The door to the bathroom crashed open and he felt a warm, comforting breath touch his neck. Then it was gone, as the door slammed shut and then – THUMP, THUMP, THUMP. She was putting all of her weight in her heels and he pitied the poor sap living downstairs. First he had to put up with the creaking, the groaning, the classic old rattling headboard, and now he had to deal with this.
The window rattled, and he didn’t know if it was the spiteful winter wind – or just her.
She shot past him, storming behind the sofa he was slumped into and making straight for her room.
What had, of course, previously been their room, but was now her room.
He didn’t bother looking back at her, and she didn’t waste a word on him. Until she reached her door.
“Where are you going?”
“What?” He changed the channel, played dumb, made her work.
“You’re wearing your good jeans. Are you going out?”
Now he turned, now he twisted and looked back at her. How should he look at her now? Should he enjoy the view, parts of her still sparkling with moisture from the shower, her perfect legs disappearing up into that short, fluffy robe (that he had bought for her)? He watched her towelling her hair for a moment, took in the hard, cold mask that both of them had been wearing for two weeks now, and didn’t know what to feel.
“I have a date,” he said. He turned back to face the TV.
“Jay, you knew I had a date tonight.” On the TV a group of people with very strange hairstyles were gathered around a map of some peninsular. The tall thin window showed the faint interference of a light snow playing against the rich purple of the evening sky. It rattled again. Their apartment was drafty; in winter they cranked the heating up and kept it up.
“Well, yes. But what the hell, Nat?” He didn’t turn, but his shoulders rose and tensed. “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”
“It’s pathetic – this trying to one-up me. Pathetic, Jay.”
He had a retort: it was on his lips, loaded and ready to fire, but he heard the bedroom door slam first. Maybe that was the problem; both of them always had a response to every insult, every allegation, every slur. Sometimes they had to lie, sometimes they had to get really nasty to get their retaliation off the ground but so what? It was all about getting the last word in.
The window rattled and he looked at it, then through it, for a long time. After a while he noticed that the very corner of his face was being reflected back at him, and that the sour, hard mask had yet to come off. He took his feet off the table and leaned forwards, shoulders still hunched as he rubbed his face trying to loosen it up.
If he was perfectly honest with himself (and he was trying to be, he really was) he wasn’t all that interested in going on a date tonight. Every day was a pain in the goddamned ass, every conversation was a battle, and he just wanted to get away and spend some time not thinking about him and Nat.
Everyone he knew, knew what was going on between him and Nat, and that, apparently, was all they wanted to talk about. He should move out, they told him, and he knew he should. But every time he reached this rational, noble conclusion, he thought about all the shit he’d sacrificed for her over the years and thought – well, why should I be the one to move out?
He realised that she was having exactly the same conversations with her friends, going through exactly the same process, and that kept them – two weeks after the spectacular break-up – still living in the same, small, shitty one bedroom apartment.
They made it work by working as long and as hard as possible, lingering and malingering in bars and coffee shops, and also by sheer dint of their own bitter, self-entitled wills. Is it a universal truth that people who are so well matched when it all starts out end up locked into this kind of savage hate-pact?
Well, neither of their dates that night were going to be having fun, he thought with sadly characteristic schadenfreude.
He looked up. It was Korea they were talking about on TV. Well, in the end he had lost. He’d booked a ticket back where he came from, and he’d mailed his mother two days ago that he’d be going back for a while. Nat would gloat, but he… well, hopefully this was the start of him learning. Life lessons and all that horrible, horrible Hollywood bullshit.
For a moment he forgot the girl’s name, and he almost smiled at what an asshole he was. Then again, who was the bigger jerk: him, or his buddy whose friend she was? Eddie was the one who was setting her up; a lamb for the emotional slaughter that he must know was going to ensue. It was nice of him to try and break Jay out of his funk but… poor girl. She wasn’t going to know what hit her.
The door opened behind him with a click. Not a bang, a click. He still didn’t bother turning.
“Who is she?”
“Friend of a friend of Eddie’s.” He didn’t turn because the mask had come off and he didn’t want her to see how fucking tired halkalı escort he was.
“A friend of Sally’s?”
“I don’t know,” and he couldn’t stop the sigh escaping this time, “he asked me to take her out.”
