Nathan missed me while I made my weekend jaunt to see Hy. When I pulled into my driveway he was there, sweaty from washing his car, but a big grin on his face at the sight of mine. I hopped out and into his arms. He took a deep breath and planted a hard kiss on my cheek, his sharp whiskers stinging my skin.
I felt off balance emotionally once I was back a home. The other-worldly quality that permeates Hy-land still hung like a pink and purple unicorn filled cloud over my head. Mundane things like laundry and a trip to the grocery store had no place. Yet, they needed attending to.
Nathan didn’t ask much about the trip, but I told him about it anyway. And I alluded to the minor hangover I woke with… nothing a couple of aspirin and an extra thirty minutes of sleep couldn’t fix.
“So you got drunk?” he asked.
“No,” I said (which was the truth), “I just drank for a longer period of time than I’m accustomed and didn’t drink nearly enough water.”
He shot me a skeptical look, but not one that was disapproving.
But it was while we were grocery shopping together that I discovered he does have boundaries when he comes to me.
“Should we get some beer?” he asked.
“No thanks. I flirted my ass off for plenty of free beer last night. I’m good,” I shot back.
Now, why on earth I said that… I don’t know. One, it was a lie. No one bought my beer. Hy and I both paid for all three beers we drank. That’s right. Only three. But in hindsight I realize what I said made it sound like I had been knocking back half a case. And two, while there was some very mild flirting, I certainly wasn’t flirting my ass off.
Nathan’s face hardened. And up until that moment, I was curious if he had boundaries when it came to me and flirting. I’ve told him about men complimenting me before, some even that were pretty forward, and he hasn’t batted an eye. But this was different. I could feel his disapproval. Ironically over something I didn’t even do.
We finished the shopping trip with me covering up the awkwardness I felt with light commentary, pretending I didn’t know I had upset him. The rest of the night played out in the same way. I could have earned an Oscar for how well I acted as if nothing was wrong. I knew if I could just make it through the night, let us get to bed and to sleep, we could wake the next morning and all really would be better.
Nathan was in bed before me, the lights dimmed, reading on his iPad. I puttered around the bathroom, washing my face, brushing teeth and chatting off and on about general things such as the weather outlook for the next day… all the while judiciously avoiding any and all talk of my weekend trip.
I slid between the sheets, being careful to stay on my side of the bed. I was beginning to breathe a little easier. Nathan hadn’t brought up the flirting comment, and I in no way wanted to talk about it. The home stretch was in sight. All we had to do was sleep. That would reset things. It would be okay.
—to be continued—