The first time that I was hit with the implication of what I had done was unexpected. I had walked out on my comfortable marriage to my best friend for another, a woman no less. It wasn't our reunion in the street or the cab ride back to her flat where we sat on her sofa talking late into the night, sipping wine and stealing the occasional kiss. It wasn't even as we were drifting off to sleep, her arms wrapped around me from behind her steady breathing tickling my ear. It was the moment I woke up alone.
It took a few moments to remember where I was, stretched out on an older sofa covered with an afghan of deep reds and blues and greens. It looked like her, the whole room did. Layers and layers of texture and color, beads catching the sunlight hanging in the doorway to what I guessed was her bedroom. I glanced at the coffee table and noticed a piece of paper with my name on it a single lily draped across. I couldn't keep the smile away as I reached for the note and unfolded it, "Rach - You looked too peaceful to wake. Ran out for coffee. Always, Luce." Luce. Not Heck. Heck wasn't bringing me coffee in the flat we shared. Luce was bringing me coffee to her flat, the flat I had spent the night in. I panicked. What had I done? Sure yesterday had been amazing, coasting on the adrenaline and passion of the moment. Those brief moments of freedom I had felt were quickly being replaced by a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I sat up and swung my legs to the floor, indecision overwhelming me. It was Sunday so I didn't have to worry about work; I glanced down at my clothes, wrinkled from sleeping in them. I couldn't go home, what if Heck was there? My parents were out of the question at the moment, I could barely think much less answer the questions sure to come my way.
I stood up, looking around wildly for my shoes and bag. I didn't want to be here when she got back, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had made a mistake. Weeks of pining after Luce had led me to this place and now I wasn't sure I wanted it. I found my shoes in a corner of the room and sat down to put them on. I had my left shoe halfway tied when I heard the door open. I froze and then looked up to see Luce watching me from the doorway, a cup of coffee in each hand and a paper bag clutched to her chest. "Are you leaving?" she asked quizzically. I could almost feel my fear reflecting back at me from her.
"No. I'm not," I took my shoe off again and stood up.
She smiled at me hesitantly and held out one of the coffee cups, "I don't know what you like so I got black. I have milk and sugar…or tea if you prefer. I also got breakfast, bagels, muffins…again I didn't know what you like…" she trailed off and I stepped forward to claim the coffee.
"Black is fine," I smiled and stepped closer so I could see her eyes. She stood still, quietly studying me and smiled after a moment.
"Are you all right?" She brought a hand up to tuck a piece of my hair behind my ear and looked deep into my eyes. I felt the last traces of fear dissipate and the pit in my stomach dissolve at her depth of understanding I saw in her eyes. She grinned again, the quirky smile that made everything around me disappear. I stepped closer and wrapped my free arm around her, craving the sanctuary that I sensed from her. She shifted to the left and set the coffee and pastries down on the TV, taking mine from me and setting it down a well. Wrapping both arms around my shoulders, she kissed my temple and pulled me closer. I sighed and breathed in the scent of her.
"Do you want to tell me what's wrong?" she asked quietly in my ear. I shook my head and I could hear her sigh. Did she know what she had taken on I wondered? Was she as unsure about this as I was? She continued, "You know, I was almost afraid to leave this morning, I wasn't sure you would be here when I got back…" I could feel tears prick my eyes, I blinked them back. "I'm glad you were." I almost missed it she had spoken so softly. I smiled at her admission and leaned back to look at her.
"I am too."
We ate quietly on the sofa, each of us lost in our own thoughts. I was sure of her on the one hand, sure that I was on the way to falling in love, sure that she captivated me like no one had before, sure that when she smiled at me I felt butterflies leap in my stomach and my toes curl. On the other hand, questions swirled in my mind. Questions I hadn't wanted to think about or even consider during the past weeks. I hadn't set out to make my life more difficult, to live outside of my comfort zone of social norms. She seemed to sense my unease as she drained the last of her coffee, "We should probably talk about some things." I startled and glanced at her guiltily.
"I'm sorry," I said, "I just…it's all so overwhelming right now. I don't…I've never been in a place like this before and I don't know what to do…how to act…" I looked up helplessly. "I'm sorry," I said again, "it's probably not what you wanted to hear this morning."
She looked at me for a few moments and I could see the wheels turning in her head. "No," she said slowly, "it's not… but I kind of expected this at some point." I just stared at her. "I know what you did yesterday Rachel, I realize the implications for you and…" she took a deep breath and continued staring at her lap, "while I was…am…incredibly happy I would understand if you wanted to go back." She looked at me with tears in her eyes. "I want you to be sure."
I looked down at my hands for awhile. Was I sure? I had been sure yesterday and I was fairly confident but I felt like I was making a huge commitment to someone I had barely met. Not only was I making a huge commitment, I was giving up a part of myself, my hopes and dreams that I had my whole life. What little girl didn't dream of growing up, marrying her prince, having babies and growing old together. I had always wanted a family, was I prepared to possibly give that up to be with her? I heard my father's voice, "whatever you decide…" It would be my decision and I would live with it.
And suddenly I knew the answer. "…you can never be sure. But you take the plunge anyway. Sure is for people who don't love enough." The article I had written floated through my mind, I smiled and whispered "…you take the plunge anyway. I'm sure. I'm sure!" I repeated confidently.
Luce looked at me strangely and then broke into a smile. She leaned forward so our foreheads were touching, "Me too." She replied softly moving in to kiss me. The kiss was short and sweet; it held promise of passion in the future and understanding of the present. We drew back and she ran her fingers through my hair.
"What now?" I asked cheerfully moving in to kiss her again. She chuckled and then sighed as I deepened the kiss, this was somewhat new territory for me and we were heading there fast, I loved it. It was different than our heated make out session in the back of her shop, this time was unhurried as if we had all the time in the world to know each other. I began to push her slowly down on the couch when she pulled away.
"Wait," she said breathlessly and I groaned in disappointment, dropping my forehead to her shoulder. She sat up forcing me with her and took my head in her hands. "As much as I want to I'm not going to rush this with you," she said looking deep into my eyes. I started to protest but she cut me off. "This is new to both of us and I want us to take our time."
As much as I wanted to disagree, there was a piece of me that was grateful to her. She was right. We had a lot to cover before jumping into bed. "Not that I'm waiting forever." My head snapped up and I caught the sparkle in her eyes; I couldn't help but grin back.