems good.  Patrick gives me a moment to consider.

“If you’re not having fun, you can still call that mercy rule and I’ll forget about the lunch.”

That makes me laugh.  “I told you, no mercy rules.”

“So we still have a date tomorrow night?”

I nod.  He takes the last step and stops so close that his chest almost touches my arm.  I want him to touch me, I want him closer.  I want to stop not wanting this.

“Good,” he leans in just close enough to be out of reach, “because I already got the dog a birthday present.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Notes from a Hurricane

You guys are the absolute best.  I have no power at home (thanks Irene, you bitch) but I hope to charge my laptop at work and get a new chapter up tomorrow.  It's like the Stone Age - actually hand-writing on paper!  The horror! ;)

A hilarious reader blamed the DC earthquake on this story.  Guess I'm going to have to ramp it up now.

Friday, August 26, 2011

chapter nine

I wish I knew what I was doing.  Of course then I probably wouldn’t be doing it.  Patrick agrees to come to the party - he even looks like he wants to ask about tomorrow, because he can’t wait a day to see me.  I’ll die if he does that.  As it is I may have to throw myself off the roof deck to avoid whatever is coming next.

Two hours, in the dark, making out.  And that’s all we did.  Like an after school special or a Harry Potter chapter, we kissed and kissed and nothing else.  It was... awesome.

Stop it, stop it!

Kissing Patrick is unlike anything I can remember.  Tyler was so familiar and comfortable that it was almost automatic.  I still wanted to kiss him, the desire was still there, but the taste and feel were almost my own by the end of two years.  Then I tried to brainwash myself into forgetting what that felt like.  If I knew how effective Patrick would be, I might have started months ago.

Patrick feels different in my arms - he’s not as tall but stronger, broader and every surface is rock hard muscle.  I must be like a stuffed animal in comparison.  He’s playful too, keeping the mood light, like he knows we can’t stand any closer to the fire.

There’s something about it though that I don’t trust.  The frat boy man-whore who doesn’t even try to round first base?  This supposed bad boy is being a lot better than I want to be.

It makes me wonder: Who is this person?  Even Patrick seems impressed with himself, as if every time he doesn’t reach for my zipper is a point on the scoreboard.  But if he’s working that hard, how long can he keep this up?  If it’s not the real him, I want to get away now.  I’ve had quite enough surprises.

But I let him take me to this burger place all the same.  It’s art deco and the circular booths have huge backs, so each table is effectively an island.  He slides in close to me.  After we order and there’s no one passing by, Patrick slides his good hand between the wall and my waist, leans heavily into the cushioned backrest and sighs.  His head rolls in my direction till it’s almost on my shoulder.

“Miranda told me about your ex,” he says.  In my hand, a straw suffers a terrible fate.  His gentle laugh shakes my side.  “I just wanted you to know that I know.  And that I....”

“Don’t.”  My voice is much quieter than I intend and I have to clear my throat.  “Please don’t, Patrick.  Don’t say you’d never do that, because that’s exactly what I expected from him.  And I can’t stand to be disappointed anymore.”

He settles those blue on me, the color of the summer sky.  Traces of his boyishness linger in his face - the way his mouth curls, the shape of his jaw.  But his eyes are older and they’ve seen some things.  The look on his face is so honest that the shell around my heart cracks a little.

“I won’t promise you anything, Kristen.  Except that I’ll try.”

Patrick doesn’t wait for my reply.  He touches his lips to mine in a gentle, easy kiss.  The kind of kiss you give someone you plan to kiss every day.  I want to say something like ‘I’m trying too’ or ‘I’ll make it worth your while,’ but if I’m not taking promises then I shouldn’t be giving them out.  Breaking one is just as bad as having one broken.  So I return his kiss and revel in the sizzle of newness and anticipation that spreads as far as my fingers and toes.

Over dinner we compare favorite Chicago spots and vacation destinations.  He carefully skirts any mention of other girls, and I delete Tyler from all stories the way I’ve deleted him from my life.  When Patrick has polished off an enormous plate of food, he sits back, slides his hand up my thigh and waits patiently for me to finish.

