I was lost in the spectacle of the sun rising over the water when Ryan sat down next to me and kissed my shoulder in the bare spot where the blanket I was wrapped in had slipped down. I blushed as I turned to see the smile I’d fallen for just a few hours earlier.
"Morning." He pulled me against his shoulder and wrapped his arms around me. I smiled as I took a deep breath in then exhaled before returning his greeting.
"How long have you been out here?"
"An hour or so I guess…just thinking…"
"How I got here, you, lots of things…"
Mostly I’d been thinking about how I’d never gone home with someone I barely knew, how I was glad we hadn’t actually slept together, but also how I desperately wanted to and that was something I’d never felt with anyone.
We’d met at a work party the night before and while I’d always known who he was - he was one of our premiere clients - I’d never actually met him. The more senior public relations team took care of him and until that night I only knew him from photographs and news clips.
I’d never expected to meet him but he happened to be behind me when a coworker who’d already had way too much to drink tripped and fell into me. I fell backward as my glass of wine flew out of my hand and he caught me as the glass crashed to the floor. When I righted myself and turned around I shook my head and wondered if I was dreaming.
"Are you all right?"
"You’re Ryan McKee."
"True." He smiled, I blushed, and the world around us started to fade. "And you are?"
"I’m fine, I’m fine. So sorry for the trouble. Thank you."
"It was no trouble at all."
It was at that moment when my drunk coworker realized what had happened and threw her arms around me and pushed me in Ryan’s direction. “I’m so sorry, Jazzy.” Her words were slurred and sloppy and I could smell the alcohol oozing from her pores.
"It’s fine, Luanne. But maybe you should slow down a little."
"Sorry, Jazzy, I’ve got this." Her husband, another coworker, pulled her away and I felt sorry for him, as I usually did at work parties. She had a problem and everyone knew it but her.
"Jazzy?" Ryan McKee was still there, smiling, and I was so close that I could feel his breath on my skin.
"Jasmine, actually, but everyone calls me Jazzy. I’m really sorry about all of this."
"Don’t be. I’m just glad I could be here, you know, to help or um, I don’t know…"
"Is the great Ryan McKee at a loss for words?" I grinned as I teased him because he was never at a loss for words. As the leader of one of the fastest growing social media companies in the world he was required to speak in public all of the time and I’d never seen him look flustered.
"Sort of…maybe we could start this again…Hi, I’m Ryan." He stepped back and put his hand out.
"Jazzy." I took his hand and the chemistry was undeniable between us. I could tell he felt it too.
"Wanna get outta here?"
"Yes, but I’m pretty sure you’re the guest of honor at this party so…"
"Right. Well, after then?" I nodded and blushed again. "I’ll meet you right here after I do whatever I have to do."
"Sure." I honestly didn’t think I’d see him again but it was nice to think about. He started to walk away then turned back and pulled out his phone.
"In case something goes awry and we miss each other, why don’t you give me your number and I’ll call or text you." I took his phone and entered my name and number then smiled as I handed it back. "See you soon."
I still doubted I’d see him again but the fact that he had my number made me feel like it was a bit more likely. He turned into the crowd and looked back a couple of times before getting lost in the sea of people. I stared for a few more seconds then made my way to the bar to replace the wine I’d lost earlier. As I leaned against the bar I felt my phone vibrate. I pulled it from my pocket and found a text from Ryan, complete with a selfie of him smiling: Is it after yet? I blushed as I took my wine then found a place to set my glass down so I could reply. I took a photo of the wine then replied: Not yet. Until then, cheers.
It was unlike me to be so flirty but it felt good and as the night went on I got more and more excited about what might really happen after the party was over.
When the party was over I followed him to his house on the beach and wasn’t at all sure what I was doing. I wasn’t a sleep-with-someone-on-the-first-date sort of girl. I actually wasn’t a sleep-with-someone-before-I-got-married sort of girl but there was just something about Ryan that made me think about things I’d never thought about and do things I’d never done.
He made us tea and we sat on his back porch talking until we were both nodding off. I knew I was too tired to drive but made the gesture of saying I needed to get home anyway. He wouldn’t have it, as I expected, and set me up in one of his guest rooms. When he turned toward his own bedroom I reached for his hand and gave it a little squeeze. “No goodnight kiss?”
"I didn’t want to presume."
"You know more about me than most of my friends at this point. I think you can presume."
He smiled and put his hand on my face then slid his fingers into my hair and placed his lips on my cheek. “Sleep well.” His breath tickled my ear and I felt a chill all over my body. He smiled as he stepped away and I just smiled and nodded then pushed the door closed.
"How did you sleep?"
"Better than I have in a long time. Is that weird?"
"Maybe. I don’t know. But I slept really well too."
I didn’t know why I slept better in a strange bed just a room away from a man I barely knew in a house I’d never seen before that night, but I definitely did. There was some sort of peace there and even though I woke up early I felt rested and very happy.
"There’s probably something you should know about me." He sounded serious and I turned in his arms to look into his eyes. "Let’s walk a bit." I nodded and we both pushed ourselves up and he took my hand as we headed toward the shore.
"So what do I need to know?"
