Just as soon as she opened the door, they came together without a sound.
He – once such an expert in her – searched out all her quirky sweet spots with hands and mouth. He squeezed the back of her neck as he kissed her until she lost strength in her knees. He kissed and bit the tender insides of her wrists. He tickled the skin between her breasts with his scruffy chin. She lay there and felt him, making desperate little cries. She wasn’t usually so passive in her lovemaking, but she wanted to savor the sensation of her cold bed getting warmer.
His lips were just as soft as she remembered them, his saliva as sweet. How could a man be so sweet? He conjured up the wrong kind of images in her, or so she thought – of soft things, perfumed breezes, raw silk and pink cinnamon candy. She felt all the warmth without the desperate intensity she’d felt when she was younger. He didn’t muddy her waters.
That’s why she’d fallen so deeply in love with him.
He was already rock hard against her hip, a point of intense heat that spread and covered her whole body in a sheen of sweat. When he rolled between her hips her back snapped audibly as she arched. Her flaring hips cupped his so perfectly it felt like a cruel joke of the gods because if so, why had he found it so easy to walk away?
The thought snapped her back into the present, where her fingers worked on the buttons of his jeans. His face was flushed and his eyes aflame, a look she’d once gloried in. His saliva sizzled on the pebbly aroused flesh of her areolas. His smell, soap and sweat, had mixed with her own to scent the sheets.
The sheets had once always smelled like that. Even after three years, they had never quite passed the honeymoon phase and relaxed into a comfy twice a week routine. He had been more vital to her daily wellbeing than a multivitamin and a jog. Her rolling eyes traveled to her bookshelf where the books that he’d given her sat, worn from so many readings. They’d discussed every single one of them, arguing and gesticulating, seasoned debaters still covered in the sweat of lovemaking. They were friends, cherishing their time at a museum or a concert together as much as their time in bed. She curled in on herself in a sickening mixture of indignation and longing. When he left, it had been twice as painful because of it. She’d missed his way of seeing things, his knack for helping her untangle her thoughts… the way he could get her to stop over thinking with a touch.
He pressed his face into the hollow of her neck and whispered her name as only he could. She’d hated her name until the first time she heard him say it. How could a man who said her name like that have left so easily?
She made a choked sound just as soon as his hand rested on her mound. She fit into his hand so well but instead of pleasure, pain made her sit up like she’d been shocked.
He gave her a groggy look. “What’s the matter?” His hard cock stuck out from the hole in the front of his boxers. Her fingers were still sticky with his precum.
“I don’t know…” she said, clutching her belly. He sat up beside her and kissed the hollow of her hip. She surprised herself by gently pushing him away.
“We don’t have to go so fast, baby. It’s okay.” He tucked his cock back into his boxers and pulled his pants up. The familiar way he wiggled his ass as he buttoned up made her want to wail in agony.
“So I’m baby again? So soon.” Her voice was almost mannish with emotion.
“Of course you are,” he said, kissing her neck. Again, she gently pushed him away. He sighed. “Tell me what’s on your mind.” He was prepared for anything – he didn’t think it would be as easy as a horizontal reconciliation.
She crossed her arms and covered her breasts. “How exactly do you expect this to play out? What do you want from me?”
He had come prepared.”Honey, I want you. I might’ve said some things… before, but I know now that we can take what’s good-”
She cut him off. “You already have, and it wasn’t good enough for you then. Exactly what has changed?”
“I’ve changed. You’ve changed.”
The silence was filled the with distant whispers of the promises they’d made and the pain of her loss came back to her. His presence stirred a cell memory within her so intense she felt faint with it. She remembered how many tears she’d cried, how many times she’d begged, holding her broken life up to him for a reprieve.
The lines of his face hadn’t changed since she last saw him, but he looked more real to her than he’d ever looked. His hair was a richer brown, his eyes a deeper, clearer hazel, his smile even more brilliant than the one that had won her over. Despite of her feelings her pupils still dilated almost painfully to take him in. He was just as beautiful to her as he’d ever been, but the pain he’d caused her had made him remote. He radiated a cold that made her shiver. Her nipples hardened with it, but her body slumped with surrender.
“I still love you. Deeply,” she said as she stood up and put on her robe. He sat at the edge of her bed looking confused.
“Then why’d you stop?”
“Because it hurts.”
“I wasn’t hurting you, was I?”
“You broke me and yet you’re still concerned about what you did and why. It was about you, and it still is about you. What about me? Do you expect me to believe you won’t resent me for having to work at regaining my trust?”
“I’m ready and willing to do whatever it takes. I’ve realized the error-”
“-And I’m happy for you but although you changed your mind, you have not changed. You’re still the exact same person who walked away knowing how much I loved you.”
“Things were different then, and you know it!”
She sat down and put her head in her hands. He dropped to his knees.
“You’re not as haunted now.” His voice faded to nothing at the memory of her silences.
“Did you love me?” she asked.
“Of course I did!”
“Then what’s the goddamned difference? Instead of being there, you walked away until I found the strength to fix myself. I’m not saying it was your job to fix me, but some support might’ve been nice.” She shivered. “A complete and total lack of emotional responsibility. Was that your plan all along?”
He shook his head like a man who’d just been punched. “No.”
“You told me earlier on the phone that you’d discovered that there was no one else like me, and no other woman could compare…”
“And I felt that way from the second I first spoke to you.” He kissed her palm and put it against his chest, over his heart.
“Then why’d you go?”A single tear dripped off her chin and onto her forearm. Its warmth shocked her. She let him press her hand into his chest but what she felt there was foreign to her. There’d been a time when she’d synced her very life with the rhythm of his heart, but when he’d walked away she’d had to get used to finding a rhythm in the chaos he’d left in his wake.
“Well?” He let go of her hand, and she put it on her knee beside her other one. She was still as an Egyptian statue as she waited for his response. He knew his fate lay in his answer.
“I didn’t know what I had. I was foolish.”
She gave him a crooked grin and hiccupped. Her eyes were glassy with reconstituted sorrow.
“I see,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” he said and lay his head on her hands, but she remained motionless. He kissed her wrists and tried to press her fingertips into his temples like she used to do whenever she sensed he was anxious, but her fingers were cold and limp. “I’m so sorry,” he said again into her palms so that she could feel his sincerity. She was surprised to feel wet heat. He’d started to cry. The loss of her hit him like a wall of water and he rocked on his knees, whispering his sorrow into her palms.
Her hands moved to cover his face completely, and the heat radiating from it burned her. Hot and cold, but never just right… she giggled at her thought.
“Please forgive me,” he said.
“I already have,” she said, and looked down at the tears gathered in the cup of her palm. The memory of the times she’d hugged her knees and cried his absence until there was a pool at her feet made her clench her palm against his pain. Tears dripped from her raised fist onto her robe.
“I’m done.” Her voice was soft, and he didn’t hear her.
“It’s time for you to leave,” she said. She stood and walked to the bathroom. Before walking in, she turned to look at him one last time, but he was distorted by her tears. He held out his arms to her, but they didn’t bridge the distance. “Goodbye. I’m more than certain you can find your way out.”
She shut the door and locked it.