She’s Ready Now Part 2

She’s Ready Now Part 2 by J. Kuzmier --  photo by John B. at

Read this story from his point of view — click to see    

The boardwalk is full of people today, just like it was five years ago when she last visited the place. Just like then, her heart pounds so hard she feels it throbbing in her throat. Back then, it was over a love that she was too afraid to express that led to a goodbye. Today, she hopes it’s because of a greeting that will lead to more. Back then, she wasn’t ready to fall in love. She’s ready now, or at least she thinks she is. But she wonders, even if she’s ready, will he?

She asked him to meet her here on the boardwalk, at three o’clock. Three o’clock is exact time of when she ran away like a scared animal from him, five years ago. She can’t believe how immature she’d been, running away from him just because she fell in love with him and found out he had feelings in return by kissing her. What grown woman did that, at least one with any backbone? But strong emotion was something she’d never really been comfortable with, even as a kid. She’d hoped that she’d grown out of it, but running away from a man she loved just because of he kissed her definitely told her otherwise. She never stopped loving him, but he’d been nothing but a fantasy that she could manage for the last five years. What would she do, once he showed up in real life again, if he even bothered after her rejection? She was terrified not only of what he would say or do, but terrified she’d be just as ridiculous running away, like last time. To prove that she’s different to herself, she forces herself to stay, even though running away again is exactly what she wants to do. But she knows even if she does leave, she will not be able to run away from the firestorm of emotion she feels. Five years of loving him was proof of that.

As she waits for him on the boardwalk, she watches the people there in a distracted way, where her sight acknowledges their existence but her mind blanks them away once they are out of range. It was well before three when she got here, because she was too consumed with thoughts of him to do anything else. Part of her had wanted to arrive late, just in case he didn’t show up at all. She couldn’t even believe that she’d had the guts to call him to begin with. Her friends said she was bold for doing this, taking charge. However, once she hung up the phone with him the other day, she became a basket case of anticipation and guilt mixed with desire and passion. By calling him, she was reminded that she tried to bury an emotional mess for way too long. Yes, she wanted him, more than she wanted anyone else in her life. But she didn’t know if she could deal with the fear of laying her heart out the line in case he just stomped on it, and walked away.

But it was done, the plans were in motion, and he would show up here soon, maybe. She couldn’t back down now. She’d just have to deal with the consequences, whatever they were. Maybe he wouldn’t show up. She couldn’t really blame him, after the way she shoved him away five years ago. But maybe he’d take her back. She really didn’t know at all. Nothing felt like the right thing to do when it came to him. She’s afraid of the feelings he evoked in her because it made her feel out of control. But she didn’t want to stay away from him, once again.

So after all the fretting and speculation, she wound up getting to that spot on the boardwalk from five years ago early, at two o’clock. The sea had always calmed her before. She hoped the longer she stayed, the more the sleepy atmosphere would smooth over whatever angst she felt at what she was planning to do here. It did, for awhile. Watching the people walk by, smelling the sea, they all did their attendant duties by altering her senses. But all it did was lull her into a false sense of security. Because then he showed up, five minutes to three, and all of her fortifications fell away, just like it always had when he was around. She was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of emotion, of fear and love. It was like five years had never happened, and she was terrified of what she would do.

He’s gorgeous, maybe even more so than he had been years ago, if that was even possible. Maybe her terror is making her hallucinate, but he seemed stronger and more rugged, his hair fuller and longer, his face covered with just enough stubble to make him pull of sexy bad boy with casual ease. Boy, she had really been an idiot to throw him away back then. The sexual whiplash mixed in with unearthed love makes her feel light-headed, with everything inside her jumbled up with prickling sensations that she can’t quite identify. Taken off guard and somewhat imbalanced, she leans against the boardwalk railing, glad to find a place to shift the weight of her body. For her mind feels too dizzy to take everything in, especially when he stops just inches from her. She has to shade her eyes to see him in the blinding sun.

“You haven’t changed much,” she says. Why did she say that? She really doesn’t know. Because it wasn’t true at all. He was a transformation. And she’d come off as a liar, once again. Luckily, if he noticed her trip-up, he was gentleman enough not to react. He’d always been good like that, but she’d been too dense to deal with it. The quivering chill she’d been overwhelmed by returned, mixed with regret. Would she wind up running away again? She hoped not.

“I hope that isn’t bad,” he replies. Is that a laugh in his voice? She hopes that’s a good thing.

So she laughs, throwing her hair back, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. When she looks back at him, some of her hair blown back into her face. Great. Now she probably looks like a dishrag, she thinks. It makes her feel like she’s even on more slippery ground than before. She wishes she can be honest with him about her feelings, and how insecure she feels. But how can she? He’s so hot, and she ran away from him, which made her feel like crap. Now she’s left to shake inside, feeling strange flashes of heat that pulse away through her. Feeling that way, nothing feels right at all, yet strangely enough feels good too. And he’s still standing there, while she’s blubbering in her brain just like the insecure girl she was so long ago. She thought she’d changed, but seeing him again told her just how wrong she was. And she still hasn’t replied to his statement. It looks like he’s backing away, like he’s ready to make an exit. So she quickly says, “No, of course not! Do you think that I’d even ask you to be here if it was?”

