Hands

The scent of our greasy food in the car made my stomach rumble. I hadn’t eaten much that morning--and we were headed well into the end of the day now. Kayla, once again, insisting on buying.

I still didn’t have any idea who she was--or why or how she’d found me. Fragments of whatever explanations she was willing to give me, but nothing concrete. There was no question in my mind that some supernatural element was present. Kayla, evasive as she was about the details, had essentially admitted it. Not to mention what I'd already seen.

“Do you just...know everything people are thinking?” I asked her. She snickered and shook her head.

“No. No way. That would be a little overwhelming. It’s pretty limited in terms of who, though I don’t mind telling you that you’re probably one of the cleanest reads I’ve ever had.” That made me wonder how many people she did this with. “But, then, I don’t exactly--” She seemed to rethink what she was about to say. “Our physical connection, I think, has made things clearer than usual--and, uh, that’s…” She laughed, “That’s not really something that’s ever happened to me before.”

“You mean you don’t make out with everyone you save?” I ask her. She gave me a look that I was hoping was playful anger, and my seatbelt suddenly tightened on me.

“Are you goading me, or is this another way to feel sorry for yourself?” She asked. The belt snapped back to a normal tension, and I was sorry for asking a question like that. “This is weird for me, Wes...because I like you.” She shook her head. “I dunno if that’s against the rules, or whatever...like, I care about everyone that I’m brought to, you know, but I--I haven’t ever been in this situation before.”

“I was goading you a little--and I’m sorry,” I smile at her, putting my hand on her thigh. “How long have you been...doing this?” She looks over at me, narrowing her eyes a little. She asked a question. Even if it was rhetorical, I answered it. Game on.

“Since about...the Christmas before last,” She said. “It’s still pretty alien to me, and if I’m being totally honest, parts of it freak me out.” She took her hands of the steering wheel. “Little shit like this,” She said, taking her foot off the gas pedal as well and motioning to the car, “stuff like the wedgie I gave you--pushing the cart in the store...all pretty simple,” She said. “There are things I do before I totally realize I can do them...which is how most of this process has worked.”

“Like...finding people, you mean?” I sneak in when she stops talking.

“Nah, it's my turn.” She says. “You said you tried to break as many ties as you could before today. Don't you have a family?”

“Mom left when I was a kid,” I say, looking out the window. “I wasn't even three. I couldn't really remember her face, but I had dreams about her. Mostly the idea of her, I guess. When you're that young I guess you can't tell how fucked up things are in vivid detail unless people are actively fighting—being hostile and stuff—but obviously I missed her.”

I draw a long sigh, and I decide to give her everything. For all of her other quirks, Kayla seems to play fair. I gave a one-word evasion for her first question hours ago, and she mirrored it. Let her have it all.

“I'm in touch with her now. Rarely—I mean, she's like four states away—but I have the number. Thing is, by the time she tried to reach back out to me, I'd graduated from college. My older sister...was, like, ecstatic to have her in her life again.” I shook my head at the thought. “Gone for almost two decades—and Jen just...hooks right back up again. Calls her 'Mom' without hesitation. Shows her pictures of my niece. Visits her twice a year. I just...”

I take another deep breath. It's making me angry to think about it all again, and when I look at Kayla, her eyes are glassy.

“Hey, I'm sorry. I don't mean to--”

“No, Wes—I wanna know,” She says, looking at me. “And you wanna say the rest.” I didn't...before the last couple hours. But she's right. I do now.

