Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for mature content.
I am sitting cross legged in lingerie on the bathroom floor, feeling the cold tile against my backside. Key West unfurls, in all its Technicolor tropic splendor, somewhere beyond this lavish hotel suite but I do not notice. I am panicking.
The faucet is running and there’s tooth paste on the counter top. The entire space is littered with lacy silky things, and little cosmetic bottles, and a nice splatter of shaving gel across the walls, courtesy of my latest frustrated outburst.
I started out simply washing off my makeup, brushing my teeth, and spritzing perfume into the air and walking through the mist, like they do in old movies, but then it occurred to me that shaving my legs might be a good idea. That’s when I noticed the lingering skunky plane smell that clung to my skin, and I decided to just take a shower. Here, I could not for the life of me uncap my new bottle of shaving gel, which consequently, I sort of threw across the bathroom.
“Mav?” calls Jake, outside the door.
I step out of the tub and yank on the first piece of fabric I can find. Then I slink to the floor.
I am what they call a god damn mess.
But this was my idea, I argue with myself. I designed this elaborate four day getaway, with reservations, dinner plans, and a $215 splurge on embarrassing lingerie. This trip was going to be sunny, and sultry, and rich, and romantic…
Which is why a 6”5’ guy with abs is sitting half naked on a California king bed just beyond the bathroom door, waiting for me.
But perhaps I should back up a bit.
Eight months ago, Jake and I met at a book store near College Park in Maryland. When he isn’t traveling the country playing basketball, and I’m not at school, we are one of those grossly infatuated couples that make all life in close proximity want to vomit. We are avid public make-outers, expert cuddlers, and being that I’m nearly two feet shorter than he is, Jake loves to carry me around everywhere, like some over-pampered Pomeranian. We are disgusting. But sex… that is, as of yet, uncharted territory for us.
For the first couple months, he was a gentle flattering suitor, asking lightly if I would like to, perhaps, come up to his apartment and enjoy a glass or four of Merlot. He even took me to a private beach, with miles and miles of endlessly vacant surf, and thought it would be a swell idea to go for a swim. No bathing suit? No problem. Just strip, he suggested. He even demonstrated for me.
After a while, all of this just… stopped. Despite constantly rebuffing every one of his gentlemanly advances, I didn’t know what to make of his sudden white flag. My feelings may have even been a little hurt.
“Of course I want you,” Jake said when we talked about it, around month seven. “But I’m not going to throw a pillow over your face and rape you.”
And I appreciated that. But here’s the problem.
I’m 21. And I’m a virgin.
This whole v-card business wasn’t necessarily a saving myself thing. It wasn’t moral and it certainly wasn’t religious. Something about being touched inspired cat-like reflexes in me. I would hunch up my back, spike up my fur, and retreat to some hidden corner to contemplate my stupid nature. Jake was sort of a brand new beautiful dream to me. He was a sleek racy Lamborghini and I was afraid to take it for a test drive because I was terrified that I would wreck it. And surely I would, since I had about as much time behind the wheel as your gawkish pre-pubescent cousin.
Somewhere in the midst of this anxiety, though, I realized that this was the one. I spent seven months holding out on this guy and he still wanted me, and, moreover, he was still with me. I mean, holding out like this was probably just as cruel as throwing a crack junkie or a fish into the remotest deserts of Africa.
I decided, a couple weeks ago, that it was time to get over my fear and prove my love for this big wonderful person. Also, he’s kind of gorgeous, and sweet, and ripped, and thus, my idea for this trip came to be.
So it’s like some sort of joke to find myself rocking back and forth half naked on this cold bathroom floor, since I’m the one who planned all of this.
Before I know it, I am on my feet. And rushing for the door.
“Are you okay?” Jake calls from the bed. I briefly notice that he stands up, one long pale silhouette in the dim lamp light.
“No! I’m okay! Just stay there!” I throw at him. “I forgot something!”
“I’ll be back!”
And then I’m out the door. It’s only when I reach the street that I realize I’m barefoot, wrapped in only a black silk robe.
