© 2018 KT McColl
It wasn’t Valentine’s Day. Having made this annual assignation on that day would have been too much, would have suggested that this strange thing we had was and forever would be the most significant romantic event of the calendar. For me, it was, but it might not always be that way. For the man, I had no idea.
That was how I referred to him: the man. I had no other name for him. He hadn’t offered it and I hadn’t asked again and it seemed silly for me to do so now. We’d settled nicely into anonymity. I might not know his name, nor he mine, but we knew each others’ bodies and that was more than enough. He was the man. Maybe he referred to me as the woman. The possibility made me smile.
I waited in the hotel room, early as usual. I liked these quiet moments before he arrived, never knowing for sure whether he would or whether something had happened in the intervening year to prevent it. It was probably the same for him.
This was the fifth year. As I sat and waited, I remembered the beginning as though it were yesterday.
To say that we met at a party would have been both an exaggeration and an understatement. It was a Valentine’s Day party that had attracted couples and a few strays possibly striving for coupledom under the cardboard cupids. I was unattached at the time and he… who knew?
It happened like in a Hollywood movie — a steady questioning glance shared between milling anonymous bodies. It wasn’t love at first sight or even lust. If anything, it was inevitability.
He was there on the periphery, the glances becoming gradually more curious. He and his gaze unsettled me and that was a good thing. I’d been settled too long. I was perhaps a little tipsy by the time he gestured to the door. His eyebrows rose as if to ask whether I understood and, my heart racing, I nodded.
I met him outside. He was standing beneath an arbor that was festooned in dead, brittle vines that had snared the low moon. While none of his facial feature stood out as breathtaking in the dim light, the whole seemed to work together in an attractive package. He was perhaps six feet tall and trim. That was the extent of my impressions.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
He placed an index finger to my lips, invading my personal space as though he had every right to do so. Shh. I got it. No words. Just as well — words at that point would have only complicated things. At that moment, imposed muteness struck me as playful rather than weird, an odd twist on the impersonal hookup that had evaded me for much of my adult life. Until now. At the same time, silence was refreshing. With no words, there could be no lies, no promises. It could be a moment, pure and simple.
He searched my eyes and I his. He looked intent and entirely present. And me? I don’t know what I looked like, but whatever it was, it seemed to work for him.
The kiss, when it finally occurred, was initially gentle, tentative, and exploratory, like most first kisses are. I felt his cool fingertips at my cheek. My hand had found the back of his head, pulling him toward me.
In the back of my mind, I hoped that I wasn’t coming across too desperate.
It felt like the most natural thing in the world, the kissing of this unknown man. Perhaps it was the day, perhaps the cardboard cupids had done their mysterious work. Whatever the reason, I opened myself to it… not necessarily to the man but to the experience. When his hand drifted down to the small of my back and then to my ass, I welcomed it and encouraged the touch with my body.
It was I who made the first significant move. He was pressed against me, his arousal evident, trapped between us. More boldly than I would have thought possible, I freed it, only to hold this warm living thing captive in my hand. He appeared surprised and a little amused that I should have taken the lead in this way. Truth be told, it was uncharacteristic of me.
Now that I had come this far, I was at a loss. The possibilities seemed limited. The physics of vertical fucking were never my forte. The angles were difficult, the stress and tension on the body fraught and I was no longer as flexible as I once was. Unhurriedly, he lifted my skirt, gently probed here and there, found my willing wetness. Soon I was divested of my panties. I stilled him with a hand on his chest and bent to retrieve the emergency condom I carried in my purse. I wondered whether condoms had a best before date, like yogurt. I’d tossed more than enough yogurt in my life because of this, probably out of an abundance of caution, but I was reluctant to investigate the foil package. Without doubt, it would have killed the moment. With a deftness that surprised me, I sheathed him. He was strong, my nameless man. Once prepped, he arranged me, hoisted me, holding the woodwork of the arbor while my legs draped over his arms. I almost let out an unladylike whoop until I remembered the silence thing. Then again, there was nothing ladylike about my position and I finally felt vulnerable. There was nothing between his cock and my exposed sex. With the first touch of it against my opening, I ceased caring, resolving instead to enjoy this moment.
Somehow, we managed. Somehow, it managed to be good.
