What my wife got up to and my response.
"Performance anxiety" wouldn't have even begun to describe it. He would have seized up, like an actor who's forgotten his lines on stage in front of a crowded audience of theatregoers. Later, the flagellation would have begun. He would have kicked himself for being a failure when it mattered the most, then for good measure he would have kicked himself for kicking himself. Years of therapy might have helped him move past the humiliation, but past events suggested that fortune would not be ever in his favor.
Luckily (for him and for Sammi), he didn't have the chance to think. In the moment of truth, he acted without conscious thought, responding quickly and decisively. At one point in his life, that would have been his nature, but the Accident (and all that led up to it) sapped his confidence.
And now? Now, while all of his attention was being lavished on this astonishing woman in his arms, somewhere in his brain, the Accident lost its power to destroy him. He wrenched control of his happiness, of his entire life away from those memories, and in the process, the Accident even lost its capitalization.
If she'd had time to think, the house of cards would have collapsed. The mask of confidence she'd been wearing would have revealed itself to be paper-thin. The Jackass would have forced his way back to the forefront of her mind. Her last relationship, the guy 2 years and 2 million tears ago, who'd told her how sexy she was. Who'd told her she was the only woman in the world. Who she'd given her heart to when he told her he loved her. Who'd taken her back to his sleazy apartment and used her for his satisfaction alone. Who'd cum inside her, gotten out of bed, and said "Wow, for a stuck-up cunt, you were pretty good. Maybe I'll let you do me again some time...", thrown $20 of cab fare at her, and never spoken to her again.
But when Archie quite literally swept her off her feet and pressed his lips to hers, her confidence blossomed almost instantly. The mask indeed did fall away, only now it revealed a strong, self-possessed woman with every reason to be sure of herself and her choices. A woman with a revitalized belief in her self-worth. And all of that centered on the woman she now could see herself to be, looking through the eyes of this remarkable man.
If you'd asked her at that instant, she wouldn't even have tried to remember The Jackass' name. C'mon, why think about stuff like that, when your true love is kissing you and giving you a night you'd dreamed about?
He carried her to the bed, gently laid her on her back and crawled on top of her. It had the effect of bringing their faces only inches apart. "Sammi, I've had this dream a million times. The one where the dorky guy gets the enchantingly perfect woman. But she wasn't anywhere near as beautiful as you are. Or as smart, or as funny, or as caring. I guess she wasn't as perfect as I made her out to be after all, because ... because she wasn't you. Is this real? Are you really real?"
Sammi chuckled. "It's funny. I've had the same dream my whole life too. Only in mine, it's the guy who's enchantingly perfect, and the dorky one is me. And, here I am, looking into the eyes of a man far more incredible than the one I dreamed up. So, either we're in each other's dreams, which as in sync as we are, isn't completely out of the realm of possibility... Or we've both found the one we were dreaming about. And either way..." She arched an eyebrow at him saucily.
"Yes, as I recall, you had pointed out that I was over-dressed, and I was suggesting you do something about that..." The smirk might have been glued onto his face.
"Anything to please my boyfriend," Sammi breathed out. She reached to Archie's waist and pulled his shirt over his head. Running her hands over his chest, she sighed contentedly. "Oh my. Archie, why did you think you needed to get wine when you've got a six-pack right here?"