It started simply enough. Sam and Eric attended school together and became business associates soon after. We often had him home for dinner. A confirmed bachelor, we never knew who might accompany him. He was a bit of a joker, but I always found his sense of humor light and charming, a welcome contrast from Eric’s sometimes chilly reserve.


Sam made me laugh. He made me feel light and young, as he regaled us with tales of his nightlife adventures; blind dates, cases of mistaken identity and romantic interludes gone terribly awry. I admired his fearlessness, his spontaneity and well, yes, his freedom.


For me and Eric, spontaneity was a thing of the past. Our lives ran like clockwork—a smooth, predictable timetable of events; work, eat, sleep, sex on Saturdays—each day looking very much the same as the last.


Perhaps it was merely his proximity, but in these days I found myself thinking about Sam more often than I knew I should, and in ways I knew I shouldn’t. Watching his expressive hands and his lips as he spoke, I liked to imagine how they might feel against my skin.


There was an ease and comfort between us, though, like good friends. But one night last summer, Eric was held up at work, and we shared a bottle of wine while dinner waited in the oven.


“Stacey, you have to give me the Bolognese recipe!”


“What’s it worth to you?” I tease, bouncing playfully on the sofa beside him, almost spilling my wine.


“My first-born child! Anything! Please!”


“You really think it’s that good?”


“You know it is…everyone loves it. Haven’t you noticed how I lick my plate clean?” he winks.

“You should teach me how to cook someday.”


“But then you would have to train under me, and do my bidding!” I grin mischievously.


“I am a tyrant—a female Gordon Ramsey, my dear!” I jump up standing with my arms crossed stoically.


“Bollocks!” he blurts, in an attempted British accent.


“You are nothing like that. I know you would be sweet and patient with me.”


“Don’t be so sure, cheeky boy,” I lean over and tousle his dark wavy hair playfully.


“Hey! Watch the hair!” He grabs my arm and I fall over on top of him, collapsing in a fit of giggles.


“We’d better stop this rough-housing, or we’ll both be in trouble when Eric gets home.”


“Eric I can handle—but you…”


“What do you mean?” I right myself soberly, draping an arm casually over his shoulder.


“I don’t know, I just get this feeling about you, that you are insatiable. Sometimes, the way you look at me—it’s like you might devour me.”


I stared at him in disbelief. “If I’ve ever made you uncomfortable…” I stammer, pulling my arm away and I look down at my lap, suddenly embarrassed.


“No, no, don’t get me wrong. I like it, I mean who wouldn’t—but I can’t help sensing this hunger.”


My eyes fixate on the thin lip of my wineglass. I lightly tap my fingers along the curved edge. Taking a long, slow sip, I swallow deeply, peering at him with a mixture of shame and desire.


“You look so beautiful like this, so soft—almost pensive. What would you do if I kissed you right now?”


To be continued…