She tasted like strawberries.
After the initial shock of her kissing him mid-sentence wore off, that was the first thing he noticed. The second thing he noticed was how soft her lips were, how it felt like he wanted to just envelop her mouth in his until they fused together. Then he realized that he was in the moment he’d wanted but to be in since he was twenty years old.
When the kiss finally ended, she stared right at him, while he gazed into those emerald eyes of hers. He wanted to kiss her again, but for some reason, he was frozen to the spot as his mind raced trying to orient himself to what happened. Two nights ago, he thought he had the perfect moment after that hug. When it didn’t happen, he assumed that he’d misread the signals and she wasn’t actually that into him. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d mistaken a girl’s friendliness for attraction, but it still stung him each time.
He was honestly surprised she’d reached out to him again after he made a massive fool of himself during their last date. There was really no coming back from the first date kiss rejection, he figured, and he had been content with the fact that he would likely never speak to her again. Well, maybe not content, but he’d made peace with that night being another embarrassing memory to keep him up as he tried to fall asleep even years from now.
When he knocked those confusing thoughts out of his head, he saw her smile and brush her hair out of her face as the wind whipped up another frigid gust. The cold didn’t even register with him, all he felt was the warmth radiating from her face. They could have stood there forever, just gazing at each other. It was like the rest of the world didn’t exist to him.
The overwhelming desire to kiss her again was swelling up inside him, but no sooner had he summoned the courage to lean in that she was pulling him around the corner and through the door into the bar. While the toasty air was a relief to his frozen ears and chapped lips, he felt that the air around him was even colder now than outside. The warm glow between the couple had died.
Resolving to take charge, he squeezed her hand and led her to the back of the bar. The tables were all full of patrons who were transitioning from dinner drinks to night-out drinks, so they squeezed themselves into the last two seats at the end of the bar. Although he could barely hear his own thoughts through the din of the bar crowd, his mind kept racing a mile a minute. Her hand was just resting there on the bar, and every fiber of his being questioned whether he should reach out and squeeze it. But, of course, the moment was quashed by reality, this time in the form of the bartender approaching to get their drink orders.
“I’ll have a Mai Tai,” she answered him without a moment’s hesitation.
He raised his eyebrow at the strange drink request, shared a glance with the bartender, and then ordered himself the only IPA that was on tap. When they were back to being alone among a crowd, he asked the obvious, burning question.
“A Mai Tai? It’s like 20 degrees outside.”
She shrugged. “So what? I like Mai Tais.”
He wasn’t sure whether to roll his eyes or laugh. “How do you do that? How do you just do whatever you feel like without caring about what anyone else thinks?”
With a slight cock of her head and that adorable smirk, she answered. “Who says I don’t care?”
He didn’t answer, he just stared at her for a moment, slowly letting his mouth form a grin. After a few seconds, they were both chuckling for no reason.
“Seriously, I do care. Just about the opinions of people who matter. And what they think about things that matter.”
With all the fake cockiness he could muster, he slyly said, “oh well then I guess you’re just dying to know my thoughts on that totally unseasonal drink you just ordered.”
She reached out and put her hand on his leg, perhaps three inches from his crotch. All while never breaking eye contact, she said, “oh but then I didn’t ask for your opinion when I ordered it, did I?”
The sexual tension of the moment was so thick that Wolverine couldn’t cut through it with his indestructible claws. All he wanted to do in that moment was grab her arm, pull her into the bathroom of the bar, rip her clothes off, and do excruciatingly sexual things to her.
The clatter of their two drinks on the bar counter snapped him out of his reverie. After the typical back-and-forth between the couple, he put his foot down and handed over his card to start the tab for the evening. As he turned back towards his date, he raised his glass to toast their evening out, good company, and–just for himself–finally getting to kiss the girl.
They drank and talked for several hours. Like Wednesday night, that familiar back-and-forth was there between them like old times. Unlike Wednesday, however, he wasn’t as cavalier about escalating the situation further. Every time he would have normally held a girl’s hand on a date, touched her jokingly for emphasis, or ramped up the sexual tension with a joke, the tiny voice in the back of his head stayed his hand.
It made no sense, he knew. She was clearly not shying away from the sexual tension on this night. And normally he would have taken the opening kiss as a green light to test the waters further. But that little voice kept reminding him of the incongruity between how the last date ended, how they had texted between dates, and how this date began. It was like he was looking at a half-completed puzzle, only it was disjointed and put together by someone else, with him left to finish it. So he kept talking, gently prodding, hoping she was going to give him that window to make a move.
But as the night dragged on, he was no closer to an answer as to what she was thinking, and the opportunity to press further had yet to present itself. Within a few hours, the bar was, improbably, filled with even more people. Although his drinking stamina had waned since his days in college, he was more than willing to keep going through the rest of the night if it meant staying together. Which is why his smile faded so quickly when he heard her response.
“Actually, it’s pretty late. I’ll probably just get an Uber home.”
“Shit,” he thought.
While they finished the drinks and he paid the tab, he was already Monday-morning quarterbacking the entire night. Every opportunity where he had hesitated stuck out like a glaring eyesore. He was no closer to knowing where he stood, and now he felt that same awkwardness that had enveloped the end of their first date creeping onto this night.
The icy air that blew his hair back as he opened the door of the bar made him start thinking clearly again. The night was almost over. He had to do something.
They both stood on the curb shivering, waiting for their Ubers to arrive. Every five seconds, he stole a glance towards her, hoping she would break the silence. But she said nothing, and just stared down at the patch of ice on the sidewalk in front of her.
He opened his mouth to ask her out again, half driven by curiosity and half by the need to end the silence. But she cut him off with five words he hated to hear: “Uber is one minute away.”
She turned to him and outstretched her arms for a hug goodnight, which he gave her. She said the usual end of the night thing for a second date as they pulled apart, how they should do this again, and she’d text him the next day. But when she began to pull away from him, he gripped her arm harder.
Time was up. There were no more moments for him to wait for. It was this moment or none at all. “Fuck it, just go for it.”
So he put her into him and kissed her. It started out soft and controlled, like their first kiss of the night, but then became an aggressive, buzzed, sloppy, make-out kiss that lasted for at least twenty bubblegums. When it ended, he kept his face right in front of hers, brushed her red hair out of her face, and stared right at her green eyes. She was looking at him like she’d wanted this her whole life, and he knew he was looking at her the same way. So he kissed her again.
And they stood there for several minutes, making out on the sidewalk outside a bar while her Uber sat idling and waiting for her. It was below freezing outside, but neither even acknowledged it. They didn’t feel anything except for that warm glow between them. .