It is spring break, so Duval Street is an intoxicated mess of sweaty bodies, heady club beats, and headlights. It looks worse than an overgrown neon jungle to me, as my heart pounds in my chest. I make my way through the jaunty crowd, pushed and tugged roughly on the sidewalk, and somewhere around Sloppy Joes, someone’s hand pinches my left buttock. I take off in a sprint and don’t look back until I recognize absolutely nothing that surrounds me.
I must look pretty awful because a guy selling tacos out of a metal box on wheels takes pity on me. With a tsk tsk expression, he hands me one with chorizo. I thank him quietly.
People stare as I chew my sausage and onions on the curb. Somehow, I don’t feel any better.
Once I’ve finished my food, I begin to walk in some random direction, passing three very packed ice cream shops, two art galleries, and some little cottages. It’s not long before I find myself upon a long wooden pier above the shimmering night ocean.
It is quiet here. I sit on the edge of the pier and tuck my chin into my folded knees.
What am I doing? What is wrong with me? There is a man lying in bed twenty two miles away who is probably wondering what the hell happened, and if I’m okay since it looks like I just ditched him.
I look up, wiping my snotty nose on my hand, and locate the moon. It is hiding halfway behind a grey pouf of cloud in the sky. I ask it what I should do. It doesn’t answer.
Some time passes, maybe five minutes, maybe five hours, and in this time I do not stop berating myself, since I’m fairly certain that I do not deserve to lick the Adidas kicks of this man, who clearly loves me.
And then something happens. I think it’s called an epiphany.
The guy loves me. And he while he isn’t the first to say it, he is the first about whom I have felt the same way. And if I’m enough for him, why can’t I be enough for myself?
All at once I understand that in order to be whole for somebody else, you have to be whole for yourself. You must first make peace with what you have, and your mistakes, both past and future. Mistakes will be made, it is guaranteed. But mistakes don’t make somebody fall out of love. And they don’t define you unless you let them.
It’s sex, I reason with myself. Use a condom, don’t draw any blood, try not to rip the sheets, and that’s that.
The image of him unclothed stretched out upon of the hotel sheets enters my mind, the image of what I had left behind. My heart flutters like small wings in my ribcage.
And I know that I’m ready.
I start running, across the pier and down the sidewalk. Within fifteen minutes I pass through the heady clogged street before Sloppy Joes. It looks a lot less intimidating now. I push my way through the crowd, possibly too eagerly, and I am very near the hotel, dashing past a CVS, when I hear my name.
I freeze on the night street.
Jake is standing in the doorway of the pharmacy, towering above those of average height that hang on the sidewalk around him. He crosses the distance between us in five long strides.
“I thought you’d be in the drug store,” he explains, clutching my shoulders and looking concerned. “Are you alright?”
Words fail me. He is admirably shirtless under the yellow lamp light.
“I wasn’t sure if it was something I said or if you were hurt, or what, but you left without your phone and I didn’t know what to do but if you really had forgotten something, I figured this would be the first place-- ” He stops.
And for good reason. I cut him off rather rudely in midsentence with the most concentrated and fervent kiss that I have in me, gripping whatever part of him I can reach, his shoulders, his jaw line, the plane of his chest...
I don’t think he minds much.
The exact length of time we spend there in the street is unknown to me, as I am slightly preoccupied, but at some point Jake scoops me up in his arms (which does little to hinder my lips) and he stumbles back to the hotel. In retrospect, it is something of a miracle that we ended up back in our room. I have no idea how he could see.
The next thing I remember is his arms, slipping gently out from under me as he places me on the bed.
He sits by my hips, takes my face in his hands, and gently presses his lips to my forehead.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” he whispers, looking me dead in the eye. It makes me feel quite naked, though I still have the robe on.
I nod slowly, heart hammering away.
“I’m okay with waiting, Mav,” he tells me. “You’re not going to feel rushed on my watch.”
“I don’t,” I breathe, more sure about tonight than anything that ever came before.
A corner of my mouth curls up a little, and he smiles into my neck.
I sigh across his bare chest, and tell him I’m ready.
He removes my black silk robe. My hands find his linen pants.
And that’s that.