The thick curtain of black that accompanied night was beginning to recede, the stars overhead growing dimmer as the sun peaked over the horizon. Morning air chilled my bare legs as I sat on the front porch steps of the Levitt’s house, unsure why I was even out here; exposed, in the elements, when I could have been inside, snuggled into a warm bed doing the same exact thing – waiting.
Christopher wasn’t late. In fact, I was early. I had been outside for thirty minutes, a mixture of anxiety and excitement fueling my jittery legs when a pair of headlights lit up the road. The beat-up truck pulled into the driveway, door opening as I stood. I couldn’t help the goofy grin that took hold of me as Christopher came into view – his normal t-shirt and jeans swapped out for a button down and tie.
“What are you wearing?” I tittered.
Christopher paused, glancing down at his attire, and I watched a wide array of emotions filter through his eyes until they rested on embarrassment, “I-um-you-I…. I thought it was a date?”
“But we’re going fishing.”
“You’re the best-dressed fisherman I have ever met.” My voice quivered as I suppressed the round of giggles that was bubbling up.
He mumbled, “I guess I am a little overdressed.” Even in the dark, I could make out the deep red blossoming over Christopher’s cheeks.
“Just a tad.” I teased.
He sighed, fumbling around with his tie.
“Here, let me.” My offer was met with a small smile as I approached. There was a thickness to air between us, a current that had never been present before, and I did my best to ignore it as I untied the knot, “There you go.”
We stayed like that for a moment too long, my hands resting on his chest until Christopher cleared his throat. He pulled back, opening the passenger door for me, “We should get going.”
His truck puttered to life a minute later, and the rest of the trip was spent in silence. It was strange simply because Christopher and I always found something to talk about. He would ask me about college, the city, or the farm while I would ask about his jobs and his dream of being a captain. I wondered if the silence had anything to do with this strange awareness of him that I had developed, how thick the air between us had become, how even a fleeting touch brought both trepidation and desire rushing to the surface.
I hadn’t been on a date with anyone since Jay; I had been too focused, too preoccupied. And while I had applied the term to today, I hadn’t expected Christopher to. Not after how composed he had been after my slip up. Showing up in formal attire, his agreement that it was a date – it was completely unexpected, and I realized that it didn’t matter that Christopher’s cheeks were no longer flushed; I had embarrassed him.
Christopher parked a few meters from the river bed. We were next the bed of the truck, about to unload our equipment, before I finally broke the silence, “You’re sweet, Christopher. Thank you for dressing up for me.”
“I wasn’t askin’ you out on a date.”
“Oh…Okay then.” I felt my heart sink as I tore my eyes away from his.
Christopher shook his head, noticing his mistake, “This shouldn’t be our first date. I wouldn’t – I didn’t – I never would have taken you fishin’ on our first date.”
“Why not? You love fishing.”
“I do. I do love fishin’ but you don’t love fishin’ and I haven’t heard you complain once,” His calloused hand grazed my cheek as he pushed back a strand of my hair before forcing me to look at him, “You’ve been through so much, you’ve been takin’ care of the farm all alone, and I haven’t heard you complain once. You deserve wine and roses, Willow, not this.”
“But what if I want this?” I whispered as his thumb stroked my chin. His eyes showed a battle I had no knowledge of and then before I even realized what happened, his lips brushed against mine.
It was over before it began, Christopher sputtering apologies as he stepped back, “I’m shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”
The brief contact left my lips singing, “Stop apologizing, Christopher.”
He continued to back away from me, like I was a scene from a horror movie he had just stumbled upon, “I shouldn’t have, that was -”
I closed the gap he had created between us, burrowing both hands through his curly hair as I pull him down to me. At first, his lips were hardened by surprised, but soon they soften, relenting against mine. One hand caught my wrist loosely, while his other hand wrapped around my middle, pulling me closer, enveloping me in the musk of rain and freshly cut grass that was uniquely him. By the time we parted my lips were swollen and red from the urgency that had overcome us.
I took his hand in mine, entangling our fingers, as I led him towards the river.
He thought I deserved more, but everything I deserved was right here.