“She fucking left us,” I say. “Dad buried himself in work—which paid out in plenty of cash for him and a comfortable life for us—extravagant, eventually, if I'm being totally honest...but it broke him.” I suck my lips in, biting down on them a little. “Even when I was a kid he was well-positioned—mid-management sort of stuff, but after she left...he didn't want anyone else. Jen sort of took the lead raising me, and once I was in junior high and pretty much able to fend for myself, he really started pounded out the hours—climbing higher at work. Eventually, bigger house. Country club. Car for Jen. Her college paid. Car for me. My college paid.” I laugh a little. “I sound like a fucking spoiled bitch complaining about all of this, but he...he never fucking seemed HAPPY again, Kayla.” Now I want to cry, but I swallow it down. “He did everything for us—everything. He acted happy for us, for our sakes, but I could fucking tell he wasn't. There was a hole that he was just...not willing to try and fill with anything but our financial security, and—once I graduated—once he saw me with that four year-degree...” I stopped to swallow my tears again. I looked over at Kayla, who didn't stop hers. I watched as one rolled down her perfect face, breaking from her skin mid-cheek and falling on her leg.

“I'm so sorry, Wes.” She says, looking over at me.

“It was so clean, you know?” I say. “As if he was planning it all along. His job was done, as far as he saw it. He was a fucking board member at that point. He knew a life insurance policy didn't need to pay out for us to be fine, but he made sure we got it anyway. He did it where no one could see him.”

“Water,” Kayla chokes out.

“Lake Michigan,” I say. “They found the boat.” I look out the window. “No body. Anchor, ladder off the back—life jacket clipped to a bow line. Like he was just...goin' for a swim, right?” The tears hit now. There's no more swallowing. “He didn't say a word to either of us. He couldn't jeopardize that last fucking payoff, right?” Kayla's rubbing my back now, her tears subsiding as she seems to just...absorb my sorrow. I keep going. “I wasn't shocked, not blindsided—but I was just...so angry. So fucking angry, Kayla.” I wipe my face a little. “Mom was at the service. I barely recognized her—didn't care much to talk to her—but for Jen, it was someone to reclaim. Differences in age, I guess. Maybe I blamed her.”

“So she had her Mom back, but you didn't.”

“She had some concrete, cognizant idea of our family,” I tell her. “Memories of the four of us. I didn't. I only had her and Dad—dutybound to see us secure, and...fucking singular in that intent. He left mom twenty percent, apparently.”

“Which you didn't give a shit about,” Kayla says, recovering now. I shake my head.

“It was almost like he wanted to spite her with it. To show her how much he did without her. Jen and I got the eighty, split down the middle. Stupid amounts of money.”

“And...after all that, you didn't feel guilty about doing the same thing to your sister?” I turn away from Kayla in shame, knowing she's right. I don't care that it's a follow-up. She's wound around me.

“I think she worries...she always has. Trying to play mother to me, and all. Obviously we were close for a long time—she even got her associate's degree locally so she could stick around until I was in high school—but once she went out of state...I just slowly let that drift.” I lean back in the seat, watching the road as Kayla turns back off of the highway again. “She got her Master's degree. Married right out of college. Started teaching. Had a kid.” I smile a little, thinking about how much she got right—how much Jen was able to do and how much she was able to get past. “She reaches out way more than I do—she never really stopped, but...”

“You did,” Kayla says. “Trying to make her used to the idea.” I frown and almost sob again. Guilt.

“Trying not to surprise her when I did it,” I say, shaking my head. “I just...I just justified it with the money, you know? She's having another one, and her husband makes plenty of scratch, but I thought—“

“You leave your share to her and become a generous ghost of an uncle,” Kayla says. “Just like your father.” I wail now. I can't help it. I became my father. I carry the load he wouldn't let go.

“I just...I just can't see a point, Kayla.” She keeps rubbing my back, letting me push all this shit out. “I don't give a shit. I didn't need the job. I don't care about the money. I'm just...I'm just—I just fucking exist here, and that's it. There's nothing else for me to do.”

“You do exist here, Wes,” Kayla agrees, smiling at me though glassy eyes. “And maybe you don't need a job for money, but...there's work to do.” She nods, looking down the road as she changes lanes and hangs a left. “We have plenty of work to do.”

It’s quiet again for a short while, and I can tell from the shrinking width of the roads that we’re getting close to her house. After I while, I think of something early in our conversation.

