-*- Friday, June 25, 2010 -*-
-*- Lake Quivira, Kansas -*-
(Seven Years Ago // Flashback)
"I'm proud of you, Jeremy, man," Mike, my medical business
partner and best friend, said as he stood with me in the front
room of my waterfront home, bright and early, on Friday
morning. We met years ago in college and, at first glimpse -
Mike, with his playboy persona and me, all buttoned-up and
serious - were as different as night and day. Yet we were
alike in career aspirations and the drive to succeed, and we
seemed to click, and had been best buddies since that initial
meeting. Like me, Mike had his own medical practice - he was
an internist as well, and we helped each other out from afar.
If one of us took a vacation or needed time off, for example,
we would temporarily direct our patients between each other.
"When was the last time you actually had some fun?" Mike
added, shadow-boxing me. "Was it with Suzi? You bury yourself
in medical books and patient files every single night. It's
about time you went out and tried to get some snatch again."
I laughed nervously, and felt a swell of anger burning up
from within me. Alexa was NOT _snatch_. Still, I was able
to keep my emotions in check. Mike was my best friend, and
this was his personality. It was who he was, and I knew he
was harmless. "Snatch? Okay, buddy. How old are you again?
You've known me for how long? I'm done with one-night stands."
"Snatch is Heaven."
I shook my head at him and laughed. "Do people even use
that word anymore?"
"You're done with one-night stands," Mike said to me with
a curious eyebrow raised, "yet you asked an 18-year-old girl
out last night. I don't think she is ready to put down the
schoolbooks and come running into your arms for marriage, pal."
Mike shrugged his shoulders. "Hate to burst your bubble."
"I asked you over here this morning to get some dating
advice," I reminded him. "Not to be berated. Today is very
important to me. I have my first date with her! I... Alexa
is different. I know she is. She's... special."
"You know what else is special?" Mike asked, in his ultra
outgoing and gregarious nature. "That red-head I picked up
last night at the bar. Wow, man, that chick was CRAZY! She
did things in bed that I hadn't seen in years!"
I hung my head low and suppressed a laugh yet again.
Indeed, this was who Mike was. He was very professional
when it came to work, but let his guard down and lived life
at a million miles per hour away from the office. The women
in town were constantly fawning over him, and he had his pick
of literally any of them. Sometimes, Mike would take two or
three women back to his condo for the night... together. He
led quite the interesting, provocative lifestyle.
"You're maddening," I told him.
"Okay, okay," Mike relented. "This Alexa chick... you say
she is different. She's special. There's more to her? What?
What is it, then? Tell me, because I want to know."
"I don't know!" I responded. "I just... I don't know. I
don't know. It's just... I saw this girl yesterday, and I
knew... I knew that she was the one for me. I never felt
that way about a girl, or a woman, before. Like I looked at
her the very first time I saw her, and I just KNEW, in that
split-second, this is the woman I want to marry and spend the
rest of my life with." When Mike offered me an odd, peculiar
expression, I sighed and shook my head at him once more.
"Like you're supposed to understand any of this. You, of all
people. You'll never settle down, Mike."
"You want to spend the rest of your life with pig-tails
and dental bracers?"
"MIKE!" I rumbled at him, upset. "She's NOT that way! It
wouldn't matter to me if she was 18, like she is, or if she
was 28. Or 38, 48. I... call me crazy, but I feel a...
connection. A real connection. Why can't you understand?"
"I got three words for you, Jeremy, my man," Mike nodded.
"Mid. Life. Crisis. In a month or two, we're going to look
back on this discussion, and you will realize just how insane
and crazy you sound right now. It's cool to chase after some
18-year-old pussy. Ain't nothin' finer, in many ways. But
you don't develop feelings for it. That's a no-no. And the
worst part is when you get angry parents involved."
"I thought I could honestly talk to you about this..."
Mike chuckled merrily and slapped me on the shoulder, but
then his gaze seemed to focus on something outside as we stood
near the big picture window in my log cabin home. "Whoa, dude,
check it out." When he nodded toward the beach, I looked out
and immediately realized that Alexa was standing there, just
off the front walkway to my home, and was glancing all around.
This was the fourth time I had seen Alexa in less than 24
hours, out of pure, random circumstance. Was the universe
trying to tell me something? Guess what, God? You have my
full attention! I'm listening!
