Brandon woke up, sweating and disoriented. The dream had been the same again, the recurrent psychedelic nightmare that only served to intensify his confusion. His hair was damp and his vest soaked with sweat. He reached with an unsteady hand for the glass of water on the floor by his bed and gulped it down. The room was more dark and lonely than he could bear.
He reached for the radio and switched it on, the late night love songs providing some semblance of company in the aching solitude. Everything felt so uncertain and hazy. He felt like he needed someone to talk things over with, someone who could appraise his life with a fresh pair of eyes and just tell him what he needed to do. But there was no one. There wasn’t a single person he knew well enough to share his darkest secrets with. Except her, of course.
But no, Caroline wasn’t a part of his life anymore. He couldn’t have her there. She was the one who made him feel this way in the first place. She was probably just as confused as him and he knew full well that confusion plus confusion did not equal answers. No, Caroline wasn’t going to be in his life anymore. Full stop. No part of her. Soon he’d fall for another girl and in a couple of decades Caroline would become some hazy memory that he’d occasionally remember and privately smile about.
That was years away though, and he was stuck in the present, with all the obstacles to beat before he could realise that
fantasy. He sat up in bed and pulled his vest off. It was so unbearably hot. The window was open but the muggy night air did nothing to dissipate the heat. Summer was coming and he should have felt optimistic but the enormous black hole in his mind absorbed any fleeting fragments of joy.
He was getting out of this city soon enough. Maybe in a new place where no one knew him, he could finally make a fresh start, turn himself into one of those men that smiled at him from the lifestyle channels on the television. He wouldn’t be alone then. He’d have a family, like a real family that he looked forward to coming home to and his kids wouldn’t be distant like he’d been with his father. They wouldn’t need to avoid talking to him; they’d be close and he’d teach them to play baseball in a big, open field and they’d drink iced cola together and ride home in a car with the windows down. But you don’t know how to play baseball, Brandon.
He could learn. In his dream everything seemed to happen without particular effort and he figured learning how to play baseball was hardly going to present any unsolvable problems. Or maybe that kind of future was going to be less achievable than he dreamed. He couldn’t see it happening any time soon. No, he was too caught up in all the… all the… whatever you called it.
In his heart, he didn’t believe a family life would ever materialise. Most likely, he’d live alone and go out and have women for nights of fast pleasure and then in the morning he’d wake up alone. Quite alone. And then he’d get older and older and see his face being consumed by old age and look in the mirror and see the ghost of his younger self and realise that his whole life had been quite a waste.
The thought made him feel uneasy. He didn’t want that. No one wanted that. He just wanted to be normal. For the hundredth time, he found himself wishing he’d been born into a family with parents who weren’t dying or depressed. But that was the eternal blame-shifting excuse, wasn’t it? I can’t change my past; it’s not my fault that I am who I am today. Pile of steaming horse shit.
No, he needed to think it out and stop himself from being so self-pitying and destructive. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t at least try to change things.
He should have been proud of himself. He was turning things around. No women, no dates, no appointments or whatever the hell they were for a whole twelve days. But now the money issue was getting to him. His bank balance would last him eight months if he lived like a pauper and then what? Death by starvation? Petty crime?
He held his hands out in front of him and stared at the lines spindling across his palms, wondering whether his fate was already sealed and if so, what his future really held. He hated thinking of all this destiny and shit but days like these, his mind played so many tricks on him that he honestly felt he was on the edge of insanity. He wanted to stay grounded.
He’d tried socialising but, God help him, there were no people he could even begin to understand. Everyone was so materialistic, so obsessed with their appearances and so blind to all the things they were lucky enough to have. He wanted the jobs they complained about, the partners they argued with and the kids they couldn’t get to behave. He wanted all that and if he got it he knew he would unconditionally love it all and die a happy man.
But it wasn’t his. None of it belonged to him and none of it ever would. He hadn’t earned it and hence he didn’t deserve it. Maybe what he deserved was this black yearning loneliness, maybe he needed to repent before he was blessed with all the normal things that normal people had. Repentance would take way too long though. He couldn’t remember all the things he’d done wrong, and even if he could, it’d probably take the rest of his lifetime to atone for it in full.
Before Caroline, none of this had concerned him. It was all her fucking fault. She swept like a hurricane into his neat, orderly life and left behind this mess of destructed routines and broken emotions and desperate emptiness. He tried to tell himself that he needed to move on but there was this one little part of him that refused to believe it. Some crazy tiny segment of his soul believed that one day she would realise he was the man for her.
