My god did I want her… I could barely stand how badly I wanted to ravage her body, the sight of her in a bathing suit was doing things to me that hadn’t happened in a long time. I was a little surprised, at the one piece suit but even still it looked incredible. Just the act of her lifting that t-shirt had me salivating. I don’t even know why I started something that I might not be able to finish, though, I chastised myself as she pulled away asking to slow it down. It almost killed me when she said that. Instantly my mind was trying to tell me that it was me but I knew after she kind of explained that maybe it was her. On some level, I agreed with her, a level that I didn’t want to acknowledge, though. I felt the raised area as my hands moved up and down her torso, it wasn’t just any scar either, it was pretty decent in size, maybe not surgical even. She had demons too, and maybe she wasn’t ready to share. Even as I joked with her my mind was trying to imagine what that jagged raised area could be from, the medical knowledge library of my brain coming up empty.
So many things were going through my mind at once that I could barely concentrate enough to move us near the pool’s edge. Was it me, what was that scar from, I need her, I want her, what does she see in me, she’s perfect…
He steered us close to the pool’s edge with ease but he had gotten quiet on me. I wasn’t sure if it was what I said or something else entirely but I wasn’t going to let him drag the night down. I playfully jumped from his lap and looking at him and then the water yelled “cannonball!” Before attempting to make the biggest splash I could. The water was perfect, it was warm as I felt it surround my body. When I surfaced I looked up to find him sitting on the side, legs dangling in the water, beads of water peppered his chest and arms from my splash.
“I’ll return the favor you know…” he joked, smirking.
“Come and get me,” I teased back.
I watched as he scooted forward so that he was precariously perched on the edge of the pool before lowering himself down into the water, disappearing below the surface for a moment before popping back up. A devilish grin spread across his face before he disappeared again and before I knew it he was to me, his strong arms pulling me under with him. He was dunking me in his own way and when he got me under i stopped resisting and he positioned me so that he could kiss me. It only lasted a few seconds before my body rebelled and wanted air, but as we broke the surface together whatever crossed his mind before was long gone. I watched him treading water with his arms, wondering what it felt like for him. Slowly he cornered me against the side where he then used his hands to plant his feet on the bottom. With ease he stood, towering over me, his hands on either side of me gripping the side of the pool. He’s so tall, I thought looking up into his handsome face. Pinned there against the side his body pressed into mine as he tried to stay balanced his face flashed between sadness and cockiness until finally, he settled on what seemed to be contentedness. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and the way the light was reflecting off of each bead of water running down his face. Leaning down to kiss me with ease he never once let go of the side, though as he became more distracted I could feel his legs lose their hold. I used my right leg to pull them nearer to me again, hoping for just a few more seconds of looking up at him.
Everything about him that I loved, yes, you read that right, I loved because of how he made me feel. The way he could pull me from a funk in less than a minute, the way his hands gently caressed my skin, the way he watched me, kissed me, smiled at me, held me, lead me… the list could go on and on. This, though, looking up at him, I realized in that moment was one thing that I didn’t love. Not because he was towering over me or because it would rarely if ever happen but because it was something he wanted but couldn’t have and because selfishly I wanted more of it. Sure there would be brief times like this, but I could see how badly it was messing with him. I knew going into this, that there would be differences, things he just wouldn’t ever be able to do, and that’s okay, but I never imagined I would hate it as much if not more than he would.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked his face still close to mine.
“You…” I answered softly.
“What about me?” he wondered letting himself ease back into the water.
“How easily your smile can brighten my day, how I love the feel of your hands, the sound of your voice…” I said trailing off.
“How that felt?” he said his jaw almost clenched.
“Maybe, you mean yes…” he said propelling himself a little further away from me with his strong arms.
“Elliot…not in the way you think…” I struggled to find the right words, “I saw the sadness flicker across your face and I hated that something so simple as standing there to kiss me could elicit that emotion…I’m not explaining it right…would I be lying if I said I didn’t like looking up at you, yes, but not if it hurts you…” I stammered.
He moved toward the edge of the shallow end where I could now see a ledge, like a bench formed into the wall of the pool. When he was settled he motioned for me to come to him and I did.
