Authors: S. M. Lumetta
“What was that?” I ask. My tongue delights again in the taste of his kiss hanging on my lips. He cocks a crooked grin and slides toward me through the sudsy water. I can’t stop my whimper of anticipation, thinking how fucking sexy this man is.
“Clementine,” he says, before pressing his lips to mine. His tongue darts past my teeth, though I accept him willingly. I taste the fruit again, stronger. “They used to be my favorite … until you,” he drawls lazily, barely pulling back enough to speak.
I splash him as I try to grab the hat and throw it on the floor, but he blocks my hand and holds the hat on. He arches an eyebrow and chuckles, his mouth taking a deeper kiss this time. I feel his arms snake around me, fingers slipping over my skin.
I sink farther into the water, relieving my hardened nipples of the chill of the air. My legs coil around his waist, anchoring me to him as we both grapple for friction and hold. I moan loud, rocking against him, hard and ready for me. He growls and the sound dissolves into a hum as his lips suck and trail along any available skin he could reach.
I lose myself in the sensation of his hands roaming my body, tickling my hips, my thighs with the tips of his beautiful fingers—the tease. His eyes are hooded as he watches me fixedly though he continues to entice.
“I love the way you touch me,” I say.
He grumbles and crushes me again with his kiss, my head spinning in sensual overstimulation. But his hold on me is firm as he positions himself. I am aching for him.
I can’t restrain the volume of my plea as I beg, “Please.”
My eyes flew open with a harsh gasp of breath. Panting, the heat drained from my face. Sweat beaded along my forehead as my temples pound. I gripped the sides of the tub and pulled myself vertical in anticipation of the weakness that always follows. But I couldn’t bring myself to care how much energy it took from me. I would have him in this tub.
Holy hell, I need a time stamp on these things.
After I got dressed and made breakfast—this gift seemed to make me extra hungry—I called Vivi. As relaxing as the bath had been before the vision, I was frustrated. These untethered teases made me antsy and impatient. This clairvoyance of mine taunted me with answers to questions I haven’t asked.
Vivi groaned when she answered the phone. “Oh, thank God! I almost had to join Nash for brunch with quite possibly the most misogynistic ass hound this side of the Atlantic. Excellent trial attorney, but sweet baby Jesus, I might have had to puncture an eardrum with a toothpick.”
“Well that’s a mouthful.”
“Had to happen. What’s up, buttercup?”
I took a deep breath. I felt so melodramatic to complain.
“Uh-oh.” I heard her shift, maybe to a more comfortable sitting position. “Tell me.”
“I had another,” I said. When she didn’t breathe a word, I wasn’t sure if she was on the edge of her seat or giving me space. “It was him.” I didn’t realize I’d sighed longingly until she snickered.
“It staggers me that you are already so in love with someone you’ve never met. Think about that! I’m a psychologist! Mind equal-sign blown.”
“Shouldn’t that mean that you should commit me for being over-involved in a fantasy? I mean, I have no proof he even exists.”
“I don’t like it when you sound smarter than me,” she snarked. “It’s embarrassing. They may come to take away my license and degrees.”
A labored chuckle erupted. “I doubt it. I still don’t understand why you believe me.”
She sighed, almost an apology. “You know I do and I don’t if I’m being honest. I believe you feel it and I’m rooting for you. I
them all to be true—obviously. It’s a gut feeling. Maybe similar to yours but not so pronounced.”
I nodded before remembering we were on the phone. “Thank you.”
“I’m serious, babe.”
I heard a gulp and an “ahh” before she announced to me and everyone in her general vicinity, “I love Bloody Marys.”
I snorted. “Noted.”
“But seriously,” she continued, “I have always been a great judge of character. Ask Nash! I used to go to court with him on occasion for law school observation. I called bullshit on every guilty son of a bitch in the room. Even the ones who had everyone snowed.”
I laughed. “I believe you. No need to take
“Nice. I see what you did there. So, back to this preview of Mr. Hotpants,” she said before slurping loudly at what I assumed was the end of her drink. “Or was it Mr. No Pants?”
I hummed, remembering.
“Ohh,” she moaned, “it was sexy, wasn’t it?”
“It was amazing.” I blushed deeply despite being totally alone. “But I’m more aggravated by it than anything else.”
