“I need something sexy but cute!” I yelled to Liliana as I rummaged through her closet. “Do you have something that’s somewhere in between Carrie Bradshadw’s first date with Big dress and Rachel Green’s first kiss with Joey dress?”
Liliana walked into her room laughing, “Well shit Bri, could you get anymore specific?”
“Lili, you know when it comes to fashion I have no sense of style! If it were up to me, I would be wearing a brown bag. But I’m trying to stay away from the whole baked-potato look.”
Liliana just graduated with a degree in Fashion and was interning for THE Sunny Boton, world-wide fashion stylist. He’s styled people like Kim Kardashian and Gigi Hadid, so Lili landing this internship was setting her career up for success. She spent her week commuting from the Cape to Boston, but she said it was worth it.
“Ok let me think” Lili said, tapping her finger on her temple. “College has prepared me for this moment!” She flipped through the dresses in her closet.
Lili was effortlessly beautiful. She had on a Rolling Stones t-shirt and oversized sweatpants, yet still managed to look like a model.
“THIS!” she yelled, pulling out an orange, halter dress.
“You think I can pull this off?”
“Sis”, Lili said holding the dress to me, “This dress was made for you.
I tried it on. The color reminded me of a creamsicle. The straps were thin and the dress hugged right under my chest. The back of the dress was completely open so wearing a bra was out of the question. For once in my life I was thankful for my A-cup chest size. The lace at the bottom of the dress landed just above my knee. I felt beautiful in this.
“Oh Dios Mio!” Lili squealed with excitement. “Give me a twirl, girl!”
I twirled and the dress picked up a little with the wind. “Now all you need are these tan sandals and gold hoops and you’re perfecta!”
I slipped into the tan sandals, feeling like cinderella; placed the gold hoops in my ears, and was blown away by my reflection in the mirror.
“Ok.. I DO look hot!”
“Hell yes you do!” said Lili. “Damn, I'm even thinking about dating you!”
Lili was the best hype girl I could ever ask for. She was the yin to my yang. We couldn’t be more different from each other, but that’s what made us best friends.
“Johnny is going to faint when he sees you.” she said.
Johnny and I had been flirting for the last couple of weeks and he finally asked me out.
We have this chemistry that is undeniable. You’d think we’d have known each other for years the way we can finish each other's sentences.
We were working at the Chart Room late one night, and I was bringing an overcooked piece of salmon back into the kitchen, while he was bringing a mudslide out, and he said over the clammering in the kitchen, “I want to bring you out on my sailboat this Saturday.” Chills went up my spine thinking about it. “I’ll be there”, I said back, my cheeks turning pink.
I heard his car pull into the driveway. “He’s here” I said to Lili, excitement and nervousness starting to bubble up.
“You’re going to have so much fun! she said, giving me a hug. “And hey - maybe you’ll end up getting laid!” I threw my head back and laughed. I guess that wouldn’t be the worse thing. “Go get em’ tiger!” She yelled after me.
The screen door shut behind me as I walked out to Johnny's car. He had the top off his red jeep and Luke Bryan was playing; thank god I had my hair up in a clip.
He whistled “Well, helllooooo Bri!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. “You look so beautiful.”
The way he said my name made me weak in the knees. He looked at me hungrily. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep my hands off of him.
He got out of the car and twirled me around. As I hugged him I got a whiff of his cologne, or maybe it was just his natural scent, which was sea salt and coconut. His navy blue button up complemented his blue eyes.
He opened the car door for me. I guess there still are gentlemen left in this world.
I eased into his car and buckled my seatbelt. Johnny ran his fingers through his hair and backed out of the driveway.
“You’re in for a real treat today.” he said, his hair blowing in the wind. “The water is so calm today. We couldn’t have picked a better day to sail.”
It was a short drive from my house to the boat. The scenery always managed to take my breath away. The pink bleeding hearts had just blossomed and stared at us from the road side. Children waited in line at the ice cream truck. The sky was a soft aquamarine.
Johnny pulled up to the harbor parking lot.
“I couldn’t help myself” I said reaching into my bag and pulling out a bottle of Veuve I’ve been saving, “I thought we could pop this on the boat.”
“The Veuve you’ve been saving since graduation?!” he said.