“I thought you wanted me to take you back to my house,” I say, “Not that I’m trying to change our plans now that we’re here, but--”

“I think if I drove you back to your house, you still wouldn’t believe I exist,” Kayla tells me. “I thought it was a good idea to shift gears a little.”

“Well, thanks for having me,” I said to her, smiling. She lifted her hand to my head, running it through my hair as she drove. My moment of breakdown was 10 minutes behind us now, and something in me felt better. 

And as beautiful as she is, and as nice as it feels to have her fingers running through my hair--my feeling better doesn’t just have to do with Kayla pushing out my loneliness. It helps--but somewhere in my mind I’ve actually come to terms with the decision I made a week ago. My plans. My disassociation. I still don’t know what comes next, but I feel like there’s something in me that wants to walk forward. 

“It’s a mess, okay?” She says. “I mean--I’m not a total snob, but I also didn’t plan to have a sleepover tonight, so just--”

“Shouldn’t be a problem for someone who can use magic,” I tell her, turning to her and giving her a sly smile. My hair goes from being tousled to getting a noogie.

"Listen, it's just that some people think that girls are neat freaks — and I'm not, like, gross or anything — but I am far from a neat freak,” she says. I realize it's my turn to ask a question.

"Are you allowed to use your magic for things like personal gain or convenience?" I ask. She seems to think about the question a little bit, and then shrugs.

"I don't know what I'm allowed, to be honest," she says, glancing at me and widening her eyes. "Constructive interaction with people generally requires a super light touch – as you put it earlier, an illusionist."

"So you usually don't like showing people," I say. "At least, anything that can't be easily dismissed as sleight-of-hand." She shakes her head.

"No, it's not that… it's more the consideration of what I'm aiming to do when I interact with someone, and freaking them out typically isn't at the top of the list." Kayla chuckles a bit. "Unless it's a particularly steely-eyed skeptic who is relatively unshaken by a pretty girl unless she's in clingy, soaking wet clothes." I grin at her, about to defend myself when she springs her next question on me.

"You're not a virgin, are you?" I shake my head. "No, I can tell."

"Well, you're a mind-reader — that probably helps a bit."

"No, it's not that. Virgins are all nerves around something or someone they want," Kayla says. "Even before you shotgunned me a hit from your joint and let me into your head a little bit, I could tell." She slaps her steering wheel with one hand and licks her lips, turning to me. "Trade me for a follow-up."

“Wait, what?” Suddenly there's something she wants to know?

“One follow-up. On anything you've asked so far,” She offers. “You first, then I get one in return." I shrug.

"I'm game," I hold out my hand faith-shake style, and she grabs it. "What is the most reality-bending thing you've ever seen done with this magic?” I ask. She puffs out the breath in her lungs, hanging her head over the steering wheel for a second.

"Shit, Wes — and I thought I was really getting a deal here. Fucking hell.” I throw my hands up.

"Hey, you wanted to let me go first," I tell her. “We can take it back off of the table if you like. No harm done.” She takes a deep breath and shakes her head.

"No, no — a deal is a deal.” She laughs to herself as we turn off of a main avenue and into a cute neighborhood. We have to be getting really close now. “The success of this evening is going to be very trust-based, so I'm not gonna walk this one back. I mean, I figured you'd ask about the magic again, but…”

“So spill it already,” I say, nudging her with my elbow.

"Time travel." She says. Of course, the first thing out of my mouth is:

“Bulls—” But I catch myself. I don't finish the word. Telekinesis is impossible, isn't it? If telekinesis, why not temporal displacement? Why the fuck not? I shake my head and take a deep breath. "Fuck." Kayla nods.

"Good catch,” Kayla says. “No points off for that one. If I'm being honest, I could see people flapping their arms and flying around, and it wouldn't even get me close to believing in time travel.”

“Trade two follow-ups?” I ask. Kayla sneers at me and shakes her head.

