She stood up and stretched her arms above her head, the sheet slipping down to her waist. I wanted to reach out and trace the line of her spine. It was so sharp and dipped in just the right way. I had traced it with my tongue only ten minutes ago, but it hadn’t been enough. I could never get enough of her.
“It’s five o’clock. We better start getting ready.” She glanced over her shoulder at me and dropped her eyelashes to the tops of her cheekbones. I was laying on my side with my head propped up in my right hand. I’d lost the inner battle with myself not to touch her, so my fingers were leaving an invisible trail over her left shoulder. She smiled bashfully and stood up, the sheet falling to the bed behind her.
She was naked. The curve of her hipbones flared as she walked, and her ass bounced just a little bit. It made me want to slap it, but I didn’t. I’d much rather watch her get ready. I always enjoyed watching my girlfriend get dressed as much as I enjoyed watching her get undressed. She made it look like art. It reminded me of a living painting with perfectly defined strokes coming to life beneath the artist’s paintbrush.
Amity crossed the room and into the bathroom. She tied her dark brown curls into a bun and set it on top of her head. I heard the shower kick on, and I reclined against the black pillows and sheets that she had put on our bed yesterday. Tonight was Amity’s gallery opening. This was a project she’d been working on for months, five months to be exact. She’d been working with various minority artists all over Fort Worth to gather a variety of styles. She wanted to celebrate the diversity in our community, and she had a passion for all forms of art. So, she figured that she could combine the two. Of course, there had been skeptics and prejudiced people who had wanted to see her dreams fail and even had tried to keep them from happening. There had been people who tried to get her project shut down, and who had tried to out-bid her on the space for tonight, but my girl persisted. She never let the hate get to her, and I was so fucking proud of her for it. Tonight was her night, and I was incredibly happy that I got to be a part of it.
The shower cut off, and she walked out of the bathroom in a white towel. Her dark legs peeked out form the bottom to reveal the cutest pair of feet painted in silver nail polish. I’d helped her pick out the color. It was specifically for this evening. The choices had been between black and silver as she was wearing a red dress with some black heels, and I’d thought the silver would be a nice branch out from the color scheme that we’d chosen.
“Are you gonna get up and get dressed, or am I going to have to drag you out of bed myself?” She teased while rubbing in the lotion on her legs. Her hair was still up in a bun, and I wanted her so desperately to keep it that way. Most men like for their women to keep their hair down, but not me. No, I liked it when it was up. It was sort of metaphorical to me. She kept herself tightly together most of the time, bound even. She was always put together so perfectly like the curls on top of her head. Her business casual wardrobe reflected her polite feminine attitude, something she had been raised to have, but over time, she’d developed a backbone and didn’t let that calm demeanor trick people into believing that she was an easy target. Her mother had taught her how to be humble, generous, and kind, but the world had taught her to be durable, resilient, and ambitious. It was one of the things that had attracted me to her in the first place.
But there were also times when she broke, and that self-preserved image that she had developed comes tumbling down like her defined curls when she lets her hair down. It spills like water over the edge of a bathtub when the faucet is left on too long. She falls apart, and what I loved about her the most was that she was always able to put herself back together again. Just like her hair. Sure, I was there to catch and hold her after she fell, but it was always her that decided to try to stand back up. She hadn’t stayed down since I met her. That gave me a sense of respect for her, and it will never falter.
“Devon, get up! We’re gonna be late!” She commanded at me. I smirked and crossed my arms over my chest before chuckling to myself.
“With how long it takes you to get ready, I have at least fifteen more minutes to lay in this bed.” She grabbed one of the decorative pillows that we’d thrown on the ground before our nap and chucked it at me. Her giggle made my heart soften within my chest, and suddenly I understood why our hearts needed the safety of ribcages. It kept them from lurching out into the hands of the wrong person, but Amity could rip mine from its safe haven, and I’d still wish her well with a smile.
“Oooo you get on my nerves sometimes! I’m serious, though. We do have to leave here before 6:30.” She reached up and let her curls spill out of the bun, forming an ethnic crown that surrounded her whole head.
“I know. I got my stuff ready, and I took a shower this morning. All I have to do is put on my suit and shoes, and I’m good to go.” She gave me a pointed look and moved back into the bathroom. For the next twenty minutes I watched her put on make-up. I studied the way she blotted highlighter across her cheekbones, forehead, and chin; I followed her fingers as they rubbed in some more at the dip between her nose and lips; I observed the strokes of the small brush that put on her eye shadow. I just couldn’t stop watching her. I was taking mental images in my head to save when she wasn’t here.
“Baby?” I snapped out of my daze.
