She woke with a dry mouth and crinkled mind.
What had happened?
She rolled on her back tucking the bedsheets under her arms, and enjoying the warmth of the duvet just a little longer. She knew reality would soon hit her, and usually, it wasn’t pretty when it happened.
Not that it was an usual thing for her to wake up lacking parts of the previous evening. But she had had her share of partying in the past, and she rarely had taken her best decisions after a glass too many of good wine.
She tossed the sheets aside and slipped out of bed holding her head with both hands as she stood up. Ok, she had had more than one glass passed her limit. But how many? Two, three… Ten?
She picked her night robe from the armchair by the window, and covered her naked body, heading for the kitchen. She seemed alone in the apartment, but peeked into the living room just to be sure he wasn’t asleep on the couch.
There was no sign of him around, and she almost felt disappointed.
She walked to the counter, chose her favorite mug, turned on the coffee maker before pouring herself a tall glass of water to kill the annoying headache.
She remembered well that they had agreed to meet at his favorite restaurant in town, The Sushi Den, to share a good meal, and a few hours together, since he had to fly back home the next day, not knowing when/if he’d be back again.
It seemed just normal to choose The Sushi Den… That’s where they had first bounced into each other after all. Well, it wasn’t quite a chance encounter. After seeing her eyeing the charming stranger eating by himself, a couple of tables away from theirs, her best friend had dared her to invite him to join them.
After that evening, they had met a number of times. Had he not lived in Luxembourg, one of them probably would have made a move on the other. They had fooled around a whole deal, and flirted openly, but didn’t want to get attached, neither of them believing in long distance relationships…
His three months contract ending, she had invited him for a Farewell evening. She had pampered herself, a little more than usual, to hopefully leave him a memorable last impression. When he had entered the dim lighted restaurant, she had noticed a pinch in her chest, she wished she hadn’t felt. He was always well dressed, but walking towards her, he was extra classy that night. He would have looked great in jeans and a t-shirt anyway.
It was all in the brightness of his smile and the sparkle in his gaze. He was always intense and enthusiastic when they talked… They laughed a lot together and she felt totally comfortable. She wondered if it maybe was the fact that nothing could happen between them, that made it so easy to be herself around him.
They had no expectation, no need to fear disappointing the other… It was probably just that.
That, or the fact that he was absolutely brilliant and charming. He had knowledge about all and anything, but not in an annoying know-it-all kind of way. He could hold a conversation without it ever ending in an awkward silence. He had repartee, but was never cocky… He was – she sighed as he sat in front of her – simply perfect.
Oh yeah, and he spoke four languages, which totally impressed her, although he couldn’t show off at all, not being in one of those foreign countries where he could have ordered for her in a perfect Italian, as if he had lived in Florence all his life.
His life… The only taboo subject between them. He had set that straight from the very start. He didn’t want to tell her about his life home, and didn’t want to know more than he needed about hers. They hadn’t even shared what they did for a living, which seemed a detail a bit useless to hide from each other, but she liked mystery, and they had played the stranger card every chance they had had to meet…
They had slowly shared large plates of the best sushi, and the saké had flowed more than she had expected. That’s when she had slightly slipped from their agreed boundaries. After excusing herself to the bathroom to get refreshed, she had walked behind him to get back to her chair. Brushing the tip of her fingers on his left shoulder, caressing the nap of his neck on the way to his right shoulder, she had leaned to his ear to whisper slightly louder than she would normally have done, risquing that the clients at the table besides theirs would hear her,
– I am sorry, stranger – they had exchanged names, but enjoyed calling themselves stranger – but I really want you, tonight…
– That’s a tempting offer, from such a delicious creature… But I doubt Mister Miyaki would approve that I accept it here, in his fancy restaurant. Why don’t you invite me to your place, first?
He looked serious, and that caught her off guard. His hotel suite and her apartment were off limits, and she wondered if he meant it. When he waved at the waiter to get the bill, she felt blood rushing out of her head, and got a little dizzy at the thought of bringing him back to her lair.
He had offered to get a taxi, but she had insisted on walking home instead. The cold crisp autumn air would be the perfect way to cool her slightly too intense saké buzz. She was expecting a bit of awkwardness, but their conversation had been as natural and innocent as if she hadn’t bluntly hit on him, just minutes ago.
He just wanted to walk her home, obviously. He would make sure she was safe and would leave in the night, as if they had never known each other.
She enjoyed the walk just the same, giggling all along, and holding his arm until they got to her doorstep. Time was up, unfortunately, and she slipped a nervous hand in her purse to fetch her keys. Unlocking the door, she started a clumsy goodbye speech without much enthusiasm.
When she turned his way again, he grinned as she looked up to him.
– Come here – he said, slipping his arms around her waist and pulling her to his chest – Won’t you invite me in? I don’t drive tonight… I wouldn’t mind one last drink, or a good coffee, or…
Or…? She wondered. He had granted her a hug or two when they had gone out together before, but it was the first time he held her like that. She could almost feel his breath on her cheek, and she wanted nothing more than to chance to break a rule or two before he left, but she hesitated.
– Or should I just kiss you goodbye, now?
They had sworn not to get too close… She had been hurt enough in her life. But she felt so damn good in his arms. Could she…? Should they…? Her thoughts started spinning when he leaned a bit closer to her, and rubbed his nose against hers.
– So, gorgeous… Do you want me to come in?
Did she? Oh God. Did she ever…
To be continued.