Finally at eight o'clock on Friday night, I stood on the stoop of my apartment building, in a black dress pilfered from my older and more fashionable sister Fate's closet, and held my breath in anticipation.
Suddenly, a bright light illuminated the scene, accompanied by a loud noise and gusting wind. I didn't know what to secure first, my hair or my skirt. So I half-heartedly tried to catch both while managing to hold neither, as a shiny, black helicopter descended in front of me.
C. stepped down, wearing a white shirt and a tailored navy blue suit, looking as dashing as when I had first laid eyes on him. "I hope you don't mind I took the chopper. I wanted to be discrete." He laughed a little as he took in the sight of a helicopter on my lawn. "But I guess that didn't quite work out."
As we lifted off, C. handed me a champagne flute. "Cheers. Here's to an enjoyable evening." I sipped my champagne as I glanced out the window and caught a view of my apartment complex getting smaller beneath me.
We landed. Descending the mini-staircase, I saw where C. had brought me. The distinctive glass roof of the Florida Aquarium arched in front of me. "I got them to open it. Just for us," C. whispered, holding the door for me as we entered the vast, darkened building. We were alone, except for the sleeping sting rays.
C. and I began to talk, getting to know each other as we walked through the artificial recreation of a natural wetland, our footsteps echoing down the empty corridor.
"I don't know, I guess I always liked it," C. mused, "being a politician. It was always something I wanted to do." A white egret ruffled its feathers and yawned as we passed. "Ever since I was a little boy. I saw my own father run for office. I helped him by waving signs by the side of the road, and I loved it. Every minute of it. I'd watch my dad and it kind of made me think, I want to do that. I want to run for office.'
"And you know, when you're a little boy, you see the show, but you don't see the business. So I thought it just meant going around and talking to a lot of people, which looked like fun. I didn't realize the hard work that went along with it. It's silly, but I thought the job of politician was just someone who shook people's hands and asked them to vote for you.
"But I learned more, I learned the law, and I realized it was something I loved on a deeper level. I just love people, you know? I want to see them treated fairly. And if I can govern them fairly, I think I've done my job." C. spoke from the heart, so unlike the pandering of most professional politicians, telling people what they wanted to hear, devoid of any real meaning or feeling. I could tell that C. meant every word, that he wasn't just trying to win my vote.
"Anyways, that's my rambling little speech for the evening," he said sheepishly. "I'm probably boring you. You don't want to hear me talk business like that."
"No, C. It's interesting. I care."
He stopped. "Really?" he asked sincerely as he looked at me. "You're the first woman who's ever said that to me."
He gave me a little smile, as we continued walking the maze-like halls of the Florida Aquarium. I felt at ease with C., as if I could open up to him and tell him anything. I revealed so much to him about myself, more than I could have with anyone else. I found myself telling him things I wouldn't even tell my best friend, despite having just met him. I felt safe, comfortable, as if I had known him my whole life.
My attraction to him grew with each step we took, walking deeper and deeper into the aquarium as the pathways grew darker and darker. Never in my life had I found myself so attracted to a man. His scent. His tan. His moderate politics. I was nineteen, and I had never been this close to a man before. A real man, in every sense of the word. It stirred something inside of me that had lain dormant for so many years, something I didn't know I could be a polite girl and still feel. He could have conquered me, all of me, right then and there. But proof he was a gentleman, he didn't.
Finally, we found ourselves in a cavernous empty room, illuminated only by the faint aqua glow of a giant fish tank in lieu of one wall. We stood in front of the glass, the light filtering through the tank dancing in blue-green ripples against the room and playing across our skin.
"The manatees were always my favorite animal." He was whispering. "When I'd go fishing with my dad on Sundays in the Tampa Bay, we'd almost always see at least one or two."
I could feel the governor's eyes on me as I watched the silvery fish swim by. We stood so close together, yet without touching. My skin prickled with delight as I felt proximity of his body. I looked up at him.
"I know they're not as lucky as dolphins, but they'd always seem to be guiding us, blessing us. And.." He trailed off as he looked into my eyes. "And..."
And he leaned in and kissed me. Gently. On my lips. Without warning, his tan lips pressing themselves against mine.
He pulled back, worriedly gauging my reaction. I smiled. He touched his hand to my cheek and kissed me again. I relaxed into it, as if kissing the 51 year old governor of my home state was completely natural. He was incredibly good at it, and I found him to be very not gay.
"I can't believe I'm making out with the governor!" I thought.
"Believe it," C. said.
I was amazed that we were already so in tune with each other that he could read my thoughts, until I realized, embarrassingly, that I had been thinking out loud.
"I can't believe it either," C. said. "That I'm kissing someone as beautiful as you." He looked at me and bit his lower lip. "Pretty good first date, huh?"
And we continued to kiss underneath the menagerie of silvery fish.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of the satirical romance novel, The Governors Mistress, by Heidi Lux. Missed the last installment? Read it here.
Artwork by Alex Doroin: [email protected]