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Kiss Chasey

Contributing Authors: browncoffee 

The warning bell breaks the silence, and my concentration. The soft, supposedly unobtrusive note chills my overheated body to the bone. Only ten seconds left.

I’m okay. There’s plenty of time. I just have to block everything out and focus.

I can’t block him out though.

Knowing he’s watching me makes my body ache. It’s way worse than the burning exertion of my muscles. It chases away the chill. I feel heat prickling my face and spreading down my chest.

I can’t help myself. I sneak a quick sideways glance at the sea of black and gold in the bleachers. There he is, sitting with his family. He’s fixated, totally engrossed. My smile is completely involuntary.

‘Get a grip, Cassie,’ I scold myself. ‘Focus!’

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, inhaling through my nose. The faint scent of sweat and polished timber fills my nostrils. My attention restored, I look forward. Small blooms of chalk dust wilt over the balance beam before me. The blue padded gym mats below blur into the distance.

Dropping my body forward from the waist, I grasp the beam and lift my left leg back into a one-hundred-eighty-degree vertical split. My thighs catch fire. I hold the needle scale position. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the crowd sparkling with flash photography. I lever my right leg up into a cross handstand, extending my body and closing my legs at the top. Not waiting so long, I right myself as I lower my feet back down to the beam on the other side.

I launch into a split leap, jumping from one foot and landing on the other, assuming a split position in the air. Covering nearly half the sixteen feet of the balance beam, I’m set up perfectly for the dismount.

‘Round off.’ I lunge forward with a quarter turn as I plant my hands on the beam and swing my legs over as one. ‘Back handspring,’ I chant to myself in sequence, rebounding high off my legs and throwing myself backwards. Arching my back to halt my forward momentum, I spot the beam and drive my palms into the four inches of suede before springing back up again. ‘Oh, shit, tuck!’ I scream in my head as the ball of my back foot finds the corner of the apparatus.

It’s enough.

Instinctively, I know I have the power I need. My knees tucked into my chest, I pass through one complete revolution before I lose any height. I let myself tumble backwards a second time as I drop past the end of the beam. I kick my feet down and pound into the gym mat, squatting deep to brace myself.

It takes every muscle in my core to keep myself from stepping backwards. I fight the tremors that seize my body and somehow manage to stand up straight. Thrusting both arms up to signal the end of the routine, the crowd roars to life.

My face splits into a broad grin and I seek him out in the bleachers. He’s on his feet, applauding, the gold sleeves of his black letterman jacket flapping wildly. He calls something out I can’t hear amongst everyone else doing the same. Blake’s fingers go into his mouth and a piercing whistle makes itself heard above the clamor.

I kiss my fingertips and hold them up to the spectators as I make my way back to our team area. Of course, the gesture is only meant for one person. Oblivious, the crowd surges regardless. The school’s oversized Spartan mascot keeps the excitement going, dancing the robot on the floorboards in front of them.

“Oh my God, Cassie!” Bridget cries, wrapping me up in a giant bear hug. “That was awesome! You totally nailed it!” My coach and other teammates follow suit, smothering me in congratulations.

Eventually I’m ushered back to the bench and ordered by Coach Sutton to put my tracksuit on to keep warm. I show her the same partial obedience the other girls do. Most of them just wear the black pants to conceal their non-existent insecurities about their thighs, not missing the opportunity to show off the way their breasts look in their gold leotards. I’m the opposite though. I get my black and gold hooded sweatshirt on as quick as possible to cover up my flat chest.

But I’m less critical of my ass and legs, only because I’ve seen the way he looks at them. It’s almost funny what the heat of a guy’s look can do for self-confidence. Leaving my track pants in my gym bag, I sit down on the bench between Bridget and the coach. I feel him watching while I wait for my scores from the judges.

“Sorry, Bridge,” I whisper, nudging her with my shoulder. “I forgot wet wipes. Do you have any?”

“Of course you did,” she sighs, rolling her eyes and handing one over.

I smile an unspoken thank you as I take it and wipe the chalk off my hands. She holds open the plastic bag we use for trash as her welcome. Turning away from another eye roll, I gaze up at him in the crowd, hoping to draw his attention even more.

“Jesus, Cassie! Could you be any more obvious?” Bridget laughs beside me on the bench.

“What?” I protest, already feeling the heat burning my cheeks.

“You’re totally eye-banging him.” Her green eyes blaze with mischief.

“No, I’m not,” I demur, brushing my fingers through my ponytail to mask the blush spreading down my neck. “Wait. Who?”

She throws her peroxide bob back in a knowing laugh, the braces on her teeth catching the light. “You’re so full of shit. It’s hilarious!” She pauses for more laughter. “You know, if he wasn’t so into you too, it’d be sad.”

“Huh?” I’m genuinely shocked. ‘How could she possibly know?’

“Cassie,” she insists, leaning into me and grabbing my arm. “Blake Jameson, the quarterback of the varsity football team – Mr Popular himself - is here, tonight, with his parents, watching a junior varsity gymnastics meet for crying out loud. Do you see any other letterman jackets here? Do you see any other seniors?” She studies my dumbfounded expression. “He’s here for you, girlfriend.”

