Before I could breathe a word, Dom was being pulled away by someone with a clipboard – Tanya, if I recalled correctly.
And I was left standing there on my own.
It took a moment, but I gathered my wits and walked where my legs led me.
I was seated at the bar now, slightly set apart from the rest of the world.
It was a little chilly in that place and I wished for a jacket.
And my head was throbbing – pounding.
Why was I stressing?
Because this was Hilda.
Hilda who hated me and would not stop –
I thought I understood, I thought I was over it.
I thought I got that they were friends, but I didn’t get it.
And I was not jealous.
I was not jealous –
“And how may I serve you?”
I looked up at the bartender.
“Virgin Mojito,” I told him.
He began mixing it.
“Virgin? Are you here alone?”
“What would make you think that?” I asked.
“Virgin means you need a clear head, which means that you might be driving yourself home and that could only mean that you are here alone,” he said. But then he paused, seemingly for dramatic effect. “Unless you have a drinking problem.”
I smiled at his effort.
“I do not,” I told him. “But I also do not drive. I like the Mojito Virgin because it tastes sweeter than the original.”
“Aaaah,” he said. “You have a sweet tooth.”
I laughed at that. “That I do.”
He put the lime on the rim of the glass and pushed the glass to me.
“And are you? Here alone?”
I was about to speak when his expression changed and I glanced over my shoulder at what he was looking at.
Hands in his pockets.
Quiet and serious.
I looked back at the bartender.
“No,” I said quietly. “I am not alone.”
I pulled out my debit card, ready to pay for my drink but the bartender declined it with a plastic polite smile on his face. “It’s handled,” he said. “Enjoy your evening, ma’am.”
I watched him walk away, my hand hanging mid-air with the card in it.
And then after a moment, I put the card away and I sipped my drink.
Dom sat beside me, quietly watching me as I finished my drink.
And I took my sweet ever-loving time.
I did not pretend that he wasn’t there because that could not be done, even when he wasn’t physically there.
I looked at him when I had to because my eyes burned when I didn’t.
I needed to know that he was there because I wasn’t lying when I said it the first time – I didn’t want to miss a thing. Even in my displeasure, I didn’t want him to go.
He took my hand and I flinched at the electricity that zapped through me.
He felt along my arm and I realized that the hairs on my skin were standing on end now from the chill in the air.
He took off his jacket and placed it over my shoulders.
The material was heavy with his scent.
And it felt like a gentle caress against my skin, highly sensitized now that he was here.
He didn’t let go, drawing concentric circles on the back of my hand.
The drink tasted even better than it did a minute ago.
And now it was finished.
That was the last sip.
I sucked on my lower lip, looking away from him, trying to find what remained of that delicious drink. But there was nothing left.
He rose to his feet.
“Let’s go,” he said.
We wished his people a goodnight and once again, I was afforded a warm familial exchange with yet another Tyree.
“I would have loved to have met you properly,” said the woman who I knew must be the Tyree Matriarch. “My name is Mary.”
“Dilia,” I said, smiling. I couldn’t help it – she was the kind of woman that you smiled at.
“And I hear you’re a Nurse?”
“Almost,” I said. “God willing. One more year.”
“Fantastic,” she said. “Congratulations in advance!”
I laughed at that, it was too sweet.
“I will most definitely be seeing you soon,” she said.
Once again, I was flustered by the insinuations and the assumptions that I was picking up from all these people.
First Aiden, last year in the elevator.
Then Liam and Mary tonight.
The drive over to his place was quiet.
I could have told him to drop me off at my place, but I didn’t.
Before long, we were inside his penthouse.
He was in the kitchen washing out the mugs where we had coffee and hot chocolate respectively.
I stood barefoot in the lounge, my hair down, gazing off into the night.
It was past eleven and far too late to return to my place.
I didn’t care.
No more wondering if what I was doing was wrong.
I was just going to do whatever.
Because this was us and we were our own story –
I sucked in my air when his arms came around me.
He pressed my body flush against his and I just wanted to melt into him right then!
And I felt it, the sting at the base of my scalp where he gently fisted my hair, tilting my head to the side so my throat was exposed. My eyes dropped closed and I shivered violently as he blew gently against my throat. I reached behind me, grabbing at anything I could just to keep him close to me.
This was bad, this was very bad –
I let go of him and he let go of me, stepping back.
I pressed my forehead to the cold, glass window, feeling like I was spinning wildly.
My skin was hot, my body was shaking, I just wanted to lift my dress and ask him to –
He was on me again, his head low and resting on my shoulder.
We stayed like that, quiet and breathing and aching for each other.
“I’m sorry –” I began, but he cut me off.
“I came on to you –”
“This is hard!”
I burst out laughing at what I knew he meant, reaching behind me. My hand connected with the nape of his neck and it was like reason flew right out of the window for both of us again.
He seemed to tremble against me and before I understood what was happening, he had my hands pinned to the cold glass in one firm grip and there was no distance at all between us.
He dropped long, hot kisses along my neck, burrowing his face into my hair.
