Date Night

Lizzie saw the parked cars outside her neighbor’s house when she turned the corner at the end of the street.

She was tired. It was Saturday afternoon, and she’d been at the supermarket, and it had been crowded and busy and awful. It always was on a Saturday, but it was the only free time she had to go.

Now she was tired, and a bit irritated with people, and driving towards her house she could see the parked cars and just knew it meant there was going to be a party next door.

There was already noise when she pulled into her driveway. She opened the car window to check. Music, and a few people talking. They were in the courtyard over the fence, which was a completely reasonable place for them to be, except that it meant they were outside Lizzie’s lounge windows and right underneath her bedroom.

She closed the car window, and drove into the garage. Usually she didn’t park inside, because to get out of her car she had to squeeze past Eric’s. Tonight, she didn’t want drunk peopledamaging the car as they left the party, or peeing on it, or anything like that, so she parked in the garage.

She got out the car, and took the first few shopping bags through the internal door into the kitchen.

Eric was through in the lounge, on the couch, in front the TV. He was wearing a stripy scarf, even though he was inside, and holding a bottle of beer. He was watching football with the sound turned up. The TV was loud enough to drown out the music next door.

“Hey,” he called, when Lizzie came in.

“Hi.”

He put down the beer and stood up, like he usually did, to come over and kiss her. Then he glanced at the TV again, and hesitated.

“Is there much?” he said, meaning the shopping.

“A few more,” Lizzie said.

“I’ll get it.” He took two steps towards her, then stopped, his attention completely on the TV again. “Oh fuck no,” he said. “Shit.”

He was suddenly frowning. He’d had one arm half-up, like he’d been about to wave it around, excited, but then he’d suddenly gone still. He’d obviously been expecting that something good to happen in the game, but whatever it was had gone wrong.

Lizzie put the shopping bags she was carrying on the bench.

“Just a sec,” Eric said. “I will, just when they’ve…”

He was concentrating on the screen. Lizzie stood and looked at him.

His kind of football was soccer, so it was probably a just-stopped goal that had seemed safe, then turned into a corner kick against the team he wanted to win. And he probably didn’t completely trust the goalkeeper because he spent a lot of time not trusting goalkeepers.

Or maybe it was just close to the end of the game and this was the last chance for anyone to score. That would make him worried too.

Lizzie used to see him like this all the time. She’d spent a lot of time watching him watch football. At home, like this, but also at matches. She’d used to go with him, and stand around in the wind and cold, hugging herself while Eric draped her in stripy scarves and hats, and whole stadiums of men waved their arms and got all worried, like Eric was now.

Somewhere along the way they’d stopped doing that.

Lizzie had to think to remember why.

It was when Eric noticed she didn’t really like the cold and the crowds, she realized. And that she found all the shouting a bit threatening.

He’d stopped because Lizzie didn’t want to go with him, and he didn’t want to spend a quarter of his weekend away from her. He’d started staying home, and watching games on TV instead, even though it meant he only saw one game in four or five of the team he cared about.

She’d forgotten that and she wasn’t sure why. He really was quite sweet.

Now she was thinking about it, she was pretty sure she’d only started going to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon because Eric would be busy with football then. Over time Saturday had become a habit, and she’d forgotten why she started.

Because of Eric and his football. And how she didn’t want to waste time apart from him, either. Because if she did the shopping then, when he was watching football, she didn’t miss out on time he wasn’t as distracted.

Eric glanced over, and saw Lizzie still standing there. “Just a sec,” he said again. “They’re just…”

“It’s fine.”

“I’m coming,” he said.

“It’s fine,” she said. “Just when that’s done.”

“I won’t be long.”

Lizzie nodded, but Eric didn’t see her. He was still staring at the screen.

The TV made a noise. Louder noise, cheering and shouting. Eric pulled a face, and winced. “Fuck it,” he said. “Fucking dickhead.”

“Bad?” Lizzie said. She couldn’t see the screen from where she was standing, and the commentator was so excited he wasn’t saying anything that told her what had just happened.

“Yeah,” Eric said. “Bad. They put in the new goalie and it isn’t like this game is important or anything.”

A goal for the wrong team, Lizzie decided. She wasn’t even sure who was playing, and whether this was a game Eric cared deeply about, or just one he was watching because of the complicated lottery of finalists. If one side or the other won this one, then another team he cared about, somewhere else, finished higher up a table.

She wasn’t sure what had been happening this season, or how things were going. Somewhere along the line they’d stopped talking about that too.

After a moment, when the on-field crisis was resolved, Eric looked over at Lizzie, and realized she was still watching him.

“What?” he said.

“Nothing.”

“What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“You’re looking at me and smiling creepily.”

Lizzie was almost offended. “It isn’t creepy. I’m just smiling.”

“It fucking is creepy. Why?”

“Just you.”

He looked at her for a moment, and started to smile too. “What does that mean?” he said.

“Really,” Lizzie said. “Just you. I was just watching you. And thinking. And getting a crush and shit. That’s all.”

“Okay,” Eric said. He didn’t seem sure. He looked at her again, almost suspiciously, then went towards the front door.

“In the garage,” Lizzie said. “Because of next door.”

Eric turned around and went to that door instead. He went into the garage, then came back out and said, “I’ve got a crush and shit too. On you. Just so you know.”

Lizzie grinned at him. “Cool.”

“Cool to you.”

She look at him for a moment. “Go get the shopping.”

“Yep.”

“Go.”

He grinned, and went out into the garage and started heaving things around, rustling bags and slamming car doors.

Lizzie began to put away the shopping from the bags she’d already brought inside. She listened while she did, and tried to decide how bad the noise from next door was. She had to. It wasn’t loud, she almost couldn’t hear it over the hum of the fridge, and shouting from the TV, but it was there. A thumpy noise coming through the wall.

Eric came back inside with the rest of the bags, about eight in all. He had them in both hands, so he had to shove the door closed with his foot. He always did it that way, rather than making two trips. He lugged them in, overloaded, then dumped everything and complained how the handles made his hands sore.

“Where?” he said, because Lizzie sometimes wanted bags beside the freezer in the laundry, and sometimes over nearer than pantry.

“Anywhere,” she said. “Here’s fine.”

He dumped the bags. Carefully, in case there were eggs. Then shook his hands, and said, “Ow,” and looked at them.

Like every time, the bags’ plastic handles had made red marks across his palms.

“Next door’s having a thing,” he said.

“I saw.”

“Do you think they’ll get loud?”

“Don’t know.”

Lizzie and Eric didn’t really know their neighbors, no more than anyone did. The neighbors weren’t usually noisy. They’d been living there for a year and a half and this was the first party. They were out quite often, though. Lizzie thought down at the bar in the local shops, a kilometer away, because she and Eric sometimes heard them come home, and they were obviously walking.

