As Masha drove north on I-35 out of San Antonio for the last time, her mind was on one thing: Chris. She wasn’t thinking about the traffic or the 20-hour trip to Nebraska to see friends on which she had just embarked. Her mind was locked on him and every detail of him that she could remember.
What started out as a professional relationship created out of necessity ended as one of the most intense relationships Masha had ever known. The connection between the two of them was more than words could describe. There was a power that surged between them; a natural attraction that had a stronger pull than gravity, and she wasn’t sure she would ever feel that with anyone again.
The first correspondence with Chris occurred because they were both members of the Air Force in the same job field. Chris was nearing the end of his training, and Masha had signed up to be a “sponsor” for an Airman relocating to her squadron. Before he relocated to San Antonio, they had corresponded via email several times and spoke on the phone once. When he finally arrived, he wasn’t anything like how she had pictured him. Standing six feet tall, with blond hair and deep blue eyes, he resembled a certain boy wizard, but with different characteristics.
Masha chuckled, thinking of the exact moment she realized this resemblance. She smiled and shook her head.
Over the next few months, they became movie buddies. They’d frequently do movie marathons at the “Dollar Theater.” They’d grab a meal at a restaurant before or after the theater. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear they were dating. However, Masha was already with someone; someone she would marry and with whom she would have a child. Her marriage didn’t last long, but her friendship with Chris lasted, and each time they saw each other, the sexual tension grew.
One night while seeing “40-Year-Old Virgin,” Masha asked Chris if that would be him in several years, knowing that he had chosen to wait to have sex. He floored her with his reply: that wasn’t him now. He’d been with a woman and never told Masha. Slightly hurt, she brushed those emotion aside and concentrated on what he’d just said. He was no longer waiting… Her heart started pumping faster than normal. After the movie, they went back to her house to watch a DVD and only saw the first 10 minutes. That was the first time they were together.
Her divorce had been final for about a month and unlike many of her friends who divorced, she didn’t run out and start dating as soon as she and her husband were separated. So when she and Chris started dating, it was especially exciting for her. They’d still go out to movies and dinner, but they also stayed in, having a very healthy sexual relationship. She’d even nicknamed him, Dorogoy, meaning “my dear” or “my darling,” in Russian. Soon, however, Chris started acting strange.
He started to distance himself from her. Months earlier, Masha had informed him that she would soon be relocating to the east coast to retrain. They knew when they started dating that their relationship would end as quickly as it began, but they proceeded anyway. Masha often thought, “Carpe Diem,” and made the most of their time together. However, after six weeks, he ended their relationship, stating that he needed to be with her or not, and couldn’t do the gray area in between. He drove the nail farther into her heart by announcing that he’d met someone else, Amy, and they had gone on a few dates.
The last month that she was at their base went by in a blur. This break-up hurt her more than the divorce from her husband, and considering he had broken her trust and cheated on her, that was saying a lot. She saw Chris once after that, at work, and Masha could barely look at him because she knew if she did for too long, it would bring her to tears. Luckily, they had no interaction and she was spared.
Masha passed a car, mindlessly, listening to the music. She thought about the previous night and shivered.
It was her last night in town, and she planned a “going away” dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. Her mother flew into town and took her daughter back to the east coast via plane. Her friend, Angela, had flown in to drive with her across the country and another friend, Josh, visited from out of state. She had invited several other friends to the meal, including Chris without high hopes of seeing him. While Masha and her friends were waiting for a table, he arrived. Masha made sure that he sat next to her at the table.
Throughout the meal, there was a significant amount of flirting, and Chris even brushed her leg with his hand under the table. Confused but elated, Masha tried not to react. The meal was a success and before she knew it, the dinner was finished, the check had come, and it was time to leave. She didn’t want Chris to leave her life yet, so she invited him back to the hotel room where she, Angela, and Josh were staying, to have a beer with them before he had to go to work that night. He accepted.
At the hotel, they all watched television; Angela and Josh on one bed, and Masha and Chris on another. Masha found herself rubbing Chris’s shoulders and scratching his back with the manicured nails that she specially had done for her going away dinner and trip. Chris made a flirtatious comment that it was a shame that Masha hadn’t had them done like that in the past, turning around and giving her a look, THAT look, HIS look.
Masha turned to Angela and demanded, “Get out.”
Angela said, “What?!”
“Get. Out. Take my keys, take my car, leave, and don’t come back until after…” she looked at her watch, “10:45. Please!”
The pair vacated the room, leaving Chris and Masha alone. “What about Amy?” Masha asked.
“She’ll never know.”
Masha didn’t like being “the other woman” but reasoned that he was hers first, and shrugged. At that moment, everything stopped as they came together in a magnetic embrace, with a kiss that couldn’t even compare to the one described at the end of The Princess Bride. They hastily stripped out of their clothes, entwining their bodies, not bothering to slide under the covers. The heat between the two kept them warm enough. As Chris slid himself into Masha, she shuddered, and she felt whole again. She was finally getting the closure she needed. They made the most of their last 20 minutes together and when he walked out of her life, she felt better about leaving.
“God! Stop grinning like an idiot,” Angela snapped, bringing Masha back to the present. “You’re not the only one who got laid last night.”
The two of them laughed together as they drove away from the men who gave them each unforgettable memories.