For eight months I made excuses to see him.
He was a corporate attorney who owned his own practice and rented space in the office building where I worked.
He was single, aggressive in a courtroom, extremely intelligent, and a demanding, but fair and generous boss.
He was 39 with dark hair and blue eyes and spoke three languages. He greeted Japanese and Korean clients in the lobby with a conservative and respectful bow.
I was 22 and working part-time as an administrative assistant while finishing my Bachelor’s Degree.
Every time I saw him, I had to concentrate to stay coherent; eye contact aroused me to the point of stupidity.
He never stayed to talk long, but was friendly and polite. I hoped for a sign of mutual attraction, but he never gave one; he was refined and courteous always.
We celebrated his paralegal’s 40th birthday at his house with a party catered for her and fifty guests. Food and drinks were served while people danced and swam. A few couples brought children and left earlier than others and the rest stayed well into the night.
I liked seeing the attorney in this relaxed environment but lost what remaining composure I had when I saw him in his swimsuit.
That evening, I stood in the pool and enjoyed a chilled glass of champagne. He joined me and we flirted, both tipsy from our drinks.
As I leaned over the side of the pool to refill my empty flute, I felt his fingers slide down my sides as he stood behind me in the water.
He lowered his hands, held my hips, and kissed the back of my neck. By then, a handful of people remained at the party, drinking inside or sleeping in guest rooms. I stayed to be near him.
My nerves drowned as we climbed out from the pool.
We walked into his darkened bedroom and our wet bathing suits left random puddles on his carpet. He was confident and athletic, his movements slow and attentive.
Every minute kissing him thrilled me … until he suddenly stopped. His strong hands were warm on my body, but he wasn’t moving them.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“A lump in your breast. I didn’t mean to stop, but I felt it.”
What did he just say? He felt something? What the hell?! This is so embarrassing!
“Do you know about it already?” he asked, sounding concerned. He rolled off me and onto his side. I couldn’t see his eyes in the darkroom, but I could tell he was searching for my face.
“No,” I said, feeling exposed in a different, much less desirable way.
“It’s probably nothing,” he said. “I’m so sorry, it just surprised me. Please don’t be embarrassed,” he said, as I pulled his bedsheet across my body.
Then, I got up and left before this one night stand became anymore embarrassing.
I was embarrassed, but I was also freaked out. I wasn’t sorry he told me, and two surgeries later, I’m grateful he did.
The first appointment was the week after the birthday party and the doctor confirmed the tumor.
A couple years later, I found a second tumor while doing a self-exam and another surgery was scheduled. I didn’t have cancer, but the tumors were both concerning enough to remove them.
As a result of the experience, I’m diligent about my monthly self-exams. I was also happy to find that the experience motivated my friends to do self-exams.
In case you’re wondering, the attorney and I did see each other again. He was fun and romantic and although it wasn’t a long relationship, it was a potentially life-saving one.