I didn’t bother to ask him how he got in before the club had opened, just like I hadn’t asked him how he’d gotten in the last time. And even if I’d really wanted to ask, I was too blown away to find any words.
He looked as surprised to have found me as I was to see him, but after a moment, the shock slid into a grin. “I’ve been looking for you.”
His voice was smooth and sincere. It poured over me like a nearly-too-hot shower—both wonderful and abrasive. I didn’t know if I wanted to luxuriate in it or step away and wait for it to cool. Didn’t know if I wanted to press closer to him or turn away.
I stayed put. “So I heard. The staff left this for me.” I held up the message I’d just read, amazed that I’d been able to make any sense with the way the heat of him jumbled my thought process.
His brow furrowed and I wondered if maybe I hadn’t really made sense after all. He pulled his cell phone out of his pants pocket and checked the screen. “That’s funny. I haven’t missed any calls.”
For the second time that night, I laughed. “I just got your message. I haven’t had a chance.” He was easier to talk to than I’d remembered. Or maybe easier to talk to than I’d realized since I hadn’t had much occasion to actually speak to him as of yet.
“You wouldn’t have called anyway.”
I lowered my gaze, not wanting him to see the truth in his guess. Hating the way his guess was, as always, right. I’d forgotten how he liked to point out perceptions that normal people ignored out of politeness. Maybe he wasn’t as easy to talk to as I’d just decided he was.
Or maybe it was me that wasn’t easy to talk to. I decided to put forth some effort. “I don’t know. I might have called you. As soon as I figured out what I was going to say.”
“You don’t know how happy that makes me to hear that.” He stepped closer and now there were only a few feet between us. The air around us felt charged, and as afraid as I was that he would close the distance altogether, I was more afraid that he wouldn’t.
So, of course, I broke the connection first, dancing to the side in what I hoped didn’t seem too obvious of a move.
“How did you know I’d be here tonight?” Trying to appear cool, I smoothed a hand over my hair, wishing it were down and that JC’s fingers were tangled in it instead.
No, I didn’t wish that. I wished he’d leave and never return.
“Deductive reasoning. You had two nights off. You work full time. Unless you were on vacation, you should be here tonight. I took the risk.” He met my eyes and I tried to hold his gaze.
But I found myself trying to read him even though I didn’t think I wanted to find out anything his eyes might be telling me, so I looked away quickly, moving my focus to his hands. “What’s that?”
He had a paper in his hand, folded into thirds. “Oh, it’s for you. I figured you’d want to see it as soon as possible.” He held it out to me, and I took it, careful not to let my fingers brush against his as I did.
Immediately, I admonished myself for not taking the opportunity to brush against him, because what if I never had that chance again?
But now I had this piece of paper in my hands, and the strangeness of whatever it could be was compelling enough to center my thoughts.
I unfolded it and scanned over what looked like some sort of report. “What is this?” But I didn’t have to wait for his answer. As I read further, it was clear what it was. I studied it closer now. HIV Early Detection—negative, HIV—negative, Chlamydia—negative, Hepatitis B –negative, Hepatitis C—negative, Herpes Simplex 1—negative, Herpes Simplex 2—negative, Gonorrhea—negative, Syphilis—negative. Each horrible and terrifying word followed by another word that erased all the fear of the one preceding it.
My shoulders felt the weight of a huge boulder fall from them. “This is your medical chart.”
“Part of my medical chart. The page I thought would interest you most.”
“It does. Thank you.” I looked at him now, wondering about this man who I knew nothing about. I’d made judgments about him, I realized. Sure, he was probably still a playboy. But while he’d been unsafe with me, his test results indicated that he at least had been safe with others. “This makes me feel a lot better.”
He nodded once, an informal you’re welcome. “I knew it would. That’s why I was so eager to find you. I’m sorry you had to wait the last couple of days for it. I would have gotten it to you sooner if I could.”
I felt the now familiar stab of irritation at JC’s ability to read me so well and had to bite my lip to keep from making a caustic remark about it. Besides, as much as it irritated me, it also fascinated me. How did he know me so well? And why did he care so much that I knew that he did?
Whatever the reason, he’d gone to the trouble of getting me information that I otherwise would have had to wait a month for. “I appreciate that,” I said, handing him back his medical report. “Honestly, I probably deserved a couple days of sweating it out.” It would certainly teach me to not use a condom again.
Though, now that I knew JC was clean, no condom with him wouldn’t be a problem.
Nope, nope, nope. Do not go there.
JC rubbed his chin while I tried not to imagine the tickle his stubble would give on my own hand. Or thigh. “You never do things like that, do you?” he asked.
Again, with his unfailing perception. “You know I don’t.”
I wasn’t sure he meant good that I didn’t sleep around or good that I didn’t sleep around without a condom, and I was about to ask when he answered my question for me. “I mean, good that you don’t normally put yourself in that sort of risky situation.”
“I don’t,” I said, but the shaking of my head that accompanied my response was at my continued awe of his ability to predict me and not to emphasize my statement.
He caught my eyes and this time he held them for several long seconds. I’d been avoiding them because I knew when I finally fell into his gaze, I’d be lost there. I saw, again, the traces of hardness and sorrow that I’d seen the first time I’d met him. There was a hint of recognition too, as if he knew that I saw that in him, as if he expected it of me. And also I saw genuine fascination.
It was that last thing that kept me in a daze. He looked at me with interest. Not my body, though he’d definitely stolen several glances at my curves, but me. It made me stand up a little taller. Made my smile a little easier. Made my heart a little less heavy.