Before I can react, the gymnasium’s speakers burst to life. “Cassandra Hennessy from Mountain View High School,” the stern voice pauses annoyingly. She’s been doing it all night. “Event: beam. Score…” She pauses again, even longer this time.

***

The pool house is wonderfully cool. I scan the clean impartiality of it all as I wander aimlessly between rooms. It’s good to be out of the company. And out of danger. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take the way he was looking at me. I blow out a breath, and tuck a strand of damp hair behind my ear.

There are looks. And then there are looks. It’s easy enough to keep up with the talk and laughter, but when his eyes drag down me that way, I don’t ever know how to deal with it. It makes me feel like more. Like I could be living more than this claustrophobic, clean life. There’s something so perfectly adult about him, something that screams experience and knowledge. And he likes me. The thought is dizzying.

I run my fingertip along the edge of a ridge in the glossy white bedroom doorframe and examine it for dust that I know doesn’t exist. Clean. Everything aches with a kind of fake cleanliness. Clean clothes on clean bodies and yet everything beneath is speaking a different language. We haven’t even kissed. I’ve thought about it of course. Endlessly. Nights feel longer than they are. Fantasies fading into dreams and dreams feeling so visceral, it’s a tragedy to wake.

I’ve wanted guys before of course. Fleeting crushes. But this? It’s so much more. Intense and almost desperate. I don’t know what I’d do if he didn’t want me but then, maybe the knowledge that he wants me is what makes it all the more obsessive. I look up at framed photos of Blake on the wall. There’s a small oak trophy cabinet too. I’m so focused on trying to make out the inscriptions on the awards inside that I don’t hear him come into the pool house, let alone the room, until he’s right behind me.

“Hey,” His voice is deep as ever, and lazily warm.

I don’t turn around. I’m suddenly intensely conscious of how short my blue sundress is. It feels almost indecent. I can hardly bear the thought of him looking at me.

I’m still frowning at one of the trophies. I’m not sure why, considering that the words have become an illegible blur.

“Looking for something?” His voice hits even lower than usual and I’m not sure if he’s doing it on purpose or if I’m imagining it. We get so few chances to really be alone together and everything becomes amplified. This moment is just us. Nobody else.

His hand comes out and skims down my shoulder to grasp my elbow. Skin on skin. It’s not supposed to feel this intimate. I turn around and almost immediately wish I hadn’t. The distance between us is indecent. The way he’s looking at me is indecent. Sharing the same air feels indecent.

“Cass, haven’t we waited long enough?” He looks down at me with those gorgeous grey eyes. They’re so devoid of color, I feel like I’m in a black and white movie.

I blink up at him. “What?” The shortening of my name, my nickname, feels like a liberty he’s taking.

He catches my chin and kisses me so unexpectedly that I almost pull away. Almost. His hand swoops to the small of my back and presses there, hard and strong. His mouth is warm against mine and it’s almost surreal. He’s touching me. He’s kissing me. I don’t know what to do. My hands don’t move to welcome him, but he’s undeterred. After all, he knows how I feel about him. He knows everything.

His palm goes lower, fits against the curve of my ass. Nobody has ever touched me this way before. I drag my mouth from his and our eyes meet.

“I don’t – I mean -” I bite my lip. I feel the blush staining my cheeks; a cold prickle between my shoulder blades.

A hint of a frown creases the space between his dark eyebrows. “Relax, Cass. Nobody’s going to miss us. You know that.”

He’s right. I only slipped back into the pool house to grab the sunglasses I left on the counter. As far as his family knows, I’ve gone home.

His fingers catch the hem of my dress and tug it upward, his hand smoothing up the back of my thigh. I open my mouth but no words come out. I swallow. Open my mouth again. He takes the chance to kiss it, his tongue sweeping in easily. He kisses so naturally. My hands finally move; tentatively touching his broad shoulders. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but he doesn’t stop me.

***

If nothing else, it’s a nice view. I love how the vanishing sunset leaves a lilac sky in its wake, ever-darkening ripples of purple stretching through the clouds. From my vantage point, tucked up on the bench seat in the corner of the deck, I can see right down into the valley and the center of town. A sprinkling of street lights come on down below, although they’re not quite needed yet.

I don’t know why it’s taking Blake so long to come back with my drink. It’s so awkward. Then again, with him gone, the vacuous bitches sitting around the table aren’t bothering with the pretense of including me in the conversation. The lesser of two evils, I guess.

Still, they can’t help themselves. Their inane chatter soon becomes a passive-aggressive performance for my benefit. With all the finesse of a poorly-rehearsed infomercial, one of them asks the alpha blonde why the cheerleaders don’t go to the gymnastics meets.

“Well, Tori,” Brittany condescends, her over-shaped brows knitting theatrically. “Do you honestly think anyone would want to watch those pasty little Plain Janes if we were there?” she gloats, lapping up the sycophantic laughter of her friends. Then turning to me, she adds, “Oh, no offence, Katie.”

“It’s Cassie,” I say evenly, standing up and heading inside. I don’t bother to tell them that it’s the other way around. The people that come to gymnastics meets aren’t interested in watching the Skank Squad shake their asses. They want to see the athletic prowess of real gymnasts.

Not surprisingly, the blondes see my departure as a victory and titter their delight as I step through the glass doors, straight into Blake.