His breathing was as heavy and erratic as mine and the pulse that beat through my body grew even stronger, harder, just knowing that he wanted me as much as I wanted him.
“Dammit..!” I breathed.
On shaky legs, I stumbled away from him.
He said something in Irish, a term that I had heard him use before when he was frustrated and I sighed heavily, picking up my clutch from the sofa and my shoes from the carpet.
Maybe it was best that we both got to our separate bedrooms and slept it off.
I looked back at him from the archway of the lounge.
His eyes flared at me – and then suddenly we were both laughing.
But then we both sobered up just as suddenly.
And for the first time, I actually thought about it – I considered it.
I thought about asking him to make love to me. There was no intent and this was not about how aroused he made me or how curious I was. I wanted to be one with him.
I felt these strong and intense feelings for him and they were manifesting themselves physically. When I was angry at him, I was furious.
He made me sadder than anyone else in this world.
When I missed him, it was with a longing that was close to despair.
And when I was happy, I was ecstatic.
“What are you doing to me?” he asked me between breaths. The words came out rushed, like he was struggling to speak them.
I shook my head, my heart shaking in my very chest.
“I love you, Dom,” I told him. “And it scares the shit out of me.”
He frowned, looking at me, determination in his eyes.
“You don’t have to go,” he said. “I won’t touch you, I promise.”
I laughed, the sound hollow, nothing joyful about it.
In fact, I was angry.
“It’s adorable how you think that the threat of temptation will be eliminated just by keeping yourself physically apart from me,” I said, the words coming out harsh. His eyes never left mine, narrowing in his face as he clamped his mouth shut.
“I’d think that having experienced what you’ve experienced, you’d see that a girl can burn just as hot as a guy just by looking at him.”
I watched him still, just for a second, as he gasped in silence.
“I wasn’t – activated like some wind-up doll that you should have to press ‘stop’ when you realize I’m going too far,” I said.
He was quiet for a long moment. “I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel that way,” he said. But then his expression changed. “Is this about Hilda? I’m sorry –”
“No,” I said, stepping forward. “This is not about her. What she decided to do with you is between the two of you. I don’t fucking care and it’s none of my business.”
I shook my head, looking around me for the right words.
“Tonight would be the worst night to spend here,” I said. “Just knowing you were in the other room… As if you are the only one who wants to feel your bare hands on my naked body with nothing between us but skin and sweat –”
“I love you, Dominick,” I snapped. “And that’s what makes it even more difficult to remember why I made the decisions I did and you just do all these things to me and – I can’t do anything for you –”
“Fuck, Dilia!” he cried in exasperation. “You give me everything just by being here, don’t you see that?”
He closed the distance between us and cupped my face. “I want you more than I want any of it.”
I stared at him, feeling the steam just running out of me.
Maybe seeing Hilda tonight had brought it all back. I had thought for the longest time that Dom had been the one to take her virginity – that she had done it in a bid to make him stay – but now, I was standing where she stood. I was feeling what she felt and I realized that it was easy to get swept away in all the wonder and the craving to make the burning stop.
I knew that I was at risk of doing just that and it had precious little to do with Dom.
I had pretty much grown up in a world where it was common knowledge that men were the sexual beings and women couldn’t have the flings. The thought process was that the kind of woman who went after a man, did so having been damaged somehow in her past.
Everybody thought that the bad girl was bad because a bad boy had done her wrong.
But why was she called a bad girl to begin with?
What if she was just another kind of personality in the vast world of people? What if she was the way she was because she was designed that way?
I had nobody to blame for the way that I was or for the things that I wanted.
I had not been violated as a child; I had not been exposed to any kind of elicit behaviour by my peers or through the media. I just wanted what I wanted and had been fearful of staying faithful to that because I feared what the world would think of me.
I was a passionate and sexual being who lived with the apparent misfortune of being born female.
For years, I’d thought it was a deviance to look at a man and howl like a wolf inside my own mind for his beauty – because women didn’t run with wolves, did they?
But no more.
I shook my head slowly, tearing my gaze from his.
“I want you just as much as you want me,” I said. “Maybe even a little more. I’d be stupid to stay here…”
He tucked his finger under my chin and lifted my face to his, looking into my eyes.
“Then this is our vow now, not just yours,” he says. “I know I made this promise before, but I want to make it official and I want Him to hear it.”
My eyes went wide in my face.
I was shocked.
“Thank you for being honest with me. I meant it when I said that I want us to be able to talk about this. I will protect that Covenant, Dilia. If ever you feel that I have gone against this promise in any way, you must promise me that you will tell me so that I can try and make it right. I know it won’t be easy for either of us but Dilia, I vow to keep this relationship as sacred as it was intended from the first days…”
Before I could even understand what the fuck was happening, tears sprung from my eyes at his tender words and when the alarm reached his features, I ended up laughing.
Why was I joyous at his words?
He had made this promise before –
But then I realized that I had never doubted his truth, just my own.
“I love you too,” I whispered.
I rose up on my toes and kissed him.