I walked off the elevator which led to the chic Scandinavian-designed bar with squared-off, white chairs in front of simple black tables with tops balanced by same-shaped bottoms so they resembled S’s. Sofas lined the back wall and sat up against floor-to-ceiling windows with an amazing view of the lit-up New York City skyline. My eyes settled on the spectacular sight until my gazed shifted to the man in the center of the long sofa, Evan.
His blonde hair was slicked back with a touch of gel, and he wore a chic button-down cranberry-colored shirt and black slacks with the shirttails out. He looked appropriately casual and sexy. I noticed he had a steaming intensity to his looks and an appealing dark sexuality. He worked out as his arms were beautifully cut, and he was lean. I suspected a six-pack hidden under the perfectly pressed cranberry shirt. I found myself momentarily preoccupied with an inappropriate attraction since I was a married woman. Lust, a feeling I had forgotten I could feel toward a man, brewed up inside of me. I felt a rush of excitement, and then I quickly grabbed hold of my passionate arousal, suppressed it, and walked over to Evan.
I put my hand out to shakes his, but he took it and flipped it over so he could see my palm. He touched the center of it – an act that sent an intense shudder up my spine and made the hairs on my neck stand straight up. Within seconds the vision flashed back: I was now walking toward the groom, and I could feel the sand between my toes.
“You have a beautiful hand, Mia,” he said in a low, baritone voice.
I stopped dead and stared at him. Our eyes locked for a moment, and then he stepped aside to make room. I went to sit down, but I could feel his eyes on me, taking in my body. As I turned to sit down I felt a sensation that he looked at my ass. The attraction was like this electric pulse hidden below perception. When I turned to face him, he was right there close to me. His full lips and those gorgeous blue-green eyes – all there for me to take in and want to touch. I stared at him or more into him as I took in his sexy presence.
As he spoke, he never broke my stare, “You’re beautiful,” he said directly and frankly without a flinch.
I hadn’t heard the word “beautiful” uttered to me in years possibly decades. Paul never said it. He liked the stripped-down version of me – no makeup or accessories to make me attract attention. I ignored him these days. When I walked on the cherry-wood floor across our kitchen, he complained my high-heel shoes sounded like the clip-clop of a horse’s hooves. He disliked the noise so much he had placed a shoe rack near the entry and had demanded I leave my shoes there at the end of the day and pad softly on the wood. I had grown so accustomed to complaints like these I felt pleased when my schedule permitted me to leave after him in the mornings. If I so much as had a button opened too low on my blouse, his comments would range from, “What are you trying to show everyone your breasts?” to “Are you a whore?” He even said these things when the button had come undone on accident. These random thoughts flew through my mind as quickly as Evan had called me beautiful.
“Well, thank you!”
“I took the liberty of asking around about you,” Evan said in his silky, smooth voice.
I was floored and frowned, “What? Asked who?”
“Clients. I’ve done my homework.”
“Why?” I asked with the frown still on my face.
“You have a nice, little business situation set up. Are you hoping to expand?”
“I have thought of taking a partner.”
“My partners and I like your setup. We want to move to your area, and you have the perfect base for us to start. We could triple your business with our resources at your disposal. Our computer equipment is state-of-the-art stuff. We have all the best graphics programs, and we have most importantly prestige. We could make you richer!”
The waitress came over and I looked her. She smiled and was about to speak when Evan held his hand up for her to stop.
“We’ll both have a glass of Domain Chandon.”
I whispered, “My favorite,” and I looked at Evan who gave me a smile and nodded. An intense look passed between us as our eyes locked. “How did you know?”
Evan sat forward and stared at me long and hard and then sighed, “I didn’t.”
“Do we know each other … from before I mean?”
The champagne arrived and the waitress poured it into two flutes in front of us. Evan waited, grabbed each glass, and handed one to me, and I took it.
“Cheers,” he said as he raised his glass.
I nodded and smiled, “Cheers.”
I took a brisk sip – it tasted dry and somewhat fruity. I hiccupped for a moment from the carbonation. My eyes darted back to Evan, and we once more locked in a mutual stare. I focused solely on him, and the room melted away – no noise, no people just Evan and his intense blue-green eyes. I noticed small flecks of dark in his irises. I was marveling at this fine detail when his voice broke my concentration.
“So, will I be able to call you partner?”
“Excuse me? What?”
Evan chuckled, “I’m too fast for you, huh?”
“I don’t even know if I want a partner – although it would be nice to have someone to shoulder the stress.”
As the words came out of my mouth, my eyes kept moving up and down and then settled on his lightly hairy forearm that for some reason I had to resist touching. I just wanted to reach out and stroke his arm in the most intimate and inappropriate way. Evan kept staring right back at me, and the attraction was electric. I was getting so turned on it was becoming unbearable.
“When was the last time you had sex?” Evan asked without a blink of embarrassment.
I wondered if the lack of sex was stamped on my chest like a scarlet letter. Maybe I looked sexless and dried up. I felt a surge of embarrassment. I hated to tell him six months ago at Christmas because sex was an expectation like a present under the tree. In the last 10 years I had little sex even though before my marriage I considered myself a highly sexual person who loved it two or three times a day when possible. I had adopted the standard cliché that married people just didn’t do it anymore – well at least in my house we didn’t do it … much.
