A pair of strong, masculine hands were lightly resting on my hips as I swayed lazily, their warm touch a comfort and reminder of the man just inches behind me. Constantly adjusting to my movements, this protective barrier shook away all the fears and dangers of the world.
Just a few weeks earlier, I marveled, I had felt the exact opposite. Single for just a couple months, I felt isolated from everyone in the world, barely making the effort to meet other guys or interact with people in general.
He pulled me towards him. I recognized his desire to hold me close and it burned up within me as well, as I leaned back into his chest and his arms wrapped possessively about my waist. Despite my high heels, his head was a good four or five inches above mine, and I drank in his light smell of cologne. It was fresh and made a good contrast to the heavy colognes many guys wore, and the sweaty smell that settled upon the club.
I caught the eye of Sarah, one of my two friends who accompanied me, and blushed slightly, drawing myself away. After holding up an image of being an innocent, practical tomboy for so many years, it was hard to let it change even in front of trusted friends. But for this man, I could not resist. For this man, I had entreated my best friends to sneak us out to some distant respectable club.
My problem lay in that I was seventeen, still in my senior year of high school, with highly protective Asian parents. Having moved to America when I was small, they still greatly distrusted the city and its people. It was of greatest importance to them that the people I hung out with were “respectable,” and that I had met them in a “respectable” way. Talking to strangers, for example, was not a respectable way to meet people, and my parents held deep disdain for any friends I did not meet at school or some paid activity.
And I had most certainly not met John at school.
• • •
On Thursday evening I was walking through the university campus, a good thirty minute drive from home for no reason apart from being sick of school, of home, of common things. My idea was to call up a freshman that went to the same church as my best friend and convince him to have coffee with me, but he was busy, so I continued solo to a café. After buying a nice hot mocha, I left immediately to walk back to my car.
While treading down a small concrete walkway between dorm buildings, I noted the sun was setting directly behind me, lighting up my path with a soft red glow. I noted a figure in a suit some ways down hurrying up the path, his arm across his forehead to block out as much of the blinding rays of sun as possible. Unalarmed, I sipped my coffee with a faux feeling of contentment.
But by the time this man was just a few feet away from me, I was indeed alarmed out of my little warm bubble of aloneness. He was rushing right towards me, a heavy briefcase in one hand, completely oblivious to my presence. As was typical, the speed of my reaction was very slow, and as I jumped to the side to avoid the man, he knocked my coffee out of my hands.
As silly as it seems, that hot mocha with whipped cream and chocolate syrup was the only thing keeping me happy that day after a rather stressful session of eight classes with three tests and a forgotten project due, plus the disappointment of being rejected by the freshman. This horrid, ignorant, stupid man instantly became my arch-enemy, and I glared at him childishly for about five minutes straight, my lips pursed together, my hands clenched into fists.
“God, I am so sorry,” exclaimed the man. I was envisioning punching him in the face, for the first time actually taking a good look at his face too. He was perhaps in his early forties, his hair slightly graying, with a surprisingly handsome, stern countenance. Unfazed, I would not allow this to sway my anger at him.
He knelt down to pick up the cup. We must have looked a ridiculous couple, a teenage girl pouting like a five year old before a kneeling businessman, a coffee cup spilling out between them, and behind them the slowly setting red sun.
“I did not see you at all, I really must apologize for running into you like that. I was in such a hurry and the sun completely blinded me.”
Receiving no hint of acceptance of his apology or excuse, the man stood up rather awkwardly. Considering the hurry he had been in, I assumed he would soon run off in an ungainly manner to whatever meeting or something that he had to attend to. Needless to say, it took me by surprise when he offered,
“Ah, why don’t I buy you another coffee? Perhaps you will forgive me then?”
I don’t know what prompted him to say that, but I blinked at him several times before becoming rather embarrassed and unsure of what to do. Perhaps I should accept, I thought, considering I really really wanted that coffee, and it was an offer I wouldn’t normally get. Anything unusual in my life appealed to me at that moment. However, I wasn’t sure how much time I had, so leaving the guy awaiting my reply, I checked my watch.
Just past 6 PM. My parents would want me home by 8:30, so actually I had quite a bit of time, and I could always pretend I’d gone to some friend’s house to study.
“Alright,” I said to the man with as much disdain as possible.