“Do you think I should add sparkles to my eyelids or no?”
“You are the star of the evening so why not shine like one?” That made her smile.
“You’re so damn cheesy!”
“Would you be with me, otherwise?” I teased.
“Probably not cause’ I like your cheesiness.”
“Yeah, you better.” I licked my lips in tune with her applying a dark red lipstick. I’d get to kiss those lips later after the night was over. Red lipstick and all.
“Alright, long part’s over. Quit your gawking and get dressed.” She came back into the bedroom and smirked at me. I shrugged my shoulders and agreed that it was time for me to get up. It was fifteen until six. I thought about jokingly protesting to get a cute little groan out of her, but she untied the towel that was wrapped around her. It fell to the ground in a white heap around her legs, and I lost my train of thought. I trailed my eyes up her body, tracing every curve and line that made up the beautiful woman in front me and stopped at her eyes that reminded me of warm, fresh honey.
Damn, I was a lucky man.
My heart was pounding inside my chest, getting louder and cracking the inner walls of my bones as we got closer to the building. It was a mixture of excitement and anxiety that was stirring inside of me, but the excitement was starting to outweigh the anxiety.
Devon had one hand on the steering wheel and the other was holding onto mine as he drove. The black sleeves of his suit jacket rose where his arm stretched out towards mine, and I was grateful for the warmth of his palm. I let it seep into my own palm as a form of comfort. I glanced up at his face and studied his features for a while. His eyelashes were oddly long and thick for a man, but they were beautiful and brushed the tops of his cheekbones when he was asleep. His nose was flat and fit onto the profile of his face just perfectly, so perfectly that his nose was my favorite of his facial features. Lastly, I studied the curve of his mouth that tilted up into the most beautiful smile when he figured out that I was looking at him.
“What are you looking at, pretty lady?” He brought my hand up to his lips and kissed it. I wiggled my fingers as the bristles of his short beard tickled me.
“I’m looking at you and your goofy ass.” My cheeks filled with warm blush.
“You think I’m goofy?”
“You sure are. Goofy as hell.” His smile turned into a deep chuckle, and I was suddenly very aware of the lacey black underwear I had on.
“I think you’re the one who’s goofy,” he uttered. I raised my eyebrows in suspicion.
“Oh? And why is that?”
“Because I can feel your heartbeat through your palm which means that your stressin’. Quit stressin’ cause’ it won’t make you feel any better.”
“Oh, so you’re a human stethoscope now?”
“Kinda. I’m a detective, and that’s technically the same thing, right?” He arched a thick, black eyebrow at me. Well, I guess technically he was right. Being a detective with the police department did mean you were trained to catch people in lies and when they seemed a little nervous, and Devon was one of the best detectives in the city.
I agreed with him and we finished the rest of the drive sitting in silence. His thumb would brush across the top of my hand every once in a while, letting me know that I needed to calm down and that he was with me.
My gallery opening was one of those things that I hadn’t needed Devon for, but instead was one of those things that I was thankful I had him there for. My momma had raised me to be independent and brave on my own, but she’d also told me that just because I was capable of doing something alone didn’t mean that I always had to.
When I met Devon, I’d just graduated college with a degree in Art, which was a degree that was about as useless as it sounded. Everyone had told me that majoring in Art would be a bad idea. It wouldn’t get me anywhere, and it was a very up and down industry; but I wanted to do more than make art. I wanted to sponsor it, support it, and sell it. I wanted to give other artists a chance to show their own work which was why I’d taken a few business and marketing classes through the summers. I’d worked four long years for something like this, and tonight it was finally coming true. And I would have the most wonderful man by my side as it happened.
I’d been so lost in my thoughts that I hadn’t realized that we’d parked in a very full parking garage.
“We are here, mi ‘lady,” Devon chimed. He got out of the car and came around to my side to get the door. I took his hand as he helped me down from his tall, black truck that it took a little bit of effort to get in and out of. I wasn’t a short woman, but Devon’s truck was high enough that if I’d tried to get down on my own in these heels, I just might have broken an ankle. The skirt of my red, satin dress dusted the ground, and I smoothed out the rest of the fabric as I straightened my spine. It dipped into a V-neckline with very thin straps to keep it on my shoulders. It hugged my body in all the right places including my butt and hips, and I had paired it with a faux fur black stole and black open-toed heels. Devon’s all-black suit with a red tie matched my dress.
“My queen.” I heard the locks click and we walked through the garage to the elevator, never once opting to let go of my hand.
The doors opened, and Devon stepped aside to let me on first, holding the doors back with his free hand. The skirt of my dress swept across the gap in the ground, and he leaned down the take it up in his fingers before he eased in behind me. His arms were drawn across his torso to hold both my dress and my hand in his own.
