That word seemed too out of context, too vulgar for the type of sex that we both needed then. A fuck was too casual, and Ryan and I had passed that point long ago.
“But Val, I love you!” He jumped up and grabbed my arm.
“Listen to yourself, Ty. We’re way too young, how would it ever work?”
He dropped my arm and looked down at the ground. “Are you just making excuses so that you don’t have to say no? Do you not want to marry me?”
How was I supposed to answer that? I knew I want to marry him, I’d known that the day we met, but how would my family feel about myself getting married at such a young age?
“I do want to marry you,” I insisted, “but now? Can’t we wait a few years? What would our parents think?”
“I already asked them, baby. Your mom says if it’s what you want, then she’s behind you one hundred percent. I need you in my life, not just now but forever. I can’t picture my life with anyone but you. I don’t ever want to lose you.” He got down on his knee and took my hand in his. “Please say you’ll marry me. Just give me this one thing and I promise that for the rest of our lives I’ll give you more than you could ever want. Please, say you’ll be my wife.”
His blue eyes looked up at me, silently pleading. The sound of the waves crashing along the shore was the only noise in the air before I lowered myself in front of him, kissed him gently, and whispered, “You’ll be my forever and always, Ty. I’ll be yours until we’re old and wrinkly.”
That evening, not only had I given myself to my soul mate forever, but I had given him the one part of me that would never be had by anyone else. We were connected, body, mind, and soul, and I never imagined that one day, my world would shatter, the one thing I loved the very most taken from me in an unfair twist of the universe. Never had I imagined that I would lose the essence of my being, the better half of my soul.
Above the bed, the ceiling fan spun fast enough to create a light breeze in the stuffy room. My legs had kicked off the large comforter, allowing for the cool temperature to roam the skin of my naked body. It was amazing that, even at the end of November, Las Vegas heat still pervaded throughout the desert, depriving me of my sleep.
As I watched the fan, I could feel the soft, warm breath of the man beside me. I turned to look at his peaceful face, perspiration gleaming on his forehead. His small lips twitched upwards into a smile before he said something and rolled over onto his other side. He seemed deep enough in his sleep that I could slip out without rousing him from his slumber. I tiptoed across the hardwood floor of his room to retrieve my discarded belongings from the front lounge, but they were not where I thought I had left them. I checked under the couch cushions and even in the coffee table drawers without any luck. I rushed into the washroom, and only found a counter too clean to belong to any regular man.
Utterly confused, I crept back into the bedroom and searched around the bed, and still nothing. As I turned to go back into the living room, the man in bed behind me said sleepily, "You're not going to find them." I nearly jumped out of my skin as I whipped around to look at him. He chuckled lightly as his eyes scanned my pale body, skin luminescent under the glow of the moon flooding through the open window.
"It's not funny," I huffed. "You scared me."
"I'm sorry," he said while smiling broadly.
"No you're not." My eyes narrowed as I took his words in fully. "Where are my clothes?" I asked sternly. He shrugged and sat back in his bed, apparently enjoying the situation.
"Ryan, where are my fucking clothes?" I repeated.
"I could tell you, but I rather enjoy the way you look without them." He smirked, motioning for me to join him on the bed.
"No," I replied defiantly. "I want to go home and I can't do that if I don't have my clothes."
"That's my point."
I stomped over to the bed and attempted to pull the bedspread off of him but instead, as I leaned down to grab hold of the comforter he caught my wrists and flipped me onto my back. He removed the quilt from between us and pressed his body to mine; his cool bare chest felt like heaven against my warm one.
"You see," he whispered, kissing my jaw. "If I take your clothes, you can't leave and maybe for once you'll spend a whole night with me. Besides, I was having a dream about you that I'd love to make a reality right now."
My body responded, just as it always did when Ryan touched me, but this time I was determined. It was already two in the morning, and I should have left right after sex. The next day was Monday; I had to be in school at eight thirty. I gently gave his chest a little shove, allowing me the space to roll out from underneath him.