“Yeah, no fucking chance,” she grins. She pulls into a gravel driveway, and in front of us is a modest but cute arts and crafts home. It's baby blue with a half-porch, and from the looks of the second-story window, it probably has a loft. "Help me grab stuff." I grab the sack of burgers and my drink, along with everything we got from Target. Kayla grabs her own drink and both of our backpacks from her back seat.

“Is this a rental? I ask. She shakes her head as she heads up the porch steps. She holds the screen door open for me, and with a little twist of her neck, I hear the tumbler of the deadbolt rollover. I watch the knob turn a little on its own.

“Push it open," Kayla says, a little under her breath. “I guess this confirms your question about personal convenience,” she smiles. I push against it with my shoulder, and the door opens up. It's a cute little bungalow. I can already tell from the layout that I was right about the loft. Parts of it are decorated like I would expect from a twenty-year-old, and other parts are folksy. It looks like a home for a small family.

"Where should I put…" I lift the greasy bag.

"Oh, right on the fucking coffee table,” she says, apparently delighted by the idea. "Just drop the other shit, kick your shoes off, and let's eat before these things get any colder.”

She drops both of our backpacks next to the door, closing it the mundane way as she hits the fob on her keys, locking her car. I do as she asks, pulling my feet from the heels of my shoes without untying them. As I head over to the plush sectional, I watch her pulling curtains.

"Nosy neighbors," she says. "There's a widow across the street, Mrs. McDonnell — super protective of me."

"So this is your house — like, your house,” I say. She smiles a little, nodding at me as she sits back down on the couch. “So did your—”

"Later, okay?” Kayla says, her eyes pleading with me. “We need to unwind, and we both need something to eat—our stomachs have practically been singing to each other.” I nod, letting it go without any issue. Obviously there's a story there. I open the greasy bag, pulling out our food, which is actually still pretty warm. I lay out a couple of the napkins and dump the fry cup into the bag, splitting it open between us. Kayla coos a bit. “Oh god, and he even knows how to eat a Five Guys meal...” I just sneer in return.

She flips on the TV, munching on fries as I look around the room. I'm not really trying to glean anything, but I'm in a new space. I can't help but look around and notice details. I clearly see pictures of three people, one of whom is a younger Kayla. The other two pretty much have to be her parents, but I don't say a word about it.

“You never asked your follow-up for me," I say, stuffing my face with fries now. She wiggles her finger back and forth.

"Oh no, I'm saving mine...” She says, unwrapping her burger. “You owe me one.”

We watch a stupid Netflix show that Kayla has apparently been following, and I let her try to explain the plot up to now without seeming too bored by it. Even barely warm, my burger is amazing. For the next half hour, everything is as normal as a meal between two new friends could be. Part of me forgets that I could've been dead for hours by now, such that when the realization strikes me, I stop chewing on my food for a second and look at the woman next to me.

Kayla notices this reaction immediately, gazing back at me and mouthing 'you're welcome' with a mouth full of food before waving my gaze away with her hand.

“Doun wats me-eet!” She says with a mouthful of fries, trying not to laugh. I laugh a little too, and the gratitude I feel for her finding me extends well beyond her. Obviously she special in ways I can't begin to comprehend, but how she got to me seems to be by the Providence of something neither of us completely understand.

Right now, we seem so much like childhood friends enjoying each other's company. Other than my sister Jen, this is the first person I've talked to about my father.

She's real. I saw that with her car, of course—but now, here's Kayla in context. Obviously in her family's home. There's either a bedroom in the back or the loft upstairs...and that's where this real person sleeps. Where she dreams. Where she worries about things and--

“Wes?” I snap out of it and look at her, her eyes shining in the glow of the television—which is loud enough to hear, but the dialogue on the screen isn't even reaching me.

“Yeah. Yeah?” I ask, shaking my head and smiling at her like a fool. I wonder if she's been reading me, but she doesn't mention it.