I’m nearly choking, of course.  His gesture is so casually intimate - as if we’re feeling each other up now, in a burger place, when we barely touched in the dark movie make out marathon.  It’s also slightly possessive, as if he’d be glad for anyone to see this is his girl.

God damn I want to believe that.

Without thinking, I put my hand on Kristen’s leg under the table.  It’s habit.  If she were wearing a skirt I’d be twisting the side of her panties between my fingers right now.  Once my hand settles over the curve of her upper thigh I can’t move it.  I don’t want to.  Heat from her skin bleeds through the soft denim and I can almost imagine I’m touching her bare body.  My hand feels dipped in fire.

Kristen asked me not to promise her anything.  I was about to say that I want to make it up to her, what he did.  I want to be the guy who gets this right.  But it’s a good thing she stopped me, because I shouldn’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep.

She leans into me though and smiles to herself.  I congratulate myself on another day where she had fun. Maybe it’s wishful thinking that she seems a little less scared today.

We walk hand-in-hand to the car and I drive her home like her dad might be waiting up.

“Wait,” I tell her, sliding from the drivers’ side and going around to her door.  She has to step right into my arms and it’s a really good excuse to give her one last kiss.  I double it up since I missed last night’s goodnight kiss.  I lean Kristen against the side of the SUV, get right in close and pause.  She laughs, a single clear note, then kisses me hard on the mouth.  From zero to sixty in one second.  Her hands grip my hips, my one good hand is palm open on the edge of her rib cage, just inches below her breast and the next level in this game.  Kristen parts her legs slightly and my thigh wedges in like it’s a quarter and I’m trying to buy candy.  We melt all over each other.

“God,” she whispers against my lips.  I don’t step away or open my eyes, I just stay there with my face to hers and mouths so close we could kiss without moving.

Old Me is going berserk.  One more push of my legs and I’d be riding up onto her hip.  I think she’d let me too, which makes my blood boil.  Old Me wants to drag her upstairs and show her I don’t need to hands to work her controls.

“Patrick,” she breathes.  Every time she says it, my heart rate ticks up a notch.

“Kristen,” I try to sound like I’m teasing her instead of torturing myself.

Old Me throws dishes, lights fires.  Invite me in, invite me in!

“Good night.”  She slips from between me and the car like water and hurries inside.  At the door she throws me a little wave.  I see her hurry up the steps and out of view.

The side of the SUV is cold beneath my touch, a stark reminder of the soft warmth I just let get away.  The drive home will be a race against my need to take care of this urge myself.  Again I thank God I didn’t hurt my right hand.

For the second night in a row I haul ass up the stairs just to stand panting at the banister, gripping it like the railing on the Titanic.  The only sounds are Patrick’s truck pulling away followed by a weak whimper from me.  I briefly consider a manic roll of the dice: if I yell his name out the window and he comes back, then I can sleep with him.  Makes perfect sense.

Instead I slog into my apartment and pitch face-first onto the couch.  

I’ve had the day to end all days.  The Date That Will Go Down in History.  What else could a girl hope for?  I lay there for quite a while, inhaling directly from the cushion and trying to sort out the jumble in my brain.  It’s probably a half hour later when my phone beeps.

You never saw a human being move so fast in your life.

Patrick: Thanks for today.

“Nuuuuhhhhhhhh,” I bleat to the potted plant in the corner.

Patrick: I had a lot of fun.

I briefly consider typing, “I had a lot of impure thoughts” but my fingers will not cooperate.  So I simply tell him: I had all the fun!  Best date ever, I think.  Thank you.

Inside I am thinking: Whatabouttomorrow? Askmeoutfortomorrow! Ordrivebackherenow!

Patrick: Sorry you didn’t get your piglet.

Me: I got to feed penguins, I am set for life.

Patrick: Don’t spoil the dog’s birthday party with your penguin story.

Me: He does get jealous.

Patrick: Do I need to get him a present?

Me: Haha, no.  I’ll buy some treats.

