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The whole arc for this story has been in my head since I wrote the first chapter, but it took me many hours to put it into words that are readable. If I had known how long it was going to take me to write this, I would’ve published both chapters together. In any case, I hope you enjoy.
The sun glittered off the surface of the Charles River as it rose behind us. A faint breeze blew across the open expanse of water; just enough to cool, but not enough to toss us around across the surface like a cork. Gasping for breath, I gulped down the remaining amount of water in the bottle I had brought with me. My heart was still hammering in my chest from that last piece, but I could feel it slowly coming down. My partner, sitting behind me, spoke to my naked back:
“Let’s get going.”
“Right,” I replied. I put my water bottle in the space behind the foot stretchers, clutched the handles of my oars, and sat ready to row. My partner, John, did the same. With a spoken command, our blades dug into the water and we rowed our double scull away from the direction we were facing, back towards the dock.
As we neared the dock, I stopped rowing and allowed John to control our boat. He spoke again before he started rowing.
“Looks like you have some company, Murph.”
I turned to look behind us. Sure enough, Becca stood on the boardwalk near the boathouse, leaning against the railing. Her knee-length skirt swayed in the light breeze. Quickly, I averted my eyes, hoping futilely she hadn’t noticed me looking directly at her.
Although she had never shown up at practice before, I wasn’t really surprised to see her. After that one furious, passion-filled afternoon over a month ago, she had disappeared from my life as quickly as she had appeared in it. No runs, no phone calls, nothing. I didn’t bother trying to call her. I suppose on one level, I didn’t want to make her boyfriend, Paul, suspicious. I couldn’t quite admit to myself that the other reason was that I didn’t want to know how she felt about me, that maybe this torture was earned after the way I had treated her when we first broke up.
The truth was, I had hoped ever since that Sunday she would show up and come back into my life. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I missed her. I wanted her. Our encounter, and the daily runs leading up to them, made me feel better than I had in a very long time. After she had dressed and left my apartment, I couldn’t keep myself from fantasizing about her: she would leave Paul, she would come back to me, we’d move in together and live happy, comfortable, conjoined lives. Almost immediately, however, reality set in. I wasn’t comfortable being the other guy, and I was sure at least half the reason Becca didn’t talk to me was because of the guilt she felt.
Seconds later, we landed at the dock. I put a hand out to keep the gunwale from banging into the dock and stood awkwardly, stepping out of the fragile shell. John followed suit, and as we went about the post-practice ritual of carrying the oars and the boat back up to the boathouse, I studiously focused on the task at hand and ignored her. Doing so, however, was as difficult as trying to avoid watching the sun rise.
I was nervous. I figured she was here to yell at me, or tell me she never wanted to talk to me again, that she couldn’t talk to me again. Despite the fact that neither of us seemed to be at fault more than the other, I was burdened with the guilt of the other man and the knowledge that I should have been able to keep my hands off of her. I also didn’t want to have to restrain myself again, especially seeing her looking as beautiful as she was.
Finally, all our equipment was back in the boathouse. John and I were coached in the morning, but were left to our own devices for the afternoon practices, so I was able to dash up the stairs and change from my sweaty spandex shorts into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I took a long time changing, putting deodorant on and tying my shoes in far too meticulous a manner than was necessary. John came up as I was finishing my avoidance ritual.
“You going to go down there and talk to her?” he asked as he started towards the shower. We had been friends since we rowed together in college, and he knew most of the story. I knew he didn’t exactly approve, but neither did I. At least he was enough of a gentleman to keep from completely tearing me apart for my indiscretion.
“I guess I have to. I doubt she came down to the river just to watch us row.” I was facing away from him, but I knew he wasn’t looking at me for my reply.
“Murph?” I turned to look at him. He had stopped, but he was still looking away. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
I flew back down the stairwell, finally deciding that there was no more use in delaying the inevitable. I went out the garage doors leading to the dock, and saw her, looking out towards the water, still leaning against the rail.
Of course, from this angle, I was also able to see her perfect ass pointing in my direction, yenibosna escort just begging to be caressed. Looking at it, I almost lost my cool and ran back into the boathouse to wait until she had left. Of course, at that moment, she turned to face me.
