We met at a mutual friend’s party. As soon as I walked into the room, I spotted her. She was easily the most beautiful girl in the entire room. She was flirting with a man who looked old enough to be her father but when she saw me, she ditched the poor sod and made a beeline straight for me.
The slinky red dress hugged her curves in all the right places and her blonde hair cascaded about her bare shoulders in wispy curls. Her face was devoid of makeup. Frankly, she didn’t need it. And besides, I can’t stand women whose faces look like they have been embalmed because of the excess makeup. What are they hiding behind all of that goo? Their age? Their flaws and blemishes?
Anyway, here she is, standing in front of me, her exquisite blue eyes traveling slowly and deliberately over me, causing my pulse to race. Pink lips part to reveal even white teeth. “Hello, gorgeous,” she said in a low, husky voice.
“Hello,” I replied. “You’re easily the prettiest and sexiest girl here.” She and the cocktail which she handed me were the kind of indiscriminate mixtures which could get me into trouble but I didn’t care. I was feeling reckless. I sipped the drink even as I met her bold stare. I could feel my face and another part of my anatomy get hot.
“What’s your name?”
Her eyebrows rose. “As in HEART?”
“Well, Hart, what’s on your mind?”
“You,” I replied without missing a beat.
“Well, one of these days I plan to be in there,” she placed her hand over my heart. I wondered if she could feel how fast it was beating.
“Right, now you have my mind and before the night is over, you’ll have my body.”
Her smile deepened. “I intend to have all of you,” she said, igniting a spark in me.
“And I don’t even know your name.”
“Cocoa as in the beverage?”
“No, Coco as in Chanel.”
“Are you a model?”
“No. I’m a junior at San Jose State University. What about you? Are you a politician?”
“Good grief, no. I’m a Marketing Manager over at Micronen.”
“So, Hart. Are you married?”
“What about a girlfriend?”
“Looks like this is my lucky night. I’m standing here talking to a hot, single guy.”
“What about you?”
“I’m free, single and disengaged.”
“What about the guy I saw you with a short while ago?”
She glanced over her shoulder and snorted. “Oh, him. Please. He’s been hitting on me all evening and he’s old enough to be my father. And he’s married too.”
“Where’s his wife?”
“She isn’t here.”
“I guess he wouldn’t be flirting with you if she were.”
“Enough about him. Let’s talk about you and me and what we’re going to do to each other when we leave here and go back to your place.”
That did it. I gulped the rest of my cocktail down and grabbing her by the hand, we left the party. She laughed as we practically ran to my car and in a matter of minutes we were off, leaving the city behind. I lived in a house overlooking the beach. After, I parked the car, I whipped around to let her out and I pulled her up the stairs behind me. As soon as we were inside the house and the door was closed, we were all over each other, kissing like crazy.
We soon ended up in my bed and under the sheets having unbridled sex. The next morning, I got up and fixed breakfast. Afterwards, we showered and I took her home. We made arrangements to see each other that evening.
This time, she drove. “It’s my Dad’s car,” she explained. “He isn’t using it so he let me borrow it.”
We went to the beach. It was a beautiful evening. It was still very bright. It would be another couple of hours before the sun set. We walked along the water’s edge, inhaling the tangy salt air, listening to the waves as they rolled onto the shore and felt our toes sink in the wet sand. We held hands.
Then, she suggested, “Let’s go for a swim.” And began to strip. When she was only in her bra and underwear, she ran into the water. I hesitated and then, I got undressed. I hadn’t brought any swimming trunks with me because it never occurred to me that we would be swimming now. I stood there in my underwear watching her head as it bobbed above the waves and then, I sprinted over to the water.
We spent a while in the water and then we raced each other to the shore. We collapsed on the sand, letting the sea air dry our wet skin. Then, she knelt in front of me and placing her hand on my left shoulder and I watched as her face got closer. My eyes closed when I felt her lips on mine. I grasped her wet hair at the nape of her neck and responded fiercely to her kiss.
That lasted for several minutes until she pushed me down so that I was lying on my back. She stood and removed her wet things and stooping down, she pulled off my underwear before straddling me. We had hot and heavy sex right there on the beach with the sun hovering over us.
When it was over, we lay there for a while before we got up, gathered our things and walked stark naked back to the house where we took a quick shower. Dressed in my dressing-gowns, we had dinner on the terrace watching the sun as it began to set. After dinner, we watched several movies on Netflix. It was after eleven when she went home. I asked her to call me as soon as she got in and she did.
We began dating and spent every waking moment together. One night when we were lying in bed after making love, she rolled on to her side and gazing down into my face, she said, “I love you, Hart.”
I reached up and cupped her face between my hands as I whispered, “I love you too.”
She smiled and placed her hand over my heart. “I told you that I planned to be in there.”
I pulled her head down and kissed her.
I wanted her to move in with me but she said that she didn’t want to shack up with me. “I don’t want to be your live-in-girlfriend,” she said. “I want something far better.” I knew exactly what she meant.
On Friday during my lunch hour, I drove all the way to Mann’s Jewelers to buy an engagement ring. On Saturday evening, I popped the question. She squealed in delight and threw her arms around my waist. After we kissed wildly, I put the ring on her finger and we celebrated over some bubbly. She spent the night and left the next morning.
I called her the following day but I didn’t get her. I tried her cell but no answer. Then, Brendan, the friend whose party I met her at called me. He sounded very grave. “I’m calling about Coco.”
Fear gripped my heart. “What about her?”
My knees buckled and I sank to the floor. “Dead?” I repeated. I kept hoping that this was a nightmare and that I would wake up. “How?”
“She suffered from a deadly asthma attack.”
“Coco had asthma?” I didn’t know. She never told me.
“Yes, she did. It got worse because of the mold in her apartment.”
I remembered her coughing and sounding a little breathless but then, she would go into the bathroom. When she emerged she seemed fine. I asked her about it and she said, that it was nothing to worry about. I wished I had pressed the matter.
Brendan offered to take me to the hospital where she was. I went and broke down when I saw her lying there, lifeless in the bed. I held her small hand in mine. It felt cold. Coco was dead. She was gone forever. Gone were our plans for a big wedding and an adventurous honeymoon. Gone was what could have been an awesome future with a beautiful girl.
This was ten years ago. I still think about her and what could have been. I sold the beach house and moved back to the city. I couldn’t bear to be there any more. Too many painful memories. Coco’s family have filed a lawsuit against the management office of her apartment building and are pushing for basic asthma care.