I suddenly felt stupid for pulling the bottle out. Was it too soon to be sharing something so special with someone on a first date?
“Yes.” I said sheepishly. I could feel my chest starting to turn a slight red, like it normally did when I got embarrassed.
Johnny reached over and grabbed my hand. “I’m honored that you want to share this with me.” he said
We wandered our way down the rickety dock. Johnny waved to the HarborMaster as we found our way across the decking.
“There she is!” Johnny said, pointing to his sailboat.
We loaded our stuff onto the sailboat. It was definitely bigger than I was expecting. It was bright yellow with large cream colored sails and the name ‘Sadie Girl’ on it. I pondered the meaning behind the name.
Johnny hopped on first, then reached his hand out to me “All aboard.” he said with a smile that made my heart race.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, running my hand along the silver railing of the boat.
“Thank you.” Johnny said as he stored our bags under the bench on the boat. “It was my parents. We spent a lot of time on this boat together. I basically learned how to sail a boat before I learned how to ride a bike or drive a car.”
Talk about impressive.
“I’m going to take you to my secret spot”, Johnny said as he got the boat ready. “Normally I don’t let people in on this little hide-away, but I figured since you’re sharing your Veuve with me it’s the least I can do”, he said with a wink as he trimmed the sails. I loved that me sharing a bottle of champagne with him was equivalent to him sharing his beloved spot.
We set off at sea. It was a beautiful sunny day; there wasn’t a cloud in sight. The gentle ocean breeze brushed against my face. I would regret not putting on sunscreen when I was the color of a lobster later.
The mist from the ocean felt good against my skin. The turquoise water sparkled like a diamond as the sun reflected against it. Sandpipers raced along the beach trying to avoid getting swept away by the waves. We passed a boat full of people; some were lounging on the front of the boat, tanning, while others were fishing off of it.
I loved watching Johnny dash about. Fixing the sails. Directing the boat. He moved about it so gracefully, like he was dancing in the ballet.
Me on the other hand, was the opposite of graceful. When I stood up, my dress would fly up to my belly button and I would quickly have to shove it down. I guess it’s a good thing I decided to wear my lace underwear today. Not sure why I thought wearing a dress on a sailboat, a place that would be predominantly windy, was a good idea - but I was rollin’ with it!
Johnny began to pull the sails and the boat started to slow down as we inched into his secret-spot, a beautiful cove. The shore-line turned inwards as we entered the calm, empty bay.
“Bri, come here!” Johnny yelled as he sailed effortlessly, with one hand on the wheel.
“Give it a shot” Johnny said pointing to the wheel.
“Me?!” I said through surprise. “I didn’t even pass my road test on the first try.”
Johnny threw his head back in laughter. “Well lets hope you can sail a boat better than you can drive a car.”
I placed my hands on the wheel, remembering the 10 and 2 hand placement I learned in Drivers Ed.
“Is it just me or are you getting Captain Lee from Below Deck vibes right now?” I asked.
“All you need is the captain's hat” Johnny said as he wrapped his arms around me, helping me steer. His touch felt electric. It made my body tingle. He pulled my clip out and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
“Is it weird that I think you have beautiful ears?” Johnny asked.
“Only if you’re into that kind of thing.” I joked.
“Dare I say ‘Don’t knock it till you try it?” he asked. I laughed so hard that I snorted, which in return made Johnny laugh even harder. I loved that we had the same sense of humor.
His hands slipped down to my hips, making my insides warm. Brushing my hair to the right of my neck, Johnny whispered into my ear “I’m so glad you’re here.” If I wasn’t still steering this boat, I would have kissed him.
Johnny took over the rest of the way as we were getting ready to anchor.
“Close your eyes?” Johnny asked of me. Closing my eyes, I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest with excitement.
I heard the anchor drop. Johnny came over and grabbed my hand, leading me to the latter “Don’t open them yet.”
“This is where you kill me isn’t it?” I said. “Let me remind you that Lili is going to want this dress back!”
Johnny laughed. “Are you implying that you want the dress off?” he whispered into my ear. It was impossible to hide the smile that widened across my face.
Johnny hopped off the boat and into the water. “Ok, step down,” he said guiding me off the ladder. “The water is only up to our ankles.”
Johnny scooped me off the ladder of the boat and gently placed me down. “Keep those eyes closed,” he said.
