#Sunday-Romance Serial: “Rose-Colored Glasses”

Photo by Ifrah Akhter on Unsplash
  • Continuing With: Rita and Andy
  • Setting: contemporary American
  • Length: 1,315
  • Key Tropes: dating, new relationship, aggressive woman/passive man dynamic
  • Content Warnings: nothing jumps out to me in this one
  • Explicit?: No, but it’s definitely about to be in the next installment

Andy sat on Rita’s couch, admiring her apartment as she moved around the kitchen making their hot chocolate. She had a sense of style that was deeply feminine, but done in rich, dark tones instead of the bubblegum pink or neon colors he always associated with young girls. Her walls were draped with soft velvet hangings in shades of burgundy and purple, the couch he sat on was a squishy brown leather monstrosity big enough to make a comfortable bed even for someone of his formidable size, and the lampshades looked antique even if they were likely reproductions of something from a burlesque madam’s inner sanctum.

And this wasn’t even her bedroom. This was a public part of her private space.

She’d said this wasn’t a play to get him into bed, but surrounded by this kind of sensuous decor, he found himself vaguely excited again, eager to touch her.

The kettle whistled in the kitchen, and Andy smiled, because of course Rita used a real stove-top kettle instead of an electric one, something sleeker and more modern. If he went over there to inspect it, it would probably be some lovely old thrift store find with an intricate pattern enameled on it, because clearly Rita didn’t keep anything around that wasn’t gorgeous in addition to being useful.

The thought gave him an unexpected boost of confidence, because if she collected beautiful things and wanted her living space to be lovely, then she must really find him attractive. His personal style didn’t match hers in the slightest–he was a tee-shirt and jeans guy, though he’d been dressing up for their dates in button-down shirts, but his winter coat was about as plain and utilitarian as they came, a sturdy brown canvas Carhartt that would last him from two years ago when he bought it well into old age.

He liked her style, though, soft and luxurious and richly colored. He also liked the sight of her walking out with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in each hand, the hem of her dress swishing around her legs in their dark tights. She handed him one of the mugs and sat toward the end of the couch, a few feet away. He thought at first that it was her keeping her promises about not seducing him, until she reached beyond the arm of the couch and produced a thick fleece blanket from a basket on the floor. It was a deep blue with a snowflake pattern on it in white and lighter shades of blue. She turned and swung her legs up over his lap, then draped the blanket over them both. Whatever his expression betrayed at that, she only smiled. “Borrowing some of your body heat isn’t against the rules, is it?”

“No,” he said softly before taking a sip of his hot chocolate. Something about it tasted good, but unusual. “What’s in this?”

She laughed. “I’m not drugging you!”

“No, I meant–it tastes different than I remember. I don’t think I’ve had it in years, but it wasn’t this good.”

“Oh! That’s probably the cinnamon.”

“Cinnamon. Okay.” He took another sip. “I like your place.”

Her face was still too red, recovering from the cold, to tell if she blushed. But her smile changed form, slightly, and she glanced around. “You do?”

“Not enough to redo my place like this, or anything, but…it suits you. Though it would be a heck of a surprise next time my parents dropped by, if I suddenly had velvet wall hangings.”

“Would you be pleasing their inner hippies, do you think?” Rita giggled, then laid her free hand on his arm. “But we’re a generation too late for that, aren’t we? If you have hippies in your family, it would be your grandparents.”

“They weren’t,” Andy explained, “they were very uptight religious folk. My parents rebelled against that, and lived together for something like seven years before they finally got married. My older brother was born before that, and Mom’s parents actually weren’t speaking to her for a while because of it, a couple years. They’d softened up by the time I was born, but I remember they were always fussing over us, about how we were being raised.” He paused at the shock in Rita’s eyes. “Oh, okay, I don’t really know why I said all that. Maybe you did drug my hot chocolate with truth serum. This isn’t really family confessional time, is it?”

“I just didn’t mean to dredge up bad memories.” The hand on his arm stroked him lightly. “You said were. Are they still around?”

Andy shook his head. “Not on my mom’s side, they passed on while I was in high school. And my dad’s parents divorced a long time ago, I don’t really know my grandfather, I only met him once. But Grandma’s doing fine, we visit every Christmas, and she still makes all the same pies and cookies.”

“That’s wonderful.” She sipped from her mug, seeming somehow to be stalling. “I hope you don’t mind if I don’t dig into my family right now. It’s complicated, and not generally pleasant, and I’ll end up telling you about it if we keep seeing each other, but I’ve been having such a good time, I don’t want to drag all that out.”

His curiosity clamored at this dire hint of her apparently troubled past, but she was right. He hadn’t meant to open up uninvited about his family, when they hadn’t actually gotten too personal yet on their dates. They’d talked plenty about themselves in the present tense, but very little about their histories. “That’s fine. It’s not like I planned to grill you about it.”

“And I didn’t plan to have you here at all,” she confessed. “At least I didn’t leave my place a mess.”

Andy chuckled. “So why did you want to go back to my place?”

She gestured loosely at the room. “This is a bit much, isn’t it? I kind of like to ease people into it, like by gradually letting out my inner goth-hippie chick in my wardrobe until I’m dressing full-on like Stevie Nicks. If somebody can handle that, then I consider bringing them home.”

He looked straight into her eyes. “Why did you make an exception for me?”

She stared straight back. “Hadn’t you already showed me a vulnerability of yours?”

He set his mug down on the low table in front of them, then plucked hers from her hands and set that down too. “Yeah,” he said, “I guess I did.” Then he pulled her onto his lap fully and kissed her.

Their hands started wandering immediately, both his body and hers trying to pick up where they’d left off in the alley. It was some minutes before Rita seemed to come up for air and come to her senses. “Andy,” she breathed. “I said I wasn’t going to–”

“You didn’t,” he interrupted her.

“I’d feel awful if I took you to bed now and you regretted it.” She tucked her face into his neck, breathing hard, her hands clutching his shoulders like she was afraid to move them.

“So ride me on this couch.”

Some deep part of him was shocked he’d phrased it like a command, that he had enough desire and will not to make it a question. It had been a long time since he’d gotten his rose-colored glasses knocked off, and intimacy had become a struggle for him. But he wanted Rita, and he wasn’t conflicted about that.

She pulled back, looking at him almost shyly. “That’s an interesting bit of semantics to let me get out of my promise. Are you sure?”

He couldn’t help his gaze dropping to her parted lips, couldn’t help wanting to kiss them in answer. But that wasn’t clear enough. “I’m sure. You’re not coercing me, Rita. I want this. I want you.”

After taking one deep breath and letting it out slowly, she nodded. “Okay. But I keep my condoms in the bedroom, so you stay right there, I’ll be back.”

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