They were quiet, except for tonight. Eric probably made more noise doing things with tools in the garage.

“We could go out if you want,” Eric said. “If you’re going to get sick of it.”

Lizzie thought about that. She was tired, and had planned to stay in. But she wouldn’t have much fun if she was here, half-listening to the noise next door, wondering if it was going to get louder, or someone was going to climb the fence or throw things at their windows.

“Maybe,” she said. “And do what?”

Eric shrugged.

“We probably should,” Lizzie said. “Otherwise, you’ll sit there all night with the TV just loud enough you can still hear them, getting annoyed.”

“And you’ll freak out they’re going to go and smash all the trees down the street.”

They looked at each other. Maybe going out was best, Lizzie thought. “So where?” she said. “If we go out. Go where? To do what?”

“Just go out.”

“We kind of need a plan.”

“We really kind of don’t, dude,” Eric said. “We can just go.”

Lizzie looked at him, trying to glare.

He shrugged. “So call someone. See what people are doing.”

“Nah,” Lizzie said, but stood there thinking. Perhaps they should. Perhaps they ought to go out more.

She went and got her phone, and scrolled through her address book.

She had got boring. She’d been with Eric for five years, and had stopped going out with the girls pretty much ever, back then. Then the girls started had settling down too, and having kids, and moving to other cities, and they’d all mostly lost touch.

Eric was pretty much the same.

“I don’t know who,” Lizzie said.

“What about Amanda?”

Lizzie’s sort of best friend, if you didn’t count Eric. They’d worked together a couple of years ago and still met for drinks most Friday nights.

Lizzie texted Amanda, and asked what Amanda was doing, did Amanda feel like going out. She tried to make it sound like it was for Amanda’s sake, that she was being impulsive. She didn’t mention the party next door.

Amanda texted back that she had a cold and felt grotty.

Lizzie said she was sorry and get well, and tried Mary, since she was holding her phone. Mary said no, she was going out with a guy she’d met. Lizzie tried Penelope, looking down the list in her phone, but she didn’t get an answer.

After a few minutes, she remembered Penelope was away somewhere.

“I think it’s just us,” Lizzie said. “Sorry.”

Eric shrugged. “Cool.”

“Yeah right.”

Eric seemed surprised. “Why yeah right?”

“I thought we wanted to have fun.”

“We’ll have fun. Just with us.”

Lizzie looked at him, almost skeptically, then decided he seemed sincere.

She felt bad. She didn’t want to feel like she just had, that them alone was no fun. She’d said it, but it wasn’t right. She wanted what Eric was saying to be true, that they’d have fun together. She just didn’t think they would.

“We will,” Eric said. “I promise. We don’t need other people. We can do something together. We haven’t in ages.”

“What?”

“Don’t know. Something. Dinner. Then a movie. Whatever you want.”

Lizzie stood there for a moment, listening to the noise through the wall, then shrugged. “All right.”

Eric seemed surprised, again. “We will?”

“Yeah. Fuck, why not. I’ll just jump in the shower.”

“You’re fine.”

“I smell.”

“You smell good.”

“I’ll still have a shower.” She started down the hall.

“But quick, yeah?” Eric called after her. “Don’t take too long getting ready.”

“I know.”

“If we’re going somewhere we should get a move on.”

“Yeah.” Lizzie was in the bathroom by then.

“It’s just us,” Eric called. “You don’t need to get carried away.”

“You’re making me slower by talking.”

“Quick,” he said again.

Lizzie turned on the water.

Her legs were scratchy, but not enough to actually see, so she left them. Eric would probably follow her into the bathroom if she took an extra two minutes to shave. Once they’d decided to do something, he got impatient. He’d want to leave right away.

She got under the water, and thought about the way he’d said not to go to any trouble because it was just them. She knew what he meant, but it still didn’t seem quite right. Like her thinking they wouldn’t have fun together. Something wasn’t quite right in how they were thinking about each other.

It shouldn’t be not trying because it was just them. It should be trying harder, taking hours to make herself perfect. It should be planning things out days in advance, like it would have been back when they’d first met, and were still new.

She had no idea when that had changed.

She almost did shave, and wash her hair, and take ages, just because. Then she decided Eric would only get irritated and misunderstand, so she didn’t. She was quick, only took a couple of minutes, then got out and went into the bedroom still dripping, leaving wet footprints in the hall.

Eric was hovering down the hall, near the garage door. He seemed to be ready.

“I’m really not trying to rush you,” Eric called as she went past. He sounded like he was saying it carefully.

“So fucking don’t, dude,” Lizzie called back and went into the bedroom.

She looked in the wardrobe, trying to decide what to wear. She’d wanted to take her time on that part, but Eric was going to nag until she was with him, down by the door.

She decided quickly. She put on tights because her legs were scratchy, then grabbed the first party dress she saw. She had three, basically, because she was old and seemed to have stopped buying pointless, pretty things. Three dresses she’d still wear, anyway, that weren’t a bit too five years out of date.

She pulled out the first, and tugged it on, and shouted, “I’m coming.”

Shouted, because the tights were work tights, ugly ones that pulled right up to her tummy. And even though Eric saw her most mornings like that, getting ready for work, she didn’t want him seeing it right now. For some reason.

She wasn’t sure why.

She put her hair up, quickly. She just used a clip and hardly did anything because Eric could never tell if hair had taken ten seconds or ten minutes. She found the shoes she’d bought to wear with the dress, but had to rummage, and reach right to the back of the wardrobe.

The back of the wardrobe because she hadn’t dressed up in a long time, she realized. She knelt there for a moment, thinking that should probably bother her too.

“No hurry,” Eric shouted.

“Fuck off,” she shouted back.

She grabbed mascara and eyeliner and lip gloss because she could do that in the car, then changed her mind about the eyeliner and started hunting for the darker one she knew was somewhere.

She counted to ten, and was pretty sure Eric would have had his mouth open to shout again.

“Seriously fuck off,” she shouted. “I’m like ten fucking seconds away.”

She was fifteen seconds, probably. She dashed into the hall holding the shoes, with the makeup hugged against herself in the bend of her arm, trying to decide if she needed a bag, thinking not. Also thinking that since she was only hurrying because Eric was rushing her, it was his fault if she forgot something.

“You’re driving,” she said, although she didn’t really need to. They’d take Eric’s car because they always did, and he’d drive because he always did.

“Yep,” Eric said. “Okay.”

“I’m not taking keys,” she said, trying to put on her shoes without dropping everything else.

“Yep.”

“Or money,” she said.

“Fine.”