There was a pause. That was okay, he was getting very good at awkward pauses. You just turned your feelings off for the duration of each one, and back on again when the conversation restarted and the knives came out.
“Don’t you want to know about mine?”
“Not really,” every time he spoke he had to analyse his intonation to make sure it wouldn’t spark her off in some way. Was it because he couldn’t take the rant, or because he actually, still, didn’t want to hurt her? Was she doing the same thing?
“I-” she started, and instantly stopped. He tried not to think of anything. When you laid out the issues that they’d had, the cuts that had separated them, it was all bullshit. But they’d been together so long that the bullshit had gained weight. It was some kind of quantum momentum of relationships deal that was beyond him. He tried to understand what they were saying about Korea on the TV.
“Jay, I’m going back to my Mom’s place next week.” Now he turned, and he didn’t bother with the mask. He saw that she wasn’t wearing hers either. “Just for a week or so, but…”
“Me too,” he butted in. He felt that this time she wouldn’t snarl and spit and curse him for it.
“Oh!” That was genuine surprise. “Well, I just thought that, y’know…” She paused and he realised she was wearing that crazy plaid mini-dress thing. His mind went in three different directions at once – ‘she knows I love that dress, what an absolute…’ – ‘she is going to freeze her perky little ass off out there…’ – ‘God, I remember sliding my hands up those hips, lifting that short-short dress off her ass, slipping my fingers into her panties and dragging them down off her butt in the alley behind that house party…’
“I thought we could mail and… sort out who should move out after a little time apart.” The money. The fact that they had both paid the rent this month had seemed like such an important point at which to draw a line. Of course, neither of them had given a crap really. And of course he only realised that now.
“To be honest, Nat,” her hair – sandy, dirty blonde, still wet but brushed straight – fell across her right eye. She pushed it back as she listened, “I was thinking of moving out already.”
“Oh!” softer, but surprised once again. “Me too,” she said with what might have been the first half smile to pass between them since it happened.
She took a step towards him, hesitated, then made that final, dramatic commitment to sit down with him. She lowered herself carefully (she had to be careful in that dress) into the armchair. The TV was already low, but he turned it down even more, dropped the handset onto the table that still afforded each of them some kind of barrier – some kind of protection.
“Well,” he pulled his lips into what he hoped was a rueful smile, not completely devoid of warmth, “that’s that then.”
“You’re going all the way back East?” A smart-ass retort about that being where his mother lived appeared, spring-loaded, on his tongue. He kept his mouth shut and nodded. “Wow.”
“I booked a ticket yesterday, but just… email me or whatever and we can talk. If you want to,” he added hurriedly. They were taking it in turns it seemed, this time she nodded silently.
He was trying his best to look at her, to pay attention to her, but also not to pay her too much attention, and certainly not to run his eyes too blatantly up her slim legs. He was absolutely doing his best not to trace them and follow them up under that thin pink and blue fabric, where she had her thighs demurely pressed together and turned away from him. As if there was much demure about that fucking dress. At least she hadn’t started on the buttons up at the top that allowed the dress – little more than a stretched work-shirt – to gape open, to give in to the pressure from her small, firm breasts and allow the freckled skin of her chest to breathe.
Irritation bubbled up inside him that she would put him in this situation of not knowing where to look, but he quashed it, pushed it down. She wasn’t doing it to him, it was just happening.
“You need…” she started, stopped, “You look tired, Jay.” He almost laughed, and let his head hang down again.
“Could be the sleeping on the couch.” Everything he said could be seen as an attack he realised, but she didn’t seem to be in the mood to pick a fight either.
“Hey, you chose the sofa,” she shot back, and he let her. He had, it had been one of those break-up martyrdom things. Neither of them had been in the wrong. Either that or they both had. It hadn’t been about infidelity it had just been about… momentum.
“Don’t you have to get ready?” For some reason, he didn’t have to consciously wring the sour note out of his voice. Oh God, taksim escort sickening as it was, they were in life-lesson mode now weren’t they? His mind started spinning. What should he be reacting against here? Surely there was something to be mad about.