"I’ve never actually done this before, had someone stay over like this." I was surprised but could tell he was sincere. "And I know it will probably seem strange to you but I’ve never slept with a woman either." That surprised me even more since he was a very eligible bachelor in his 30s.
"I can’t say I’m not surprised but it’s nice to know there are other people out there like me."
"You mean you’re a…"
"Hmm…" He smiled as he squeezed my hand and for another few minutes we just walked; the silence was sweet and comfortable. "So do you want to wait until you’re married or just for the right person?"
"I’m not sure…maybe marriage…though I’ve never really seen myself being married so…"
"Me either…but being here with you, talking last night…I’m thinking more about it."
I had to admit that I’d been thinking about it too. I didn’t tell him that I’d fallen asleep imagining what it would be like to fall asleep in his arms, as his wife. I knew I would wait to have sex until I was married. It’s just how I was raised. I also figured that I’d waited that long so waiting until that moment wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
"Would it be crazy if I said I could see a future with you? That I could see us married and having a family?"
"Yes, but only a little since I can see the same thing."
We stopped walking and he took both of my hands in his and stared into my eyes.
"Is this what they consider love at first sight?"
"No, I think this is what they call finding your soul mate."
He leaned in and placed his lips on mine, kissing me softly, slowly, perfectly, and as I kissed him back I pulled my hands from his and slipped them around his neck. He pulled me close and the fireworks going off inside my head and my heart told me what I’d known since he caught me at the party. He’s the one I’d been waiting for and the one I would spend the rest of my life with.
We spent most of the weekend talking about everything from religion to politics to how many kids we wanted to the types of movies and music we liked. We cooked together, ate together and spent a lot of time sitting and walking on the beach. When Sunday night inched closer to Monday I knew I should get home and prepare for work the next day. “Couldn’t I write you a note or something?”
I laughed and kissed him and wished he could. “I mean you could always come home with me but you’d be sleeping on the couch since I don’t have a plethora of guest rooms to choose from.”
"I think I’ll let you have a night to yourself but I’d like to take you to dinner tomorrow night if that’s all right."
"It’s perfectly all right."
We kissed again, said a few more words to each other, and then finally said goodnight after spending more than 48 hours together. I drove home in a silly daze and was still smiling when I walked into my own living room.
I could hardly concentrate the next day, especially when coworkers asked what happened to me on Friday, wondering why they couldn’t find me when the party ended. I didn’t say much, other than to say I just decided to leave early and that yes, I had a good weekend. When a huge vase of flowers arrived for me late in the day I didn’t even need to look at the card to know they were from Ryan.
I’ve been missing you all day. See you tonight.
"Well, I guess you had a good weekend." My boss peered into my office and I blushed as she smiled. I hadn’t yet seen her and doubted that I’d be able to keep things from her for long. She just had a way of asking the right questions and knowing things without anyone telling her. "So who are they from?"
"I’m not quite ready to say."
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this, Jazzy. Good for you."
"Thanks. I promise I’ll let you know as soon as I’m ready."
"You better. Now, let’s talk about the Wilson account."
I’d stayed up all night once I got home in order to finish the details on the Wilson presentation, something I had planned to spend most of the weekend on, and while I felt like I rushed through it I also felt like it was some of my best work. I went through the whole proposal with Lisa and she seemed pleased but gave me some great input and I spent the next couple of hours tweaking what I’d written. I’d messaged Ryan earlier in the day and told him I wanted to see him but was too tired to do much of anything. We’d talked about dinner the night before but I wasn’t sure I’d be awake enough to enjoy it. Still, he messaged around 7 and told me he was waiting in front of the building.
Give me 15 minutes.
We’d talked about keeping a low profile for a while but when I got downstairs he was leaning against a black Lincoln Navigator smiling and I knew it wouldn’t be long before everyone knew.
He kissed me when I reached the car and I breathed him in as he pulled me close. I smiled when we pulled apart and he did the same then opened the door to let me in. Once we were inside he wrapped his arms around me and held me tight.
"I missed you today." He kissed the top of my head and I closed my eyes as I settled in. It felt natural and like something I’d been doing my whole life.
"I missed you too." I yawned as the car moved slowly through the streets and felt myself falling asleep. "The flowers were beautiful by the way, thank you."
"Did you really stay up all night?"
"Mmm hmm." I woke up when the car came to a stop in front of his house and yawned as I pushed myself up and stretched. "Sorry, I’m probably not going to be much fun tonight."
"Come on." He grinned as he pushed the door open then helped me out and took my hand while we walked toward the house. When he opened the door I saw candles and flowers everywhere.
"Ryan, what’s all this?"
"I have completely fallen for you, Jasmine, and I don’t want to waste another minute before telling you how in love I am."
"Ryan." I smiled and put my hand on his cheek. "I love you too."
"Marry me." He held out a ring, an absolutely gorgeous ring, and I was stunned but excited. "I know it’s fast but I don’t care. Everyone always says when you know you know. And I absolutely know."
I wrapped my hands around his then leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth. I smiled as he slipped the ring on my finger then held my hand up and stared at the diamond. “I know too.” I looked back into Ryan’s eyes and had no doubts that I’d spend the rest of my life with him.
© Carrie M. Medders