“My God, look at you,” she said. “You look all grown up.”
“And you look as hot as ever,” I returned, with the matter-of-fact tone I like to believe is typical of me.
Her semi-shocked look was as amusing as ever. It appeared that the years of no contact had not dulled my ability to evoke it. Her eyes widened, her mouth let in the gasp, remained frozen momentarily as it fumbled for a retort, and finally settled into a deliciously embarrassed half-smile as the compliment in my clinical assessment reached home. It is one of her endearing traits, her visible embarrassment to my almost brash banalities. I felt again the intriguing attraction which the roll of her eyes used to once spur in me.
“I’ve not changed all that much, as you can see,” I said to her, smiling sardonically at the colour that had appeared on her cheek.
She flashed her smile, a sign that she couldn’t argue with that, and a pretty sight no less. We exchanged generic conversation, the usual ‘how’s work’, ‘what’s up with you’, ‘so you’re off to the US, eh?’ and the like. She did not seem far removed from when I had last seen her, except that she seemed perhaps just a little more - how should I put this delicately - unleashed. Bombay, money, heavy work hours, good looks, chick-pals with good looks, clubs, liquor, confidence, (in my opinion) a fabulous sex appeal, and the knowledge that men in the room want you, perhaps? Cheap she be not, nor a doll. She is a woman, through and through. Marvelous!
She was in town getting ready to head abroad. An unlikely name flashing on my mobile phone had announced her arrival in the city earlier that day, and her sensual bearing had floated up to the chair before me only minutes ago. She suggested we head off to T-oaks for dinner and a drink. I was more than happy to acquiesce.
I was in no mood to conceal my pleasure at her spending time with me. All those years in law school I remained stolid around her, perhaps more in defiance to the general perception that I had a thing for her than anything else. Is it my problem that I instinctively do not do what others want/expect me to do? She had told me in our 4th year itself that I could have had a shot, if only I’d taken it. Bloody hell!
T-oaks. My first time. I’ve grown used to the chides of peers for not have frequented the usual college hotspots. Today I had this woman as my date. Oops, can’t call it that, not politically correct. Screw it, that’s what it was for me.
The Green Apple pitcher sure took care of the mood. Low on lights, high on energy, the loud music did wonders to facilitate conversation at close range. Very close range. A woman’s face 8 inches from your own presents a delightful kaleidoscope of expressions in the course of a conversation, especially when you say something a little naughty and her eyes light up. Beautiful.
Alcohol. Good alcohol. We laughed a lot. I sensed it. I think she did too. We were totally into each other that evening. I needed to ride her back to her guest house, and then myself home, so I ignored the sore temptation of ensuring that the pitcher was emptied. She seemed more at ease. She had more than me, I think.
Dinner was at a table just outside the lounge, so the music was dulled just a little. We could talk more, although I already missed the intimacy of the inebriated proximity occasioned by the loud music. We talked about heavier stuff; life, love, sex, freedom. Neither of us seemed to want it to end.
The club was close to shutting down for the night. We went for our last visits to the washroom. She wanted to sneak a peek into the men’s room (so it’s not just us guys, then), which I enabled. My first time with a woman in a washroom, all of 7 seconds. No ideas, please!
We walked out after midnight, the last to leave. She needed to cash out, so we headed to the ATM across the street. The guard seemed more sleepy than disinterested and did not object when the both of us walked in together.
“What do you think of my butt?” she asked while taking her receipt from the machine.
“I think you know,” I smiled back, my tone unmistakable.
She looked into my eyes and smiled. There was that sexy spark in her eyes again. Damn!
We rode back to the guest house she was putting up in. “Always wondered what that place was about,” I said as we approached it. “So close to college and I never knew it was a guest house.”
“Wanna check it out?” she offered.
We rode up the gravelly slope leading to the entrance gate. The guard let us in. I parked, then walked her to her door. She pulled out her keys, and stopped just short of putting one in the keyhole. Her pause was momentary, and the light in the passage showed her to be looking at the door-handle, her brow somewhat furrowed. Then she looked at me, and I saw in her eyes something that made me strangely happy. Vulnerability.
She finally opened the door and took a step in to switch on the lights. As she turned around, I saw that her confidence had returned, her smile playful and effervescent again. How do they do it?
“Come in,” she offered. “It’s not much but it’s home for n..”
She froze. As did I. We both realized why in a few seconds. It was me. I had held on to her hand. She turned around, a strange look in her eyes. Not fear, not revulsion. Indecision. Hanging between reluctance and relief. Desire mixed with denial. Vulnerable.
I pulled her to me. Another gasp as our bodies lightly collided. Her eyes only a whisper away from mine. Our breaths quicker. The light of the old tube in the corridor shimmered in tiny beads of sweat that developed on her forehead. The chill of the night wafting in threw the open door made a striking contrast to the heat of her palms on the small of my back. Her body radiated warmth as only a woman can. She tried to pull back ever so slightly, almost as if it were an obligatory formality. But my embrace did not loosen. Neither did hers.
Our foreheads touched, as if we were leaning in for support on each other, preparing for the inevitable course to follow. Our eyes were closed, and our quick breaths made us oblivious to our surroundings. My cheek brushed against hers, her skin soft and compliant. Slowly, little by little, our cheeks slid our lips closer to each other’s. I felt a hollow heaviness in my chest, my whole being urging to be consumed. I pushed her gently to the wall. Her hands fell to her sides as her back rested against the wall, her body slanted, waiting, almost limp. I had let go of her. My fingers caressed her cheek and ran through her silken hair, cupping the back of her head and raising it to my own. Her eyes remained shut, her lips slightly apart, her attitude submissive, ready. She stayed that way for a few seconds, expecting, waiting, wondering.
And then she opened her eyes. She realized that my hand was not longer holding her head, the warmth of my body was no longer radiating into her own. She stood up straight, a little disoriented, unable to focus completely before her. Then her eyes steadied, and she saw me standing a few feet away from her. Her brow clouded in gentle confusion, but she said nothing.
“I needed to know how it might have been. I guess I needed us both to know.”
I shut the door behind me, and walked into the night.