Chapter 17

The view must have been spectacular from where I sat in the tub.
But the rain was coming down gently outside and the windows were fogged up from the heat within the bathroom. The jets came on again and I closed my eyes, enjoying the way they worked my muscles. No doubt, this cost a fortune on the electricity bill.
I laughed to myself.
Twenty minutes later, I cleaned the tub and mopped the floors and emerged from the bathroom just as he was entering the room again.
He had a tray in his hands, the kind with legs designed for breakfast in bed.
I didn’t know what was on it because I was too busy staring at him while he stared at me.
The events of last night were playing across both of our memories in techincolour.
And I loved him.
I approached the bed and so did he. He set the tray down on the bed – which he’d clearly made while I was in the bathroom – and then we both sat down.
It was French toast with honey and fruit and a small side salad and his coffee and my hot chocolate. This man was made for cooking and I wondered if he’d actually taken formal classes for the craft.
When we’d cleared the plates altogether, he removed the tray and set it on the bedside dresser on his side before he turned and looked at me again.
“Talk to me, Dilia…”
I stared sightlessly at the lace curtains before me where the grey light shone through.
What did he want me to say?
“Was that your first time?” he asked gently.
“My first time..?” I asked quietly.
“Having an orgasm.”
I shook my head slowly, looking at him.
I did touch myself. There had even been a time when I feared that it was getting out of control and even then, all the questions about oaths and God and punishment had come up.
“Was this your first time with – someone else?”
I nodded my head.
He was satisfied and triumphant and he wasn’t about to hide it.
“So would I be right in assuming that nobody’s ever gone down on you before?”
I nodded my head slowly, feeling my lips go dry and my core become wet instantly.
“Do you regret it?” he asked, his voice almost faltering.
I shook my head.
“Would you allow me to do it again?”
I blinked several times at this question.
Did he mean now? Right here?
“If… If the mood was…”
His eyes shifted over me slowly and I swallowed hard, my throat dry.
I am thirsty… For you…
I crawled off the bed, feeling my legs tremble as I regained my balance.
I just wanted to stand, more than anything, not to get away from him.
He moved to the edge of the bed and sat there, looking at me.
“I want you to be able to talk to me about these things, Dilia,” he said. “If I’m pushing it too hard; if you feel like we need to slow it down or stop –”
He’d stopped talking because my fingers were on his mouth.
I looked at him as he gazed up at me.
I wondered if he was the kind of man to ever allow anyone to have the upper hand or the advantage over him. Would he ever allow anyone to have their way with him?
“Are you a virgin?” I asked, dropping my hand.
“No,” he said without hesitation.
I liked this fact.
I liked that he knew what he was doing.
He looked like he knew what he was doing.
“Your friend Kay, is she the first girl you’ve ever kissed?”
I didn’t want to talk about it, but we were being honest here, weren’t we?
“Yes,” I told him. “Next to you, she’s the only other person that I’ve ever kissed… And maybe that’s why it felt like more than it was…”
“Or maybe not.”
He stood up and towered over me.
I remembered his response when I told him something had happened and I feared that this would be a repeat performance of that.
“Pleasure is something that’s all subjective,” he said. “There are people who would look at you like you’ve lost your mind for saying that kissing a girl turned you on –”
I gasped at his words.
“And you must have been doing something right if she got mad seeing you with someone else.”
He moved around me slowly and I stood there, unable to move.
“You know what I think?” he asked softly.
No, his voice was not soft. It was low and it was like a caress, but it was not soft.
“I think that you liked it, when she kissed you like that…”
I closed my eyes, holding my breath.
“And I think, if I wasn’t here, you’d be there…”
I looked at him then, startled by his words. I couldn’t read his expression.
But there was something in me that I did not expect to feel in that moment – it was defiance.
“Would that bother you?” I asked him.
He looked me over. “A little bit…” he said.
“Why only a little?”
“Because girls making out with each other will always be hot.”
I don’t know why it happened, but I bent over laughing at his words.
“Wow,” I said. “Did not see that one coming.”
He stepped closer to me and I backed up a step – he shadowed me.
“And I bet you’ve thought about it,” I said, confident in my words.
He smiled, his lips doing something that I’d never seen them do before.
There was something on his face that wasn’t there anymore and I was sure that had there been other females in the room, they would have dropped dead because he looked so beautiful in that moment.
“Okay, fine, I’ve thought about it,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that I want it to happen again.”
