By the time I reached the office, I didn’t expect to see only one person behind the reception counter. I peered down on my wristwatch and saw it quarter to six in the evening. I guessed that Sean had left to grab his dinner. Yet it didn’t explain why Albert and Greg weren’t there. Usually, Julian and Zoey were out of the office by seven.
Dean looked up once he noticed my arrival. “You’re back.”
I smiled. “Where’s everyone?” I asked.
“Sean’s out to get dinner. You just missed Albert and Greg. They drove Julian and Zoey early for dinner with Kyla and Jensen,” he replied. “Though I insisted on going, Dante and Jeffery are going as well as back-up. So Julian gave me the rest of the evening off, again.”
“Yup!” He grinned. “And I stayed to wait for you.”
I bit my lip to hide my blush. “Right, okay.”
“Would you like to have dinner with me again? This time I’d prefer a more formal setting than last night or earlier this morning.”He offered.
After meeting with Flynn and realizing the feeling of freedom from my past, there was no hesitation in my part anymore. Maybe it was what I needed all these years, I needed to see him again and to know the past had no sway over the future. And even if there was regret, it doesn’t mean we’ve allowed it to rule over our lives. And I shouldn’t let it rule my life anymore.
However, I’m not jumping in at the first opportunity I have - even if it was very compelling.
“I thought we’re taking it slow, and as friends for now?” My words dangled into a question.
He snorted. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t stop asking you out for dinner, Amy.”
I laughed. “True.”
I walked around the reception counter and checked my desk, computer, and notes if it needed my immediate attention. When it didn’t, I left a sticky note for Sean stating that I’ve gone home early. I only hope he wouldn’t read much into it if he was still here when Dean was waiting for me.
“I’m done. Let’s go.” I got up and walked towards the elevator.
“Are we leaving before Sean gets back?” He looked confused.
“Yeah, why? Should we wait for Sean?”
I smiled and shook his head. “You know, based on how people talked about you, I presumed you were the type to put your work first above all else. But this was the third time you didn’t, so I’m thinking maybe they were just exaggerating. Or maybe…”
I understood where he was going and cut him off. “No. They’re just exaggerating, Dean. It’s the first time I considered having this… uhm… I don’t go out for lunch or dinner dates with my co-workers.”
“Not even once?”
“Most people in this office are married or dating. The ones who are single aren’t my type just to be clear.” I defended.
“I didn’t mean to corner you like that.” He smirked.
“No, it’s all good.” I bashfully said. “Anyways, where are we heading to this time? You did say something formal. I hope that doesn’t mean fancy.”
“No. It’s not. I get it that you’re not the fancy type girl.”
“I hope that doesn’t make me look less classy at least,” I argued.
“No. It doesn’t.”
We took Dean’s motorcycle again. This time the ride lasted longer. I’m not complaining as much since I got to wrap my hands around his toned waist. Thankfully, like last time, the helmet with the visor down hide my flushed cheeks. When he increased a bit of speed, my hand automatically tightened around his waist.
I easily noticed his body reacting. This unintended foreplay and wild delusion go to show how pent up I’ve been. When was the last time I was with a man? Four to six months ago? No wonder this was enough to excite me.
As we arrived, I was too distracted by the cute cottage restaurant to notice Dean ogling at my expression.
“This is such a breathtaking place. How did you find this place?” I asked, finally looking back at him.
Dean’s smiling face briefly caught me off guard, which made my cheeks flush even further. But thankfully, my already flushed cheeks was enough to hide it.
“Julian told me,” he replied.
“And how did that conversation come up? I can’t imagine you asking Julian for advice on where to take a girl out.” I chuckled and handed him the extra helmet.
“It wasn’t that difficult, believe it or not.” He grinned. “I just asked him if he had a great place in mind where he took Zoey somewhere special. And he told me about this place.”
“Does it mean that this is an exclusive place?” I asked in alarm and studied the restaurant again.
“No. I don’t think so. Julian assured me it wasn’t.”
“Right. Let’s see.”
After Dean parked the motorcycle, we entered the lavish restaurant and was quickly entertained by the maitre d’. Dean and I were impressed more by the interior while the waiter seated us. I'm impressed by Mr. Hawksley for suggesting the place. It was dreamy, with a touch of homey feel to it. There was a balance of classy and urban ambiance to the place. Because of it, I felt vulnerable and open with Dean. It wasn’t like last night.
So when he asked me about my whereabouts earlier in the afternoon, I found myself telling him about my conversation with Flynn.
