He picks me up from the airport, then there’s a train trip, then a drive.
When we get to his house, he shows me to my bedroom.
It’s the master.
He will take a smaller bedroom while I am here.
“I want you to be comfortable.” he says as he puts my bag down.
The room is pristine, as is the ensuite.
I thank him.
We are in the kitchen.
He is making a favourite childhood snack of mine: Rempeyek.
I had asked my dad to make it for me for Christmas.
“No,” he’d said, “Too hard.”
I’d whined to sunshine about it and he quietly went off and found recipes.
We shopped for the ingredients together.
He made it under my direction, I knew what it should look and taste like, both of us in the kitchen, an easy rapport.
“No it should be thinner.”
“That’s a LOT of peanuts!”
“I know, it’ll be fine.”
“No no, you have to put it down the side. More salt.”
It wasn’t like my childhood, but it was close. And it was sweeter.
We are in the living room.
There is champagne.
We dance, Ceroc. He’s been taking lessons, I’ve never done it. He is skeptical that I can follow, an arched eyebrow, a tilt of his head.
“You hold my hands like this.” He shows me.
“Just a one-two step.” He eyes me up again. “You have to follow,” he says it again, for emphasis.
I make a silly face at him.
I follow. He is surprised. He is a good lead.
We move well together.
We laugh when I fail at something only marginally tricky.
We are at the supermarket.
I smile at him as we enter.
“Look how domestic!”
He laughs, “Yeah, I know.”
We pick things off shelves, utterly ordinary.
I mention a dessert we’d talked about.
His eyes light up. “We must have that!!” He is fairly bouncing on his toes.
I scowl at him. We are supposed to be eating well while I am here.
He makes me laugh, I relent.
A soft touch.
We are heading out into the hot sun.
“I have water. And some snacks.”
“OMG you’re such a DAD!”
He laughs. “I know. But SNACKS!”
“Yeah, fair call.”
We are walking along a clifftop track, views over the sea.
It’s hot, he reaches for my hand.
He wants to entwine fingers, I am slightly irritated, sweaty.
“No, it’s too hot.” I pull my hand back.
A small flinch.
I hold him by one of his fingers.
His look of rejection clears, he is okay with this.
We climb the path to a lookout.
We are going to a sex shop. His first ever.
A drive, a waterside walk, a ferry across the stunning harbour, a long stroll in the city. It’s a beautiful day.
We detour into a photographic exhibition at the public library. It was on the way you see.
Correction. We visit six sex shops. So his first ever, then his second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth *laugh*.
Some of them are literally just shopfronts for whatever sex is going on in the back rooms, like the old days of seedy hookups and peep shows. Did you know they are still a thing? They are, here.
By the fifth or sixth he is blasé, relaxed.
We stop at the end for a glass of champagne and a burger before we make the trek home.
A full day’s outing.
We are playing, lightly.
He is a newbie and I am cautious with him.
He is an emotional sort and he wants to run headlong into that wall, my wall. All the walls. They are made of brick and stone. Not smooth ones either. Jagged ones with pointy edges.
I hold him back, carnage at the foot of my castle is not something I want. We have talked about all the things, but feelings will have their way regardleless.
His openness hurts my heart a little. He is emotionally brave. My favourite.
We are back in our respective homes.
I message him. “Good morning sunshine :)”.
“Good morning, Ma’am :))”
He is often happy, cheerful, or he makes it up just for me.
We stay in contact during the day. Sharing those small things that make up a life.
He misses me he says sometimes. I am very missable you know.
Sometimes I miss him also, I feel his absence in small ways. Those are the ways that count.
We are talking, he has been away, camping.
We talk some more, and again, about the show stoppers. He wants to find a way around them. Bar time travel, forward or backwards, there isn’t one.
He asks me later if it’s okay if he reactivates his dating profiles. There is a resignation in it.
“Yes, of course. You should.”
Then he undoes it shortly afterwards.
He doesn’t have the appetite for it right now. He doesn’t think other women like me exist. They do though. Not exactly like me, of course not, that would be odd. But fabulous dominant women are out there. Different and amazing in ways I am not. As big as my ego is, I know that’s true. Of course.
Still, I understand. I don’t have the taste for it either really.
What we are sharing is sweet and valuable and worthwhile.
“I’d be delighted to see you again.” It sounds so formal when I put it down like that. It’s not though.
He will arrange a time, and flights, perhaps, when his schedule allows it. So we will see.
It is what it is, and even without a ‘happy ever after’, there is plenty of joy to be found in it.