“Hey,” He catches my expression before I have a chance to hide it, and his easy smile turns into a frown. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lie, looking up at him with a tight smile. “I think I left my sweater in your car. It’s getting cold.”

He doesn’t buy it. Apparently he cottons on from the sideways glances Brittany and her posse are casting in our direction. His jaw tightens as he glares at them through the glass. Turning his attention back to me, his face softens.

“Sorry,” he breathes. “Not the best idea for a first date: bringing you to a senior party. I –“

I huff an understanding smile as I touch the yellow leather sleeve of his jacket. “It’s okay.”

“Do you want to get out of here?” he offers. “We can take a drive down to the coast, or maybe -“

“Why don’t we just go back to your place?” I suggest a little too quickly, brushing a couple of fingers through my hair in an attempt to keep them from nervously playing with the silver locket around my neck. I fail.

“Sure,” he beams. “We can watch Netflix –“

“And chill?” I interrupt with a raised eyebrow, trying to mask the anticipation that sticks in my throat.

He stammers, caught off-guard by my implied accusation, his hands held up in surrender. “No, no –“

“Relax, Blake,” I laugh. “I’m just messing with you.”

He grins at me, his grey eyes narrowing. “You’re a real piece of work, Cass. Come on,” he says, taking my hand and guiding me towards the seniors milling around in the kitchen. “We’ll just say goodbye.”

It takes forever for Blake to let his friends know we’re leaving. I’m going out of my mind! ‘For Christ’s sake, hurry up. Hurry up. Hurry up!’ I don’t even care about the jocks completely ignoring me by his side, nor the ones glaring contemptuously when they think Blake isn’t looking. I just want to go.

Finally we’re in his car, winding our way through the leafy neighborhood. I love the menacing growl of the engine. It’s a Mercedes something coupe; a hand-me-down from his dad’s supposed mid-life crisis a few years back. An otherwise ridiculous car for a high school senior to drive, even in Los Altos. But the leather sports seats hug me tightly, like I’m sitting on his lap. And the way the streetlights roll overhead through the glass roof gives me a giddy little thrill.

I pull down the visor and flick open the mirror, soft lights illuminating my reflection. Checking my hair, I make sure it’s neatly tucked back, save a few chocolate strands on either side framing my face. I wear it up, ever since he came to my defense that time I was under siege with unsolicited fashion advice. What was it he said? Like I could ever forget.

“I like the tie-back.” There was something in his tone, the way his voice went up slightly, like he was admitting he enjoyed something he shouldn’t. Of course, the quick wink didn’t hurt either.

The memory makes me smile.

“You like it?” Blake asks. Seeing I’m not getting it, he points at the Christmas tree of lights and dials on the dash. “The new Coldplay song? This one they did with The Chainsmokers?”

“Oh, yeah.” I nod enthusiastically, flipping up the visor. I realize the song is halfway through and I haven’t been listening. “I love that one they do with Halsey.”

“Closer,” he announces, swiping his finger across the car’s touch screen. The electronic piano notes surround us, then the finger-click beats follow. “Yeah.”

We pull into the cobblestone drive of his place and just sit in the car, listening to the end of the song. The anticipation is palpable. I feel self-conscious under his gaze. I look down at my hands folded in my lap, then up at the ornately-carved double doors. They look more like they should be on a hotel than a house.

It’s almost surreal following Blake inside. The click of my heels on the highly-polished hardwood floors echoes around the foyer at exactly half the speed of the heartbeat in my ears. I can hear him speaking as we stroll through to the back of the house, but I don’t know what he’s saying. It’s such a nice place.

“Hey, there she is!” Blake’s dad calls out over the back of the plush grey couch in front of the enormous flat screen as we spill into the living area. He stands and strolls over to us, leaving his wife with her head buried in her laptop. “It’s great to see you again, Cassie. I didn’t get a chance to congratulate you on your routine the other night.”

“Oh, thank you, Mr Jameson,” I say, feeling my cheeks warm.

He rolls his eyes. “I’ve told you before, call me Todd.” Turning to Blake with a pat on his shoulder, he notes, “We weren’t expecting you back so early.”

Blake explains our change of plans as he moves about in their designer kitchen microwaving popcorn and pouring sodas. For a football player he’s surprisingly graceful. Glancing over at his mom not paying attention to the television, he asks his dad, “Is it okay if we watch in your den?”

“Of course it is, buddy,” Todd agrees. Then looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, he teases, “Just keep the door open.”

“Dad!” Blake balks indignantly, causing his dad to laugh.

***

I lose myself in the kiss. I can barely breathe. I can’t tell whether it’s the excitement of what’s finally happening, his mouth consuming mine, or the tight embrace of his arms squeezing me against him. It’s probably all of it.

I don’t care. I just want more.

I need more.

I can feel his arousal pressing into my stomach and it’s driving me crazy. Everything is so new but so right. I mewl into his mouth, the sound adding urgency to our panting. Grinding back into him, I fumble for the buttons of his white cotton shirt. But my fingers won’t work. I can’t get them undone.

Instinct overwhelms me. Breaking the kiss, I bite his chest through his shirt. The fabric feels impossibly dull against my teeth, but the firm muscle beneath is wonderfully satisfying.

