Start back at Part 1.
I closed my eyes, and tried to summon the courage to put my hand on his…
… and before I opened them, I felt his hand reach out and take mine.
I swear, my heart literally exploded in my chest. We didn’t even make eye contact, we just sat there in the car for the rest of the drive, holding hands and feeling our feelings and smiling like fools.
Unsurprisingly, Brady didn’t speak for the rest of the drive either.
When we got back to the bed and breakfast, we found that most of Brock’s close family had already left the reception as well. There was a large group of people in the hot tub, so we joined them. We sat next to each other and participated in the conversation, each holding a beer in the hand that wasn’t under the water. We felt like we were so clever. Secretly holding hands. Under the water. (Author’s note: *eyeroll*)
Eventually it was late enough that everyone retired to their rooms. Brady sat down on the couch and put on an episode of “Arrested Development” – I’d never watched it before, but it made Brock laugh his big, beautiful laugh, so I immediately loved it. Brock and I sat on the floor next to the couch, and secretly held hands under the blanket. We watched a show or two like this, until Brock leaned over and kissed me very gently on my temple.
I melted. From the inside out. You know that feeling… the one that starts in the bottom of your gut and spreads outward? Pure joy. I couldn’t believe it. Gosh, I just couldn’t believe that this sweet, kind, beautiful giant was attracted to ME. I felt like Cinderella, and I knew the clock was going to strike midnight eventually – I was still going home.
Brady must have noticed the kiss, because he jumped up like he had been slapped. Without saying a word, he strode across the room, darted out through the doorway and quietly closed the door behind him. Brock and I looked at each other and laughed… we had NO idea what that was all about.
We spent that whole night getting to know each other better. I know, I know… you think that’s some crazy euphemism for gettin’ down… but it’s not. To this day, I don’t know that anyone believes us. You have to remember – I had never been with anyone but my husband, and we had been together since I was 13 years old. I had absolutely NO experience, I wasn’t confident at ALL, and Brock was an absolute gentleman. That combined with the fact that we didn’t know why Brady left. There was a pretty good chance he could return at any second! So Brock and I just talked. We held hands and talked and asked questions and told stories and laughed. Oh, how we laughed. I knew I was going back to Canada. Brock knew that he had to talk to Jenna – he didn’t want to “go forward” with me in any way without being totally open and honest with her. We both felt SO strongly about that.
We fell asleep – fully clothed – in the same bed around 4am.
The morning came and went, and we rolled up to the “brunch” at nearly ten o’clock. We walked in together to a room-full of knowing looks, elbows, and grinning nods. It appeared that we were the joke of the morning, but we didn’t even care. We were so high on each other.
The rest of Brock’s family packed into their vehicles and started the 15+ hour trek back to their respective homes. Brock and Brady had ridden together in Brady’s ’95 4Runner. He knew he had to go. He had to get Brady home, it was a long drive, and he had to work on Monday. But he just wasn’t ready to let go yet.
He asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him, and of course I said yes.
Brady came with us, and we watched Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m sure the movie was great, but I hardly remember any of it. I was sitting next to Brock. Those words kept shouting through my mind. “This is BROCK. I’m sitting next to BROCK. I’m holding hands with BROCK.” Over and over again, trying to wake from what seemed like a beautiful, impossible dream.
The movie ended, and we tried to part ways… again, not yet. Brock kept looking to Brady for something: Permission? Acknowledgement? Support? Brady had the biggest grin on his face. You could tell from the first instant that he was ‘team Brock and Mandy’. He suggested that we get lunch.
We sat at the table at McDonald’s and looked googly-eyed at each other. We talked about what the next few weeks would look like. We promised to keep in touch.
“We’ll figure something out.”
And finally it was time. There were no more minutes to waste, no more excuses to make. There was no other choice but to say goodbye. Brock walked me to the driver’s seat of my car, and opened the door for me. I turned towards him, and he touched his forehead to mine as he held my hands. I took a deep breath of his smell, as deeply as I could, and held my breath – I wanted to keep a little bit of him with me. He whispered, “I’m so in like with you,” and then softly, gently kissed my lips. It was an electric shock that went through my entire body. I had never before felt a kiss like that. It changed something within me, and I knew, without a doubt, that I would see Brock again.
I paused, eyes closed and body frozen in that moment of Kairos I wanted never to end. Then, I got into my car, waved out the window, and drove away. I kept my eyes on him in the rearview mirror for as long as I could, as he stood with his hands in his pockets and watched me go.
I felt absolutely elated and utterly empty in the very same moment.
To be Continued.