Jon paid the bill in cash, anxious to be on our way.
“Should we stop and get a movie? I don’t have much at the house besides what’s on TV and some old favorites. I don’t usually spend a lot of time there alone. But with you, it’s different, I actually want to spend time at home” he asked once we were outside.
I was glad. I could tell it had been pretty much just a place to crash and I was happy he wanted it to be more than that.
“I’m glad you want to stay home with me. Let’s get a movie and maybe some popcorn? I can’t imagine watching a movie without it” I admitted.
“Popcorn? It’s a necessity. I think I even have some at home, believe it or not! But we’ll get more to make sure” Jon agreed and he started the engine and we were off.
It was about seven o’clock and still light out, but getting on towards dusk and the temperature was dropping. It was cool on the bike, but with my sweater back on and Jon’s leather jacket I was still comfortable. As we passed by Asbury Park, I noticed that the boardwalk was becoming more crowded and the lights were coming on. It was busy and lively. There was a carnival atmosphere about the place now and it reminded me a little of an old amusement park from my childhood. Someday, I thought, it will be nice to go to a club here, but tonight I didn’t want to share Jon with anyone if I didn’t have to. We stopped at a convenience store near home and picked up a ten-pak of microwave popcorn and went on to the video store down the block.
“What do you like to watch?” I asked Jon.
“Truthfully, I can watch almost anything as long as the acting is decent. Horror movies are probably my least favorite, though, because by and large they stink. I know. I’ve done a couple stinkers myself” he mused.
“They weren’t that bad” I replied, trying to console him.
“You’ve seen them?” he asked incredulously. “Then you oughtta know they sucked” he added, looking me in the eye.
“Okay, I admit they were the only two you were in that I rented and didn’t buy” I said sheepishly and he laughed then.
“I’m flattered you bought the others! Which did you like best?” he wanted to know.
“Honestly, I loved ‘Pay it Forward’ because it was a terrific movie and you can imagine how well I could relate, given my job. But I’ll admit I really liked you in ‘The Leading Man’. You managed to make a sleazy character likeable and add dimension to the role. I liked the others too, but more for your parts than the movies themselves. They weren’t my typical type of movie, I’m afraid” I explained.
“No? What do you typically like to watch?” he asked.
“Actually, I generally hate most “chick flicks” and I prefer action movies, like Steven Segal or Bruce Willis. Or anything with a hero or an historical context, like ‘Brave Heart’ and ‘Rob Roy’. I could watch them over and over. And ‘Roadhouse’! I loved that, I’ve seen it probably twenty times. And, okay, I’ll admit to one “chick flick”. ‘Dirty Dancing’ really got to me. It was the dad-daughter thing, I think, and some really hot scenes. And, good Lord, ‘Silence of the Lambs’. I love Anthony Hopkins. As long as it’s not a musical or something equally sappy and unrealistic, like ‘It‘s a Wonderful Life’, I can usually appreciate it. I just hate sappy movies” I told him and he stared at me.
“I can’t believe you didn’t like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Everyone likes that movie. It was so …” I cut in then.
“Sappy” I said matter of factly and made a “gag me” gesture.
“Wow, you’re tough. I watch that every Christmas with the kids. But okay, what about ‘Roadhouse’? I wanna see this if you like it that much. Don’t think I ever saw that one. Who’s in it?” he asked, heading over towards the action films.
“Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot, my other love” I replied.
“Sam Elliot? The guy in all the old westerns?” he asked, surprised.
“Yep. The second hottest man on earth” I added, winking at him.
“You’re serious?” he said, disbelieving.
“Dead serious. There isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t get Sam Elliot. Surely you know that?” I asked as he stopped in the aisle.
“Okay, that’s it. I’ve gotta see ‘Roadhouse’ now” Jon said, grabbing my arm and walking to the counter. He asked the female clerk for it and she smiled.
“Yep, it’s here. I’ll get it for you” as Jon looked at me pointedly.
“Okay, I’m testing your theory. Is Sam Elliot hot?” he asked, turning to the salesclerk, who was probably around fifty or so and she smiled broadly, confirming what I’d said.
“Are you kidding? Hell, yeah. I’d leave my husband for that man.” she replied and went to get the movie.
“I told you” I smirked and he hung his head.
“You did say the second hottest man on earth, right?” he asked, peering at me from under those shaggy blond locks.
“Yeah, babe. You’re #1, okay?” I teased back.
