By seven, the whole apartment smells like bay leaves and roasting chicken, and the rain outside turns from a downpour into a rare, violent thunderstorm, lightning cracking in bright flashes of light outside. Alex dances as she slips books onto the shelves, and we all watch her covertly, awestruck that something so profoundly graceful could have emerged from this gene pool. Out of a moment of quiet, Liz and George announce that they’re having a baby, and the room erupts into noise and motion. Else cranks the music – and the energy whips into a frenzy of laughter and dancing.
Elliot pulls me to the side, pressing against me. I’ve never seen him make this expression before. It’s more than a smile; it’s relieved delight.
“Hey,” he says, and rests his smile on mine.
I stretch for another kiss when he pulls away. “Hey. You good?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” He looks around the room as if to say, Look at this awesome place. “We just moved in together.”
“Finally, right?” I bite my lip, feeling the urge to scream, I’m so happy.
I’ve never felt this way before.
Tonight we’re going to fall asleep together, in our apartment, in our bed. When everyone is gone, we’ll forget about the boxes we still have to unpack. He’ll follow me under the covers with that hungry tension in his eyes, his bare skin sliding over mine until we’re a breathless, sweaty tumble. We’ll fall asleep, entangled, without even realizing it.
And I’ll wake up before it’s light out, and want him again.
In the morning, he’ll be here. His clothes will be here, and his books, and his toothbrush. I’ll pour cereal while he showers. Maybe he’ll come find me in the kitchen holding a cup of coffee and I won’t know he’s there until I feel the press of his lips to the top of my head. The anticipation I feel for this everyday life of moving around him is so enormous, it fills me with a heavy, shimmering heat.
We aren’t even really dancing; we’re just swaying in place again, like we did at the wedding. But tonight, we have no secrets remaining, and no scary conversations looming. The past decade seems like a foggy blur, like we took a long road trip from one point of the earth and back again, traveling in a wide circle, destined to end up here.
Elliot’s hands slide lower on my back, his head bends close to mine. George cracks a joke about us needing to get a room. Andreas cracks back that George is the one with the knocked-up wife. And then Miss Dina is off on a tear in the kitchen about babies, and maybe more weddings, and I watch Elliot struggle to block it all out. He winces, shifting his glasses up his nose, and studies me the way he always did, as if he could read my mind one blink at a time.
Maybe he could.
“Favorite word?” he whispers.
I don’t even hesitate: “You.”