Color rises in her cheeks and the air between us shifts. Growing more intense, more heated—not just with attraction, but with the promise of something deeper. A future. Together.
I pull her closer, and brush my lips against hers, a feather light touch. And I swear to her, “Okay. Then we’ll start over, from the beginnin’. The way we should’ve started. No friends with benefits. I’m goin’ to do it right—take you out to gorgeous places, keep you in for whole weekends. I want you to get dressed up for me so I can take my time undressing you. I want to memorize every inch of your body and hear every thought in your mind. And then you won’t have any doubt that the only woman I want, the only woman I love—is you.”
Sofia leans in, her cheek, her nose skimming my own. Her voice is slightly breathless as she wonders, “So . . . that was you asking me out, right?”
And then her eyes are sparkling. “I’d like to make it clear that I’m totally open to sex on the first date.”
I chuckle. “I was really, really, hopin’ you’d say that.”
Then I press my lips to hers. Her mouth opens, welcoming, her sweet tongue meeting me halfway. I feel her hands gripping my shirt, sliding over my shoulders, up my neck, cupping my jaw. I pull her flush against me, holding her, letting her know with every brush of my fingers, every whispered word that I never want to let go. And I feel the same in her—relief, joy with each sigh, every soft promise. Sofia and I have kissed hundreds of times—but not like this. It’s different. Better.
It’s fucking perfect.
• • •
Most stories finish at the end. But not this one.
This one finishes with a whole new beginning.
We recline on a blanket on the grass at the Washington Mall, in a semisecluded little spot set back from the crowd. The sky is pitch black, but the lights from the city are too bright to make out a single star. Sofia leans back against my chest and my hands wander over her lazily, skimming up her sides, covered by a light pink mini-dress, and down her bare arms. The September air is warm, with a nice breeze. A contented sigh escapes her smiling lips, and I take a sip from the plastic cup of bourbon I’ve been nursing all night. I press a soft kiss against her temple as Elton John taps out the final piano notes of his latest song.
Events like this—a fall music festival—are free, first come, first serve. Even though Sofia was all quivery that Elton John would be playing, we didn’t kill ourselves trying to get front-row spots. She was content to just sit back and relax after a hellishly long week at the office. To enjoy the music . . . and each other.
But as the familiar melody of “Your Song” pours out from the speakers, I place my mouth against her ear, my breath raising goose bumps along her supple skin.
“Dance with me,” I whisper.
She arches her back to gaze at me, her eyes all soft and languid—the same way they are when I crawl up her body after bringing her to heaven with my mouth.
“Don’t tell me you’re actually starting to like dancing.”
I kiss the tip of her nose. “No. I’ll never be a fan.” I rise, taking her with me, keeping her close within the circle of my arms. “But I’ll always dance with you. Anytime, anywhere. Besides—this is your song.”
It’s a surprise I planned; a gift for her. I’m pretty sure it’ll blow her mind, and I’m looking forward to her blowing other things in return when she’s expressing her gratitude all night long.
Elton’s perfectly timed announcement comes over the microphone. “We have a dedication, ladies and gentlemen. This is going out to Sofia, with love from Stanton.” And then he starts to sing.
Her eyes go as round as quarters and she slumps against me just a bit from the shock. “Oh my God! I can’t believe you did that—how did you do that?”
I shrug. “I know people, who know people, who know a few of Elton’s people. I called in favors.”
She lifts up on her toes and kisses me hard—making me think this was the best damn idea I’ve ever had. Against my lips, she tells me, “I love you.”
As she rests her head against my chest I whisper, “I love you too.”
“I have the best boyfriend ever.”
My chest rumbles with a chuckle. “Yes, you do.”
How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world.
And then we dance.
• • •