Patrick: Then I’ll get a present for you instead.

Me: I don’t type anything.  I just put my face back into the couch cushion and die.

Patrick: Goodnight gorgeous.

Me: Night, Patrick.

I float around the apartment for an hour, getting stuff ready for work and trying to pretend it’s normal to feel like a helium balloon has inflated inside your stomach.  Though I have a very small space to cross, it seems less depressing as I go from desk to kitchen to bookshelf to bed collecting what I need for tomorrow.  When I can finally sit, it’s for thirty minutes in front of the mirror examining my eyebrows and skin.  Really I end up staring at myself and blocking out the questions in my mind.  It feels good just to float for now.

When I go to sleep, I’m smiling.  And I wake up the same way.  Then I frown.

I won’t see Patrick today.

Oh my God, get a grip!

Okay, apparently the floating part is over and someone gave Common Sense back her bullhorn.  I lay still and concentrate on a few key themes from the night before:

One: We haven’t even done anything.
Two: I am not deaf, dumb or blind.  I can see things coming if I keep my eyes open.
Three: This feels good, so shut the fuck up.
Four: Okay, time out.  Day off from Patrick.  Everybody take a deep breath.

Ugh.  Now my head feels heavy and slow.  I drag it around the apartment, dress and head for work.  Even the free newspaper at the El can’t keep my mind from drifting toward penguins and movie theaters and Patrick’s hand on my thigh.

My phone beeps and I nearly spill the contents of my purse getting it.  Here, man loitering in the corner, have my wallet.  Homeless lady, want an iPod?  I’m busy getting a text from a boy I don’t even like.

But it’s just Jane.

Jane: How was your date?!

With a deep breath, I resolve to tell Jane everything I’m thinking and feeling.  Not over text though, so it’ll have to wait till lunchtime.

Me: The truth? Epic. Need to talk. Lunch call?


Me: No! Slut. Call me @ 12.

My job as an assistant at an internet-based social living site, kind of like Yelp, is generally pretty sexy.  But that’s only when nothing sexy at all is happening in your life.  The office is open-plan with lots of desks and few walls.  Everyone is under forty, lively and loves to gossip.  It’s a hive of activity and the worst place ever to make a personal phone call.  I file my date with Jane into the back of my mind and slog through the Monday morning crowd to our door.  The only thing I always love is how the place opens right onto the street level, so you can always see daylight.  Work will be the perfect distraction today, and I need it.

Then I see my desk.  Some genius has printed out several 11 x 17” screen captures of me and Patrick at Wrigley Field and posted them all over my desk area.  I just groan, hear a few good-natured laughs from the peanut gallery and throw my stuff into a corner.

“Hot time, summer in the city....,” someone starts singing.

Everyone laughs.  My phone rings, it’s 9:01 AM and the day has begun.

Work is endless.  The clock ticks just past eleven, my stomach growls and I make another attempt to focus on my screen.

An instant message pops up from my friend Arianna, across the room in finance.  

Arianna: Shit, so busy I haven’t gotten to interrogate you!  When did THAT happen?

Me: We met Friday night.

Arianna: And you spent the weekend wearing a hockey jersey and screaming his name?

Me: OMG, does this company have a smut filter?!

Arianna: I’d have been fired long ago.  Tell me all about it later?

Me: After lunch.

At ten of noon I go to the bathroom, brush my hair and compos myself to talk to Jane.  I really want to tell her everything, but some of the topics are still a bit sore: she obviously wants me to trust Patrick and I’m not sure I can.  Then there is the Dead Horse Problem: we have been over every inch of my insecurity and despair a thousand times.

She’ll understand, I tell myself.  And I do really need to talk about it.  A day off from Patrick is a good thing for me, let me settle my head.

I go back to my desk just before noon, check email one last time and reach for my purse.  As I spin in my chair, a wave of quiet rolls over the office.  It starts at the door, passes me and only when it reaches the back wall do I realize no one is talking.  A phone rings brashly.  The air gets charged, like every hair on my body is standing up.

“Cool, thanks,” a guy’s voice says.  Not just any guy.

