Chapter 19 – Sweet New Year’s Eve (New York)
Three, two, one… The lights of Times Square mingle with the confetti, the ball falls and the people around us embrace. I lift the flap of Moose’s cap and let him kiss me, tucked between the folds of his coat and mine. I tremble slightly, but it’s not because of the cold―it’s anticipation.
When we part, I hold his hand right away and we both walk away from the revelry. New York’s having a party and so are we. But when, after walking for half an hour and kissing on every corner as if it were our first date, we arrive at the red brick corner and we are going to climb the stairs to the doorway, I think I am going to fall at any moment. My heart is pounding, all my body hair is standing on end and my fingers are shaking as I look for the key at the bottom of my right breast pocket. The keychain makes me swallow when I see it―a T and an N intertwined in gold, a gift I gave Tyler when he finished high school.
Breathe, Camille, I force myself. If he lend you the key, it’s for a reason.
Indeed. And if we add to that that they’ve decided to go to Riviera Maya for a week before their new tour starts, I shouldn’t worry about my big brother catching me.
So why do I think I’m going to pass out any minute while I put the key in the lock? Without wanting to, I associate that gesture with another much less innocent one and close my eyes. Luckily, Moose is faster than I am, and as he rests one hand gently on my back, with the other he pushes the glass door and gives way to me. I turn around for a second to smile at him and he gestures back, but something tells me that his smile is also a little forced. Who knows, maybe I’m not the only one who’s nervous.
As soon as we get into the elevator and the doors close, as the engineering force pushes us upwards against gravity, I finally decide to face my greatest fear. Camille’s been acting strange since we left Times Square, and, well, I understand that she’s nervous―I’m a bit of a wimp myself. But I still have enough willpower to reach out and stroke her hair.
“Cam, are you sure about this?”
Her face immediately shows the most absolute surprise, but her eyes do not lie. She’s as worried as I am―yeah, well, we’re not new at this. But, as we discussed at the time, we may never have imagined this would happen.
“I’m fine, I’m sure. It’s just that… Well…”, she smiles half-heartedly with some irony. “Who’d have thought, right?”
Without wanting to, and even though I feel the same way, her words scare me. Although I try to hide it by ironizing the situation.
“Well, you still have time to hit the down button to the lobby…or stand me up at the door.”
She’s laughing. I confess I love it. But I don’t want to force the issue. We’ve talked about this, the opportunity came up when Tyler offered Camille his New York apartment to spend New Year’s Eve with me… But I have my fears too. Most of all, I’m afraid of letting her down―I couldn’t bear it.
We both come back to reality almost unwillingly when the elevator slows down with a slight jerk and the doors open. On the other side of a small landing is the door to Tyler’s apartment. Slowly, I flank Camille as she walks towards the polished white wood, pulls out the keys, and opens at last. When she turns on the light and I close behind me, I can see a sober but elegant hallway, at the end of which a large living room opens. Camille takes off her coat, I imitate her and take off my cap too. We both move towards the living room and when she approaches the window, I marvel at the beautiful view of the apartment over the city. Although they can’t compare to my girl right now.
Rarely have I seen her so dressed up…or so beautiful. Her red dress attracts me like a lighthouse in the middle of the night and when she turns to look at me, I feel my doubts dissolve into a single thought.
I want her. Here… And now.
His kiss is so sudden that it almost takes my breath away for a second, but I give it back to him a thousandth of a second later as my fingers get caught in his hair. His arms surround my waist and one of his hands, at a given moment, slightly lifts my skirt, twisting the fabric with his fist, while a slight moan escapes from his lips, and the freehand presses my body even more against his. I imitate his sound as I dare to take the plaid shirt off his shoulders and throw it towards the window. Suddenly, it’s as if everything has shot up and I’m not even aware of my movements. I can only sense his anxiety as he unzips the red dress I’m wearing today.
His lips move around my neck making me throw my head back with pleasure. Clothes fall to the floor while our lips continue to engage in the most frenetic dance I’ve ever dreamed of, until finally, we both end up on the couch, one on top of the other, skin on skin. The kisses and caresses seem to be our only fuel to keep going. When I sit on him by pure instinct on it, our eyes cross for a moment. We want the same thing… We know, we can perceive it just by stroking each other.
So, seconds later, feeling his skin melting into mine for the first time in so many years and wishing the moment would never end, I forget everything: my fears, the fears that something might not go right… As if it were a perfectly learned choreography, Moose and I move to the same beat all night long exploring a new, but intimate and personal, stage that we sense will be eternal from now on.
I feel like I’m gonna lose my throat at Tyler’s if this keeps up, but I can’t help it. As I whisper her name over and over, I smell her perfume; that scent that only has her skin and drives me crazy. She moves. I move. I admit it―after the first time, it is suddenly as if our existence is reduced to this: being skin to skin, knowing our nooks and crannies and discovering a paradise of infinite possibilities in absolute harmony. You could almost say that it is as if we were on a stage that only exists for the two of us, feeling the steps that each one takes and accommodating ourselves to them with total naturalness.
And, suddenly, I know. No matter how many times I’ve wanted to deny it over the years, from that heartbreaking moment when she let go of my hand to go to New York for the first time. In the depths of my soul, as we love each other again on the double bed in the guest bedroom―I’m not quite sure how we got here, I just know it must have been the second or third ‘round,’ but I’m not too worried either―I have a crystal-clear vision: I have never stopped loving her. And that makes me happy. VERY happy.
At the edge of the dawn, we finally fall on the mattress, panting as if we had run a marathon in record time. Ending the night without words because of tiredness, Camille immediately rests her head on my shoulder while gently passing an arm over my waist, a gesture that I imitate. On the other side of the window, the sun rises for another year. But this one, I know…will always be different for me. Before I close my eyes, I notice how Cam is breathing more deeply, already asleep. I smile and hug her even more.
We’re over it, I think, euphoric.
And the best thing is that, despite the fear and shame I felt until a few hours ago, I now know that it’s a situation I would repeat a billion times if I were proposed…