“Are you still in my house?” he texts, as I stand, doting on my bruised tush in the mirror, the array of marks left by his hand reminiscent of an archipelago.
He’s gone, for a while this time. But he keeps giving me keys to the various residences he keeps.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” I respond, once I’ve slipped into one of his enormous shirts.
“I like the idea of your working on my patio when I’m not not there. It’s insanely sexy.”
Working might be an overstatement. In the past twenty minutes I’ve gotten hooked into his Sonos and danced on his furniture in my nightgown. But he’s right about the patio. I drank my coffee there this morning.
“Is it?” I ask. “Do you want to know what I’m wearing?”
“What you’re wearing is irrelevant,” he corrects me.
Have I ever mentioned that I love being corrected?
“What’s sexy is your lounging around my house like you own it.”
I almost purr at that one, kneeling on his couch with elbows resting on the armrest and tush raised in the air.
“But only in my absence. You wouldn’t dare take such liberties when I’m around.”
That line hits me like a well-placed smack and I smile. It’s so wildly true.
“How would you know?” I ask.
“I know you,” he responds.
He knows me? I’m not sure what to make of that.
I used to play cold and untouchable heiress with him. Most of the time now I play petulant girl. It’s delicious, been a long time in the making. Satisfies a need so fundamental it’s shocking I went so long without.
But, he knows me? What would that even mean?
Of course, he’s right about me in his home. When he’s not here I prance around his rooms, giddy and uncensored. It makes me feel as if I’m getting away with something.
But does he know, for example, that the spoiled child performance is intentionally heightened and theatrical, to distract from its actual truth?
“I pick things up when you’re not paying attention,” he continues, a few minutes later. I picture him in the backseat of a taxi, the stern way he commands which route he wants taken. “You are marginally transparent to me these days.”
I suppose I should feel threatened. Early on, he told me that once he’s figured out a woman, he’s finished with her.
But instead, I feel elated.
Different needs, I suppose. He might need me to be an enigma, but I need, so very much, to be figured out.
But doesn’t matter, because he’s full of it.
When I’m not paying attention? When would that be, exactly?
“Owning you is not about pressing your face into the mattress. I could never own you if it was just that,” he texts next.
He’s really on a roll now.
I make sure not to respond.
“I think that’s perhaps when you’ll finally recognize that you love me: When you realize that I see into you, sometimes better than you do yourself.”
It’s been six or seven months that we’ve been going at this. That’s a really long time. Long enough that he’s been naming his love for me for a while. Whereas I just, for the very first time, a few nights ago, my face pressed not into a mattress, but all up against his, had the surprising thought: I might be falling in love with this man.
“I can frame you in a way that is both true and surprising,” he concludes.
I love what he’s saying. It’s far sexier than my lounging around his house like I own it.
But, unlike him, I keep my words to myself.
Likewise my keys.
And my name.