Eric driving meant Lizzie could drink more, which Eric never seemed to remember while they were still at home. Maybe they didn’t go out enough for it to matter. He’d realize once they were out, when Lizzie had a third or fourth drink and told him he couldn’t. Then he’d complain, and try to change her mind, but it was too late by then, if Lizzie hadn’t taken a bag. No bag meant no wallet and no license, and she wasn’t going to risk getting caught driving without her license on her. And Eric knew that, and that he was going to get stuck driving, but he never seemed to remember until they were out.

Which suited Lizzie.

She seemed to remember she’d used to take her license when she and Eric first were going out. She remembered it inside her bra, with a credit card, in case she got asked her age. She’d stopped bothering with that years ago, and couldn’t remember when.

That bothered her a bit, too.

Her shoes were on. She thought she was ready. She’d taken five minutes, maybe less. She stopped and stood still and tried to think if she’d forgotten anything.

Eric was looking at her.

“What?” she said, suddenly worried. Thinking she had a gob of something on her nose, or her hair had done something weird and was sticking up.

He kept looking.

“What’re you staring at?” she said. “Asshole.”

“Fuck,” he said. “Dude, you’re hot. That’s all.”

She stood there for a moment, then started to smile. Smile, and feel all wet and hot and tender inside. “You’d better not be sounding surprised,” she said, because he hadn’t sounded surprised at all, and because she had to say something.

“I’m not,” he said.

“You’d better not be,” she said. “I mean it.”

“I know you’re hot,” he said. “Doesn’t surprise me a bit.”

He kept looking at her, and she tried to remember when he’d last said something like that. Probably not for months, and probably it had been during sex. Probably he’d looked down during doggy and said she had a nice ass, something like that. Flattering, and filthy, but not really romantic.

That had been romantic.

She looked at him, too. She hadn’t really had time to until right then. He’d put on a clean shirt, one with actual buttons, and vaguely smeared some kind of goop in his hair. It wasn’t sticking up quite as much as usual.

They were both trying, apparently. At least a little.

“So’re you,” she said. “Stud.”

They grinned at each other.

They kept grinning a moment to long.

It felt nice just to smirk like that.

Lizzie thought Eric was going to kiss her, or maybe grab her for a quickie, but he just stood there instead. Smiling.

They were in the hall, right beside the front door, and the noise from next door was louder.

Lizzie decided to stop waiting for Eric to sort out what he was doing.

“Come on,” she said. “Let’s go.”

 

*

 

They drove into the city. They talked all the way in about where to go, but in the end Eric just drove to a carpark near the waterfront, left the car there, and made Lizzie walk around reading the menus outside restaurants until she found one she liked.

It was nice. It was them having dinner, Lizzie thought, but them having dinner with each other, without the TV on.

Sometimes interrupted by a waiter, but still.

After they’d eaten, they walked to a theatre, but the last movies had already started and they’d missed at least the first half hour of everything.

“Shit,” Eric said. “What happened to midnight sessions?”

The woman at the counter didn’t seem to understand. Lizzie assumed that meant there hadn’t been midnight sessions for ages, and towed Eric away.

“So what now?” she said, back out on the street.

There were bars all around them, crowds of people moving around.

Lizzie watched people pass, a little enviously. She hadn’t been out in months. She definitely hadn’t been out like these people were out in longer than she could remember, just out, on a bar-crawl, going nowhere particular.

She almost missed it. Drinking until you stopped thinking, and just ran around laughing and having fun. Especially in a group, like a lot of these people were. Meeting new people, doing nothing special, making a big fuss and drama over a new place someone had found.

She didn’t have a group of friends tonight, but she had Eric. And she was determined that ought to be enough.

Eric seemed to be thinking the same thing. He was looking at a bar down the road. Music was coming from inside, and people were standing at the door, smoking and talking. The people looked hip, the kind of people Lizzie would have wanted to drink with ten years ago, at college.

Even though she probably wouldn’t have actually known them, back then.

“So?” Lizzie said, looking at the bar as well.

Eric still didn’t answer.

“We have to do something,” Lizzie said. “There’s no point going out for half a noisy party next door.”

“Yeah,” Eric said.

“So do we want a drink?” Lizzie said. “Like, right now?”

“We can’t,” Eric said, watching the bar. “Can we?”

“What, because we’re grown ups?”

“I don’t know.”

“Because of the car?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“It’ll be fine. It’s parked. We’ll come back and get it tomorrow.”

Eric stood there, thinking. Lizzie wasn’t sure why it was so hard to decide this, but it seemed to be hard for her, too.

Going to a bar shouldn’t be that big a deal.

So she decided it wasn’t.

She took Eric’s hand. “Come on,” she said. “Have a drink with me.”

Eric started to grin.

“Fuck a drink,” he said. “Let’s get pissed like we used to.”

Lizzie looked at him for a moment, then shrugged. “Okay,” she said. “Yeah. Why the fuck not.”

 

*

 

The bar was full, and crowded, and smelled a little of other people’s sweat. There were enough people inside that Lizzie and Eric had to push their way to the bar, then stand and wait until a bartender noticed them.

While they waited, Lizzie leaned over to Eric and said, “This place smells funny.”

“You can’t smoke inside any more.”

Lizzie looked at him. “So?”

“So the smoke doesn’t hide the BO like it used to.”

“Oh yeah,” Lizzie said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Then she really started to wonder how long it had been since she’d been anywhere. The smoking laws had been years ago, she thought.

A bartender came over, and Eric got them both beer. Lizzie almost made a fuss until she remembered that was what she’d used to drink, back in the day, when they’d first met, before she got all suburban and serious and worried about bloating and switched to wine and vodka.

She kissed Eric quickly while he waited for his change, just because, then ignored that he looked surprised. They had to stop looking surprised at each other.

Instead, she looked around the room for a table. There weren’t any. The place was full.

There wasn’t even a corner.

After a moment she noticed two women at a small table with a spare third stool. She grabbed Eric and went over.

“Hey,” she said, “Can I sit here?”

They looked at her, and one nodded, and then they went back to talking.

Lizzie sat, and turned around as much as she could so it didn’t feel like she was sitting there staring and eavesdropping. She pulled Eric against her, so he was standing close, and felt smug.

She’d found a seat. She wasn’t completely useless in a place like this.

Then she realized Eric was still standing.

“Shit,” she said, after a moment. “Sorry, did you want to sit down too?”

Eric just looked at her for a moment, like she was being an idiot, then said, “No.”

She shrugged. She’d just been checking.

There was a table of men next to their table who seemed to have been noticing the two women. Getting around to talking to them, Lizzie assumed. They seemed to be noticing Lizzie too, now, which pleased her.

Not so much Eric. He was glaring.