“Hi,” she said as I walked towards her. She had a smile on her face, but I couldn’t tell if she was just being polite, or if she was happy to see me.
“Hi,” I replied, hands jammed deeply into my pockets. I wasn’t sure how to approach the situation. For one, I was sure I smelt disgusting, and two, I wasn’t sure how much she really wanted to be there. I decided to refrain from touching her, no matter how much I wanted to do otherwise.
“Are you heading home? I have to head back to campus to study, but I figured I could take a few minutes to walk and talk.”
“Yeah, I had no plans for anything after practice. I have some leftovers in the fridge, if you want something to eat.” I still couldn’t look at her yet. She didn’t respond to my offer, and we headed back towards my apartment. “So. What’s up?” I asked.
“Well,” she started out slowly, finding the words that she seemed to have practiced numerous times before. “I wanted to explain to you why I haven’t been around to go running for a while.” She paused, and I could tell that she was trying to figure out how to proceed. “Damien, you don’t have to be scared. You haven’t looked at me once yet.”
I turned to look at her, and she smiled at me again. This time, it was a genuine smile. She rubbed my arm and squeezed it before she continued.
“After…that afternoon, I needed to figure some things out. Paul was out of town for a few days, and I didn’t do anything other than go to class and sit in my apartment and think. And cry, if we’re being honest.” I shot a concerned look in her direction before directing my gaze straight ahead again. “I couldn’t stop beating myself up for what had happened. And I know you, too. You probably couldn’t stop kicking yourself for making a move.”
Of course, she was right, but I wasn’t going to admit it. “So what did you come up with?” I asked her, mostly to reassure myself that I was still able to carry a conversation. I was looking at her again, but I was still nervous.
“The most important thing I decided was that I had to tell Paul. So, when he got back from his trip, I did,” she said in a voice devoid of any emotion.
“How did he take it?” I was back to straight-ahead laser vision. I didn’t want to see the expression on her face that matched that tone.
“He was upset, to say the least. There were things thrown, words were said. I don’t want to get into the specifics. But, bottom line is, Paul moved his stuff out, and I haven’t talked to him since. That was two weeks ago.”
I didn’t know how to react to that. “I’m sorry” didn’t seem like the appropriate thing to say, considering that those were the words that had gotten us into this whole mess. Fumbling through the silence, I asked her, “So how are you taking it?”
“Surprisingly well, actually,” she said, life coming into her voice again. “Paul was a good guy, and he was a good boyfriend. But I’ve never been the kind of girl to cheat before, and I realized that if I had wanted to be faithful to him, I would’ve been.”
“Oh?” Again, my mind locked up, and I couldn’t find the words to ask her what I really wanted to ask.
“Oh yes. I didn’t hop into bed with you just because you have some kind of irresistible sex appeal,” she laughed, and I joined in. Finally, I felt myself loosening up a little. “Even though I do find you very, very sexy.”
“Well, that makes one of us,” I joked. “I probably look as awful as I smell,” I said, sniffing myself with a grimace on my face. She giggled, and punched my arm. I felt the old familiar friendliness returning between us, and I took my hands out of my pocket and swatted her hand away. Instead of letting it come to rest at her side, she grabbed onto my fingers. We held hands the rest of the silent walk to my apartment.
“So what does this mean?” I asked her as we reached the steps outside my place.
“It means two things,” she said. “One, I’m now single. And two, I don’t want to be.” She put a finger on my chest as I moved in to hug her. She held my hands as she looked into my eyes. “But one afternoon of sex doesn’t mean we’re dating again. You broke my heart when you left me for college. Now you have to earn it back.” I nodded earnestly; I wanted nothing more than to do just that.
“What are you doing tomorrow night? Let’s get some dinner and I can…” She stopped me with the shake of her head.
“I can’t at all this week. I have two exams and a paper due before Friday. I don’t have any free time until this weekend.”
“That’s fine,” I replied, nonplussed. “That just gives me more time to plan.” I brought her hands together and kissed them as I walked away. “Go study and do well on your tests. I don’t want you to be in anything but the best mood for our şirinevler escort date this weekend.” She smiled at me as she turned to catch her train back to Cambridge. I watched her walk away. For the second time that afternoon, my mouth was dry and my heart was racing. Already, I was nervous. I had lost her once, and though fate had granted me a second chance, I couldn’t afford to blow it. I knew virtually nothing about the Boston nightlife, let alone the type of places to take someone on a romantic date. The gears were spinning, however, and I was already generating a plan of attack.
