Page 78 of Before (After 5)

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She moves onto her knees on the couch, just to reach me. Her hand moves to my hair, and she pushes it back for me. “What if it’s not that simple?”

Can she sense how I feel for her? Is that why she’s moving closer and closer with every rise of her chest?

When her face is only an inch from mine, she looks me straight in the eyes. “Do you ever think of me?”

The whiskey on both of our breaths hangs in the air even though both of us had far less to drink than Ken. There I go mentioning Ken again; it’s like his presence is everywhere in this apartment. He marked Trish’s body as his; he lies with her every night. He gets to feel her breasts under his palms. He gets to touch the pale skin on her stomach, her thighs. Her lips touch him. He tastes her . . .

And I never will.

“I shouldn’t . . .” I say.

But I would be a fool not to think of her slender hips and perfect skin. I watched her grow up, and fantasizing about her was a daily, constant thing.

Trish is pleased by my answer. I can see it in the way she licks her lips while staring at mine, the way her mouth is slightly open. Does this mean she’s been having . . . well, having thoughts about me? Why else would she ask?

When her eyes flicker to my eyes, then back to my mouth, common sense and self-restraint are no longer in my vocabulary, and I wrap my hand in her hair and pull her mouth to mine. I take her mouth slowly, claiming every bit of her tongue, her lips. She’s mine in this moment, and we’re both taking full advantage of it. Quickly she grows eager, aggressive in her movements, and shoves me to the floor and climbs onto my torso. The look on her face is one of deep relief as she slips her tongue back inside my mouth. I groan, lifting my hips to meet hers. I’m hard for her, and I want her to feel it.

Her fingers lace through mine, and she guides them between her legs. She’s excited to show me how wet she is; she’s ready to confess her need for me. I’m ready, too, and I show her when I grind my hips up into her; she curses, begging me to take this to the next level.

Can we—

“What if we get caught?” she asks, pulling back only a fraction.

I don’t know if I care as much as I always thought I would.

“What if we don’t?” she then says to herself and silences any further questions either of us may have with her tongue between my lips and her hands unbuttoning my trousers. Her hand slips inside, gripping me, and I melt into her. My fears of being caught by an angry Ken, my knowledge that she is not mine for the taking, the anxiety I’m filled with when I think of leaving here—all of it melts. The only thing I can think of is being buried in her, needing every part of her.

I tug at my trousers, pulling them down along with my boxers. Her mouth is tasting me, tongue probing, licking the swollen vein down my center. She closes her eyes, relishing the way her wet mouth takes me all the way into her throat, then back up. She’s becoming less cautious as she devours me, quickly yet efficiently. She’s pleasing me as if she won’t ever taste me again. It’s true that she won’t.

“Lie down, facing up, legs spread wide. I want to look at you,” I tell her. I have to look at her while I finally have what I want beneath me. Trish moves toward the center of the carpet, dragging the dark cherry coffee table to one side. She quickly undresses, and I don’t mind, because watching her is something else. Her long cotton dress is falling to her feet, and her arms are already lifting the straps of her simple white bra. My eyes follow the curve of her body; her nipples are tight little pebbles as my gaze passes them. Her stomach is tight; the muscles on her torso curve down to her hipbones.

I’m throbbing and heavy in my hand when I reach her. She’s lying down on the carpet, her legs spread wide for me. My cock hangs heavy between us, and I can smell the wetness of her pussy. I swear I can feel how tight she’ll be. I inch closer, pushing against her until I slowly fill her. She feels like a damn glove as I thrust in and out of her. I don’t think I can stop this, ever. I already need more of her. Trish’s eyes have rolled up into her head, and I know I’m not going to be able to hold on much longer. I rock my hips, and she wraps her thighs around my waist. She’s coming, she says, “so hard,” she whimpers, clawing into my arms as I fuck harder.

I spill into her, wishing this wasn’t the first and only time I’ll be able to enjoy her body in this way. She’s breathing hard into my shoulder, and I’m kissing the wet marks on her neck from my previous licks.

Minutes later, we’ve returned to reality with a crash of sore arms and legs, of sweat and exhausted breaths. Trish is sitting on the floor, legs crossed, and I’m on the couch, keeping as much distance between us as possible.

“What if we can’t stop?” she says, looking at me, then toward the kitchen table.

I’m not sure what to do. Not sure what I want, what she wants. Not sure what’s possible. “We have to,” I say dumbly. “I’m leaving next month.”

Even though she’s heard me say this—even though she helped me book my flight—she turns her head to me suddenly, looking as if she’s hearing the news for the first time.

Then, without a word, she nods her head, both of us feeling a storm of guilt and relief and loss for something we truly never had.

The wondrous present . . .

Ken was my friend—my closest friend, I would say—and I was obsessively mad about his wife. I loved the crazy woman and the fire that burned along with her presence. She was challenging and brilliant—my weakness. It was unacceptable what we were doing, and she knew that. She knew it, but neither of us could help it. We were stuck, victims of bad timing and worse choices. It wasn’t our fault, I would convince myself each time I collapsed, spent and panting, onto her naked body. We simply couldn’t help it; it wasn’t our fault. It was the universe, it was the circumstances of our situation.

I was raised that way. I was taught as a young boy that nothing was my fault. My dad was always right, even when he wasn’t, and he taught his eldest son to think the same way. I was a spoiled child, but not by money. During the times I got to spend with my father, I was taught his arrogance. My father never owned up to any of his mistakes; he never had to. I learned that in life there was always someone else to blame. I tried to be a different father than he was, a better one.

Kimberly says I’m doing a great job at that. She praises me much more than I deserve, but I’ll take it. She can dish it out, too—her mouth is worse than my university mates’ after a twelve-pack of cheap piss-water beer.