Lizzie realized she was sitting like she did at home, comfortable and careless. Like she was in jeans and a tee shirt, not a short, low dress. Another sign she hadn’t been out enough. She sat up, crossed her legs, and sat properly, with posture.

“That guy is perving at you,” Eric said in her ear.

“No shit,” Lizzie said. “Isn’t it cool?”

She grinned at the guy at the next table, and he smiled back, then looked away.

Eric hadn’t answered.

“What?” she said. “It’s cool.”

Eric smiled. “If you say so.”

“Right now?” Lizzie said. “I do, yeah.”

Eric grinned like he thought she was wonderful, and she grinned back just because of that grin. Because she thought he was too.

She drank her beer, and wondered if she should be trying to talk to Eric, but it was really too noisy to hear. Because he was standing, his head was too far up for her to talk to him easily. She’d have to hitch up, or he’d have to bend, and neither would be particularly comfortable.

Eric was just standing there, and apparently didn’t want to talk. He was drinking quite fast.

Lizzie just sat too.

Eric finished his beer, and put the glass on the table.

“Another?” Lizzie said.

“If I do, we’ll really have to leave the car and get it tomorrow.”

“I thought we were.”

“Just making sure.”

“Leave the car,” Lizzie said. “That’s cool.”

Then she wondered if saying cool made her sound old. She had no idea what people said any more.

Eric hadn’t noticed. “Yeah,” he said. “Okay.” He glanced over at the bar, was about to go.

“Wait,” Lizzie said. She picked up her glass and drank everything that was left, half of it in one go, gulping steadily. She’d only just remembered she used to be able to do that.

Eric watched her, grinning. Then kissed her when she was done. Kissed the last of the froth off her mouth.

She held out the glass and said, “More please.”

Eric put it on the table, and kissed her again, and went to the bar.

Lizzie waited, expecting him to be a while. The men at the next table had started talking to the women at Lizzie’s. There was a lot of leaning over to say things in people’s ears, and a lot of laughing. The smiling guy wasn’t bothering with Lizzie any more, since she was obviously taken. He’d gone off across the room somewhere, trying another group of women.

Lizzie didn’t mind.

She watched people flirt, trying to remember if she’d ever been like this. She must have, she thought, but she couldn’t remember.

She supposed it wasn’t surprising. When you were doing this, you just did. You went out and had fun and men flirted with you.

You didn’t really notice until it stopped.

Eric came back and handed her another beer, and she drank that too, fast.

Just because she could.

 

*

 

After Lizzie and Eric had a third drink, the two women, and the men from the next table, had got friendly enough they’d all decided they were going somewhere else together.

Lizzie watched them go, and smiled when someone smiled at her, then said to Eric, “Let’s go somewhere too.”

“Okay. Where?”

“Anywhere. Stop planning.”

He grinned.

“Before someone else grabs that half of the table,” she said.

Eric nodded, and drank quicker.

Lizzie had been attached to her two women, vicariously. She’d liked seeing how their night here ended. She didn’t know that she wanted strangers suddenly across the table from her, in those two seats.

She stood up, and stared at Eric until he finished his beer, quickly, and followed her outside.

Outside was suddenly cold and quiet after the sticky warmth of the bar.

The air smelled fresh. Lizzie had stopped noticing the smell of spilled beer and sweat quite as much, but outside suddenly smelled fresh. Even with exhaust from traffic in the street beside her, and an overflowing rubbish bin nearby.

She’d forgotten how good leaving a bar could smell. It made her feel awake, like coffee did. Suddenly alert.

Excitable.

“What now?” Eric said.

“I don’t know,” Lizzie said. “Something.”

He kept looking at her.

“Something fun?” she said.

“All right.”

Lizzie watched the crowds walk past her. People in groups, talking, energetic, calling back to their straggling friends, looking around for others, making phone calls, talking about their chances tonight, separating to go around her and Eric, and not really noticing they did.

She felt old, suddenly. She had in the bar, and she did standing here. She was probably only five years older than most of these people, but she suddenly felt old.

Her with her house in the suburbs, going out to hide from her neighbors’ party noise.

“Another pub?” Eric said.

Lizzie shook her head.

“Too noisy?” Eric said.

“Yeah.”

“We could just go home,” Eric said. “They’ve probably mostly stopped by now.”

Lizzie stood there, and desperately didn’t want to. She wanted her fun night. It was about more than hiding from the party now. It was about doing something special. It was about not feeling as lost and stagnant and suburban as she was starting to realize she felt.

“Not yet,” she said.

“Then another bar?”

“What about a café? Somewhere quieter?”

Eric looked around. “I don’t know. This late?”

“We could ask someone?”

“Who?”

“A cop?”

Even saying it felt suburban. And Lizzie couldn’t see any, anyway. Which was odd, when there had to be dozens around, with all the drunks.

“We could stay the night in town,” Eric said. “Go to a hotel.”

“What, like a dirty weekend?”

Eric shrugged.

“Nah,” Lizzie said, but she was suddenly interested. Wondering if they should. People kept walking past. A group across the street were singing.

Maybe they should.

“Room service,” Eric said. “We could get room service in bed.”

That was Lizzie’s weakness. Any time they went away they had to have dinner in the room at least once, sprawled on the bed.

“Maybe,” Lizzie said.

“You want to.”

“I’m almost convinced.”

“Thought you might be.”

“Yeah,” Lizzie said, and stood where she was, deciding. Savoring a last moment in the street.

“I thought of it before,” Eric said. “At home. That we could stay in town if we wanted to.”

“And you didn’t say?” Lizzie said. “You dick.”

Eric looked confused.

“It’s a sweet idea,” Lizzie said. “But you should have warned me.”

He didn’t understand. He just stood there looking at her.

“I’m not ready,” Lizzie said. “I didn’t bring anything.”

“What do you need? It’s only one night.”

“I don’t know. Things.”

“Like makeup things?”

Lizzie shrugged. After a moment she said, “Hair things. A change of clothes.”

“You look fine. And we’ll be home before you smell.”

She glared. That wasn’t completely what she’d meant. “So?” she said.

“So doesn’t that mean you have everything?”

“Ah,” Lizzie said. “Dude. My pill?”

“Take it tomorrow morning.”

She looked at him.

“You can,” he said. “Right? Like within twelve hours?”

She didn’t answer.

“Within twelve hours of ten at night?” he said.

“Maybe.”

“So we’ll be home by then.”

Lizzie crossed her arms. She wasn’t sure it was completely romantic that he knew that much about her.

“I didn’t shave my legs,” she said, since he’d started getting into details.

Eric shrugged. “I don’t care.”

“Or yesterday. Or the day before.”

“Dude, I’ve seen you stubbly before.”

“Not when we’re having a dirty night in a hotel.”

“So we’ll get you a razor. It’ll be fine.”

