He holds his cigarette to his lips and he stares into me in the way that makes me want to break down and tell him everything I’ve ever thought and anything I’ve ever known. We are standing toe to toe on our boat that is leading us to the Greek island of Samos. I gently rock side to side as the waves crash into the enormous ocean liner and the wind runs over my body into my veins and through my very core. The only thought going through my head and pulsing into my heart is “I love you, I love you, I love you,” but I can’t muster the breaths to speak it aloud. I look away and grab his cigarette-bringing it to my mouth and trying to convince myself that I don’t love him…yet. I cough a little from the cigarette. It’s one of my first cigarettes-we are in Europe, the best reason to take up smoking that I’ve ever heard. He convinced me earlier with his assuring hands, his knowing smile and his coy reasoning of, “When in Rome…” But I’m not thinking about the cigarette or Rome or Samos. I feel the words forming in my mouth. “So I was thinking…” “Uh oh,” he says sarcastically. I smile and pause. What if he doesn’t love me back? “Anyway, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and…I think I love you. And if I don’t I think I could?” Oh that was pathetic. He laughs at me and smiles, he lifts his sunglasses off his face and stares into my eyes. “You think you might be able to?” He smiles knowingly. The wind sweeps my hair up over my eyes and he catches it, bringing it back in place behind my ear. “I love you too” he says. “You do? Are you sure?” He laughs at me the way you would smile at a nervous toddler who just spilled juice on the
floor. “Of course I love you” he says, and then sarcastically adds, “Well maybe I could.” I stare at him with fake angry eyes for a second and then the anger melts into bliss and relief. “I love you,” I say and take a breath. I take his cigarette again nervously, take a puff, regain my confidence, and crush it under my shoe. I grab him around the shoulders and bring him in to kiss him. I’m smiling like an idiot. “I love you,” I say. I’ve said I love you so many times to so many people, but this is the first time I’ve really meant it. Chills run up and down my spine. So this is what it’s like. I guess I really do believe in love.
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