Her eyes fluttered open to feather light kisses on the back of her neck, that sensitive spot behind her ear, then her jaw, his morning whiskers rasping lightly against her face. She turned fully in his arms, her hands softly stroking his hair, then his face, then curling into the soft brown strands on his chest.
She could smell the minty scent of his toothpaste and covered her face with one hand as she climbed out of bed to rush into the bathroom. When she returned to the bedroom a small, red-wrapped rectangular box lay on her pillow and he watched her approach through those gorgeous sapphire eyes.
She pounced on the gift excitedly, pulling off the ribbon and paper quickly, exclaiming in delight at the sparkling charm bracelet filled with beautiful charms representing their life together these past seven years. A pineapple for their Hawaiian honeymoon. A typewriter to symbolize her career. A tiny, three-tiered wedding cake. A heart with a ruby chip to represent their love for each other. And in the box, still to be added, a baby carriage?
Her brown eyes widened in dismay as he splayed his fingers over her still flat tummy.
“But I just found out for sure yesterday. You guessed?”
He shook his head, smiling, and pulled her close. “You’re even more beautiful than usual. More sensitive. So I hoped.” That was all they spoke as she covered his face with kisses and then eventually one thing led to another…
Leaning back from her computer, satisfied with her work, she placed her right hand over her slightly rounded belly and smiled to herself…
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
The party had been winding down anyway and the flirty blonde in the short black dress suggested her place, so she and Mike were grabbing their coats from the back bedroom when they heard the sounds of glass breaking and people shouting. Then the lights went out. The blonde had opened her mouth but before she could start shrieking he’d pulled her close and shoved her face into his chest to try to muffle a scream. She’d shoved him away hard like she was afraid and he felt her run past him in the darkness as he slipped and now he wasn’t even sure where she was…
What the hell? Mike could feel the toe of his boot hit something as he stumbled in the darkness to find the light switch. God dammit but his head hurt. He must have hit the back of his head against the footboard of the bed as he fell. Christ, he hadn’t meant to scare the girl, he just figured if a fight had broken out or something they could just stay in the bedroom till everybody settled down. He’d only been in Jim and Sara’s apartment a few times so he wasn’t sure he was remembering right, but, yeah, there was the switch to the right of the door.
As the light clicked on, he looked out into the living room and saw splatters of red everywhere, like a paint can had flown from someone’s hand and liquid curved up into the air in slow motion then fell like rain drops in a mesmerizing pattern. Looking more closely, he realized the red was too thin, too dark, had a coppery smell — good Lord, it was blood. Blood everywhere.
Squinting against the bright light, he could make out the pale, shocked faces of Jim and his wife, Sara, and another guy he remembered from the party, Leo maybe — no, Logan, somebody who worked with Jim at the trucking company. They were all staring at him in horror. Then Sara started screaming and screaming and he looked down and there was the blonde in the short black dress, glossy red lips and blue eyes open wide as blood spurted from the slash across her neck and soaked into the light gray carpet…
I mentioned that I was interested in writing a scene like this just for fun and Matthew from Twisted Roads of Madness suggested a scenario of a body on the floor and four people and blood everywhere! What do you think?
I wake the next morning in, of course, Bobby’s room and Bobby’s bed, feeling more confused than ever. Last night was everything I’d ever dreamed– slow, tender, cherished loving. In fact, I could feel my cheeks heating as I remembered just how many ways Bobby had cherished me last night!
I lay still and opened one eye to see if he was awake and realized I was alone in the luxuriously big bed piled with soft white pillows. Why couldn’t I just be happy about us getting back together? Or even just about sharing a passion-filled night? What was wrong with me? Bobby was still as wonderful as I remembered from when we were teens, but it just felt like something was missing. Obviously it was my problem, because he was perfect. Well, as perfect as the boy who’d knocked me up as a teenager and then left for college without a word could be. Yes, yes, I knew that was unfair and even to me it felt like beating a dead horse, but I just couldn’t shake those feelings of abandonment and it was gonna take a lot of time and a lot of talking for me to change.
I stretched and winced as some sore, little used muscles protested, but I got out of bed, searching for something to wear as I did the walk of shame back to my room. Okay, fine, I’d just have to put on one of his tee shirts over my panties and hope it looked like I was dressed for the pool if I ran into anybody in the hallway. I was searching for the stationery note pad to leave Bobby a message and found it propped up on the desk.