Lizzie thought about that. “Can we?”

“There’ll be an all-night market somewhere.”

Lizzie stood there, undecided. Really undecided, not just indecisive. She actually did want to go to a hotel.

“How much would it cost?” she said. “A hotel room?”

“Not much.” He got out his phone, and looked up one of the discount hotel booking websites. He showed her. “See? That’s near here.”

“Will they give us that price if we just walk in?”

“Don’t see why not. We can ask.”

Lizzie kept hesitating. She wasn’t sure why. Being old, and indecisive, and out of her routines, she supposed. Wanting something, but not knowing what it was.

She wasn’t sure when she’d got so unable to make up her mind, and she didn’t like it at all.

“Come on,” Eric said. “It’s like two blocks away. It’ll be fun.”

“Maybe,” Lizzie said, and almost hated herself for not deciding.

“Listen to us talking about whether we do,” Eric said, grinning. “We’re so fucking old.”

That decided Lizzie.

“Yep,” she said. “That was it. That was what I needed. Let’s go.”

Eric kissed her and pointed. “That way.”

 

*

 

They found the hotel, and the hotel was happy to give them a cheap room, so they checked in.

Standing at the front desk, Lizzie had trouble not laughing. She bit her lip, and looked around, and could feel giggling fit down inside her, trying to get out. She felt sordid. She felt a bit embarrassed, like she was doing something wrong, as if having no luggage and wanting a room late on a Saturday night just had to look suspicious.

Like she was having a fling with her partner.

Which in itself wasn’t an awful idea, except that she shouldn’t want to cheat on Eric, even if she was cheating with him.

She was probably a bit tipsy from more beer than she was used to.

She kept biting her lip, and fiddling with a pen on the hotel desk, and squeezing her hands into fists so they didn’t shake and tremble.

“Dude,” Eric said. “Seriously?” He knew her well enough to know why she was shaking, and probably to guess what kind of thoughts were making it happen.

Lizzie ignored him and tried not to laugh.

“People do this all the time,” Eric said. “So they don’t have to drive home.”

“Oh yeah,” Lizzie said. “Really?”

Eric seemed surprised. “Yeah.”

The hotel receptionist was looking at her too. She nodded.

“Why do you think there’s still someone here?” Eric said. “So we can check in?”

Lizzie looked at Eric, and bit her lip, and managed to say, “I don’t know.”

She was going to laugh, she decided, and make the hotel think she was drunk or high or something, and not a fit person to have one of their rooms.

She went all the way across the lobby and looked at the stand of tourist brochures instead. And tried not to laugh at them either.

Eric finished checking in, and came over. He handed her a razor. A cheap, plastic, disposable one, a man’s one, but a razor. The receptionist had a box, he said. Useful things they would sell you.

“How much was it?” Lizzie said.

“Does it matter?”

She shook her head, then said, “Yes.”

“Five bucks. But, you know, fuck it.”

She held it, and looked at it, and decided her cheap disposable five-dollar razor was a terribly sweet gift.

“Shall we?” Eric said, and looked towards the lift. “Or do you want to stand here and laugh a bit more?”

“Not really,” Lizzie said, and went over to the lifts.

She stood there waiting and didn’t look at Eric. Or anywhere else, except the door in front of her.

It opened, and she got in the lift, and stood next to Eric, terribly seriously.

Then she carefully took his hand and squeezed it.

Suddenly she wasn’t giggly any more.

She was just wet, and horny, and filled with love.

 

*

 

Eric kissed Lizzie at the door, and kept kissing her as they went inside the room, and he found the lights, and pushed the door shut.

They hadn’t just kissed in weeks, Lizzie thought. Not kissed properly, like this. Perhaps in months.

She suddenly got distracted, thinking too much.

Perhaps in a year.

That was terrible. They hadn’t kissed like this, just kissed, for a year.

She held onto Eric’s arms, so he wouldn’t stop, so he wouldn’t misunderstand why she was moving and break away, and slowly pulled him further into the room, towards the bed.

She didn’t want him to stop, but in the end he did. He pulled away and said, almost gasped, “Breath.”

“I forgot how fucking wet you get me, doing that,” she whispered.

Eric kissed her again. Her talking like that turned him on. Not dirty exactly. Not fake dirty, anyway. Heartfelt dirty. Like when he said she was hot, or unexpectedly said he loved her. Real, heartfelt praise that turned her on and made her love him. That was what did it for her, and her saying how much she needed to fuck, or how wet she was, or how much she wanted to taste his cock, that did it for him.

They kept kissing, didn’t move their mouths apart. Eric started groping her. Trying to pull her out the dress, trying to get his hand inside it with her.

“I need a shower,” Lizzie said into his mouth.

“You smell fine.”

“Not smell,” Lizzie said. “I know about the smell. I’m scratchy.”

“Your hair smells like beer.”

She stopped kissing, quite suddenly, and looked at him. Looked up, she realized.

She’d slipped backwards, somehow, without quite realizing. She was on her back on the bed and Eric was lying half on top of her.

“What the fuck?” she said. “Beer?”

“It’s good.”

“But beer?”

He grinned. Just lay there looking at her, and grinned.

“Fine,” she said. “But get off me. I need a shower.”

He didn’t move.

“Get off me, dude,” she said.

He still didn’t move. He just kept looking at her. Looking like he had a crush. Like he was so smitten by her he might not actually be listening to what she was saying.

She liked that idea. That after five years, he still got like that.

She still needed a shower, though.

She waved her hand in front of his face. “Legs,” she said. “Having a shower. No matter what. So the longer you wait to get off me, the longer until we start.”

Eric rolled sideways and let her up.

She kissed him again. Then twice more. Then put her hand on his cock, and squeezed, and grinned because he was hard.

Because she’d made him hard.

Because kissing her could get him hard even after five years together.

She went into the bathroom and undressed there. Undressed in the bathroom, even though she knew he’d have wanted to watch, that he liked seeing her undress, liked the way she took off her clothes. Even though he made a kind of complainy sigh of protest as she closed the door.

Because of the tights, and because she wanted to make him wait, and want her more.

She got in the shower, and washed, and shaved everything. It was trickier with a disposable man razor and hotel shampoo, so she was slower, but she managed.

She didn’t cut herself, which was the main thing.

She thought about Eric. About them. About how much she wanted this, and how fun it had been, even though she was feeling old, how they should do this again, a lot.

She turned off the water, and dried herself, and did it deliberately slowly, making Eric wait.

She went back out into the room in just a towel.

Eric was asleep on the bed.

She stood there, and looked at him, and didn’t know what to do. She hadn’t quite expected that.

 

*

 

Lizzie watched Eric sleep for a moment, and was almost annoyed. Then she told herself not to be awful. It was late, and she’d taken a while, and the room was warm and quiet.