“Is Flynn the guy who…?” Dean didn’t finish his sentence when I nodded.
“The very same,” I said bleakly. “To tell you the truth, it was freeing to have that conversation with him after five years.”
“That was your first conversation with him since you broke up?” He was surprised.
“Yes. It was. The terms of our break-up weren’t pleasant.” I said and sighed heavily. “Actually, before we broke up, we were engaged for a week.”
Dean was quiet and still. He was patiently waiting for me to continue. As for me, I paused expecting to feel the all-too-familiar rush of frustration, despair, and lost. Yet there was nothing. Now I had the same freeing feeling as I did earlier after I talked to Flynn. Maybe the five years did catch up to me and I’m free of those chains.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Amy.” Dean finally said when I hadn’t spoken for a minute.
I looked at him and stiffly smiled. “No. It’s okay. That was a long time ago, Dean. And after talking with Flynn, all of those regrets and resentment no longer mattered. Because he no longer mattered in my life. I was so wrapped up with how that relationship affected me I started comparing all the relationship I have with him. But they were never Flynn.” I sighed. “And I understood that know.”
Dean reached out and lightly squeezed my hand. “I’m happy for you, Amy.”
“Don’t be too proud, though. I can’t believe it took me five years to understand something so simple.” I argued.
Dean shook his head. “Don’t undermine your progress and based your growth with other people. They haven’t lived your life. You grow at your own pace.”
I squeezed Dean’s hand back. “Thank you, Dean. I never thought I needed to hear that.”
He chuckled and slowly let go of my hand. The loss of sensation from his warmth slightly alarmed me. But I was too distracted by the look in his eyes. “It’s my pleasure, Amy. Since you’ve dubbed this as friendship, my advice comes in free without charge.”
I chortled. “Have you ever charged me with your advice before?”
“You did. Or for me, at least you did.”
“And how have I paid for your services?” I asked in jest.
“You still willingly humor me by going along with these dates.” He winked flirtatiously.
After dessert, we didn’t linger long in the venue, feeling out of place once the place was packed by affluent people. So he drove me back to my apartment.
Riding at the back on his motorcycle, with my arms wrapped around his waist, my fantasy was back yet again. I’m not sure I’ll be able to hide it if he does see through my flush cheeks.
Once we arrived, I tried to keep my face away from his line of sight. Even as I handed his helmet back or when he walked me up to the short step to the main door of my apartment complex, I hid my face. But I know I can’t hide it for long.
“Amy, are you okay?” He finally asked when I was about to walk away without looking at him once.
I turned and met his gaze. And I knew my cheeks haven’t returned to its normal shade. “Huh? I’m fine.” I replied bashfully and quickly turn away.
However, I didn’t expect Dean to walk up the remaining steps and grabbed my arm. I turned yet again in surprise. “What?” I asked in alarm.
“Amy…” The way my name sounded from his mouth was giving tingles down my spine. And he was closer now. By the time I felt his hand reached up and cradle my cheeks, it was too late for me to react. Though what was there for me to do. I’m only reciprocating what I’ve been dreaming about earlier in the evening.
The kiss was everything, and probably more than I expected. No. It was more. Much more. The seconds our lips touch made my stomach churn with need. My body started to move on its own. I reached and wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him closer to me. In return, he wrapped his arms around my waist, pressing me to his chest. Being this close to him, not long I got the smell, but also taste his sweet scent. And it shifted my consciousness into something primal and innate.
I’m not sure how we were able to walk towards the stairs and climb up the steps towards my second-floor apartment. Not once did Dean let his hand off me.
We fumbled, tugged, pulled, and by the time we got inside and reach my living room, both our shirts were off. It was then I stopped and looked. Though it was just a moment, it was enough to put me on overdrive. He was all muscle, toned and sculpted into perfection. I have been with men we were gym junkies. But I’ve not seen a body like his. And all I could think of was licking every each of him.
It’s been a while since I was satiated into contented release. By the third round, I was dontired with all the strenuous exercise. But Dean doesn’t look like he had enough yet. His fingers trailing slowly up and down my back.
“I can’t believe you still have stamina after that,” I paused and peered briefly at my bedside table clock. “And how we’ve managed to do all of that in half an hour is miraculous,” I added in jest.
Dean chuckled. I felt his hot breath caressing my shoulder before he planted a soft kiss there. “I don’t want to brag. But people mostly commend my stamina to get the job done.”
