Page 54

After each person approaches, Calvin looks up, searching. I think he’s trying to find Robert; he gives his hunt a tiny flicker of attention before he looks back down to the person in front of him, thanking them, embracing them, listening to their praise. And then he looks up again.

Robert finds him, finally, and the two men embrace, clapping each other on the back. But again, when Robert pulls away, Calvin looks up and only then

only when Robert points

only when Calvin grins so wide

do I realize he’s been searching for me.

Calvin’s expression clears, and he pushes through, making his way over. The crowd parts to let him by, and I barely have time to appreciate his Officer and a Gentleman marching approach before his arms are around my waist and I’m lifted off the ground.

“We did it!”

I laugh, wrapping my arms around his shoulders. He is warm, his back is damp with sweat, and his hair tickles the side of my face. “You did it.”

Calvin murmurs, “No, no,” over and over, and then starts laughing. He smells like aftershave and sweat, and I can feel his smile against my neck.

“How was it?” he asks, voice muffled.

“Holy shit. It was . . .”

He pulls back to look at my face. “Yeah? Did you get to see me? I thought I saw you at the very end. I tried to find you.”

I am so proud, I burst into tears.

This makes him laugh even harder. “All right, all right, mo stóirín. Let’s go have some champagne.”


Rolling over, I straighten my legs and push my hair out of my face. A hammer inside my cranium bangs against my skull in protest.

Do not move, it says.

The sunlight beaming across the bed feels like it’s coming from a star just outside my window. Calvin’s groggy moan reaches me from the other side of the bed.

The other side of the bed?

I sit up, jerking the sheet across my bare chest, and my world tilts in a heaving, nauseating lurch.


I’m naked.

I’m naked? I pull the sheet away from Calvin’s facedown form . . . and . . . he is also naked.

The visual reminder is quickly chased by the more physical one: I am sore. Oh my God sore. What the hell did we do sore.

He presses his face into the pillow. “Mmmmph. I feel like I marinated in beer,” he says, words muffled. And then he twists, looking over his shoulder, staring down at his body: “Where are my clothes?”

“I don’t know.”

He looks at me, and seems to surmise that I am equally naked under the sheet. “Where are yours . . . ?”

I keep my gaze carefully diverted from his muscular backside. “I don’t know that, either.”

“I think . . . I think I’m still wearing a condom.” He rolls over and I get an eyeful of impressive morning wood before my gaze shoots skyward again, fixed on the ceiling.

He is, indeed, still wearing a condom.

With a whimper, he slowly peels it away and bends, dropping it in the trash bin near my bed. He rolls back, and the resulting silence pulls my attention over to his face.

He’s grinning. “Hi.”

I think my cheeks are going to melt under the heat of this blush. “Hi.”

Saturday morning, late February, in my bed with Calvin McLoughlin. My bed. I have located myself in time and space but I still have no recollection of how we ended up here.

He scratches just below his eye. “Don’t be surprised, okay? But I think . . .” He looks around at the mess of my bed. “I think we finally consummated the marriage last night.”

“This theory is supported by the obnoxious hickey on your shoulder.”

He turns his head to check for himself, and looks back at me, impressed. “Do you remember . . . anything?” he asks, squinting at me through one eye.

Inhaling deeply, I think back.

Champagne at the theater.

He crossed the room, and everything inside me turned into tiny golden bubbles.

Dinner with about fifteen others.

Wine. Lots and lots of wine.

“Dancing?” I ask.

He hesitates. “Yeah.”

More drinks and the deep pulsing of music.

Being tugged onto the dance floor. Calvin pulling me right up against him, his hands bracketing my hips, his thigh sliding between my legs. His mouth just below my ear, saying, I can feel the heat of you. Is it the drink, or is it me?

And then: watching him trip toward the bar and calling after him, No more shots!

The smile on his face when he returned, handing me a shot anyway. His gleeful Just one more! This is called a Cowboy Cocksucker!

More dancing. More of his hands on my hips, and my ass, and snaking up my waist, flirting with the sides of my breasts.

I remember sliding my hand up beneath his shirt, feeling the heat of his stomach on my palm. And I remember how our eyes met.

He said, I want to take you to bed.

A stumbling walk home at three in the morning.

I glance toward the doorway to my bedroom, finding my discarded dress there. It’s muddy, and that triggers another image. “I fell.”

“Right.” He reaches for my comforter, which has slipped onto the floor, and pulls it over his lower half, sparing me the effort it’s taking to keep not looking. “Apparently I failed to save you.”

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