She leaned a little into the ledge of the roof deck as he took an almost imperceptible step toward her. The conversation had been lively and constant all evening, but before this she hadn't been sure whether he even found her attractive. Waiting for him to interrupt her with that first kiss, she continued talking, not sure of how to stop.

"...so now I'm here, living in this beautiful city," she gestured with her head to the tops of the buildings they were overlooking, "and I feel pretty lucky..."

"Yes we are," he said as he moved toward her. He wrapped his arms around her in a hug and pulled her close to him.

A hug? This was not what she had been expecting. As soon as she felt herself relax into it, he pulled his face back without letting any space come between them.

She watched him watch her. "You're studying me."

He caught the hint of a question in her voice. "Not critically," as he leaned into her and put his lips to hers.

She waited for him to open the kiss. For an agonizingly long time, he remained still - pushing his lips gently into hers while holding her body against him. She felt something go off in her head.

Are these fireworks?

She felt an urge to move - to pull his lips into hers, but somehow knew better. She gave herself permission to trust him. In an almost meditative state, she started to feel all the nuances of the kiss. She felt movement in the stillness. She felt his hands on her back. She felt him meeting her in this moment.

Seconds that seemed like hours later, he pulled her into the open kisses she had been expecting. They were sweet without lacking sensuality. Soft without lacking power.

They paused for a moment and he gestured toward the nearby table. She sat atop it so that he could stand above her. They continued kissing without escalating. It felt like hours. Years. It felt like something she wanted to do forever.

And then, in one slow movement, he raised up and placed her head against his chest.

Really? We're making out on a first date and he wants to cuddle?

He wrapped his hands in her hair and gently held her there, pulling her into him. He held here there for three long breaths, then four.

At first she simply indulged him. But somehow both suddenly and as if it had been building up for eternity, something inside her came loose. She stopped counting breaths and she found herself pushing her forehead into him. As he held her, one arm around her back, one hand cradling her head, she relaxed into him. She felt herself completely surrender to this moment. Trusting this man to hold her, trusting him to know that she needed to be held, trusting him to kiss her just as she needed to be kissed.

Something inside me is breaking.

Tears were starting to fill in her eyes when the security guard abruptly opened the door and told them the roof deck was closing. She buried her face into him and then quickly wiped her eyes as they laughed at the interruption.

He handed her a tissue once they got into the harshly lit elevator.

Does he know I was about to cry?

"I know I always need one after being out in the cold like that."

Maybe not.

They moved outside to the sidewalk and she started to suggest another location, but something in his eyes made her ask how he was feeling.

He told her it had been a long day, that he'd like to end it on a high note. He held her hand as they walked the few blocks until they needed to go in different directions. They kissed again and said goodnight.

She walked home feeling...feeling what? euphoric. excited. violated. and completely abandoned.

Anxious and not understanding why, she let herself text him to thank him for the evening and let him know she'd like to see him again. He responded that he'd like to see her, too, but her nerves never settled.

She awoke the next morning knowing something had shifted. The more she thought about it, the more emotional and anxious she became.

It isn't this guy. I don't even know if I really like this guy. 

She checked her phone for the tenth time in as many minutes.

What the fuck is going on? What is wrong with me?

She closed her eyes and let herself remember how it felt when he first kissed her. She let herself feel him hold her against his chest. She gave herself permission to relax into the feeling. And she started to cry.

In almost four years her ex had never once held her this way. And the man before him? Never. Maybe she hadn't let them. Never had she been so gently forced to let down her guard. Never had she realized how much she needed to feel safe in someone's arms. She sobbed. And laughed. She cried in thankfulness for this beautiful gift, and in sorrow for not knowing if she would ever have it again. She cried because she was finally admitting that she had never in her life, her entire life, really felt completely safe. She cried because she understood this was just a moment in time, and that she may never have it again. And she cried because she knew this was the beginning of something much bigger and truer than she could fully grasp.

Something inside me is breaking free.

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