I do, and the now-familiar warmth of his lips steadies me. He tastes of salt and the wine we shared with the others at our small farewell party.
Aladdin pulls away first and lifts one of my hands to his lips, kissing the delicate henna patterns on my skin, then turning my arm over to kiss the inside of my wrist. The ship’s crew makes themselves busy on the other side of the ship, giving us privacy.
“You’re the most beautiful girl in the world,” Aladdin murmurs. “Have I ever told you that?”
“Enough to make me wonder if your father was a parrot.
And,” I continued, “I’m probably going to be a bitch most of the time. I guarantee I’ll find a reason to yell at you almost every day, and don’t be surprised if a few drinks get dumped on you from time to time. That’s just me, and you’re going to have to deal with it. Because I’m not changing for you or anyone else. And I-”
Wesley slid off his bar stool and pressed his lips against mine before the words could get out. My heart pounded as every thought vacated my mind. One of his arms encircled my waist, pulling me as close to him as possible, and his free hand cupped my face, his thumb tracing my cheekbone. He kissed me so passionately I thought we would catch on fire.
It wasn’t until after he pulled away, both of us in need of some air, that I could think straight again.
“You jerk!” I yelled, pushing him away from me. “Kissing me to make me shut up? God, you’re so obnoxious. I could just throw something at you right now.”
Wesley hopped onto his bar stool with a big grin, and I suddenly remembered him telling me that I was sexy when I was mad at him. Go figure. “Excuse me, Joe,” he called to the bartender. “I think Bianca wants a Cherry Coke.”
Despite my best efforts, I smiled. He wasn’t perfect, or even remotely close, for that matter, but, hey, neither was I. We were both pretty fucked up. Somehow, though, that made everything more exciting. Yeah, it was sick and twisted, but that’s reality, right? Escape is impossible, so why not embrace it?
Wesley took my hand and laced his fingers with mine. “You look beautiful tonight, Bianca.
I wasn't used to be these weak before. But the day I saw you, it felt like somebody was punching me very hard on my chest. It was hard to breathe, it was hard to sleep. With your name echoing in my mind all the time. Like somebody was singing a song to me, that no one else heard. It was the first time I realised how beautiful it is to be weak.
A woman's body is a sacred temple. A work of art, and a life-giving vessel. And once she becomes a mother, her body serves as a medicine cabinet for her infant. From her milk she can nourish and heal her own child from a variety of ailments. And though women come in a wide assortment as vast as the many different types of flowers and birds, she is to reflect divinity in her essence, care and wisdom. God created a woman's heart to be a river of love, not to become a killing machine.