Kai slowly stalked around my bar stool, stopping to stand at my back. He pushed my hair aside, cradled my head in his hand, and ever so softly grazed the base of my neck with his lips.

Every nerve ending in my body ignited. My eyes closed in heated pleasure, drinking in the sensation of his warm breath caressing my skin. I could see electrical currents alighting along my meridians through my mind’s eye. It was a sensation unlike anything I had felt in over a decade. My sensual goddess felt reanimated at last.

He trailed his lips up my neck, planting increasingly firmer and impassioned kisses along the way. I gasped as he breathed a soft moan into my right ear, sending a hot flush throughout my body. “I have been aching to kiss this neck,” he whispered, sending me spinning. In one of our more intensely playful exchanges earlier, I had sent him selfies modeling various dresses for a night of dancing with friends. “You make all of those look choice,” he had flirted. “Now how about a closeup of that neckline?”

Oh Jesus, I had thought. My neck was my Achille’s heel of pleasure. Letting him anywhere near it was going to be a problem for Helga, my inner identity of chastity and propriety. In a moment of defiance to Helga, I sent an enticing photo anyway. “Oh my God that neck!!” he had exclaimed. “How am I supposed to have any self-control, Ella?” Based upon his response, I was confident that self-control was going to be our weak spot. I was not wrong.

Continuing his trail of kisses, he worked his way around to my front, cupped my face, pulled back for a moment to exhale onto my lips, and swept me into a deep, luscious kiss. The lines between our faces blurred as our lips and tongues hungrily probed each other. I had expected a few minutes of awkwardness in the attempt to gain a rhythm together. Instead, it was as if he possessed the blueprint for exactly how I needed to be kissed in order to set me on fire. Somewhere in my mind I was relieved that I remembered how, and I was still pretty damn good at it.

We slowed our kiss down to soft, moist pecks, and he finally pulled away from me. My eyes remained shut as my mind swam in a heady cloud of euphoria. Through the cracks in my eyelids, I saw him intently staring at me. Was he…admiring his handiwork? Dammit, I’m giving all my cards away. Ever since the Aya ceremony, it was as if every inch of my body had become an erogenous zone.

Kai sat back down, and took a deep breath. “You are worried about what this is going to look like to the outside world. I want to collaborate with you on what this could look like in the context of your life over the next few months,” he said, breaking the silence. Jostled by the sudden subject change, I shook myself back to the scene as he began to lay out various scenarios of what I could tell my friends and family as the relationship matured.

He seemed awfully invested in how this could work for me, as if he’d already given it much thought. He began to describe different stories and scenarios I could relay to friends and family to ensure a smooth transition. Over the next few…months? Collaborate with me? I didn’t understand; was I…important or something? Aren’t I supposed to be dating just for fun?

My hesitation returned. “Maybe I’m just not confident that we could go truly deep. It seems confusing how you could go really deep with two people at the same time…” I wistfully replied. “Oh, I think you can go to great depths with two people,” he quickly responded.

On the surface, my analytical brain protested that this was not possible; underneath, I knew he was right. While I had never engaged in two primary relationships simultaneously, visions of the men who had crept into my heart over the last twelve years of my married life haunted me. Intriguing, intellectual, sweet men with whom I had longed to explore lines beyond friendship, but was forbidden within the confines of monogamy. I was going to be “the good wife”, faithful to the end. Except, what ended was my sensual fire, and ultimately, my marriage.

Sensing my inner turmoil, he cupped my chin in his hand. “I want to go so deep with you, Ella,” he whispered. “Can you feel it?” He gently took my hand and placed it over his heart. “Yes,” I managed to whisper, as I felt his heart thud in his broad chest. Sensing my lowered defenses, he dove in again, this time tangling his sculpted fingers into my hair and gently yanking my head to look left. The soft restraint was more than I could bear, and my body released into its most vulnerable state as he breathed a line of fire from the base of my neck to my ear. This was not helping my decision-making software evaluate my dilemma at all. Once again, he stepped back and stared intently on me as I worked to regain my balance in my chair. “God, I love how you react to me. It makes me feel so powerful.” I opened my eyes, and muttered, “Um…I can’t feel my face.”

