Still, I promised I wasn’t going to let this mess us up, and I meant it.
I need to keep things light, to do my part in preventing a postcoital freak-out.
I think about texting Rachel for advice, or just to have someone to squeal with, but the truth is, I don’t want to tell anyone about this. I want it to be something only between Alex and me, like so much of the world is when we’re together. I toss my phone back onto the bed, grab a pen from my purse, and add to the bottom of Alex’s note, At pool—meet me there?
When he shows up, he’s still dressed in his running clothes and carrying a small brown bag and a paper coffee cup, and the sight of all this combined makes me feel tingly and eager.
“Cinnamon roll,” he says, passing me the bag, then the cup. “Latte. And the Aspire’s out in the lot with its flashy new tire.”
I wave my coffee cup in a vague circle in front of him. “Angel. How much was the tire?”
“Don’t remember,” he says. “I’m gonna go shower.”
“Before you . . . come sweat by the pool?”
“Before I come sit in that pool for the entire day.”
It’s not much of an exaggeration. We lounge to our hearts’ content. We relax. We alternate between sun and shade. We order drinks and nachos from the poolside bar and reapply sunblock every hour, and still make it back to the room with plenty of time to get ready for David’s bachelor party. He and Tham decided to do separate ones (though both are coed), and Alex jokes that David chose this plan to force a popularity contest.
“No one is more popular than your brother,” I say.
“You haven’t met Tham yet,” he says, then walks into the bathroom and starts the water.
“Are you seriously showering again?”
“Rinsing,” he says.
“Remember in elementary school how kids used to stand behind you in line for the water fountain and say ‘Save some for the whales’?”
“Yes,” he says.
“Well, save some for the whales, buddy!”
“You have to be nice to me,” he says. “I brought you a cinnamon roll.”
“Buttery and warm and perfect,” I say, and he blushes as he shuts the bathroom door.
I really have no idea what’s going on. For example: why didn’t we just stay in the room and make out all day?
I slip into a seventies lime-green halter jumpsuit and start working on my hair at the mirror outside the bathroom, and a few minutes later, Alex emerges already dressed and almost ready to go.
“How long do you need?” he asks, looking over my shoulder to meet my eyes in the mirror, his wet hair sticking up in every direction.
I shrug. “Just long enough to spray myself with adhesive and roll in a vat of glitter.”
“So ten minutes?” he guesses.
I nod, set my curling wand down. “Are you sure you want me to come?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because it’s your brother’s bachelor party,” I say.
“And you haven’t seen him in months, and maybe you don’t want me tagging along.”
“You’re not tagging along,” he says. “You’re invited. Also there will probably be male strippers and I know how you love a man in uniform.”
“I was invited by David,” I say. “If you wanted alone time with him . . .”
“There are, like, fifty people coming tonight,” he says. “I’ll be lucky if I make eye contact with David.”
“But your other brothers will be there too, right?”
“They’re not coming,” he says. “They’re not even flying out until tomorrow.”
“Okay, but what about all the hot desert broads?” I say.
“Hot desert broads,” he repeats.
“You’re going to be the straight-man belle of the ball.”
His head tilts. “So you want me to go make out with some hot desert broads.”
“Not particularly, but I figure you should know that you still have that option. I mean, just because we . . .”
His brow crinkles. “What are you doing, Poppy?”
I absently touch my hair. “I was trying for a beehive, but I think I’m going to have to settle for a bouffant.”
“No, I mean . . .” He trails off. “Do you regret last night?”
“No!” I say, my face going red-hot. “Do you?”
“Not at all,” he says.
I turn to face him head-on instead of through the mirror. “Are you sure? Because you’ve barely looked at me today.”
He laughs, touches my waist. “Because looking at you makes me think about last night, and call me old-fashioned, but I didn’t want to lie by the hotel pool with a raging hard-on all day.”
“Really?” You’d think he just recited a love poem to me by the sound of my voice.
He presses me back onto the edge of the sink as he kisses me once, slow and heavy, his hands circling my neck to find the clasp of the jumpsuit’s halter. It falls loose, and I arch back as he slides the fabric down to my waist. He cups my jaw and draws my mouth back to his, and I wrap my legs around him as our kisses deepen, his free hand moving down my bare chest.
“Do you remember when I was sick?” I whisper against his ear.
His hips grind against mine, and his voice comes out low and husky: “Of course.”
“I wanted you so badly that night,” I admit, untucking his shirt.
“That whole week,” he says, “I kept waking up on the verge of coming. If you hadn’t been sick . . .”