At some point during my mad fumble for the condom that may or may not have expired, my phone had fallen out of my purse. As I was catching my breath, dishevelled and only now coming to terms with the irresponsible thing that I had done, he picked it up and asked permission with a glance. I nodded, curious as to what he had in mind. I expected that he might have entered his name and phone number into my contacts list. Not so. Instead, he entered an appointment in my calendar for the first Saturday of February next year. There was the name of one of the better hotels in town and a time. Eight PM. That was it.
With a final kiss, he was gone, as wordlessly as he’d entered my life.
I blinked at the date on my calendar and thought him bloody presumptuous. I closed the calendar application and returned to the party.
For the first few weeks after the party, I berated myself for my uncharacteristic stupidity and wantonness, but gradually, as these things do, the episode became one of many loose, colorful threads in the tapestry of my life. As time passed, he became a memory that I knew I would trot out decades from now when I needed to remind myself how alive and vital and reckless I’d once been. Of all the things I’d done and all the things I hadn’t, the latter were the ones I regretted the most, and so I thought back on our wordless assignation with some fondness.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad thing.
The man remained my guilty little secret and so guilty was the nature of it that I never mentioned his existence to my friends, even when the calendar turned to a bright new year and I remembered the date we’d set. As tempted as I was to seek guidance from those more worldly and circumspect than I, I mentioned him to no one even when I considered meeting him again. I had no doubt that my friends would have attempted to dissuade me, chastise me for a lack of sense. And what would they say? I could imagine it:
“You know nothing about him.”
“You don’t even know his name.”
“He could be a predator, for all you know.”
All true, and all weirdly irrelevant. I didn’t want to be dissuaded and so I kept my silence.
Then, a week before our date, my phone chimed a reminder. I was tempted to ignore it. We owed each other nothing, after all. Besides, did I take it on faith that he had made arrangements and would be there? Did I even want to bother? It was easier and more comfortable to ignore the whole thing, but I was at an age when ease and comfort had started to chafe, and so I found myself considering the appointment more seriously.
I was curious. Would he speak this time? Could it be as good?
I approached the front desk. I was early and realized belatedly that I could have waited for him in the lounge. I didn’t have his name, nor did he have mine. I wondered whether I would recognize him.
I hesitated and had resolved to ensconce myself in some hidden corner when one of the clerks addressed me.
“Madam, may I help you?”
“I was to meet someone here but I don’t…” Don’t know his name, I thought. How stupid did that sound?
I paused and then laughed. “Yes,” I said.
“I do have a reservation for you. He left instructions to provide you a key.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Do I have to sign anything?”
“No, madam, it’s all taken care of.”
As I rode up in the elevator, I realized that there would be no record of me being here. I considered sending myself an email as my accounts would certainly be checked by the authorities in the event that I went missing. But then, the man would have to assume that someone knew of my whereabouts, that I would have taken some sensible precautions. Besides, I didn’t believe for a moment that he intended some evil, not at this point. No, I was in safe hands.
I got to the room earlier than the assigned time. Nerves, I guess. More likely anticipation. I was past wondering why I was doing this. It wasn’t that I was desperate. I still received the occasional invitation and more often than not followed through on it. On my more charitable days, I saw myself as perhaps better than average in the looks department. The years had been kind but hadn’t overlooked me entirely. I was perhaps a little rounder and a little softer than I had been in my youth, but my form was still that of a woman and the occasional eye of the beholder found that form desirable. Then why? It was probably that I was above average too in my desire for a bit of excitement, a hint of danger.
On entering the suite — the man either had good taste or a very large expense account — I promptly drew the curtains shut. The lights from the building opposite were bright. There was a time and place for the harsh light of reality and this wasn’t it. The muted light of fantasy was more like it. I sat on the edge of the bed and waited, choosing to remain dressed. Years ago, I might have presented myself immodestly but I knew that a lot of men, and I, preferred the slow, deliberate unwrapping. I was dressed well for the occasion. Nothing openly slutty, of course. Concealed sluttiness was more my thing. The skirt and blouse concealed the garters and stockings, demi-bra and almost nothing panties that I’d bought for the occasion.
There was a quiet knock at the door at 8:00 sharp. I said nothing. No word of greeting or invitation. My heart had lurched into my throat and words would have been impossible anyway. In a moment, I heard the card being swiped and the lock disengaging. I smiled to myself. The man might simply have entered. At least he had good manners.