“Baby,” Bobby had written, “you looked so sweet and worn out that I didn’t want to wake you. I know we didn’t get much sleep last night.” (Sleep is underlined twice, just like a guy!) “I went to grab us some coffee. Come down to the beach when you get ready, there’s something I want you to see.”
I run to the patio doors and push aside the curtain so I can go out on the balcony and gaze at the beach. Oh, no, no, no, how could he? I hastily scribble a note and leave it on the bedside table. Grabbing my dress and purse and shoes from the wedding, I blindly rush out the door toward my room. By the time I get my room key out of my purse and open the door, tears are running down my face.
I take a quick shower, throw my clothes into my suitcase and call a car to take me to the airport. I manage to get on an earlier flight back to the mainland, damn the cost. All I know is I have to be by myself to think, away from Bobby. He’ll try to change my mind, I know he will. He’ll be all sweet and loving and understanding and…rational! Damn him, I just can’t think straight when he does that.
God, I must be crazy, who wouldn’t want someone like him? But, I’ve kept these feelings inside for so long, I just can’t — I don’t know, give up myself, maybe? If I let myself even think I might be able to love him, won’t that make everything I’ve felt all these years wrong? So I send Bobby a text:
I’m boarding my plane to go home. I need some time to think. I’m sorry, I really am.
All I know is, I’ve got to run…
After the first hour, Bobby suspected she wasn’t coming down to the beach. After nearly two hours had gone by, he sighed and walked back up toward the hotel, dumping the now-cold coffee cups into a nearby trash can. He looked again at the text message Gina had sent him and shook his head, trying to make sense of it.
What did she need to think about? She hadn’t even come down to the beach to see and hear his proposal. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his board shorts and his fingers found the small velvet box. How could he have been so wrong?
Walking slowly back toward his room, his mind wandered to the previous evening. He knew there was still an incredible electricity between them. She’d been soft and warm and perfect in his arms. She looked incredible in the long, flowing blue dress she’d worn for the wedding, but even more beautiful as he’d inched the zipper down and she let it fall to the floor in a silken pool around her feet.
He shook his head to clear the delicious memories and willed the tightening in his groin to ease. He tried to subtly adjust his board shorts and when he looked up he stopped in his tracks. The drapes to his room were open and so was the patio door. He could see the drapes blowing in the breeze.
He knew he hadn’t opened the drapes when he left, so Gina must have gotten his note and gone out on the balcony to look for him on the beach. Dammit. How could he have been so stupid? Of course she’d seen the words in the sand and panicked.
Bobby squeezed his eyes closed in frustration. He should have taken things slower. He should have waited till they’d had more time together. Bobby rubbed the ache that had started right above his left eye. There was a way to fix this, he couldn’t lose her a second time. Smiling just a little, he shook his head and went up to his room to pack.
He should have known she’d run…
Do you remember Jamie’s friend, Reggie, from Eyes Wide Open? This is Reggie’s story…
“Well, I know you won’t make me wear some God awful poufy pink or peach thing, so, hell, yes, I’ll be your maid of honor,” I exclaimed when Jamie told me she and Mike were engaged. She’d called me yesterday and asked if I could meet her for dinner after work today and talk. I’d been a little afraid she had bad news and they were breaking up, cause this thing with Mike was just a little too fairytale for me. But, no, they got freakin’ engaged! I mean, they were neighbors for a year or so, but they’ve only been dating for four months.
So, James and I are at the Village Pub near my apartment and had just ordered wine for her and a Corona for me when she sprang her news. I really am happy for her cause I like Mike, he’s a nice guy. Everybody pretty much likes Mike, he’s just a decent guy and he’s crazy over James, I can tell. But, geez, married?
“So,” I say, “when are you thinking? Like next year sometime?” “No, Reg,” she says almost gently, like I’m not too bright, “we don’t want to wait. I’m 27 and Mike is almost 30 so we’re thinking maybe the end of summer. How would you feel if we had a destination wedding in Hawaii?”
Well, I’m a preschool teacher for the school district, so the summer ends for me in the middle of August. And a wedding in Hawaii is going to be a little pricey, not to mention the time to get there and all. But she’s my best friend, so I’ll work it out somehow. I can’t bear to even think about missing Jamie’s wedding!
