By: Kayla Meyers
- Lyrics by Hinder, "Lips of an Angel"
Honey, why you callin' me so late?
It's kinda hard to talk right now
The call came at 11:30 PM on a Sunday night. Jared had just crawled into bed and was beginning to doze off. He sat up with a grunt, feeling around for the switch on the lamp beside him, flicking it on. He cleared his throat before finally answering the phone.
"Hello," he said, his voice gruff with near-sleep.
"Jared?" Her smooth, velvety voice came over the line.
"Honey? Who is it?" Jared's girlfriend, Marissa, called to him from the adjacent bathroom. He could hear the trickling water running in the sink.
Jared felt every muscle in his body tense up, as if a boa constrictor had curled itself tightly around his insides, nearly cutting off his breath. He glanced behind him to make sure Marissa wasn't going to appear behind him.
"Wrong number!" he yelled back, forcing his voice around the lump forming in his throat. He covered the receiver with his hand, waiting until she resumed her soft, tuneless humming. Throwing the white sheets off of himself and swinging his legs around, he sat at the edge of the bed, his back facing the door.
"Hey, what are you doing? Listen, I can't talk right now," He whispered. "I told you, you can't call here. It isn't safe. What if Marissa answered? What we do then?" He tried to maintain a gentle tone, but he couldn't help the edge of irritation that crept into his voice. This wasn't the first time she had called his home, and each time his paranoia of Marissa finding out who was really on the line grew.
Honey, why you cryin', is everything all right?
I gotta whisper, ‘cause I can't be too loud
"Jar, I'm sorry, I-I just needed to talk to you..." That's when he realized she was crying, her voice broken by sniffling sobs.
"Baby, what's wrong?" He asked with a frown as he sat forward, his elbows on his knees. "Are you okay?"
"E-Evan and I got into a fight, h-he just left," she cried.
"Did he hurt you?" He asked, suddenly overwhelmed with concern. He had to remind himself to keep his voice from rising too loudly.
"N-No..." She replied quietly.
It's funny that you're calling me tonight
And yes, I've dreamt of you too
Does he know you're talking to me?
Will it start a fight?
No, I don't think she has a clue
"It was stupid. He was out drinking again and came home drunk; he got mad because he found the receipt for the pair of shoes you bought me last week. Jar, I can't take this anymore; the lying, the sneaking around. I love you and I want to be with you, we shouldn't have to hide like this."
He sighed, rubbing his forehead. They'd had this conversation many times before, and each time it was harder for him find an answer to tell her. Deep down he knew the reason was because there was no good reason. He loved and wanted her, but under the circumstances, he also knew he couldn't just leave Marissa either. "Baby, you know it isn't that easy..."
"Yes, it is!" She protested. "Don't you love me? Don't you want to be with me?
"Of course I do, baby," he replied. "There's nothing I want more than to be with you."
"Then be with me, just leave her. All you have to do is tell her, and everything will be solved; we can be together, we won't have to sneak around like this anymore."
"I can't do that, baby, and you know why. I love you; I always have and always will - Why can't that be enough? This is hard on me, too, you know."
"Well, you sure aren't doing anything to make it easier on yourself," she snapped, her voice turning from meek, quiet pleading to a sharp, accusatory tone. "You know what I think? You're just being selfish. You don't want to make a decision; you just want it both ways."
"Oh, yeah, Little Miss Perfect?" He shot back, for a moment losing his control and letting his voice rise. "What about you? You're still with Evan. If it's so simple, why don't you leave him?"
"I've been trying to!" She said defensively. "He won't sign the divorce papers. And why should I make an effort when you won't?"
He pushed his hair of out his face, sighing again. "Baby, come on, can we please not do this now? I'm sorry, I love you. Please, forgive me?"
She let out a sigh of resignation, and he felt his body relax. "Is she there?"
"She's in the bathroom, but I don't think she can hear us. So, do you think Evan suspects something?" He asked as he sat back against his pillows.
She scoffed. "He's so clueless, he wouldn't know what was happening if it smacked him in the face. Do you think she knows?"
"No," he told her, a little guilt edging his voice. "I don't think she knows anything." Slowly he swung his legs back onto the bed, lying back against the headboard. "Actually, it's kind of funny you called. I was just thinking about you," he said, feeling the beginning of a smile tug at the corners of his mouth.
"You were?" She asked, amused. In his mind he could picture a coy smile curling her lips. She chuckled softly. "I've been thinking about you, too. Guess what I found the other day?"
"What?" He asked, his eyes continued to intuitively roam toward the doorway. The water in the sink had shut off, and now he heard the steady stream of water drumming softly against the bottom of the shower.
"The rose," she said in her husky, smoldering voice. "Do you remember that night?"
Now, a wide grin spread across his face, he laughed quietly. "Of course I remember."