“You’re bragging. And let’s not put salt in my wounds that I have little of that stamina.”
“You did well to match my pace, Amy.” He jokingly said and lightly brushed my hair to plant another kiss on my neck.
And that one I felt down to my core. He really was ready for another round.
I sighed and flipped on my back and met his gaze. Even though I’ve seen his nakedness, I still felt flush. Unconsciously, my hand slowly hand reached out and caressed his bare torso. Beneath my fingertips, I felt him clench and react to my touch. At least, I’m not the only one reacting this way.
“So since we’re doing the deed? How does this go with the friendship thing?” He coyly asked and smirked.
I laughed and lightly shoved him. But our tangled legs were keeping us close. “We’re adults, Dean. We can still be friends even though… um… we did the deed.”
“You say we’re adults, yet you can’t even say we’ve just had sex.” He teased.
I playfully reacted like a child and covered my ears. “Ah! Don’t say the S-word.”
He chuckled and tugged my hand. “And it was great sex too.” He whispered close to my ear.
I shoved him again and peered back at the clock. It was nearly ten in the evening. I can’t believe so many things happened today, and now I’m lying naked in bed with a man. But it seemed right in this moment.
To add to my blissful evening, Dean stayed overnight. We cuddled until we fell asleep. And the next morning, the dream continued when he insisted to cook us breakfast. A Denver omelet and french toast. If I was having doubts about this man before, it disappeared when I took a bit on that omelet.
“You know what? I give up. You win, Dean. You and your Denver omelet just won me over.” I half-jested in a remark.
Dean laughed and playfully placed a hand on his chest, acting hurt. “Ouch! I offended that the sex wasn’t enough to win you over.”
I rolled my eyes and continued eating.
Actually, the sex was definitely a huge, huge - if you know what I mean - contributing factor. His cooking skill was just a bonus. It makes me wonder why Dean was still single, like me. After talking all of my complicated back story on my failed relationship, I realized he hadn’t once told me about his.
“Dean, can I ask you a question?” I asked, trying to see if he's in the mood for a Q&A.
He replied after taking a sip on his coffee. “Sure. Go ahead.”
“Why are you still single?” I finally asked.
From his expression, I knew it was out of the topic question he didn’t expect that I might ask. But I wasn’t backing down now that I did. It’s his turn to talk if he’s up for it. To my surprise, he was.
“I’m like you for the most part, which is someone whose workaholic and doesn’t indulge in romance.” He said. “However, I don’t have the same break-up story as you did, though it’s close enough.”
I waited for him to elaborate some more. But he didn’t. So I didn’t push it.
“Thank you for telling me,” I said. “And if you’re ready to tell me your story, as you did with me, I’m here to listen.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “It’s not a sob story, Amy. If you really want to know, my previous girlfriend just dumped me because I was too focused on my work at the Bureau. I rescheduled a lot of dates and missed a couple of anniversaries. So she left. And I didn’t try to ask her to stay. Because we both knew it wasn’t working at all.”
I was silent. A bit shocked how forthcoming he was with it.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I muttered with uncertainty. And he was right. We were a bit alike.
“Don’t be sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. And I saw my own faults and talked it properly with her. So we don’t have a bitter or strained break-up.”
“Don’t be skirmish, Amy. I didn’t mean to make a jab at you.” He said.
I rolled my eyes. “Of course. But still, you implied you’re a better version of me.” I grinned.
“But I’ll admit you’re prettier.” He said and winked.
“I’ve said this before. You can’t flatter me that easily, Mr. Dean Garcia.”
“Yet you never actually told me to stop either,” he argued playfully.
I scoffed. “You just have all the answers do you.”
“And you just can’t take a compliment.
We laughed at how silly our conversation had gone. Yet it didn’t stop us from foolishly making light sly remarks at each other throughout the morning. I’d nearly forgotten what it was like having someone to wake up tomorrow, eat breakfast, and talk about silly things. I’ve wasted five years of this possibility. Maybe they were right. Maybe it was time to try again, to believe in the possibility that I don’t have to live the rest of my life by myself.
Looking at Dean sitting across from me, it was him who made me realize it. Not the twenty blind dates I’ve been since I broke up with Flynn. It was him. And I don’t know how I should proceed with these feelings since I’ve just friend-zoned him.
Thank you so much for your patience. Sorry, it took a while to post this since I was flying a near 14-hour flight back home and I got jetlag.
I hope you're all well. Happy reading!