It's good right now, the back door of her apartment open onto the fire escape, affording a view of the neighborhood, of people out and about on this perfect summer evening, the long shadows and the azure sky, the smell of backyard barbecues wafting all the way up here into her kitchen. And she looks so good, her robe undone, her black skin still glistening from the bath, her smile so fucking inviting. When she pauses to rub her chest against mine, I indicate the open door. "Let 'em watch," she laughs.
A perfect moment, then, but as always, the spell fades quickly enough. She's playing that damned Mariah Carey CD again, and she starts to sing along to Without You. Her voice is loud and off-key--the sound of a drunk--and she turns around and reaches into the refrigerator for the second can of Natural Ice she's had since I've been here.
I sigh. "It's really not a good idea to drink when you're on antidepressants."
"I like to drink." She shrugs. "I think it relaxes me. I'm a happy drunk. Aren't I? And I'm more fun when I drink. Right?" She reaches down the front of my boxers.
I pull the robe from her shoulders, letting it drop to the floor, and we press together. "You know the door's still open, right?" I ask.
"Maybe we should go to the bedroom."
We've been seeing each other for...what? Two moths? Three? The rules should be clear here, since she's just a rebound, an in-betweener, the first woman I've been with since my marriage dissolved. Whatever we have, it's essentially meaningless. Right? Though we've spent so many nights together, shared intimacies in so many different ways, we remain strangers in each other's lives, connected only for the moment.
Still, she feels so good in my arms, and it's so comforting to wake up beside somebody, it's tempting to just give in, to ignore all the warning signs: the drinking, the mood elevators, the irrational behavior. Just the fact that I'm here, relaxed and safe in her presence, seems as though it must mean something. When she speaks of her feelings for me, of the future we could have together, I'm tempted, I want to believe that somehow the stability that has so far eluded me is somehow attainable, and she is somehow the key.
Then my foot kicks over an empty can of Natural Ice while we're in the middle of our vigorous if somewhat desultory lovemaking, and I realize once again this is not the person I'm meant to be with. Still, there are rules, and I try to play along. She gazes deeply into my eyes and murmurs, "You're so good for me, Edward. You know I love you, don't you?"
And I say, "I love you, too," and wonder if she knows I'm lying.