I’ve been in here a while now, the familiar struggle of my everyday life heightened by the fact that I want to surprise her. Wrestling with uncooperative limbs doesn’t make it easy on a good day and today being no exception I really wish I would have let her get ready in the bathroom. Instead, I pulled everything I would need in here with me and while she is out there getting ready I’m cramped in my usually larger than normal bathroom. Here’s the catch, I don’t usually dress in here. Now I know why, cursing under my breath as I whack my elbow off the sink. Finally, these damn suit pants are on and as straight as they will get and I pause to catch a breath before I move on to my shoes. I’m wondering what I’m going to see when I emerge, just how fancy did she decide to go, I wonder.
Spending a few minutes to do the faux hawk before I brush my teeth I laugh to myself at the joy she gets when my hair is like this. It’s finally long enough on top where it works easily and while I normally just let it look messy she prefers it this way. Hell who am I kidding, she could tell me to grow out a man bun and I’d probably do it. I take one last look in the mirror and decide that this is as good as it’s gonna get, the deep purple shirt under my jacket is one I’ve been saving for a while now and I hope she likes it.
I can’t believe she’s mine, for the love of all things holy… I think stopping just through the door when I get a look at her. My eyes travel from the three-inch red heels up her legs to find the hem of her skirt higher than I’ve ever seen her wear. It doesn’t take me long to ogle every inch of the dress she’s wearing, cut lower in the back and higher in the front, it is just a little bit flowy at the bottom but its deep V reveals her soft tan skin in the mirror. She turns catching me staring in the mirror and gives me a smirk before offering that full on smile. I can’t look away, it’s the brightest smile I’ve seen on her face in weeks and I’m dreading the second it disappears. Slowly I make my way over to her, god, I want to run my hands up her leg, I think as I get closer but I know we have reservations and any sort of hanky panky will make us miss them.
“You are beautiful,” I breathe out, still staring at her in awe.
“Clean up nice yourself, Elliot,” she responds with a husky whisper.
She’s giving me the once over and I hope to god that everything is on point as the kids say these days. Before I know it, her hands are on my thighs and she’s leaning in to kiss me, those deep red lips making contact with mine. The way she’s leaning in is sexier than almost anything in this moment and I can feel the heat rising in my neck. Sure I can only barely feel her one hand but the fact that she doesn’t hesitate to touch me doesn’t go unnoticed. She’s never hesitated, not once and that fact alone makes me feel incredible. I’m just like any other guy to her, nothing about my disability really fazes her, I just wheel instead of walk. There are small moments where I see a little bit of sadness in her eyes, sure, but they aren’t moments of pity, not one bit. They are moments where I’m sure she’s thinking the same as me, I wish we could…
Breaking the kiss, “gorgeous, if we keep this up we won’t leave the house…” I manage to say.
Ok,” she says before her face flushes with embarrassment, “Wait, there’s lipstick on you…”
Her thumb hits my lips trying to rub the offending color off and with no luck, she pulls out a little square of tissue from her makeup on the dresser, “Hold still, we don’t want any guys hitting on you tonight,” she laughs.
“No, we definitely don’t want that, cupcake. Is it gone?” I ask, trying to sneak a look in the mirror.
“Just about, but since you won’t sit still I may have missed a spot or two,” she says.
I take the tissue and move closer to the mirror, working at the spot on my face. She’s watching me, smirking while I silently curse the lipstick in my head. Finall,y as the spot disappears she pushes me out of the way, “I’m almost done, Elliot.”
I’ve only seen her in this much makeup one other time and while I think she’s perfect no matter what she’s good at using it. I watch her as she touches up her lipstick and I don’t think there is anything sexier than watching a woman put on lipstick, well maybe there is but right now, here in this room, this is damn sexy. I break away long enough to grab my phone and wallet off of the other dresser and putting my phone in my inside breast pocket of my jacket and the wallet in the little pouch under my chair I turn and find her now watching me.
“Ready?” she asks, hand on hip.
