Shall we Dance
Henry put his fork on his plate and squeezed my arm lightly. “Are you done with your dinner?”
“I’ve decided I’m not going to eat the green tops on my carrots. I could, but I’m choosing not to. A clutch big enough for my phone, and a protein bar would have been a good choice.”
Henry laughed and pulled his napkin off his lap. “Let’s get a drink. Did I spill anything on my shirt?”
I hopped off my chair and took Henry’s arm. “Nope, but there’s a chunk of bread crumb in my corset that’s not coming out without a fight.” The table laughed at my situation. Everyone seemed to relax a bit.
“Lead me to the liquor, my Sweet.” Henry patted my arm.
Once we were away from the table. “So, how am I doing so far?”
“Perfect, you are too perfect. So far, I’ve been accused of buying your services for the evening and of somehow tricking you into coming with me.”
“Ha, buying my services? Do I have an app?” We made it to the bar. The flirty female bartender handed me a pink and purple concoction with a wink.
“And what can I get for you, Sir? The woman spoke loudly. Henry cracked a smile.
“Whiskey, two ice cubes and a tall glass. My aunt Chick will keep something special for family back there, thank you.” Henry rolled his watch around his wrist and checked the time. “Should be time for the first dance soon.”
“Ooo, how fun, you’re a dancer. So hard to find a straight man who will dance at public events.” I realized there were several people eves dropping on our conversation. “Privately, all I need is my whip to get most men to anything.” Two of my eavesdroppers turned away. The bartender started to snicker.
“Shit Al, that explains a lot,” Henry exclaimed, laughing.
“I was just fucking with a few nosy people. I’m not going to whip you. Unless you want me to? I mean, I could learn if you’re into those sorts of things.” I couldn’t tell what Henry thought. His face didn’t change.
“Wait, so you would learn bondage games if I wanted you to?” Henry felt around for the top of the barstool next to him.
“Is it bondage or sadism? I get all that crap mixed up, but you dance with me at all public functions, and I will learn whatever kinky shit you want me to.” I straightened the buttons on Henry’s shirt. “I mean, I have lousy aim. What if I was trying to spank you and hit you in the balls instead. Would be a real mood killer.”
Henry leaned in close to me, pulled me to him, and kissed my neck. “I don’t want you to whip me.”
An announcement came over the chatter of the group, but I couldn’t hear the words. It might have been the suspiciously strong drink or Henry’s warm kiss on my neck, but I was lost in the moment. My head was buzzing with all the possibilities for the evening running through my mind.
Henry let his grip around my waist loosen. His hand slid off my back. I pulled myself closer to him. Only an enormous green leafy tree at the side of the bar could hear our conversation now.
“I need to ask something, but I can’t think of exactly how to say this, so I don’t sound like an asshole.” I rested my hand on Henry’s leg and set my drink on the bar.
“It’s okay, Al,” Henry sighed.” I don’t expect our friendly arrangement to...” I cut him off mid-sentence.
“No, not...But what if I do?”
“That would be very surprising to me.” Henry took a sip of his drink and turned toward the noise of the crowd.
“I need to know if you like me, Henry. Because I can’t tell if I’m making more out of every moment in my head. I can’t see your thoughts in your eyes. It sounds insensitive and shitty of me, but I can’t tell what you think of me. And it’s okay if you don’t think much. I can handle that too.” I forgot about breathing, and I was starting to perspire.
“Everything is fine, Al. I know you. I really like you. I guess I didn’t hold out much hope for us after hearing everyone’s opinion of you.” Henry swirled his ice cubes.
“Holy shit, what did I do wrong.” I replayed the afternoon in my mind. “Crap, I crossed my legs while we were sitting in the ceremony area. Maybe too much thigh showed?”
“Nothing you did was wrong. Everyone loves you. So far, nobody can understand why you’re here with me.”
“What a shitty thing to tell somebody. I’m here because you’re funny and smart and good looking. When you touch me, I feel excited and hopeful for something meaningful in my life.
“I’m always able to tell what men think of me. I don’t have to guess or make witty conversation or use my brain. I am an ugly, superficial person on the inside. You make me want to try to be better than pretty. If you could see me, you would have already figured this out.” I could feel my eyes begin to tear. I took a long deep breath and tried to salvage my mascara.
“Is this the first time you’ve explained your inner thoughts to a future dance partner?” Henry asked with a fake clinical tone.
“Yes, don’t laugh. It’s not nice. It very well might be.” I used a bar napkin to blot the condensation from my drink, then dabbed my cheeks.
