Rafe settled across from Eliza, it was the first time in a really long time that he felt like they were together.
It was certainly the first time they had gone out in a long time since the accident.
He gazed at her hand wearing the ring he was always proud he had chosen without her. His tastes were far grander than hers. It was not obnoxious of him to say he was the architect of the woman before him, of the woman he was going to marry.
Eliza was more bohemian, and honestly seemed more like someone his sister would date. She recently confessed that she sometimes felt confined by the role of wife to be, so he tried to be more open.
He ran his hand through her hair, absently twisted a strand over and over again as he looked at the hair of the woman at the next table. Her hair was like Severine’s. Severine could be in New York, but she normally told him when she was coming to the city. Or when she was coming underneath him.
His heart still raced when he thought about her. The look on her face when he last saw her on Skype, let him know that he should leave her alone. She was in love with him, and he was not sure what he would be if he continued to contact her.
Eliza looked beautiful in the candlelight, in the dress he had bought her when he was away years ago. The color went well with her hair and eyes. He looked at her hands, and then up at the choker about her neck. There was no doubt that he loved her.
But he could not stop looking at the woman at the other table, her lovely form from behind leaning toward the man she was with. It was wrong, but if it was Severine, he wanted to hurt that man. The rage he felt that the man was sitting with her was irrational, but he felt it.
He felt a lot of things.
Severine, or her look-alike would not turn around for the love of God and he had to be careful with Eliza. She would know if his attention was divided. He reengaged with her, and then he paused. Pretended he was looking for the waiter.
It was Severine, not a look-alike. She noticed him instantly. The look on her face was wildly animalistic. Her walk to the bathroom was steady and self-assured to anyone who was looking, but Rafe knew she was not. He excused himself to go to the bathroom.
The path she took brimmed with her scent of tuberose. The bathroom was was dim, but the frosted glass door revealed which stall she had walked into in the unisex bathroom. Rafe put out his hand to prevent her from closing the door. Severine leaned against the wall, her foot on the toilet seat because there was barely enough room in the stall for the two of them.
“S’il te plait…” she said, her French rampant when she was vulnerable.
“I knew it was you even from behind.” He cornered her.
“I’m with someone.” She pasted herself to the wall.
“I’m with Eliza,” he said, caressing her face and touching the long dark hair that he had been eyeing with memories. He brought a fistful of it to his nose to take in the scent. “I just wanted to say hi.”
Rafe wanted to touch her with every fiber of his being, but he could not have her scent on him. She hitched up her skirt. Closed her eyes,
“I hate myself for wanting you to touch me, but please…please.”
He caressed her face, the smoothness of her cheek, her full red mouth…he needed to touch her other mouth.
She was wet like she always was when he touched her. He caressed just her satiny labia, she almost slipped she was at such a precarious angle.
“Where are you staying?”
Severine dug deep in her clutch, and pulled out a card from the hotel where she was staying.
When she looked up in the mirror and saw Oscar, she gasped.
When Rafe returned, she weakly excused herself to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom mirror, Oscar was behind her.
She was glad it was a unisex bathroom.
He’d told her that when she was in the hospital, now when he was telling her it might have been true to him.
She wrapped her arms about him, her desire like fire ignited on the side of a matchbox. Restraining herself, she moved back from him.
“I am so happy to see you. I could not wait for tomorrow, but now is like bonus time.”
Oscar smiled at her.
“Is that the woman you have been seeing in Paris?”
“So are you.”
Eliza held the bathroom sink for support.
“I have to go, but tomorrow?” he questioned her.
She swallowed hard and gasped.
“Yes, have no doubt.”
They hovered over each other, the fire ignited again, then sputtered when he kissed her cheek.
Left her for now.
When she saw her face in the mirror, she was filled with doubts.
Her walk back to Rafe was unsteady, but his smile comforted her. Calmed her for the moment. Her emotions were as crooked as the books stacked by the fireplace in the restaurant beside Rafe.
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photo by f dot leonora