EVEN as he slid my panties off, I remained convinced that this was not going to end in a regrettable mess of bare limbs and sweat. So with my back to the bed and one less piece of clothing on, I lifted my head and reminded him, “You know, I’m not having sex with you.”
I figured this was the polite thing to do. My statement was not going to prevent blue balls, but at least he knew what was coming. Or rather, who wasnâ€™t coming.
â€œWhy not?â€ he asked, more inquisitive than aggressive. I said something indefinite in response. â€œIâ€™m just notâ€ or â€œbecauseâ€ or another half-hearted answer that sounded unpersuasive even to myself.
â€œWell, I guess Iâ€™ll just have to do a good job of convincing you.â€ And then he slipped his fingers between my legs and pressed down into the hot center.
BEFORE I met up with him at Canton Junction earlier that night, I boarded the commuter rail with a fistful of promises to myself and every intent to keep them all. As the sky darkened outside the windows and the train tumbled closer to my destination, I shivered at my seat. Reaching into my purse, I retrieved my lipstick and reapplied it as if my lips would matter this evening.
He pulled into the parking lot and got out of his car. By the time I walked close enough to get a good look at him, I noticed his hair was shorter than I remembered. And for once, he wasnâ€™t wearing a baseball cap. Slight changes. I wondered if I looked any different to him. Older. Thinner. Any more beautiful in autumn than in the spring.
Our conversation moved easily like it always has. As we drove deeper into Canton and then Stoughton, my eyes followed the suburban world passing us by. Then the roads closed in between looming branches and leaves, the colonial residences grew larger with every mile, and Boston’s urban landscape became a distant memory.
A shred of self-doubt started forming as I climbed the stairs of his Stoughton apartment and realized that I still remembered all the right turns to take and doors to open. My resolve weakened when I met his new roommate Jeff, tsk tsked at their empty beer bottles, and found his dining table as cluttered with bills as it was months ago. But I didnâ€™t break completely until Jeffâ€™s dog pounced up at me eagerly â€“ Abby was the least expected addition of all. She was a female companion in male territory, and I fell for her faster than I fell for him.
He poured two glasses of red wine, sat us down on the couch in front of an episode of Will & Grace, and rubbed his thumb against the small of my back. As his hands wandered, so did my attention.
â€œYouâ€™re getting fresh,â€ I teased as his fingers grazed my bare upper breast. He smiled and I turned my face toward his, catching his breath, his tongue, and his lips on my own. His freshly trimmed stubble scratched at my cheek and I pulled him closer.
WE drove to a jazz concert in Providence, the pretense for my visit this evening. Jazz is a foreign tongue to me, a language I tried to pick up when we dated. Still, I found some appreciation for the smooth tones that competed against the Yankees game for attention. And easily, the band won. In the dim glow of the bar, I caught sight of a dark spot on his throat and fingered it apologetically.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ I said.
He shook his head at me. â€œI work with kids. I canâ€™t talk to their parents with hickeys on my neck.â€
I offered up a grimace and stole a sip of his beer, even though I had a feeling that I couldâ€™ve gotten away with ordering my own.
The telltale mark at the crux of his neck proved too tempting to resist once we were alone on the drive back. So I pulled at my seatbelt and leaned over for another taste.
â€œI bruise easily,â€ he warned, and I was quite happy to ignore him. â€œYou know weâ€™re going back to my place, right? I have to water my mint plants before I take you back. Very sensitive pH levels.â€
I laughed, more than willing to indulge in his charade. The next morning, I would find an unwelcome splotch of red on my panties. Even when I lost my virginity, I didnâ€™t bleed.
“YOU still have all your clothes on,â€ I said to him with a hint of indignation. The last of my outfit had finally made it onto the floor.
â€œWell, you havenâ€™t done anything about them,â€ he retorted. Lying naked on his bed, I felt unusually comfortable. But in the interest of fairness, I made him strip down until he was as bare as I was.
By the time I felt him against my inner thighs, slowly nudging his way inside me, my protests had long ceased and my claims to chastity had fallen away like my clothes to the ground. He entered me with a sensation altogether familiar and unexpected. My eyes shut, and I moaned low and throaty.
His name was what I said the most, and I ground it out between my teeth with a ferocity reserved for sex that happened for sexâ€™s sake. Behind me, he breathed hard and I squeezed my legs together and he sucked in his breath even harder. He was large and slick and filled me deeper than comfortable. But I liked it that way. Half-breathless he asked, â€œIs this okay?â€ and I silently winced but nodded at the courtesy. Straddling him would have made it easier, but the only time I was happy on top was when my mouth was on his cock, taking him down inch by inch and lapping him up again with the tip of my tongue. So instead, I found contentment on my stomach, on my back, and on my knees, as I dug deeper into his sheets and asked him, gasping, to fuck me harder.
Afterward, I sighed into his chest, let the hair dance between my fingers, and traced the long scar that ran between his ribs and under his navel, a remnant of the surgery that saved his life. “Your battle scar,” I murmured.
He picked up my earrings from the creases of his sheets and held them up to my face. I laughed and thought to myself, â€œHe fucked me so hard my jewelry came off.â€
WHEN he dropped me off on the corner of Plympton and Mt. Auburn, I left his car with a quick, chaste kiss and a hurried goodbye, stumbling out into the Cambridge cold on my unsteady stilettos and even less steady judgment.
He drove away as I ran off in the other direction, ready to face the night. Were he my boyfriend, I mightâ€™ve looked back to catch a last glimpse. But he wasnâ€™t. So instead, I tugged at my skirt and flipped my hair out, readying myself for the festivities to come.
At the steps of the Phoenix, I greeted the bouncerâ€™s familiar face with my right hand on his chest, a warm smile, and a â€œhey there.â€ He opened the door just wide enough for me to slip inside and I clutched at the oak of the staircase as the bass pulsed against my chest. The second the warm air and chatter engulfed me, it was like Stoughton and Providence and even Boston were worlds away.
Across the river, I lose myself.