“Hey have you seen how gorgeous Luke McCarty looks today? God! He’s so sexy. People are saying he’s gay though. No girlfriend.”
“Robin, you’re absurd. Who’s saying that?”
“Everyone is. I mean it is pretty weird to be that good looking and not have someone – definitely gay.”
“Shut up Carol! You’re so gullible! But… um… he is pretty dreamy.”
“Oh God! Here he comes!”
“Hey Luke. You on your way to class?”
“I’m actually skipping today. I have some personal stuff I need to take care of. What’s wrong with you?” He asked a wide eyed Carol staring at him.
“Her eyes hurt. She’s been gawking at porn all morning.”
Luke chuckled. He knew how some girls would stare at him and talk about him. He knew these two were in that category. Stare at him, talk about him and wonder. Is he gay? He didn’t see himself that way at all. Sexy? Nope. Good looking? Maybe. He liked to stay healthy and he loved working out. The result was a great body. A great body almost every girl on campus was lusting over. He, however, had no interest in anyone except for one. One.
“Okay girls. See you later. Um… wait. Have either of you seen Mary?”
“Mary Winters?” Robin asked a little surprised. He must be needing some help with his classes because that is all Mary ever cared about. She thought.
“Yeah, I’ve been looking for her all week. You guys know if she’s okay? She hasn’t been to class.”
“Her Uncle died.” Carol said curiously, as if Mary was her best friend. Robin looked at her with equal surprise as she did to Luke’s inquiry. “He had a car accident and didn’t make it. She went back home for the funeral. But I think she’ll be back tonight.”
“Oh. Sorry to hear that. Well… if you see her, would you let her know I’m looking for her? Gosh. I hope she’s okay.” Luke said a bit melancholy. He wasn’t sure what to think. He didn’t know Robin and Carol very well, but he knew they didn’t really like Mary and only came to her when they needed help with their studies. Whether or not Carol was telling the truth didn’t really matter. He knew where he could find her tonight. He wanted to ask for her number but he didn’t trust them.
“Okay then. See you later. Have a great weekend.”
“You too Luke. We’ll tell Mary you’re looking for her if we see her.” Carol said happily.
Luke waved as he walked off. Robin gave Carol a curious look. How did Carol know so much about Mary?
“How did you know about Mary’s uncle?”
“Oh we had lunch together last Sunday. She was sad and I asked her if she was okay. She filled me in. Poor thing. He was paying for her college. Not sure what that means for her now.”
“Wow Carol. I’m surprised at you. She’s such a nerd. I didn’t picture you friends with her.”
“Oh, she’s not that bad and I’ve only started chatting with her since she helped me on that calculus project.”
“She’s weird though isn’t she?”
“What do you mean?”
“Lesbian? Oh no! Maybe you’re right. She is sans boyfriend as well.”
“Carol! You’re so gullible!” Robin exclaimed laughing.
Mary grabbed her luggage from the back of her car. The campus was dark and normally she would be nervous. Tonight, however, she only felt sadness. Her Uncle Henry had been like a father to her. She didn’t see it coming. His passing caught everyone by surprise. A car accident and it was his fault. Drunk? Not possible. She never knew he drank. Maybe he was feeling sad that night. Maybe he was feeling lonely being a bachelor all these years. The thought lingered in her mind. Was she like him? Was she only focusing on a path leading to loneliness, desperation? No friends, no true friends, anyway. No boyfriend. No life other than what the books afforded her. School was important to her, relationships, not so much. She thrived on reading and tackling math equations that wrecked your brain. It was fun for her. She was indeed somewhat of a math genius. She was gifted in numbers and puzzles. Was there something wrong with that? She didn’t think so. She fixed her glasses above her nose and walked towards the residence hall clumsily dragging her luggage.
“Here, let me help you with that.” Luke said coming up from behind her.
He had been waiting on a bench across the way. He was about to head back to his apartment when he noticed her car. Mary jumped back a bit.
“Oh God! You startled me!”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to. I was just going for a stroll and I saw you. I can help you get this up to your room.”
“Yes. You’re Mary. Mary Winters.”
“You know my name?”