And they’d had beer.

She felt a bit sleepy too, from all the beer.

Eric had obviously been lying there, waiting for her, with nothing to do. And had fallen asleep.

The room’s TV wasn’t on. He’d probably not turned on the TV so she wouldn’t have to tell him to turn it off.

Even that was almost sweet. Despite how it backfired.

She looked at the bedside alarm clock. It was one in the morning. She decided to let him sleep a little, since he’d probably be more use to her refreshed.

She left the towel on because it was soft and fluffy and more comfortable than her dress. She didn’t want to put the TV on either, in case it woke Eric, but also she just didn’t. She didn’t want to lie down either, in case she went to sleep too.

That would be a terrible end to the night. Both of them sleeping until morning.

It almost felt possible.

She went over to the window, and pulled the curtain aside a little way, and sat there, perched on the window-sill, looking down at the city, and the lights, and the crowds moving around.

There was a whole other world out there. A world that looked fun, from up here, and seemed fun when you remembered it, but one she was starting to realize she didn’t fit into any more.

Not really.

It wasn’t that it was completely alien to her, that it had rejected her and driven her out. It was just that she liked to do other things now, and she hadn’t known that before.

She didn’t mind losing it, she realized. She had other things. She liked it up here with Eric.

She liked just sitting and watching, waiting for him to wake up.

She waited, and watched the crowds.

 

*

 

Lizzie was fairly sure Eric was only dozing, not deeply asleep. She knew the different sounds of his breathing. It was quieter when he was dozing on the couch, almost so soft she sometimes worried he’d actually stopped breathing. When he was deeply asleep, like in bed at night, he breathed slower, louder, and more steadily.

This was couch breathing, daytime breathing. He was dozing.

He’d wake up on his own.

She sat, unmoving, watching the people down in the street.

After a while, Eric moved a little on the bed, and yawned, and then said, “Hey.”

Then, after a second, “Fuck. I fell asleep.”

Liz turned around. It had been an hour. She could see the clock. She’d been looking out the window for an hour, and that almost surprised her.

“I’m sorry,” Eric said. “Shit, that’s…”

“It’s fine,” Lizzie said. She put the curtain back where it had been, and went over to the bed.

Eric looked at her and smiled.

She took off the towel.

Eric kept looking. Staring now. He always looked, when she was naked. While she was getting ready for work in the morning, and when she got out the shower, he always at least glanced.

Sometimes he stared. Like this.

She’d always liked it. That he still wanted to look. That they were still into each other physically.

They had love, and kindness, and affection together. They had all of that. And as well, they liked to fuck. They just wanted to fuck each other, and that seemed to help a lot. With everything that came up in life.

She stood there, grinning, and let him leer. And he leered. For a while.

“You look great,” Eric said.

“I’m okay.”

“You’re fucking great.”

She used one foot to prod her leg around her knee. “Maybe up to there.”

“Nah,” he said. “A bit higher.”

She balanced carefully, moved her foot slightly.

“Higher,” he said.

She put her foot back on the floor. “Up to here?” she said, and waved her hand around mid-thigh.

He shook his head. “Higher.”

She put her hand beside her hip, and he shook his head. She put it above her tummy, and he said, “Higher.”

He was grinning, and she was too. It was a joke, a game, a way to tell her not to worry how she looked. It was an old trick that he’d once played that now always made her feel loved.

The first time he’d done this had been a joke. A careful, well-planned joke to tell her not to worry. She’d been fretting a bit, looking in the mirror, and said she didn’t like how she looked.

Eric said she was fine, and Lizzie said no, her calves were okay, but that was all. The rest of her wasn’t that great.

He’d said no, that was bullshit, she looked fucking good. She looked good up to there. She was good up to there. All of her.

“Where,” she’d said, because he wasn’t pointing or anything, was just looking. “Up to here?” she’d said, and meant her knees. Thinking he was trying to say her legs were okay, because she knew he liked them. Not realizing quite yet what he was doing.

“Higher,” he said, and made her keep moving her hand, like he was now. Telling her to move it higher, saying all of her was okay, not just that outside. That she was okay up to there, and there, and up to there, and had completely tricked her, made her think he was trying to tell her she had good legs, when really he meant something completely different.

They’d been doing this ever since, now and then. To remind her, and reassure her. To remind him, too, how she needed him to tell her things like this.

Doing this like they were now.

“Up to here?” Lizzie said, still grinning, and put her hand near her shoulders.

“Nope,” Eric said. “Higher.”

She put her arm up, her hand right over her head. She looked at him, and smiled, and loved him.

“Yeah,” he said. “About there. You’re fucking great from the floor up to there. All of you.”

Inside and out was what he meant. Sometimes he didn’t remember to actually say it.

She went over, and kissed him slowly, and said, “Thank you.”

He shrugged.

“Just thank you,” she said. “I couldn’t be me without you being you.”

“Yeah,” he said, and then got all awkward. Slightly embarrassed, she thought, because she was coming on so strong. “You look good,” he said, because talking about how she looked was how he said he loved her. “You really do. You always do. And you’re a fucking cool person too.”

“Thank you,” she said, and wasn’t sure how to tell him how much she meant that.

He just shrugged again.

“Really,” she said.

She kissed him again, then knelt down at the end of the bed.

Knelt where there was room and she wasn’t jammed in against the wall. Knelt roughly where she knelt at home. Going down on him while he was sitting was more comfortable than him lying down, and her bending over.

“Come here,” she said. “Sit.”

“Wait just one sec,” Eric said, and got up.

“I am. Impatiently.”

Eric grinned. “Hold on.”

He went into the bathroom and peed, and Lizzie listened.

“Very impatiently,” Lizzie shouted.

Eric didn’t answer. A fan came on automatically when you switched on the bathroom light. It might be loud enough to drown out her voice.

She could hear him, though, and she listened. For some reason she never minded hearing him pee, but she hated him to hear her. Especially if she was about to get oral. She ran taps, and hid the sounds she made, and he never did, and that didn’t seem to worry her.

She didn’t know why.

Eric flushed, and then turned on the shower. Washing himself, Lizzie supposed. That was sweet. He usually did, which might be why she didn’t mind hearing him pee.

She sat and waited. Kneeling on the floor, which was an odd place to be, but she couldn’t be bothered moving.

She liked that they still did oral. That they did it a lot.

Oral was their thing. They gave each other head more often than they actually fucked, and Lizzie was proud of that. She might be getting old, and staying at home too much, but giving each other head meant they were still somehow them, who they’d used to be when they met, that they weren’t completely old and dull just yet.