He kisses my ear as I nuzzle his chest. Then his lips find the smooth skin on my neck. I’m electrified. The searing flush floods my cheeks in an instant. A second wave washes over my chest and down through my core.

Oh my God, the touch of his tongue on my skin…

I almost don’t notice him slipping the zip of my sundress down to the small of my back. It’s his hand on my shoulder, expertly slipping the blue strap down my arm that grabs my attention. I so want him to undress me, but I’m suddenly gripped by insecurity.

My hand snaps from his chest to mine, the dress caught in my elbow halting his progress.

“Are you okay, Cass?” he breathes gently into my ear.

“Uh-huh.” I nod into his chest “I just…”

Gently cradling my chin in his thumb and forefinger, he tilts my face up to meet his gaze. His face is so soft, his expression so caring.

I swallow. My arm relaxes and the strap of my dress eases off. My heart thuds in my ears. I’ve never been naked with a guy before. Never. Not with anyone but myself in the bathroom mirror, and how can I possibly know if I’m even remotely attractive? I don’t know. I’m so caught up in my own head that I don’t even realize he’s made light work of the second strap until the dress is falling off my shoulders. I grab at it, terrified all of a sudden and clutch the soft cotton to my chest.

“Look, I -” I can’t even meet his eyes. “I just- I never.”

He doesn’t rush me.

“You’re gorgeous, Cass,” he whispers. “So perfectly beautiful.”

His words are like sunshine, warm and soothing as they seep into me. Before I know what I’m doing, I drop the dress and it pools around my feet. He makes a sound in his throat, something low and wistful as his eyes drag down to my tits. I want to cover them with my hands but he gets there first, his thumbs brushing across my nipples as he touches me. There’s a restraint to his movements; like he’s holding back. He’s so sweet it hurts. His eyes flick back to mine and he kisses me again, harder this time, his tongue swooping into my mouth.

My hands are trapped between us and I fumble for the buttons on his shirt, finally managing to get them undone. He pulls back momentarily to yank it off his broad shoulders and then the kiss resumes, his hands groping my tits and then dropping to grasp my ass so he can pull me tightly against him. My fingertips explore his torso tentatively. Skin. Muscle. Bones. He’s so warm and he smells wonderfully male; clean sweat hiding somewhere behind aftershave.

It’s happening. After all this time, after all the loaded conversations and drawn-out looks, it’s actually happening. His knee pushes between my legs as we stumble towards the bed and then I’m falling onto the soft, white sheets and he’s above me and there’s no place I’d rather be.

I grip his hips with my thighs as he kisses me, my toes bunching in the folds of his jeans. I’m so completely thrilled by the contrast between the skin of his bare waist and the rough denim. Flushing with hot arousal, I squeeze tighter, trying to inch his jeans off of him.

The warm contours of his back… His muscles…

His lips find my chin, my jaw, my neck. I tilt my head back to grant him better access. He pounces, taking my throbbing pulse with his tongue. It seems almost predatory, like I’m his prey.

It’s so fucking sexy!

Before I know what’s happening, he makes his way along my collar bone, then down my chest to my left nipple. It stands proud, darker than I can ever remember seeing it. Engorged.

His eyes meet mine. Beautiful grey orbs ablaze with intensity. But it’s not lust – well, it is – but it’s something else too. There’s a kindness there, a thoughtfulness. Caring. He’s checking in with me, making sure I’m all right.

I’m speechless, my mouth gaping paralyzed. Instead I nod. The movement is almost imperceptible.

He gets it. His eyes flash and his lips curl at the edges in triumph.

I watch in slow motion as his tongue painstakingly eases out and curls around my nipple. My senses sizzle. The warm, wet sensation flushes through me. I hear myself whimper at the touch. The out-of-body experience continues as he closes his lips around my delicate bud.

“Oh my God,” I gasp, electrified by his sucking. “That feels so -” I’m jolted by his tongue flicking rapidly across the tip of my nipple. I can’t speak. I can hardly bear it.

I cradle his head to give myself some respite. The sensation is too much. Gently stroking my fingers through his thick hair, I lose myself in my feelings for him. I know it can’t be love. It shouldn’t be. It mustn’t be. I just…

I want to give him everything.

***

Ice cubes float in the pitcher of lemonade, jostling with streamlined slices of lemon. It’s a hot day but a soft breeze cuts it just right. Perfection.

Blake sits opposite me at the table overlooking their immaculately-groomed grass tennis court. Money. The first time Blake invited me over to his house, I didn’t dare touch anything. But now I’m almost used to it.

His parents play a vigorous game behind him, their white tennis outfits drawing my eye over his shoulder. The rhythmic thwack of the ball back and forth stops. They argue over a line call, his mom’s voice carrying sharply while his dad tries to abate her.

“She’s such a bitch sometimes,” Blake says, more to himself than me. I glance at him and he catches my look. Regret shadows his face momentarily only to be eradicated by defiance.

“What?” he says. “I shouldn’t talk about her like that?”

I shrug. “She’s your mother. You only get one.”

He pulls a face and stands up to stretch. I can see a packet of cigarettes outlined in the pocket of his jeans. The argument is over and the tennis game resumes, but Blake is still frowning. He drops heavily back into his seat.

“I feel like I don’t even know her,” he says.

