I stared at the dark ceiling, silently counting the minutes pass. The sweetness of the evening had drifted away and now I felt restless in my own skin again, my body still humming. Unfulfilled. For all his eager touching, the methodical effort of his hands and mouth and body, Ethan could never pull me over the edge. He tried, so sweet and tender, but that was almost worse. It was my failure, my fault that I stayed in my own mind, absent and detached, part of me waiting for him to be finished, willing him to just be done.
At last, I heard the distant sound of the front door closing shut.
Oliver was home.
I lay there another moment, holding on tight to Ethan. I should stay there with him, fall asleep in his arms. I shouldn’t feel the pull downstairs, like a dark kind of gravity, calling me out.
I should, I should, I should.
But temptation won, of course it did. I gently lifted Ethan’s arm and slid out from underneath. I was wearing an old T-shirt of his, naked beneath the XL football emblem, and I tugged it down over my bare thighs as I tiptoed to the door and waited there, holding my breath, listening to the steady rise and fall of Ethan’s chest.
I slowly turned the handle and stepped out into the dark hallway, shutting the door behind me with a faint click. The carpet was soft under my bare feet as I crept silently around the corner and down the stairs, the cold air whispering along my skin.
My pulse was racing, every sense alive as I walked slowly towards the light, a low glow coming under the kitchen door.
I pushed it ajar.
‘Miss me?’ Oliver was by the refrigerator, drinking juice straight from the carton. He met my eyes with a knowing stare and, right away, I knew, I’d come too soon. I should have waited, let him wonder. I shouldn’t have scampered down like an eager puppy to his master.
‘I didn’t know you were back. I couldn’t sleep.’ I feigned a casual tone, padding across the cool tiles. I reached past him and opened the freezer, looking for the tub of ice-cream Ethan and I had left unfinished.
‘Liar.’ Oliver whispered, turning so that his body was flush against mine, his lips brushing my ear.
A shiver rolled down my body, every hair standing on end.
‘You missed a fun night,’ I told him, turning around to meet his eyes. ‘Ethan and I had a great time.’
Oliver’s lips curled in a smile. ‘Trying to make me jealous?’ he drawled slowly.
I held his gaze. ‘Are you?’
Oliver’s face remained impassive, but then I lifted the ice-cream out of the fridge and his gaze settled on the promise ring. The tendon in his jaw flickered, just a moment, taut with tension. ‘Is that new?’ he asked, his voice still casual.
‘Ethan gave it to me.’ I felt a rush of victory. ‘Tonight.’
Oliver scowled. He took a step closer. ‘Did you f**k him?’
My blood rushed in a shock as he watched, smiling. ‘None of your business,’ I managed to reply.
Oliver just took another step, backing me up against the kitchen cabinet. ‘Do you think of me, when he touches you?’ he demanded, reaching out to trail a fingertip down my cheek, and along the line of my throat.
I shivered, caught in his gaze. ‘No,’ I lied.
‘Liar.’ Oliver’s finger trailed lower, over my collarbone, down over the swell of my breast. ‘I think you f**ked him and thought of me. I think you imagined me, every minute he was inside you.’
I couldn’t believe he was saying those things. Worse still, they were true. Oliver’s eyes flashed and then suddenly his other hand was on my waist, gripping me hard, shoving me back in place as he pulled up the hem of Ethan’s shirt.
His hand slid up my thigh. My breath caught in my throat. I couldn’t look away, not with his eyes still fixed on mine, intent and victorious. This wasn’t like Ethan, fumbling and eager; Oliver touched me with precision, detached and remote, watching my every response. I tried to stay unmoved, meeting his control with my own, but he was good, too good, his fingers sliding cool on my hot skin until I broke, gasping against him, the roar of blood in my ears.
A noise came from down the hallway.
Oliver stepped away from me, sliding smoothly around the kitchen island so that when the door swung open, he was sitting on the other side of the room to me.
‘There you are.’ Ethan looked surprised. ‘I was worried.’
‘I . . . I’m fine.’ I caught my breath, my cheeks burning, my blood still shimmering from release. ‘I couldn’t sleep.
‘Hey, dude.’ Ethan nodded at Oliver as he crossed the kitchen towards me. ‘Good night?’
‘It was . . . eventful.’ Oliver smiled, his eyes on me.
I looked away.
‘You’re all red.’ Ethan frowned, looking down at me. He reached to press the back of his hand against my forehead. ‘And you’re burning up. Do you think you’re getting sick?’
‘Maybe.’ I inhaled quickly and grabbed a glass from the counter, running the faucet cold. ‘I haven’t been feeling so good. I probably just need some rest, is all.’
‘Aww, come back to bed,’ Ethan told me. ‘I’ll take care of you.’
I nodded, my eyes cast down as I passed Oliver. I could still feel the imprint of his touch on my body, my pulse racing in my veins; the remnants of desire.
‘Yes, don’t worry,’ Oliver added, his voice following me out. ‘You’ll be in good hands.’
I know, you’re judging me – and I would too.
We all pretend to be so much better than we are, but if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ve felt it. Lying there, silently willing their hands lower, their touch harder. Wishing you could tell them just what you need, but finding you have no voice, no words to sound.
Nobody’s told you how to say those things. Nobody said you ever could. So you stay silent, and restless, and guilty.
Bad, for wanting so much more.
Bad, for not appreciating everything they give.
Bad, for all the dark places inside your soul you try so hard to hide.
As so it goes, day after day. Every sharp word and every angry, impure thought. You press them down, pretending they’re not a part of who you really are – the sweet, good girl, the smiling, happy person but the truth is, that anger is more real than anything. It burns and blooms and blossoms, twisting tighter with every faked smile until you wonder, what would it be like to just let it free?
Stop pretending. Stop hiding. Stop being the girl they all said you should be.