I set the platters on the table, my appetite for one thing gone and replaced by another. I watch as he blows out the candles, never taking his eyes from me, and then I walk to the bedroom, reaching around and unzipping my dress as I go. I do it slowly so he can watch, peeling off the layer of silk. I feel him behind me: the large presence, the warmth, the anticipation of what's to come. My perfect dinner cools on the table, the fat of the lamb congealing around the edges of the serving dish in oranges and creams as I slip out of the dress and bend at the waist, letting my hands sink into the bed. I'm wrist-deep in the down comforter when his fingers graze my hips and hook in the elastic waist of my panties. He pulls them down, and when they flutter around my ankles, I kick free of them.
The tink of metal and then the zzzweeep of his belt. He doesn't undress—there's just the muted sound of his pants falling to his ankles.
After, I warm our dinner in the microwave, wrapped in my robe. There is a throbbing between my legs, a trickle of semen on my thigh; I am sore in the best possible way. I carry his plate to where he is lying shirtless on the couch, one arm thrown over his head—an image of exhaustion. I cannot remove the grin from my lips, though I try. It's a break in my usual facade, this grinning like a schoolgirl.
"You're beautiful," he says when he sees me. His voice is gruff like it always is postsex. "You felt so good." He reaches up to rub my thigh as he takes his plate. "Do you remember that vacation we talked about taking? Where do you want to go?" This is the essence of post-coital conversation with Seth: he likes to talk about the future after he comes.
Do I remember? Of course I remember. I rearrange my face so that it looks surprised.
He's been promising a vacation for a year. Just the two of us.
My heart beats faster. I've been waiting for this. I didn't want to push it since he's been so busy, but here it is—my year. I've imagined all the places we can go. I've narrowed it down to a beach. White sands and lapis lazuli water, long walks along the water's edge holding hands in public. In public.
"I was thinking somewhere warm," I say. I don't make eye contact—I don't want him to see how eager I am to have him to myself. I am needy, and jealous, and petty. I let my robe fall open as I bend to set his wine on the coffee table. He reaches inside and cups my breast like I knew he would. He is predictable in some ways.
"Turks and Caicos?" he suggests. "Trinidad?"
Yes and yes!
Lowering myself into the armchair that faces the sofa, I cross my legs so that my robe slips open and reveals my thigh.
"You choose," I say. "You've been more places than I have." I know he likes that, to make the decisions. And what do I care where we go? So long as I get him for a week, uninterrupted, unshared. For that week, he will be only mine. A fantasy. Now comes the time I both dread and live for.
"Seth, tell me about your week."
He sets his plate down and rubs the tips of his fingers together. They are glistening from the grease of the meat. I want to go over and put his fingers in my mouth, suck them clean.
"Monday is sick, the baby..."
"Oh, no," I say. "She's still in her first trimester, so it will be that way for a few more weeks."
He nods, a small smile playing on his lips. "She's very excited, despite the sickness. I bought her one of those baby name books. She highlights the names she likes and then we look through them when I see her."
I feel a spike of jealousy and push it aside immediately. This is the highlight of my week, hearing about the others. I don't want to ruin it with petty feelings.
"That's so exciting," I say. "Does she want a boy or a girl?"
He laughs as he walks over to the kitchen to set his plate in the sink. I hear the water running and then the lid of the trash can as he throws his paper towel away.
"She wants a boy. With dark hair, like mine. But I think whatever we have will have blond hair, like hers."