First Impressions

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"Sorry, I'm a little groggy from the drive. Nice to meet you." I finally find my voice and shake Cat's hand. Oh, and instead of just blushing, my palms are sweating too. Awesome.

"Bryce has been telling us all about you Rosa! How smart you are and the work you do as a quant. He didn't mention how beautiful and exotic you look though! What's your background?"

Is this really happening right now? I resort to coping mechanism 2 and start drinking my beer and miming "I really wish I could answer you right now, but unfortunately I'm occupied with this beer...oh darn!" nearly choking on it and spilling some on my yellow tank top. I am the very definition of cool.

"So Bryce, you were telling them all about Rosa, eh?" Lucy asks.

"Um, yeah I guess I mentioned something about her."

"Mentioned?! I feel like I know you already!"

Despite my best efforts, Cat is starting to really grow on me. She seems genuinely nice and excited to meet me. I relax a little and motion to her chair and the empty one beside her so we can sit next to each other. This will either be the best or worst decision I've ever made.

Cat is not how I imagined she would be based on Lance's description. First of all, he didn't mention the piercings, and there are a lot of piercings! A dozen in each ear and a Monroe piercing above her lip. When she speaks she has a pleasingly low voice that is calm even when she is enthusiastic about what she is saying. When she listens, she is really listening and interested in what I have to say. I can see why Lance was so distraught about losing her.

"Cat, I've heard about you too. I heard you live abroad?" I ask.

"I did! In London. But I moved back last year. It wasn't what I was expecting. It's just so...just so big! There are just too many people and too much going on, and it's WAY too expensive! And I missed Lance. So one day, I had enough, I packed a bag, bought a ticket and came home! I didn't even tell anyone I was coming back! Not even Lance! It was only my 1st day back and I was walking down the street and suddenly, Lance was behind me, running to catch up and calling my name! We basically haven't parted since!" Cat looks over at Lance and gives his hand a quick squeeze.

"Cat, Rosa already knows this story, quit boring her!" Lance says.

"I do?"

"Well, yes, Bryce must have told you when he gave you the money for dinner?"

Everyone looks at Bryce. "Hey Rosa, ummm Lance asked me to give you this and apologize for running out" Bryce says as he comes over to me and hands me some bills then sits next to me.

"Seriously Bryce?! An entire year later?!" Lucy exclaims.

"I'm really sorry! I forgot!"

All I can do is laugh and shake my head. "Don't worry about it. Ancient history!"

I think I see Lance gesture something silently to Bryce who then says "Rosa, do you want to see the new boat I bought?"

"Sure!"

We walk to the end of the dock where a very nice, very new, black and white speed boat is tied. "Come take a seat, we'll have a nice view of the sun setting behind the trees from here."

Bryce gets into the boat then turns and extends his hand to help me in. I take his hand and step in with one foot, but just as I'm bringing the other foot in, it catches on the side of the boat and I stumble and fall awkwardly straight into him. Bryce catches me and holds me in his arms.

"Are you ok?"

I look up at Bryce, heat rising to my cheeks from embarrassment and the exertion of trying (and failing) to catch my balance. He smiles at me as my eyes reach his. "I'm fine. I guess I don't have my sea legs yet." I smile back at him. His expression changes and for a moment I'm sure he's going to lean in and kiss me, but he loosens his hold and we part instead. I sit on the cushioned area along the bow of the boat so I don't stumble and fall in the lake. Bryce sits next to me, then scoots in closer so that our legs are touching and puts his arm behind me, not quite touching my back.

Out of danger, I finally take in the scenery in front of me. The sky is orange over the dense forest across the lake. The sun is still part way above the tree line but sinking fast. As it sinks behind the trees the sky above fills with purple and already I start to feel cooler. I fold my arms around myself for warmth.

"Are you cold?" Bryce asks.

"A little."

"Let me warm you up." Bryce breathes into my ear as he puts his arms around me and pulls me to him until my head is against his shoulder.

My heart instantly begins racing and my breathing becomes rapid. He feels so warm and solid. He is so strong he could easily crush me, but I've never felt safer. After a minute (an hour?) I finally start to relax and breathe normally so I tilt my head to look up at him. He's already looking down at me. This time he doesn't smile. He doesn't hesitate. He leans down and presses his lips against mine. Hard. Then he backs off a little as if waiting for my reaction. When I don't pull away, he kisses me again, but softly this time. He pulls away again, but I follow him and kiss him right back. His mouth is so many things at once I'm amazed. Soft, hard, warm, moist, rough from the beard, I can't help but let out a small moan when we part for air.

"Rosa, will you stay with me tonight? No pressure. No sex. Just kissing and awesomeness."

"I'll stay with you. But I make no promises about 'no sex'."

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