“You hungry?” Penny began to fill an empty bowl with vegetable soup, crumbling cornbread over the top.
“Not really, Penny. I’m sorry.” I touched my stomach and poked out my bottom lip.
“Well it heats up well. Maybe you’ll be hungry after while.” She set down the bowl with a clink, and looked over at Junior. “Junior liked it, didn’t you?”
“I did.” He smiled politely. “You feeling okay?”
“I think so.” I said, trying not to feel embarrassed about the scene that he had rescued me from that morning.
“Want to go walk on the beach?” Again I got lost in his eyes and realized how lucky I was that he had chosen me. It wasn’t like I expected him to propose or anything, I didn’t know what to expect! This was brand new and even with the pain of Father’s letter, I could still feel the tickle of my first love bubbling to the surface.
We headed out into the cool sand, the sun’s warmth now a distant memory. I pulled my damp hair into a ponytail and Junior tugged on the end of it with a boyish smirk on his face. “Thank you for helping me today.”
“I’m just glad I didn’t take the short cut. Otherwise I wouldn’t have seen you at all.” Junior seemed to cringe at the thought of me being left alone screaming in the street. “I’ll head over there in the morning and pick up my surfboard.”
“Oh! I’m sorry you had to leave it. I have never fallen apart like that before, I promise.” I shivered against the breeze and tried to push away the nagging thoughts of Father’s innocence that were whispering in the back of my mind.
“Did it have to do with your Mama’s death?” He tried to make some sense of it all.
“In a way…” I wondered how much I could share. “I don’t really know where to start and can’t imagine starting tonight.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want you to. You’ve had a long day!” Junior led me over to sit down in the sand. “You cold?”
“A little.” I nodded. Junior pulled me closer and I sank willingly into his embrace.
“I feel like I’ve known you forever, Addy.” I understood exactly what he meant, I felt like I had known him forever too. “You’re an amazing woman.”
“You’re an amazing man.” I was thankful for Junior. I tilted my head up to look at him and was met with my very first kiss. It felt nothing like I expected it to. His lips were soft. His breath was warm. His taste was sweet. My body came alive with new feelings and sensations that I had never experienced. We both hesitated for a split second, just long enough to make me long for more. I felt his tongue against mine and knew that Junior had been worth the wait. He had come into my life at exactly the right moment for a reason. I needed him. I needed this. I finally, after years of kissing the air and spying on Anna’s steamy make out sessions, was experiencing the most amazing tenderness and dampness that I had ever felt.
“I’m sorry.” Junior whispered into my hair.
“Sorry for what?” I was still numb from the tingling that was making its way from head to toe.
“I shouldn’t have done that, not after the kind of day you’ve had.” He looked away, shook his head, and sighed.
I took his face in my hands and kissed him again. He had nothing to be sorry about! He had just introduced me to something that had been a stranger for far too long.
Junior and I crawled into my bed together. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and knew that he would be a gentleman. “Junior, tell me about your Mama.” I wanted to hear about a normal Mother.
“She was wonderful. I miss her every single day.” He was lazily stroaking my arm and the darkness of the room crept in around us as he spoke. “I had a huge crush on her when I was little. I wanted to marry her and knew that no other girl would do.”
I laughed, remembering how badly I had wanted to marry Father. “I wanted to marry my Father!”
“I guess every kid wants to marry the person that they look up to the most. She read me stories every night, even when I was old enough to read. Every night we read a new chapter.” I could hear the smile in his voice as he remembered.
“What did she look like?”
“She had golden blonde hair, big brown eyes, rosey red cheeks, and a smile that you couldn’t help but smile back at.” I painted a picture of his Mama in my mind, she was beautiful. “She laughed a lot.”
“How, what happened?” I wasn’t sure that I should ask, but needed to.
“She had a car accident.” Silence spoke louder than any words that he could say. I couldn’t imagine losing my Mother at twelve years old. I couldn’t imagine the pain that he had to endure. I couldn’t help but cry. “Don’t cry, it was a long time ago.”
“Kiss me again, Junior.” I needed to feel the longing that he had for me.
After what seemed like a million years, he did as he was told. The salt of my tears mingled into the wet sweet bliss. My hands ran through his dark curly hair, my body pressed against his, and my inhibitions disappeared. I took his hand and led it to the parts of my body that longed to be touched. I wasn’t thinking anymore, just feeling and experiencing. His hand stopped short of very spot that craved it, he stopped kissing me, and shook his head. “No, I can’t.”
“Why?” I didn’t understand. I had waited twenty eight years for this.
“It’s not right. If you want me to stay the night I will, but let’s just talk, okay?” Junior’s hands were as far from me as they could get.
“Okay.” I nodded, realizing that I had no self-control and had no defenses against the new sensations that were overwhelming my body. Junior was older and wiser. He knew that no one should have their first kiss and their first time in the same night. Eventually my breathing slowed, my embarrassment disappeared, and we talked until the sun made its big debut. Talking to Junior about everything and nothing protected me from the feelings and emotions that were bobbing right below the surface. Thankfully, I was able to prolong the inevitable for just a little while longer. I kept the pain at bay just long enough to fall in love.