She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. I would’ve never guessed that about her. But there was a lot about Mari that I was just beginning to learn. Mari wasn’t from Dallas originally. She was born in California and moved to Dallas about five years ago.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wait to talk to her again so I called her the day after seeing her at CHANCES. We talked for a long time. She laughed at my jokes and she even took shots at me. The entire conversation was easy. Usually there are awkward moments of silence and hesitation but we had none of it. She told me about her goals and desire to be a nurse.
I liked that about her. She had a purpose and wasn’t just going through the motions with life. I could’ve talked to her for the rest of the day but I wanted to see her. I wanted to see that smile again. I had never been to Milagro and I was excited about the world class french toast I had heard about. I caught myself watching the clock over the next few hours.
I’d write a little bit and then look at the time. I was more anxious than usual. I played the date over and over in my head and pictured how I wanted it to go. I didn’t know if I should tell her everything about me or just a little. You can’t tell everything on the first date can you? Of course not. There has to be some mystery to uncover.
I knew I was going to give her a rose. I had bought a single, white rose for her. It was sitting on the table making the wait even longer each time I stared at it. When I tried to ignore the rose, I would look at my phone.
I stared at the text message icon and debated whether or not I should send her a text. I just wanted to see how she was doing and if we were still on for tonight.
“What if she thinks I’m being too aggressive?” I thought.
I wasn’t sure why this particular date was making me as nervous and wrecked as it was. I’ve been on dates with a lot of people and I was usually calm and impartial to the experience.
Maybe I was just overthinking it and maybe I was getting my feelings mixed up. Mari was just another girl and I needed to relax. I didn’t text her. She ended up texting me.
– Still on for tonight? 5:31 PM
– Absolutely. Pick you up at seven 5:32PM
– I’ll be here waiting! 5:40 PM
I got the message and I calmed down. It confirmed that she was thinking about me and this whole thing too. I wasn’t the only one looking forward to it. I got dressed and left my apartment. I looked good. I had on a short sleeved slim-fit shirt, a pair of Buffalo David Bitton jeans with my black Calvin Klein Corden boots. I smelled good. I had on some Euphoria cologne. I was ready.
I got to Mari’s apartment a few minutes before seven o’clock. I walked to her door and knocked. She opened the door with a smile. It was a smile that sunshine would envy. Her hair was different. It was long and straight at CHANCES but it was curly now. She looked beautiful with both.
She was wearing a red sweater that rested close to the edges of her shoulders and just below her collarbone. She had on a pair of black pants that fit like a glove. I don’t know what material they were but they highlighted every single curve she had. She had no earrings or makeup on. Her lips were covered with a light red lipstick. I looked at every inch of her. This girl had natural beauty. I think she caught me staring.
“Is it the sweater?” she asked while trying to get my attention.
“Oh no. My mind was somewhere else that’s all.”
“Good because I wasn’t going to change. I’ve changed about a million times.”
“Yes, really!” she laughed.
I gave her the white rose I had and she loved it.
“This is for you.”
“Aren’t you sweet Mr. Man.”
“I do what I can.”
“I love it. Thank you. Are you ready?”
“I am. Let’s go.”
She lived on the second floor of her apartment building so I had the opportunity to watch her walk down the stairs. The back of her was just as good to look at as the front of her was. I let my eyes wander down as she walked.
“I wonder if she knows I’m staring at her ass,” I wondered.
The look she gave me as she turned around suggested that she knew I was checking her out. We got to my car and I opened the door for her. I drove a decent car at the time. It was an Audi. I liked keeping it clean and scented for whenever I had a woman in it. But mostly because I’m sure I have a slight case of obsessive compulsive disorder.
When I closed her door and walked to the other side, I saw her eyes follow me. She was checking me out too. We buckled up and got the date started. It didn’t take me long to get to Milagro.
She warned me about her boss and how crazy he was. We walked in and she got a few menus for us. She suggested that we eat outside so we did. The table was on the upper level with a nice view of the people walking around.
The first person to stop by our table was her boss. He was happy to see her and he seemed like a cool guy. He said hello to Mari and told us to enjoy the food. The best part was that the food was on the house.
“Wow. On the house?” I asked.
“Absolutely. Mari is the best. She works hard,” Dave said. “Now she won’t think I’m such a prick.”
“I don’t think you’re a prick Dave,” she said.
“Everyone thinks I am Mari,” he laughed. “Enjoy your date.”
Dave left to go back to the kitchen.
“He didn’t seem so bad," I mentioned to Mari.
“He’s never that nice. Trust me.”
“Hey has anyone ever told him that he looks like James Franco?”
“Yeah he hears it all the time,” she answered with a grin. “And he’s just about as weird as James Franco is too.”
I ordered a nice steak and Mari ordered some salmon. I wanted to try the french toast but I didn’t. The steak was delicious though. The reputation about the food at this place was well deserved. I had a cup of tea with my steak. She had a glass of wine. Mari loved wine as it turns out. She gave me a long history of her wine interest and how she wanted to go to a vineyard and see how they produce wine.
“A good glass of wine makes a meal that much better Culver.”
