When our tongues were heavy and our lips moved slowly from the red wine, we walked hand in hand down to Fireside Pies. I saw couples walk past my apartment all the time, arms linked, the girl bitching about how she shouldn't have worn heels, the guy offering to give her a piggy back ride. I'd watch them walk by my kitchen window, wondering when I'd get to do normal things like that with Cayden. Only I'd wear flats.
Out there on the sidewalk, with Cayden's big, warm hand wrapped around mine, I smiled knowing I was one of those couples, doing normal things with my boyfriend.
We were seated at a table outside by the fireplace. It was a cool night, but the fireplace and the heat lamps kept us warm. The patio was enclosed with wooden blinds wrapped in vines. The tables and chairs were heavy wrought iron. Everything about it screamed romance.
"Baby, I finally feel like I'm really in another country," Cayden said.
I looked around, confused.
"We don't have anything like this in London."
"Really?" I asked.
"Really," he said, squeezing my thigh.
I had the sudden urge to be somewhere with him that felt foreign to both of us. I pictured us sitting on the patio of a trattoria in Italy, drinking wine while we people watched. Or sitting at a cafe in Paris, breaking off pieces of French bread while we people watched.
"So, instead of you coming back here next month for Valentine's Day, what do you think about me coming back to London?"
A huge smile spread across his face.
"That would be lovely. Could you do that? Can you get those days off work?"
I thought about it for a minute.
"Well, in all of my interviews all they every talked about was how great the vacation policy is, so I don't see why not," I said. "And Dad said I can use his flyer miles again. So what do you think?"
"That would be perfect! And I can take you to the Cotswolds for Valentines Day," he said. "We can get a cottage for a few nights."
"With a fireplace and a garden and a huge oak bed like on The Holiday?" I asked, excitedly.
"Yes, with a fireplace and a garden and a huge oak bed."
I leaned over and kissed him. My lips felt like they were vibrating from the wine.
It wasn't even New Year's and I was already looking forward to Valentines Day. I felt my cheeks grow hot and my eyes stung with the threat of tears. I blinked them away and decided to take it easy on the wine the rest of the night. I was on the verge of being that girl bawling in the restaurant, blubbering things like, "I'm just so happy. Life is so beautiful."
The juicy, tangy bruschetta and warm, gooey, cheesy pizza added to the list of things I loved about the evening. I'd lived down the street from Fireside Pies for an entire year and I'd only eaten there five times. I kicked myself for not taking better advantage of such a beautiful restaurant.
It was almost 11 pm by the time we walked back to my place, still arm in arm. I was going to miss my neighborhood.
"So, tomorrow's your last day at work. Are you excited? Sad?"
"Both. I really don't want to leave there. It's really the perfect job. And I love the people there," I said. "But at the same time, I'm excited to try something new. Maybe I'll find another perfect job."
He let go of my hand and wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. "You'll make it perfect."
Whether I liked my new job or not, that night was perfect.