“I had my moments of taking you too seriously, but overall, your jabs were fun. I don’t look back on any of it negatively.”
“You were a little bit of a masochist. That sort of screwed up my evil plan pretty early on.”
“Well, you weren’t exactly as mean as you wanted me to believe you were.”
“And it turned out you weren’t that innocent.”
Our sexual tension-filled trip down memory lane came to an end as soon as we arrived at the line into Roxy’s. We entered the confines of the dark nightclub, and Elec disappeared into the flashing strobe lights to fetch us some drinks.
The bass of the music vibrated through me as I rocked back and forth trying to get into the mood while I waited.
When he returned with his beer and my drink, I couldn’t take the first sip fast enough. My throat felt frozen from the crushed ice of the daiquiri. We stood on the second level, looking down at the swarms of people on the dance floor as we sipped our drinks. Alcohol was going to be my best friend tonight. I didn’t want to get totally sloshed but hoped that it would help me forget about tomorrow.
A good buzz was starting to develop just as I felt Elec’s firm grip on my wrist.
“Come on.” His fingertips grazed the small of my back as he led me down the stairs.
I should have expected that he might drag me on to the dance floor. What I absolutely couldn’t have predicted was how phenomenal of a dancer he was.
The eyes of several of the women in the club followed his every move as I discovered for the first time that my stepbrother could dance his ass off.
Although, should it really have surprised me that someone who could f**k like Elec could also move his body just as well in other ways?
I felt for those women. We all had one thing in common. We all wanted a piece of him, and none of us would be getting any.
Seriously. His movements were like those of a stripper, but this was even more of a tease because you knew he wouldn’t be taking his clothes off.
It was truly like an erotic show: the way he moved his hips, the way his ass swayed to the music, the way his tongue glided slowly along his lip ring as he got lost in the rhythm.
Imagine you’re watching Magic Mike, and the DVD gets stuck on repeat right before the first strip scene starts. That was watching Elec dance.
I moved my body to the music alongside him, but he never put his hands on me while we were dancing together.
At one point, his hot breath tickled my ear as he leaned into me. “I’m gonna find a bathroom. Stay here where I can locate you.”
After Elec left me alone, a man wearing a pink collared shirt started to dance with me. He began to speak loudly through the music as he asked me questions to which I gave him one-word answers.
A few minutes later, I felt an arm wrap around my waist from behind. The addicting smell of Elec’s skin identified him right away, so I didn’t resist when he pulled me back. After I turned around to face him, his eyes peered into mine with a warning look. He couldn’t say anything about my dancing with the man because that would have been inappropriate given his own situation. He had no right to stop me from dancing with someone. Yet, he knew he could get away with it because of the tunnel vision effect he had on me.
A flashback of Elec’s texts to me the night of my date with Corey all those years ago came to mind.
“You don’t even like him.”
“How would you know that?”
“Because you like me.”
Once Elec got me far enough away from the guy, he let go of me. We were back to dancing to the fast-paced music and after another round of drinks, it became even easier to get lost in the mood. In the span of an hour, we never stopped dancing. Even though we weren’t touching, Elec’s eyes were fixed on mine a lot. The room was starting to sway a little, and that was an indicator that perhaps it was time to stop imbibing.
Suddenly, the music changed to the first slow song of the night. An alarm went off in my mind. This couldn’t happen. I nudged my head for him to follow me off the dance floor. I started to walk off and felt his hand on mine. I stopped and turned to him.
Still holding my hand, he mouthed, “Dance with me.”
Even though I knew this was going to be the moment that completely undid me, I nodded my head and reluctantly let him pull me into him. He let out a deep breath the moment I landed in the warmth of his arms.
Closing my eyes, I rested my head on his chest and conceded to the pain that had been building inside me since the moment I first saw him with Chelsea. With each pounding beat of his heart, another of my old wounds would burst open, destroying all of the self-protective mechanisms I’d tried to implement over these past couple of days.
If I hadn’t moved from my position, I might have been able to get through the song. But I was a glutton for punishment and needed to know if the look on his face matched the intensity of his heartbeat.
My cheek slowly slid away from his chest. As I lifted my head upwards to look at him, he lowered his head slowly at almost exactly the same time as if he’d been waiting for me to look at him.
The desire in eyes was blatant. I breathed in to catch each heavy breath that escaped his lips. If I couldn’t kiss him, I wanted to at least taste every breath.
Then, he touched his forehead to mine.
It was a simple and seemingly innocent gesture, but couple that moment with the climactic part of the song, and that was it for me.
To save myself from falling further into this, I intentionally replayed his words to Chelsea in my head. “I love you, too.”
This. Was. My. Breaking. Point.
I ripped myself away from him and ran off of the dance floor.
I could hear him calling after me. “Greta, wait!”
Tears were pouring down my face as I weaved through the heat of the club, bumping into sweaty drunk people as I tried to find the exit. Someone’s drink spilled on me in the process. I didn’t care. I just needed to get out of there.
He’d lost me through the crowd.
Having escaped the darkness of the club, the lights of the casino lobby were a welcome contrast.
I ran to the elevators and pressed the up button, hoping to get to my room as fast as possible. The doors started to close right before I saw a tattooed arm slide inside, prompting them to open.
His breathing was erratic. The doors closed.
“What the f**k, Greta? Why did you run from me like that?”
“I just need to go back to my room.”
“Not like this.”