Alexa wore a little pair of blue spandex shorts, which
ended several inches shy of her kneecaps. She had on a
white, workout-style shirt, which was knotted tightly at
her midriff, and a pair of running shoes and socks. Just
like last night, Alexa had a water bottle in hand and a
smartphone strapped to her right forearm. Her long-flowing
blonde hair was done up in a fierce but cute double bun.
But what was Alexa doing here now? It was 7:00am in the
morning, and she and I had agreed last evening that I would
call her at 9:00am to set up our date. Good Lord, Alexa
was gorgeous. Even moreso than yesterday!
"Look at the ASS on that girl, man!" Mike exclaimed, falling
over himself. "I'd bend her over the rail out there, and pound
the living daylights out of that chick! Split her in half like
a little wishbone! I wouldn't care who..."
In an instant of blind, mad rage, my possessive urges kicked
into full throttle. I grabbed Mike's wrist with one hand and
violently backed him into the corner, my opposite forearm
pressed hard and tight against his throat.
"WHAT THE FUCK?" he snapped. "I was just enjoying the view!"
"THAT'S ALEXA!" I roared right back, wanting to draw a
line - a hard limit - with my playboy best friend right here
and now. "You will STAY AWAY from her! And don't you DARE say
one more lewd or disparaging remark about Alexa again! EVER!
Don't you DARE even THINK IT!"
"Yeah, man. I got you. Whatever."
I softened and backed off, amazed at the outburst of emotion
I had just displayed toward my best friend. Had Mike ever seen
me that angry? Had I ever been that angry before in my life,
period? Certainly, I had never shoved Mike in such a manner. I
immediately felt regret, but then again, not really. I could
not have him disrespecting Alexa like that again.
Mike gave me a hard look and adjusted his shirt collar with
both hands, then relented as well, and stepped back toward the
picture window. Outside, Alexa was standing near my mailbox,
looking around in all different directions. She seemed curious.
"Can your girl see us up here?" he asked quietly.
I shook my head. "No. No one can see through this window
from the outside, unless it's dark and I have the lights on."
I tilted my head as Alexa stretched both of her calves, one
at a time, behind her. "What's she doing here now?"
"Call her on her cell and find out. I see it on her arm."
"I'm not supposed to call her until nine o'clock."
And with that, Alexa turned and began jogging away. Soon
enough, she disappeared from our vantage point.
Mike stepped away from the window and looked at me. "So
that's the girl of your dreams? The one you want to marry,
even though you just met her?" Mike sounded serious - like
the best friend I so desperately needed right now. With my
prior explosion, perhaps he realized how serious _I_ was now.
"Yes, that was her. What do you think?"
Mike smiled. "I think you need to go after her then, man,
if that's what your heart truly wants." Relieved, I sighed
dramatically, and Mike put a brotherly hand on my shoulder.
"Let's go to the den and get a drink, and talk about some
ideas that you can do for Alexa on your date today."
* * *
When I arrived at the sprawling, lakefront home where Alexa
was staying with her aunt and uncle for a few weeks, or perhaps
even the rest of the summer, I was more than a bit surprised to
find her sitting on the front step of the patio. Alexa rose as
I casually approached, looking her absolute best yet, wearing a
loose-fitting and thin, aqua-colored summer dress that went down
to mid-thigh, and a pair of strappy sandals.
"Hi." Dumbstruck, I reached out and gently touched her hand.
"You're outside. Is... everything okay?"
The bangles on her wrist slid up her arm as she looked at her
smartphone for a brief second. "Yeah, fine. I'm just... I
don't know." She exhaled deeply. "I guess I'm just nervous. I
didn't want to wait for you inside any longer."
I slowly lifted her hand up and barely kissed it. "I feel
nervous, too." I smiled at her. "We can feel nervous together."
Her long, dark lashes swept over her blue eyes as she stifled
a laugh. God, what beauty. A brief instant later, the front
door swung open and Merissa suddenly joined us on the porch. The
medical practitioner in me immediately took over, and I did a
quick, visual assessment of the way Merissa moved and walked,
and if she seemed to be showing any signs of discomfort.
"What's up, doc?" Merissa grinned at me, popping a sunflower
seed into her mouth. "How's it going?"
"Great, Merissa. How is your ankle holding up?"
