We waved goodbye to Samuel, and he saluted us. Jordan didn’t release my hand, and the heat circulated to the rest of my body. Then a wave of guilt washed over me. My stomach tightened. I shouldn’t be on a date. Shouldn’t be with Jordan. It wasn’t fair to him. I wasn’t ready to let anyone in. I had lost too much and my heart still ached. He squeezed my hand, pulling me closer, my guilt melting away, replaced with a fluttering in my belly. A school girl feeling. I gazed up at Jordan, his warmth surrounding me like a protective cocoon.
We turned the corner, Irish music spilled from a bar. Violin, drums, guitars thrummed vigorously, calling to me like a siren. I pulled on Jordan’s hand. “Do you hear that?”
“Let’s go. Do you have time?”
“I’ve got all night.” Jordan squeezed me in confirmation, intensifying that light feathery feeling in my stomach. I needed to feel him closer to me. I wanted him to kiss me. If he did, the memories, the pain—it would go away and there would only be Jordan.
We walked into the bar. Darkness, and fast Irish music greeted us. I towed him to the bar and held up two fingers. “1910 Pennington, please.”
The bartender came carrying two glasses of whiskey. I clinked my glass with Jordan’s. We downed it and stared at each other. In the darkness, neon signs advertising alcohol blinked as the music rose to a frenzied finish and a new song started. I smiled at him and raised my eyebrows.
“Do you want to dance?” he asked.
I very much wanted to dance. I loved to dance.
I nodded and grabbed his hand. He paid for our drinks and drew me to the floor. We spun and twirled to the beat of the music. After three more songs played, the music slowed, and we eased into a steady sway. Jordan’s arms folded around me and the calm in my heart ballooned. For the first moment in years, I molded into another man’s arms. The guilt and fear that I was doing the wrong thing slipped away. It was okay. Being with someone else with Jordan was okay.
His eyes met mine, dark blue and intense. Our gaze deepened and our lips found each other. His were warm and soft as they pressed against mine. A spark ignited in my belly, gone was the fluttering. I wanted more. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
“I want to show you something at my place.” He said. Plus, you can meet my cat, Perseus.”
We strolled towards my hotel, hands laced together. It was late, quiet except for our footsteps on the cement, and the occasional car whooshing by. The alcohol buzz affected me and I leaned into his muscular shoulder. I liked the way he made me feel, safe and warm.
Jordan led me to the hotel building next to the Willard. His eyes smoldered, focused on me. He cupped my face, his heated lips pressing against mine, intense and searching. I needed him. My body burned, craving his touch. The elevator dinged, but our kissing continued, the urgency growing. I yearned for his connection to fill the void I let grow in me.
“Katie,” His mouth, nibbling on my ear. “This is my place.”
I twisted, the elevator opened up to a vast industrial loft. Breathless, I tried to see inside, but the only thing visible were floor to ceiling windows with gorgeous, sparkling views of the surrounding city. Jordan turned on the lights, which illuminated the greatness of the apartment.
“Wow, Jordan… this place is amazing.”
He pulled me into the loft. An open living space faced the windows and near us, paintings of all sizes lined the walls. There had to be hundreds of canvases. I meandered toward the art, but he took my hand and guided me towards the kitchen area on the other side of the loft. Jordan opened the fridge, pulled out a large bottle, and poured two glasses of water.
“To hydration.” He lifted his glass to mine, and we clinked. I turned to catch a glimpse of the city view. I walked to the window, sipping my water and absorbing the beauty of the city I loved. I pressed my hand to the window as if I could touch the Supreme Courthouse behind the Capitol, feel the thrill of winning a case. It was so small from here, yet, when I stood on the steps, I felt tiny. In Jordan’s loft I felt I could win any challenge.
Jordan’s arm slid around my waist, his body pressed behind me, he kissed my neck. Warm ripples of pleasure flooded my nerve endings and I sighed, enjoying my decision to come here, to go out with Jordan.
“Come sit down with me, the view’s good from the couch too.” His deep voice rumbled in his chest, reverberating in my back. His fingers laced into mine, leading me to the plush couch behind us. I tingled, anticipating more kissing, more touching that I hungered for. We sat on the comfy couch, Jordan traced my cheek and a bright orange cat jumped into my lap.
“No, Perseus.” Jordan pulled the large cat off my lap and put him on the floor. He studied me, a smile growing on his face.
“Perseus reminded me, I want you to see what I’ve painted.”
I narrowed my eyes and took his hand. This meant no kissing, no touching. Couldn’t the paintings wait? It’d been a while since there had been kissing in my life, I was afraid if I sobered up, took time to think and analyze this, I might run. His firm hand in mine assured me we’d have sex. Tonight.
He walked us back to the elevator-studio area and dropped my hand. He pointed to a stack of canvases against the wall. “I started this series two years ago. You inspired me. That day in the bar, when we met for the first time.” He didn’t have to explain, I remembered that day. I was a coward. He asked me out. An innocent ask, not marriage or sex. He just offered soup to make me feel better. From that day forward, he hadn’t asked again, but our friendship was comfortable from a distance. The way all my friendships were.
He pulled out two paintings. One was of Perseus, bright purple, and if cats can have a smile, this one did. The other painting was of me. Both pieces used bright colors like the other pictures at Samuel’s restaurant, but the one of me he captured on a good day. I looked happy, my face relaxed. My eyes had an unusual sparkle to them.
“I inspired you to paint your cat?”
His lips turned up in a sexy smile, and he shook his head. “I was stuck.”
He gazed at me, searching for my understanding. I appreciated what being stuck was. Not professionally, but personally.