He laughed and broke out into song: “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you—“, a surprisingly pleasant baritone emanating from his throat. Reflexively I continued with him, “but I love it, but I love it!” And we laughed together. Erupting into random acts of song was a favorite pastime of mine, and I felt my kinship to him deepen with this simple, silly act.

He gazed at me with his hypnotic eyes. “Mmm, how nice is it that we can enjoy each other’s essence without the influence of alcohol? With completely clear heads and hearts?”  I sat, stunned. He had articulated something I had never thought I’d feel. Safety and acceptance for not wishing to drink to protect my shaky health. The years of feeling shunned by my ex for no longer joining him in weekend drinking expeditions. My walls began to crumble, and I allowed myself the luxury of gazing in admiration.

The conversation continued into more intimate territory, about Kai’s passion for sensual healing. He had already teased out my bi-curiosity and wasted no time in probing that subject deeply. He nonchalantly offered to bring me to his polyamorous friend’s sensual retreat, with whom we could “play”. I almost spit out my tea and promptly informed him that he had violated Section 4 of the Match.com Handbook for First Date Decorum. “Fuck…first date decorum,” he said in his deepest, most tantalizing voice. Kai placed his hand on my knee and suddenly slid up my thigh, stopping barely an inch short of my womanhood.

I gasped in a mix of shock and arousal, completely dumbstruck by his audacity. He is very lucky he stopped when he did, thought Helga. Or this first date would be OVER. I am NOT that kind of woman. Oh Jeez, Helga, I inwardly retorted. You once had sex in your corporate office with your IT manager. Had a three-way kiss with a stripper. Gave a blow job on a commuter bus. Get over yourself.

Unable to vocally respond, I turned to my tea. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him begin to pour out his steeped tea without securing the infuser. But it was already too late; the metal contraption dumped unceremoniously into his cup, splashing us with fragrant Earl Grey. He sat and stared in exasperated silence. I exploded into laughter, releasing the tension from the entire two weeks leading to this moment.  I loved this bit of vulnerability, a tiny glimpse of imperfection in this impenetrable fortress of masculine confidence.

After laughingly sponging ourselves dry, the conversation wore on; what led me to become a TED coach, my birth and breastfeeding saga, our shared passion for attachment parenting, relationship communication techniques, our love of old school hip hop. Our synchronicities were endless, and the sense of soul-level familiarity was increasingly difficult to ignore for convenience’s sake. Finally, the check arrived and it was time to return to my pumpkin.

He gallantly draped his jacket around my shoulders to ward off the early spring chill and offered to escort me to my vehicle. I turned to inform him, “So, you realize I am disappointing my best friend by allowing you to walk me to my car and see my license plate. This is highly irresponsible of me.” He laughed, both of us knowing full well that I could not be in safer hands. “Yes, I could see how she could have that impression with the videos I post of my daughter holding frogs on Facebook.” We giggled as we approached my coupe, and I turned to face him.

I began, “Well, I guess this is goodn-“ and he lunged for my face once more. We kissed for what seemed like hours, drinking in each other’s essence under a moonless sky. He finally pulled away, placed his forehead against mine, and said wistfully, “I am going to miss you so, so much.”

Ah, yes. I had almost forgotten. In just three days, he would depart for his own seventeen-day world journey for an entrepreneurial conference with Olivia. All while I would be returning to my mundane life of motherhood, business-building, and solitude.

“I’ll miss you too,” I replied sadly, “but you’re going to meet so many other incredible women that you’ll probably find someone amazing and you’ll forget all about me.” While meant to be glib, I knew all too well that this was a very real possibility and I re-engaged my shields of protection. He detected the truth behind my tasteless quip.

“Wait, what did you just say?” he demanded. I stared as the air hung between us. He continued in a stern voice, “Do you not understand how fucking special you are to me?” I was stunned into silence. I…clearly did not understand. How could I become so special to someone in just two weeks? Especially when his heart already “belonged” to another? And when he could at any moment meet someone…more special? He stared directly into my eyes, with a hint of hesitation.

“You wanna hear something crazy?” Somehow I intuited exactly what he was going to say, and that there was no stopping him. Oh god, I silently pleaded. Oh god oh god oh god. Don’t say it. Not that. Do not…

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