“I said, 'are you done'?” I look down at my mostly-eaten burger and the remaining fries and nod at her.

“Yeah!” I say, folding the remnants up into the wrapper and standing up. “Should I--”

“Lemme take care of it,” She says, wadding up her own wrapper and tossing it into the center of the ripped paper bag. “You a night-time coffee guy, or--”

“Sure! Sure,” I say. “You sure you don't want me to help?” She raises an eyebrow.

“Help...take the stuff we bought to my room—the one on the right back there, and go change.” My eagerness is absolutely obvious when I nod, grabbing the bags. “And...pick something for me to wear.” Her lips curl into a smile and she raises her eyebrows a couple of times. Verrrrry suggestive.

As I'm walking back in this short hallway for the first time, I feel this insane giddiness. Anticipation. She couldn't be any more clear about it if she was smacking me across the face with a sign that says “I want you.”

The door on the left is closed, and the door on the right is slightly open—glowing yellow lights peeking under and around the door.

I push it open, and it's...

I know it's stupid. Pathetic, almost—but it's like I'm in the holy of holies.

She has a board of pictures of her and what I assume are her friends from high school. There are fashion models and rock gods tacked to the walls. An open closet, overstuffed. A standing rack in the room, double tiered—half t-shirts, half-hoodies. She hangs her t-shirts! There's a desktop mac on her desk. Stupid little pink and orange LED lights. Handwritten notes—single sentences, either inspirational or from classic literature, tacked to the sides of bookshelves and on the ceiling above her desk.

She was just a sprite to me at first. Something that was going to vanish into thin air the moment I tried to squint my eyes. A hallucination.

And yes, that's pathetic. The kind of silly pedestaling I promised myself I'd never do, but this—this...

I just stand in the center of the room and take a deep breath. Kayla all around me. She's real. She is REAL. She has old friends and overworn clothes she can't let go of. She had grades and crushes and yearbooks. She has...an essence. A being. She's real. She's real. She's real. I have to keep saying it to myself.

My heart is pounding again, and I'm thinking about our kiss in the dressing room. My male anatomy reacts to all this, too—which I sort of scoff at in real-time, but...honestly, I can't help it. No one like this could possibly be real. But she is.

She told me to pick something for her. I look through her closet, flipping through hangers, but it’s mostly clothes to wear out. Some of it showy. She has a pair of black leather pants. I think about her in one of those little band tees and these pants--black eyeliner, the works.

I head over to her dresser, opening the top drawer.

Kayla’s underwear. Socks. Panties in all shapes and colors. I just stare for a while. I know I’m a creep, but I can’t not think about what’s in front of me. The next drawer is a collection of bras, and I can’t help it--I pick one of them up.

It’s red satin with pink lace trim. Apparently Kayla’s a C-cup. I hear something bump the wall and I drop it back in, pulling the next drawer open. Sleep pants. Here we go.

I rifle through the drawer, probably for longer than I should. There's a collection of fleece, yoga pants, and a couple pairs of shimmering satin pajama pants. What finally catches my eye are a pair of blue and green athletic shorts. I lift them out, holding them in front of me to see just how short they are. I don't want to be too boring with my selection, so I figure these are good middle ground.

I open up the next drawer to find a bunch of assorted tops. Tanks, spaghetti strap tops, tubes, and halters. Apparently, anything that wasn't able to compete for hanger space. I grab a simple white tank top and throw it and the shorts on her bed. Suddenly, I think of something I saw in the first drawer, and I pull it open again. There's a pair of long crew socks with a green stripe, the same sort of green on the athletic shorts, and I throw them on the bed, too.

I open up our bag from the store, drooling over her selections for a second before I tossed all them on the bed next to the outfit I've selected. I take my new pajamas out and search them for tags, stripping them off where I find them. I begin stripping out my clothes, and around the time and pulling my pants off of my ankles, my animal senses go off.

