He arrives at the boardwalk, the sun blinding him with greeting. An appropriate metaphor, he thinks, given that he was blinded by love here so long ago. It’s the place where it all began for him, where he will meet her today once again. He hopes that she’s ready now for him, unlike last time. He has always been ready for her.
She’s waiting for him at the boardwalk when he arrives, standing at the rail overlooking the beach. It surprises him that she’s there first. So much so that he presumes it can’t be her leaning against the rail, while all the tourists and power-walkers wander past her.
But even though it’s been five years, he can still recognize the wavy blonde hair he’d touched only once. He remembers the slim graceful curves he wanted to touch even more but never did, hidden under a green sleeveless dress. It’s like the dress she wore when she told him to go, in this very place no less.
As he gets closer to her, he notices men giving her second glances, and their wives in turn giving them dirty looks. All the while, she remains oblivious to the power she radiates and the calamity she causes just by her mere presence. She doesn’t seem to understand her effect on people. Just like back then, when she knew him.
He looks at his watch, five minutes to three. Five minutes early, he is. Which means she’s been waiting here, for him. That’s so different from the way it had been. He had always been the one waiting, until she told him to leave. But of course, this time was different. She was the one who had called him, to be here. That never would have happened five years ago. She’d been the one who ran away. Certainly not the one who was the aggressor, like now.
It’s strange to see the same vision of her, yet knowing that just because of her initiation, everything had changed this time. Even if this was the same place where it all began between them, and where it all fell apart as well. No wonder she’d chosen this place to meet. Yet choosing it also seemed cruel to him, when he remembered her parting words.
But he’s here now, and so is she. She seems to sense him, turning her head to face him. She’s smiling, a good sign. Or maybe not. He had thought he’d known her, thought he could read her after the friendship they had. Look what happened then. A botched kiss that left him screaming with unrequited desire. But that was then. The years of silence are over, at least for now.
He walks up the boardwalk stairs, approaching the green clad figure that he’d dreamed about for so long. He’s like any heterosexual man with half a brain, would love to have an excuse to take her in his arms and a reunion seems as good as any. But he wants her to make the first move, seeing that his advances were why they hadn’t spoken in five years, anyway.
Up close, he confirms his original presumption. She still looks beautiful. What, was he hoping she’d be ugly? Well, it would help in one way if she was. But she wasn’t, and he was assaulted with the same punch of desire in his gut that had attacked him when they last met. He hopes it doesn’t seem obvious. Because she still hasn’t made any moves towards him.
She squints her blue eyes at him. That was the last thing she had done, before she walked away like she did the last time. He feels like taking her in his arms and keeping her there before she flees again. Damn, why did she do this to him? How could he feel captured, so enraptured by a woman he’d only kissed once? He feels like some stupid clown, like a thirty-two year old virginal freak. It’s no better than when he saw her five years ago. What is it with this woman that makes her so different from the others?
She shades her eyes with her hand, and he forces himself to look directly into them. It’s no easier than looking at the rest of her, but he’s got to look somewhere, and anything lower than her face is looking for obvious trouble. It’s what got him in trouble the last time he saw her.
She smiles at him, and most likely at his dilemma, before looking away and giggling. Well, maybe giggling is a good sign, he thinks. Maybe he’s not the only one who’s nervous here. She wasn’t much of a giggler back then, back when she sent him away. A man had to hope these things when he felt this pathetic in love, lust, or whatever the hell it was that this woman did to him.
“You haven’t changed much,” she says.
“I hope that isn’t bad,” he replies.
She laughs. Her hair is thrown back, no care to how she looks. God, she looks so sexy, he thinks. There’s none of that insecurity she used to sport around him.
She laughs as she protests, “No, of course not! Do you think that I’d even ask you to be here if it was?”
He wonders if she’s laughing at him. But he’s still drawn to her, still wants her. She’s right. He hasn’t changed much.
The last five years had helped him realize he could live without her, though. Even if it was with a hole that couldn’t quite be filled. So he has nothing to lose by being honest, now.
He replies, “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.”
“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 he notices the laughter is gone from her voice.
Her sudden seriousness makes him laugh before he replies, “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.”
Her smile turns thin, like she’s chastising a child. Her eyes are fluttering with flirtation though, as she says, “Then again, I’m not you.”
He thinks, no you’re not, and I wish I could read you better.
She leaves her cool post resting on the railing, and walks up to him, placing her hands on his chest. It is like molten heat to him, rising in all the places that are just right as long as the moment is. She’s got to know what she’s doing to him. Doesn’t she?
“Things are a lot different now,” she says. You think?, he almost says aloud. He stifles a laugh, looking at her hands on him while his still hang by his sides.
His adolescent antics are suddenly interrupted by a roar. It’s some kid wearing a backwards baseball hat and an oversized t-shirt on a skateboard practically careens into the both of them. In response, he grabs his damsel into his arms, out of the path of the clumsy wannabe athlete. “Sorry”, the kid mumbles. The twerpy kid skates off without another word.
Normally, he’d be annoyed at such a bumbling idiot, but he realizes what a gift he’s been given by this accidental jackass stunt. She’s in his arms now, and his instinct to protect her has overwritten his hesitancy. The heat from her seeps into him in more ways than one. He remembers this heat, the sensation burnt into him from so long ago. He wonders how long it will last.
She holds him tighter, and his response is full tension in all the places that you’d expect in this situation. It sucks to be so obvious while she can stay so coy. The softness of her skin against his heightens his pleasure. She then puts her hands up to his face, rubbing the stubble he neglected to shave away this morning. “My hero. Always have, always will be.” she says. He notices her blue eyes staring into his. The heat from them melt him like no other woman’s eyes ever have done before.
“What? Always have?” he snaps back.
“Of course, silly.” She gives him a light rub on his chest. She then leans closer to him, letting him press into her. She says, “You got to me like no other man had before.”
“You’re not mad, then?” he replies.
“About what?” she asks.
He responds, “When I kissed you. You freaked out. You told me to go away! Then I didn’t hear from you again.”
She blushes a bit, smiling again. “No, it really was me. It was all about me. It wasn’t you at all,” she replies.
“That’s news to me,” he says.
She takes his hands in hers and says, “Silly goose. You missed the most obvious thing.”
He tilts his head before he replies, “Huh?”
Her smile turns into a giggle before she responds with, “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.”
He goes blank.
Her face turns serious. She looks down, stating “I owe you an apology.”
He snaps his head up. “For what?” But he knows damn well for what. His heart sure remembers.
She again blushes and looks down. She replies, “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.”
She wanted him? Maybe there is a God, he thinks. He swallows, the lump in his throat not the only thing throbbing on his person.
“Why?” his voice barely makes out.
She looks up, with her eyes first and then her face. She wraps her arms behind his neck, drawing his face towards hers. Her lips meet his, a soft feather to the skin. At that moment, someone walking past them on the boardwalk whistles. Somebody else shouts, get a room.
He registers all this as white noise to ignore, because the most important thing has happened right in front of him. She kissed him first. She wants him, and always had. Everything has changed in just one minute, rewriting five years of longing he thought had no cure.
He takes advantage of his luck, responding to her invitation with his own deepening desire. Unlike last time, she lets him kiss her. She doesn’t push away. The smouldering ignites into fire, while their kiss becomes deep and wet. He feels the heat from her body, realizing the newfound knowledge of her desire. She wants him. She had always wanted him, and now he knows it.
He’d invested five years of waiting. It finally paid off. As the kiss ends, he grabs her hand, and they stroll 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.