“Why, darrrlin’?” she drawled. She must have had a few of those drinks.
“These previews feel like sirens, crazy seductive and waiting to drown me.”
“You’re a goddamn poet. Did you know?”
She spoke with genuine admiration, but I scoffed anyway. “I’m serious. I want him now!”
“Oh, tell me you heard yourself. You
him now? I bet you do.”
“I hate you,” I said, trying to restrain my laughter. “I just want something to hold onto, Viv. A point of goddamn reference, or the ghost in my machine is going to break something up there.”
She erupted in laughter. I wasn’t sure if it was my stupid brain joke or if she was seriously drunk.
She sucked in a post crack-up breath and sighed.
“I wish there were an easy fix, babe, but that’s not how the mind works. Add in your ability and it’s anyone’s guess. Allow me to doctor you for one quick second,” she suggested with only a hint of question to her voice. “Get out of your head.”
“What?” I couldn’t help the surprised bend to my tone, which rose an octave above normal.
“Focus on someone else for a little while,” she said, sounding surprisingly sober. “Not that this would be fun, exactly, but Charlotte’s dad’s surgery is today.”
“Yeah. She called yesterday. We were supposed to go to lunch.”
“Okay, well maybe just being there for her will help take the focus away from your own crap. Not to compare, but rather to be of service to someone else. It can be grounding.”
I considered it, stretching my thoughts around it. She was right; I couldn’t stuff myself in a dark attic and expect to see the light outside. With little prompting, I agreed. I would be there for those who’d been there for me.
Within a couple of hours, I was sitting in a dully colored lounge on the third floor of Lenox Hill Hospital in the middle of Manhattan and staring at the floor. I was sure the nausea-inducing print on the carpeting could induce seizures.
Who decorates hospitals anyway, sociopaths?
Charlotte and Drew had both been surprised to see me and graciously welcomed me. She introduced me to her mom, Sofia, who was Vivi’s aunt, and her dad’s older brother, Fred. After idle chitchat, we settled in to wait for the news. Charlotte curled up next to Drew in one of those awkward waiting room chairs. He had his arm wrapped around her protectively as he stroked her hair.
I took up the seat directly across from her, desperately trying to stop the awkward fidgeting I’d taken to today. I occupied myself by memorizing all the aspects of the room until the rag mag on the table next to me snagged my eye. I scanned through it for a while, barely taking note of the outrageous headlines, but I couldn’t concentrate on it. Instead, I studied the people around me on the sly.
After about an hour of strange quiet amid a few mumbled exchanges between family members, the doctor came in with news. A collective sigh blanketed the group when she declared the surgery a success and she expected a full recovery.
Everyone seemed to hug someone and share relief among themselves, while I just stood there feeling extraneous. Charlotte ducked her head into the crook of Drew’s neck, and he tightened his embrace around her, rubbing her lower back. Unintentionally, I focused on them. I was a guilty voyeur trapped in their intimate moment. Between these two and all the affection I’d witnessed between Vivi and Nash, I waded in jealousy but swam in admiration. The almost tangible bond between them all astounded me, and I couldn’t help but long for my own connection.
I just didn’t know how long and that was killing me.
The doctor went on to explain that John would be in recovery for a good hour, but as soon as he was awake, the family could see him. Sofia hugged her and kissed both cheeks, clearly shocking the hell out of her. Charlotte quietly thanked her before she left.
Drew rose slowly, gently pulling out of his hug with Charlotte while leaving his palm against her neck.
“Baby, I’m gonna get a coffee. Did you want anything?” he asked as he ran his thumb along her chin.
She shook her head almost imperceptibly. “Thank you.” Though she looked tired, her overall sense of relief was evident. Her shoulders had dropped away from her ears and her expression had significantly relaxed.
“I’m so glad your dad’s okay. I had a good feeling it would turn out all right.”
Charlotte turned to me and smiled. “Thanks, Lucie. I was so surprised you came today—I really appreciate it.”
Remorse smacked at me as I smiled at her, considering my motivation was to escape from myself.
“How are you doing?” she asked hesitantly. “I mean, adjusting and everything.”
For whatever reason, I laughed lightly. Her discomfort at broaching the subject of my situation seemed asinine, considering I basically crashed her father’s surgery like a garden party.
