The hotel lock light switches from red to green after a couple flashes. He pushes the door and holds it open with his extended arm for me to enter. It is an exact clone of mine with the same neutral commercial carpet, matching topaz bed runner and curtains, and dim black lamp on each flat surface. Aside from the lack of cigarette smell, his room is no different than mine two floors up.
Opening up the mini fridge, he turns his gorgeous face towards mine, “What’s your poison?” His eyes are haunting, though the piercing blue is only part of the reason. His eyes have not weathered in over a decade. Wrinkles fan around temples, his dirty blond hair is highlighted with white strains, and his overall appearance is thinner than it once was, but his eyes — his eyes are still 16-years-old.
“Whatever isn’t clear or tequila,” I reply, choosing the bed for a seat instead of the lone office chair.
He chuckles. “As I recall you’re a whiskey girl. That still true?”
I smile and nod. Letting some surfer dialect sneak in, “Still chugging beers, bro?”
He pours two different miniature whiskey bottles into a couple of glasses before adding some soda from a partial consumed bottle. His lips purse as he looks down at the glasses, stirring them by shifting the contents in a circular manner. He hands me one glass. “I’m more of a Merlot man now.”
“Way to be an adult,” I tease twisting my face into something similar to my bratty high school expression. He still makes me nervous. I bite my lower lip and lift my glass to cheers, “To the class of ’06!”
“To what should have happened years ago.” His glass taps mine just before he empties the contents down his throat. I follow suit, placing my empty glass next to his on the closest bedside table.
His hand warms my cheek and my face nudges against his palm. I close my eyes and repaint the scene. We didn’t leave our reunion, we left our prom. We are still in high school with unseen promise in our future. He isn’t dating Jayne and I’m not with Matthew.
“I love you.” My eyes flash open. He continues, taking his time with his words and looking directly into my soul. “I’ve always loved you.”
With a single blink, tears cascade down my face. His thumb, still on my cheek, wipes them away on the one side.
“I know things — things got screwed up. If Jayne hadn’t gotten pregnant… But I wanted you to know that I never stopped. I never stopped loving you. Never stopped thinking about you.”
My lips crash into his. He tastes more wonderful than I ever imagined. With countless day dreams during high school to the occasional late night fantasy in recent years, I’ve imagined this moment in a thousand different ways in a thousand different scenarios. Even on the flight over I’d hoped he be there. But the delusions of slow running into his arms have not prepared me for this reality.
An inarguable energy gushes from within each of us towards the other. His free hand mirrors the other and caress my wet cheek. My fingers touch his thighs, his chest, and finally rest on the rough stubble under his chin gently, as if I press to hard he might shatter into a million pieces.
“I’ve wanted this since the Junior ring dance,” I whisper.
He kisses me harder, rolling me onto my back against the soft, white hotel linens. He pulls off his jacket with such tenacity some seams pop. I claw at the little nub of a zipper dangling between the satin dress and the mattress.
“May I?” he interrupts my struggles. Sitting back up I tenderly unbutton his shirt while he slowly lowers the zipper, kissing my exposed shoulder and repeating between pecks, “I love you.”
To be continued…