She lifted her walking boot and wiggled it about in an
exaggerated fashion. "Well on the road to recovery, thanks to
the best doctor in all of Kansas City, and a best friend who
is forcing me to go and see a physical therapist on Monday."
Merissa smiled and added, "You and Lexi make a great team."
I glanced over at Alexa, who was blushing. "Thanks. I
think we make a great team, too."
Merissa shooed us away from the front porch. "Go. Go,
get out of here. Go on your date. Bring Lexi back late, or
don't bring her back at all, please. The girl deserves to
have some fun with a good, honest guy for a change."
"MERISSA!" Alexa screeched, suddenly horrified.
"Sorry," her friend countered, before looking my way and
secretly mouthing the words, "Lexi really likes you!"
"Ughhhhh!" Alexa grunted several seconds later, after Merissa
went back into the house, and we slowly walked out to my car
parked by the curb. "Leave it to that crazy girl to put me on
the spot and totally embarrass me like that!"
"You and Merissa are the best of friends," I observed. "I
can tell how close you are. You've actually known her since
preschool? She's been your best friend that long?"
"We grew up three houses apart in Overland Park," Alexa
grinned. "Merissa is much more than a best friend to me.
She is like the sister that I never had." Alexa shrugged
her shoulders and ended, "I love her."
Oh, wow. Love, in a strictly platonic kind of way. Had I
ever felt that strongly about a friend? Not a girlfriend or
my ex-fiancee, Suzi, but just a friend? Like they were a part
of me? Mike and I were close, but I did not consider him THAT
close. These two girls had a special relationship, indeed.
"You look... very pretty today."
"Thank you," Alexa returned, gulping her throat, as I
opened the passenger door for her. "I wasn't sure where you
were taking me, so I hope I'm dressed okay. This little
sundress I have on is so comfortable. It's my favorite."
I laughed. "I have no idea where we are going, either, to
be honest - at least for lunch - because a friend recommended
the place, and I have never actually been there myself. To
the restaurant, that is. I've been to WHERE it is, though.
Just not to the restaurant itself."
Did that make any sense?
I motioned toward my jeans. "I hope I'M dressed okay." I
ran over to the other side of the vehicle and hopped into the
driver's seat beside her. "I trust you're hungry?"
She smirked. "Always."
"Really? You, and that tiny, little frame of yours?"
"Let's just say I'll never turn down a meal."
Did this really feel like a first date to me? Gone were my
initial urges from yesterday; you know, how I wanted to have
Alexa's ass on a silver platter, and dine on it. I did not
even have thoughts of stripping her naked anymore, and having
mad, passionate sex with her, being able to feast on every
square inch of that perfect, exquisite body for hours on end.
Rather, I wanted to get lost in Alexa. I wanted to hold her
hand and explain to her how she made my head swoon like no one
ever had before. I wanted to peel back the veil of her bridal
gown, with hundreds of our friends and family present, and kiss
her once the pastor declared us husband and wife. I wanted to
look into those vibrant blue eyes and simply watch her, totally
overcome with joy and happiness, as she held our newborn baby
in her arms for the very first time. I wanted to...
I vigorously shook my head in the driver's seat of the car,
trying to clear those crazy images. Was this normal? I had
slept with eight women throughout my lifetime thus far and was
even engaged to one, yet none of them made me feel quite the
way Alexa did. And I just met her... a mere 28 hours ago.
I started the engine and puttered off down the street.
"Gonna take Holliday Drive and go into downtown Kansas City.
If that's okay with you?" Alexa nodded her head as I added,
"My friend, Mike, suggested _Pierpont's_ at Union Station."
Suddenly, Alexa appeared uneasy. "_Pierpont's_? Really?
Isn't that place sort of... expensive?"
"Don't worry about it," I insisted. "Please. It's on me."
She pouted. It was adorable, and nearly made my soul just
melt away. "But Jeremy, I wanted to buy lunch for you..."
"Huh?" I blurted out, caught off-guard.
"You paid for Merissa's cappuccino and doughnut muffin
yesterday at _Perky's Cafe_ in Basehor," she reminded me.
"I wanted to return the favor, and buy lunch for you today."
Oh my... what a sweetheart.
"No," I insisted, shaking my head, my heart about to burst
from my chest. "You can buy lunch for me sometime, Alexa,
but not today. Definitely not today. Today is on me."
She frowned and glanced out the window. "Okay."