“Sit,” he instructed and then pulled me in so that my back was to him, and wrapped his arms around me, his face close to mine.
“I liked having that moment with you Taylor, despite what you think. It’s like this little bonus I get to have. Like all the times I think I wish I could do this or that, it makes up for a little bit,” he said in barely a whisper right next to my ear.
“Oh…” I replied feeling like maybe he wasn’t finished.
“This, though, having you next to me, feeling your warm skin on mine, holding you close, this is what matters, pretty girl,” he said softly.
“I have been friends with Luke for over ten years, you’d think I’d be a little better at this huh?” I tried to joke.
“I think you’re doing just fine actually. Everyone is different Taylor,” he said laughing.
“Come on, wanna race?” I said trying to get free from his strong arms.
“You’re on, readysetgo!” he said spinning me around before he got going.
I tried to keep up, all the while thinking how strong of a swimmer he was. In the end, though he beat me four out of five times that we raced the length and back. Out of breath and moving slower he finally lost the last one.
“You’re fast, pretty girl, did you swim in school?” He asked taking up the bench next to me.
“Yeah, but it was a long time ago. I haven’t done laps in a while.” I answered leaning into his side.
“I think you’re a little pruney…” he said turning my hand over in his.
“Maybe just a little,” I said smiling at him.
“Want to head in?” he asked uncertainty in his voice.
“If you’re ready…” I replied just enjoying sitting next to him.
“It’s probably still early enough to start a movie,” he said letting his arm fall from my shoulder and swimming back over to where his chair was.
I reluctantly climbed the stairs as he reversed his earlier process to get out. As we made our way into the house I wondered what would happen next, was he going to ask me to stay?
Would she turn me down if I asked her to stay? Would she stay? Did she want to stay?
I wanted her to stay, but I didn’t want to push her.
“Taylor, if I ask, would you want to stay? I mean absolutely no pressure, you could take one of the guest rooms upstairs, or have my bed and I’ll take the couch…” I blurted out, crossing through the door behind her.
She spun around then, stopping me in my tracks. “Elliot you don’t have to sleep on the couch and I think we are both adult enough to share a bed without pressure,” she answered, a glint of relief in her eyes.
“Okay…” I answered, unable to hide the grin on my face.
“I’m going to take a shower if you don’t mind, though, handsome,” she said heading for the bathroom.
“Sounds good to me, you should find everything you’d need in the cabinet under the sink. Ethan’s wife makes sure to keep me well stocked for guests,” I told her as wheeled past.
We went our separate ways then, and as I looked around my bedroom making sure it wasn’t a wreck I couldn’t help but smile thinking that right then she was probably naked only a few feet away…hey you can’t fault me there for being a full-blooded male.
I did my best to hurry, knowing full well that she would finish before me and I didn’t want to keep her waiting too long. I successfully had all of my supplies hidden in the bathroom and was almost dressed when I heard the tv turn on. I smiled to myself as I threw on an old t-shirt over my gray sweats and made my way out to the living room.
“So what’s your pick?” I asked as I came around the corner to find her fresh-faced sitting crossed legged on the couch.
“I thought I’d let you pick tonight since I picked all day,” she answered with a toothy grin.
“Hmmm, let’s see, action, horror, documentary…” I said with a chuckle.
“Doesn’t matter to me handsome… you want anything from the kitchen?” she asked getting to her feet.
“I’ll take a beer, there’s some popcorn in the cabinet next to the fridge if you want a snack, here I’ll come too we can make it together,” I said turning to follow her.
I enjoyed the view as she searched the cabinet for the popcorn, her pajama pants snug in all the right places and her oversized t-shirt falling, exposing her right shoulder. God did I want her, I thought as I busied myself with finding a large bowl. Setting the bowl down I reached into the cabinet around her, letting my other hand come to rest on her back while I pulled out the seasonings I kept for popcorn. Her skin was warm through the fabric of her t-shirt and I heard her breath hitch as my hand came to rest. She turned to me and pecked me on the cheek before stepping away, and pulling the plastic off of the popcorn bag. I gave a little laugh and as we waited for the popping to stop we gathered our beers and some napkins and got everything ready. When I went to season the popcorn she looked at me funny, “What?”
