We both laughed. I imagined how good it must have felt for him to laugh. For me, laughter never felt better than when it followed a good cry.
“You make me feel things, Greta. You always have. When I’m around you, whether it’s good or bad…I feel everything. Sometimes, I don’t handle it too well, and I fight it by acting like an ass**le. I don’t know what it is about you, but I feel like you see the real me. The second I saw you again for the first time at Greg’s when you were standing in that garden…it was like I couldn’t hide behind myself anymore.” He rubbed my cheek with his thumb. “I know it was hard for you to see me with Chelsea. I know you still care about me. I can feel it even when you’re pretending you’ve stopped.”
“This has been hard, but it was worth it to be able to see you again.”
“I don’t want to cry anymore tonight.”
“I don’t want you to cry anymore, either. But if you feel like you have to, don’t be afraid to. It’s good to let it out.”
He was staring at my lips. I was staring at his. The past few minutes had weakened me. I wanted to kiss him. I knew I couldn’t, but the need was so intense I had to get up from my seat.
I was feeling like I was going to burst—both physically and emotionally. We were sitting diagonally across from the roulette wheel. It was the only non-slot game I understood how to play. I needed to take my impulsivity out on something and had an idea.
When you’re gambling with your heart, taking a chance with money seems like nothing. I headed for the roulette table and threw a bunch of bills from my stash down on one number.
“Straight up,” I said.
The casino worker looked at me like I was crazy.
Elec had come up from behind me. “What are you doing?”
He hadn’t seen which bet was mine. My heart was beating faster with every turn of the wheel, and everything thereafter seemed to happen in slow motion.
Elec’s hands were on my shoulders as our eyes stayed glued to the wheel.
The wheel stopped.
The worker’s eyes bugged out of his head.
Someone handed me a drink that wasn’t mine.
More alcohol spilled on me.
People were clapping, cheering, whistling.
“22 is the winner!”
“That’s me. I won!”
Elec lifted me up into the air, spinning us both around.
When he put me down, he looked at me in shock. “You bet 22? You f**king bet it all on 22! Do you have any idea how much money you just won?”
I turned to the man behind the table.
“How much did I just win?”
“Holy shit, Greta.” Elec took my face in his hands, shook my cheeks and repeated, “Holy shit.” It seemed like he was going to give me a celebratory kiss, but he stopped short.
I’d just won a crapload of money but that didn’t seem to matter as much as getting to share this moment with him. Nothing beat the feeling of his hands cupping my face, of seeing his eyes smiling back at mine, of being able to turn his misery toward the number 22 into something positive. If this money could have bought more time with him, I would have given every red cent of it away.
Elec and I walked over to the cashier’s booth in a daze. While I went to collect the money, he stood back a ways talking to a few of the people who were at the table when I won.
I opted to take a check for the majority but asked for one thousand in cash. They’d also given me a complimentary room key for the casino hotel. That had caught me off guard, and I wasn’t sure if I should even mention it to Elec.
By the time I walked back over to him, he was standing alone with a huge smile on his face.
I handed him the ten crisp hundred-dollar bills. “I want you have this.”
His smile faded, and he tried to hand the cash back to me. “I’m not taking any money from you.”
“If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have even played 22. I chose it for you.”
“No way.” He shoved it in my face. “Take it.”
I wouldn’t budge. “That’s only a fraction of the winnings. I have a check for all the rest. I’m gonna put in the bank to help my Mom out. If you don’t take this cash, I’ll bet it all.”
“Don’t do that. There’s no way you’d get lucky a third time tonight.”
I crossed my arms. “I’m not taking it back. So, either you take it, or I’m gambling with it.”
He sighed. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll take the money, but we’re spending it together tonight. We’ll have the time of our lives with it.”
“Okay.” My mouth spread into a smile. “I can live with that.”
He glanced at the card I was holding. “What’s that?”
“Oh, uh…they also gave me a complimentary room key. I guess they want me to stick around a while and dump all of my winnings back into the casino. I’m not gonna use it. We’re heading back to Boston later, right?”
“Neither of us is really in condition to drive tonight.”
“You want to stay overnight? We can’t sleep in the same room.”
“I wasn’t suggesting that, Greta. I’ll get my own room.”
Of course. Now, I felt stupid for even assuming that was what he meant.
“Right. Okay. If you think that’s a good idea, we can stay.”
“The truth is, I’m not ready for this night to end. I don’t want to face reality again until I absolutely have to. My flight isn’t until tomorrow night. If we leave in the morning, we’ll have plenty of time.”
I rubbed his arm. “Okay.” I followed him out of the game room. “Where are we going first?”
“To buy you a new outfit. I get to pick it out. We’re going clubbing later. You can’t wear that.”
“Yeah. They have a nightclub downstairs.”
“Should I be worried? Exactly what do you consider clubbing attire?”
He looked at my outfit. “Something that doesn’t make you look like an 85-year-old Greek woman in mourning.”
I straightened my dress. “What are you trying to say?”
“Make that an 85-year-old drunk Greek woman since you smell like a bucket of booze.”
“Thanks to you.”
“Let’s go spend some money.”
“How about this one?” I lifted a canary yellow chiffon mini-dress off the rack.
“You’ll look like a banana.”
I chose another one. “This?”
Elec shook his head. “No.”
He picked up a burgundy satin and sequin number that draped over the tattoos on his arm as he showed it to me. “This is hot. This is it.”