Kansas City, of course, was split amongst two separate
states - Kansas and Missouri - and, once we crossed the
border, it was smooth sailing through the Power and Light
District and into Union Station. The old railroad and its
museum had seen better days, but _Pierpont's_, which was
located within, was supposedly a modern, state-of-the-art
restaurant with the finest food in the entire area.
I held the door open and, judging from the amount of cars
in the parking lot, my fears were answered when we stepped
into a very busy and crowded restaurant. I should have known
better! I would have preferred to take Alexa to someplace
much more quiet and intimate. Mike suggested this place to
me and, with the constant hustle and bustle of what seemed
like wall-to-wall people, _Pierpont's_ was right up his
alleyway. Music and endless chatter emanated from the lounge
just off to our right. How many women had Mike met here?
Better yet, how many women had Mike taken HOME from here?
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," I brooded.
"It's okay," Alexa assured me. "What? The crowds make
you uncomfortable? No, Jeremy, I'm fine with it. I am. We
can eat at the bar if you want. I would like that."
"I would prefer someplace else, someplace a little more
tame and quiet, but if you insist..."
"No, really, Jeremy. It's totally fine. It will be fun.
I... I've never been to a restaurant this nice before."
There was barely enough room to stand, let alone walk
around, but we did manage to find two empty bar stools in
the lounge. Just down the bar, there were four guys who
appeared to be enjoying a wild, raucous drinking game.
Not my idea of an intimate lunch.
It was the middle of the day, even! How wild and crazy
would this restaurant be during the dinner rush tonight?
I was already texting Mike about my displeasure when a
female bartender came up to us and focused on Alexa. "There
is no way, honey, I'm serving you any alcohol," she said to
her, holding up a finger for emphasis. "No way you're 21."
She offered me a distrustful glare. "And I am not going to
let you buy any alcohol and give it to her, sir."
"I'm 18," Alexa told the woman, giggling somewhat, and
even blushing. "And that's fine. I don't drink anyway.
I'll just take a _Mountain Dew_."
"I'll have one as well," I told her, still glancing at the
menu. Actually, I did not mind the bartender's gruff tone and
demeanor. It was good that this place had those kind of rules
and standards. But I must say, the food looked delicious.
When the bartender went elsewhere to give us more time, I
looked up and suddenly blurted out, "Rise of the Machines!"
"What?" Alexa squealed at me, totally confused.
I pointed up at the television behind the bar. "Looks
like it's a trivia game."
"What was the name of the third movie in the _Terminator_
series?" Alexa said, reading straight from the monitor. She
turned to me and smiled. "What? You a trivia expert?"
I innocently shrugged my shoulders. "Sort of."
"Betcha I could give you a run for your money." The
sudden aura of determination in Alexa's blue eyes caught me
off-guard, and even made me chuckle.
"I grew up as an only child," Alexa confided, as the
bartender returned with our soda drinks. "Mom and Dad
never had a lot of money. It was a struggle, actually, but
Mom wanted me to read. There were always old books and
magazines laying around. Mom wanted me to be smart and
knowledgeable about the world. And I read a LOT of books
when I was growing up, and soaked up all that information.
I love music, I love movies, I even know sports a little.
I know history. My brain is full of so much trivia, and so
many answers, I'm surprised it doesn't leak out my ears."
Alexa took a tiny sip of her _Mountain Dew_ through a
straw. "Maybe if you keep being nice to me, Jeremy, I'll
let you win a round or two of trivia. Maybe..."
We laughed in unison and, as various trivia questions
flashed on the monitor over the next few minutes, we said
the answers out loud, trying to one-up each other.
"You do know your trivia," I conceded as the bartender
took our lunch order and refilled our drinks.
"So you have no actual brothers or sisters?" I clarified.
"You grew up as an only child?"
"I did, but it's fine," she said, tossing a peanut into
her mouth. "I had Merissa. She's much more than a sister to
me. We help each other out, you know? Like me going over to
Basehor four straight days this week, all early, and getting
her coffee and doughnut muffins from _Perky's Cafe_."
"Because Merissa cannot drive herself, because of her
ankle." Ahhhh, I pieced that puzzle together, at least.
Yet there was so much more to learn about Alexa and what
made her tick. I wanted to know everything.
"Tell me about your parents."
