Henry looked so pleased with himself after his awful little speech. Like he wanted a pat on the back for psychoanalyzing me and finding me to be selfish and self sabotaging.
"Are you kidding? It took you a full day to come up with that?" I pushed the disappointment and hurt down and raised my eyes back to his. "Wow. That's really pathetic, Henry." I stood to leave. My anger surged to the forefront. I had my answer.
"No," he didn't get to be the righteous one here. I spun around and said, "Maybe I should be with Freddy. At least he knows what he wants." Henry looked like he was about to speak, but I didn't want to hear anymore of his stupid reasonings. "Plus he happens to own an Adonis belt. And all your belts are leather." I sighed. "And for the record, I'm not scared of being in a relationship, Henry." As I looked at his confused face, I realized something. "You are."
"I happen to be in a relationship that is healthy and functional and smooth." While he spoke all I could hear was bullshit.
I laughed. "That literally sounds like you're describing a bowel movement."
"That's strictly coincidental!"
"Is it? See, I think you're hiding behind your safe, boring, crappy relationship with Julia, hoping no one notices you're not in love with her."
I stepped closer to him. My heart clenched.
"I notice. I notice. You're the one-" my voice cracked. I didn't want to cry, but it was like the truth of my words forced all the hurt and disappointment to form as tears in my eyes. "You're the one who's terrified of feeling anything- anything you can't control. You're just a chicken." The truth gets clogged in my throat and I started to cry. "You're a big chicken!" I spun around. I had to leave. I didn't want to cry in front of him, because of him, again.
"Eliza!" I don't know what would have happened next if Julia hadn't been standing there, but Henry's hand is wrapped around my arm when I found myself faced with his tiny girlfriend. I saw the hurt in her eyes like a mirror and felt Henry let go.
"And that..." I scrambled. "Is the m-monologue from the play I am auditioning for." I wish. "So, wish me luck guys." I did a silly little bow and ran from the scene before I could completely break down.
I found my way into the empty conference room as the bass of the karaoke speakers rattled the windows. I leaned my back against the doors and drew shallow, rattling breaths. When I went to wipe away the tears that had escaped in my haste I noticed my hands shaking heavily. A sob erupted suddenly from my chest. I covered my mouth and tried to hold it in. I clenched my jaw, squeezed my eyes closed tight and took three, crazy slow breaths. That little routine worked to stop me crying when I was in high school and it still worked. Standing tall again, I viciously wiped the tear tracks from my face. I didn't have any makeup on, so no need to worry about smears. I held my hands out in front of me until I managed to stop shaking. I took another deep breath. I wanted to forget.
I needed a drink.
Lucky me. There was a bar set up not 20 feet from where I hid.
I opened the conference room doors with the intent to go straight to the bar. Three steps away from my hiding pace and I heard, "Eliza!"
It was Henry.
I noped the eff out.
I turned right back around and closed the conference doors behind me again. I cursed at the lack of a lock.
"Eliza?" He asked gently. He quietly rattled the door knob. "Eliza, please let me in."
"I don't think so." I spoke clearly and toward Henry on the other side of the door. "I think you’ve said enough. We’re done here."
"Please. Please, Eliza. Let me in."
I thought carefully for a moment. And opened the door for Henry. I stood back to let him walk past me and in to the room as I held the door open. Once he was in the room I began my walk out of the room.
"Wait!" Before I knew what had happened, I had been tugged back into the conference room, spun around, and trapped with my back to the now closed door and Henry to my front. He sighed harshly and stepped back. So I reached behind me for the handle. Henry snapped forward and caught my wrist neatly at the small of my back with one hand and slammed the other hand next to my opposite shoulder, so that we were practically nose to nose. "Wait," he begged. He barely held me, so I knew I could just twist away, but...
I swallowed and found a spot beyond Henry's shoulder to stare at so I didn't have to look into his stupid handsome face. "What?"
"I'm- I..." he stuttered. I stared hard at the chair. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Against my will, my eyes were drawn to his. "You were right about me. You were right about... everything."
If I had been wearing my normal make up, my face would be a hot mess. But, as it was, my ugly cry face was enough to make me a hot mess by its own right. And when I spoke, I know I sounded like a goose honking, "You are such an asshole, Henry Higgs!" I shoved his shoulder.
"I am!" He slid one arm around my waist and lifted the other so he could wipe the tears from my eyes with a gentle hand. "I'm a boring old man with old fashioned habits. I'm condescending and I can be cruel and hurtful to the one person who deserves it least in the world. You're so young. And spontaneous and so damn beautiful inside and out. You're so far out of my comfort zone and so far out of my league that it's scary."
"I'm scary?" I whispered as he tugged me against his chest and folded me into his arms.
"Yes. You scare me." He tilted his head forward so that we were face to face. "Because if I were to be with you," my heart jumped, "the way I want to be with you," my heart did a dance, "then I run the risk of getting burnt. But even worse, I'd be running the risk of hurting you... even more than I hurt you today. I could lose you for good. And," his fingers stroked my cheek, "that's not a risk I ever wanted to take, Eliza, because I need you. I need you in my life. You make me a better person," my heart melted, "You are truly the best friend I have ever had and I am so, so lucky to even know you." And then my heart effing stopped.