He pressed the stop button, causing the elevator to come to a jolting halt.
“What are you doing?”
“This isn’t how I wanted our night to end. I crossed a line. I know that. I got lost in the moment with you, and I’m so f**king sorry. But it wasn’t going to go any further because I won’t cheat on Chelsea. I couldn’t do that to her.”
“I’m not as strong as you are, then. You can’t dance with me like that, look at me like that, touch me like that if we can’t do anything about it. And for the record, I wouldn’t want you to cheat on her!”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t want you to say one thing and act in a way that contradicts it. We don’t have much time left together. I want you to talk to me. That night at the wake…you wrapped your hand around my neck. It felt like for a moment you were back in that place where we left off. That’s sort of how I feel around you all of the time. Then, later that night, Chelsea told me what happened after you got home.”
He squinted. “Exactly what did she tell you?”
“Were you thinking about me? Is that why you couldn’t perform that night?”
Understandably, he looked shocked that I knew. I still didn’t understand why Chelsea shared that with me.
Because she trusted me, and she shouldn’t have.
I regretted saying anything, but it was too late.
He stayed silent, glaring at me, but he looked like he wanted to say something.
“I want you to tell me the truth,” I said.
The look on his face turned angry, like he’d lost some battle of self-control within himself. “You want the truth? I was f**king my girlfriend and could see nothing but you. That’s the truth.” He took a few steps toward me, and I stepped backwards as he continued, “I got into the shower that night, and the only way I could finish the job was to imagine coming all over your beautiful neck. That’s the truth.”
I leaned against the elevator wall as he locked his arms on each side of me and continued, “You want more? I was going to ask her to marry me tonight at her sister’s wedding. I was supposed to be engaged right at this very moment, but instead, I’m in an elevator fighting the urge to back you up against this wall and f**k you so hard that I’ll have to carry you back to your room.”
My heart was beating out of control, and it was unclear which part of what he’d just said shocked me more.
He dropped his arms and lowered his voice. “Everything I thought I knew has been turned upside down in the past forty-eight hours. I’m questioning everything, and I don’t f**king know what to do. That’s. The. Truth.”
He released the stop button, and the elevator continued rising up to our floor—the 22nd floor.
He was going to ask her to marry him.
It was still sinking in. What a rude awakening as to exactly how far out of my league I’d been all of this time.
The elevator doors slid open, and as we walked down the hall, I simply said, “I don’t want to talk anymore. I need to be alone.”
He didn’t protest as I retreated to my room without saying anything further. It saddened me that our night had been cut short, but it finally became crystal clear that any more time spent with him would be dangerous. He was leaving on a plane tomorrow, and there simply wasn’t enough time to resolve all of these feelings.
Since I hadn’t bought any pajamas, I wrapped myself in a sheet and lay down. Devastated from the proposal bombshell he’d dropped and still painfully aroused by what he’d said to me after, I knew that sleep was not in my future tonight.
A half-hour passed. It felt like déjà vu as the red digital numbers of the alarm clock taunted me.
My text alert sounded at 2 A.M.
If I knock on your door tonight, don’t let me in.
He was trying to do the right thing, and I respected the hell out of him for it. As powerful as temptation could be, I meant it when I told him I would never want him to cheat on her. At the same time, if I hadn’t gone to my room, I’m not sure that we could have avoided something happening. Tonight proved that whatever connection existed in the past between us was very much still alive and powerful. That was why it was best that we spent the rest of the night apart.
I was tossing and turning, still conflicted about leaving him alone. Even though what happened in the elevator had tainted the rest of the night, I needed to remind myself how this day started; he was still mourning his father. He really shouldn’t have been by himself tonight. Not to mention, we were wasting precious time because once he returned to California, I’d probably never see or hear from him again.
He was going to marry her.
Rustling in my sheets, I couldn’t take the insomnia anymore. The fact that the room was freezing didn’t help. I got up to shut off the air conditioner and grabbed my phone before returning to the bed.
Are you awake?
Elec: I was just about to order this amazing juicer. If I order right now, they’ll even throw in a bonus mini chopper all for just 19.99.
Greta: Can we talk? On the phone?
Not even three seconds went by before my phone rang.
He whispered, “Hi.”
“I’m sorry,” we both said in unison.
“Jinx,” he said.
“You go first,” I said.
“I’m sorry for what I said to you in the elevator. I lost control.”
“You were being honest.”
“That doesn’t make it right. I’m sorry for the way it came out. You bring out the worst in me.”
“Fuck. That came out wrong.”
I laughed. “I think I know what you’re trying to say.”
“Thank God you could always read between the lines with me.”
“How about we not rehash anything that was said in that elevator. I just want to talk.”
I could hear him moving around in the bed. He was probably gearing up for whatever conversation we were about to have.
He let out a deep breath into the phone. “Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
“I have some questions. I don’t know if this is my last opportunity to ask them.”
“Did you stop writing?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“How come you didn’t tell Chelsea that you write?”
“Because from the time that I met her, I’ve only been working on one project, and it’s not something I really feel like I can share with her.”
“What is it?”
“You’ve been writing your life story?”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “Yeah, I have.”
“Does anyone know?”
“No. Just you.”
“Is it therapeutic?”
“Sometimes. Other times, it’s hard to relive certain things that happened, but it just felt like I needed to do it.”
“If she doesn’t know about it, when do you write?”
“Late at night when she’s asleep.”
“Are you gonna tell her?”