It was an odd reunion, seeing this man whom I’d met only once — though met was not quite the word for it. A strange emotion swept through me. Had this man been my boyfriend, husband or lover, returned after a year-long absence, I doubt I would have felt much different. I felt almost grateful that he’s made good on his end of the unspoken promise. He had taken the time to be here now, with me, and that meant something more than the obvious purpose of this assignation. It felt like more than sex, but then it was a failing of mine to read meaning into situations where there was none. However, I didn’t feel like it was a mistake this time.
Had he granted me permission to ask a question, I wondered what it would have been. Surely not his name or what he did for living. Not whether he was married or why he insisted on silence. If anything, I might have asked why it was important that we wait a year.
But then, maybe it was the rarity of the occasion that made it meaningful.
I watched him as he smiled and puttered around the room, emptying a bag that contained two bottles of wine — one red and one white — and wine glasses. He looked less sure of himself now compared with a year ago. I found it endearing that he should be nervous in my presence when I was already wound up tighter than I could remember.
Finally he turned to me. I think we both recognized the sheer weirdness of the situation. He approached with a slight smile and touched my cheek like he had the first time. The kiss that began tentatively quickly became bold and the hunger of it took my breath away. Uneasiness and awkwardness gave way to an odd, desperate passion. A questing tongue sought refuge in my mouth and I offered it.
At length he disengaged and retrieved a bottle of wine from the dresser. He fussed with the cork and removed it, the loud pop startling me.
We toasted silently and drank. He gazed at me wordlessly over the rim of the glass. He had deep, grey eyes, surrounded by the lines that could either signify great pain or a great capacity for humor. I met his eye and felt, a moment later, his fingers at the top button of my blouse. I stood still and he took his time unbuttoning it and I shivered at the feel of his fingers as they brushed my chest.
His eyebrow quirked when he saw the lace and the design of my bra. I’d surprised him. Good. I’d surprised myself too by purchasing something just for this occasion, something that emphasized form over function. I laughed — a sound that seemed to relax him.
He stroked my breasts over the lace. I’d been pawed and squeezed and pinched before, but this was different. He seemed focussed and intent on them. I’d become increasingly self-conscious about my breasts in recent years — their size, the merciless effect of gravity, the subtle change in the texture of the skin — but I felt none of that now. In fact, it was I who encouraged him by unfastening the clasp in front, inviting him to unveil me. He did and ever so gently brushed his fingers over their surface, weighing them in his hands, stroking my nipples to attention. When he bent over them, taking first one nipple and then the other in his warm mouth, my knees almost buckled.
Though my breasts had always been less of an erogenous zone for me than my partners would have expected, I was soon going out of my head, mewling unabashedly.
To quell the increasingly intense whimpers of arousal that bubbled up from my chest, I sought escape in the only way that presented itself. When I could take no more, I sank to my knees. I needed control, and perversely, this was how I chose to do it. I reached for his zipper. I didn’t do this for any man, but evidently I did it for a stranger. I understood the symbolism of it from the man’s perspective, understood how powerful an image it was to see a woman on her knees. And yet, it didn’t feel as demeaning as I thought it might. It was the man who was putting his tender bits out there and it was the supplicant who had the teeth. Dominance, in this and so much else, was an illusion. And thus, on my knees and with my field of vision filled with male arousal, I felt a small tickle of power. He wanted this as much as I did. I would give him pleasure and he would reciprocate.
I was less perfunctory in my attentions than I usually was. It was important for me that I perform well. This act had never been my favorite, and yet I resolved the make it good, or at least as good as I could manage.
He placed his hands on my head, winding his fingers in my hair, and simply followed my movements. I loved the hardness of him, the texture of veins and smooth skin against my tongue and lips, the slippery ease with which he slid in and out. I thrilled at the response, the occasional twitch, how he swelled in answer to my actions.
His breathing quickened and I sensed his reluctance as he pulled himself away from me.
He gave me a rueful smile. He’d almost succumbed. I’d almost had him. I smiled back.
Extending his hand, he helped me to my feet and then, with a masculine forcefulness that his gentle grin revealed as an act, backed me up against the bed. Placing his hand between my breasts, he gave me a little push so that I fell back onto it. He regarded me for a moment, seemingly weighing the options.
He lowered himself beneath my field of vision and I closed my eyes. I heard him hum in appreciation at my garters and stockings and then pulled my panties down.
