That word, that complex chemical reaction, that either fulfills you or breaks your soul in two. I’ve known one in my life.
I knew the moment I heard his voice that I had no hope, it was at a bar in New York, but I don’t for the life of me remember the name of it now. That night after a few too many glasses of Moscato, I’d mustered enough liquid courage to approach him. Which bloomed in a clumsy poke on the shoulder.
He turned around with a beer in his hand.
“Hello pretty eyes…”
Immediately I was hurled back to when I had my first crush. My usual incessant chatter was silenced and I was speechless when I saw his eyes.
“Does she speak?”
When I finally caught my breath, I managed to use all the words that were left in my head.
How I was here on business
How I’d noticed him at the bar
How great he smelled
“I, I’m sorry. It’s just you’re so beautiful. I mean handsome. Oh God. Oh God. I haven’t let you get a word in edgewise.”
He put his beer down, looked at me with a smirk, and his eyes a little squinty.
“You forgot something in all that…”
I cocked my head to the side.
“Your name? My name is Liam.”
All the blood rushed to my face and then down to my toes. My fingertips were numb as I extended my hand to him,
“I’m Leah, and I’m sure ten shades of red right now. Nice to meet you.”
We spent hours after that talking. When I’d looked at my watch it was 2 am and he stood, taking my hand. Agreeing to meet for dinner the next night. Then, as he put me in the cab he’d hailed, he told me I could decide tomorrow night if I still thought he was beautiful.
All night I dreamed about him. The dreams that came were vivid, and the smell of his cologne lingered in my nostrils. I saw him in the first dream as I looked out the back window from the cab.
A cable knit sweater
Brown leather shoes
A ball cap
The right corner of his mouth turned up as he smiled
The second dream that came was us at dinner in China Town.
The streets were alive
Saturated with noise
And the sound of feet pounding the pavement.
Lanterns hung over head
Reds and yellows
In this same dream I saw his soul. Delicate and raw on a city street. As he held my hand, he turned to talk to a homeless man.
The man missing a front tooth
There Liam was holding the man’s right hand
With both of his
It was biblical
As he asked the man how he was
Handing him a ten-dollar bill
Then the dream evaporated, and I woke in the morning with a headache that was besieging every fiber of my body. For a few moments with the lights off, I stood in the bathroom in front of a full-length mirror. As I took off my bra, and before I stepped into the shower, I found a note inside my bra on a ripped napkin in my wobbly handwriting. It read,
Liam. Tomorrow. 7 pm. Dim Sum Lounge. China Town.
What had I done? I don’t know him. I don’t even have his phone number, and I don’t even know his last name. The rest of my day was spent in meetings and sucking down a cup of coffee each time I thought about him.
His almond-shaped eyes
They were brown
The corners of his mouth
And the way they turned up when he laughed
The fullness of his bottom lip
The way he rubs his beard when he has to think about something
Christ. What was wrong with me?
The day finished as quickly as it had started, and at 6:45 I found myself at the Dim Sum Lounge. Alone and waiting for him as I ordered a cocktail. At 6:55 I started sweating. At 7 I’d convinced myself he wasn’t showing and that I was doomed to a life of owning seven cats and drinking a bottle of wine nightly by myself.
I knew it
He had humored me
He wasn’t really going to show
I wasn’t his type
Red head instead of blonde
Then he walked in at 7:02 after I spent nearly 10 min convinced, I was going to be stood up. Liam put his bag down when he sat next to me, and without any words, kissed my cheek.
“I’m sorry Leah. We never exchanged numbers and I had a meeting that ran late. It won’t happen again.”
He held my chin gently and made me look at him as he spoke. My whole body tingled as he sat there looking at his menu. All the while I committed to memory every single detail of him.
A sport coat
A strong musk cologne
It was clear that he hadn’t shaved this morning and every hair on his chin made every synapses fire in my brain. It was a symbiotic sensual glory that required no effort.
It just was
I wanted him in the worst way
Still I said nothing
I studied him.
The way he rubbed the back of his neck
The way his bottom lip tensed as he read
Using his index finger to
Rub the inside corner of his eye
The fibers in the tweed sport coat he had
Scuff marks on his brown leather shoes
He smiled and asked me if I knew what I wanted. Never in my life has a man ever done what he was doing to me just by being near him. It was honestly the best thing I’d seen in my life. Under that smile was knowing, and that knowing told me he knew he already had me. I was ok with that, and I was even ok that he ordered for us because a bottle of Pinot Grigio came quickly after. I reached for him and touched his chin.
“I’m mad about you.”
Looking out of the corner of his eye as he bit his bottom lip and took a sip,