“Thanks for the history of wine Mari,” I said impressed. “I’ll have to step up on my wine tasting.”
“I’m just saying if you wanted to one day take me to a vineyard I wouldn’t mind at all.”
“Gotcha. It’ll fit right in with my plan to get you
drunk and totally take advantage of you.”
She nearly spilled her drink when I said that. Her laugh was just as cute as she was. I was really into her. We talked through the entire meal. When she asked what I did, I told her about the magazine company. She found it very interesting that I was an editor and writer. She said she wasn’t surprised at all.
“I’m pretty boring outside of that. There’s nothing too exciting to tell I guess.”
“I think writing is exciting. Not everyone can do it.”
“So what’s your last name Mari?”
“Humble? Is that your real last name or your secret
“I know right?! No, it’s my real last name. Mari Amanda Humble.”
“Pretty name. I like it. It fits you.”
“Culver Denning? That’s interesting. I like it.”
“Yep. That’s both my real and secret identity.”
The night was going so well but I knew it had to end. I left a tip for our waiter despite the fact that the meal was free. Mari seemed pleased with the gesture. We walked hand in hand back to my car. I don’t remember ever having such a perfect night on a first date.
When we got back to her apartment, I gave her a hug. I could hear her taking a deep breath and exhaling as my grip around her got tighter.
“I had a great time Mari,” I whispered to her.
“Me too. Me too Culver.”
She had her arms around me and her head resting on my chest. Her eyes were closed. My chin was on top of her curly hair.
“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” she revealed to me.
“Is that right? Well, I don’t want to.”
“Good. Let’s watch a movie.”
I followed her into her apartment to extend the night. She had a small flat screen TV on a coffee table. I sat on the couch in front of it and watched her dig through a box of movies she had. We decided to watch Yes Man, one of Jim Carrey’s movies. We both liked Jim Carrey.
She turned the lights off in her apartment and sat next to me.
“Can I lay my head right here?” she asked having placed her head on my chest already.
“I’d like that.”
I couldn’t believe how natural we were being around each other. I just felt like I had been here on this couch before and she had put her head on my chest a hundred times before. It was all so natural. What happened next was an even bigger surprise.
When the movie went off, she rose up from my chest and looked at me.
“I’m so tired. You ready to go to bed?”
“Yes. It’s late. I should get going.”
“My bed I mean. I mean it’s just right in there,” she told me while pointing to her room. She got up from the couch and put her hands to reach for me.
“Come on. Let’s go.”
I shut the TV off and grabbed her hands. She led me to her bedroom. I walked in and her bed was neatly made. She had two pillows on it and a blue blanket.
“I’ll be right back. I have to change.”
She grabbed a pair of shorts and a thin tank top from one of the dressers in the room. She went inside the bathroom to change. She came out and jumped right into bed. I took my shirt and jeans off and got into the bed next to her. When I laid next to her, she rolled over and put her leg over mine. Her breasts were firmly planted against me with her head deeply embedded in my chest. I put my nose in that curly hair of hers and took a deep breath.
I wasn’t trying to smell her hair. I was taking a moment to take in how good it felt having her so close to me the way that she was. I put my arm around her and then I kissed her on her forehead and closed my eyes. We were cuddled up perfectly underneath the sheets. We didn’t have sex. We just spent the night holding each other.
Morning came and it wasn’t a dream. She was still there breathing softly. She fit like a mold inside my arms. But it was time for me to leave.
“Mari. Wake up. I have to go.”
She turned over trying to put on a smile but was too tired to do so.
“I know. It sucks.”
I got up and I sat on the edge of the bed getting ready to put my jeans on. She got out of the bed and walked over towards me. She put herself between my legs and grabbed my head to pull me close to her. I rested my face on her breasts and put my arms around her. We didn’t say a word. We just held each other.
She would breathe and then I would breathe. It was a fluent motion with us both taking in the moment. She held me tighter and I held her tighter. As close as we were, it felt like we couldn’t get as close as we wanted to. Even being body to body and skin to skin we wanted to get closer. We must have held each other for an hour without speaking.
But I had to go. I pushed her a few inches away so that I could see her. I looked in her brown eyes and put my hand on her cheek. Her big curls were covering most of her face. Leaving was the last thing on my mind now.
I was looking up at her and she was looking down at me. Those were the only words we said before we kissed. It was our first kiss but there was an intense kind of passion behind it that made it feel like the last kiss that either of us would have in our lives. Her lips were soft and warm.
As we kissed, she opened her mouth a little and I did the same. Her tongue entered my mouth and I touched it with my tongue. Each time she placed it inside, I would suck on it.
When she pulled her tongue away, I would suck on it a bit harder to keep it in my mouth. It was like a symphony playing in perfect sequence. It was an intense and passionate kiss. It felt like we both were giving in to something we could no longer resist. As the kiss ended, I held onto her bottom lip and sucked it gently as she pulled away.
“Wow. Culver. Oh my. What did you just do to me?”
She backed up from me as if she didn’t trust herself being that close to me. To be honest, I didn’t trust myself close to her.
“Oh my goodness. Yeah you should go now.”
“Yeah I probably should.”
We both had to get away from each other before it went any further.