I Take You (7 page)

He hesitates, then he looks me in the eye, and I know I’ve got him.

I lean closer, placing my hands on his thighs. “The state of Florida doesn’t recognize marriages performed outside its borders.”

He raises his eyebrows and smiles. “Is that true?”

“That is true.” I slide my hands up his legs. “So unless you and your wife tied the knot here? You’re not
married right now.”

He looks down, shaking his head, but he’s still smiling. I stand and place my hands on his shoulders. I look into his eyes.

“You can trust me on this, Tom. I’m a lawyer.”

He laughs, and I lean closer. He smells like the beach, like salt and sand and sunscreen. I slip a hand around the back of his neck, into his hair. I let my lips brush his ear. I say, “Let’s go somewhere.”

There’s a tap on my shoulder.

“Come on, Noreen,” Freddy says. “Time for your injection.”

“Go away!” I hiss.

But of course she doesn’t. Eventually I let her take my arm and lead me out the door.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, Winifred, but there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

“You’re lucky I’m the one who came looking for you and not Will,” she says.

“I am lucky. I’m a lucky, lucky girl. And you’re a good friend. A great friend. The bestest ever.” I throw my arm over her shoulders.

A giant shard of concrete rears up and attacks me. I stumble. Freddy catches me.


We return to the first bar. “Great, you found her,” Will says. “Let’s go.”

Will and Javier hustle us into a pink taxi. Freddy rests her head on my shoulder. Javier is up front, talking to the driver. I lean back and look at Will’s profile, flickering in and out of the light cast by the streetlamps as we drive up Duval. He’s holding my hand, absently brushing his thumb back and forth across mine.

Why did I leave, why did I go roaming when I have this, right here? And I had to pick a
man, of all people? Classy, as Jane would say. She should talk, though. My moms have a hell of a lot of nerve, presuming to tell me who is and who isn’t marriage material.

But … do they also have a point? What exactly am I doing? Is this me changing my mind? Is this me never having made up my mind in the first place? Do I want to call this off? Do I want to get caught?

Do I love Will?

Henry was right about one thing. People are unknowable. I am a complete mystery to myself. But Freddy’s right, too—how can I
know whether I love him? Can Freddy and Henry both be right? That would wreak some serious havoc with the harmony of the universe. Speaking of which, what would Epictetus say about all this?

Nothing, probably. He’d just gather a bunch of rocks in his toga and stone me to death.

Because I should love Will. He’s such a wonderful person. So very lovable. He possesses so many wonderful, lovable, admirable qualities. There’s only one quality that he lacks. The quality of being more than one man.

So many qualities, but just one body! If only he had more bodies. He could divide up all of his qualities. Parcel them out. It would be more
egalitarian that way. A quality for every body. And maybe a few extra bodies, without any qualities. Those would probably be my favorites.

I lean my head back on the seat. He smiles down at me. “Tired?”

“A little.”

But …
? I’m
him? Am I out of my
? I mean, it wouldn’t be a problem if the situation were different. Like if we were characters in that one Greek myth, and every night when the moon rises and the lamps are lit my husband turns into a different man, and at dawn turns back into Will.

Is there such a Greek myth?

Don’t think so. Should have been. Greeks might not have gone extinct.

Did Greeks go extinct? They aren’t dinosaurs. Just very indebted.

Why am I thinking about the Greeks? Why am I thinking at all?

It’s okay. It’s been a long day. I’ve still got time to sort everything out. Plenty of time. Dog’s years. Or donkey’s. Whatever.

Tomorrow will be better. I’ll be better. Tomorrow.

“Close your eyes,” Will says. “I’ll wake you when we get there.”


I feel his hand first
. Near my knee, stroking gently. Tracing a pattern on my skin. I shiver.

I’m on my back, one arm flung over my eyes. Where are we? There’s a breeze. Scent of the ocean. A brightness in the room.

Key West. I’m home.

His hand slips under my knee, lifting it up. He parts my legs. His fingers trail up the inside of my thigh, pushing the thin silk of my slip out of the way.

“Lily,” he whispers.