After a long and tiresome week, Saturday finally arrived. I had been rushing around all week, going between work and practice and the dry-cleaners, making reservations and figuring out how the hell I was going to pay for all of it.
I walked up to Becca’s apartment at 6 o’clock sharp. I was planning on hailing a cab once she was ready to go, but for my own purposes, I had taken the bus and walked to her building. I fidgeted uncomfortably in my slacks. Not having had a need to dress up recently, I was unused to wearing anything other than shorts and sneakers, or work pants and boots. The collar of my button-down shirt felt like it was choking me, even with the top button open. At least I had had the good sense to carry my sports coat over my shoulder until arriving at her apartment.
Nervously, I pressed the button next to her name on the call box. I waited for a handful of seconds before I heard a staticky “Hello?” from the box speaker.
“Uh…hi, Becca…it’s me. Damien.” I wanted to kick myself for being so obvious and nervous.
“Hi Damien! I’m almost ready. Do you want me to buzz you in?”
“No, it’s fine, I’ll wait for you here,” I replied. “It’s, uh…nice enough out.”
“Okay, I”ll be down in a minute.”
I sat on the brownstone steps leading up to her door, unconsciously wiping my hands on my thighs. Shit! I looked down, and sure enough, there were handprints from my clammy hands. I stood up, trying to rub out the dark spots. I didn’t even notice the door to the building had opened until I heard a giggle. I looked back to the doorway, and there she was. I was so shocked by her appearance I forgot about the handprints for the briefest of moments, standing there with my mouth slightly agape before remembering to hold my jacket in front of me. She giggled again.
“So I did all right?” she asked me shyly.
I had told her to dress nicely, and she hadn’t disappointed. Her long brown hair was swept back into a loose bun, held together by a hair clip with a small red flower on top. A few strands fell towards her neck, upon which a small string of pearls rested. A burgundy dress with short sleeves covering her shoulders clung to her curves, cinched at the waist with a matching belt. A line of buttons ended just below the swell of her breasts. Never being one for makeup, I was surprised to see she was wearing red lipstick in the same shade as the flower in her hair. Topping it all off was a pair of pointy black stilettos, easily making her at least three inches taller. Standing at the foot of the stairs, looking up at her, I felt like I was the short one. She was stunning, an absolute dream.
Finally gathering my wits about me, I cleared my throat. “You look beautiful.” She blushed at my comment, looking away in embarrassment. The combination of sensuality and timidity was as alluring to me as it had been all those years before. For a moment, I remembered how I had felt when I was 16, pulling up to her house in my beat-up car, a half-wilting bouquet of flowers in my hands as I decided I had finally had enough – I wanted to be more than friends with this beautiful girl. While I was still the awkward, gangly guy I had been all those years before, the girl had been replaced with a woman I hadn’t really allowed myself to see fully before this moment. I offered her my hand.
“Well, shall we? We have a full evening ahead of us.” She walked down the steps, her fingers interweaving between mine as we walked up the street, to the corner. I hailed a cab and helped her in, and we headed back over the river to Boston.
For dinner, I had made reservations at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the North End. I had never been there, but all of the reviews I had found said the place was top-notch. What they failed to mention was the fact that in order to accommodate the large crowd it served, the restaurant had to jam tables in so tight the waitresses could barely move in between them. This was how we managed to find ourselves packed in practically on top of each other as we ate our dinner.
Despite the “cozy” atmosphere, the food was excellent, as was the bottle of wine we shared. We talked, her about her summer clinical and the extra work she was doing to get ready for the approaching fall semester. I talked with her mostly about rowing and training, how I had teamed up with John, and the work we were doing bahçelievler escort to get ready for the Head of the Charles in October.