He inhaled deeply through the nose and I felt the exhalation against my sex. I grimaced. Was he actually smelling me? I was prepared to open myself to all of his senses, but this one seemed possibly more intimate than I was prepared for. Then the touch of his tongue at precisely the right spot jolted me back to the present. I suppressed a nervous giggle when I realized that I had evidently passed the sniff test.
This, again, was something new. Sheer bad luck had thrown men my way for whom the oral arts were limited to expressions of contrition when all other forms of atonement failed. This was a revelation, a slow, deliberate, toe-curling expression of intent. No galloping to the clitoris, no perfunctory lick, no… no, this was alternately gentle and inquisitive, rough and demanding. The man, I realized, took this act seriously.
Ever so patiently, he guided me to the abyss — two steps forward, one step back. By the time he had me on the edge, I was desperate to leap. With a flurry of tight flicks of the tongue, he sent me over, quivering and gibbering as I soared.
Before the tremors had ceased, I was repositioned on the bed, my head on the pillow, my legs open to him. I cradled him there, his lean torso framed by my legs. Forgetting our unspoken agreement, I was about to express my breathless gratitude when he placed a finger on my lips with an expression of admonishment. Enough already, I thought to myself. Enough with the silence. He smothered the angry words that were about to explode out of my mouth with a kiss and it wasn’t until I’d resigned myself once more to muteness that I noticed that he now held my wrists firmly on either side of my head.
It was a blessing that we had no familiar choreography to fall back on, no common language with which to express need. Everything was blissfully new, our actions guided by intuition. I felt a thrill at being restrained but no alarm. I felt the brush of something against my sex and looked down to see him poised at my entrance. I was already on the threshold of capitulation. What did it matter that he held me immobile? I didn’t want to go anywhere.
He caught my eye and I nodded.
He watched me closely as he slowly descended. I had to remember to breathe, so intent was I on tracing his passage into me. When he had no more to give and I no more room to spare, I sighed.
He let go of my wrists and my hands went to the small of his back. I felt the play of his muscles as he moved. The rhythm was reassuringly familiar when everything else was so unusual. I was being fucked by a stranger, I thought to myself. And it didn’t bother me in the least. The opposite, in fact. He might have had any number of lovers between now and the last time and the same might have been true for me. It didn’t matter. When every other facet of my life was normal and predictable, when one day bled into the next with nothing to distinguish the individual steps in the march of time, this one day of abandon was a gift. It was more than throwing caution to the wind; it was living.
At that moment, I understood how precious this moment was. I’d lived long enough to recognize how often intimacy was spun as currency rather than something given freely. Maybe that was the true blessing of silence — that there could be no negotiation and no contract. You never really knew about someone. You couldn’t. And you could never know how much you didn’t know. It was better to acknowledge the unknowable and focus on what one did know… That this, with its ignorance and risk, with its silence and lack of restraint… this was good.
I could sense that he was nearing the limits of his self control. To my surprise, I was right there with him. I tightened around him, felt that thawing in my core that presaged release. I internalized the sounds that I might have made with anyone else and angled my hips just so and he stroked that glorious spot within.
I allowed my fingers to play over his body in our post coital haze. There were scars I longed to ask about, a tattoo on his upper arm that must have had some meaning. He idly stroked my back, seemingly content with the warmth of my naked body against his. I was reassured at how comfortable the silence was.
After a while I got up and retreated to the bathroom. The woman who greeted me in the mirror was dishevelled and glowing and grinned like an idiot.
I took a long, leisurely shower, half expecting him to join me. He didn’t.
When I returned to the bedroom, he was still unselfconsciously naked on the bed. He held out his hand and welcomed me back. He’d poured some more wine and handed me a glass. With anyone else, this was when we would talk, crack a joke, say anything to distract the self-consciousness that fell over us at that moment.
I finished my wine and took his glass, setting it on the bedside table. I pushed him back on the bed. It was my turn. At first, his face registered surprise. Then sheer pleasure.
I awoke some hours later to the sound of the shower. It was still dark outside. The clock radio told me that it was just past two in the morning. Six hours since he’d re-entered my life. I took a deep, satisfied breath. I was tempted to wait for him but thought it better not to. We’d exhausted ourselves and there would obviously be no pillow talk. Besides, I couldn’t exactly say goodbye.
I got dressed and moved to the dresser just as the shower stopped. On a pad, I wrote the date one year hence and a time. No name, no little hearts, no XOXO. I placed the pen on the pad, grabbed my purse, and softly closed the door behind me.