Paternity by Susan Baruch
Excerpt: Chapter Thirty Three
Release: May 2008 Rain Publishing
* * *
As soon as their plane touched down at Logan, Sammy was out of his seat. "Please remain seated…" announced the voice over the loud speaker, and he slunk back down. When he emerged into the terminal, he saw her, standing back a bit, her lanky figure leaning against a column. Her hair was cut shorter, making her look even older, less approachable. For a moment he just stood there, glued in place, as passengers coming out behind him jostled him to get by. Emily stepped forward, one loafered foot after the other, until she was standing on tiptoes, kissing him, to the spontaneous applause of his friends and a few strangers besides.
She took his hand in hers and he followed her like a grateful puppy. They thanked Derek and his brother for their brilliant collusion in the plan, then took off toward the subway station and their clandestine weekend ahead. Sammy had never been on his own before, so far from Lucy's protective presence. Pangs of guilt, mixed with panic, assaulted his stomach as they skipped along. Before they reached the turnstiles, he pulled her off course toward a bank of pay phones where he kept his promise to his mother. And for just one precarious moment, as Lucy's voice was filling his ear with love and worry, he was tempted to spill the Boston beans.
On the train Sammy was quiet at first, gazing down at their intertwined fingers with their almost matching shades of tan.
"Wow, it's so, I don't know, crazy having you here," she said.
"Are you glad?"
"Definitely, definitely," she assured him. But he sensed something indefinite in her tone. Maybe she was nervous too.
"So, where should we go first? Are you hungry? It's not exactly original, but I happen to know a great seafood restaurant around here. My parents took me there the day they brought me to Northeastern. Afterwards my dad cried when they left me at the dorm. Do you feel like walking a bit?"
The Silver Line let them off at South Station. From there they walked. The late afternoon sky was pinkish-white with a different cast to it from the skies back home. The restaurant was down a few steps below street level, through an unlikely door. "How did they ever find this place?" he asked.
"Oh, their friends recommended it. My parents have friends in Boston, this couple named the Hatches, who are supposedly looking after me here."
"You don't seem like you need much looking after," he said.
She shrugged. "You might be surprised."
"Hmm. So, how's the lobster at this place?" he asked, feeling more at ease. "I hear that Boston is famous for its fantastic fresh lobster."
"Uh, actually, we don't eat that stuff."
"Oh. Shellfish you mean? Really? Because it's not kosher?" Suddenly he felt off-balance again, the conversation a little too reminiscent of their first encounter over the yarmulke table.
"Yeah, I guess so," she said, screwing up her mouth in an adorable way. "Not that we're so religious or anything. It's just how I was brought up – because of my grandparents, you know.
But you go ahead and order it. I won't be offended. You can let me know what it's like, okay?"
But Sammy was no fool. He ordered the grilled salmon with tiny salt potatoes and was not disappointed. When the check came, he grabbed it, like the gentleman that he was practicing to be. The amount was more than he expected, but so worth it.
"Well, that was definitely the best fish I've ever tasted," he said, taking her hand this time on their way out. "You know something, come Sunday when it's my turn to leave you at the dorm, I might just cry a little myself."
She laughed. "Sensitive males these days, huh?"
They hopped on the Green Line and got off at Northeastern. "Don't worry, my building is coed. No one will think twice about you being here." They took the stairs up two flights to the yellow floor. "Oh, and guess what, Sarah, my roommate, is away for the weekend," Emily mentioned casually. "She said it would be fine to use her bed."
Use her bed…
Their dorm room, number 303, was tiny with metal-framed bunk beds against one wall, two plain dressers covered with lotions and hair things and two computer-equipped desks. A handful of snapshots, stuck under the edges of one mirror, were already starting to curl. Piles of books and a backpack cluttered the bare linoleum floor. Sammy tossed his backpack into the mix and glanced at the beds, both neatly made, as if expecting company. He took a breath. "So, what kind of sleeping arrangements did you have in mind?" he managed to ask.
"I don't know," she shrugged again. What do you think?"
Oh, God. What did he think? What should he say? He knew what he wanted, though the reality of it was slightly terrifying. But what did he think? If they spent the night together, would it ruin things between them? His buddies, with their vast experience (he suspected none) had been offering advice for weeks. 'Don't be too aggressive. Let her make the first move. Girls like that these days,' Frankie had told him. 'See if you can score some wine or a little weed. That'll loosen her up. Then she'll be like putty in your hands, man,' Tyler had said.
"Sam? If you're more comfortable in separate beds, I'm absolutely fine with that. Really."
"Uh. Okay, I guess. If that's what you want." Damn.
"How about a game of pool first? It's still early." So they spent the rest of the evening in the rec hall, competing at video games and shooting pool till the place closed up at midnight.
Back in her room, putting her toothbrush and towel away, she announced, "the upper bunk is mine," as if at a slumber party. "You can take Sarah's."
He shook his head and smiled, feeling much more relaxed now. "I'm having a really nice time," he told her and then kissed her softly. She kissed him back, harder.
"Me too. G'night," she said, switching off the light. Through the thin curtains, with the help of a strong halogen lamp just outside her window, he could see her slipping out of her jeans. He watched as her slender legs carried her to the upper bunk.
Lying on his back, on "Sarah's bed," he could feel her bumping around up there, jiggling the bed as she shifted about. Minutes later, he heard the steady sound of her breathing.
One… two… three… Sammy counted her every gentle breath. Nearly two hours passed that way. How much more could he take? Finally he got out of bed and looked around in the semi-dark. What to do? He could log on to her computer, check his messages or dig into his backpack for his Sports Illustrated.
Standing there, weighing his options, his hand resting on the ladder, his foot on the first rung, then the second. Rung by rung, he succumbed, carefully crawling in beside her warm, languid body, trying not to wake her. Just to lie there next to her might be enough. He buried his face in her musky hair, inhaling the scent of her. "Mmm," he hummed, almost content. Then, helplessly he pressed against her back, sliding his arm gently around her waist, pulling her toward him just a little bit harder, caressing her belly, until she turned over and kissed his mouth.
"I was dreaming about you," she whispered as they removed their underwear on the squeaky top bunk. And for the second time in his life, Sammy felt absolutely certain he was luckiest guy in the world.