Holding hands, walking through the water together felt easy. I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to say next. I felt like myself.
We walked up on the beach, our feet sinking into the sand.
“Ok ready?!” he said with excitement.
“Born ready.” I said with a grin.
“Open your eyes'' he said.
When I opened my eyes, my jaw dropped. In front of me lay a peach colored blanket with plush, white pillows. Lanterns were lit up around the blanket, illuminating the picnic basket in the middle.
“You did all this?” I asked Johnny in disbelief.
“Well, I had a little help from a friend. We came out here earlier this morning and set everything up together.” he said as he led me to the blanket.
We sat down, both digging our toes into the soft sand. Looking up, I was amazed by how secluded the beach was. Beachgrass surrounded the red and white striped lighthouse like a mote would a castle. Purple hydrangeas were intertwined in the coastal garden behind us. The blue ocean water gently drifted back and forth, grazing my feet. Dark green seaweed was spread out around us. Johnny and I laughed as he struggled to pry several pieces off of him. I chuckled as I picked up a small yellow and orange shell, “Did everyone call these shells Mermaid Toenails or was it just me?”
“Definitely just you.”
My stomach grumbled as I opened up the picnic basket. Inside was an array of food; turkey sandwiches, grapes, apples, cape cod potato chips and even pickles. I always joked to Johnny at work that if I could steal the pickle off of everyone's plate that came with a sandwich without getting caught, I would.
“I’m so happy you brought pickles!” I said, taking a bite out of one.
“I figured I’d bring some pickles so the urge for you to take someone else’s wasn’t so strong.” he said as he unwrapped his turkey sandwich. “I can’t be dating a pickle thief.”
The way he said dating made my palms sweaty. Are there really no games with him? Or is it too good to be true? Feeling this secure, so early on, was something I was unfamiliar with.
We chatted for what felt like hours. Talking to Johnny was so natural. I wasn’t thinking about how I looked or what I said like I normally did on other dates. I was present with him. It felt like time had stopped and the only thing that mattered was the two of us.
We talked about everything. His mom dying. My dad being an alcoholic. His college experience. My high school experience. His dreams. My dreams. No conversation felt off-limits.
The sun was starting to set and I could tell it was going to be a beautiful sun-set.
“Let’s pop the Veuve intime for the sunset!”
Johnny propped up the pillows and moved the basket to the side. I popped the champagne and poured two glasses into plastic cups. Handing him one, I lifted mine up “Cheers” I said, clinking our cups together.
Johnny leaned back on the pillow, stretching out his legs.
“Come here” he said.
I crawled up next to him and he wrapped his arm around me, his other one stroking my hair.
“So” he said taking a sip of his champagne, “Tell me your biggest fear.”
“I’m scared my anxiety makes me unlovable.” I blurted out. Once I floated that out in the air, I immediately regretted it. Shit. He definitely was joking. He definitely was expecting an answer like I had a fear of getting eaten alive by spiders or getting attacked by a bird. Not that I thought my anxiety made me undeserving of love. This is why my mom had always told me “think before you speak!” Fuck. It’s coming full circle. Well, at least I got some really good pickles out of this date.
Johnny placed his champagne down and turned my face towards him. My face felt cool within the palm of his hand. A knot developed in my stomach as his blue eyes looked back at mine. Tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, he said to me, “I think your anxiety makes you human.”
Before I even got a chance to react, he pulled me in for a kiss. It was everything I had dreamed of. There was passion and fireworks. It was gentle yet urgent. His soft lips tasted like champagne and I could not get enough of it. His hand was on my cheek and his other slid up my back, in a way that brought me comfort. You could tell neither one of us wanted to stop. I could stay right here, in this moment, forever.
“Thank you for sharing that with me” Johnny said, wrapping his arms around me. I was now sitting in between his legs, facing out at the sunset. “You are deserving of love and so much more.”
“I thought I was going to scare you off for a second.” I said through an uncomfortable laugh.
“I don’t scare easily.” Johnny said as he kissed the back of my neck.
Together, we watched the bright, big, orange, shimmering sun drop into the water. It spread out into the sky and looked like a watercolor painting, the blue and pink reminding me of cotton candy; the orange and red reminding me of tangerines. This day was picture perfect, in more ways than one.
