Building Friction (Part 16)

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When Matt called in the middle of the afternoon the next day, I was writing the piece on the rapid dating event, trying my hardest not to think about what occurred in the restroom. I managed to make it most of the way through until the phone call. Matt was reminding me about meeting him for coffee at the bookstore later that night, after he'd gotten off of work. Suddenly my stomach sank.

"I don't want to keep you out after you've been working all day," I demurred.

"Great, now I feel like a jerk because I kept you out on Thursday after you'd worked..." He laughed to punctuate his joking tone. "I don't mind, Chloe. Otherwise, I would've been calling to beg off."

I sighed. "You sure you want to see me?"

"What's going on with you? Of course I want to see you," his voice was growing suspicious. "Or is this your way of saying that you don't want to see me?"

"No, it's not that. It's just been a strange weekend. When I think about it, coffee might actually be a good cure." I made up my mind to see him and not to let what had happened weigh me down. "I'm sorry if I sound like a shit. Sometimes I just have to talk myself into doing things. It's nothing against you."

Matt laughed loudly. "You really know how to flatter a guy. So, I'll see you over at Border's around 8?"

"Yeah, that sounds great. We can peruse the self-help section and see what can be done with me." I smiled when I heard him laugh again. "See you at 8."

I finished up my article and cleaned up in time to pick Sean up and take him to the airport. He was flying home to see his family and I wanted to see him off before I lost him for the next two weeks. During the ride, we didn't speak of the prior night's conversation, but as I walked him into the terminal, he stopped and faced me.

"Don't fuck up too much while I'm gone," he said, raising an eyebrow in his classic way.

"Well, that's real sweet of you to say," I joked.

"Seriously. If you fuck up, I want it to be when I'm around to laugh my ass off at you about it." He moved in a gave me a quick hug.

"I'll miss you," I said as he pulled back.

"Fine, you'll miss me. Just don't forget the rule." He started to walk off, then turned around. "And no talking shit about me when I'm gone!"

"You know I always save that for when you're around!" I yelled back. I watched him walk down the corridor and disappear around the corner, then turned and headed back to my car to drive home.

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I met Matt out in front of Border's at 5 minutes to 8 o'clock and we settled at a table in the coffee shop portion of the store. There were people milling around, having conversations in every direction. I sat and sipped at my iced mocha as Matt stared me up and down.

"We appear to be the only two people not talking tonight," he remarked.

"I'm not entirely what to say," I responded. "Ever had those days when words just seem to fail you?"

"All the time. I can fill in blanks for you if you're not interested in doing the talking. Is there anything that you want to ask me?" He leaned back and I could see him mentally bracing himself.

"Alright. Name a food you can't stand." I took another sip of my drink.

"Coconut." His answer was almost instant. "That wasn't anywhere near what I was expecting."

"I hate coconut too, so you're off to a good start," I laughed. "Something different then, huh? OK. What is the one thing that you absolutely cannot accept in the opposite sex?"

"The inability to tell me when our country was founded." He smiled innocently at me. I nearly sprayed iced coffee all over the table. "Yes, yes," he commented. "I'm a funny man. Now give me a really good question. I'm in the mood to open up all of a sudden."

I put down the napkin I was using to dab at my mouth. "Why are you afraid to get physical?"

"Hey now! I'm all about snowboarding, in-line skating, and..." He smiled when he saw the confusion in my face. "Oh, you didn't mean that kind of physical."

"No," I said.

"You meant, why won't I kiss you? Or try and rip off your clothes and ravish you, right?" I nodded as he looked over at me. He pressed his lips tightly together. "The last person? We had this instantaneous physical attraction, and we acted on it. A lot. Everywhere. So much so that it became the sole focus of our relationship. The only problem is that when a relationship hinges on sex, you don't always spend the time that you need to get to know a person. So we just kept at it like rabbits and ignored the fact that we knew very little about each other. In fact, if you were to ask me right now what her favorite color was, I wouldn't know the answer."

He sighed and lowered his head. I could see that this fact deeply embarrassed him. "So of course there were issues that came up and we weren't equipped to handle them. Being who I am, I tend to get extremely emotionally attached to whomever I am being intimate with. So I ignored a lot of warning signs. I ended up fighting for our relationship without knowing why I was fighting for it, but out of some gut reaction. I couldn't make heads or tails of why I wanted her. I just was crazy with want, and all because of the sex."

"Wow." It was all I could think of to say, but there was something that told me I needed to comment so that he knew that I was following along.