I blink at him, surprised

He talks on hurriedly as though afraid he’ll stop altogether if he pauses. “I mean, she’s away all the time for work. I don’t remember a time when we even talked properly. And you know, most parents actually care if their kids start acting out. I mean, kids do it for attention, obviously. But then what happens if the parents don’t even care? Like – at first I did it for that but then now, it’s easier to just not think and get wasted. Do you get it?”

He looks at me earnestly as if it really matters what I think, his piercing grey eyes welling. It’s almost surreal to hear him being so honest. This is Blake Jameson, the quintessential jock with his muscles and stunning looks, and underneath he’s aching. Everything is just a mask, and in a way it’s a relief. I knew there had to be more to him and it’s wonderful to hear it.

“I get it,” I say. His hand is resting on the table, tanned and strong and I touch it tentatively. “Look, things will work out. You’re a good guy, Blake. You just have to do you. I mean, getting high isn’t helping you, is it?”

He looks down at our hands together and the tiniest corner of his mouth flicks upward. “You’re right,” he says.

My phone buzzes on the table and I reluctantly let go of his hand to check the message. It’s from Bridget. ‘Wanna hang out?’

I’ve forgotten we’re supposed to catch up today. Still, I don’t bother replying. She couldn’t possibly understand how much more I’d rather be at Blake’s place. He’s watching me unobtrusively, his eyes not quite meeting mine when I try to catch them.

“Hey, will you smile?” I say. “You’re way too good-looking to have that face on.”

He almost pouts but it breaks into a smile at the last moment. “Jeez, Cass.”

I hold up my phone and take a picture of him. He ducks his head, embarrassed. Over his shoulder, his dad lines up a serve, face set with perspiring concentration.

“C’mon,” I say to Blake. “Smile like you mean it.”

“Cass. You’re the worst.”

I zoom in. The pictures are fantastic, but only because he is. His chin shadowed by stubble, his eyes framed by those dark, dark lashes and that pensive, almost moody look. He pushes his hair back impatiently. I can’t take pictures fast enough.

“Want a cigarette?” Blake asks.

I frown at him. “Smoking is very bad for you.” I say, still trying to bankroll shots.

“You disapprove?” he teases, but at least he’s laughing.

“Definitely.”

He tosses the packet down onto the table between us. “Then I’ll quit.”

He stands up, his chest blocking the camera. I set it down, and smile at him.

***

I hold his hands to my tummy as they chase his kisses down my body. Each touch of his lips is so warm and soft, the slightest prickle from the stubble on his chin. I love how totally in awe of me he seems. I just can’t believe it.

It’s like he’s tasting me.

‘My God…’ my mind screams through clenching teeth.

He zigzags past my belly button and kisses his way onto the front of my white cotton panties. ‘This is so totally gonna happen.’ The realization flushes through me from head to toe. It’s funny how it feels hottest on my nose and lips.

My breath is stolen by his fingers hooking into the waistband of my panties, just near my hip bones. I arch up, lifting my butt off the mattress so he can slip them off. But he doesn’t.

Panting hard, I look down between my thighs at him. He’s waiting for me with another kind expression. His beautiful grey eyes searching, they flash before he casts his gaze down at my sex.

He firmly but gently pushes my hips back down to the bed and presses his lips to my pussy through the cotton. It’s only then that I realize how wet I am. The cold sensation of the sodden fabric against my loins shocks me. I’m soaking.

 

The terrible ache between my legs begins in earnest, and he does very little about it. Loudly breathing in my scent, he nuzzles my pussy through my panties, pushing his lips against mine. I can’t look at him. I stare up at the white ceiling instead. My hands are clenched into fists as he pushes his mouth harder against me. Everything is throbbing. I want more. I need more.

He pulls back and eases my panties down my legs. Naked. I’ve fantasized about this moment so many desperate times but now it’s real and I don’t even know what to do. He drops my underwear somewhere on the floor and ducks down again, his hands strong on my legs as he pushes them apart. Is it possible to be any more intimate with another person?

His tongue darts out and flicks over my clit. The feeling is so intense that I have to bite down on my hand. He does it again and my body jerks instinctively. He holds tighter onto my legs, holding them down as his tongue travels south and pushes at my entrance.

“You don’t know how many times I’ve thought of this,” he says.

Our eyes meet and I’m trapped in the moment for a second, lost in the drowning intensity of his gaze. I don’t think I can ever feel this close to anyone again. His eyes still on mine, he deliberately extends his tongue, pushing it hard against my clit.

“Ohhh…” The sound is something like a whimper and he presses his tongue harder, making me squirm in his strong grip. Waves of lilting pleasure radiate through me, building into something more ominous, but before it can come, he pulls back.

“Please.” My voice is a whisper. I’m almost panting. “Please.”

His eyes smile. He pushes my legs up a little and his fingertip eases inside my snatch. I can hardly bear it. His finger feels so much more substantial than mine ever has and I clench around it urgently as his tongue flickers rapidly over my clit. It’s too much. Everything is heating up dangerously and when his teeth graze against my throbbing nub, my body shudders as the impatient orgasm finally gets its way.

He doesn’t stop touching me as I squirm desperately beneath him and by the time it’s through, he’s moving up and throwing off his jeans and boxers. He’s on top of me again, between my legs, both of us naked now. I don’t know who’s breathing harder. I reach down and my fingertips skim the silky hardness of his cock. It looks, feels, so beautiful, so unfamiliar.