Rationally thinking, it wasn’t going to happen. She was one of those girls, the heartbreakers, who did what they shouldn’t and then regretted it when they were like fifty and divorced with kids who they didn’t even communicate with. The thought made Brandon feel sick. He imagined her living a life of lies and falsities with James and wondered if that was genuinely what she wanted. He simply could not understand her thought process.
She’d called him a couple of times and he’d managed to force himself to blow her off, making up excuses about appointments he had. In reality, he spent his days staring at the walls of his apartment and exercising. He literally had nothing better to do. He thought about her obsessively, trying to think of some flaw that would put him off her for life. The freckles on her nose. The specks of gold in her green eyes. The fact that she has a fiancé.
None of it was enough and he found himself getting more and more worried that soon he wouldn’t have the self-control to stay away from her. Soon he’d answer her call and say, ‘Yes, sure, I’m available.’ and go back to her and let her fuck with his body and mind until she’d had enough and sent him packing.
No. He could not let that happen.
He reached for his ever-present pack of cigarettes and lit one, watching the end glow in the hushed darkness. He needed to divert his attention until he just forgot about all this. Not for the first time, he ran through places he could go in his head. Towns, and cities and states and countries, none of which really appealed to him. They were all just names.
Brandon stretched out the tension in his neck, dragged hard on his cigarette and waited for the first sliver of dawn to appear outside the window.
She called again in the morning. Brandon was studying a map of the world and wondering why he’d never realised just how big the earth was, when his phone rang. He picked it up unthinkingly and was thrown by the sound of her voice.
“I just want to talk,” she said, before he could speak. “Give me fifteen minutes.”
He heard her sigh. “I mean face to face.”
It was Brandon’s turn to sigh. “I’m pretty busy, Caroline,” he said, thinking of all the appointments he didn’t have.
“Fifteen minutes, that’s all I ask,” she persevered. “C’mon Brandon, I need to speak to you.”
“Life. Us. The future.”
“That too.” He heard the smile in her voice and felt a frisson of gold slice through the carnivorous black hole consuming him.
“Can you do lunch?”
“Uh…” he pretended to think about it. “I guess I could squeeze you in.”
The relief in her voice made his heart warm for a reason he didn’t care to dwell on.
“River Café? One pm?”
Brandon ended the call and groaned out loud. Last time, he told himself, this will most definitely be the last time I see this woman.
Dutifully, he headed to the bathroom to make himself look pretty.
Brandon was a stickler for punctuation. He arrived at the café five minutes early and tried to look inconspicuous as the lunch crowd surreptitiously watched him being shown to a table. He wondered what they were thinking and realised he didn’t particularly care. He didn’t care about any of the people who ate at a place like this. Well, except the one he was here to meet.
She walked in, precisely two minutes late, and Brandon stood up to pull her chair out for her.
She sat down and smiled at him in a way that made all the good memories feel like they’d barely passed. Lunch was lunch and the food tasted like nothing as Brandon mechanically chewed and swallowed. Caroline was talking about things that meant nothing to either of them and he nodded and agreed and wondered why on earth she’d said she had something important to talk about.
Still, he listened to her and watched her mouth as she spoke and thought about how pretty her emerald eyes were. She was wearing a sleeveless floral summer dress and every part of her skin looked golden and tanned. It was easy to be in her company; even when the conversation didn’t interest him, he could still appreciate her intelligence and charm her and make her laugh when he told an appropriate joke.
He felt guilty for making her laugh.
He needed to tell her, but he knew it would hurt her too much and that, in turn, would hurt him. No, he couldn’t think of the pain. He had to be practical. He had to do it now.
Now or never.
Never. No, now! Do it now!
Brandon swallowed hard, waited for a pause in the conversation and then dropped the bombshell.
“Caroline, I can’t see you again.”
“What?” her relaxed smile froze onto her face.
“This is the last time. I can’t do this anymore.”
She frowned and shook her head. “Don’t be like that. We can work this...”
“No,” he cut her off. “This is it. I’m moving away. Far away.”
Her shocked expression made him feel incredibly uncomfortable. “Where?”
“I don’t know. Maybe Ireland. Or perhaps Vegas. Haven’t decided whether I prefer clover or casinos yet.”
She didn’t laugh. He couldn’t blame her.
“But what will I do?”
She looked lost, hopelessly lost.
“I don’t know Caroline. You’ll have to figure something out.”
“But,” she grabbed his hand across the table. “I need
“You don’t,” Brandon said in a voice that came out steadier than he expected. “If you needed me you’d make space in your life for me. There’s no space.”
“But there is.”
“Not a space I want to fill. Did it ever strike you that I don’t want to be your secret little thing on the side? For God’s sake, Caroline!” Anger suddenly sparked inside him and he pressed his fingertips to his forehead, not wanting to lose control.