“I’m good. I mean, I get derailed sometimes, but I am starting from scratch in a lot of ways, you know? At the same time, it’s kind of awesome to get a do-over.”
Her mouth dropped open a little while her eyebrows jumped, but the slack gape quickly stretched into a grin. “Wow. That may be the most amazing perspective on an unthinkable situation I’ve ever heard.”
When I searched her face, I found nothing but acceptance. “Thanks.”
“Well,” she continued, “I’m glad you don’t have to wait for memories to make more!”
My stomach dropped behind my responding smile, fluttering with warning of an oncoming train.
Shit, really? A preview? Now?
I was preemptively embarrassed to explain what was about to happen, so my knee-jerk reaction was to resist it. The result was not good. An invisible vise clamped down on my head as if in retaliation. The instant pressure behind my eyes pushed tears over my lower lids and they fell. I heard Charlotte gasp and ask after me, but I’d already jumped up and scurried away down the hall. I blindly crashed into the bathroom and shut myself in the far stall.
I breathed deeply and waited for the headache to abate and the psychic traffic jam to clear and drive on through. Bracing myself, I pressed on opposite walls for support, eventually sitting on the closed lid of the toilet. Finally, the dam broke.
“Lucie, I’m sure he doesn’t want to wait at the altar forever. Are you ready yet?”
I stand at the door of the bathroom, watching Charlotte fuss with her bra again. She hasn’t stopped complaining that her boobs are bigger since the last dress fitting. Baby Gibson garbles a coo, making sounds as if he’s stretching the sleep out of his bones.
She tries to tuck in her tits one last time before giving up and picking her son up from his car seat. The snicker is accidental. Maybe. She turns quickly to see I am ready, decked out, and ready to rock. Her jaw drops.
“So, my dear friend, how do I look?”
Granted, I could run out there naked and marry that man with the biggest smile physically possible, but to have confirmation I don’t look absurd is preferable. Charlotte nods continually as she rocks from foot to foot, her little man falling right back to sleep on her shoulder.
“Wow! Seriously, wow. It’s so perfect. So. Perfect. I can’t wait to see the look on—”
Vivi plows in the room, hurling insults like Mardi Gras beads.
“Are you bitches gonna squat in here all day? Quit primping and let’s do this so we can party.”
She closes the door and cracks a huge grin while planting her hands on her hips as she shifts gears. “So, I think I’m gonna ride Nash to the reception, because my man is lookin’ fi-i-i-ine in that tux.”
I snort, snaring the both of them into a momentary, collaborative giggle fit. Vivi recovers first, grabbing my arms in a painfully serious grip.
“And I don’t even want to tell you how edible G—”
“Lucie?” Charlotte’s concern cushioned the shock in her voice. My eyes popped open to scan the surrounding bathroom stall. I glanced under the door to see her purple Chuck Taylors. Standing suddenly, I hastily wiped my eyes and leaned against the side, dizzy. I did my best to reorient myself, regain my balance, and divert the disappointment.
Son of a bitch! I almost had his name!
“Oh, hey!” I said, opening the door and moving past her to the sink. I saw the black smudges under my eyes. Awesome, I did wear mascara today. “Sorry about that. I got a little, um, emotional. It happens suddenly from time to time.”
My stomach clenched at the lie. It was sort of true, any vision had an emotional effect, but that wasn’t what chased me from the waiting room.
Widening my scope, I realized Drew was also in here, standing by the door. He stared at me, saucer-eyed and openmouthed. The usual warmth and brightness in his eyes was gone, something raw in its place. As I stared at him, his honey-brown irises appeared rusty and dark, similar to a piece of jasper. Detoured by his presence, I was about to ask him why he was in the ladies’ room when I noticed the wall of urinals.
“Oh, God dammit,” I muttered.
Their restrained chuckles told me they were enjoying my comedy of errors.
“Need a cigarette?” Drew cracked.
Charlotte groaned. “Smokin’ in The Boys Room,” she elaborated, matching Drew’s amused grin.
“I don’t get it.” I stared at her, confused.
“The song? You haven’t—? Never mind,” she said, shaking her head. “Are you okay? What the hell happened?”