“No… No not yet,” he looked up and she was looking right at him, with a faintly curious directness he had forgotten about. “Isn’t it weird how no-one’s taking sides yet?” She meant their friends. They all seemed exasperated, unsurprised and… noncommittal about the whole thing.
“Um, I guess.”
“Don’t think I didn’t see where you were looking.” She slipped it in so quickly, so smoothly – just like her. Was this where it was going to derail? He looked down again and braced for impact.
“I didn’t mean…”
“It’s ok,” she cut him off, and he felt her eyes leave him. She smoothed the hem of her short dress, a little nervously it seemed. “We… well it was stupid to stay living on top of each other, wasn’t it?”
Well, not literally on top of each other, he thought, and pictures of before appeared unbidden before him. Images and short clips of when he would fuck her from behind and she would slump forwards by degrees until she was all but flat against the bed and he was flat on top of her, still angled into her, fucking her as best he could, feeling her pussy squeezing the end of him.
“A lot of this is stupid,” he conceded. It was, but it was irretrievably stupid, wasn’t it? Irreparably stupid. Right?
“I can’t believe you’re wearing those jeans.”
“I can’t believe you’re wearing that dress.”
“Huh,” she almost laughed, “touche, I suppose.” She leaned back into the chair, turned her face too deliberately towards the TV and crossed her legs towards him spectacularly. He honestly (honestly) hadn’t even realised where he had been looking until she did it, until he realised he was looking at the pale, beautiful skin of her inner-thigh as she shifted – and then looking, unable to resist, further up where things blurred into darkness and…
“Nat! Jesus!” She had done it on purpose. He knew because it was her, so her.
“What?” She turned to him a picture of wide-eyed innocence, and for a second his conviction wavered, then he saw her cute, freckled nose wrinkle up the tiniest bit and knew she was playing with him.
“What the hell are you doing? Don’t… We can’t play games anymore.”
“Jay, I should be the one annoyed that you’re looking where you shouldn’t.” Now, how the hell should he read this? Two weeks of spitting venom and cursing each other’s name and now this? What in the name of God was this? He felt his neck start to prickle in irritation, his blood cooling in his veins. She had seemed… more human for ten minutes. Was it all part of some game to fuck him up even more?
“Oh man.” He sighed and sat up straight, preparing to get up – to go somewhere even though the only other room with a door was hers and he had to wait in the fucking apartment for his fucking date. Into the kitchen maybe, he could always make another coffee. Like his nerves weren’t already shot enough. “Well, when you can seriously talk – when we’ve had some time apart – let me know, ‘kay?” He stood up, and she moved, turning to face him fully for the first time.
“Like I’m the one who needs time apart to get their head straight.” It was fighting talk but it didn’t have the force or the fury that he’d recently come to expect, and her hands were still doing that nervous thing she did, tugging on the hem of her dress, making it perfectly flat against her thighs.
“Nat, what…” He raised both hands in an exasperated shrug. She was playing some game and he was at an utter loss as to the rules, let alone the stakes.
“I mean…” and suddenly she was biting her lip and… he was stunned. He knew her so well but this expression was something completely new. Teasing, but without the invincible self-confidence she usually had to back that up. As if, this time, she felt that things might go wrong. “I mean, isn’t this the only thing on your mind? Still?” And she pulled the hem of her dress back, the other way, lifting it for him.
The sandy tuft of her pubic hair, her slim thighs and between them a flash of pink – her soft, sweet lips. What the fuck was she doing? She had a game, they both had nothing but games, but he had no idea which one they were playing.
“Cat got your tongue, Jay?” She wrinkled her nose again and he felt his pulse quicken, his blood heating up. And still he didn’t know which had him more dumbstruck, this brazen exposure, to someone she must know had been saying the most disgusting things about her, or that strange, unique expression she had been wearing.
“You’re expecting me to take my cock out?” He didn’t know the rules, but he knew how to play Nat’s games in general. Don’t back down, always raise the stakes. He looked her in the face, then back down between her legs. “And were you going out like that? Your date’s a lucky guy.”
“Jealous?” şişli escort She cocked her head insolently and leaned back, keeping her dress lifted – almost daintily with the index finger and thumb of each hand. As she leant back she pushed her ass forwards – her bare ass on that old armchair, and not for the first time – and spread her legs a little wider. His view improved, he could see those succulent looking lips properly now; still bashfully closed, not the dripping, blooming flower he liked to remember.
