“I’m trying to be good, Clarence,” I say, my voice pleading with him so that he’ll look at me. I can’t bear it when I don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling.
“Well, don’t be.” Clarence says, turning his head completely toward me, holding my eyes with his. He doesn’t let me go—no, not that easily. We drink one another up. “Take a risk with me. Be bad, be good, whatever it is … just do it with me.”
I am his. He is mine.
“Adele,” he starts, then pushes a lock of my hair behind my ear, “in all the time I’ve known you, I haven’t once judged you. And as long as I keep knowing you, I never will.”
Just as I feel my lips turning upward into a smile, my eyes spring out tears. The more I try to stop the tears, the more they come out. I must look like a weepy mess.
Clarence holds my body into his.
My ear is pressed against his chest. I hear the rapid thudding of his heart. It quickens, matching the speed of mine.
“Why are you crying?”
I open my mouth to speak, but instead, I heave. Clarence, thankfully, is quiet as he allows me to let out this emotional thing that has been pent up in me. His soft fingers twirl strands of my hair. His other hand rests on my back, assuring me that it’ll always be there no matter what.
“Can I consider this our second date?”
“What,” I start laughing through my tears, “dinner with your family?”
“I know, it’s a strange premise for a second date … you’ll have to let me take you on a proper one after this winter vacation, okay?”
I think on what he says.
The taxi comes to a halt. I lift my head, feeling my hair sticking up and out.
“Here,” the taxi driver says.
“Okay, give us one minute,” Clarence says. He turns the overhead light on and looks at me, then giggles.
“Here, let me fix you up. I personally think you look hot, but I’m sure you don’t want to walk in there looking like you have raccoon eyes.”
“Like I’ve cried the whole way.”
Clarence shapes my hair. He dabs the end of his finger with his tongue, looks at his finger, then says, “Do you mind?”
I shake my head ‘no’. He proceeds to wipe his wet finger underneath my eyes to smudge away my running mascara and eyeliner.