Jessie’s Girl

I’m dressed to the nines. Well, at the least that’s how the saying goes. I let Jessie talk me into it. Not that I take a lot of coaxing. Something about his mood is infectious and for the first time in a while, I’m looking forward to whatever it is that he’s planned.

I traipse out of our bedroom closet in a slinky black dress that hits all my curves in the right places, a lavish smile in place for him. Jessie woof whistles and it’s the payout I’m looking for. I twirl on the spot, the hem of my dress flaring out ever so slightly at the knee, the hint of flesh above my knee just a glimpse. The maroon hair of my college years is gone although I’m still dying it red, just a more subtle shade to cover the gray hairs now. It goes with my blue eyes and the smile. I have pulled out all the stops for tonight.

“Damn, darling,” Jessie drawls. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to leave the house.” He’s been lounging on our bed watching me, but he springs lightly from the bed and saunters towards me.

I put my hands out in front of me. He raises an eyebrow. “Oh no, you don’t.” I point to my body, to the way the dress clings to me. “This. This right here took some time. You’re gonna have to wait.” He makes a fake lunge for me and I squeal, darting around his outstretched hands, slapping ineffectively at his fingers as he tickles me.

“Just one kiss,” he breathes into my ear and it makes me squirm a little bit more.

I shake my head at him. “Fine. But that’s it. I want my surprise.”

I give him a quick kiss on the mouth causing him to growl at me, but he still lets go. He looks good for forty-two. He still wears his hair on the longish side and there is pudge around his middle that wasn’t there that day outside of the coffee shop, but it’s enough. He gives me one more smile, this one slightly more uncomfortable, as he fidgets in the suit he’s pulled out just for tonight. The collar must be driving him nuts, I think to myself.

“Come on,” he says to me as he heads down the hallway. “I promised we’d be on time.”

I grab my clutch off the nightstand and follow Jessie down the hall. There’s that feeling again. The one that I can’t place. And it makes me uneasy.

 

* * *

 

Showing up at the boutique hotel, the puzzle pieces start to fit into place. Jessie and I walk across the plush carpet, through the wall papered hotel lobby, towards the restaurant that I now know he’s booked for us. For a second, I’m impressed with his choice and even pleasantly surprised. I turn towards Jessie, giving him my best smile, but when I look ahead again, the smile slides away.

I see him waiting for us in the restaurant, and it’s like someone has sucked all the oxygen from the room. But much worse. All I can do is stare at Matt.

It’s like watching a moving photograph. Matt gets up from the table, his blue eyes locked on mine as he glides towards us. He’s hardly changed. His hair is cut shorter, like Jessie’s, but in a way that screams trendy. He’s tan as if he’s just come back from Barbados and his dark charcoal suit and linen shirt are cut just right for his slim build. The dimples appear out of nowhere although he’s isn’t self-conscious. He stares as if there is no one else around us. Bold yet boyish. And more handsome than he ever was twenty years ago . . . if that’s possible.

My wholly unattainable boy.

But he’s no longer a boy now – he’s a married man.

My hand inches up to my throat, trying to choke down the suffocating panic. It feels like someone has hiked the temperature up in this over-hyped fusion restaurant by at least twenty degrees. The overwhelming wave of desire is almost enough to make me gag, and I stumble over the heels that I’m not used to wearing. Nothing catastrophic – just enough to be clumsy and unrefined. I know I’m blushing. I know that he can see it. I can feel my eyes water as I try to hold my shit together.

Jessie moves forward and claps him on the back before coming back to me. The pleased expression on his face almost causes me to lose it. He thinks I’m being sentimental. How wrong he is. I want to cry, but I can’t.

Matt embraces me in a hug before he kisses me on the side of my mouth and it’s the sheer force of will power that keeps me from turning into it. The smell of clean linen and citrus is heavy between us. And his body heat. I can feel his chest through the linen shirt, through the flimsy dress that I now wish I hadn’t worn.  I want to hold him longer, breathe in his enticing smell, but he lets go too fast, and it’s then that I realize that I’ve been clutching his jacket. Rattled, I step away. I can’t look at him. I can’t look at Jessie. This is my worst nightmare.

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