I slowly rise to my feet, my head coming above the dividing wall.

Patrick, smiling like he’s in the Stanley Cup parade, saunters toward my desk.  He wears dark, expensive-looking jeans and a white collared polo shirt that magnifies how tan and healthy he is.  My mouth may fall open.  His arms and chest look strong enough to climb.

A yelp, followed by the sound of a chair being up-ended, comes from Arianna’s general direction.

“Hey,” Patrick says, good hand is in his pocket like he has nowhere to go and all day to get there.  He just stands at my desk, looking all blond and casual.  “Wanna get some lunch?”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

chapter eight

Where is that penguin lifeguard?

That’s actually, embarrassingly, my very first thought as Patrick’s mouth lands on mine.

We practically sprinted from the car to the end of the pier.  It’s beautiful here, but no different from any other Chicago landmark we’ve managed to visit.  There’s no reason to think the elusive kiss will happen here.  Or happen at all.  Nothing except it feels like the end of the world, the lake stretching endless into the distance.  It’s someplace safe where no one can come up behind us.  Patrick and I, with our backs to the wall.

He forgets the cast on his wrist and tries to slide that hand up my back.  It nearly makes him laugh - I feel it where is chest presses to mine - but he quickly gets his other hand free and takes a fistful of my hair, holding my mouth to his as if I would break away.  All of a sudden it’s hot, surface-of-the-sun hot, and I’m sure I’ll end up in the drink.  His strong arms fold around me, locking me in from shoulder to elbow.  It’s like licking a lightning bolt as his tongue sparks across mine.

“Woah.”  We come apart, barely but gasping.  His mouth is mere inches away and breath heaves in my chest.  He’s holding me so close it’s like he knows I can’t stand.

“I’ve never waited so long to kiss someone in my life,” he admits.

“Two days?” I have to tease him, it’s so obvious.  

He smiles and shrugs.  “Felt longer.”

“Don’t ever do it again,” I say.  And we’re back to kissing, holding each other tightly to keep from pawing away in front of an audience.

Gasp.  I’m suddenly aware of a million potential eyes.

“We have to go.”  This time I take the lead, all but sprinting the length of the pier and two blocks back toward his car.  I tell myself to slow down - both in body and mind - before we reach a place where decisions cannot be made.  But all I know is that I haven’t kissed anyone but Tyler in almost three years.  I haven’t kissed anyone at all in four months.  Until today, I thought I might never be kissed again.

I need to be kissed again.  Now.

It’s stupid to run a footrace with a professional athlete.  Patrick forgets that I am not a Blackhawk and does a suicide for every hundred yards.  Soon I’m tripping to keep up.  I stumble across the finish line, only to be pressed against the side of his truck.

“Patrick.”  It sounds sexy rolling off my tongue.  If only he knew I’m reminding myself who he is.

“Are you going to kiss me or what?”

For all my thinking, that moment blinks my brain off like a blown fuse.  My careful planning sinks right to the bottom of the lake. One second I am thinking she’s so beautiful, almost ethereal in the harsh lighting and the next I’m kissing her for all I’m worth.

Kristen lets me - she lets me fold her into my chest, she opens her mouth beneath my insistence and kisses me back like she’s surprised to mean it.  Only when it’s breathe or die do we come apart.

“I’ve never waited so long to kiss someone in my life,” I tell her truthfully, as if she couldn’t tell.  As if two days were a gallant period of time.

“Don’t ever do it again.”  There’s no hesitation, only reckless abandon.

Reckless indeed.  I’m suddenly aware of a million eyes, thousands of camera lenses and the potential for disaster. After the Jumbotron and the penguin tank, Kristen is learning too.

“We have to go.”  She drags me from the brink of the city through the maddening crowd.  Somewhere along the way I outpace her in my rush to get back to kissing.  We reach the car in record time and before I can even beep the remote, her body is giving way between mine and the drivers’ side door.