Alexa's face lit up. "Mom and Dad are awesome. I'm so
thankful for everything they've done for me, since the very
moment I was born. I was a preemie - you know, I was born
premature - and I had to spend four whole weeks in the NICU
before I could go home. I had some... medical issues, when
I was growing up, too. Mom and Dad have been there for me
every step of the way. I love them to pieces."
"That's wonderful." But what type of _medical issues_
did Alexa endure while growing up? The physician and
caregiver in me was curious, but I was not one to pry when
it came to medical histories. Ethics would not allow it.
"You're 36, right?" Alexa asked, and I nodded my head.
She downed another peanut. "You're older than my dad."
"What?" I asked, suddenly sinking, and sinking fast. I
was older than her DAD? Oh, my... that was unexpected.
But how could I be any older than her father?
"Dad was 16 when I was born," Alexa explained, crunching
on the peanut and gauging my reaction at the same time.
"You were born in March of 1974, Jeremy? Yeah... you got
six months on Dad. He was born in September of 1974."
"And your mom?" I asked, my throat constricting.
"Older than Dad, but younger than you." Of course...
"Mom was born in April 1974. You got a good month on her.
Mom was 17 when I was born. August 1991."
"Your mom and dad had you THAT young, and stayed together,
and raised you?" I paused for a moment, thinking about that.
In the medical field, how often had I heard of teen-aged
parents giving up their surprise, newborn child for adoption?
Surely, Alexa's mother and father did not plan to have her at
ages 17 and 16. And they were still together today? And
married? "That's incredible," I added, wiping a tear from
Alexa's cheek with the pad of my thumb. "Good for them!"
But, the tear? Why she was upset all of a sudden?
"I got a scholarship to go to Kansas University," Alexa
sniffed. "Mom and Dad never had a lot of money, like I said,
but I promised them when I was little that I would one day
get a scholarship and make them proud of me. And, I did."
Alexa took a deep, ragged breath and continued on, "Mom and
Dad had to rely on their parents for support, for money, on
people like Uncle Kyle and Aunt Becky. They own that big
house in Lake Quivira, you know. Mom and Dad needed others'
assistance in order to raise me and keep themselves afloat
throughout the years." Alexa wiped away another tear as it
streamed down her face. "I... I want to get a good job
myself one day, and... and give a little back to them."
"I'm sure you've given plenty enough back to them already,"
I gently said. "You sound like the ideal daughter." Yet, I
sighed loudly. "You're okay with me being older than your dad?
Heck, both your dad AND mom? Okay... being SEEN with me?"
"If you're okay with it, Jeremy, so am I."
Wow. WOW! Alexa seemed so mature, so level-headed...
"You're a difficult man to track down," came a female's voice
from behind me. I did not have to turn, because I already knew
who it was. THAT VOICE! Oh God; it was Suzi, my ex-fiancee.
Yet when I did turn, I realized at what, 37 now, Suzi was
just as attractive as she had always been, with long blonde hair
and smoky brown eyes. My stomach was in knots, because I was
well aware of what lay beneath that pretty exterior. A soulless
woman who knew nothing about love and loyalty.
"I never thought I would find you in a popping place like
this, Jeremy," Suzi mused, her crimson lips curling upward.
For most men, that smile would make their knees weak. For me,
specifically, it made me want to run away and hide. "My, how
you have changed." She held up a cell phone. "I was able to
track your location with my old phone. Remember? We had those
apps installed years ago? Don't you think it's time you
upgrade, baby? I know you have the money to afford it."
"Is there something I can do for you, Suzi?" I asked, highly
agitated. I reached over and grasped Alexa's hand, and held on
tight. She seemed startled, but did not protest.
Suzi shot Alexa the meanest, nastiest look.
"Is this your niece, or something, Jeremy? Your sister's
little girl grow up that fast?" Suzi scoffed at Alexa. "You
may want to look into getting a training bra, honey." Suzi
then offered her a mock cry and ended, "Puberty ain't fun."
Alexa appeared speechless. Like she was about to cry.
Clearly, no one had ever insulted her like that before.
"Suzi, I have not seen you in six years," I tremored with
some definite anger in my voice. The only reason I did not
fly off the handle at her after what she just said was because
Alexa was present. "I never asked for you to come and find me,
or track me down. Now, if you will excuse me, I am on a date.
Please, go away." I turned my back to her, hoping she would
leave, and tried to smile at Alexa.
