Spontaneity was not my thing. I was a plotter, a planner, always needing to know what was next so there were no surprises. It was a running joke among my friends and family. Just one of my many charming neuroses.
Chris knew this about me. So, when I dragged him to my car with no plan of where we were going or what we would do, he reluctantly went along.
“Are you okay?” He frowned at me as he buckled his seatbelt.
I could feel a bit of mania taking over but I smiled and patted his arm. “I’m fine, Chris, really. I just need to blow off some steam.”
He settled back and let me navigate around the city. We chatted as I drove, laughing and singing along to the radio. It was so easy to be with Chris. There wasn’t any pressure to be or do anything. We stopped and picked up a six-pack of beer and I wound my way around the park to the big, ornate fountain in the center.
“What should we toast to?” I asked. The night was warm, a fresh breeze floating around us, and I felt a million miles away from my own life.
Sitting on the edge of the fountain, we were gazing at the stars as we drank. He didn’t say anything for a minute, then stood and faced me with a wide grin.
“Not sure where I heard this one, but I’ve been dying to use it.” He cleared his throat while I stood and we held our bottles up. “May we get what we want, get what we need, and never get what we deserve!”
We burst into laughter and tapped our bottles together. I put my empty in the case and turned to look up at the fountain’s statue. It was a man and woman wound around each other in a passionate embrace, their faces close together, her hair cascading over his hands.
“I always loved coming here to look at them,” I said. “They were so romantic, the lovers frozen for eternity in that breathless moment right before their lips meet.”
Chris stood next to me, close enough that I could feel the warmth radiating from him. “Wow. That’s unexpectedly…hot.”
I nudged him and rolled my eyes. Staring up at their faces, my smile faded. There must have been a noticeable change in my demeanor because I could see Chris from the corner of my eye, leaning in to see my face better.
“Has that changed?”
“A little,” I admitted. “I mean, look at her face. Does it look like she’s in the throes of rapture or does it look like she’s scared shitless?”
We gazed at them in silence for a moment then Chris slipped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me against his side. I snuggled into him, laying my head on his shoulder.
“It’s interesting, the way art changes based on who’s looking at it.” He rubbed his hand absently up and down my arm. “The state of mind of the observer shaping the meaning of the piece. It’s a great way to gain insight into someone’s mental state and, knowing what I know, I can see how it’s somewhat sinister to you now.”
I felt the tears starting to wet my eyes and swore silently again. How did he do that? How was he able to just reach inside me and know exactly what I was feeling?
Dammit, I wasn’t having this right now. I didn’t come here for a therapy session.
I pushed him away and kicked off my shoes, rolling up my pantlegs. “You coming?”
Crossing his arms, Chris asked, “What are you up to, Lexi?”
Keeping my eyes locked on his, I grinned and stepped over the lip of the fountain. The water was cool on my feet and the knowledge that I wasn’t supposed to be in it made it all the more exciting.
“Who even are you right now? You’re going to get us in trouble, you know.”
“That’s the point!” I shouted in a sudden burst of frustration. “I’m so tired of being cautious, of being afraid, of planning and always knowing what’s next! I want to do something unexpected. I want to feel free and excited, I want butterflies in my stomach, knowing I could be caught any second! Everyone knows I’m the one who will always do what she’s supposed to. I don’t want to be that person anymore. At least not tonight.”
He hesitated only a second then stripped off his own shoes and socks. I laughed at him when he peered around in the dark, looking for the park police or something, before gingerly testing out the water. “It’s freezing!”
“Don’t be such a baby.” I splashed him.
Fully in the fountain, he rounded on me. “Oh, that’s how it’s going to be, huh?” The corners of his mouth twisted up in a villainous grin before he flung water back at me.
I squealed and tried to duck behind the statue. We slogged around in the water, yelling, laughing, splashing, dodging. I couldn’t move quickly enough, and pretty soon Chris grabbed me, holding me tight and pinning my arms to my sides.
“You’re in trouble, now! I should just hold you under the fountain and drench you completely. That would teach you to mess with me!”
Through my uncontrolled giggles, I wiggled in his arms trying halfheartedly to get away. But the laughter died away when our eyes met and we simply looked at each other, trying to catch our breath.
Chris smoothed my dripping hair out of my eyes and off my forehead, cradling my cheek in the palm of his hand. The smart thing for me to do would have been to laugh and push him away, telling him to get us each another beer. A sane Alexis would have taken him back to his car at Rudy’s and gone home.
But sane Alexis had left the building quite a while ago.
In an impulsive flash, I pushed up on my toes and brushed my lips against his. He froze. For an extended beat, it seemed neither of us was breathing, each waiting to see what the other would do. My heart sank when I realized kissing him had been the wrong move. This was exactly why I didn’t do spontaneous.
Suddenly, his mouth was on mine, a strangled groan sounding from deep in his throat. Pressed against his chest, I snaked my arms around his neck and melted into his embrace, deepening the kiss. God, his lips were exactly as I remembered; soft and full, coaxing without demanding, setting every inch of me on fire.
One of his hands tangled in my hair, the other pressing into the small of my back, so not even air could pass between us. I was fully lost in the taste of his mouth and the heat of his body against mine. There was no thought, only the sensation of being in his arms and reveling in his touch on my skin.
Coming up for air, he pressed his lips against my forehead and wrapped his arms tighter around me. I leaned into him, clutching his shirt in my hands. I couldn’t get close enough to him and was already hungry for more.
“Lexi,” he sighed.
The sadness of his voice jolted me out of myself and back to reality.
What the hell was I doing?