I turn around to see Kayla's door swing open, and when I look into the hall, I don't see anybody. Even though I know that she can do some interesting things with her magic at this point, I still can't help but get a weird flurry feeling when I see something that I knew as impossible when this day started. I catch movement out of my peripheral vision again, and watch as the outfit I've selected rose off of Kayla's bed and toward the door.

I'm standing there in my socks and underwear, watching the pile as it bobs through the air as if following the path of a stride created by the invisible person carrying it. The tank top seems to fall off the pile for a second, and now I watch as the two shoulder straps jockey back and forth toward me.

"Kayla, what are you doing?" I laugh a little, watching the flat white shirt shuffle toward me in the air, hanging vertically. The rest of the outfit has already wound around the corner, out of my sight. The tank top is right in front of me now, and as I'm about to grab it out of the air and mock her for trying to mess with me, it suddenly billows up like a windsock. "Geez!” I pull back, staring at the empty white torso as the tank top takes shape.

And my god, does it take shape. The tank is formfitting, and I can see the tapered waist and the rounded chest. I'm staring at the white fine-ribbed cotton with my jaw hanging open. She's clearly fucking with me from the other room, but I can't help it to just absorb the odd surreality of this moment. I mean, this thing has nipples. I want to reach out and touch it, to see what's holding it there, but for some reason I'm hesitant—empty shirt or not.

What did we say about doing the opposite of what you'd normally do? Her voice chides in my head. I laugh a little and put a palm to my face.

“What are you doing?” I step a little to the side of the shirt, looking through the hole in the shoulder to the inside. "What was this, a test where I was supposed to just manhandle your empty clothes?"

Like I said, I can't read your mind all the time — but I can tell you that I've never read veneration from anybody. And while it's a little charming, certainly flattering… I really hope you're not as cautious with me as you've been with my drawers for the last ten minutes.

I can feel the embarrassment burning on my face, but it's not like I'm upset about it. It feels like a silly teenage glow— something I probably haven't felt since of hormonal fit of puberty a decade ago.

"So it was a test," I laugh, continuing to dress myself as I stare at the…still really-fit-looking tank top.

No, it wasn't! Kayla's voice echoes in my mind again. I totally didn't mean to eavesdrop this time, but the way you feel since you entered my room is pretty much coating my head in sticky-sweet poetry.

“So you must've heard my self-awareness about how over-the-top I was being, too...” I say, reaching my arms around the tank top and clasping the back in both hands, just below where I'd expect the shoulder blades to be. When I press against the fabric, it's still airy and light—like one would expect from an empty cotton tank top—but the curve of the back doesn't just collapse when I hold it. It's almost like I'm embracing an invisible Kayla. “...if you were eavesdropping so closely.”

The tank top lets me draw it closer, and I wrap my arms around it until its hollow bosom presses against my own bare chest. I take a deep breath as I look down at it, especially noticing the rigid cotton nipple shapes pressing against me.

"Is this better?" I whisper. The tank top nuzzles against me, and I slide my hands down its back in response, starting to pull up on the hem around the invisible form, just to see what happens.

The tank top pulls away from me just enough for me to continue rolling the fabric back over the invisible shape, so I just keep going. I know, logically, that there's nothing actually under this tank top — but that doesn't stop every biologically and chemically male part of me from responding to the symbolic action taking place here. When I've pulled the shirt off the form entirely, I cast it towards the door. Before it even hits the floor, it turns itself right side out again, hovers in a flat vertical state for a moment, and folds itself in the air. It proceeds out into the hallway, following the path of the rest of the clothes a couple minutes earlier.

I would say that's really good practice, Kayla says. Now get dressed and come have coffee with me.

I strip my underwear off, and I can't help but think how erotic that weirdness was — even if Kayla's still listening to me reflect on it. I tear open my three pack of briefs, putting on a burgundy pair that closely matches the piping on my new pajamas. Once I get my new set of pajamas on, I collect my discarded tags and packaging in the plastic shopping bag before meandering back toward the living room — giving Kayla enough time to put on the tank top.

