Leila has it all, the dream job she wanted and the kind of life she always wanted. But her past comes back to haunt her. They have a new boss and the boss is her ex who broke her heart and humiliated her by making another woman pregnant while they were engaged. But then she finds out that it is not what she thought. Is there a chance that they can start over and make it work. Read part one here. Part 2 can be found here.
“Vanilla? Even after all this time?” Masha teased. “Some things really don’t change, do they?”
We were having Sunday brunch, our fifth date just that week alone and I was ecstatic. You know how you could find something you thought you’d lost after searching for a long time to no avail? Like keys; when you want to leave the house they kind of just disappear on you and the search is long and torturous. Just when you’re ready to give up they spring up out of nowhere and a flood of relief descends on your entire being. That’s what it felt like to reconnect with Masha.
At work, we were cordial. Maggie was back to singing his praises after I told her how the conversation went.
“So, operation no more nun Leila is back on?” She’d declared her stake in the dramatic story that my life was becoming. “I mean, don’t get me wrong I’m happy for you,” she’d said on Monday, “but I’m also jealous. I’m the hopeless romantic here, and yet you get the Hollywood-type story? Unfair.”
I had to bribe her with the promise of hooking her up with Masha’s friends if I met any hot ones.
After work, we’d leave together. I’d go first and wait for him by his car. He’d then leave the office a few minutes later, and we go to dinner or for a drink. We talked about everything under the sun. We would catch up, talk about what had been happening and of course catch up on what our former classmates had been up to. Who’d gotten pregnant, who was married, who went to Harvard but lost their scholarship after a year, who sold out and started to illegally import generic brands from China… Masha, who’d kept in touch with people after campus, unlike me, delighted me with story after story of just how differently people all turned out.
The entire time while he talked, I’d get lost in his gesticulation thinking,” He’s mine. He is all mine, this beautiful man.” Although in all honesty, I didn’t know if he was truly mine. We hadn’t talked about it.
“What are you thinking about?” He asked, digging his fork into a bowl of noodles and staring up at me as he rolled them.
“Nothing,” I smiled back trying to ward off his curiosity.
“Girl, I know that blank face stare. You’re trying to mask something. If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to start guessing.” “Do it then!” Masha was horrible at guessing. This was a nice way to distract him from scrutinizing my thoughts.
“Okay, let’s see,” he started, wiping off some soup that had dripped on his shirt. “You are bored and want to go?” He was off to a terrible start.
“Bored? With half my lunch on the table and dessert still on the way? Wrong!” I made the buzzer sound and he laughed, scrunching up his forehead showing he was thinking.
“Oh! I know! You can’t wait to get me out of here so you can have your way with me all night.” The teasing smile showed he was joking, but he didn’t know just how right he was.
A blush crept up my cheeks and I could feel the heat on the tips of my ears. I knew in that moment that I looked genuinely flustered and tried to cover it up with a laugh. He caught on before I could lie.
“Oh, Leila! You’re blushing. I was right,” he smirked. “You know all you have to do is ask. I’m yours for the taking.”
I took that as my opening. As much as I would have loved to revisit the chemistry of our bodies right there, to sit on his lap and let his hands rediscover my new curves, to arch my back and align every inch of our bodies and lightly graze his sensual lips with my tongue… Wow, I was losing track again. As much as my entire being wanted him, I had to do the grown-up thing and have a conversation first. I needed to know where we stood and whether this was worth my time.
“Are you sure about that? Are you mine?” I deadpanned, looking him in the eye to seek out the truth.
“Babe. Leila. Every single morning this week I’ve had you in my mind as I got ready for work. Every single thing I do, I can’t help but think about whether you’d approve. Will you like my shirt? Should I get a haircut, or do you like it as it is? Are the restaurants I take you to good enough? I am constantly trying to impress you even without knowing. I’m trying to get you to fall in love with me again because that’s how I feel. You are my person. You’ve always been my person.”
He shifted his frame forward and his knees grazed mine under the table as his legs trapped one of mine between them. He was making it really hard for me to think clearly. The entire time he was talking, his eyes did not leave my face. If he was lying, he was pretty good at it.
“I just don’t want to waste my time Masha. I feel very strongly about you, I won’t lie, but I’m not going to jump into anything blindly.” My heart was fluttering in my chest as I spoke, and my voice betrayed my emotion. “We’re grown-ups now and there’s the work situation to think about. If there’s going to be anything between us, it will have to be very clearly defined.”
I finished my little speech and went back to my forgotten plate. The fries had gone cold already. I picked at them lazily with my fork to avoid Marsha’s intense gaze.
I heard Masha sigh heavily and from the top of my glasses stole glances and watched him move around from his side of the booth. He came around to my side and gently turned my face so that I was looking right at him. I dropped my fork as he leaned in. My body, with a mind of its own, angled into him and as our lips met, all of me leaned into him.
It was like everything I’d thought it would be and more. One of his hands found my waist while the other caressed my face. I took his lower lip between my teeth and lightly bit it as he took my cue to make the kiss deeper. We were lucky to be on the patio where we were slightly hidden from view by the outdoor plants. It was taking all of my restraint to keep from pushing him into the booth and kissing him senseless. We pulled apart eventually and for what felt like forever, stared into each other’s eyes. He smiled, rubbing his nose on mine and said, “So let’s make it official. Leila will you be my girl, see where this road takes us”
I did not have the slightest doubt when I replied in the affirmative, “Yes.”
Our waiter wandered out towards us to ask if we were ready for dessert. We both shook our heads no so vigorously that we laughed out loud.
“Bring us the check, please,” Masha said, his hand rubbing my thigh and travelling dangerously upwards. If there was dessert to be had, it would definitely not be on a plate or in public.
We left the restaurant arms wrapped around each other. He couldn’t keep his hands off and neither could I. This felt right, all of it. Like puzzle pieces fitting together, like exhaling after a long time of holding your breath, like coming home. Later, lying next to him pleasantly exhausted, I thought, maybe happily forever after still has a chance. I would fight for it this time, hoping that Masha did not have any other secrets that would mess this new relationship we were getting into.
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