I perch on the high stool on the visitors side of the counter, watching him prepare a meal. I love it when men cook for me – forget the flowers and chocolates – a man who knows his way around the kitchen can have me anytime. I’ve been lucky with men that way, with the exception of my first husband I’ve been on the receiving end of some lovely food in the past. And while this man has made it clear that he isn’t planning on having me any time soon, I’m happily occupied observing those competent hands in action…
I’m on the visitors side of the counter because this kitchen is his territory, just as mine belongs to me. But I enjoy teasing him about this apartheid system, and play at testing the boundaries – just a little. “May I put this in the fridge, sir?” “Oh no! I’m on the wrong side of the bench!” as I open the cutlery drawer. My reward is the reluctant amusement playing across his face. The other week I was allowed to chop the garlic, after a show of resistance punctuated by a time-based reality check. This, by the way, was not a victory in my eyes, but a small measure of trust and acceptance.
This isn’t our first meal together, but we are slowly relaxing around each other, and the talk is easy and diverse. Tonight we are eating nachos, with lashings of guacamole, sour cream and spicy salsa. For dessert there are strawberries and grapes, their sweetness and flavor complimented by coffee. We don’t stand on ceremony when it comes to serving, and our table manners err on the side of casual but it’s nice to dine at a table again, and converse with someone you like.
Both cat lovers, we half-heartedly shoo off the inquisitive feline, who sees no reason to alter her intrusion into the meal just because I’m a visitor. And truth be told I’m rather chuffed that she sees fit to interact with me. Paying attention to the food and to the cat helps stave off my occasional desire to hug this guarded man as we cautiously reveal snippets of our past wounds, our present challenges and our mutual concerns for the future.
We talk matter-of-factly about our planned photoshoot on Friday, and there is a quiet corner of my mind that marvels anew about our emerging creative partnership. Two hours ago I lay relaxed and trusting at his feet, breasts springing free of a lace bodystocking as he checked light levels and focal distances. I haven’t been this naked in front of him since the first time we worked together, but that was outdoors and in the company of another photographer, not in the close proximity of his upstairs studio. My energy levels are deliberately dampened today, I’m not flirting with the camera, nor with the man, but rather just allowing us to get on with the necessary prerequisites.
I’m loving his willingness to listen to and explore my ideas. That he hands me a pencil and paper and tells me to draw my ideas so he can see them too. And I know now that when the photoshoot begins he’ll start to layer his photographers insights into the mix. To direct me to move slightly for a better angle, more or less light, a more intriguing shot. What I don’t know is how he sees me, whether he finds my body interesting or sexy. But I do know he’s happy to photograph me and that will have to suffice for the moment.
We talked tonight about the monthly timeline for #Sinful Sunday prompts and how that will fit in with his schedules once he commences a new job next month. And I think we reached an accord. This gives me some assurance that our partnership will continue, that he is willing to concede some of his time for my desires, that he too is gaining pleasure and creative purpose from our time together. This is such new thing, we are still sculpting the shape of it out of the air, but after today its feeling more balanced, less guarded, more open to mutuality.
This post is, of course, earmarked for Wicked Wednesday, and if this was a fantasy the night out would probably would have ended with some wild or wicked sex. But this isn’t a fantasy, and the wild sex may never happen. But for me the idea of creative collaboration is sexy. And I find it delicious that amidst the awkward negotiation of friendship we are carving out little spaces for each other in our lives.
And on that topic, I should mention, we also discussed making gnocchi together.