Or hide it indefinitely. Davis tells me every chance he gets that I’m in over my head in New York, that I should move home and do something with my degree. With my life. My parents always admonish him, and remind him that I am essentially the baby in the family and haven’t quite found my place in the world yet.
I don’t think marrying a stranger is exactly how they meant for me to find it.
The other bit of awareness is that if Calvin says yes . . . we’ll be married. Husband and wife. We’ll have to live together . . . proximity, nakedness, my fantasies about him expanding into something barely manageable.
Calvin scratches his jaw, runs a finger thoughtfully up and down the skin just below his ear, up and down, up and down. I feel it on my own face, like we are neurologically linked somehow. I’ve been with my share of guys, of course, but my type has always been more the nerdy, clueless-about-appearance kind of guy. I’ve never dated someone in Calvin’s stratosphere. Think me: turtleneck sweaters and sensible shoes. Think him: artfully layered shirts and jeans that he’s poured into each morning. His casual sexiness is a leaf blower to the brush fire of my nerves.
If only I’d been more sensible today. I scoot in my seat, adjusting my skirt. It’s this annoying cheap, slippery fabric, and against the vinyl bench it keeps sliding up my thighs, exposing my ass. I wore it because this morning I thought it looked cute and eccentric with mustard tights and boots, but Calvin is giving the menu exponentially more consideration than he’s giving me. I suspect my efforts were wasted.
“Spanakopita or chopped salad?” he muses.
I laugh at how our brains ended up in the same place, but mine then veered into Eating Neatly territory. Guys just . . . never do that.
“I’m getting the gnocchi,” I say.
Finally, he looks up at me and smiles. “That looks good, too.”
We put in our orders, make small talk about the weather, and tourists, and our favorite part of Possessed, until a meaningful silence falls . . . and there’s nothing else to do but dive right in.
I adjust my napkin on my lap. “I’m sure you think it’s weird that I asked you to lunch.”
“Not weird.” He shrugs. “Nice. Unexpected.”
“The music was amazing the other day. At the theater.”
It’s almost like something warms from inside him when I say this. “Thanks. I know this sounds trite, but what a bloody honor to be called in. To be offered that gig.” He pauses, dipping his straw in and out of his water distractingly. “I assume you heard why I had to turn it down.”
I nod, and for the next two breaths, he looks devastated. But then his posture loosens again, and his smile is back.
“It’s . . . sort of why I wanted to see you today,” I say. The bite of bread I’ve eaten settles into an uncomfortable glob in my stomach. “So. Calvin.”
His eyes sparkle. “So. Holland.”
Our food arrives and breaks the tension. Calvin bends, stabbing a bite of lettuce and neatly maneuvering it into his mouth. Teeth and chin: spotless. He looks up at me expectantly. “You were saying?”
I clear my throat. “Robert was so impressed by you.”
He blushes, chewing and swallowing. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. They all were.”
He bites back a smile. “That’s lovely to hear.”
“I’m thinking . . . I might have a solution.”
He stills. “A solution? Do you have an in with the border patrol, then?”
“Ramón Martín is coming on in two weeks,” I begin, and Calvin is nodding, “and has a ten-month run. I was thinking . . . that if you—if we . . .”
He continues to stare, unmoving. When I don’t finish my sentence, his eyebrows slowly rise.
I swallow a gulp of air and push the words out in a rush: “I was thinking thatwecouldgetmarried.”
Calvin sits back, surprised.
I look at the other tables, a little unsettled. Is he going to find this not just bizarre but outright immoral?
He puts down his fork. “Aye, why not. It’s only Holy Matrimony.” He tilts his head back and laughs delightedly. “Surely you’re only joking?”
Oh God. Someone flush me out of this room right now. “No, actually.”
“You,” he says quietly, “want to marry me? For this?”
“Not indefinitely, but for a year or so. I mean, until your run is up and then . . . we can do whatever we want.”
His eyebrows pull low as he works through this. “And Robert’s okay with that?”
“Um . . .” I chew my lip.
Calvin’s eyes widen. “He doesn’t know you’re asking me, does he?”
“Of course he doesn’t.” I wash down my anxiety with another gulp of water. “He’d try to stop me.”
“Yeah, I imagine he would. I imagine he’d do a lot worse to me.” He shakes his head, still wearing a dumbfounded grin. “I’ve never met anyone who loved my playing enough to want to put a ring on it.”
I scramble to salvage my self-respect here. “Robert would never ask, but I know he wants you. I saw his face while you played.” I don’t know how to say this next part without sounding pathetic, so I just go for it. “Robert has been more like a father to me than an uncle. I was raised watching him conduct, watching him compose. Music is everything to him, and the reason I have the life I do is because he takes care of me. I want to do this for him.”