Somehow, I was scared to tell Dianne about my fight with Hampshire. She was so pure and innocent, and I didn’t want to ruin it yet. I would get in trouble for her sake over and again, as long as she was safe. We drove to a field out of town. The owner owed me a favor. Shit. I couldn’t count all the guys that owed me something.
‘Today, we’re gonna be riding some horses’, I whistled.
‘What? Hell, no’. She folded her arms stubbornly. ‘Why the fuck would I ride?’
As I undid her seatbelt, she tried to wriggle out of my reach.
‘Come on, Snow. It’ll be fun. Look at me’. I tickled her ribs till she burst out laughing, holding her sides. For a second back there, I couldn’t myself from feeling happy. My happiness was hers. When I finally released her ribs, she was spluttering and coughing, gasping for air. I caressed her neck with my fingertips, allowing her to get calmer.
‘Look at me’, I pleaded. But what I was really saying in my head was, ‘I’m going to give you pleasure. Will you let me?’
Whenever I was with her, I was a bit timid. Maybe it was because I’d fallen too much in love with her, but also because her neck was just beneath my wet lips, and I was kissing her softly, and she was relaxing, already wanting more. Heck, so did I. I was nibbling my way up her neck since I didn’t want to rush her. She had to enjoy every minute of being with me. I didn’t know what it was about her skin that made me crazy, as I teased my way up slowly, letting her hold me but not holding her. I had to grasp the headrest for support as my kisses were passionate. And when I paused to blow air on her skin, she jolted nervously.
‘Oh my God. Oh my God! Kiss me again’, she whispered.
‘Greedy little fella. How about we try something new?’
‘Like tasting your lips? They’re exactly what I want for dinner tonight’.
‘Like horse riding’.
When I had cajoled her out of the car, I added, ‘I’d love to give you a rough night, though’.
And it was true. Ryan exploded in a smile when he spotted us six feet away. He had grown a small stubble around his jaw, but he still looked like his young self wearing a cowboy hat and boots. Dianne hoisted herself on my back. I gladly accepted the chance to feel her body next to mine. We were breathing the fresh air in the countryside, listening to thrushes singing in the woods, and trudging through the tall grasses to meet Ryan.
‘Hey, buddy. How’s school going? Oh, I see you’ve got a girl’. He gave us a toothy grin. Ryan was so much of a fool whom I couldn’t blame for his foolery. His dad had died a couple of months before, leaving him to manage his ranch. At least, that’s what it used to be until he hosted his sister’s wedding, and his mom convinced him to tear down the wooden fence. He had a reputation for having the best girls and drinks in Tennessee. I just hoped Dianne wasn’t on his list because I would end him.
‘Sure’. I caught him licking his lips while staring at her torso.
‘She’s off limits’, I growled.
’Oh… yeah… but she’s really hot. Fucking hot bitch’.
I swallowed my anger. If she wasn’t there, he might have earned a punch in his guts.
’You know what? Just show me where the horses are. And keep your eyes off my girlfriend’.
Breeze blowing in my ears. Wind disappearing fast. Meadows in the distance. Butterflies fluttering over the lovely array of flowers. All was beautiful, and I felt a thrill like I’d never felt before. The thrill of freedom. Of riding over the fields, my mare’s coat brushing my jeans. I was scared of mounting her at first, but Dan’s encouragement proved to be helpful. He taught me how to saddle her for the first time ever, hold the reins, or just let go. Over and again, I reminded myself that we were out in the open. That I wasn’t in a bubble bath with Rob, or feeling a tingling sensation when I saw the adoration in his eyes. It was confusing, riding out here with my boyfriend, while another guy stole my thoughts. But, when Dan sang the tunes of Kiss Me, I laughed and urged my mount onwards. I thought girls were the only hopeless romantics, but this guy was looking at me like I was the only other soul in the world.
Right. He wanted me. Fuck, I did want him. Badly. Somehow, we were sharing a path in the woods. He beamed, and I was lost in his smile.
