Home > The Idea of You(17)

The Idea of You(17)
Author: Robinne Lee

“At least.”

“I’m flattered. Maybe I can auction those off? eBay?”

“Do it for charity,” I said, forcing his shirt up farther, admiring the breadth of his chest, the russet color of his nipples. “Look, you have a Saint-Tropez tan.”

“A what?”

“There’s this old suntan oil, Bain de Soleil. They had these great commercials in the eighties and…” I laughed suddenly. “And you were not yet born.”

“I wasn’t.”

“Pity.” I managed to remove the rest of his shirt. His skin: so flawless, soft, like a baby’s. “You are so ridiculously beautiful,” I said, and almost immediately regretted it. I didn’t want him to know that I was falling. If indeed that’s what this was. I could indulge him with sexy, witty banter, but hesitated to go beyond that. It was like prep school all over again. He who guards his feelings wins.

“I feel the same about you,” he said. “I like everything about you.”

I was quiet then, tracing my fingers over his face: his chin, his jaw, his mouth. Saying more, I thought, could affect the order of things. The arrangement.

I kissed him, letting my hand traverse his firm stomach and land somewhere just north of his swim trunks. My fingers slipped in between the elastic waist and his skin, and he flinched. And in that instant I was reminded that he was twenty.

There is this moment that every woman knows, when she reaches into her date’s pants for the first time and is not sure what’s going to come out. And she says a little prayer to the penis gods and hopes that she will be pleasantly surprised. And for me, it hadn’t happened in a long time. But I was amazed to see the same anxiety was there. As in grad school, as in college, as in one memorable summer in Saint-Raphaël. That second of holding my breath and extending my hand … and the way that Hayes filled up my palm was a very good thing.

“Hiiii,” he said, and I laughed.

“Hi, yourself.” I took my time, freeing it from his trunks, admiring the way it lined up straight, thick, landing just above his belly button. “Mr. Campbell. This is a really nice dick.”

“You’re making me blush,” he laughed, tipping his head back. His jawline from this angle was well-defined, exquisite, like art. His beauty, like a gift that kept revealing itself.

“Sorry,” I said. “I just thought you should know.”

He was quiet when I took him in my mouth. His hands playing in my hair, gentle. His body tense beneath me. I could still smell the sunscreen on his torso, taste the salt on his skin. This sweet boy.

It did not seem so long ago that the girls and I had flown to Las Vegas. When I could not pick him out of a meet-and-greet lineup. When he was just a pogo stick on a stage amidst a sea of girls losing their minds. And now here we were.

“I don’t know your middle name,” I said, pausing.

“Sorry?” His breathing was fast.

“I just realized I don’t know your middle name.”

Hayes screwed up his face, puzzled. “Is that a requirement of yours or something?”

“If you’re going to come in my mouth, yes.”

“Really?” he laughed. “Seriously? Philip.”

“Philip,” I repeated. It was so charmingly English. “Of course it is.”

“So is that it? Do I pass?”

“With flying colors.”

It happened relatively quickly, which I suppose was a good thing. To wield that kind of power. His breath coming in short, shallow spurts, his hands gripping my skull, his moans deep and sporadic; to realize that I’d done that. Especially having not done it in so long. And to someone whose idiosyncrasies I did not yet know. Like riding a bike.

He shuddered beneath me, his warmth filling the back of my throat. Familiar.

After, when his breathing had returned to normal and I was curled up beside him, my head buried in his neck, he said: “Tell me something, if I’d told you my middle name in Las Vegas, would this have happened then?”

I laughed at that. “What do you think?”

“Because you could have found it on the Internet. It would have saved me a lot of wooing.”

“I like the wooing.”

He was quiet for a moment, his fingers running over my ribs. “I like wooing you.”

The thought crossed my mind that this could be dangerous. Not the ill-advised sex with the just-out-of-his-teens pop star, but the cuddling. The lying there, drinking in his scent, watching his chest rise and fall, allowing myself to bask in my own happiness. I could fall in love this way.

“May I ask you a question?” he asked. It was not his usual starter. “Is Daniel the last person you slept with?”

His query threw me. “Are you lying here thinking of Daniel?”