“You want it?” His voice is a grunt.

“Please,” I rasp, my head spinning.

“You can tell me to stop anytime,” he says the words like they hurt him.

“Okay.” The word sounds too light, too empty and everyday for what we’re about to do, but I say it again regardless. “Okay.”

He fists his hand around his cock and pushes the head against me. My teeth are biting hard on my lip. My hands move suddenly to touch him. I feel as though I need him closer, need to be fully aware of the significance of his body. My hips tilt up and he pushes a little. He’s holding his breath and I realize I’m holding mine too. The moment is taut between us like a tightrope. He swallows and pushes harder, an inch of his pole pushing into me.

“Okay?” he asks.

I can’t speak. I make some kind of mm-hm sound but it’s enough and he continues pushing. The sensation is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. He feels so hard and warm, and so much bigger than I’d expected. And yet the slow slide is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever felt. We’re connecting, fitting into one another and I don’t ever want to detach.

***

The water is clear and sparkling and the sun beats down generously. Another perfect day in a continuous stream of perfect days.

Blake has the body of an athlete. He sits above me on the edge of the pool in his brightly-colored swim shorts, every inch of sinewy muscle on display. Twinkling droplets of water stud his skin like diamonds. It’s the kind of things girls can only dream of.

“You wanna race?” he asks, one dark eyebrow darting up teasingly.

I eye him, lazily treading water. “Race?”

“Yeah.” He glances deliberatively towards the far end of the pool. “Two lengths?”

“I would,” I say, “But I don’t want to embarrass you.”

Todd laughs from behind the newspaper he’s reading. He’s sitting on a sun lounger, apparently supervising us. I’m not sure why since we’re both behaving impeccably. I get the feeling he’s avoiding Blake’s mom who apparently is having a ‘major work crisis’. Blake mentioned it when I arrived and hasn’t spoken of it since, but it’s taken a while for his smile to lose the strain.

He kicks water at me, interrupting my contemplations. “You’re all talk, Cassie. I’d kick your ass, any day.”

“Hey, hey,” Todd cuts in. “That’s no way to speak to a lady.”

I laugh. “Oh, don’t worry about it, Mr Jameson. Blake’s just scared he’s gonna get beaten by a girl, aren’t you, Blake?”

“Ha-ha,” Blake says flatly but his eyes sparkle as he struts to the end of the pool. He might be the most competitive person I’ve ever met. Bridget thinks it’s a bad thing but I like it. Competition is healthy. How can you know you’re heading the right way without having other people trying to get there too?

Climbing up out of the water, I self-consciously flick my blue bikini bottoms out to make sure they cover my ass. My wet feet slap against the stone as I walk flat-footed to keep from slipping. His eyes track me the entire way and I catch myself swinging my narrow hips. Bumping up next to Blake at the deep end of the pool, I follow suit as he shuffles his toes to the edge.

Todd counts us down and we both dive into the water at the same time. Blake’s already a full length ahead before I surface to take my first breath. I frantically chase the trail of bubbles but he pulls away with every stroke. It’s hopeless.

As I near the end of the first lap, Blake rushes back towards me on the home stretch. I reach out and grab a handful of his shorts on the way past, wrenching them down to his knees. Halted, he bucks and foams in the water to try and regain his composure. I make my move to capitalize on his misfortune, but I’m racked with laughter and have to lift my face out of the water so I don’t drown.

Blake dives down and his large hands grip my thighs from behind and pull them apart. I squeal with laughter as he burrows his head between my legs and drives up, lifting me out of the water on his shoulders. The sparkling spray splashes around us and I have to grab the top of his head to steady myself.

Without warning, I’m thrown backwards into the water. The beautiful sunshine is immediately replaced with a cocoon of cool blue and fizzing bubbles. I surface to the sound of his laughter, unable to keep from giggling myself. I splash him in retaliation, chasing him around the pool.

“Hey, you kids,” Blake’s dad calls out, dropping his folded paper onto the table beside him and slipping off his reading glasses. “Do you mind if I join you?”

“Sure. No worries, Dad.” Blake replies. He spins in the water to face me, lowering his voice to a level just above the tinkle of the ripples around us. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“No,” I whisper with a shake of my head. “Of course not.” But immediately I feel uncomfortable. My stomach churns with the awkwardness of the situation.

I sidestroke away from Blake until my feet touch bottom, and then I wade over to the stairs by the hot tub. With the water around my waist, I turn back to see Blake paddling to the side of the pool to make room for his dad stepping up onto the diving board.

Todd stands perfectly still at attention, looking every part the competitive diver, the black speedo to boot. He skips down the board and launches himself off the end. Tucking into a forward summersault, he slices into the water with barely a ripple on the surface.

“Hey, not bad.” I grin as Todd surfaces halfway down the pool.

“Yeah, for an old guy,” Blake adds, rolling his eyes.

“I’ll have you know I was the captain of the dive team when I was at Mountain View, Young Man,” Todd retorts indignantly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Blake teases in their well-practiced banter. “You were the state champion. We’ve all seen the trophies.” Blake shoots me a quick grin before returning his attention to his dad. “You’re livin’ in the past, Man!”