"Henry," I wrapped my arms around his waist. "I feel the same way." God, he smelled amazing. "When I say I love you, I mean it. I know what I'm saying. I think I know you better than anyone and I know that I can make you happy. Take a chance on me. We would be amazing together. I know it."
He sighed again and bowed his head so that my forehead touched his. "I want to make you happy, too. I don't want to make you cry again. Ever. I hate myself whenever I do."
"Henry, you know me better than anyone, too. So what do you think would make me happy, right now at this very moment?"
He leaned back for a moment and gazed at my face. He seemed to be trying to read me.
The next moment, Henry's lips were on mine. I swear I heard a chorus of angels, but it may have been Charmonique singing her song outside. The kiss was sweet and almost chaste. And when we pulled away from each other, Henry was grinning and I was giggling.
"I love you, Henry," I smiled.
His gaze filled with warmth as his grin softened. "God help me, I love you, too." He leaned in for another kiss and I met him half way. This kiss was not as sweet. This kiss was electric. Major sparkage. He started with a little tongue, and holy shit balls, the man tasted ah-mazing, so I must have moaned. When I moaned, Henry's arms tightened around me and I realized he had one hand gripping my ass and the other wrapped in my hair. It was about this time that I realized my arms were draped over his shoulders with both my hands buried in his hair. His hair was way softer than I had imagined.
As the kiss deepened I felt his center press against mine with a delicious sort of friction, so I wrapped one leg around his waist. This time Henry moaned, deep and rumbly in his chest. I gasped when he stepped forward to press me against the door again, but this time with his hips. His hands were roaming around now, but so were mine. I ran my hands over his back and down to his butt while his hands hitched my leg higher and slid under my shirt. He continued to to rock the hard length of his manly parts against the best part of my lady parts through our layers of clothes and I moaned and gasped his name loudly into his mouth as our tongues tangled. He trailed his kisses down my cheek and onto my neck where he experimented with his lips and tongue until he found my sweet spot just below my ear. He sucked gently on that spot until I was a wet, shivering, moaning mess and I was grinding against his length and trying to pull his clothes off.
I whimpered and pouted when he pulled away. "Henryyyy," I whined.
"Eliza, I want to, believe me. I want." He smoothed he hair out of my face. "But first," he cleared his throat and tugged on his suit jacket and shirt. Whoops. He was missing a few buttons. "Eliza Doolie, would you do me the honor going to dinner and perhaps a movie with me? And if all goes well, more dates to various locales of our choosing?"
Ugh. I should have known he'd want to wait for the hot monkey sex... I mean to be "intimate." But, hell, why not? "Of course, Henry Higgs."
Later that night, sitting side by side at the bar after our totes magical duet of A Whole New World while Larry and Joan tipsily argued over the title of best ABBA song, Henry did the least work-appropriate thing I’d ever seen him do. He stole my hand from my drink and intertwined his fingers with mine. Something in my chest fluttered and my face hurt from smiling so big.
“Yes!” A large hand grasped my shoulder and I saw Henry startle, too. Sapperstein stood behind us, beaming in approval. “Yes! Haha!” He gave us a squeeze until Henry and I were shoulder to shoulder and nearly cheek to cheek. “My faaavorite power couple! You’re a lucky man, Henry!”
“Thank you, sir. I know,” Henry smiled uncomfortably at the attention.
“Amazing!” Sapperstein boomed. And walked away. But only after everyone, and I mean everyone, was staring at us.
I know how Henry doesn’t approve of PDA so I tried to gently pull my hand out of his, but he just smiled, held my hand tighter, and leaned in to kiss me.
That fluttery feeling turned into something like fireworks. It was a sweet and chaste as our first kiss, but it meant so much more to me. When we broke apart, Larry was slow clapping and crying. Everyone else had already turned away to listen to Raj sing an Adele song.
“I love this song!” Henry said. He bit his lip and bobbed his head in the dorkiest way, mouthing the words at me with a scrunched up face.
“Me, too!” I pulled him onto the dance floor where we sang and danced together for the rest of the night.
Three dates and one ah-mazingly hot night later, Henry hummed that Adele song as he made us breakfast. He was already fully dressed, hair done, and ready for the day while I sipped on some green tea (“Way more anti-oxidants than coffee, Eliza,”) leaning against the counter in his dress shirt from the night before.
“Yes, Eliza?” He flipped an omelette neatly onto a plate.
“Hm?” He sprinkled some green stuff, chives?, onto the eggs.
He dusted his hands on a kitchen towel. And looked at me. No one ever really gave me their full and complete attention like Henry does.
“You’re so hot.”
Henry laughed, embarrassed and relaxed and happy. And I know, I know, that he doesn’t laugh like that for anyone else.
“I just love you. So much.”
He kept smiling and stepped up close. Burying his hands in my hair, his forehead against mine, he said, “I love you, so much, Eliza. And I’m so grateful that you pulled my head out of my ass.”
I gasped. “Henry!” He cursed!!
He laughed again, kissed me, and brought me my omelette.
When I took out my phone to snap a selfie with my man, he just smiled into the lens and then stole a sip of my green tea.
I can’t say we never argue or that he doesn’t drive me crazy or that I don’t annoy the hell out of him, but I can say that we make each other happier than we’ve ever been.
And that’s enough. More than, even.