“What is that?” she asked her face crinkled up.
“Seasoning, it’s a mix of salt, pepper, garlic and a secret ingredient…” I said laughing.
“Can I get a bowl of my own?” she said.
“Trust me you’ll like it… it’s my mom’s secret recipe…” I said proudly shaking it onto the popcorn.
“I don’t know Elliot, you might end up eating the whole bowl on your own,” she replied sniffing the now seasoned snack.
“We’ll see, pretty girl… we’ll see,” I said placing the bowl in my lap and heading for the couch.
She followed behind and waited patiently as I lined up and pulled the table in a bit closer before transferring over to the couch. Once I was settled in she sank in next to me, her feet tucked under her. I reached for the popcorn and set it on my lap and when I finally found a movie that I thought we would both like she leaned in closer, her body almost melting into mine. I loved that she felt comfortable enough with me to touch me, even the parts I couldn’t feel. She never hesitated to rest a hand on my leg or give it a squeeze, something that I would have to remind myself to look for in the future. I could remember my mother, in those early days forgetting for a brief moment and then jerking away as she went to pat my knee or leg. She probably didn’t know I’d even noticed but I did. Meagan wouldn’t even look at my legs, not once, she barely touched me at all after. But Taylor, she didn’t think about it, she didn’t make it awkward and I appreciated that more than she would ever understand.
“You still with me, Elliot?” Taylor said interrupting my thoughts.
“Yep,” I answered looking down at her face nestled against me.
“Where did you go just then, I was cracking up and you didn’t even chuckle…” she questioned.
“Just thinking how I could get used to this,” I said nudging her a little so I could readjust my position.
“Me too…” she said snuggling back in as I settled down.
It was nearly three in the morning when I woke up, momentarily unaware of where I was until the pain filled my upper back. I would pay for this in the morning, I thought to myself as I realized that she was pressed close into me, one hand under her face and the other wrapped around me. Nudging her softly I whispered, “Taylor, hey pretty girl, I need to get up, we need to get to bed…”
“El-liot?” she questioned, looking up at me with half opened eyes.
“Yeah, cupcake, we fell asleep, I need to get up though…” I said stroking my thumb across her cheek.
“Oh, shit… oh… I… what time is it?” she muttered sitting up.
“Almost three… come on, we can clean up in the morning,” I said wincing in pain as I scooted forward on the couch.
“You alright?” she asked softly, her hand on my forearm.
“Just a little stiff…” I answered through gritted teeth, pushing through the pain to heave myself over into my chair.
She followed me into the bedroom after I turned out the lights and turned off the tv and as I wheeled into the ensuite she settled on the bed, “I’ll be out in a few minutes…” I said the pain radiating from my injury line up into my neck. I made quick work of finding the ibuprofen before I could do anything else and swallowed them with a mouthful of water, hoping to take the edge off. I tried as quietly as possible to open one of my packs to catheterize myself hoping that she’d drifted off already. Halfway through though i heard her small footsteps disappear down the hall. Where was she going, I wondered as I finished up. When I was done I wheeled out and noticed she still wasn’t back. I continued through the door and wasn’t surprised to find her carrying our evening’s libations to the kitchen.
“Taylor, let’s get that in the morning…” I said softly, seeing her jump.
“It’s okay Elliot, I just wanted to move everything to the kitchen. I’m done,” she said before turning to me.
“Good let’s go to bed then,” I said closing the gap between us and letting my fingers trail from her elbow to her fingertips.
As she climbed into my bed I watched her, her movements slow and deliberate as she lifted the covers and crawled under them with a sigh. I lined up and transferred over, propping myself on the headboard while I adjusted my legs out and under the covers before sliding down to lay next to her. I turned to face her then and for the first time in a long time, I felt content. Looking at her sleepy face, the small smile on her lips as I pulled her closer to me was everything I needed in that moment. I brushed a piece of hair away from her face then and let my fingers explore the olive skin there. “So soft…” I whispered. Leaning in to kiss her I could tell that she was almost asleep already.
After a little while, I rolled back over onto my back and she moved with me, her hand coming to rest across my body and her head making my bicep her pillow. How I missed this, this contact with another person, this closeness, this warmth…