“I can hold it, babe,” I told him as I met his dark eyes.
“I know, but what kind of man would I be if I didn’t offer to help out my lady?” He winked and took a step close to me to kiss my temple. His kiss burned down from my face into my heart, settling, and making a home directly inside.
I gripped my silver clutch in my right hand and watched the numbers change in the top left corner of the elevator. We arrived on the street level, and Devon followed behind me with my dress and hand still firmly grasped. I had to admit with him holding my dress, it did make it easier to move around. Plus, I had always liked the clicking sound that heels made when I walked, and with my skirt pulled up, it made it louder.
The chill from the wind lapped at my exposed skin, and I tugged my stole closed across my chest. With every step, my nerves were falling away and my pride and excitement were coming to the forefront of my mind. I wasn’t sure if it was the sound of my steps or the warmth of Devon’s hand, but I didn’t care. I was happy, and that was all that mattered.
“Hey, baby?” My boyfriend paused a moment and aimed us closer to the building that held my gallery. He stood in front of me, his 6’4 frame towering over my 5’6 height. His hand was still tightly laced with mine, and I knew that he had no intention of letting go; and I was more than happy to hold onto him for the rest of my life.
“Yes?” I brought my eyes over his shoulder to watching the entrance to the gallery. The frosty gold light from the windows was leaking onto the street. The valet service was taking cars, and people were entering in dresses and suits like ours. It looked like the entrance to Prince Charming’s ball, making me feel like the Cinderella in my own fairytale. The two differences were that I would stay a princess after midnight, and my Prince Charming was coming home with me.
“Nothing. I just wanted you to myself real quick before I let you do your thing in there. You know I know nothing about this artsy stuff.” I did know that. It was one of the things that made us work well together. His logical thinking was perfectly balanced against my whimsical day-dreaming. I helped him get his feet off the ground every once in a while, and he would pull my head out of the clouds when the time was right.
“What makes you think I want you to leave?” I let go of his hand to wrap both of my arms around his neck, pulling him to me.
“You want me to stick around you all night?” The crisp mint of his breath was tickling my lips. I was very adamant earlier about him not messing up my lipstick, but I could always reapply it.
“Baby, I want you to stick around me all my life.” I kissed him. It was a long, intoxicating kiss. The kind that made your head dizzy and foggy. His lips parted mine, and he challenged my tongue to move towards his. I accepted and the kiss deepened. He dropped my skirt and wrapped his hands around my hips, resting there for a few seconds before sliding down to my ass. He squeezed and pulled us tighter together, crushing my soft chest against his solid muscle. He broke the kiss after a few seconds, both of us breathing heavily.
“You are going to kill be one day, woman.”
“Will you die a happy man?” I grinned.
“You bet your sexy ass I will.” He pressed a quick peck to my lips before bending down to pick my skirt back up to carry it inside the building. My hand found his again, and we entered my gallery.
The night was long and well-deserved. I greeted each of my artists and their supporters all with Devon at my side. He finally let my dress go, and I’d shed my stole to reveal the dress in its entirety. The neckline dipped low between my breasts, and it wasn’t enough to show anything, but it was enough to pique the curiosity of a few people.
Through the night, he would occasionally wander off to look at a few pieces of art alone. I’d talk and laugh with my guests, thanking them for their support and enthusiasm for my project. I’d walked the gallery alone during those times, but no matter where I went, Devon’s eyes followed me, ignoring the sculptures, paintings, and drawings on the walls. I wasn’t oblivious to the fact that I was attractive. I knew that, but to him I was more than “attractive”. I was my own masterpiece. To him, I was the most prized and famous one of them all. And that was something that every woman deserved to feel, and I loved my man for enhancing that feeling in me.
Frannie Gilbertson is a writer from Fort Worth, Texas. She enjoys writing mostly fiction but will occasionally dabble in literary non-fiction or poetry. Her favorite genre to write in is contemporary adult romance. She has been published to Adelaide Literary Magazine twice: once in the January 2018 issue for literary non-fiction and once in the 2019 Adelaide Literary Award Anthology as a finalist in poetry. When not writing, she can be found reading contemporary romance novels, watching Outlander, eating Whataburger, and playing the Batman: Arkham series with her wonderful boyfriend.
Frannie Gilbertson is a writer from Fort Worth, Texas. She enjoys writing mostly fiction but will occasionally dabble in literary non-fiction or poetry. Her favorite genre to write in is new adult romance. When not writing, she can be found reading contemporary romance novels, watching Outlander, eating Whataburger, and playing the Batman: Arkham series with her wonderful boyfriend.