“More than you know,” I offer her with a smirk, thinking about our evening ahead.
Our reservations are for eight and after that I’ve planned to take her to the piano bar next to the restaurant, but the big surprise is that I’ve hired a driver to take us this evening and on a midnight tour of the city. I plan on giving her the first of her birthday presents tonight, the first of five big surprises leading up to the actual day. I look at the clock and the driver should be here so I head for the door, opening it and sure enough the black car is idling at the curb. Her hand finds my shoulder as she looks at me suspiciously.
“Elliot, is that for us?” she asks.
“Yeah Cupcake, it’s all ours tonight, wait here, I’ll be right back,” I answer, turning quickly to add the small black box from the drawer in the kitchen to my other inside pocket.
Insert note here: yes, I will propose to her someday, but that day is not today!
“After you, m’lady,” I say as I join her on the porch.
She hesitates for just a moment, looking to me before she takes a step. Once we are on the walkway she slows to rest her hand on my shoulder as we walk. She’s done this before and I take it as her replacement for holding hands. As we approach the car the driver gets out and moves to the rear to open the door.
“Mr. Turner,” the driver says, “I’m jack, your driver for the evening,” he says extending his hand to me.
“Hello jack, I assume you have gotten the itinerary I provided? And the instructions?” I say shaking his hand.
“Yes, Mr. turner. I assure you I’ve been fully briefed on the situation,” he says knowingly.
I’m glad that the car company remembered to inform the driver of my requirements and while I motion Taylor to get in I watch as he helps her into the car. He steps back and I line up to transfer in as she slides across the seat to give me some room. She looks a little unsure when I don’t move to disassemble my chair after I straighten my legs.
“Thank you jack,” I say as he wheels my chair away and closes the door.
“Is that hard for you?” she asks, surprising me.
“No, actually it isn’t. It almost makes me feel like I’m a normal guy, getting into a car with my girl. No reaching around, no hoping that I don’t hit you with something. No wondering if I’m gonna make an ass out of myself and this be the time I end up on the ground.” I answer honestly.
“Good, now where are we going?”she asks poking me in the ribs.
“For me and Jack to know and you to wonder!” I tease.
“You’re killing me smalls…” she says quoting one of my favorite movies.
Instead of replying to her I just lean in and kiss her, which I’m sure is going to lead to another round of wiping her lipstick off my face, but I’ll survive. The ride is smooth and while we make out like horny teenagers in the back of this sleek black car I realize I feel more alive than I have in years.
I’m in the back of a shiny black car with the man I love and while I watch him trying to remove my lipstick from his lips I can’t help but chuckle. He’s rubbing and rubbing and while I have a makeup remover wipe in my purse it’s way more fun to watch him grimacing. Dressed to the nines, he’s hot as hell and I haven’t stopped looking at him since he came out of the bathroom. His shirt does something to light up his eyes in a way I’ve never seen before and the crisp black suit fits perfectly across his broad shoulders. I can’t believe he rented a car for a date, I think as we pull up in front of “Scollini’s” a high-class Italian restaurant. I’ve read the reviews for this place and know that getting reservations here are a challenge. I also know that it is one of the most upscale restaurants that is accessible because we were just talking about it the other day.
“Did I get it all?” he asks.
“Yeah, you did…are we eating at Scollini’s?” I ask.
“Surprise number one…” he says with a toothy grin.
When Jack opens the door, Elliot’s chair is waiting. I watch, waiting as he transfers in and I see a hint of relaxation cross his face once he’s settled. He holds his hand out as I get out of the car helping me to my feet. I take my hand back to smooth out my dress as he watches, waiting for me to be ready.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“No rush Taylor. We still have a few minutes,” he says still smiling.
I follow as he turns and wheels towards the ramp, he’s going slow enough for me to be right at his side as we move up the ramp together. The perfect gentleman he is, he holds the door open for me and we are met with amazing smells and a gorgeous atmosphere. Elliot rolls right up to the maitre’de, “Turner, for eight o clock.”