“How many people are looking at us right now?” Henry asked as he pulled me to him.
“I don’t know. I’m only looking at you.” Henry stood, blocking my view of the dance floor. With a loud clink, he clumsily set his glass on the bar next to mine. His cold hand slid from my arm to my neck. I let him pull my body toward him and made myself wait for his lips to touch mine before I leaned in to kiss him back.
My skin was so trained to follow a deep kiss with sex. I felt myself grab for Henry’s belt. I redirected my hand under his coat instead and ran my hand across his shirt. His back muscles and core were solid and warm. I could feel the restraint he conjured for our very public kiss, but I could barely find my own. I couldn’t wait to get him alone in the dark, where we would both be blind.
“Henry,” Will exclaimed. “Henry, I need to talk to you.”
“Kid is the worst cockblocker.” Henry caught his breath and waived behind his head for his brother to approach.
“Hey Al, your sister invited me to your family barbeque. I want to ride out with you guys. Is it okay?” Will was excited.
Henry stood silent. I shook my head. “Sure, Will, but I wasn’t settled on going this year. My mother and I are bickering,” I explained.
“Oh no,” Will stood tall and adjusted his suit. “You have to go, and you have to take me with you.”
“Okay, we’ll all drive out together.” I squeezed Henry’s hand and felt him squeeze mine back.
“Great, great. Okay, Mom wants us for pictures, and Rich wants to go a few blocks from here for tacos—some street vendor a new client of his raves about.”
“Sure, Will. Just give me a minute, Dude.” Henry grabbed his drink and finished off the last of the diluted amber liquid. “I promised you a dance. Sounds like they just invited everyone to join the happy new couple on the floor.” Henry extended his hand toward where I was standing a few seconds earlier. I walked to him and put my hand in his.
“Well, thank you, kind Sir. “Henry stopped and waited for me to guide him to the dance floor.
“Lead the way, my Lady.” Henry cleared his throat and adjusted his tie with a breathy exhale.
This was the difference between a very young man and a man with a few years of experience with life. Henry could compose himself and carry on after a passionate first kiss. Leo would have needed a handy behind the bushes to make it through the rest of the evening.
“So, what’s the deal with this family party of yours?” Henry asked once the music started.
I pressed my body against his and leaned into his ear. “It’s nothing really, a yearly party for the Clans to meet up. We are encouraged to bring our friends.”
“This isn’t like The Clan, right. You’re talking about bloodlines, not world domination cults?” He whispered.
“Just bloodlines. Conservationists and farmers banded together to save wild areas like the land my family holds conservatorship over. I should have made the term clearer.” I pulled my arms around Henry’s neck with a bit more force than I planned to. He stood firmly in place and snickered at me. “Back there at the bar was pretty great—before we were interrupted by your little brother.”
“Tell me your plans for after we get home tonight. It’ll be late when we get back, even later if we go taco truck hunting with Rich.”
“First, I was hoping to find out how much water pressure you have in your shower.” I leaned in very close to his ear. “Then I want to find out how good of fuck you are.”
“Christ, woman. You are going to be the death of me.” Henry pressed his hands into my lower back, causing my dress to protest as he pulled me tighter.
“You feel quite alive to me right now.” Henry groaned a playful animal sound and bit my neck softly. My skin reacted with a tingling heat to the hardening appendage pressed against my waist.
We danced to an old song played perfectly by the live band. It was ideal for swaying slowly while I hung off his shoulders. The natural chemistry between us was intoxicating. If I didn’t know better, I would swear I knew Henry for years, not months.
Kevin waved us over to the reception table. I raised one hand in the air to acknowledge him. “Your father is waiving us over for pictures, I think.”
“No way, this is not happening to me.” Henry groaned into my ear.
“Yep, he is walking this way,” I described. “Wait, he got stopped by an older man, they are shaking hands. Oh, there he goes again.”
“Walk in front of me. Lead me back to the table while I try to think of advanced math and roadkill.” I laughed. We were looking at three hours before we would be alone in the car ride home.
After pictures and the cake cutting ceremony, beautifully decorated desserts went out in a dizzying parade of white plates topped with slices of sugary delights. Henry let me feed him a few bites of cake before we reluctantly agreed to follow Richard and William for tacos.
Rich went on about a great taco cart not too far away from the venue. We could slip out, get some real food, and rejoin his parents for an evening drink once the reception was winding down.
It was a simple enough plan. The four of us climbed into Richard’s rental car. It felt like we were sneaking out of high school during last period to smoke in the parking lot.