“Do you want to get out of here?” I ask, even though I don’t want to take her back to my parents.
“I only live five blocks from here if you want to go back to my place.” I do, very much. I take her hand in mine and drag her down the hall, back to Jordan’s. When we enter, everyone cheers, almost as if they’ve been waiting for us, but they’re not focused on us, they’re watching the clock.
“Look,” I say, pointing to the time. “We have only a few minutes until midnight. Maybe we should stay and ring in the New Year? I’d hate for you to miss it.”
Natalie squeezes my hand and nods. I meander us through the crowd and head toward the balcony where we can watch the fireworks from the harbor. The door is open and we step out. She shivers and I wish I had my coat on to give to her. I know how much she loves fireworks and don’t want her to miss these so I do the best I can and stand behind her, wrapping my arms around her. It’s not much, but hopefully I’m keeping her the tiniest bit warm.
Except having her this close does things to me, to my body. The way she smells, like sunshine, flowers, and sex––sex, because my Johnson is starting to go a bit crazy. He thinks he’s about to get some action and he’s perking up, when I really need to stay calm right now. Natalie knows what she’s doing too because she’s pressing into me, rubbing her ass against the front of my jeans. Damn it, if I don’t want to put my hands on her hips to hold her still but letting go of her isn’t an option.
Everyone around us starts counting down, ten . . . nine . . . eight . . . seven . . . six . . . five . . . four . . . three . . two . . . I turn her around in my arms, cup her face and press my lips to hers. It’s the first time, in a long time, I’ve wanted a New Year’s kiss, and I’m so thankful it’s with Natalie.
Her hands clutch at the collar of my shirt and she deepens the kiss. Her tongue pushes into my mouth and it’s the sweetest fucking taste ever. When the fireworks start going off she pulls away and rests her forehead against mine.
“Wow,” I say loudly enough for her to hear.
I tilt her chin up because I want to look into her eyes. “Don’t you dare apologize to me, Nat. I loved every second of that kiss.” Her lower lip moves in between her teeth and I use my thumb to gently guide it out. “Wanna go?” She nods and I take her hand in mine and rush toward the door, but not without grabbing my jacket. My beer will become someone’s nightcap. Natalie presses the button for the elevator and unfortunately when the doors open, there’s a couple of other people in there. We step in, I keep my head down and count the seconds it takes us to go up one floor. Thankfully, the ride is too short for anyone to recognize me by the time we get off.
“I think it’s best if you stay out here,” Natalie says with her hand on the doorknob. “It’s not that I don’t want you to meet my friends . . .” she pauses. “Emerson is a fan and we’ll never get out of there if you come in.”
I lean down and kisses her. “Hurry,” I tell her before she slips inside the apartment. The music is loud, and someone is squealing. My assumption is it’s Emerson after Natalie’s told her she’s leaving with me. The wait is about five minutes when the door opens, and Natalie slips out. She motions for me to follow, not to the elevator, but to the stairs.
“What are we doing?”
“Emerson is going crazy, but she’s not dressed for the weather so she’s trying to get dressed. We are escaping.” Natalie laughs as we stomp down multiple flights of stairs. When we get to the bottom, we’re laughing, out of breath, and exhausted. She opens the door and drags me to the sidewalk where we blend in with all the other holiday revelers.
We hold hands and when we get to a crosswalk, I kiss her behind her ear, on her neck, and on her lips. The best part is, she kisses me back. The entire walk to her place, we’re never alone. There are so many people out celebrating the new year, all laughing and happy, and I think of how different my night would’ve been if my flight hadn’t been canceled.
Natalie pulls me under an awning, says hi to a doorman, and through a set of automatic double doors. The entryway is white marble, and fully decorated for the recent holiday. “This is where you live?”