Nina, the protagonist, is at the house of her new and younger lover. If you've read earlier scenes, this is before she takes off her wedding rings--the last remains of her defunct marriage.
We stay in his bed long past dark, having made our way out of our clothes and under the covers. Afterwards, he slips out of the room and returns with two dark beers and two white boxes of leftover Chinese food.
“I’m sorry,” he says as he sits on the edge of the bed. “This is all I have.”
I sit up beside him, pulling the sheets comfortably around me.
“I’m starving,” I say and take a beer and a box. “It’s perfect.”
“I’ll do better in the morning,” he says and looks at me apologetically. “I really am a good cook. I’ve got the makings for some kick as crepes. Seriously. Give me a shot.”
I mull it over—the morning. We eat, sharing his kung pow chicken and my beef and broccoli. He moves in to kiss me and I pull away.
“I have kung pow broccoli breath,” I say and cover my mouth.
He laughs out loud. Being with him is easy.
“So do I,” he says and kisses me anyway.
He steals away again and brings back too more bottles of good beer. We sit up, under his covers, and talk. I tell him about Ray and Lola—the easy parts for now. About work and Mom. More details about the lemonade book.
“I won’t touch your lemons from now on,” he says and laughs. “I promise.”
“I might be a lemon,” I say. “You sure you want this?”
“Are you?” Oliver asks, taking my hand and twisting my wedding ring around between his fingers. “If you think there’s a chance to work it out. I won’t get in the way. Much.”
He winks at me. I had told Oliver about the divorce that first night. Not all the details, just the legal facts. Irreconcilable differences. Oliver hadn’t asked what they were.
“What about you?” I ask, Oliver, deflecting as usual. “What pretty young thing am I competing with here?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he says by way of answer.
“Those girls you work with look pretty perky,” I say and look under the sheet—making a face at what I see.
“Well,” Oliver says and puts on a mock face of concern. “Let me take another look. Maybe I’m wrong here.”
He reaches over to pull the sheet away from my body and I try to fight him off. I lose. He smiles at what he sees and winks at me. The conversation is silly and ridiculous and most importantly, not at all about anything. It’s easy to escape here. Maybe too easy. I could pull out of the world like the flicker of a firefly—here and gone, here and gone, till the gone is all that’s left.
“Stay with me this time,” he says, then, as if afraid to allow time for the answer he doesn’t want, he keeps me from speaking with his lips on mine.