We finally left the house at around 10 p.m.

The night was sultry and warm, the soft breeze a sensual invitation. Terminator and I had our arms around each other’s waist as we walked down the street, partly holding each other upright and partly out of affection. I thought that if we let go, my legs would give out and I would wind up on the pavement.

“My legs feel like spaghetti,” I whispered, laughing. He tightened his grip around my waist as we made our way to the corner to hail a cab.

We fall into the back seat in content exhaustion, our eyes closed. The warm breeze feels like a whisper on my skin.  Our hands are laced together between us on the car seat.

Five minutes later the taxi pulls over and we get out. “That was quick,” I say. I’m feeling woozy from exhaustion. He holds me around the waist as we descend a short staircase leading to a restaurant. “It’s a neighborhood spot, I just couldn’t walk it,” he responds.

He leads me into the place, where they obviously knew him because very quickly we get a table in a quiet corner, a bottle of wine, and a pitcher of water on the table and waiter promising to return for our order in a moment. Impressed, I turn to him and ask, “Do you own this place or something?”

 He laughs and pours me a glass of wine. “No, the owners are friends of mine.” As if on cue, a platter of shrimp in oil and garlic is placed in front of us and a small plate is placed in front of each of us. It smells so good I feel faint. I hear the waiter say something about steak. Whatever. Food. We fall on it like ravenous dogs. We don’t say a word until the platter is empty and we’re mopping up the sauce with hunks of bread. We look up and start laughing.

“Well, that was classy. You can’t take me anywhere.” I sit back, wipe the corners of my mouth with my napkin and fold my hands in front of me, pretending to be dignified.

“Yeah we both went at it, so to speak,” he jokes.

“Oh no, did you just make a sexual reference?” I laughed. “I’m shocked. Shocked.”

“Actually, you looked beautiful eating,” he said. “You eat like you fuck — you savor every second, you taste every bite.”

I blushed. I didn’t know what to say. I took a sip of wine.

“Are you embarrassed?” he asks, amused. Really?

“I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”

He moves closer to me, refills my wine glass and whispers “How are you feeling?

“I thought we would kill each other…but now I’m feeling much better. You?”

“Me too.”

“I need to tell you…” I started. “I need to stop seeing you. I know this is the worst time to say this, but –”

“You already said everything with that look on your face. I know you’re walking out on me.”  There was no hurt or accusation in his voice; he sounded completely neutral.

“What look?”

“When you saw how I set up the tub, the candles, you looked like you wanted to run.”

“No, no that’s not —”

“Flattering by the way,” he said ruefully.

If you missed it, that’s the notoriously contained Terminator, having feelings. Quel surprise.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be with you,” I explained. “It’s just that I’m in a relationship now, and I care about him.  I can’t keep lying, it’s not right and he deserves my full attention.”

“I thought that was over,” he said.

“We had a fight. We’ll reconcile. We just need some time.” I realized this as I said it. J and I would, and did reconcile.

He was silent, head lowered, listening.

“We’ve already talked about how a relationship between us isn’t possible, right?

“I can’t do it right now,” he responded.

“And ordinarily I would be fine with the way things are, but…”

“I hope it works out for you, I do,” he said. “I want to you to be happy. But I’ll miss you like hell.”

“Me too,” I said.

“Can you stay for the weekend?” he asked. “So we can bring down the rafters and so I can do some of the things I’ve been thinking about.”

“Like what?”
Why did I ask this? I know perfectly well what he wants to do. Or I have a very good idea.

He doesn’t answer, but the look he gives me floods my entire body with heat. I actually feel moist between my legs.

We look at each other for a long moment, and he touches my hair. “I want to have you to myself,” he says softly.

“And I want total control over you.”

Image: Photo Lovers in a Small Café Near the Place d’Italie by Brassai, ©Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris
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