"You know that I don't spend nights," I sighed.
"It’s been weeks since we ended that shit Val, yet I can't ever get you to stay the night. Just once I'd like to fall asleep next to you and have you be there when I get up the next morning." His fingers dragged across my stomach and up over my breasts as he leaned in and kissed me softly. “Please,” he said in a voice that sounded desperate. “I really need to feel myself inside you right now.” He took my hand and brushed it along the front of his boxers, allowing me to feel his erection straining to break free from the fabric. “It hurts how bad I want you.” He took my face in his hands and whispered, “Please, I’m just asking for one night.”
I could feel my resolve crumbling as I kissed him back. His lips moved hungrily against my just as hungry ones as he straddled my body and before I knew it, I had given in to him, twice.
When I woke up the next morning, I found myself tangled up with Ryan; his arms and legs were wrapped around my own, making it hard for me to move without moving him. I looked over at his sleeping face. He already had boyish features, but sleeping, he really did look like a young boy. I had to resist the urge to trace his perfect cheekbones and strong jaw. Instead, I held him tightly against me, my head resting on his chest, and fell asleep listening to his heart beat.
The next time my eyes fluttered open, there was a faint odor of bacon in the air. The space beside me was empty and already made. I stretched my arms over my head before I flinched when I tried to sit up. A smile stretched across my face, remembering the rough sex that had made me in such a state, and then noticed one of Ryan’s t-shirts and my panties lying at the foot of the bed. I laughed, realizing that the continuing absence of my clothes and the bacon I smelled was just another part of Ryan’s plan to keep me there as long as he could. After throwing on the provided attire, I wandered out of the bedroom to find him. The Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” was playing while he poked at strips of bacon and flipped over an egg omelet.
“When I touch you I feel happy inside,” he sang, making me giggle. He turned around at the noise, and sang even louder, “it’s such a feeling that my love, I can’t hide!” He picked up the whisk on the counter and continued. “Yeah you, got that something, I think you’ll understand when I say that something, I want to hold your hand!” He swayed his hips and shook his head from side to side. “I want to hold your hand! I want to hold your hand!” I couldn’t hold my laughter in when he dropped to his knees and started playing air guitar along with the song.
"Morning beautiful," he said in an English accent when he stood up, wearing a goofy grin. “I should expect your hungry after all that sex last night. I made you some food, I hope you like it.” He turned back to the stove and scooped the contents of the frying pan onto two plates. I sat down at the kitchen table and waited for my food that my empty stomach was calling for. He placed the food in front of me and grinned.
"I'll give you your clothes back once you've eaten with me." He leaned down to kiss me, but I turned my face and his lips met my cheek. He looked hurt as stood back and I rushed to explain.
"I have terrible morning breath," my voice cracked. The blush of my cheeks rose to an embarrassing level, making me turn my head away. He smiled, looking relieved.
"There's an extra toothbrush in the washroom. I had to plan for everything." He sat down with a plate of his own and began shoveling food into his mouth. It was almost alarming how much he could eat and stay as thin as he was. I watched with amusement, trying hard not to think about how much I didn't mind waking up in his apartment. Everything that I feared was so much easier than I expected, which only made me more afraid of it all. Maybe it was going to be easier to let Ryan in after all. I shook my head and picked up my fork just as my cellphone rang in the next room. I knew who it was before I rushed to answer.
"Where are you?" he whined. As my best friend, I usually called him if I wasn’t going to be at school. But I couldn't tell him where I was. He didn't like that I was still sleeping with Ryan because he knew I was only doing it to keep avoiding my problems. We constantly argued about it, but there situation had changed. Sure, at first it was about running from my problems, but as much as I didn’t want to say it out loud, there was definitely another reason I kept seeing him. But my silence seemed to tell him everything.
"You're with him, aren't you?"