“Um… yeah. We have three classes together. Sure I know you.”
“Um… I’m good. It’s not that heavy really.”
“Come on! It weighs a ton! No worries. I won’t pounce on you or anything. I heard about your Uncle and I’m sorry.”
“How…” Mary muttered shaking her head.
“I was asking about you today and Carol filled me in.”
“Yeah. Aren’t you guys friends or something?”
“Nope. I don’t have any friends.”
“Sure you do.”
“Nope. I’ve helped Carol with math but that’s it. She’s nice but she hangs around a more popular crowd… Oh God! Look who I’m talking to. Listen, I’m sure you have better things to do than to listen to me and do… this.”
“Hey! Wait! Chill! Okay? Let me help you out here. I’m not looking for anything just to help you. I swear.” He insisted with such a smile.
The moonlight made him look angelic. Mary gave him a serious look and swam in his gaze. It was a feeling she was not familiar with. She swallowed nervous knots. His brown eyes were expressive, beautiful. What did he want with her? She was nobody. Maybe he wanted help with a class. Jocks usually bombard her with requests. He took hold of her luggage and pulled a little aggressively. Their eyes locked. Mary was frozen. The soft light from the entrance surrounded them with a bright radiance, shocking the moment into reality. He really did look like an angel as the light hit his back.
Luke couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever yearned for. Not since high school freshman year had he felt such a pull towards someone. Back then he was just a kid. But now, older, hopefully wiser, she was pulling him in, all the way, in every direction. He wanted to spend time with her. He had been watching her for months trying to find an excuse to speak to her. He finally just decided not to make any more excuses and just try to reach her directly. This was his chance. No pretext, no lines, just sincere desire to get to know this lovely girl. This mysterious, doe eyed girl that seemed to hold some secret to life, to existing in the belly of confusion. That’s how he felt about her. Others needed others, but she was a lone wolf conquering the world. She was beautiful to him. Her brown hair casually up in a bun, her t-shirt and jeans snug around her figure. The thick black glasses framing her oval face to perfection. It made him smile.
“You’re beautiful.” He said quietly. His face was serious, sincere.
Mary swallowed again, she could feel the heat rise to her face. It echoed red through the pigment and it made her even more alluring to him. She looked away trying to make sense of his words, of his gesture. He wanted something for sure. Her mind just kept going until she burst.
“Look! I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I’m fine. I can handle this on my own –”
“You look! Stop! This is not a game to me. Let me help you. The sooner I get this up to your room, the sooner I’ll be out of your hair.”
“Fine! But don’t expect to come in! You don’t fool me. Strolling around campus at this late hour? Please!” She said storming off into the building.
She let him in against her better judgement. Luke chuckled quietly following behind her. Her feisty oration excited him. She was adorable to him. He admired her curves as she walked ahead of him. He wondered how many other guys had noticed how shapely she was. Brains and a body. He sighed smiling. She was still murmuring something but he was not paying attention. Her back side was distracting. Her jeans seemed to create a poetic movement cradling her ass perfectly. Her walk was cute. Like a little girl’s strut but sexy. He swallowed at the prospect of being with her. Making love to her slowly and passionately at the same time. In short, he was done for and though she was resistant, it felt natural to insist. He didn’t feel threatened or put off by her words, they just fueled his feelings, his desire even more.
“Yes. Thank you and good night.”
“You’re funny. Can I come in for a while?”
Mary went into panic mode. She shoved him grabbing her luggage and as she tried slamming the door shut he jumped in shutting the door behind her and trapping her against it. His breath heavy, his arms against the door, imprisoning her on either side. Her eyes almost in tears, terrified.
“Please! I’ll do anything but don’t rape me!” Mary exclaimed tearfully cringing into a fetus position.
“Jesus!” Luke exclaimed. He had no intention of hurting her in any fashion. “Mary. Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you.” He told her firmly walking away slowly facing her. He sat on her bed. Mary swallowed in shock recovering from the possibility of her greatest fear. What did he want then?