At first, I thought it was too much but agreed to try it on.
Out of the three dresses I’d taken into the fitting room, the one he picked fit my body the best. It actually made me look like I had boobs, and the short style accentuated my legs. I had to give him credit. The sequins were a little loud, but then again, we were dressing for da club.
The dress fit me so well, in fact, that it didn’t want to come off. The zipper was stuck, and I couldn’t pull the dress over my head. I was starting to sweat because I couldn’t reach it to diagnose the problem.
“You alright in there?” Elec asked.
“Uh…can you see if there’s a salesperson that can help me?”
“What’s the problem?”
“I can’t get the dress off.”
“Well, you did finish off my steak and yours at dinner…”
“The zipper is stuck!”
He laughed. “I can help you.”
“No! I’d just be more comfortable if—”
The curtain slid open suddenly, and he stepped inside. “Come here.”
The warmth of his body was tangible in the small confines of the space. He slid all of my hair to the front and pulled at the material that was stuck. My breathing quickened with every second that his hands worked the zipper at the top of my back.
The image in my head of him ripping the dress off and wrapping my legs around him wasn’t helping.
“You weren’t kidding,” he said as he fiddled with it.” After about a minute, I heard him say, “Got it.”
He slowly lowered it a few inches then stopped. “All set.” But his hands lingered on my shoulders. I’d been looking down, and when I looked up, he was staring into my eyes from behind me in the mirror.
I turned around abruptly. Our faces were close, and his eyes dropped to my mouth and stayed there. This time he didn’t try to hide the fact that he seemed mesmerized by my lips.
He closed his eyes briefly as if to fend off the urge to kiss me. It troubled me that if he had tried, I knew without a doubt that I couldn’t have resisted. I would have kissed him with everything in me. That lack of self-control scared me.
It was impossible to see anything beyond him at that moment, not Chelsea, not the consequences. The memory of his mouth all over me, of him deep inside my body was overwhelming me.
My mind could be talked down, but my body knew better. It knew that it had within its grasp, the one thing it craved every day for the past seven years.
No one had ever been able to measure up or replace him.
Elec had wrecked me.
He may have been Chelsea’s now, but my body still believed that it belonged to him whether he knew it or not, whether that was right or wrong.
He was hers.
I was his.
It. Was. Fucked. Up.
The store attendant came by. “Is everything okay in there?”
“Yes!” I shouted.
No. No, it’s not.
Nothing had happened.
Elec exited the dressing room as soon as the attendant interrupted our moment.
We ended up picking out some clothes in the men’s section for him to wear that night.
We then went to the hotel lobby to book his room. He insisted on paying for that with his credit card and not the stash of money.
We each retreated to our separate rooms to shower and had planned to meet in a half-hour to head to Roxy’s nightclub.
As the water poured down on me, it felt good to wash the alcohol and perspiration off my body. Even though this seemed like the longest day of my life, the thought of it coming to an end terrified me.
Needless to say, my shower was of the coldest variety. Despite the temperature, the need to relieve the tension that had been building between my legs all day was overwhelming. I slid myself down to the ground of the bathtub at one point, letting the water pummel me while I massaged my cl*t to thoughts of him.
Elec’s face between my legs, his lip ring scraping my cl*t while he licked me ravenously…
His pierced c**k down my throat...
The feel of him deep inside of me…
His eyes glued to mine while he came…
I cl**axed almost violently.
My back was still pressed to the cold ceramic floor of the tub when I heard the knock.
Shit! Either I’d lost track of time, or he was early.
“Just a minute!”
I wiped down as fast as I could. I slipped the burgundy dress on, quickly ran a brush through my wet hair and opened the door.
“Wow.” After a long pause, he added, “You definitely can’t pass for an old lady in mourning anymore.”
“What do I look like now?”
“You look flushed, actually. Are you feeling alright?”
Having to face the person you’d been masturbating to in your head just seconds earlier was not something I could say had ever happened to me before.
I pursed my lips trying not to look guilty. “Yep.”
He was dressed to kill in the dark jeans and a fitted navy shirt he bought downstairs in the men’s section. The more casual look had transformed him back into the Elec I remembered. His hair was still wet, and the way it was parted accentuated his eyes.
Those f**king glasses.
“It felt so good to take a shower,” he said.
“I know what you mean.”
Mine felt particularly good.
“Do you need to dry your hair?”
“Yeah. Just give me a minute.”
I went to the bathroom and ran the blow dryer through it as swiftly as I could and then put it into a quick updo.
When I reentered the room, Elec had turned on ESPN and was lying flat on the bed with his hands resting behind his head. His shirt had ridden up, teasing me with a glimpse of one of the shamrock tattoos on his abs. It became clear to me that pleasuring myself in the shower had done nothing to resolve my “issues.” The sooner we could get out of this room, the better.
He hopped up and turned the television off. I followed him out as the door clicked behind us.
“You clean up nice,” he said as we entered the elevator. “I like your hair up like that.”
“Yeah. It’s how you were wearing it the night when I first met you.”
“I’m surprised you remembered that.”
A feeling of nostalgia came over me when I thought about waiting for him at the window that first night. I had no idea what kind of adventure I was in for with Elec.
“You were so innocent at first. You were just trying to be sweet to me, and I was such a prick.”
“You were. But I grew to like that about you.”
“When I wasn’t making you cry?”