C A I N
Sweating like a fucking teenager waiting to pop his cherry, I'm pacing outside the restaurant Max has made a reservation at. It's out of town, tucked into a little mountain side across from a lake. I offered to pick her up, but Max said we both needed to drink, so we got cabs here.
Except she's late, and I'm panicking. I clench the white roses in my hand, checking up and down the road for a car. Headlights appear in the distance, and my phone vibrates in my pocket.
MAX: I'm almost with you!
I inhale a deep, calming breath as the cab pulls in. The door opens, and out steps Max fucking George. She's pulled out all the stops tonight, and my jaw hits the floor.
"Sorry," Max says breathlessly, her eyes skimming over my arm to the roses. I offer them out to her, and her face changes. "Wow, Cain. These are for me?"
"Yep," I pop the P, my hand moving naturally to her waist. The flowing fabric of her dress brushes against my fingers, and I instantly imagine tearing it from her.
"Thank you," Max looks up at me, her hand on my shoulder. She presses her lips against my cheek, whispering in my ear. "You look so hot."
I grin then, our eyes meeting as I guide her towards the restaurant.
"You look good enough to eat," I murmur, opening the door for her. "Starter, main, and dessert."
Max giggles, and the sound gives me butterflies. The restaurant is exquisite, and the food seems to be sent from the Gods.
"I've never heard you so quiet," Max smiles, lifting her wine to her lips. I smack my lips together, shaking my head with delight.
"I'm a foodie," I confess, leaning back in my chair with a sigh of content. "I want to order it again, it was that nice."
Max's smile takes over her face then, and she shakes her head at herself, tapping her finger against her lips thoughtfully.
"What?" I ask, sipping my wine. It's rich and full bodied, the sort of wine that makes you feel sleepy- especially on a full stomach.
"You're a foodie. I feel like I don't know that much about you, Cain."
"You're right," I lean back in my chair, enjoying the way her eyes travel over my forearms, moving to my mouth. "We need to get to know one another."
Max bites her lip, and tilts her head to the right.
"Are you happy?"
The question is unexpected, but I know the answer.
"I always thought I was," I say, my eyes staring into hers. The soft glow from the candle on the table makes her eyes appear animated, flashes of gold swimming through pools of aqua as she gazes at me with bated breath. "Honestly, I did."
I spin the wine glass between my fingers, a stupid grin on my face. Who the fuck am I? When did I get this...whipped?
"And now?" Max asks, her plump lips curving into a knowing smile. Her hair spills over her shoulder, and I remember why I confessed my love to this woman.
"You make me feel, Maxie," I admit, my heart racing. She studies me intently, her fingers meeting mine across the table. "When you were gone- I couldn't imagine not seeing you ever again."
Max swallows, her head bobbing in empathy. She knows. She understands.
"You make me want to be a better man."
Max wraps her fingers around mine, her eyes shining with emotion.
"But you don't even read,' she jokes, her voice thick. I know she is trying to lighten the tone.
"I will. I'll read anything you fucking want," I say, knowing every word is true. This woman can ask me to drain the Atlantic, and I'll fucking try.
Being in her presence calms me. Other women cease to exist, and when Max is around, she commands my attention. I just...want her. I want her and only her, but she knows how I feel.
"Anything?" Max teases, arching her brow. I can see she is overcome with emotion, and I'm too out of my depth to offer her any comfort. I'm unable to take my eyes off her, but as the conversation progresses, she opens up. She tells me about her parents, about the pressure they put on her for a family. I feel a pang of empathy.
"You could have anyone, Maxie," I say, gazing at her in wonder. "Why aren't you settled down? Don't you want that?"
The look on her face tells me she's got a story to tell, and I already hate him. I'm jealous before I even hear his name.
"I was with someone for around six years," she says, clearing her throat. Her eyes fade a little, and I try to prepare myself mentally for what she is about to tell me. If he touched her in any way- "We broke up because he said I had no ambition."
I frown, wondering why anyone would leave a woman like Max.
"Do you?" I ask, trying to understand her.
"Not his kind, no," she shrugs. "He wanted to be a famous chef-"
I can't help it, I burst out laughing. Max tries not to join in, instead she carries on.
"So, he moved to the states, shacked up with some waitress-"
I put my hand up, unable to believe this guy.
"Wait, is he a famous chef? Have I heard of him?" My shoulders are shaking now, and Max can't resist smiling. "Did he just cook our meals? Because if he did, I'll respect him."
"No, no and definitely not. He wasn't even that good a cook," Max raises her eyebrows as I choke with laughter.
"Fucking hell, Maxie. You had a lucky escape babe."
"Some would say I'm out of the frying pan and into the fire," she points at me, and I shake my head.
"Oh, it's hot alright. But that's a good thing."
We call for the bill, and I insist on paying it. We leave the restaurant, and I wrap my arms around her. She's warm, and her body presses against mine as she gazes up at me. Max doesn't make me want to run a mile. She makes me want more.
"So, are we doing the whole goodnight thing?" I mumble, dropping my lips to her jawline. She moves her mouth, capturing mine with an intensity that tells me we aren't sleeping alone tonight.
"I hate sleeping alone now," Max says in-between kisses, my hands cupping her face as I pull away. I stroke her lip with my thumb, shaking my head.
"So don't," I murmur, my eyes searching hers.
I hope she isn't still thinking about Andy. Despite everything, one thing I'd learned is that Andy is a solid guy. I don't want to be competing with him, or anyone else for Max.
"Is Andy still on the scene or…" I ask finally, as her hands rest on my chest. She looks confused, but then she shakes her head.
"No, Cain. You said you wanted to try a relationship, does that still stand?"
I don't hesitate.
"Yes. I've already told you I'm in love with you, woman. Are you going to break my heart?" I whisper, kissing her lips gently.
"Cain, you're so fucking sweet when you want to be. I adore you."
It wasn't a declaration of love, but then she snuggled into my arms, and it doesn't matter. It feels right, being in love with Max. I'd wait as long as I had to.
"Wanna come back to mine?" I mumble into her hair, as she nods against me. I arrange for an Uber, and we stand kissing like teenagers outside the restaurant.
What a first date.