“I know,” I said, smiling back. “Same here…”
He nodded his head as he sobered up. “But it seems like she’s the only friend you have.”
I dropped down on the bed, feeling that the mood had shifted.
“She’s the only one who called to check in on you since you’ve been here,” he said as he sat down beside me.
I nodded my head. “There is one other, but she wouldn’t know that I was outside my routine because she isn’t actually here. She’s back home, Imogen. We’ve been friends for over a decade.”
“And you are how old?”
The question was so random; I’d forgotten just how little I knew about him. “Eighteen this year in March,” I said. “And you?”
His response was just as unexpected as his question. He looked like I’d said something unsavoury. He looked completely shocked. “Fuck,” he snarled.
I blinked, startled. “Dom..?”
“You were in high school a year ago,” he said, dragging his hand over his face.
What had I missed?
“I don’t know why that didn’t register with me… Fuck…”
He rose to his feet and moved away from me like he couldn’t get away fast enough.
I stood up also, a frown taking my face, my heart beginning to race.
What?!” I exclaimed, confused.
He turned around and looked at me, his face devoid of everything. He looked so scary that I had to fight not to back all the way up.
“I’m twenty-seven.”
A part of me bucked at these words because he didn’t look it. The rest of me just sat there unmoved, because so what if he was nine years older than me?
“Then how are you only graduating varsity now?” I asked.
His jaw worked as it clenched and relaxed.
“When I was seventeen, I returned to Ireland and joined the Defence Force, as a Marine,” he said. “I did two tours before I was discharged following an injury during my third tour. A year after that, I studied Aeronautical Engineering in Manchester, England. I moved back here on realizing that it wasn’t for me.
Started my double major of Law and Accounting at WITS in 2005.”
I stood there, staring at him, thinking I knew not what.
He had been through more than I possibly ever would go through in my entire life.
“That’s epic…” I whispered.
But then I had to pull myself back to the moment. “But why are you so freaked out about my age? I’m old enough to do whatever I want.”
“You were sixteen when I first saw you – sixteen!
“I’m not sixteen anymore,” I said with a shrug.
He shook his head and spun away from me.
It was like he couldn’t even look at me.
Like he couldn’t stand to look at me.
“You saved my life! What is your problem?!”
“You were a child!
I was taken aback by this. I opened my mouth and then clamped it shut again.
When I was sixteen, he was twenty-five.
Had he stayed the course with his Engineering, that would indeed press his point. From my perspective at the time, he was just a student, like me.
But still, I shook my head, unable to understand what he meant from our current situation.
“What do you mean?” I asked quietly. “I don’t understand what – what are you saying?”
I think I knew it before he said it.
I was so stunned, my head spinning. I felt dizzy for just a second, leaning over and gripping the bed for support.
“I just need… Time to think…” he said, his voice so low that I could barely hear him.
And then realization dawned.
I rose to my feet, staring at him as pain tore right through me.
What had I done?
What had I done?!
“Wait – wait! What are you doing?”
He was asking this because I was scrambling to put on my shoes, abandoning my socks altogether. My uniform had been sitting in my bag since it dried the day before but I just wanted to be as far away from him as I could get –
“Dilia, stop!”
I had let him do – all of it to me and now, he was looking for any excuse to get away from me because he didn’t like…
He didn’t like me..!
That was the way it always happened, wasn’t it?
That was why girls had become hard in their hearts; because they thought it was love, had sex with their boyfriends, only to learn that that was all the boys were after when the calls and texts and roses suddenly stopped coming.
I crashed right into him at the door and he did not yield even when I tried to push him.
“Why are you leaving? I’m sorry –”
“You were just looking for any fucking excuse you could find to break up with me –”
“What? Why –”
“I let you touch me, Dominick!” I shouted, shoving him as hard as I could – nothing.
He just looked at me.
“I let you touch me after I…” I breathed, another fact slamming into me. “I refused you before… And then, there it was… I let you… You were just laughing inside, weren’t you?”
“Dilia, stop talking –”
OR WHAT?!” I roared, furious.
He just looked at me.
“You got what you wanted from me! Is that what this is to you? A game?”
I gripped my head as it began to throb.
“I saw you with her! And then two minutes later you were with me! Did she let you fuck her? Did she finally give it up? Is that what made you –”
My words were swallowed by his mouth.
The tears came out of my eyes right there and all of the fight went out of me.