They did oral a lot, and she’d never quite been sure why. Because they both liked it, she supposed. Because Eric had always been thrilled she would, and wanted to, and liked it, and didn’t complain. And because some of his exes hadn’t liked to, and she’d worked that out fairly early on, and nothing was better incentive than showing up an ex. Because being appreciated made her more interested. Because he did her. Because he did her a lot. More than she did him. Because she didn’t come especially easily except from head, and she didn’t think it was fair to make Eric eat her out, then just lie there and get fucked. Because they were both good at it, and could get each other off quickly, so it wasn’t that much of a burden. She didn’t get a sore jaw. She hadn’t had one in ages, and didn’t think Eric had either, and she was quite proud of that, as well.

She’d started to appreciate the oral more lately because, quite recently, they’d both begun to realize that a lot of their friends didn’t seem to nearly as much as them. As far as they could tell. Guessing from the offhand comments people made, full of assumptions about how long it had been, and how no-one did any more. Lizzie had friends that she thought hadn’t got head in years, and she thought that was terrible. So terrible she’d said something to Eric, wondering, and he said yes, he’d been talking to the guys, and he thought their girlfriends didn’t either.

Lizzie had been surprised. And smugly pleased because they still did. And then suddenly worried by what Eric might have said in that conversation.

“You didn’t say I do, did you?” she’d said, worried.

“Dude, of course not.”

“You really didn’t?” she said. “Because I can’t ever see your friends again if you did.”

Eric had kissed her, and grinned, and said, “No. Because I’m not a fucking idiot. I just sat there and didn’t say a thing.”

“Not a thing?”

He’d shaken his head.

“Oh yeah,” Lizzie had said, realizing. “Because saying I don’t makes me look bad too.”

He nodded, and grinned, and she’d kissed him and said, “Cool. Well played.”

And then bent, and did, right then, just because.

She still got a little secret thrill, though, every time someone made a joke about not getting any, or someone said how pleased they were they didn’t have to any more. Whenever she heard things like that, Lizzie felt smug. Just smug, that she and Eric still did.

She still felt smug now.

She sat on the floor in the hotel room, and listened to the shower, and thought about everything. She was suddenly so unspeakably glad to be her, with her life, that she almost cried.

She didn’t let herself. She didn’t want her eyeliner to run. Instead she slid over and checked her hair in the wardrobe-door mirror, because if they were going to fuck all night she wanted to look good.

Then she slid back to where she’d been, and waited.

 

*

 

Eric turned off the shower, and came out the bathroom, and Lizzie grinned at him, and said, “Get over here,” and patted the edge of the bed.

He sat in front of her, and she hitched herself up, and kissed him again. Kissed him for a long moment, like they had at the door, all tongues and breathlessness and somehow full of what their lives together meant.

Then she got sick of love, and bored with romance, and just wanted her tongue on his body and his cock in her mouth.

She kissed his neck, and his shoulders, and his chest.

She kissed his tummy.

She was teasing herself as much as him, making herself wait to start.

He was watching her, holding her hair, stroking her arms.

He always held her hair. Before Eric, she’d always blown guys with a hairtie or clip, had stopped in the middle of sex to go and get one if she needed to. Because hair got in the way, but also because she’d never quite trusted anyone enough to encourage them to push down on her head.

Eric didn’t push. Or didn’t enough to be threatening. He stroked her hair, and held it out of the way so it didn’t end up in her mouth, as she moved, and stroked it with his hands so his touch felt almost like a whisper that she was loved.

After a few minutes of kissing Eric’s body, Lizzie couldn’t wait. She was feeling strangely impatient to start, when it was him getting the pleasure. She often did. As far as she could tell, it wasn’t just wanting to finish him so she could have her turn. She actually liked doing this for him.

She bent over, and slid him into her mouth. He was still mostly hard, just from being teased, just from waiting for her.

That pleased her, a lot.

He sighed, and lay back on the bed, and she leaned her arms on the top of his legs, and made herself comfortable. She liked this. A kind of everyday blowjob. Not so much sexy, as all comfortable and leaning and having her hair held.

She kept her head up a little, so she could see him. She liked to watch his face, or at least his chin. To see his hands grab the sheets, and his tummy twitch, and see how he hitched himself up sometimes, like doing a crunch, just so he could look back at her.

She liked that he reached down and touched her face, and told her he loved her while she sucked.

It was good, Lizzie thought, to know each other that well. To have a routine they’d both worked out together.

All the people down in the bars and clubs tonight might have new people, and have that excitement, and the thrill of novelty, but she and Eric had each other and she liked that more. She liked it a lot more.

She and Eric were lucky.

They’d worked to make it work, but mostly they were just lucky. Things about them just fitted well together. Like this.

Lizzie sucked, and Eric held her hair and sighed.

“I’m close,” Eric said, after a few minutes.

“Come,” she said, around his shaft.

“I shouldn’t,” he said.

“Come.”

“But what about the big dirty night of fucking?”

Lizzie realized what he meant. In the last few years, he’d started to find he couldn’t always get hard again right after he came. He’d used to, he said, but seemed to have lost that as he got older. Just in time to meet her, he’d once said, and seemed really sorry.

Lizzie didn’t care. He sometimes did her twice, just because he could. With his mouth, but for his ego, she thought, not really for her. Since she got off twice she didn’t really care why.

Lizzie slid him out her mouth. “We can,” she said. “Or not. It’s late.”

“Didn’t you want to stay up ‘till dawn fucking?”

“Or stay up hugging. Or just go to sleep.”

He kept looking at her.

“Just come,” she said, and bent and sucked again.

He put his hand on her head, like he was trying to pull her off. “I mean it,” he said. “I’m really close.”

“Come,” she said, and his hand went still, and just rested where it was.

She sucked. She felt his taste change, felt his balls suddenly twitch.

He groaned, and came, and filled her mouth with heat and wetness and salt, and she swallowed and stayed where she was, sucking gently, for a moment longer.

He pulled her up and kissed her.

He kissed her because he knew she’d always hated men who thought her mouth was dirty after they came in it, and she wiped her mouth quickly as he pulled her up, and licked her lips, because she knew he was only doing it for her.

He started kissing her again, and as he did, he tipped her backwards onto the bed. He knelt over her, and kissed her forehead, her hair, the ends of her breasts, her fingers.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, and Lizzie just smiled, because other than the thing with her hand, they’d done that argument to death years ago.

“I really fucking love just looking at you,” Eric said.

Lizzie grinned, and lifted her arm up, and put her hand up over her head.

“Yeah,” Eric said. “Exactly.”

He kissed her breasts again, and held them, squeezing gently. He kissed her tummy, slowly.

This was for her, what she needed, and the thing no other guy she’d ever been with could remember to do every time.

She liked slow tickly teasing before he started. She liked being teased. She liked the waiting to go on so long it was almost shocking how quickly she came, without really meaning to or wanting to, when she finally did.

