"It's a date," Jim had said, and meant it.
Pam can't quite believe it, but now they're sitting across from each other in the dimly lit restaurant. She hasn't even had a sip of wine yet, but she's dizzy with a fizzy mixture of hope and anxiety and the potent memory of the way he'd kissed her, the soft press of his slightly chapped lips, the heat of his tongue in her mouth. Under the table, his foot bumps against hers and when it retreats, she slips her shoe off and rubs his ankle with her toes. He jumps, as nervous as she is, and they both laugh. She takes a gulp of water, wondering how she's going to make it through this dinner. Because it's Jim, and they've eaten hundreds of meals together, but never like this. Never with the potential for it to go somewhere. This feels like the most important dinner of her life.
She wishes she'd had time to run home and change, put on something pretty, but she'd retouched her lipstick, let down her hair, and the way he's looking at her now makes heat rush heavy and slick between her thighs.
The first few minutes are full of typical self-conscious first date conversation about the menu, but they've known each other for five years, and the awkwardness fades as they slip into the routine back-and-forth that's as comfortable as breathing, and as necessary. Jim tells her about the interview, about New York, and she only hears one word in three, her heart beating loud in her ears, but she knows him well enough to respond to the rhythm of his voice even when she's lost track of the conversation, mesmerized by the way he licks a stray drop of wine off his lower lip. It doesn't matter; the important part of the story is that he withdrew his name from consideration and came back to her.
They order tiramisu for dessert and share it. It's rich and creamy on her tongue--good enough to make her close her eyes, lick her spoon clean, and when she opens them, Jim is staring, hot and intent, at her mouth. Her lips feel swollen, like he's already kissed her, and she can't quite catch her breath.
He walks her to her car, which is parked right next to his, and she smiles up at him, tucking her hair behind her ear.
He says, "Thanks for the--" and it takes her a second before she realizes he's talking about the note she left him.
"Oh, that." She laughs, shakes her head. She looks down, but he puts a hand under her chin, raises her face, and leans in to kiss her. In the moment or two before she gets caught up in kissing him, she's ridiculously glad she didn't eat anything too garlicky, and that he didn't either.
His hands are big and warm on her face, gentle, and she sways into him, her hands coming up to curl around the nape of his neck, play with the hair above his collar. He presses her back against the car, the metal and glass cool at her back, in contrast to the heat of his body. She laughs into his mouth, unable to stop it from bubbling up, like the carbonation in a can of Coke. He pulls her closer, curls his tongue around hers, one hand settling on the curve of her hip beneath her cardigan, tugging her shirt out of her waistband. His fingers are warm at her waist, thumb stroking up and down hypnotically, and when he pulls back to stare down at her, she whimpers a little, unwilling to let him go.
"Yeah," he says, and he's breathing heavily, too, which sends another wave of heat through her, knowing she did that to him. "That." He runs his lips up her throat, along the curve of her jaw. She gasps and shivers, fingers fisting in his jacket. She wants to pull him into the backseat of her car, but it's small and cramped and she has a whole apartment now, a place that's hers. She forces herself to uncurl her fingers, but he covers her hand, flattens the palm over his rapidly beating heart when she tries to move away.
"Come back to my apartment," she says, lips sliding over the whorl of his ear. "For coffee."
"Don't you like coffee?"
He laughs against her neck, then straightens up. "I love coffee. I've been looking forward to coffee all night."
She doesn't even try to hide her giggle. "Me, too."
He takes two steps towards his car, then comes back and kisses her again, hot and hard and full of promise. He follows her out of the parking lot, and she keeps an eye on him in the rearview as they drive.
She's waited a long time for this, and she wants to remember every second of it.