He surprised me by breaking into a wide charismatic grin, steadily replying, “Excellent!” His neat black suit and serious posture in no way hinted at such a cheerful expression, but it threw him into a different light. That one smile forced my heart to do a complete turn around and his slight of knocking down my coffee was instantly forgiven.
• • •
My second friend Alicia appeared carrying a can of Sprite. She greeted Sarah and looked at me and the man behind me with a small sly smile. She launched into conversation, telling us of a handsome young man that offered her a drink. She mimicked his irritated look when she had asked him to take a sip of it first.
We all laughed and I felt his hands leave my hips briefly to brush aside my hair, long and black and perfectly straightened for the occasion. He took the time to run his fingers through my hair, leaving a tingle where he touched my back. His hands returned to their original position, and I felt him lean his head down, his breath warm against the bare skin of my neck.
• • •
“Aren’t you in a hurry to go somewhere though?” I asked the man, looking him over anew. He laughed and his obvious ease and friendliness was contagious, I found myself relaxing and nearly smiling.
“Oh I was just planning on catching the 6 PM bus, but it’ll be gone by now. The next bus won’t be here for another two hours.”
“Okay.” I wrapped my arms about myself defensively as we began to walk the way I had come. He smiled reassuringly at me. He must think I am but a small child, I thought. I could not help thinking that his smile completely dissipated any of the rigid, lawyer-like aura that had originally surrounded him.
“My name is John,” he said, reaching out his right hand. I instinctively took the hand and shook it. My hand, while larger than the typical female hand, was smaller than his, and I gripped his hand firmly as my parents had taught me.
“I’m Aya,” I replied.
“Aya,” mused John, “What a lovely name. Where does it originate from?”
“It’s a Japanese name. My parents are from Japan.” I know I don’t look pure Japanese, so I explained: “Well my father is British but he studied in Japan for almost two decades.”
John seemed delighted for some reason. “How interesting! So your parents met in Japan? Were you born there?”
I shook my head. “No, my parents met in England and I was born there instead.” We continued a rather light chatter until John delved into the great topic of Asia, for which he held obvious fascination. I felt I had little to add to the conversation, unfortunately, because I had never been to China or basically any part of East Asia other than Japan and South Korea, and John had never been to Japan.
By the time we reached the café, it seemed perfectly natural for us to buy drinks, sit down, and resume our conversation. I found myself leaning in, propped up on my elbows on the small table between us, as I listened to John’s quite humorous tales, and chided myself, backing away, for not being more self-conscious.
There came a point when our topic took an abrupt turn – having mentioned that my father was a professor, my new acquaintance and ex-archenemy asked what year I was in at the university, and what my major was. I was taken aback and quite pleased: usually I was told I looked much younger than my age, and I loved being thought older.
“I’m majoring in Aerospace Engineering,” I told him confidently. “What year do you think I’m in?”
John, taking the safe route, guessed that I was a sophomore. Age guessing is usually tricky business in any circumstance so it’s common for most “guessers” to choose an in-between guess, but I was happy all the same.
I laughed, pretending to be only a humble freshman. A satisfied smile settled across John’s face as he remarked, “You finally laughed.”
Had I not laughed at all throughout our conversation so far? Perhaps not. Smile, yes, but I had not laughed, and his notice of this fact took me by complete surprise. I found myself blushing, and I stiffened slightly, excusing myself to go to the restroom.
• • •
John murmured softly into my ear, and I just caught the words “beautiful” and “darling” over the music. He had barely spoken all evening, seemingly satisfied with staying no farther than a few inches from me, almost constantly maintaining physical contact between us with a hand on my waist or shoulder.
Sarah and Alicia vanished off somewhere, and I didn’t even care because I felt his hands begin to slowly move, his lips gently pressing against the smooth skin of my neck. We were alone as we could be in a crowd full of strangers, ourselves almost strangers to each other.
Yet unlike the boys I had been with before, I was ready to put not only my heart, but also my body in this man’s hands.
• • •
Having escaped rather awkwardly, I stared hard at myself in the mirror, combing my hair with my fingers. Should I have told the man that I was still in high school? He’d probably stop talking to me right? To a grown up business man, my lack of experience and naivety would be unattractively childish. I had probably already made a fool of myself, knowing so little about the world, having traveled to so few places. In comparison to other teens, of course, I held the upper hand: not too many had lived in three countries and were bilingual.
