She hugs him and takes in the sweet musky aroma that defines his presence–
a smell that’s growing more familiar, feeling more like home. He nuzzles his soft face in her neck and giggles. She wonders if he likes the smell of the incense and candle she’s burning. Her interests and eccentricities always amuse him. His glasses and stubble brush against her chin and neck. She pauses with her fingers in his hair and thinks about what it might feel like to lose this kind of love. Her insecurities wrap around her like an angry octopus. She remembers where she comes from and feels the familiar shame of growing up, no one to see her or hear her. She thinks of all the times she felt inferior and less than, like she was outside looking in. Laying here with him she has nothing to protect her. Her veneer has been stripped away by a desire for connection and love. The tears flow onto his cotton shirt. She finds a way to position her face in his armpit, with her legs wrapped around his knees. He holds her with a tenderness that’s meant to comfort her. His scent is intoxicating but she would never tell him so. She starts to talk into his armpit about her fears. She’s glad his shirt can double as a tissue. She can feel the soft smile on his face as he assures her that her feelings aren’t fact. She’s beginning to fully understand why she’s spent a lot of time being comfortably numb- safe and alone with her innermost fears tucked neatly behind her heart. She no longer has that option so she continues to let herself cry. He continues to hold her. He asks if she wants to watch Portlandia. She thinks that’s a great idea. She wipes her eyes, unfolds from her fetal like position and grabs the lentil chips from the kitchen. She sniffles and asks him if he wants mango salsa from Whole Foods. Yumm, he says.