“Yeah, okay, I guess” he said, a little petulantly. “Guess I better pay attention and learn some new tricks” he laughed.
“Oh, please! Let me keep the one sliver of self-control I have left!” I teased back.
“No way. I want you completely at my mercy!” he said, his eyes glinting at me mischievously and I rubbed up against him then as he slipped his arm around my waist.
“I lied. I don’t even have a sliver of self-control around you now, and I think I proved that this afternoon!” I whispered.
Jon grinned and paid for the movie and we rode home the short distance to the house.
We arrived home and the sun was beginning to set now. I unpacked the vase and arranged the roses in it, placing it on the dresser as Jon put our stuff away and got the DVD ready.
“Coffee, babe?” he called from the kitchen. I walked out to where he was standing and put my arms around his neck.
“Coffee would be wonderful, but do you mind if I take a quick shower first? I feel a little grubby and I’d like to get cleaned up” I said as I kissed him.
“Go ahead, darlin’. I’ll make the coffee and check the messages. I see the light’s blinking. You know there’s a bathtub upstairs if you want to relax a little. Take your time, there’s no hurry and it’s early. It’s not even eight o’clock yet. And I wanna call the kids before everybody’s in bed.”
A bath and a little time alone sounded really good. We’d barely been separated for almost four days. I was sensing he wanted some privacy too.
“That sounds really good. I think I’ll do that” I said, and went to grab my robe and stuff I’d need.
“I’ll bring you a cup of coffee in a few minutes as soon as it’s ready” Jon called as I walked upstairs.
I actually hadn’t been upstairs yet, so I looked around until I saw the bathroom. It was spacious, with a garden tub by a window overlooking the terrace and the hill. I ran the water, realizing it would take a bit of time to fill up. I pinned up my hair with a hair clip and slipped on my robe, sitting on the edge waiting for the tub to fill. Jon knocked on the door.
“It’s okay. It’s open” I called.
He came in with a cup of coffee, as promised, and set it on the ledge surrounding the tub and grabbed a couple big, fluffy towels from the closet and set them down.
“I know it takes a while to fill, but it’s worth it. You can almost swim in there! Is there anything you need?” he laughed.
“Thank you, you’re such a sweetheart. I think I’m all set.” I said, taking a sip of coffee. “I’d invite you to join me, but I don’t want to tarnish my image by having you watch me shave my legs! Not exactly a picture to inspire desire, if you know what I mean” I laughed.
He laughed too, and seemed to relax then.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. About as much as I want you to watch me trim my nose hair, but it still needs to be done!” he laughed harder.
“Yep, there’s a little bit of maintenance required for all this romance” I joked.
I felt the tension easing already as I felt us moving past the initial stage where we had tried not to show our less glamorous sides to each other. We could begin to be people, not just lovers. He reached over and put his hand on my arm.
“I‘ll leave you alone, for a little bit, babe. But seriously, I don’t expect you to be hot twenty-four hours a day, you know. Hell, I can only be charming for about three days and then I turn into my usual self again” he grinned.
It was hard to imagine this man as anything but charming. But I understood what he meant. I felt it too. It was difficult to sustain the level of intimacy and attention we’d enjoyed the last few days indefinitely. I wanted him to be able to relax too, and not feel like he needed to entertain me.
“Thank God, the pressure is killing me! Honestly, though, I don’t want to smother you either, Jon. I know you have a life outside of me and I don’t want to disrupt your routine. It’ll be the same for me when I get back to work next week too. Go ahead and call the kids and anything else you need to do. I’ll be fine and I won’t feel neglected” I reassured him and he gave me a quick kiss.
“Thanks for understanding, darlin’. Just remember, this is our house as much as it is mine now, so make yourself at home. I want you to be comfortable when I’m not here or not available” he said as he headed off downstairs.
The tub was finally full and I slipped off my robe and eased into the steaming water. It felt good to relax with no pressure to be conscious of my appearance. I sank down in the bath, stretching out and letting my mind drift. I was glad we had that conversation because I was worried that he’d feel the same pressure I had been feeling to always be attentive and focused on each other. If we were going to stay together, there had to be some personal space or we’d both end up feeling smothered. And I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable in his own house.
Our house, he’d said. I liked the way that sounded, but not yet. It was still his house and it would take time before we both felt like we shared a home, his or mine. We were still learning about each other and that would take time. But, like Jon had said, we had time.