"It's none of your business," I snapped. "I'll be there tomorrow, okay?"
"I only worry because I care about you, Val. Next week will be one year and I want you to be okay."
"I know," I sighed, feeling bad. "And I love you for that. Do you want to go for coffee later? We can talk about it then. There’s some things I should probably tell you."
"Sure. Text me later?"
I hung up the phone and remained sitting in the living room, clutching my phone in my hands. I hadn't even heard Ryan come into the room as he sat down next to me. I smiled over at him but he was frowning.
"Who was that?"
“No one,” I chimed brightly. “Let’s go eat.” I hopped up from the couch and took his hand, pulling him along with me.
“Is he one of the other guys you’re fucking?” he asked. I could hear the anger he was trying hard to disguise behind the question. I knew he was jealous, but there was no need to be. After we had agreed to be friends with benefits, I hadn’t slept with anyone else. He didn’t know that, and I didn’t want to tell him because it may have given him the wrong impression. Or maybe it was the right impression?
“It’s nobody, Ry.”
“Don’t you think I should know, just in case I catch anything?” he spat at me. I flinched as if I had been hit; I was not used to seeing this side of Ryan. I’d only ever seen it a few times.
“Excuse me? It doesn’t matter if I’m sleeping with anyone else, because that’s part of our agreement with each other. We’re not exclusive, so if you want to go fuck another women, go ahead.”
“And that wouldn’t bug you in the least? Do you want me to go sleep with other women every night like you do with men?”
“I could care less!” I yelled, ignoring his jab at me. “Like I said, we’re not dating. In fact, I think you should go fuck other women so you don’t keep it in your head that anything will become of us. I will never be your girlfriend, Ryan. You will never be more than a ‘friend with benefits,’ so stop lying to yourself!”
We glared at each other, neither one even paying attention to Ryan’s home phone ringing. Finally, he pushed back his chair and said, “Your damn clothes are in the cupboard under the washroom sink.” Without glancing at me, he stormed off to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. I sighed, knowing that was my dismissal, and I abandoned my food to clean up and change so I could get out of there was quickly as I could. I grabbed my purse up on my way to the door and made a point of slamming it to let him know I was just as mad with him, but only seconds after I made my way down the hall, I heard the ‘woosh’ of a door being thrown open and Ryan scooped me into his arms.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered fervently into my ear. He pressed my body against him, cradling the back of my head. “I didn’t mean any of it. When it comes to jealousy, I’m not used to it. I can’t control it and I say things before I even think about them.” He kissed the corner of my mouth hesitantly, waiting to see if I reacted. When I didn’t, he brushed his lips against my several times, but wouldn’t quite kiss me. His warm breath collided with my own, and even though we hadn’t kissed, our breathing became harder. After excruciating seconds of this game, I couldn’t take it anymore. My lips pressed urgently against his, seeking the familiar comfort that was beginning to feel like home. I ignored the guilt that pumped through my body and kissed him as if my life depended. In many ways, it did.
Ryan pulled away from me, touching our foreheads together . “I need to fuck you right now,” he said cringing, and I could tell why. That word seemed too out of context, too vulgar for the type of sex that we both needed then. A fuck was too casual, and Ryan and I had passed that point long ago. I would not let him refer to it as anything else, but then I knew it was wrong and I saw how it hurt him.
I shook my head and he lifted his eyes to meet mine. “He's just a friend, Ry. There's been no one else for weeks, I promise you." I kissed his lips gingerly. "I don’t want you to fuck me,” I whispered. “I need you to make love to me.”
Ryan’s breath caught in his throat as swept me up in his arms and brought me back to his apartment. Clothes were shed in record time and body limbs became tangled within minutes. With Ryan inside me, the void in my heart felt absent. How had I let myself get in this deep with him? How had I let someone in my heart when I vowed never to do it again? How did I ever fall in love with him when I thought I could never love again?