“What do you want from me!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… I just want to get to know you better. I’ve waited to talk to you for such a long time. I feel connected to you somehow. I just didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get to know you. That’s all. I promise. And I know you’re going through a rough patch. I just want to be there for you. I swear to God. I just want to be available to you, provide some support if you need it. Look at me. I’m not going to hurt you but I’m not leaving until I get you to look at me. Really look at me.”
“I am looking at you. Go now.”
“That’s not what I meant. I think you know what I mean.” He told her firmly. Hoping, reaching for her connection.
He observed her now intensely. Her body crouched on the floor like a little girl frightened of a wolf. Something kept him from leaving. He couldn’t leave yet. It was her. She kept him there. He studied her room as she looked at him. There were books, all sorts, everywhere. No radio, no TV. Posters on the wall revealed a love of poetry and classical music. He smiled. He loved Strauss and Bach. He loved Chaucer, Browning and lots of other classic poets. Mary fixed her eyes on him a little doubtful but she wasn’t scared anymore.
The first time she saw him, was the first day of French class freshman year. She had pranced in rushing. She didn’t want to be late for her first class. She remembers him staring at her then as all of her belongings were suddenly strewn all over the floor. Someone had shoved her from behind. She also remembers how everyone else ignored her and walked passed her without stopping to help or even just to excuse themselves as they pushed through to their seat. She quickly got used to it. Now after two years he was suddenly in her room, insistent on being with her. Persisting, pushing her to respond. Mary stood up slowly, cautiously eyeing him from the corner of the room. She swallowed one last knot of nerves and held out her right hand.
“Mary Winters, nice to meet you.” She said quietly. She gave herself permission to let him in. Luke smiled, relieved.
“Luke McCarty. The pleasure is all mine.” He said shaking her hand firmly.
She sat next to him on her bed. She was quiet looking at her feet. Then as she sat there flashes of thoughts rushed through her head like a lightning bolt. She looked up into his eyes and began to cry. Luke reacted immediately putting his arm around her. He went a step further and removed his shoes. He pulled her on to the bed with him and held her. Mary was surprised at how willing and open she was to him. It felt natural, comfortable. She lay with her head on his chest. She cried for her loss and she cried at the newness of Luke’s strong arms around her, comforting her. She had never felt such warmth. Something was happening inside her. Was this possible? Did he really mean everything he said? Did he really want to be there for her now?
He turned to look at her beautiful face as it seemed to plead for clarity. He removed her glasses slowly setting them down on the night stand next to her bed. He caressed her tears away and played with her lips softly. They were full and pink. Her big brown eyes piercing his, so curious as to the affection evolving between them. She was there but it was as if she was dreaming. Luke felt his heart melt at the sight of her. She was sweet and enticing like an orchid in its intricate blossom, delicate yet fierce.
“I really want to kiss you right now. Can I?”
“I… no one has ever… I’ve never –”
“Can I be the first? Please. I’m dying to kiss you. Keep me alive. Please.”
“I wouldn’t… I…”
“Shh…” Luke whispered getting closer to her.
There, nestled in his arms, she closed her eyes. His breath caressing her face, butterflies dancing in her belly, and the soft light from the window shining on them like a guardian providing support for the tender event. The feeling of his lips on hers sent shockwaves through her. He felt her stiffen up and relax all at once. He made her believe that he was guiding her but really it was she who held the key to his embrace. It was her mouth that was guiding his, playing with his. He was just following along, enjoying her. It was so sweet to her, to feel his mouth on hers. She was lost, all else forgotten. The feeling of warmth enveloped her until she pulled way gently opening her eyes wide at him. He smiled.
“How did you know I…”
“How did I know you would like it?” He said smiling. His response made her laugh shyly. The blush on her cheeks more pronounced now. She did like it. She liked it a lot and the fact that he knew made her feel naked, vulnerable.
“How did you know I would respond?” She asked whispering to his face. He closed his eyes soaking in her breath.
“I didn’t. But I wished for it. I’ve spent many nights thinking about holding you like this, kissing you.” He said pulling her closer still, squeezing her gently against him, guiding her mouth open to his. The night embraced them while his tongue sought refuge in her mouth and her body burrowed into his.
© 2017 Mel Gutiér