Todd howls with laughter as he tackles his son. The two of them wrestle boisterously in the water. It makes me smile to see them like that - happy. I give them their space and grab my bag from the sun lounger and slip into the pool house to get changed.

***

“Oh my God!” I pant. ‘This is really happening.’ “Oh, God. Yes!”

He’s inside me, all the way inside me. I feel so completely full. There’s no room. He’s everywhere: inside me; on top of me; around me. Absolutely everywhere.

Overwhelmed, my mind races. I can’t hold onto a single thought.

I should feel smothered. I should feel powerless. But I don’t. I just feel.

The emotion boils up through me, hot and heavy. It fills my chest, then rises through the lump in my throat before finally spilling out through my eyes. I can feel the warm droplets trickling down towards my ears.

“Oh, Cass,” he breathes an inch away from my lips. Holding himself still above me, he wipes my tears away with his thumbs. “Sweetie, are you okay?”

“Uh-huh,” I gasp with an over-exaggerated nod, bringing my lips into contact with his. “I’m better than okay. I’m perfect.” I blink back the flood. “You’re perfect. This is perfect.”

I hook my ankles behind his thighs and pull him into me. My grip around his back tightens and we kiss. It’s hot, and wet, and breathless.

His body moves above mine, hips lifting as he eases back before pushing in again.

“If it’s too much – too anything – you just say, okay?” he offers.

“Okay,” I whimper.

It feels like nothing else. Like nothing I’ve ever imagined. It’s so physical, so tangible, the push of his body against mine, the way he fits and shifts and pulls back. In my head, the fantasy of sex has always been hazy and numb, but feeling it for real is incredible. He pulls out almost entirely and then slowly eases back inside. Warmth pulses through me with each thrust. I can’t even look at him.

“Harder?” The word isn’t even a word but I hear it.

“Uh-huh,” I moan.

He goes harder, his hand sliding down to grip one of my legs and pull it up a little to give him better access. There’s something so very restrained about the way he moves; like he really is afraid he’ll hurt me. I push back at him, hips lifting off the bed and he pushes back almost playfully, half a smile lifting his mouth.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says and he shakes his head like he can’t quite believe what we’re doing. “I could stay here forever.”

He pushes hard into me and stills for a second before grinding against me. My stomach clenches deliciously. I can’t speak. His mouth hangs open, mirroring mine and our eyes meet long enough for both of us to laugh self-consciously.

“This is – really too good,” I gasp. “Is it always like this?”

He draws back and pushes in again, beginning a steady rhythm. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything quite like this,” he says, and as my hips lift off the bed, he pushes me down again, making me take every inch of his insistent cock.

There’s something intensely cathartic about being there with him. Nothing matters. No more school, no gossiping, no grades or pressures, no cheerleaders or parties, nothing but him and me and the way our bodies meet like they’re destined to keep the rhythm forever. His mouth covers mine and drags down my neck, my collarbone, my shoulder. He finds one of my nipples and his tongue swipes over it wetly before he bites with just the perfect amount of pressure.

My body arches beneath his. “God!”

He pushes me back down again, his body pinning mine. His hand is still holding my leg and he pushes it even further, pulling deliberately out before thrusting in again. Everything shudders. He does it again, pulling so far back that I’m afraid he’ll pull out completely but again he slams back in just at the moment of no return.

“Again?” he urges but before I can reply, his free hand has swept between our bodies to find my clit. His thumb pushes against it, making my breath catch in my throat. His digit moves in a slow, deliberate circle, his eyes drinking in my reaction. Half of me wants to push his hand away. I grasp at his broad shoulders, nails digging in as the rush of pleasure builds in the pit of my stomach. He pushes his cock inside me again, his thrusts quickly building back up to an urgent pace as his thumb relentlessly plays with me. It’s too much. Everything builds in one burning swoop and I clench around his hard cock as the orgasm pours through me.

“Fuck!” I hear myself groan.

The pleasure is everything. It makes my body ache and stretch and I hold him closer, unable to stop clenching around him even as his thrusts become erratic.

“God, Cass!” His groan is long and heated somewhere above me and I feel him jerk, his body tensing against mine as we press against each other.

It’s so hot. Wet. Wetter.

In that moment, everything is perfection.

***

The restaurant’s hot and crowded, customers spilling out onto the patio outside. Traffic noise floods through the open windows and doors, only amplifying the endless chatter and calls for service.

I hurry between tables, scrawling down orders and hoping they’ll be legible in the kitchen. It’s too hot. Everything is suffocating. I reach distractedly into the back pocket of my jeans, looking for my phone again. It’s not there. I eye the clock. Half an hour left. I push through the swing doors into the kitchen, still wondering where I could have left my phone. I haven’t seen it since – yesterday? Or the day before?

Things have become too complicated, thoughts and feelings stacking on top of one another. There’s no time to really think. I hurry back into the dining room and make to clear up a recently vacated table.

“Blake!” I start, my blood running cold as I struggle to steady the unbalanced stack of dishes in my arms. “Hi. I wasn’t… You surprised me. What are you doing here?”

He stands motionless, looking down at me for a long moment while the restaurant bustles around him. Holding up a white iPhone, he says, “You left your phone at my place. I thought you might need it.”