“What do you want? Don’t go Brandon. I’ll do anything.”
“No you won’t.” he spoke through clenched teeth, swirling his wine around in the glass. “You won’t leave James. I don’t mean enough to you for that.”
“Brandon… Come on. Anything else.”
He laughed mirthlessly. “There’s nothing else. I don’t get it Caroline. What does he mean to you? You obviously don’t love him, so what is this? Keeping up appearances? Don’t you ever think about how this will turn out in the future?”
“I don’t know. I just… do what I think is best.”
“Okay,” he snatched his hand away from hers. “So you think that all these lies are for the best? You’re marrying a man who knows nothing about you. Doesn’t that worry you?”
She shrugged her slim shoulders. “Marriage is just a piece of paper.”
Brandon just stared at her. Un-fucking-believable.
He felt like laughing but the whole situation wasn’t amusing in the slightest. He’d always known she was vaguely crazy but this just took things to a whole new level. She was literally insane. He finally realised that there was no point in trying to reason with her. She simply could not see how stupid she was being. Maybe in a couple of years, after the fallout, she’d realise her mistakes but by then it would be too late.
Everything was too late. He was too late. Sitting across from her at the table was pointless. He needed to get out. Now.
The legs of his chair scraped across the polished marble floor and he stood up, throwing some money down on the table. Caroline stood up too.
He shook his head at her. “No. Don’t. I’m going.”
She slipped her arm through his and matched his rapid pace towards the door.
“Caroline, seriously, get off me.”
“Tell me you won’t go.”
“Don’t make a scene.”
“I’m not making a scene. If anyone’s making a scene, it’s you.”
“You’re being impossible.”
“I don’t care.”
They walked through the glass doors and onto the sidewalk outside. Brandon turned to look at her. The rays of sunlight turned her dark hair a shimmering bronze and her eyes sparkled as they caught the light. He had to fight the urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her.
She stepped closer so he could feel the warmth of her body against his. He tried to ignore the scent of lemon and vanilla and instead gazed studiously down at her shoulder.
Her hands came out and wrapped around the back of his neck, her eyes searching his face until he couldn’t avoid her gaze any longer. She reached up and kissed him softly, right there on the busy street. He should have pulled away, he knew he should have, but there was something about her heavenly scent that made all rationality fly out of his mind. Her lips pressed against his and she pushed her body forward, arching into him on her tiptoes.
People and traffic rushed by, nobody particularly concerned with what they were doing. Caroline’s hands found his and she led him away from the café and down into a narrow alley. It was shady, secluded and out of view of most passer-by’s.
She leaned against the wall and gazed up at him.
“Brandon, you can’t just leave.”
“I can and I will.”
She looked up at him through her long eyelashes, “But won’t you miss me?”
He laughed a soft, bittersweet laugh. “You’re the reason I’m going.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Maybe not to you.”
She reached for him, taking him in her arms and leaning her head against his chest. He stiffened momentarily, before relaxing into her hold. She felt so warm and natural. It was always this way with her.
“Can’t I convince you to stay?”
Her voice came out softly and she tilted her head up to press her lips against his neck. Brandon felt his body come alive under her touch. This wasn’t meant to happen.
“No, I’ve made my mind up,” he said resolutely, “so don’t try and change anything.”
She lifted her head and gazed at him for a second before kissing him softly and searchingly, one hand in his hair and the other pressing against his body through the thin material of his shirt.
He jerked his head away. “Stop. Now.”
Her mouth curved into a smile. “Why are you being so uptight?”
“Uh, maybe because you think that by kissing me you can make me change my mind when you don’t seem to realise that I’m not that pathetic. And besides, we’re standing in a fucking alleyway, Caroline.”
She slid her hands into the back pockets of his jeans and pressed her body flush against his.
“I don’t think you’re pathetic.” she murmured, “and I’m not trying to make you stay. I just want to see you smile. Is that too much to ask? You look nicer when you’re smiling.”
“You do more.”
She looked up at him and smiled so sweetly that he couldn’t help a reluctant grin breaking out across his face.
“See? Don’t you feel better now?”
He rolled his eyes and tried to twist his mouth into a grimace. “I don’t know why you’re doing this.”
She didn’t say anything, just kissed him again and let her hands slide under his shirt to stroke along the warm skin beneath. Brandon breathed out softly and felt his pulse race. He wanted her more than ever. She felt so needy and vulnerable and she looked so beautiful that he didn’t want to disappoint her any more than he needed to. This is the last time.