“Is that a question you ask a prospective partner or lover?” there I said it. Was he looking for a lover? Was I open to the idea of becoming someone’s lover? I was a straight arrow, a Miss Priss, a good girl – and good girls didn’t have affairs and they certainly didn’t utter the word lover. Nor did good girls stare at seductive men’s forearms and want to stroke them; they ached inside. Not to mention where was my common sense? Was it thrown out the proverbial window of morals and standards that precluded married women from having intimate encounters with single men? I wasn’t stupid, and I knew that mixing business with pleasure (especially in this situation) was a poisonous prescription sure to put both my marriage and business asunder. Yet the unrelenting draw and familiarity of this man just seemed to douse my good sense. My morality was suddenly like a flame slowly burning out from lack of oxygen.
Evan’s eyes twinkled, and he grinned with such a priceless pride like he had cracked the seal to something beautiful inside – all with an artful skill. “Maybe both,” he brazenly replied self-satisfied.
I was now speechless. What the hell was I going to say to that one? He had stumped me in the art of coy conversation to which I had no experience. “I’ve never been a lover. I’ve been a girlfriend and certainly a wife – and today not a very loyal wife.”
Evan nodded and continued to match my gaze with his own unwavering stare. He took in my response with great thought that I could see going on behind his eyes. He was sizing me up.
“Loyalty? How have you not been loyal, Mia?” he asked and deliberately emphasized my name. “Did you forget to darn his socks or wash his underwear? Or maybe he forgot something, hmm?”
“Loyalty requires one not sit and stare at a sexy blonde man like this.”
“Like this?” he tilted his head to mess with me, took another sip, and smiled at his own teasing.
I moved forward so brashly I was shocked, too. I got but inches from his supple lips and looked down at him. The desire to meet his lips clung to my thoughts and made me drip with wetness and lust. Evan was bold, and he never moved from his place and held firm. I could feel his hot breath on me, and then I heard his voice in my head so vividly it was as if he said it, but his lips never moved. “Kiss me,” the voice whispered.
I sat up straight and moved away. “Did you hear that?”
“What?” he was calm and stayed in place.
Evan grinned at me. I knew instantly he knew what I was talking about but wasn’t going to answer me. He took the last sip of his champagne, threw down a $100 bill, and got up. I didn’t stand up with him, but rather stared up at him.
“I have plans for you … us,” he said. “I will email over a proposal for your attorney to review, and then I’ll fly you back here to sign. It will be a sweet deal I promise, and you can meet my three partners in our firm. They have a great interest in working with you.” He grabbed my hand, kissed it, smiled and said, “Till next time … Mia, the beautiful.”
He gazed into my eyes, turned, and departed in a smooth glide out the door. I watched him – his gait, his posture, his way of walking with that casual confidence. His incredible smell still wafted in the air around me. My passion and desire now ablaze in not only yearning but also intense curiosity. What was it about him? I felt this connection – something indescribable now binding our spirits. It was like a renewed relationship. One like I had met an old boyfriend from high school and remembered how much he turned me on. Yet I didn’t know Evan so that instant familiarity was as strange as this stranger.
I toyed with the idea of him as my partner. A deep, threatening, negative voice in my head quietly drummed up anxiety and uncertainty. The idea of forming a partnership with this “temptation” named Evan seemed incredibly imprudent, stupid and downright irresponsible. I never thought of myself as stupid and certainly not reckless, but also there was this needy, wanting, pulling and yearning urge – a feeling that made absolutely no sense. What was it? Why was I even considering this business arrangement and putting myself in this kind of insane situation almost certain to lead me into the dark abyss called the rabbit hole? It was a place so forbidden, black and dangerous, but also attractive, exciting, passionate, insane and seductive to all my body’s senses. Which side of my personality was going to win? My safe, smart and business-like nature or my repressed, wanting and lustful sex siren, the one who had retreated within her own rocked fortress away from true love and romance?
I didn’t want to make my life messy either. Affairs of any kind made life unruly and loaded with drama. Did I want to invite trouble into my mostly-neat life? My girls were my priority, too. How could I do anything that would potentially hurt them? My thoughts drifted back into my newly awakened feelings. My senses were alive again. I felt something. I felt – and the fact that my sleeping desires were fully awake also made me feel protective like I didn’t want them to evaporate. I felt astoundingly more human and womanly. I marveled over sexual feelings. Was it selfish to want to love … to want to feel his hands all over me and to enjoy the moist sensation of a lustful kiss?
Then I looked down at my left hand and the one-karat diamond ring that Paul had sweetly placed on my ring finger so many years ago – the look of joy on his face when he had slid the ring on. I thought about the years past when he had still said nice things to me. Years when I had felt love as clearly as I felt desire today for Evan. And years ago when the feeling hadn’t been numbed with abuse, scorn and depressive reality that my husband didn’t even like me.
Was it selfish to want to be liked? Was I bad and wrong for needing and wanting love from a man again? To not want my husband to chose a boat and gambling over my own wants and needs? To want a husband who cared what I thought and how I felt – and most importantly want I wanted? A man who would unselfishly act devoted, kind, loyal and loving? Someone to scoop me in his arms, kiss me like I was the only woman he ever wanted to kiss with so much lust he would move his hands up and down my waist, caress my breasts, and adore and cherish me so much he just had to have me? Were these ideas fantasies only young women with dreamy visions of marriage still believed they deserved? Did I deserve this kind of relationship? Or was my empty, hollowed marriage the only thing I had and would ever get? I had to push myself in a new direction, take a major risk, and maybe do things I shouldn’t do to find out the answers. The real question was simple: Did I have what it took to quit living life at half-mast but to use my inner strength to raise the sail and soar the ocean?