Suzanne Elizabeth [Last Name]... ugh. The same woman I
once came home to on a rainy, chilly afternoon in October of
2004, and found in bed with a man I did not even know.
Another man in our bed, MY bed. In MY house. And then she
tried to lie about it, and said the guy had coerced her...
"Jeremy, I'm moving back to Kansas City in a few weeks. And
I would like to live with you in Lake Quivira like old times.
You know, move back in. Word on the street is that you're
single. Can we just take a moment and talk like adults?"
Suzi leered at Alexa again. "Sweetie, the grown-ups need
some time to ourselves. Hmmkay? You should run outside
and play like a good, little girl. Preferably in traffic."
"I... think I'm going to the ladies' room." Alexa stood
and I rose up with her. But before I could say anything,
Alexa turned and hurried off.
Suzi's eyes seductively scoured my body from head to toe.
I growled out like a wild animal and exclaimed at her,
"WHAT are you doing here now? You think this is talking
like ADULTS? Humiliating my date like that?"
"I just want to apologize, and have things the way they
used to be. I made a mistake, Jeremy, and I know that now.
I realize it. I know I hurt you all those years ago..."
"Thank you for apologizing, but that was six years ago."
And you made MUCH MORE than one mistake with all of your lies
and your deceit, you evil witch, I said inwardly. "Eons ago.
Ages ago. I've moved on, and so should you."
"I need to know if there is something still there, Jeremy.
If there isn't, we will find it again. Together."
"There isn't. Goodbye, Suzi." As I turned to find Alexa,
Suzi stepped forward and pressed her lips to mine for a kiss.
I was stunned for a split-second - flabbergasted - but quickly
grabbed Suzi's wrists and tore my mouth away from hers.
I jammed a $100 bill on the counter for the bartender - our
drinks, the peanuts, the appetizer and lunch plates that were
still being prepared - and levied my most awful glare on Suzi.
"It's OVER, Suzi! There is no chance in HELL that I would
ever go out with you again! EVER!"
Across the crowded and boisterous restaurant, Alexa looked
even more distraught as I approached her near the entrance to
the ladies' room. Obviously, she had witnessed Suzi kiss me.
But did Alexa hear my little tirade? God, I hope not.
This day had been absolutely perfect, but now...
"Do you mind if we get out of here?" I spoke in a calm,
cool voice, yet it was taking all of the willpower I had to
keep my emotions in check, and not go into another rage.
Alexa nodded and accepted my hand. "I'd like that."
Outside the terminal building, in the parking lot, my steps
were brisk and fast as I made my way toward the car. I was
getting more and more furious by the millisecond, yet I had to
contain myself. But in the end, it would not matter. I had
surely lost Alexa already - all thanks to my dastardly bitch
of a former fiancee - and I was going to have a broken heart.
Alexa pulled back as I dragged her along, silently pleading
with me to slow down, and stop. When I finally did, I turned
and looked at Alexa, my body trembling.
"Why don't we take a walk?" she suggested, nearly crying.
"Settle down, and just take a walk somewhere?"
I ran a hand throughout my hair, eyeing the restaurant with
evil thoughts racing through my mind. "I'm really sorry about
that. That was my ex-fiancee; someone I had not seen in the
past six years. I hoped to never see her again. She has been
texting me all week, and decides to show up out of the blue.
Of all the possible days she could pop back into my life..."
Alexa placed her hand upon my chest. "Unless you initiated
the kiss - which you clearly did not - you have nothing to be
sorry about. And even if you did, you and I are not dating
exclusively, and we are not tied down to each other. You still
would not need to apologize for anything. I may be young,
Jeremy, but I'm old enough to know that exes are part of life.
I have a serious ex too, and I hate him now."
"But the way Suzi talked down to you! She had no..."
My words were promptly cut off as Alexa's soft, tender lips
moved over mine, effectively hushing me. My entire universe
stopped right then and there, and I sensed all of the anger -
the turmoil, the negative emotions - just fading away into
pure and total oblivion. They were gone, just like that.
I felt Alexa's velvety tongue as she strained upwards on
her tiptoes to reach my mouth, touch mine. The kiss only
lasted two or three seconds, but it was long enough to make
my entire body ignite, and send my heart blasting into orbit.