- - - -
As Johnny brought the boat into the harbor, I noticed dark clouds rolling in. “You think it’s going to storm?” I asked him “I don’t think so!” Johnny shouted over his shoulder. “The weather app said it was going to be sunny all day!” I thought we all knew by now never to trust the weather app on our iPhones. “Those weather apps lie you know! That’s why I get my weather from the news. Last time I checked the weather app on my iPhone I ended up wearing my moms yellow trench coat down to my knees, in preparation for a storm.. It was 85 degrees and sunny out and I had to carry my umbrella around all day!” I said. “Did you have a cute, matching yellow hat to go with it?” Johnny asked. “Yes.” I said. “But that’s besides the point!” Johnny was fixing the sails, preparing to dock. I couldn’t help but notice how great his butt looked. He did squats. That was for sure. “We made it back alive!” he said, turning off the engine. “Well thank God” I said. “Because…” Johnny turned around, cutting me off. “Because Liliana needs her dress back.” he said, pulling me in for a long kiss. Raindrops broke apart our kiss. “It’s just a sprinkle,” Johnny said, hands on my face, pulling me in for another. The wind started to pick up. This was everything but a sprinkle. It was now a full on down-pour. Grabbing my hand, Johnny shouted “Let’s make a run for it.” Zig-zagging across the wooden docks and back to the car felt like I was going through a maze. The rain was teaming. I stepped in a puddle, which felt more like a pond, submerging Liliana's sandals into murky-mud water. Johnny and I ran up to his car. I guess it was a bad day for him to take the top off of his jeep. The rain continued to fall on us as Johnny fumbled through his bag. “I can’t find the keys!” he shouted over the sound of the rain. I laughed at the irony of us rushing into a car that had no roof to cover us.
My dress was now sticking to my body like glue and my hair was sopping wet. Johnny was staring at me.
“What?!” I shouted over the thumping of the rain. Johnny walked towards me and pressed me up against the car. With his body thrusted against mine, he kissed me. He gently bit my bottom lip and our tongues intertwined. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I brought him in for more. His hands were in my hair, then on my back and then up my dress. He rubbed the inside of my thigh which made me moan into his mouth. He kissed me down my neck, on my collar bone and then back to my lips. If I got the flu tomorrow, this would all be worth it.
We continued to kiss, neither one of us wanting to come up for air. The way we both couldn’t get enough of each other made me want him even more. I wanted him here. Right now.
We were interrupted by the sound of Johnny’s car alarm. “There are those keys” Johnny said, lifting his foot up off of them in the grass.
The rain finally settled as it was starting to get dark. “I'm freezing!” I said to Johnny as I buckled my seatbelt. My wet dress stuck to the leather seat like my legs did to the desk chairs in high school on a hot day. Leaning over, Johnny cupped my hands together and blew into them. His warm breath heated up the inside of my palms.
“Better?” He said looking at me.
I pulled down the sun visor and looked at my reflection in the mirror.
“I look like my Aunt Janice’s wet poodle!” “I was thinking more like a wet chihuahua.” Johnny joked.
I was cold right down to my bones. Thankfully my house was only a short drive away. Even if it was 85 and sunny during the day, the Cape weather still dipped down to a chilling 60’s at night. With the rain tonight, it easily felt like it was in the 50’s.
Johnny and I held hands on the car ride back. Through chattering teeth, we both sang Luke Bryan at the top of our lungs. “Singing will help us forget how cold we are.” he said.
“That was the coldest drive of my life” Johnny said as he pulled into the driveway.
“Want to come in and warm up? I’m sure Lili wouldn’t mind lending you some of David's clothes. Or, you could borrow a pair of my pajamas. You would rock the silk pink ones.”
“Pajamas?!” Johnny said as he got out to open my car door. “Already trying to get me to spend the night?” Laughing, I rolled my eyes. “Oh, you wish.”
We walked into the house to Lili drinking wine in a face mask. Her legs were kicked up on the coffee table as she cackled watching Schitts Creek. Even though it was July, she was in her green and red Christmas onesie. She always said “I don’t care what month it is, these babies are warm!”
She took one look at us and burst out in uncontrollable laughter.
“I knew you guys were going to get caught in the rain!” Lili said pausing the show. “You guys look like you just got back from a wet t-shirt contest!”