The velvety smooth brush of her tongue sends a row of exclamation points down my spine.  Her hip presses itself into my lap - New Me would back up, but he’s busy trying to keep my good hand from feeling her up.  Kristen kisses like she’s never been kissed before.  Like it’s all new and exciting and she’s trying to remember everything about me.  

“Patrick,” she says, naming a place to file this.

After a few minutes, a flare bursts in the intensity and grants us a brief reprieve.  I hold her chin in my good hand.

“I can’t keep kissing you,” I pant.  Her silken mouth curls into a tiny pout, which of course sets me off kissing her again.  It takes a few minutes to untangle my thoughts and tongue.

“Don’t make me take you home.”  My words roll across her neck, leaving goosebumps in their wake.  I bite down gently to punctuate my sentence.  Kristen moans quietly like she wants me to bite harder.  And elsewhere.  I know it’s been a while since she was with anyone, and a long time she she was with anyone knew.  She’s practically vibrating - her body begging for it even if her brain doesn’t.

“Kristen, I’m....”  I don’t know what I am, there is actually no end to that statement.

“Scared,” she breathes near my ear.  My lips explore a fresh patch of skin along her neck.  “I’m scared.”

Well, shit.  Why don’t I just get my period and have a bad hair day and step in front of a bus all at once.

“I’m scared.”  The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.  A lot like my tongue.

“I know,” he says quietly.  He’s stopped assaulting my skin with those lips.  Now he just breathes deeply, chest and hips rolling against mine, as if I were any more used to that feeling.  “I don’t want to go too fast.”

The Earth screeches to a halt on its axis.  Some people fall off.

Apparently the Pope is not Catholic and a bear does not shit in the woods.  Because Patrick Kane just told me he doesn’t want to go too fast.  Yes, all the signs were pointing in that direction.  But right now they’re all pointing toward my soaked panties and the fact that it’s been years since I was touched by someone I wouldn’t kill on sight.

Take me, I want to say.  There have been a million girls, make me one of them.  Take me. Make me nothing.

I feel like nothing, which is way too tragic to consider when Patrick’s free hand is twisting hair from my neck so he can continue biting and sucking.  All I want is something that doesn’t matter, that can’t lie to me or humiliate me or make me interrupt it in the middle of giving another girl an orgasm.  Something not important enough to be dangerous.  I want him and this and now.

I want to forget.

“Patrick,” I’m about to beg.  He leans back, barely separating our bodies, and stares at me with those bottomless blue eyes.  Any girl who read them wrong was a fool - those eyes can’t lie.

“Come on.”

I have an idea.  We can’t be apart but we definitely can’t be alone.  Maybe ever.  Well, I can’t hold out that long.  Even New Me has needs... and ideas.  Lots of ideas.

We go around the car and back onto the street  There’s nowhere I’ll take her but home once I get behind the wheel. Instead of being confused,  Kristen looks at me like we’ve just committed a crime and escaped.  Like we’re partners.

At least she sees that.  Eventually I will have to make sure she knows New Me from Old Me, and the kind of person I hope she can help me to be.  But for now, she can see that this is not easy.  And she is not easy.

If she asked, I would.  If she offered, I could not say no.  She’s riled up and frightened and judging by the way she inched up my thigh while kissing, it’s been a while since she touched something just to prove it was hot.  It’s the perfect opportunity, and the victory would be glorious.  But I will not take advantage of her - of this.  I made this.  I will not ruin it.

Old Me throws himself against the bars of his cell.

I walk to the only place I can think of where I can be near Kristen but not too near.  It’s like having a chaperon.  Good thing too, because the way her hand looks for mine the second we’re moving says we’re going to need looking after.  

I see the lights of the AMC Theatre from half a block away.  Kristen keeps up, nearly jogging, and doesn’t stop as I swing the door open for her.  The air conditioning in the theater lobby is a shock.

“Two for, uh... Captain America,” I pick a movie that has just started.  Chalk one up for the box office agent who mercifully doesn’t know me.  Because if we’re not in the dark soon...

“Thanks!” Kristen yells over her shoulder as we hustle down the hallway, tickets in hand.  The movie is not too crowded and already playing previews.  We climb the stairs toward the back row, falling into the two seats in the top corner.  Before I can reach for her, Kristen lifts the armrest from between us.