It had been much too long since I had anything wonderful
happen in my romantic life, and this one, specific moment -
with Alexa's arms tight and lovingly secured around my body,
I realized - was absolutely spectacular.
When our lips parted, I let out a deep, content sigh,
gazing into Alexa's blue eyes and finding my own arms wrapping
themselves around her. Kissing Alexa was warm and satisfying
and addictive and exciting and it made my body hum in the most
exhilarating way imaginable. Holding Alexa in my embrace felt
like I had died and gone to Heaven. Those few seconds... were
the best few seconds of my life. Bar none.
"Can we go on that walk now?" Alexa barely whispered.
"Yes." There were butterflies in my stomach!...
Alexa took my hand and began to guide me away, but then
stopped and glanced back at me. "Oh, and Jeremy?"
She smiled, somewhat playful, somewhat wicked. "Fuck Suzi."
* * *
Alexa and I held hands as we walked through the marvelous,
splendid history museum at Union Station. We had just left
the Pompeii exhibit, which chronicled what happened to that
Roman city in 79 A.D., when it was destroyed by a sudden
disaster. The 4-D eruption theater, which replicated the
tragedy on the big screens all around us, was mind-blowing.
"It's been years since I've been to this museum," I said
as I draped an arm over Alexa's shoulder and pulled her just
a bit closer. "Truth be told, I haven't done much dating
since I left Suzi, and I would never come to a place like
this - Union Station - on my own. Last time I was here...
I took my niece and nephew, in 2006."
"I've... never been here," Alexa confessed. "I always
wanted to go, but my parents could never really afford to
buy tickets. Not so much tickets, I guess, but the tickets
on top of the parking, the cost for certain exhibits, the
concessions. I have no complaints, though. I had a wonderful
childhood, and would not trade it for anything."
"Can I ask you something?"
She grinned. "Sure."
"I saw you bright and early this morning. Around seven
o'clock. You were right outside my door at the lake?"
Alexa nodded. "I was. I was looking for you. She smiled
and bit her lower lip. "Was hoping to see you."
"Why didn't you knock on the door, then?"
Alexa giggled. "If you saw me, why didn't you come out
and say hello?"
"I didn't know if you were awake yet, Jeremy, thus the
reason I did not knock. I DID know that you were going to
call me at nine o'clock." Alexa smiled. "Maybe I was
stalking you a little, I guess, but don't get any strange
ideas. Don't think I'm creepin' too much. I've run by your
house every single day, sometimes twice a day, actually, ever
since Merissa and I went to stay with my aunt and uncle.
Long before I even met you; knew who you were. You know?
I like to jog. I'm a fitness nut. I jog around the lake
every morning. And sometimes I do it at night, too."
"How could you have possibly jogged by my house every day
for the last week or two, and me not see you? Impossible!"
Alexa giggled at my playful outburst. "Probably because
you're usually at work when I go on my morning run."
"Can I be perfectly honest with you?"
Alexa nodded and spoke softly, "I want you to be."
"What you said earlier in the parking lot - about not
being jealous or upset if I indeed chose to kiss Suzi
because you and I are not... dating exclusively."
I took a deep breath, trying to find the courage from
within myself to say exactly what I wanted to say. Oh,
Mike would kill me if he knew what I was about to say.
"You just met this girl yesterday, man!" his incessant
voice rang throughout my psyche. "You're crazy, dude!"
Was I crazy? Maybe.
But I truly felt that this - being with Alexa - was a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would never meet a
woman like her again. Ever. Miss America would not keep
walking into my life, hushing me with her kisses.
Take a chance, Jeremy. For once in your listless,
fraudulant life, reach for the stars, and take a chance. Go
for the ultimate jackpot, the powerball! Do it, man! Don't
settle for what-might-have-been, and have any regrets. Swing
for the fences, and hit the ball out of the freakin' stadium.
"I want to date you exclusively," I proclaimed, a lump in
my throat. "This may be our first date, Alexa, and it may
not even be over yet - and I know we just met 32 hours ago -"
I let out a pathetic laugh, and even a miserable whine, "and I
know I am older than your very own father, but I want to date
you exclusively." Oh, Mike would punch me right now if he
were here. He would knock me senseless and have me committed.
"I want us to be official. Because if I saw another guy
kissing you, honey, I would flip my lid and go into a rage."