“I’m lying here thinking of you.”

The sun was shifting, casting the room in a pale pink hue. Like being inside a shell, a watercolor. I wanted to hold on to the moment, paint it.

“Yes … Does that change things for you?”

He shook his head, his fingers moving over the material of my dress. “No. So long as you’re all right with this.”

I probably should have asked him to define “this” exactly. It might have saved us a lot of confusion and heartache.

“I’m all right with this,” I said instead.

“You sure?”

I nodded.

“Let me know if that changes,” he said.

He took his time peeling off my dress, untying my bikini top, kissing and caressing every inch of me. My shoulder blades, my breasts, the dip at the base of my back, my hip bones, my knees, the insides of my wrists. He was so tender, so complete in his lovemaking. Someone had taught him well.

“Is there anything you have that I should know about?” I asked. He had fetched a condom from the canvas bag and was opening the wrapper.

“Other than a few thousand psychotic fans?” He smiled. “No.”

“Only a few thousand?”

“Who are genuinely psychotic? Yes,” he laughed. “Anything you have that I should know about?”

“A twelve-year-old daughter who will disown me when she finds out what I’m about to do,” I said, watching him roll on the condom. Condoms. Right. God, it had been a long time.

“I won’t tell her if you don’t.”

“Good. I won’t tell your fans.”

In that final minute, with Hayes above me, and my mind clear, I recalled an earlier conversation. “So this is just lunch. Right?”

He hesitated, and then smiled. “It might be more than lunch.”

That first moment of entry was everything. And after three years of nothing and ten years of Daniel—who was lovely, but definitely not Hayes—it was transcendent.

He was slow and gentle, and I knew immediately why he’d asked about my ex. Because he’d managed to make me feel like a virgin in his hands, in a way that I had not expected. I wanted to tell him that he need not be so delicate, but I was kind of enjoying it. I was kind of enjoying everything. The weight of him, the size of him, the smoothness of his back, the firmness of his ass … all of it. I didn’t even care that it hurt. Part of me wondered why I had waited so long. Perhaps what I had waited for was him.

* * *

We lay there, after, bathed in fractals of light, watching dust particles dance in the air, spent, happy.

“It’s a pity I don’t smoke,” I said eventually, “because I could really use a cigarette right now.”

“I have gum.”

“Gum?”

“Yes.” He rolled over, to fish through his trusty tote bag. What didn’t he have in there? “Solène, may I offer you a stick of postcoital gum?”

I laughed at that. “Why, yes, Hayes, I would love a stick of postcoital gum.”

“We should hashtag that. #stickofpostcoitalgum. Now trending.”

“Yes, your twenty-two million followers would love that.”

He stopped. “You know how many followers I have?”

I felt as if I’d been caught knowing something I was not supposed to know. Information that might have been valid for mass consumption by his fans, but not general knowledge to those who knew him personally. It was tricky, this celebrity thing.

“Do you follow me?” he asked.

I shook my head. “I follow about two hundred people. And they’re all in my industry.”

“Huh,” he said, watching me and doling out his postcoital gum. Hollywood, a French brand. So apropos.

“Would it be weird if I followed you?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

He lay back then, interlacing his fingers with mine, holding our hands up toward the light. “Then again, I pursued you rather earnestly, so maybe not.”

“Rather,” I repeated. “My very posh Hayes.”

“Yes, well … It worked.” He looked over to me and smiled, one of his huge disarming smiles. “Because if you had told me that night in Las Vegas that I’d be lying here with you, naked, in a hotel room, in the South of France, in two months’ time … I would have told you, ‘No, it will probably take three.’”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“I can’t even fuck with you properly,” he laughed, rolling into me. “You’ve totally thrown me off my game.”

“I know you too well.”

“Already, right? That happened surprisingly fast.”

“Don’t go falling in love with me. Hayes Campbell.”

“I’m not gonna fall in love with you. I’m a rock star. We don’t do that.”

“You’re a boy band member.” I smiled, fingering his hair.

His eyes widened and his mouth formed this perfect O. I assumed he was going to scold me, but then he stopped himself, his face settling into a wry smile. “Well,” he said, “I guess all bets are off then.”

west hollywood

   
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