It seems to take him awhile to answer. She’s irritated that the sun makes it so hard to see his features, so she has no idea what his silence means. God, she felt like such an idiot. What was she thinking, dragging him out like this? She wants to grab onto him, hold him, prevent him from leaving. She wants to apologize for cutting off his desire years ago. But does he even care? Maybe he just came here to confirm that she’d done him a favor, by letting him down. Say something, she begs him internally. Anything. Please?

After an eternity where nothing registers inside her but terror, he states, “I really don’t know. There seemed to be a problem back then. So no, I have no idea if it’s a good idea or not.”

His voice is sharp, like acid. She swallows, smiling to keep the cool exterior that absolutely goes no deeper than her skin. Maybe not even that, judging by the way her hands are shaking on the railing. Somehow she’s going to have to reassure him things are different now, and she has no idea how she’s supposed to do that effectively. But she has to say something. If she doesn’t, she can see him throwing up his hands, disappearing from her life forever. Her heart pushes her voice to say, “It had nothing to do with you. I told you so back then. It was me. All me.” She’s still smiling as she says this, but his silence makes her feel naked, and not in a good way. She feels like a dork with nothing to smile about, because she’s terrified his stoniness means she’s pushed him away, and he’s only standing here because his indulging a whim before he gets to reject her this time.

It doesn’t help the situation that he laughs before he replies. Loudly, so that even people walking by glance at them. “Oh come on. That’s what everyone says when they want to get out of something without getting into a big argument. It’s what I would do.” He says this like this is all a big joke. Oh, that would be a nightmare to her. Because it isn’t to her, at all.

How can she get through to him, she thinks, to convince him that this time she’s for real and this is not a game for her? She manages to keep her smile in place even as she panics, her eyes pinching from the cool facade to hide the terror of losing him again before she manages to state, “Then again, I’m not you.”

And all she gets for her efforts at coyness is stillness. Damn it. She’s not getting through to him. Well, if ice won’t get him, maybe fire will.

So she leaves her refuge on the railing. It feels like she’s falling through space as she closes the gap between them. Three feet never felt so vast. She rests her hands on his chest, and as she becomes flushed with heat that seems to come from nowhere yet lives everywhere in her. The rush of his heartbeat tells her that he’s nervous, perhaps just as much as she. This reassures her, and his silence no longer seems so intimidating. The anxiety she feels dispels into a strange hum that buzzes throughout her body. She feels his muscled chest beneath the red T-shirt he wears. The last time she touched him like this, she was pushing him away. The longer he stands there waiting, the more she remembers the calmness he exuded that made her trust him in one of the most confusing times in her life five years ago. That quality of solidness is still there in him, which was one of the reasons she so regretted fleeing from him.

“Things are a lot different now,” she says. So true. And yet, as she considers the melting sensations coursing throughout her body, so much is still the same.

There’s a roar that jolts her out of her strange reverie. A teenager on a skateboard crashes out, just feet from her. She’s being pulled by her man into his arms to avoid a collision, with her chest pressed against his. She thinks she overhears some kind of apology coming from the wayward wannabe athlete, but the voice is muffled as she feels the heat of her man and squeezes him tighter. If this was five years ago, she would have pulled away, like a terrified mouse. But today she doesn’t, in fact, it feels heavenly to be in his arms. Now that fate has sent her here in the form of a clumsy kid, it feels infinitely safer and more right in her man’s arms than when she stood frozen alone on a railing just moments ago. She caresses his face with her hands, becoming aroused by the rough feel of his stubble under her fingers. It feels so good to her.

“My hero. Always have, always will be.” she says. Her desire helps her muster the courage to stare deeply into his eyes, as though acting in the face of fear will give her courage. His warm blue eyes stare back into hers, but she notices a shift in his expression, like a hint of surprise. She feels a reaction to this that makes her want to look away, but she forces herself to keep the stare. Because she wants the love in her heart to win the battle this time.

“What? Always have?” he snaps. It imbalances her more, this reaction of his. But it assuages her sense of reality. She had interpreted his nuanced expression correctly. Which means, she still remembers him well enough to read him. So, his seeming nervousness, his willing to be here, to hold her meant that he still cared. This realization gives her a newfound confidence, and she relaxes for the first time as he holds her,.

“Of course, silly,” she says as she massages his chest, wanting to bury herself in the skin underneath clothes there. But in this public setting, the most she can settle for is melting herself into him, letting the smell and essence of him suffuse her. In this tight physicality, she can feel the hardness of his desire press into her, and there is no denying that the attraction that she feels for him is mutual. She confesses in a whisper that she has no idea if he can hear or not, saying, “You got to me like no other man had before.” And still did. Seeing him again had proved that nothing had changed for her, and her feelings. She hoped it was the same for him.

“You’re not mad, then?” is what he finally says. That confuses her, especially since she has no idea what he’s responding to or why he’s saying that. She thinks carefully before replying, because she doesn’t want to confess to heartfelt feelings if it’s only going one way.