Why did I care? I shook my head at myself, upsetting my hair and re-combing it through roughly. I’d probably never meet this guy again. I should probably actually leave soon. I checked my watch, gosh! It was already 6:50. I did have homework after all. I resolved to get going soon.
I smeared a soft pink lip-gloss onto my lips, and then returned to our table. John smiled at me but I shyly avoided eye contact, sitting down and picking up my coffee cup. I had absentmindedly only drunk about half of it so far, and it wasn’t very hot anymore. I glanced over and saw John had finished his coffee, and wondered when he had found the time… he had been very into our conversation and did most of the chatting.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” I said, tucking my hair behind one ear.
“No problem,” said John. He looked very comfortable leaning back in one of the small sofa chairs that littered the café. I took a moment to note that his black suit looked very good on him – but then I absolutely love formal attire. I think few guys look bad in a suit and if they do, sometimes they look good in a hoodie. For some reason in my head, a hoodie was the polar opposite of a suit.
“You ever wear a hoodie?” popped out of my mouth. He looked at me perplexed.
“Not really, I suppose,” he said. I smiled, looking at him from head to toe.
“Yeah I can’t really imagine you wearing a hoodie.” I tilted my head. “But that’s okay. Guys look good in suits and formal clothes.”
John stared at me half-smiling. “So where did that question come from? You like your men wearing hoodies?”
“No, no,” I protested. “I much prefer formal wear to be honest. I was just thinking that hoodies are like the opposite of a suit.”
Before I knew it, we were again conversing, though this time our chatter flitted more from topic to topic. We covered clothing, fashion, retail, business, got into the discussion of John’s job, as he owned a company, vacation, sports, skiing, sailing, tennis… until I finally became aware that it was a few minutes before eight! How could more than an hour of time have passed so quickly, while sitting talking in a small café?
I abruptly sat up straight in our conversation. “I have to go!” I exclaimed. John checked his watch and was surprised as well.
• • •
He pulled me closer to him, so my whole body was pressed back against his. To my amazement I felt his manhood pushing against me, an experience I was new to. His lips tenderly kissed just below my ear and trailed down my neck. I had never been more aroused from the smallest of actions. He must have heard me quietly gasp because he stopped and laughed softly in my ear.
The music shifted, but kept the slow melodious quality as the last song. He kissed my shoulder and I was glad for the one shoulder dress I had chosen for this occasion, leaving one shoulder bare. Like all the classic dresses I loved, this dress lightly tightened around my breasts and thin waist while flaring out to fall about my mid thighs, accentuating what small curve I possessed.
Growing impatient, I turned and kissed John on the lips. He pulled away, taking my hands in his, smiling at my eagerness. He now delighted in keeping me from I wanted.
But he felt the urgency too. “Let’s go,” he said.
• • •
“It was nice meeting you,” said John, once more reaching out his hand as we both stood. This time though, he did not shake my hand, instead he held it in both of his hands as we said our good-byes. “I enjoyed our conversation and coffee immensely, and I hope you’ve forgiven me for crashing into you earlier.”
Laughing, I told him he was quite forgiven, and that I had enjoyed his company too.
“Ah,” he said, “I’ll only be in the city for a short while longer, but perhaps you will send me an email some time?” John released my hands and scribbled down his email on a piece of paper.
“Uh sure,” I said, taken aback but secretly pleased for some unknown reason. I took the paper and stuffed it into my purse. Throwing away my paper coffee cup, I hurried out of the café, wishing John a good stay while he was in the city, and a good night too.
I had walked but a few yards from the door when John came out after me. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I just can’t allow you to walk through the night alone. Do you live in a dorm near here?”
At this I became worried, not wanting him to find out I was not actually a freshman, or that I had lied to him. “I live in an apartment about fifteen minutes from the campus. Do you think you could walk me to my car then?”
John agreed and we walked in silence. The sun had long since set, allowing the stars to pop up one by one even over the city lights. We reached my car and I got in. Waving at John before I turned on the headlights, I did not think I would see the strange man again.
• • •
We left the club quickly and silently. I didn’t know where he was taking me, but I sent Sarah a quick text “Cya.” She would understand: this was why we had come here. The sun set and night fell.
Keep an eye out for my continuation: “Soft Moments: NightFall.”