I feel the heat of his body next to mine, his weight on the mattress drawing me toward him. I resist, leaning away slightly. His hand brushes across my stomach. I murmur and stretch, pretending that I’m still asleep. I turn away from him, but he pulls me back, gently pushing my shoulder into the pillow. He sweeps my hair out of my face, his fingertips on my cheeks and forehead. I keep my eyes closed. His breath is warm and smells sweet. He kisses my temples, softly. I inhale deeply as his throat brushes against my mouth. He kisses my ears. My eyebrows. My nose. The line of my jaw. I lift a hand and push him away sleepily. He takes it and kisses the inside of my wrist, my forearm, my elbow. He bites a finger.

It is
hard not to respond, but I want to see what he’s going to do. He’s kissing my shoulder. His mouth is warmer, moving urgently now. I groan a little and shift away, but again he pulls me back. He slides the straps of my slip down my arms. His lips are on my throat, my collarbone. My right breast. My left. Kissing and licking and biting gently. I slowly reach down and find his cock, stroking it lightly with my fingers.
He puts a hand between my legs now, a finger inside me, then two. I dig my heels into the mattress and press against them.

“Lily,” he whispers.

Then, just for fun, I push him away, hard, and start to sit up.

That’s when Will grabs me and throws me back down on the bed. I try fighting him off, but he pins my wrists above my head with one hand, parts my legs with the other and enters me in one long thrust. I don’t expect it, it’s happened too fast, and it’s
I gasp, my eyes wide open now, but Will’s are closed. His mouth finds mine. He kisses me deeply. Desperately. His mouth is insistent and unbearably hot. I can’t stop kissing him. He pulls out and enters me again roughly, and again and again. I cry out. He only thrusts harder. I say, “Will?”

And he says, his lips close to my ear, “Shut up.”

He releases my wrists and I wrap my arms around his neck. His hands move down my body until he’s clutching at my hips, pulling me up to him, over and over. It’s passionate and exciting and … what? Untender. And perfect. I bury my fingers in his hair and kiss his mouth, his cheeks, his stubbly throat. I bite his tongue. I bend my head and catch a nipple between my teeth. I move my tongue around it, swirling, tasting salt on the delicate skin.

Then he’s kneeling on the bed and pulling me on top of him. His hands are on my hips again, his fingers digging in, as he guides me up and down. I lean over him so that my breasts brush against his mouth. I close my eyes and move with him, slowly, then faster and faster until I can’t take it anymore, warmth spreads through my entire body and I come, calling out, crashing down onto him over and over as the world goes a little dim.

We’re still for a minute, me on him, him stroking my hair, still hard inside me. Then he pushes me off, turns me over and pulls me to my knees. I’m a little dazed, a little helpless—not that I would stop him from doing anything right now. Or ever. He enters me from behind, one hand on my hip, another in my hair. Moving slowly and deliberately. After a while I come back to myself a little. I can think.

It’s our first three days, all over again.

Just when I thought they were gone forever.

I push back against him, wanting as much of him in me as possible.
Everything, muscle and skin and blood and bone. He pulls all the way out and plunges back in, faster now, again and again. He slaps my ass, hard, and I cry out, and he does it again. I look at him over my shoulder. His eyes are closed, his face rapt. He’s saying my name, over and over. Pushing himself so deeply into me that I can’t catch my breath, and just when I think I can’t take it anymore, he reaches around and touches me and I come again, long and loud, a glorious, whole-body, tingling thing. So does he.

We collapse together on the bed, the sheets twisted up beneath us. I’m drifting away on a cloud of pure happiness.

“Will?” I whisper.


“Holy shit!”

He laughs softly. “You’re welcome.”

I can feel him smile against my skin. He kisses the back of my neck. His hand rests lightly on my hip.

I turn my head so that I can see his face. “Can I ask you a question?”


We start laughing. I roll over so that I’m facing him. My laughter dies away, and so does his. We’re looking into each other’s eyes now. Will’s are so dark that when I’m close like this I can see my reflection. But I’m seeing something else now. I’m seeing past his eyes, right into him. I’m seeing all of him, all at once. I’m seeing—

There’s a knock at the door.

I blink. I start breathing again. “God. Who could that be?”

“The paramedics,” Will says, brushing the hair from my forehead. “Responding to multiple 911 calls.”