"Well, aren't you slick?" She says, standing in the kitchen doorway and holding a cup of coffee. She looks me up and down, clearly pleased as I walk toward her.

"Thanks." I'm loose now, and I can feel the charisma pouring out of me. It might sound stupid to say, but it's not feeling I'm used to. "Those clothes look…even better with you in them.” We both laugh.

"Do all guys act like that when they're in a girl's room?" She asks as I approach her, taking the cup of coffee from her hands. “You have no idea how badly I wanted to make a pair of my panties jump out at you. It was like you just discovered a long lost treasure." I hold the coffee cup away from her and gently hold the back of her neck as I lean forward, kissing her collarbone. She sighs a little when I do, and I plant small kisses inward toward her neck, up it, and a final peck on her cheek before drawing back again. Her eyes are closed, and she's smiling.

"When they're a gorgeous, magical, mysterious woman diving headlong into that guy, who they barely know?" I ask. “Yeah, I'm pretty sure in this situation—plenty of guys would consider any space you occupy to be a temple." Kayla bites her lip a little, opening her eyes and grinning at me as she holds out her hand. I feel a gentle pull from the mug that I'm holding, and I let it go with the leap of faith that she's mentally reaching for it. It hovers carefully back into her hand, and she grasps it again.

I shake my head again, putting my hand to my face in disbelief.

“Everything about you is incredible,” I say. “Just to know how you do the things you do--”

“Oh, just you wait, boy." She says, raising an eyebrow. “We're on the tip of that iceberg.” She steps past me, heading into the living room. "Your coffee is on the counter."

I hear the click of a spoon against countertop as I walk into the kitchen, finding my cup swirling with what looks like just the right amount of cream in it. I look at the spoon, pick it up, and look over at her refrigerator. I pick up the teal ceramic mug and take a sip from it, tasting the coffee. It's sweet — sweeter than most people like their coffee, but perfect for me.

"How did you manage to pull that out of me?" I ask as I head back into the living room. Kayla glances at me from the couch and gives me a funny look.

"Pull what out of you?"

"That I wanted a little coffee with my sugar.” I sit down next to her, and she folds her feet under herself, snuggling up next to me and playing coy as she looks around the room.

"That was just…a guess, I guess,” she says. I nod, rolling my eyes. So much for her only reading what I focus on. She leans forward to grab the remote off the coffee table. "So, what do you want to... probably not watch?” She asks, looking down at my satin pajamas again. The top button I have fastened comes undone on its own, and I just smile and look at her.

"Put down your coffee," I say to her through my teeth, putting my own mug down on a coaster. The moment she does, I lean into her neck again—and this time, the kisses aren't so slight. I can feel all the tension rush out of her joints as she leans her head against my shoulder, offering up her neck to me. I kiss all the way up it to the lobe of her ear, and she coos as I tease against it gently, hovering my lips over her for a second before I pull back from her. I gently guide the back of her head with one of my hands until our lips meet, and we explore each other's mouths as her hands glided over the smooth fabric covering my pecs.

I feel a tug at my waist, and even though I don't break away from her mouth to watch the phenomenon — I know that my pajama pants are untying themselves. Our lips part just long enough for her to get a broken sentence out between each one.

“You can't know...how long...I've waited for this...” She says. Her hands go from gliding down my chest to rubbing my sides, but even with them occupied, my pajama top continues unbuttoning itself.

About 6 hours, I say in my head, this time with the clear purpose of having her read me.

No. Longer. Your mind won't understand that — like I just said, it can't — but I promise that after tonight, your body is going to understand completely.

My body already understands some of the details—probably understood from the moment I saw this human miracle step out of that lake after she personally drowned my bike along with the date I had with death.

Tonight is the night I make love to this woman — to magic I never believed that this universe could carry inside its offering of experiences. Kayla has broken me open, and our bodies begin to dance with possibilities that I never even imagined.