Alexa made a cute, little face, and twirled about as if
she was a bobble-head for three or four seconds as we exited
the museum. What was her answer? Had I gone too far, too
fast? Oh, wow... what if I did? What if I scared Alexa off?
And what was with that expression? And the little head shake?
My God... the tension was suddenly eating me alive!
"I lied," Alexa told me, smiling somewhat. My eyes were
big and looming as I listened intently, needing to know what
was on her mind. If anything, Alexa was a thinker. I knew
that already. She thought everything through completely.
"Seeing that plastic bitch kiss you earlier, Jeremy, felt
like someone took an ice pick and ripped my chest open with it,"
Alexa admitted, before tapping me on the nose with a fingertip
and purring like a kitten. Again, what did that mean? Didn't
I consider myself an expert in body language? Couldn't she
just give me a flipping answer? Yes? No? "But I'm not upset
at you, because you did not start or insinuate anything with
Suzi, and you acted like you were scorched with fire when she
put her nasty lips on you. It was instantaneous."
"...I j-just want... to k-k-kiss YOU... Le-Lexi."
36 very long, painful years of loneliness and heartache -
woeful bachelorhood, rejections, sleepless nights - poured
out of me with those seven, simple words. Oh, my. I knew
that I was lonely in life, but I did not realize exactly HOW
LONELY I was until those seven words came out of my mouth.
Oh wow, it was bad. Really bad. I was lost.
I had forever dreamed of coming home after a long and
highly stressful day at work, only to find ultimate peace by
cuddling with the woman I love - my wife - in front of the
fireplace. Or going over to the beach on a warm night, and
bouncing on the trampoline with my two-year-old son. Being
able to watch him laugh and squeal, and have fun. That
son... had a name, at least, in my mind. My fantasies.
What did Alexa think of that name? Did she like it?
"There are tears in your eyes, Jeremy," Alexa observed,
looking concerned. Really? My manhood was being stripped
away! I was bearing everything I had to this girl! And
indeed, I was about to crash and burn like never before.
This fall was going to be of epic, biblical proportions.
I could feel it.
"Oh, please don't cry," she added, hugging me.
Mid. Life. Crisis.
"If you really want to kiss me," Alexa soon whispered, her
own voice crackling with emotion, "from this point forward,
then I want you to kiss me. Don't think about it, don't
debate it, don't think you need to ASK permission first.
You're my boyfriend, Jeremy - we're STEADY now, you know -
and you can kiss me whenever you want."
"Oh, Alexa..." I gasped in wanderlust, pulling back and
gazing into her eyes. Her soul. Oh, Alexa. I want to
marry you and play _house_ with you for the next 50 years.
I want to give you four, five, maybe even six babies!
I did not say that, fortunately. I wasn't THAT crazy...
"And since you're my boyfriend," Alexa squealed happily,
"and you can kiss me whenever you want, that means _I_ get
to kiss YOU whenever I want, too!"
Alexa wrapped her arms around my neck and her mouth met
mine, hard and fast, filled with the promises of a new and
brighter future. I felt... free. I tangled a hand in
Alexa's thick, silky hair, angling her head and opening her
mouth wider for us to share. Yet she was the one who took,
ravaging my mouth with reckless abandon, tasting every dip
and curve, sucking on my lower lip, my tongue. Her hands
traveled the length of my spine, my shoulders, touching
and kneading my sides. Lord, she felt divine, petite and
luscious, and so damn tempting as I even sensed a full-on
erection quickly forming within my jeans.
Alexa drew back, leaving my tingling lips begging for more.
We had kissed for a good minute, at least - maybe even 90
seconds - and I just now realized all of the many people
around us - employees, tourists, families, curious onlookers -
here in the main hub of Union Station. How many people - how
many jealous guys - had walked by us just now, and seen me
kissing Miss America? My sweet, little Miss America?
I have never been big on public displays of affection,
but it sure felt damn good to be on the opposite side of the
coin for a change. Now, people could gawk at me! At us!
"Jeremy!" Alexa chirped, tugging on my hand and pulling
me toward the food court. Like an energetic, little girl,
even. "Jeremy, you just plopped down a hundred bucks on a
lunch that we did not even get to eat."
Alexa giggled fiendishly, and motioned toward the small
pastry shop on the western end of this huge lobby. "So WE
are going to have coffee and doughnuts for lunch, now, and
_I_ am going to pay for it!"