We sit, knee to knee. Coffee for him. Beer for me, because everything happened so long ago.
“I nearly threw up when I asked for your number,” he jokes.
“I remember,” I say, grinning at the thought. “It was–”
“–endearing,” I correct. “I found it utterly endearing.”
“Yeah, but no one would find that endearing now.”
I pause. “I would.”
“Well,” he says, turning his cup around, “that’s because you’re a special kind of girl.”
I take a sip of beer and hope to God he’s wrong. I hope against hope that I’m not a rare case. That I’m not the only one in this generation’s crazy game of love who values something like vulnerability.
Who finds strong yet trembling hands…well, incredibly sexy.
I’d like to reconsider that word, to stand back and see it clearly. I’d like it to mean something more.
It’s not his fast car or the cool-guy facade he’s carefully polished over the years. It’s not how many drinks he buys in a dimly-lit bar. It’s not the casual shrug of his shoulders or the mystery he perpetuates. It’s not the string of places he’s visited or the brand of his watch or even what he does between the hours of eight and five.
It’s the way his deep voice wavers when he asks for your number. The knock on your door. The surprise of morning coffee and the way he remembers how you take it. When he reaches across the table to tuck a curl behind your ear, as if he’s been considering it all night. Calling twice in one day, the second time just to hear your laugh. Asking if the pursuit of something–if each step forward–is alright. The almost kisses and the real damn thing. Admitting he wants plans with you and then making them. It’s honesty with every breath and the joke he tells to watch your head tilt back. Double texts and a hand on your waist. It’s the book he just finished and his mouth when he talks about it. The apology, the admission that maybe, just maybe, he hurt you. It’s the grace with which he accepts your countless flaws. A flickering candle and his stomach in knots. When he fastens your bracelet so slowly you begin to ache. The last kiss and the four after that. It’s the willingness to make a fool of himself. When he stumbles over words but sends letters in the mail. It’s the second glance and the smirk that comes with it. How he’s terrified to ask for a dance and asks anyway, his pounding heart keeping time with yours. It’s when he knows what he wants, knows himself well enough to be kind and intentional and sure. It’s the fear that he could lose you.
It’s the fact that when your eyes meet across a crowded room, he forgets the meaning of the word casual.
Tell the truth and my head spins. Meet me halfway and I’m lost. Show me a man so strong that he’s willing to risk something and oh hell, it’s all over.