Even before the wine came, the conversation flowed easily, freely. I found myself mesmerized by little things she did, things that I remembered from what felt like a lifetime ago, like the way she absentmindedly tucked stray hairs around her face behind her ear, or the way her eyes crinkled when she laughed. The time passed quickly, and before I knew it, our dinner had been eaten and cleared, and we were sharing a small dish of gelato. Her free hand was resting on the table, and I reached across to touch her hand. She looked up at me, stopping mid-sentence, her green eyes wide and full of promise. Her fingers played with mine, and for a moment, the other diners at the tables around us disappeared. Again, that blush spread across her cheeks, and she looked down at the bowl in front of us.
As we were waiting for the check, I asked her how I was doing. She leaned in to me, her chin resting on her hand. “You’re doing fine. So where to next, Romeo?”
“I have the whole evening planned out,” I chuckled. “Don’t you worry.”
“Oh, I’m not worried,” she replied. “I’m sure I can handle anything that comes my way.”
I couldn’t tell if it was my imagination, but I thought I heard a subtle emphasis on one of the words. Just then, I felt her foot brush my calf. The entire dinner, we kept kicking each other as we tried to find space under the table, but this was different. Her foot stayed in contact with my leg. She had slipped her shoe off; I could feel her wiggling her big toe as it traveled up towards my knee.
The waitress came back with the check. Without stopping her foot’s exploration, she took the check and turned to the waitress. “Thank you, the meal was excellent.”
Underneath the tablecloth, I was getting fairly hot. I could feel myself beginning to harden, creating a noticeable bulge in my pants. But without showing a hint of my distress, I smoothly snatched the check from her and pulled my wallet out of my pocket. “Yes, thank you for everything.”
“Surely. I hope you two have a good evening,” said the waitress, smiling.
“Oh, we will,” I said in my best Don Juan accent, not even realizing the words that were coming out of my mouth. By this time, Becca’s foot had slid up past my knee and towards my now-erect penis. At these words, she stroked me from the base of my cock to the tip with the ball of her foot. I jumped slightly, passing off the movement as returning my wallet to my pocket. I handed the cash to the waitress.
“Shall we go, dear?” asked Becca.
Inwardly, I grimaced. Damn tease. “Of course,” I said, quickly grabbing my jacket from the back of my chair and placing it over my lap again. Apparently, I wasn’t quick enough, because as Becca turned toward the door, the waitress gave me a look and cocked an eyebrow in my direction. I grinned sheepishly and followed Becca out to the sidewalk.
We walked through the North End for a bit, getting desert at one of the bakeries. Thankfully, it also game me time to let my erection subside. Becca kept playfully trying to grab the hand I was holding my coat in, making sure her hand lingered over my crotch. I didn’t know what had gotten into her, but I wasn’t going to question it, even if this was all taking place on a narrow, crowded sidewalk.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. When she reached for my hand again, I took it and spun her around towards me, bending down and pressing my lips to hers in one quick motion. Her eyes were open wide, but as we sank further into the kiss, her eyelids started to droop, and her hands clutched at my shirt, pulling our bodies close. Her hands were in the way of my chest and her breasts, but I pressed my hips into hers, making sure she felt the result of the teasing I had thus far endured. I don’t know how we got there, but we ended up against the wall of an apartment building, her back pressing into the stones. Her arms wrapped around my neck, and I put my hands on her waist, pulling her close.
We broke off the kiss, both of us panting slightly. I rested my chin on top of her head, breathing in the scent of her. She leaned against the wall, one leg stretched out, supporting her, and the other foot against the wall, forcing her hips out. I don’t think either of us realized it, but she had spread her legs slightly, and I was pressing at the hem of her dress, stretching the material between her thighs.
She kissed my neck. “So…where are we headed next?”
I kissed the top of her head, inhaling the sweet scent of her shampoo. “It’s a surprise. I don’t want to ruin it for you.”
She slapped at my chest again, and I pulled away slightly. “Tell me!” she huffed like a child on Christmas Eve.
In response, I stepped back and pulled her away from the wall. “Let’s catch a cab,” I said, noticing the stares of a few bystanders who had witnessed our passionate kiss. The women looked at us sternly, especially one mother with holding the hand of a gaping little boy, while the guys looked mostly at Becca with lust and me with envy. Knowing that my beautiful date was an object of desire to these guys did nothing to cool my ardor, and we moved a little quicker to one of the main streets in order to track down a cab.
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