We laugh again. “Lily?” Mattie calls out. “We’re going to be late!”

“Go away!” I holler.

“Blue Heaven? The rehearsal dinner? Whether we’re going to serve chicken, or pasta, or chicken with pasta …”

We eventually crawl out of bed and pull on some clothes. Will catches up to me as I’m about to leave. He pushes me against the wall, and his hand goes up my skirt. I reach inside his pants. He’s already hard again. He says, “Don’t forget. We have lunch with my parents today.”

“Oh, baby,” I whisper. “I love it when you talk dirty.”

He laughs and tugs my panties down. “One o’clock.”

I press myself against his hand. “What happens if I’m late?”

“Bad things.” He starts unbuttoning my blouse. “Very bad things.”

“Oh my God.” I lean my head back against the wall. “Who

“A fool.” He kisses my throat. “I’m a fool in love.”

We do it again, quickly, right there by the door. Eventually I go down to the lobby, where Mattie is waiting. She hands me a steaming cup of coffee.

“Mattie! Bless your event-coordinating little heart!”

“Don’t drink too much,” she warns. “We don’t want you to have horrible stained teeth in the photographs.”

“These puppies won’t stain,” I tell her, tapping my teeth. “They’re one hundred percent false.”

She looks shocked. “They are?”

“I did
too much meth in law school.”

She stares at me.

“I’m joking.”

“Oh!” she says. “Oh. That’s funny.”

We head out to her car. She unlocks the doors and we get in. “How are you this morning?” she asks.

“Never better, Mattie. Never. Better.” I raise my face to the sunshine streaming through the windshield. “It’s a beautiful day. I’m surrounded by my family. I’m marrying the perfect man. Life is good.”

“I’m delighted to hear that.” She pulls out of the lot, swerving to avoid a brilliantly plumed rooster strutting across the road. Chickens run wild in Key West—they’re our squirrels, basically.

“So many brides find the week before the wedding to be one of the worst of their lives,” Mattie continues. “It’s tragic! They should be at their happiest, and instead they’re stressed out and miserable.”

“Not me, Mattie. I mean, I’ve had my doubts recently, okay? Not anymore.” I lean back against the seat and sip my coffee. “I hit the fucking jackpot with this guy.”

She glances at me uncertainly. “Yes, he seems—”

“Fucking,” I catch her eye for emphasis,

“Goodness!” she laughs. “You’re a real New Yorker, aren’t you?”

I put my hand out the window, feeling the warm air push against it. I’m still basking in the afterglow.

It’s back. I can’t quite believe it, but the great sex with Will is back.

On a Thursday night back in August, I was at Walker’s Pub, down the street from my apartment. I was on a date with someone I’d met at a party, a banker. Hot, but a little predictable. I got up to go to the bathroom. There was a guy standing in the back hallway. He was tall and skinny. Light-brown hair. Glasses. Dressed a little carelessly. Normally, somebody I wouldn’t have looked twice at.

What am I talking about? I look at everyone twice.

But here’s my point: as I got closer, I noticed something unusual about him. He was still. Perfectly still. Leaning against the wall—not futzing with his phone, not fidgeting, not looking around. But not bored or spaced out, either. He looked like he was having an interesting conversation with himself.

I put my hand on his arm, and he turned and looked at me politely. He had brown eyes and thick, expressive eyebrows.

I said, “Are you in line for the bathroom?”

“I am, yeah,” Will said.

“Okay,” I said. “But I was here before you. Just so you know.”

He gave me this slow, shy smile. “Is that right?”

“I was here last night,” I said. “And the night before that.”

“You come here a lot?”

I nodded gravely. “I practically live here.”

We heard the toilet flush. Someone stepped out. Will gestured gallantly toward the open door. “Please.”

When I came out, he gave me a quick smile, ducking his head as he passed me to go in.

When he came out, I was still waiting. “I forgot something in there,” I explained.

He looked surprised. “What was it?”

I smiled at him. “You.”

He burst out laughing. Will has this great laugh, really sudden and happy. The kind of laugh you feel proud to have inspired, the kind that you want to keep hearing. I went to say good-bye to the banker. Will
went to say good-bye to his friends. We met up at the restaurant across the street.

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