And I know perfectly well how old she is cause Jamie and I were college roommates and are the same age. At first I feel a little annoyed. Since when is 27 that old? But her face is lit up with this beautiful glow and then she puts her left hand on the table and I see the ring. She wiggles her fingers a little bit with unabashed pride and just sighs as she gazes at the ring under the candlelight at our table.
“That’s gorgeous,” I say, grabbing her hand and pulling it toward me. There’s a round diamond in the center and lots of diamond baguettes down the sides of the platinum ring, giving it a fragile, old fashioned look which suits Jamie really well. “It was Mike’s grandmother’s ring,” she says dreamily. “I wasn’t sure at first, I always thought I’d just want a solitaire, but I really love it,” she says. “I think it’s more me than something too plain, don’t you?” “I do,” I say, then start giggling. “You’ll be the one saying that pretty soon!”
We both laugh and then the waiter is bringing our chicken salads and we dig in. I, for one, am starving, because I haven’t eaten since lunchtime which for me was 11:30. The salads are pretty good and the beer really helped me relax after a day of talking about the weather and singing songs and teaching very basic Spanish to a group of three and four-year-olds. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with my little kiddos, I just love leaving work, too!
“So, Reg, how are things going with you?” Jamie asks. “We haven’t talked about you at all.” I nod, signalling the waiter that we need another round. “I’m good,” I say. “Not a lot going on right now, just work. But I have a good group this year, not too many criers. Remember that little Brittany from last year, the one who cried when her shoes came untied, cried when she couldn’t zip her coat, cried when she couldn’t get her mittens on?”
“I do,” Jamie smirks and I roll my eyes just a little. “Well, she finally learned to zip her coat but, of course, she’s not in my room anymore. And today this little cutie, Ella, asked me if my mom fixed my hair this morning,” I say laughing, touching my hair to make sure the blonde strands are still tucked into my French braid.
Spring break is starting right after Easter and I cannot wait. A little break from the school routine is what I really need and I’ve got a ticket to go to Virginia Beach to see some old friends and, of course, my mom. Provided that she’s still sober. The waiter brings our second round of drinks and suddenly my Corona doesn’t seem as appealing as it did a few minutes ago. I never want to feel like I need to drink just to get through the day. I’ve seen enough of that to last me a lifetime. I’ve lived enough of that to last me a lifetime.
Jamie’s looking at me strangely and I realize she’s asked me a question and is waiting for an answer. “Sorry, I must have zoned out, ” I say, taking a sip before pushing the bottle away. “What were you saying?” Jamie starts again. “I said we’re asking my brothers and their wives to stand up along with you and Mike’s old friend from school, Rob, who will be the best man.” Well, cool, I’m standing up with Mike’s friend, so he’s probably a nice guy.
“So, James,” I say, “what kind of a wedding is this gonna be? Big and fancy, big dress, all that?” “Oh, God, no, just family and a few friends, on the beach in Maui. Turns out Mike’s family has a timeshare there, can you believe it? I just want a simple dress, maybe tiny straps, maybe strapless, I don’t know. Want to go shopping with me and my mom?” Jamie is looking at me anxiously.
Of course I tell her, sure, I’d love it and then I tell her I’m going to see my mom over spring break. She’s worried, I can tell, because I hardly ever went home when we were in college and spent a lot of holiday breaks with Jamie’s family. I even did my student teaching in the Chicago area because there was no reason to go back to the Beach for me. Back then Mom was on stepdaddy number 2, I think, or number 3, I can’t remember, but he was a dickwad and I put as much space between me and his roving hands as possible. And when everything hit the fan that last Christmas I was home, I’d told Mom if she stayed with the dickwad, I wouldn’t be back.
So I pull my thoughts together and we talk some more about dresses and the wedding and how the beaches aren’t totally private but it should be okay for a ceremony. They think they’ll just do a luau for the reception cause there won’t be that many of us anyway for a regular reception. Then she and Mike can stay on for an extended honeymoon and the rest of us will deal with the jet lag and get back to work in a few days. But, Hawaii, wow, it should be beautiful. And romantic. Too bad I’ll be there by myself, but, still, a mini-vacation in paradise will be fun.
To be continued…
~ Diane D. Photo credit: Pinterest