He remembered it well; two weeks ago he made the 287 mile venture from St. Louis to Chicago on one of his curiously frequent ‘business trips'. In reality, the business he attended to in Chicago had nothing to do with his law firm. As he had done countless times, he checked into a cheap motel, and then called her. An hour and a half later, dressed in a tailored dark blue suit with her favorite deep green tie, and drove to their usual Italian restaurant; Paradiso Artificiale (Fool's Paradise), a dimly lit, elegant little bistro overlooking Lake Michigan. Before he even crossed the street from where he left his car, he saw her. She was standing under the covered area where the roof of the restaurant slanted outward, her long arms curled loosely around her waist as she waited. Her midnight black hair fell around her face in sweeping layers. The knee-length, wine colored dress she wore hugged the soft curves of her body, the skirt billowing out behind her in the night breeze.
As he stepped onto the sidewalk, she turned slightly, her back toward him. Just then he saw a man standing outside the doors of Paradiso Artificiale with a dozen long-stemmed roses in his hand. Jared walked over to him, paid him and took a rose, then crept up behind her. The sweet smell of her rose scented perfume filled his nose as it floated through the air. He slipped his arm around her waist, holding the rose out in front of her.
"A rose for the lady," he murmured huskily into her ear.
She whirled around, her icy blue eyes connecting with his warm brown ones in an instant. She didn't speak for a moment, just stared up at him with her piercing gaze, and then slowly she leaned up and brought his mouth against hers. His arms tightened around her, he felt himself melting into her embrace, savoring her taste. Every hair on his body stood on end as if it were pulled up by a magnet. As they parted she brought the rose up to her nose, inhaling the scent deeply. They linked arms and walked inside the restaurant; he had called the night before to reserve their usual table by the window overlooking the waterfront. They ate dinner while they spoke in hushed whispers, exchanging their secrets close to each other's ears. Every now and then as she reached across the table for her wine glass, her delicate fingers would brush lightly against his, causing shivers to travel up his spine. In moments like this, he remembered exactly why he had fallen in love with her; the electricity he felt as she sat across from him was almost too much for him to bear, and he found himself needing to touch her. Like a moth to a flame, there was an indescribable, unstoppable force pulling him toward her at all times, even when they were miles apart. She ignited a burning, fiery passion in him that he rarely felt at any other time. Not even with Marissa.
After dinner they walked to his car, their arms wrapped irresistibly around each other. He loved the way it felt to have her this close to him, and the aphrodisiac quality of the scent of her hair. His mind felt like it was swimming, as if he were drunk. He hadn't drank enough at dinner for even the strongest wine to have this sort of affect on him, and even if he had, he knew that wasn't the reason; he always felt this sort of lightheaded, floating dizziness when she was around. They drove in fervent silence back to the motel where it seemed that even before they got inside his room, they were tangled up in each other. Hours later he held her close while she slept, her hair fanned out over his bare chest. As he listened to her soft, rhythmic breathing, he gazed up at the bright, full moon through the open window. The light circled around through the glass like a spotlight, casting a dreamy bluish tint on their skin. The small, diamond shaped stars winked at him knowingly against the velvet black night sky. Suddenly, he thought of Marissa.
The next morning after they awoke, they drove back into the city. While looking around she found a pair of black open-toe high heels, and he caught her staring at them longingly through the display window. While she was looking at jewelry, he slipped back across the street and bought them for her. That night at dinner, he gave them to her. They had one more night together until he had to return home and go back to his life with Marissa.
My girl is in the next room
Sometimes I wish she was you
I guess we never really moved on
He heard himself sigh, pulling him out of his reverie. Suddenly he became aware of the fact that the water in the shower had stopped, and now she was drying her hair. Her tuneless humming weaved in and out of his thoughts, tightening the screws of guilt around his heart. "I miss you," he said softly.
"I miss you, too," she said. "When can I see you again?"
"Not this weekend, but maybe in another two weeks or so. I'm going to Minnesota with Marissa to see her family. I -" He hesitated, trying to choose his words carefully. "I gave her a ring."
A long, static silence fell across the line for a few moments. When she spoke again, he could hear the rain begin to fall again in her voice-not rain, hail. "Congratulations. I hope you two have a wonderful life. I mean that, Jared." And he knew it was true. There was no vindictiveness in her words, just melancholy.
"Listen, baby -" He began.
"Evan is home; I should go now. I'm sorry for calling you like this."
"It's all right. It's good to hear your voice again."
"I love you, Jared," she told him sadly.
"I love you, too," he said. It was the truth. "I really do."
"I'll talk to you soon?"
"Sure. Sweet dreams, baby."
He hung up and flicked off the light, then laid back against the soft sheets. Just then the bathroom light switched off, and Jared heard Marissa's footsteps padding quietly across the carpeted floor. He felt the right side of the covers being pulled down, then felt her slide in beside him. Marissa settled close to him, laying her head by his shoulder, her light brown hair tickling his neck. He slid his arm around her, resting his cheek on top of her head.
"I love you," her sweet voice came quietly from the darkness.
"I love you, too," he said as he kissed her forehead.
Before long he heard the sound of her quiet breathing as she drifted to sleep in his arms. He stared up at the ceiling, thinking of her. A while afterwards he joined Marissa in sleep, but once again his dreams were haunted by her; those hypnotic eyes following his every move. He shifted restlessly as he dreamed of the one he could never have.
And I never want to say goodbye
But girl, you make it hard to be faithful
With the lips of an angel