Equal proportion

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It started when he made her laugh. She was trying to confide in him, something dark and serious, but he had a way of turning a conversation, and as he talked, she found worry loosening its grip. He made a joke about something that shouldn’t have been funny. But it was. He always could take a serious thought and make it less dire. Reality was his favorite medium.

Paula ordered one drink and then another, and Drew’s beer glass filled and emptied in equal proportion. When it came time to leave, she hesitated over her purse, looking for the $20 she had stashed in the pocket, not finding it. Shit, she said aloud. Don’t worry about it, Drew countered, paying the bill and pausing when she placed her hand on his forearm to steady herself. In that moment, he tried to imagine himself an oak tree, strong and deeply rooted, immovable. He tried to think of Eric but the image wouldn’t hold. She knew in that moment she would sleep with him.

The heat from Paula’s hand on his arm spread quickly, and when she hesitated, he asked her to come home with him. There was a tension in the way his car followed hers through the neighborhood, a kind of foreplay, deliberate and possessive. As she watched his lights in her rearview mirror, she imagined him standing behind her, and an almost desperate need took hold. She needed to be touched. Drew’s place was a mess, tiny and dark, but Paula didn’t care. She savored his first kiss like an addict savors a sucker straight out of the wrapper, the flavor warm and heavy on her tongue. It was less a decision than an instinct to let go, to meet his demands with her own, urging, cresting, releasing.

This was another, perhaps more effective way to confide. And this was a new reality for Drew.

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