“The weather app said it wasn’t going to rain!” Johnny said, wiping his feet off on the door mat.
“Johnny, who the hell uses the weather app on the iPhone anymore!” Lili laughed.
“See!” I said, giving him a playful nudge.
“Lil, can Johnny borrow something of David's?”
“Absolutely!” Lili said walking into her room. I heard her rifling through the drawers. Seconds later she walked out with a black t-shirt and grey sweatpants.
“These should fit, Johnny. I’ll leave them in the bathroom for you to change.”
“Thanks, Lili.” Johnny said. “Bri was trying to get me into a pair of her silk pajamas, so you’re a lifesaver.”
As I walked into my bedroom, hair dripping on the rug, Lili followed behind me. Shutting the door I began to say “I’m sorry about getting your dress..”
Lili cut me off. “Oh, fuck the dress! Tell me everything!” Lili said sitting on my bed. My coral comforter complimented her bronze tan. I loved her natural hair; the curls reminding me of a perfectly twisted chocolate and vanilla ice cream cone, the blonde and brown strands intertwined with one another.
I took off my wet dress and let it drop to the floor. “First things first, where are Josie and Mave?” I asked Lili as I pulled on my sweatpants and sweatshirt. The house always felt quiet without them.
“They said they’re spending the night in Boston. But they will be back tomorrow and want full details on your night.”
“Now, tell me everything!” Lili said as she playfully threw a pillow at me.
“OK!!!” I sat down next to her, sitting cross-cross on my bed.
“WAIT!” Lili shouted. She opened up a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and reached her hand in for a chip. Taking a bite she said “Ok, go.”
A smile spread across my face. “It was great.”
“I knew it! I knew it would be great!” Lili started jumping up and down. “When’s the wedding? I’ll obviously be the maid of honor, right?”
We both broke out in laughter. “Slow your roll, Lil!”
“But it was great. It was better than great. He set up a picnic for me on this small, secluded beach. It was breath-taking. He even brought pickles! And we ate dinner and drank champagne and watched the sunset together. We talked about real shit, Lili, not just the surface level, first date mumbo-jumbo. I felt like he actually saw me. I haven’t felt that way in a while.” I started grinning again. “And then it started to rain and we were kissing. I felt like I was in a movie. It was better than The Notebook.”
“Girl, you’re in love!” Lili shouted.
“Lil!” I said covering her mouth. “Johnny will hear you!”
“It’s not like I’m saying anything the both of you don’t know. And I bet he feels the same!”
This is why I loved Lili. She was always positive; always looking at the glass half full.
Looking at each other, we heard Johnny’s footsteps coming down the stairs from the bathroom.
“Ok, you’re off the hook for now.” Lili said getting off of my bed. “But tomorrow, I’ll need ALL the details. That includes whether there was tongue or not!”
“Oh my god!” I said throwing my hands up in the air. “Go wash that face mask off!”
- - - -
“Don’t stay up too late tonight kids'' Lili said as she peaked her head into the living room before going to bed. “Oh and Johnny, David will be thrilled to know his clothes fit you.”
Johnny laughed. “Tell him they’re super comfy! I’ll try not to steal them”
We heard the sound of Lili’s door close, which was a reminder that we were alone. Johnny was sitting on the couch, with my cream colored fleece draped over him, feet stretched out on the ottoman. He reached for the remote, turning on a Shark Tank rerun. If this was a preview of what the rest of our lives would look like together, I wasn’t complaining. “Lay with me.” he said, motioning to the couch.
I curled up next to him, my head nuzzling into his chest, legs woven together. He slid his arm around my waist and pulled me closer. My body sunk into the brown, leather couch.
“I had a great day”, I said, laying my right arm across his stomach.
“I did too. You’re worth getting caught in the rain for”, Johnny said rubbing my back.
The exhaustion from the day was starting to hit me. Yawning, I stretched out my legs.
“I could fall asleep right here.”
“Do it.” Johnny said. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“Just a warning, I talk in my sleep.” “Don’t worry. I won’t hold anything you say when you’re not conscious against you. Unless it’s something bad about me.” Laughing, I locked my fingers in between his. My eyes started to get heavy. My mind began to slow down. I wondered what I would dream about, as my reality was already better than anything I could ever imagine. And gently, I drifted off to sleep.