“It’s nothing I haven’t had before.” He made his voice faux-hard. If he hadn’t seen that shakiness, that vulnerability, he’d be sure that she was just fucking with him to ruin his date. But there was something else. Neither of them had ever been the type for serious relationship talks until it had all turned rotten. Maybe this was nothing more than a long-overdue conversation of sorts.
“But not anymore.”
“Watch how far you’re pushing this Nat,” he lowered his voice and felt the corner of his mouth twitch, a quarter-smile of his own, “See where it gets you.”
“Ah sorry!” she pretended not to hear him, dropped her skirt at last and twisted in the deep armchair. She turned away from him, knelt up and leaned on the back of the chair. Then her hands were behind her lifting up her super-short dress again, the couple of inches it took to expose her pert, rosy behind. “This was more your thing, right?” He hadn’t seen that tiny mole for weeks he realised, and the nostalgia almost caught in his throat.
Then she arched her back more, spread her thighs and he caught another glimpse of that perfect pussy again. A little pinker? A little more flushed? His prick twitched and he sank his teeth into his lower lip on one side. He hadn’t noticed it swelling, hadn’t noticed the blood filling it, but now he did.
He should, he realised, look across, check the time. That girl might be here anytime. Anytime at all. But it was hard – hard to look away from her teasing eyes peeking over her shoulder, from her pert, bare ass, from her naughty, pink pussy.
Her hair, strands drifting across her face, was drying tangled and unstyled in the artificial heat of the apartment. What was she doing? Was she willing to ruin her date just to ruin his? Maybe she just cared as little about her new start as he did about his.
Still he could just walk away. Wait outside the apartment for his date. She’d be here anytime now.
He took a step towards her, pushing the table aside with his shin as he moved.
“Oh yeah, something about this pose that you like, I remember.” She crossed her arms along the back of the chair and leaned forwards even more, spread her thighs and sank down a little more. He couldn’t see that precious pink cleft anymore, but he did love the way her ass moved when she spread her thighs wide like that.
Her knees wide apart now, kneeling, thighs spread, she bounced experimentally a couple of times. High school gymnast, he thought. Damn, he doubted his date tonight had been a gymnast in high school.
“There are even better ones.” Now he was smiling, he didn’t know when he’d started.
“Such as?” She raised her self up again, her dress slipping back down (and even now it barely covered the tempting curve of her rear) and looked over her shoulder at him. Yet more blasphemous, affected innocence.
“You can’t win this game, Nat.”
“Game?” her brow furrowed as she faked confusion. A smattering of freckles rearranged themselves and he mentally kicked himself for finding it adorable. He took another step closer, the coffee table out of his way now.
“Neither of us ever wins. Every single fucking game ends in stalemate.”
“I don’t…” she started, but halfway through the lie, she let it go. “I think we – both of us – had our tactics all wrong.” He smiled cautiously, then – game or no game – stuck to his approach and raised again.
“Gimme another pose while I think that over,” he slipped his hands into his pockets and raised his eyebrows expectantly. He felt a brush of wetness: his pre-cum staining his underwear already.
She pouted, “Aw, was that a little deep for poor little Jay?” She stood up on the seat of the chair, her small feet sinking into the once plush maroon cushion. Then she put one foot on one armrest and one on the other, shifting her weight gracefully as she balanced and the chair moved slightly.
Jay allowed himself another smile as he let his eyes roam freely now, up the perfectly straight inverted ‘V’ of both legs until they vanished into the plaid veil that was barely preserving her modesty. She looked down at him from her athletic vantage point and grinned. She actually grinned.
Maybe they had both been very silly about this whole thing.
Nat grinned, and then she bent down, effortlessly keeping her legs perfectly straight as she reached down to put her hands on the back of the chair. She was making a sizzling structure of her body: her straight legs, calves taut, split wide open to support her weight; her pert little butt the turning point from which her back sloped down, bent more than ninety-degrees so that her head was lower than her waist. Her tangled hair was falling down around her face, and finally her slim arms, as perfectly straight as her legs, were propping her upper body up by holding onto the back of the armchair.