“Right this way, sir,” the thin man says as he motions us to follow.
Elliot waits and allows me to go first, and as we approach a cozy little table with one chair he announces that our wait staff will be out shortly. He obviously let them in on his situation when he made the reservations and before I can sit he’s pulled out the lone chair for me. I can feel the blush creeping up my neck as I sit and wait for him to take his spot across from me. He pops the brakes and catches me blushing.
“Surprised?” he asks softly.
“Happily, yes,” I answer, still blushing.
“Good, because this is just the beginning,” he says with a sly smile as his hand finds mine across the table.
As he interlocks our fingers I look at him. I mean really look at him. His nose is straight and long with a little upturn at the end, it wrinkles ever so slightly when he’s unsure and his square chin and jawline become even tighter when he’s angry or tense. The scar there under his chin more prominent with his clean shaven face is about two inches long. I let my eyes travel up the side of his face to the other scar there by his left ear. It’s funny that I almost forget they are there until he shaves and they appear. I don’t know if those are from his accident or not, I’ve never asked, but now I’m curious. I push the curiosity aside for a few moments and let my eyes settle on his. The warm golden hue that greets me is almost intoxicating. I could get lost looking in his eyes but I’m drawn to the laugh lines around them, and his unfairly long lashes. I’m taking in every inch of him when I feel his hand tighten around mine.
He’s looking at me now with a grin on his face that I would love to photograph. It’s real and natural and I love it. I don’t want this adventure with him to ever end and before I can voice that feeling there is another tall man holding out a bottle of wine for us.
“That’s fine,” Elliot says to him, not ever breaking eye contact with me.
The stare down between us is intense, so many thoughts being conveyed. Finally, he looks away, his smile fading. I follow his eyes and there at the entrance is Meaghan, I’m sure at this point I have to close my mouth because really what are the chances? Her blonde hair is styled perfectly and I wonder briefly how she can hold her head up because her makeup is so heavy it’s as though she just walked off the stage. The man with her looks thoroughly unimpressed as she hangs on his arm and I don’t miss the giant wedding set on her left hand. I look from her to Elliot and his teeth are clenched and his fingers loosen around mine and I really hope she doesn’t see us.
“Elliot, hey, handsome?” I say nervously, trying to draw his attention back to me.
“I can’t believe it… I can’t fucking win…” he says surprising me with the cursing.
“Don’t even think for one minute she is going to ruin our night,” I say a little put off by his reaction.
Now I know that he has every right to hate her, hell, I hate her and I don’t even really know her but for a few interactions years ago. I can see, though, that until she’s seated he isn’t going to be present at our table. Normally I’d be jealous but I know him and I know that he has zero feelings for her so as much as I try I can’t fault him for the over the top reaction.
“Taylor, I’m sorry…” he mumbles finally looking back at me.
“I get it, Elliot, I can understand. Unfortunately, she picked the same restaurant you did, it happened, and hopefully she’ll be seated and we will forget she’s even here,” I try.
“I haven’t… she didn’t…” he starts and stops.
If there’s one thing I’ve picked up on with Elliot it’s this; when he can’t form a sentence like that he’s either so angry the words just won’t pass his lips or he’s so upset that until he sorts out the thoughts he just can’t put it together. I wonder if he’s always been like that for a minute before he finally clears his throat.
“This is the first time I’ve seen her since she walked out of my hospital room… I’d heard she got married but I thought they moved away,” he manages finally.
“Oh…” is all I can manage.
“Her… her sister came and helped her pack before I was even out of ICU. Jenna went over and I’m not sure what all was said but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. This, seeing her tonight just really caught me off guard,” he says staring down at his hands on the table.
“It really is okay Elliot. I’m not mad or upset, I just feel a little bad for you that you have to go through this…” I say honestly.
He doesn’t say anything but he finally looks up at me, his eyes now dark and he gives me a wink. I don’t know how this is going to play out tonight but I do know that I’ve got the man of my dreams sitting across from me, winking at the most inopportune time, and I’ve never wanted anything more.