She wanted all that because otherwise she might worry so much about whether she would or not that she’d put herself off and not.

So Eric did this for her, carefully, every time. Because Eric knew her things, like she knew his. He always remembered.

Eric kissed her slowly, and touched her, and felt her body, and waited until she could hardly stand it any more and whispered, “Please?”

And he grinned, and bent over her, and licked her. And whispered that she tasted good.

And that, that whisper as much as everything else, was what would get her there. Because he meant it, and after years together she had no doubt he meant it.

Sometimes he said good, and sometimes he said better than anyone else, and once he’d said she tasted of her.

Just her.

And that was the best of all.

She wanted him to like doing this for her, like she liked doing it for him.

This was what they were. Wanting each other like this. It was strange, and a little wrong, but deep inside their relationship, Lizzie thought something was true. Eric wouldn’t leave her because he wanted her taste, and she wouldn’t leave him because he was the only man who could always make her come, and that was them. And as well as that there was love, and being friends, and living together, and sharing their lives, and that was good. But really they were them, and strong together, because they gave each other head. And wanted to. And because they did, everything else was easier.

 

Eric licked, and sucked, and teased Lizzie with his mouth until she came. He licked her just right until she did, then sucked on her as it happened so her orgasm seemed more intense, and to last longer, and fill her completely. Like he was sucking it out of her clit, drawing it out, drinking her and it into his mouth.

Then he kept licking her, gently. Lower down, where she wasn’t as sensitive.

He knew exactly what to do. They knew each other well.

He was still licking. Longer than he usually kept licking afterwards.

“What’re you doing?” Lizzie said, looking at the ceiling.

Eric didn’t answer. He kept licking her.

She lifted her head up. “Want me to again?”

He made a noise that probably meant yes.

“Do you?” she said.

“If you want,” he said, his lips pressed against her.

“You don’t need to,” she said. “That was good. I’m good.”

“You said fuck all night.”

“So there’s no hurry. Take a break.”

“You said all night,” Eric said. “So all night.”

She stayed up on her elbows, watching him. Just leaning there, watching him go down on her, trying to see how much he wanted to.

She thought it was a lot.

“I love you,” she said. “I really do.”

He slid up and kissed her mouth. “Me too.”

“Say it,” she said, wanting to hear it.

“I love you.”

“Cool,” she said, and smiled. Then kissed his chin.

They stayed like that for a moment, looking at each other. Lizzie was just looking, but Eric seemed to be thinking.

“Ah,” he said, unsure. “Should I go back to it?”

Lizzie shrugged. “Later. May as well stay stopped since you have.”

She’d started thinking of other things they could do.

Eric nodded, and stood up, and went to the bathroom for water.

“Room service?” Lizzie said, hopefully.

He came back out the bathroom grinning.

 

*

 

They had room service. Lizzie hid under the bedclothes while Eric went to the door. He stopped the waiter there, took the trays, and brought them inside himself. The waiter didn’t seem to care.

They ate, sitting on the bed. Lizzie was naked, and the room lights were on, but she went and opened the curtains anyway.

She wanted to see the people and the lights and the bustle down below.

“Do you think they’ve stopped?” Lizzie said. “At home? I mean, next door?”

Eric looked at her like he couldn’t quite believe she was asking. “Shit,” he said. “I hope so. Or everyone else’ll be furious.”

“Maybe they haven’t. Since it’s their first one. First party. They might not think of it.”

“Not think to stop making noise?”

Lizzie shrugged, and Eric glanced at her tits. She grinned.

“They must have stopped,” Eric said. “Someone would have told them by now. Called noise control.”

“We could phone someone and ask,” Lizzie said.

Eric just looked at her.

“Or not,” she said. “I mean, if you don’t want them hating us too. Being here. While they get music through their wall.”

Eric just looked at her for a while, smiling.

“What?” she said.

He put his hand up over her head. “What’s inside too,” he said.

She thought about that, then leaned over and kissed him. The trays slipped, and she grabbed at them, then sat back where she’d been.

Eat first, she thought. Then more of that.

 

*

 

They finished eating, and put the trays on the floor. Lizzie lay on her back, with her head on Eric’s chest, feeling it move as he breathed.

The room was warm. They’d eaten a lot, and both come. It was late. Eric was stroking her face, but his hand was moving more slowly.

He yawned.

“Don’t,” Lizzie said, “You’ll make me…” Then she yawned too. “Fuck.”

“Sorry,” Eric said. Then, like he had to think about it, “Fuck I’m tired.”

“It’s late.”

“I know.”

“It’s really quite fucking late,” Lizzie said. She couldn’t be bothered moving to look at the clock.

“I think I’m going to sleep,” Eric said.

“Do.”

“You wanted to again.”

“Yeah, but do.”

“I thought you wanted fucking all night,” Eric said.

“Or hugging.”

Eric didn’t answer.

“It’s fine,” Lizzie said.

Still no answer.

She sat up carefully, and looked. His eyes were closed. He was asleep again.

It really was fine. She didn’t need more sex. This was perfect too.

 

*

 

After a while, Lizzie dozed too. The curtains were still open.

Later, about six, she woke when the room started getting lighter. She sat up, and Eric awoke too.

“What’s up,” he said, bleary.

“Hey,” she said. “Go back to sleep.”

“What’re you doing?”

“I want to see dawn.”

He looked at her for a moment, still waking up. Then he sat up. “Okay. Dawn.”

Lizzie went over to the window, half-staying behind the frame, and looked out at an empty city. The room light was off, the sky was pale, but the buildings around them were purple and dark.

They watched the dawn, and then went back to bed. Lizzie was sleepy again. She needed to sleep. She’d been up half the night, and wasn’t used to this any more.

“We should set the alarm,” Lizzie said.

“It’s fine.”

“I need to be home by ten.”

“They’ll wake us up. The hotel. They’ll want us to go.”

“What if they don’t?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“It’s for my pill.”

“Doesn’t matter, dude,” Eric said. “We never fuck like that anyway.”

“We do sometimes.”

“So I won’t come inside you.”

“Yeah right.”

“So I’ll wear a condom.”

“We don’t have any.”

“So we’ll get some. Go to sleep.”

Silence for a moment.

“I love you,” Lizzie whispered. “I love you with everything I am and everything I have. I really do.”

Eric didn’t answer. He’d already gone back to asleep.

Lizzie lay there, and tried to remember what she’d just said, so she could tell him tomorrow. She was almost asleep, having trouble thinking. She tried to make a list for herself. Tell Eric what she’d said, and remember to take the disposable razor too, because it was some part of them now, something she should keep.

She was pretty sure she would.

After a few moments, she slept too.