The evening before Thanksgiving, Joel showed up at Winnie’s apartment. They’d been texting and snap chatting and talking on the phone off and on for days, but she hadn’t seen him since the dinner with her parents the previous Saturday.
When she opened the door, she could hardly breathe. He was so handsome. But it was more than. He was confident and cocky. In a really good way.
“Sorry to just show up out of the blue like this,” Joel said, stepping in the door. “Am I interrupting? Were you doing something this evening?”
“I was hoping you would call.” Winnie shrugged. “Does that count as doing something?”
“In the old-fashioned kind of way, I sort of did just call.” Joel took her hand and brought it to her lips to kiss her knuckles.
“I like the old-fashioned kind of way.” Winnie stepped closer and tucked herself into his arms, noticing how he engulfed her in a very protective embrace. “To what do I owe the honor?” She continued their formal cadence as she pulled away and looked up at him.
“Just wanted to talk about Thanksgiving.” Joel leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “Tell me who all I’m going to meet tomorrow. Anyone besides your parents and brothers?”
“My grandparents will probably be there and possibly my Aunt Violet. They’re all really nice.”
“I’m sure I’ll get along with them just fine.” He lowered his gaze to the side as if nervous about something.
“What’s the matter?” Winnie took Joel by the hand and tugged him toward the couch. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I’m sorry my mom pressured you into attending our family Thanksgiving when we barely know each other.”
“Believe me, I want to go,” Joel assured her. “I was just thinking about the interesting conversation I had with your brothers. Are they always that overprotective of you?”
“I don’t know,” she said, thankful that’s all he was concerned about. “I’ve never brought a boyfriend home to meet them.”
“Never?” Joel raised his eyebrows.
“Nope. Never.” Winnie shook her head slowly.
“Well, I’m honored to be your first.” Joel lifted his chin with confidence.
“You’d be my first… at a lot of things.” She was suddenly bashful, admitting more about herself in that one sentence then the whole rest of the conversation.
“Really? First ever?” A hint of a grin appeared and then Joel pulled his face back into a mask of seriousness. “I’m glad we haven’t yet.”
“Why?” Winnie tried to not get her feelings hurt.
“I was glad I was able to answer your brother’s question truthfully.”
“Yeah, that would have been pretty awkward,” she agreed.
“We can’t have sex tonight,” Joel blurted out. “No matter how hard I beg.”
“Why?” Again, Winnie’s insecurities hung in her question.
“Because they would know,” Joel said. “They would see it in our eyes. Even if we tried to pretend nothing had happened, they’d notice the change in our countenance.”
“Would you want to have sex with me tonight?” Winnie felt very vulnerable even asking. “Like if we weren’t going to see my family tomorrow afternoon would you want to spend the night tonight?”
“I would totally want to spend the night.” Joel’s voice lowered into a sensual husky tone that conveyed more than his words alone. This somehow made her feel better. Winnie knew she was beautiful, but she didn’t get asked out very often because she intimidated most guys. Joel didn’t seem intimidated by her.
“Maybe tomorrow?” Winnie suggested. “After we get home from visiting my parents?” This seemed like a very strange conversation to have when they’d barely kissed before.
“Is your roommate going to be home?” Joel lifted his gaze and glanced around the apartment as if just remembering to check if they were alone before having this very personal conversation.
“Nope, she’s gone for the whole weekend.” Winnie wiggled her eyebrows playfully. Her heart raced at the prospect of continuing the conversation they’d started the night they’d gone out to dinner for the first time. She wasn’t sure why she was nervous. All her friends had guys over, usually the night they met. This was finally her chance to know what that was like.
“Gone for the whole weekend, huh?” There was a playful glint in Joel’s eyes. “I think I’m going to look forward to tomorrow night.”
“That will make tomorrow visiting with family a lot more tolerable knowing that we’re coming home together.”
“I like the sound of that.” He rubbed his hand up and down her back as if comforting her, but not in a suggestive way.
“What? Coming home together?” That made her feel even better than the prospect of sleeping with him.
“Yeah. I mean, I know we haven’t been dating long but I think spending the weekend together would be a great way to get to know each other.”
“Have you ever… you know?”
“Yeah.” He didn’t elaborate and she didn’t ask. “You?”
“Not even close. I’ve been too focused on dance to even have a boyfriend.”
“A boyfriend isn’t really necessary. Some girls just want a hookup.”
“Well, I don’t,” Winnie said with confidence. “If we do have sex, it will be because I like you a lot and want to develop a relationship with you. I don’t want this to be a hookup. I don’t want you to leave me after sleeping with me. I don’t want you to use sex as some sort of litmus test to decide whether or not we’re compatible and whether or not we could have a long-term relationship.”
“I won’t do that.” Joel reached up and tucked a lock of hair behind Winnie’s ear. “I promise.
“I’m sure every guy says that to the girl that he’s trying to hook up with.”
“Yeah, but I’m not trying to hook up with you.” Joel shook his head and sighed. “I want to date you. Seriously. Like to give a relationship a go.”
“You’re the first guy to even take me on a second date.” That was hard for Winnie to admit. “Guys are usually intimidated by me or make assumptions about what kind of date I want.”
“You have me intrigued,” Joel said. “What kind of date do guys think you want? And more importantly, what kind of date do you want?”
“Guys think I want something formal and uppity, like an orchestral performance or poetry reading.” She lowered her gaze and reached for Joel’s hand. “But what I really want is to lay on the couch and make out.”
“When was the last time someone laid with you on the couch and made out?”
“Never,” she admitted. “No guy has even asked what I want to do for a date.”
“We’re going to need to remedy this oversight on behalf of the entire male population.” Joel tackled Winnie playfully, capturing her in his grip, supporting her weight in his strong arms. Even though he was on top of her on the sofa, no part of him was actually touching her body.
Winnie’s heart raced. Finally, she was going to get her dream date. A guy she really, really liked was going to make out with her while lying on the couch together. Maybe the reason she’d never had this chance before was because she hadn’t met the right guy yet. Maybe this meant that Joel was the right guy. Maybe he was her forever guy.
His face was just far enough away that they could look into each other’s eyes and he seemed to be searching hers, maybe looking for the same answer she was seeking. Was she his forever girl?
Joel lowered his face to hers and she lifted her head to meet him halfway. Best first kiss ever. Not that she had anything to compare it to. But his lips were gentle yet confident, sensual and romantic, passionate but controlled, comfortable and safe, like she could trust him with her whole heart.
She relaxed into his arms and let him kiss her for a long, long time.