“Did you know about this?” she whispers, turning our space into a loveseat.


That’s a lie.  Kristen laughs, right out loud, at my shameless attempt to pretend to be better than I am.

I’m not sure this is a good idea, Captain America.  My hormones are a Category 5 hurricane, and I drop into the theater seat like I’m coming down on a trailer.  Then the armrest goes up - double wide.  It’s dark, there’s a lot of loud noise; a storm is coming.

I move into him.  Everything I told myself the night before, about Patrick not being the reason for my excitement, is drowned out by the noise of something exploding on screen.  Or maybe it’s in my head.  His mouth is hot against mine and his body so, so solid I want to curl up on it like a cat in the sun.

The first moment is all a hot rush, then the pace slowly falls away.  We are gentle, exploring. I nip his lip and tug it between mine.  Patrick uses his good hand to drop my head back and slowly take his mouth down the curved side of my neck.  He kisses along my jawbone, right up to my ear.  Then he lifts my hair away and kisses around the arch.

“I thought you didn’t like me,” he whispers.  Dialogue on the screen is unintelligible.

I don’t, I think.  Or maybe.  But I like this a lot.  I’m drunk on this feeling of power and freedom, intoxicated with the idea that someone wants me.  And not just anyone, but someone who could have anyone.

And has had everyone, my brain says.  It’s that dusty back room in my mind, where I heaped all the broken pieces left after Tyler finished wrecking the place.  That place where you hide things before company comes over and swear someday you’ll clean it out for real.

But for now it’s impossible to listen and feel at the same time.  Patrick’s good hand loops around my waist without ever copping a feel.  We are wedged together.  I ache to climb into his lap and throw my feet over the side.

Coming here was a brilliant move.  Alone but not alone, in the dark with the lights on.  Like any successful attack – was it calculated or luck?  Or did I just surrender?

The cool darkness is perfect semi-privacy.  And because I cannot get caught have another problem, it’s the only place I can guarantee that no more than two bases will be crossed.
But I might not even need that.  Kristen’s lips are smooth beneath mine, her mouth soft.  She’s even playful, kissing me fully then pulling back, swiping her tongue over mine.  Her fingers cheat under the sleeves of my shirt as I mentally thank God every push-up I did before my surgery.

It’s more than kissing her.  She is warm and sturdy in my arms.  Her skin smells of something close – sugar or something else I usually can’t have.  Running my lips along the divot of her collarbone I swear it tastes that way too.

We come up for air, still tangled together, and watch a little of the movie.  My mind wanders to having her on my couch, on a lazy afternoon with the wind howling outside, doing exactly this.  

Naked, adds Old Me.

To my surprise, New Me doesn’t think will be required.

The movie is probably pretty good, but we only watch the action sequences.  In between, we’re just kids making out in the back of a movie theater.  I keep my one hand where it’s visible at all times.  Kristen does the same, touching me only gently and without the same aggression as before.  Being here has taken some of the rush out of us.  

When the show finally ends, we untangle and wait for the place to clear out.  

“We’ll have to rent this when it comes out,” I try.

Kristen smiles.  “We could just stay for the next show.”

I would get arrested for sure, so instead we head back into the warm summer air.  It’s evening now and I know she has to work tomorrow.  She settles back into the passenger seat of my car and we wind out of downtown.

“Are you hungry?”

I smile.  “I’m always hungry.  I know a great burger place.”

“Nope.  I asked you out so I get to pick.”

Touche!  “This is still the same date!”

“Well I can’t wait till tomorrow to eat!” Kristen giggles.  

There’s an open curbside space so I pull into it quickly and put the car in park.  She raises and eyebrow at me.

“Go ahead, ask.”

“Patrick,” she pauses dramatically, “are you having fun?”

I simply nod.

“Think you’ll still be having fun on Tuesday?”

I shrug.  “Depends on tomorrow.”  

Kristen punches me in the arm.  “Will you come to a dog’s birthday party with me?” _