My bag dropped to the floor and he lifted me clear off the ground, pressing me flush against him. He started moving and the door slammed behind him. We tumbled onto the bed where he pulled off my sneakers and returned to kissing me with such command that I couldn’t resist the call to obey.
I was at war with myself, equal amounts of betrayal and desire coursing through me –
He broke the kiss suddenly and I moaned my disapproval.
“Stop…” he ground out.
I was disorientated and frazzled and confused.
He had my hands pinned to the sides of my head and I wondered what the hell he was trying to do.
And then I saw his belt, loose and hanging from the belt loops of his pants.
And I realized what I had done.
“Breathe…” he said quietly.
I was breathing, deep and hard.
His eyes were wild in his face and I wondered if he felt as out of control as I was.
He dropped his head then, low between his shoulders. I closed my eyes, gathering myself, thinking about how things had gone so horribly wrong.
When he lifted his head, his expression was dark and scary and I squirmed where I lay and his grip only tightened and I stilled.
He lowered his head and I held my breath. He planted gentle kisses over my cheeks and raised his head again, only to duck back out of my sight. He then removed himself from me altogether.
“I told you,” he said quietly, righting his clothes. “We didn’t break up because of you. We just weren’t into each other anymore.”
I stared up at the ceiling, wiping the tears from my cheeks.
“And what happened last night…” he paused.
I didn’t look at him, I just waited.
“I didn’t plan it, okay? I just – knew that I wanted to kiss you right there and that I wasn’t going to do it if you told me to stop.”
Now I was angry again.
I sat up and glared at him.
“I’m not a child anymore, Dominick,” I told him evenly. “And I don’t know what it was you were thinking when you saw me that day but I won’t hold it against you because honestly, I don’t understand it and I don’t even think I care. I don’t understand why you are trying to connect what happened then with what we have now. You wouldn’t be freaking out if I was thirty and you were thirty-nine, would you?”
He looked down at his feet, shaking his head.
“So then what is supposed to happen now?” I asked.
Again, he was silent, like he had been before.
The tears threatened again.
“What is it about us that is so – disgusting to you?”
“It’s n –”
He shook his head, the frustration there. I could see that this was bothering him, but I just couldn’t see where he was coming from with this or where he was going.
“Do you – regret it?”
He deflated all at once. “No.”
I folded my legs under me, facing him. “Do you not want to do it again?”
“Now that is not fair.”
“It’s a simple question though,” I said. “Whatever the answer is, doesn’t guarantee it either way.”
He stared at me, unblinking.
I tucked my lips between my teeth, knowing that look and what it meant.
I lowered my eyes to my hands, knowing that I would never be able to focus with him looking at me like that.
“You said yourself, I can’t change who I am and I can’t be somebody else,” I said. “I want this. I want it with you… But if you cannot get passed – whatever it is then…”
I looked up at him.
“Just ask yourself if losing us is worth it for you.”
I stood up and moved to my bag, which he’d kicked across the room apparently.
He was already stopping me.
“I have work in the morning, I have to prepare for it.”
“I will get you there on time –”
“At six-thirty, in the morning?”
“Yes.”
I had asked that as a joke.
He wanted me to spend the night again.
I was confused.
He stopped me from talking by talking himself.
“I want you and I want this and I don’t want you to go anywhere, not after what just happened,” he said. “I don’t want to end this weekend like this.”
I sighed heavily, staring down at my feet.
“I’m sorry for what I said,” I said. “It was out of line and…”
“I forgive you,” he said. “Stay the night.”
To say that I didn’t have my doubts would have been a flat-out lie.
What was he turning me into?
Was I so desperate for companionship that all my beliefs and ideas of how a relationship was supposed to work had gone out the window?
I always thought that when I met someone, I wouldn’t have kissed them until I knew who they were. I thought that a mere physical attraction would not be enough to just start getting intimate with anyone.
But since meeting him, I had done things that had never entered my mind.
If he was being genuine with his feelings, then whatever he was responding to in me was making him throw up his own alarm bells about how fast this was moving.
And now, I had spent the night – more than once – with a man that I actually didn’t know!
Some, if not all, of the things that he’d told me were trivial and were probably nothing new, but none of it could make me truly say that I knew him.
And I wanted to know him.
I nodded my head and he relaxed.
I almost laughed at this.
I fell back on the bed and he lay down beside me.
I looked over at him to find that his eyes were closed and I wondered if he was finding his sleep again. He looked over at me after a long moment and I simply looked right back.
Where were we going to go from here?

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