Her hands crept silently to the waistband of his jeans and she broke away for a moment, looking deep into his eyes as if she wanted his permission. He let his hand caress the back of her neck and then he leaned down and kissed her hard. He felt her fingers scrabble with his button and zipper and then her hand was inside his pants, wrapping cautiously around his growing erection.
Her touch was cold but so infinitely welcome. He didn’t think there would ever be a time when he wouldn’t want her this close to him. Her body pressed against his, her hand wrapped around his cock, her tongue swirled into his mouth and her eyes gazed into his.
Brandon ran his hands down over her shoulders and down the length of her back to grab her ass, pulling her urgently against him. He knew he wasn’t sticking to the plan but he figured he might as well get one last taste of the good stuff before he packed his bags and left. And besides, she was as up for it as he was. He glanced furtively up and down the alley, satisfying himself that no one could see them and then he let his hand slip up under her dress and feel beneath her panties.
He felt her slick heat and fumbled hurriedly to stoop slightly and pull her close enough to guide his cock towards her entrance. It was reckless and irresponsible and he didn’t even want to think of what would happen if they got caught but in the heat of passion, he didn’t care. All he knew was that they wanted each other and that the opportunity was too good to pass up.
He hadn’t gone this long without sex for as long as he could remember and finding his release with the person he wanted most in the world was beautiful. He let the head of his cock slide into her wet opening and then he straightened up, lifting her feet off the ground and leaning her against the wall. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him closer as he buried his length deep inside her.
He began moving hard and fast, anxious to swiftly find his release. He clenched his teeth and thrust in and out of her gripping pussy, feeling the sweat break out across his face and neck. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders as he fucked her and she matched him thrust for thrust, doing her best to keep up with his merciless, relentless pace. Everything felt better when he was inside her. He forgot the heartbreak and slammed his cock in and out of her tight warmth until he felt the fire build inside him.
The orgasm swept over him, faster than he would have liked. He slammed deep inside her trembling body and released his spunk, burying his face in her neck and letting the pleasure crash haphazardly though his body. Caroline held him tight, her body shaking as she clenched around him and just as quickly as it had happened, it was over. Brandon didn’t want to move but he gently released her, slipping unwillingly from her wet warmth.
He leaned his forehead against hers, breathing hard as he gazed into her sparkling green eyes. There were so many words he wanted to say.
“God, Caroline. What is it you want from me?”
Her answer was short and to the point, “I want you to stay a part of my life.”
“Why? Why me?”
“’Cause you get me like no one else does. I can’t be myself with anyone but you.”
He shook his head. Zipped up his jeans and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Do you realise how ridiculous that is?”
She frowned. “No. What’s ridiculous?”
Brandon gazed up at the blue, cloudless sky and exhaled slowly. Everything made so much sense in his head and he wished he could just transfer all that clarity into her mind so she could see how utterly reckless she was being.
Instead, he had to try and explain; something he didn’t have the time or the vocabulary for. Still, it couldn’t hurt to try.
“You’re saying I understand you more than James, right?”
“So why are you committing to him
for the rest of your life? It makes no sense! I just… I can’t understand! It’s crazy. If I’m the one who ‘gets’ you, then surely, it should be me
you want to be with. Don’t you understand that?”
She looked vaguely offended as she followed him back out onto the street. “Obviously, I do. But I have other people in my life too, you know. People who have expectations, people who have sacrificed things for me. I can’t disappoint them. I wouldn’t expect you to understand; you can’t understand what it’s like to have a family.”
“But this isn’t about anyone else. This is about you. What you
want. You can’t ruin your life to give other people short-term happiness.”
Brandon turned away, staring at the cars speeding up and down the busy road. He ran his hands through his hair and breathed in the warm, smoky air.
Caroline finally spoke, “Okay. So you’re saying I should break it off with James and tell everyone it’s over and I’ve decided that you, who they’ve never heard of by the way, are the new man in my life?”
“Yes. That’s exactly what you should do.”
She laughed. “That’s impossible.”
“Then I meant what I said. This was the last time. This is goodbye. I can’t be around you anymore.”
She reached for his hands but he backed away.
“No buts. You’ve made your choice and I’ve made mine. I’m not your slave. And all this? All the lies and secrets? It’s over. I can’t do this anymore.”
He turned away and headed down the hectic street, not giving her a chance to respond. He didn’t feel the relief he’d expected. He thought that by ending it properly, there’d be some sense of triumph and closure but all he could feel was the pain. He didn’t want this. He’d never wanted this. But it was the only sensible way out.
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/quickie-sex/dance-for-me-chapter-six.aspx">Dance for Me – Chapter Six</a>