“About what?” she manages in a clipped voice that she immediately regrets. God, she sounded like a drill sergeant. Waves of panic mix in with the current of desire she feels. She pulls away just enough to look at his face, but the sun blinds her again. He is unreadable.

He exclaims, “When I kissed you. You freaked out. You told me to go away! Then I didn’t hear from you again.”

Heat floods her face as she remembered the outburst. She manages a smile, thinking for a second that she’d rather forget one of her worst moments of her own doing in her life. But then she corrects herself. If she really wanted to forget that incident, would she have called him here, no matter how much he haunted her heart and mind over the years? So she sighs. She has to say something to address the issue. She’d always wondered how it would play out if and when it did, and the moment is finally here. It feels like a final exam that she can fail with one answer. So she gambles by betting on the truth, saying, “No, it really was me. It was all about me. It wasn’t you at all.”

“That’s news to me,” he clips. Obviously what she said had not been good enough. So she steps away from him, taking his hands in hers. This is it, her great presentation that was pass or fail, no going back.

“Silly goose. You missed the most obvious thing,” she begins.

He tilts his head before he replies, “Huh?”

His confusion disarms her, and she giggles out her nervous energy. “Do you really think the whole reason why I was hanging out with a hunk like you was because I needed a shoulder to cry on? Please. I have girlfriends for that.” True enough, but back then she needed someplace to rest her soul. He was the only one who gave her that. Maybe that was why she couldn’t forget him all that time. Maybe that was why even though he had totally transformed physically, it felt like nothing had changed, because on a spiritual level it hadn’t. And she wasn’t lying about the hunk part. He’d always been cute enough to magnetically attract females like sweet honey. She smiles for just a second at this, but then feels his eyes probing through the blinding sun at her. She senses the hurt they convey. Her words have climbed into the wound she created, and she knows he needs more than flattery and flirtation now.

She can’t face the directness of his gaze with what she says next. She watches her hands on his chest, and she senses that his head bows with hers. She focuses on the intensity of his heartbeat, which is drumming furiously. Somehow, that gives her the courage to say, “I owe you an apology.”

“For what?” he replies questioningly.

Her face feels like fire, and she hopes he hasn’t noticed. She looks down, as if she’s creating more distance the lower she turns her gaze, buying time along with it. Everything feels like it is swirling and swimming. She catches the scent of the ocean just yards away, and she feels as though she’s being carried away in a riptide as she speaks. “I feel like an idiot. I was so stupid back then.” She shakes her head, wrinkling her nose. “I was twenty-five, a grown woman, and I didn’t even know what I wanted. I really was ridiculous. I wanted you, and as soon as I knew that you wanted me too, I panicked. I was an idiot.”

Her insides swoon with dizzy panic, now that she has spoken her truth. Say something, her soul begs him in the silence. Anything. It seems forever before his voice barely cracks out one word. “Why?”

At a loss for words and overwhelmed by emotion, she answers him by draping her arms behind his neck, leaning upwards toward him while pulling him closer to her. She smells a rich cologne on him, and it tingles her senses to match the terror and desire that combat each other within herself as his breath comes closer to hers. Before she can change her mind, she touches her lips to his, wishing that she had the courage to do more than kiss him like a twelve-year-old at her first dance.

She shouldn’t have worried. Because he takes advantage of his move by deepening the kiss, making love with his tongue to her in her mouth. Unlike last time, she lets him kiss her. She lets the kindling of the kiss ignite into fire. She had always wanted him, but her fear of losing him had won out before. How ironic it was that she’d lost him anyway. There was no way she’d let any silly juvenile fear she had before chase him away this time, leaving her inner soul to rot with cobwebs in isolation like last time.

Gently, they pull away from each other, as if both instinctively knew they could only go so far in the midst of the seaside carnival. She lets him take her hand, allowing him to lead her away from the boardwalk with its crowd. She’s ready now, ready for him and the love that he had always wanted to give her.

Read this story from his point of view — click to see    

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4 Responses to “She’s Ready Now Part 2”

  1. Daron Henson says:

    I enjoyed the psychological standpoint in this story. However, it hardly seemed like a relationship between two grown people. But, I did appreciate the character interaction and development.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Daron, thanks for your perspective. In response to your criticism, the story was intended as a fantasy, indulging the “what if” scenario of getting another chance at a botched relationship. Glad you enjoyed it otherwise, and I appreciate the feedback.

  2. Nicola says:

    I enjoyed it very much, was wonderfully written; expressing the turmoil she felt inside. However I believe the reason Daron said it doesnt seem like a relationship between two grown adults is because of the dialogue – it was a bit immature, even for something meant to be a fantasy or ‘what if’ situation, it should seem more realistic. But the rest of it was magnificent.

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks, Nicola. As far as the dialogue, it’s surprising what people will say regardless of any age when they’re nerve-wracked, especially when they pretend not to be. At least, this has been my observation. Glad you enjoyed the story, appreciate your comments and your visit.