‘I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop crushing on you’, he admitted, slowing his steed to a trot.
‘That wasn’t what I thought when you kissed Mia at Rob’s party last year’, I teased. He hated that memory, yet I loved bringing it up to make him mad.
‘She was drunk’, he shrugged. She was drunk. I was drunk on Thanksgiving night, but I couldn’t remember what happened or who brought me home. But, I wasn’t drunk when Rob found me in the bath. I wasn’t supposed to kiss him but we were drawn to each other. He was super good at kissing. Knew just where to touch. And, while his arms skimmed the sides of my breasts, I wasn’t sure if I should draw back or just let him have his way. Rob was like alcohol. Something I couldn’t get enough of but had to stay off. His lips on mine were the best thing that happened to me. I was thinking he would apologize or something when we were done, but he just balanced me in his arms, feeling every inch of my body. Maybe he didn’t want to rush me. Maybe I was stupid. Maybe Dan would snap out of his dreams and find out about our kiss. I didn’t know what to feel.
I was lost in wonder when I found out that the path we were following led straight to the ocean. The sky above was clear, sprinkled with silver stars. People whom I assumed were lovers or mere friends sat in groups in front of bonfires on the shore, laughing and munching barbequed chicken grilling above the fires. Waves murmured on the ocean, as if they were inviting me to have a feast with them.
‘Do you like it?’, Dan asked. He was nervously waiting for my reply.
‘Are you shitting me? This is awesome! Um, does this have anything to do with my being a Cancer?’
‘Let’s say, sort of’.
Ryan appeared from nowhere and took us on a cruise. When I was lifted in Dan’s arms on the deck, my memories of Rob seemed miles away. There was a canopy on the deck that was strung with golden lights. A vase of freshly plucked roses was on the table between two chairs. As Dan plopped me down on of them, three dolphins flew across our ship, splashing sea water on us both.
I couldn’t believe he had planned all these just for our second date. It was beautiful to be real. Trust me, when I say I love him, I’m not saying it out of habit. I’m telling you that he’s my life.
‘Ryan is a good sailor’. Fuck me. Couldn’t I find something better to say? I really had to take romance lessons. But he found it interesting.
‘You’re better than he is. But you have one problem’.
My heart sank. I was definitely screwed. ‘Do you mind telling me?’
‘You sail my heart. Be careful, because I won’t find it funny if you sink me’.
I reached out to him from my side of the table to reassure him that it could never happen. I heard footsteps coming towards us. Next thing I saw was a handsome waiter laying out coconut shrimps. Jeez, were those crispy vegetables in the rice paper wrapper dipped in mango sauce? Sweet potato fries? My favorites.
We watched the waves roll in from afar while picking at the shrimps. It was great__ sharing food with your biggest crush.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ He was gazing at the stars in awe.
‘Yeah’, I breathed, unable to handle how immersed he was in star-spangled skies. ‘Remember our first date?’
‘It was absolutely terrible. How many pepperonis were in the pizza again?’
I chuckled. ‘Five. You ate the last piece’.
Dan stopped gazing at the stars for a second to adore me. His face flickered in the candlelight, and he placed a gentle hand on mine. ‘Did you know that reaching for you was like reaching for a star? So distant, gloriously beautiful and mystical. I dared, and I succeeded because you reached for my outstretched hand’, he said solemnly.
He inclined his head to the right, sending bolts of love through those eyes that were bluer than the sea. He was intense, locking his gaze with mine, never flinching for a minute as he slowly, so slowly that I could die from the suspense, wrapped his hands about my lower waist. I loved his hands when they hugged me. I loved his lips when they kissed me. But most of all, I still loved it when he didn’t say a word, because I could still feel his love. His nose brushed mine. Reality shattered in pieces. I was in our fantasy, dreaming the dream I loved most.
‘Snow’, he whispered almost against my lips that I could taste his words. ‘Something’s bothering you that you aren’t ready to confide. I can see right through you because you’re like glass; fragile but precious. What are you hiding?’