“Oh, God,” I sigh, the chill still in my veins. Taking a second to calm myself, I feel my cheeks begin to flush with heat. “I’ve been looking for it every–“

“Why do you have photos of my dad on here?” he asks evenly, his eyes pinning mine.

The blood drains from my face. I can’t look away. I can’t even speak, let alone come up with a plausible lie.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Cassie?” He turns my phone around to point the screen at me.

Photos of Todd scroll through in a damning slide show. One after another. Dozens of them. Candid shots of him in his old black and gold letterman jacket cheering on a variety of Mountain View High teams fade in and out. A sweaty Todd flustered on the tennis court in his tight white shorts make way for the sexy snaps of him glistening wet in his speedo in and around his pool. My face burns hotter with each one.

“It was never about me at all, was it?” Blake’s voice cracks. It’s an accusation, not a question. “You’ve got some fucked up thing for my dad. The whole time you were with me, you were just thinking about him, weren’t you?”

“Please…” I beg, starting to cry. The dishes in my arms rattle.

“You fucking used me!” The pitch of his voice strains high. It’s too loud and some of the customers around us stop eating to watch the scene he’s making.

“Blake, please,” I implore.

It’s no use. I know what’s coming next.

Blake’s expression hardens. He twists the screen away to bring up another set of photos, then he stabs it back at me. The selfies we took of ourselves in bed the other night blaze from my phone.

I’m asleep in the first one, my head on Todd’s bare chest while he looks soulfully up at the camera. He kisses the top of my head in the next and I’m awake in the third. We kid and laugh and tickle in the photos that follow, all of them shots of pure happiness.

It saddens me, standing there in the full judgement of Blake and the audience of prying customers. Not that I’ve hurt him so deeply. Not that I’m so humiliated in front of all these strangers and the people I work with. What really breaks my heart is knowing how rare that feeling of true joy is for Todd.

He deserves more.

“So, what?” Blake spits, seizing my attention. “I guess I should call you Mom now?”

The words hang in the air unanswered. His glare is ice cold. Blake slaps my phone down hard on the table, causing the salt and pepper shakers to bounce in unison, and marches out of the restaurant.

***

This is the kind of things dreams are made of. Or maybe it’s still a dream. Maybe I’m still asleep and he’s not really lying next to me in the bed but this is all just a fantasy, a dream of a dream or something. But when did I go to sleep? Where? My eyes flick around the room. Pool house. It happened. We happened. I sit up and look down at him. Even sleeping, he’s arrestingly handsome. His eyes flick open suddenly and crease at the corners as he catches me looking and smiles.

“Hey,” he breathes.

I swallow hard, too stunned to look away. “Hey.”

Rays of sunlight pour through the blinds, promising another hot day. We stay like that a while, just looking at each other. He shifts, easing onto an elbow. “That was – I mean, last night. It was – incredible, Cass.”

“Hmm.” I bite the inside of my mouth to stop myself smiling.

“I mean it,” he says, like he’s not sure I believe him. “You’re so beautiful. So perfect. You know that, right?”

I blink at him. “I guess.”

He sighs and catches my hand. “But so young. We both know that. I feel almost irresponsible.”

“What?” I frown.

He kisses my knuckles. It’s a tender gesture. Sweet. “You know what. What does it look like to anyone but us? I’m more than twice your age, Cass. Jesus!” He throws his palm to his forehead. “Nearly triple! And then there’s Blake.”

“We don’t have to tell Blake,” I say but even as the words come out I feel a frisson of regret. It’s wrong to lead Blake on, but then, how else could Todd and I ever have anything? Collateral damage. But it’s not damaging if he doesn’t know it’s happening. Nobody knows. Nobody gets hurt. Besides, Blake’s attractive in his own right. He could have any of the girls at school.

“He’s crazy for you, Cass. I don’t blame him.” This time he kisses my shoulder.

“He’ll get over it,” I say dismissively. “Besides, we don’t have to tell anyone. We can keep it a secret. Nobody suspects a thing.”

Todd sighs. He sits up, the sunlight slanting across his broad back. I walk my fingers up his spine.

“Is that really what you want?” he asks. His voice Is soft. “No, scratch that. Is that really what a girl like you deserves? Some secret, clandestine affair with a guy closing in on fifty? Cass, you deserve someone who can be everything to you. Someone who doesn’t have other commitments. You shouldn’t have to hide.”

“I don’t mind,” I say, sitting up myself and grabbing his hand with both of mine.

He sandwiches my hands between his and waits for me to meet his gaze.

“Hey,” I breathe, touching his face and combing my fingers through the grey at his temple. “I know. I know what this is, what we are. Todd…” I feel my eyes soften with reassurance, then glisten slightly.

He leans his cheek into my palm, a crease forming between his dark brows.

“This is what I wanted. You know, for my first time?” The corners of my mouth pull back mischievously. “And my second,” I giggle, casting my eyes at the packet of blue pills on the nightstand. “And my third.”

Todd snorts a chuckle himself. His cheeks color pink.

I crane my face up to his and kiss him. It’s soft. It’s warm. It’s so beautifully familiar.

“I just don’t want it to be over yet,” I whisper into his lips.

He kisses me back.

***

A labour of love from Hannah Blackbird and William Hawke.

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