"She cheated on me. She hit on my friends. She stole money from me. She had all of these horrible traits about her that weren't clear to me because I was blinded. I didn't wait long enough to get to know her. So I made a promise to myself that the next time I got intimate with someone, that would be it. No more jumping into something with my eyes closed or my vision even half-clouded. I didn't want the next time to be about sex. I wanted it to be real. Does that make sense?" He paused and looked at me, waiting for my answer.

"That you become blinded by good sex? Don't we all?" There was a small part of me inside that cringed after I heard myself say that.

Matt laughed. "No. Well, yeah. I guess what I wanted to say is that when I decided to spend time with a woman again, I wanted to be attracted to her as a person, and not for the physical part of her."

"I don't know whether or not I should be offended by that," I smiled weakly.

"Oh, no..." Matt stammered quickly. "There's a physical attraction here, trust me." He covered his face with his hand. "Shit. It just, I mean I don't want it... I want to know you and like you before I fuck you. I want it to be about you and not just how you make me want to get naked and tango horizontally."

"Alrighty... I'm really not offended by that." I put my hand over his on the table. He looked up at me. "Stop talking. Please. I understand. It's perfectly OK with me that you aren't just interested in sex. In some ways, it's a bit of a relief."

"No tension?" Matt asked.

"Oh, there's tension." I giggled nervously. "I'm attracted to you. I can definitely give you a thumbs-up on that one. What I meant is that it's nice to know that I can just talk to you and not have to worry about something I say being twisted around into something perverted. That we can just be ourselves."

"Yeah. Although I wouldn't say that there haven't been times that I've turned something you've said into a, um...." His eyes scanned the room. "OK, do you remember when we went to the movies?"

"Yeah...?" I paused.

"And when we were leaving you looked over at me and were saying how if you were that chick in the movie, you would have licked that guy in 2 seconds flat?" He tilted his head at an angle towards me.

"Yeah....? OH!" I burst out into laughter. "Gotcha!" I winked at him and smiled.

"Hey, I couldn't help it. I AM a Scorpio, remember?" His smile was adorable. The dimple deeply pierced his cheek. This time I couldn't resist it. I leaned over the table and motioned to kiss him on it. His eyes drifted half closed. At the last second I flicked my tongue out and lightly licked it. His eyes shot back open, wide with shock. I settled back into my chair.

"2 seconds flat," I remarked.

He bellowed with laughter, drawing the attention of every person sitting at a table around us. "Yes, and you might have come in under that."

We talked for the next 2 hours, up until the store announced that it would be closing. I bought him one of my favorite books on astrology and he bought me a book about Hall and Oates. "Long story," he said, while paying for the book. "I'll just say that if you know Hall and Oates, you'll own a little piece of my heart."

We walked out to our cars, parked only spaces from one another and stood in the dim light of the moon. I had my arms crossed over my chest, clutching the bag with my new book. "OK, so looks like I've got some reading to do if I'm ever going to make any progress with you."

Matt smiled. "That you do. And I need to study up on water bearers." He waved around the book I'd bought for him. "So we've got our assignments. When should we meet up again to compare notes?"

"Well, we could do that on Wednesday. There's another open mic and Cara and Kelly are both going to be playing this time. How does that sound?" I shifted my weight from foot to foot. My heart was beating rapidly. I suddenly was consumed with thoughts of seeing Matt again. And those thoughts were making me both happy and nervous.

"That sounds like a decent enough amount of time to give you to learn about your subjects," He laughed. "I'd only really need a day, but I know you'd require a little more than that."

"Really?" I asked and cocked an eyebrow at him.

"Yep. Not everyone is a quick learner like me," he quipped.

"OK then. Wednesday it is, since I'm apparently a mental deficient." I smiled and went to extend my arms into the position for a hug. He moved into them and wrapped his arms around me as well. When we pulled back, I was almost certain he'd felt my heart beating through my chest. "Alright. See you Wednesday." I turned and started to put my keys in the door lock.

"Chloe?" I heard Matt ask behind me.

"Yes?" I had barely turned around when I felt his arms around me again. His face was inches from mine. I closed my eyes as I felt his lips come down on mine. His kiss was soft and mildly insistent. His mouth felt like sinking into a sea of softness. It was chaste, completely void of tongue, and my mind wrapped around the thought of how much I liked it. After a few seconds, he pulled back. He looked almost as dazed as I felt.

"Well, that's obviously all you can handle for this evening. I don't want to tantalize you any further. You've got reading to attend to." His voice was a stern booming tone. It softened over the next comment. "I'll see you Wednesday, Chloe. I really enjoyed seeing you tonight."

"I really enjoyed seeing you again too, Matt," I agreed. I don't think I'd meant something that much in a really long time.

He watched to make sure I was in my car before climbing into his own. We drove off in our respective directions, with me wishing very desperately that tomorrow could be Wednesday instead of Monday.

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