The Fruit of Hell

It began as it always did. We were nearly a yard apart, sitting on opposite ends of the couch. I played on my phone, reading some smut-riddled fan fiction, while he fiddled around on his laptop– role playing, Facebook, whatever– and the cat chewed on the wrist strap of my phone case, curled up in my lap. She, at least, still liked me.

I refused to look at him. We were friends. Just friends, apparently, despite everything that had gone on the past few months. My face stayed deceitfully blank despite the spear of hot rage that shot up from my chest and into my throat. How could someone hold me, kiss me, touch me, the way he had, and feel nothing? How could he so easily move out of a… whatever we’d been, into a friendship, when merely two weeks before, I’d been ready to tell him I–

No, not now. Now was absolutely not the time to think about that.

It didn’t help that I found him so damn attractive. His dark eyes stared into my soul, his smile could turn me into a puddle at his feet. He was lean but strong, and taller than me. He could easily lift me, and had on occasion. Even sitting as far away as he was, I could sense him, like another part of me. I tried to tune out his presence entirely, but it was nearly impossible. I wanted to move over, pull him by the hair, and punch him directly in the face. Except I didn’t, not really. I wanted to kiss him until he came to his senses. The fact that I wanted to kiss him again, when I’d come here with the intention to prove that I could just be his friend, infuriated me even further. I was supposed to be acting like an adult here, supporting his decision, showing him that there were no hard feelings. No hard feelings, indeed. There was certainly nothing hard here.

God, I was bitter.

I scrolled down even though I hadn’t read a word of the story on my phone. I’d read it before anyway, which was why I’d chosen it in the first place. I’d known full well I wouldn’t be able to focus on someone else’s romantic, sexually fulfilled journey to happily ever after. Not while mine was crumbling to dust before my eyes. The cat seemed to sense the thinly veiled resentment rolling off me despite my carefully constructed, indifferent mask. Deciding she’d be better off at my feet, she jumped down and splayed herself across my toes, trilling for attention.

“What, are you feeling neglected?” I cooed at the kitten, stroking her ears. She was a beautiful cat, lithe and lean, grey tabby markings covering her ears and back like a cloak, while the rest of her was stark white. Turning my back to effectively cut off the source of my irritation, I scratched under her chin and smiled at the sweet sound of her purr. “You just want attention.” I slid my hand down over her belly, rewarded with her curling in on my hand, attempting to bite at it. I kept sliding it just out of reach and then going back, giggling as we began an easy, playful routine.

I didn’t hear him move. I didn’t expect him to, either; so it was with no small amount of surprise that I felt his hands come down on my arms, his chest pressed to my back. He tucked his cheek onto my shoulder with a grin, startling me so that I couldn’t move my hand away from the cat quickly enough. I found my fingers trapped by her declawed paws, her tiny teeth going in for love bites.

“That’s right, bite her!” He encouraged the cat, his body pushing mine down, giving the feline better access. “Bite her, bite her, bite her…” He was so hyper, so enthusiastic, I should have been outraged, and yet all I could focus on was his closeness. His warm heat against mine. So close, close enough to–

I forced myself to remember my anger. “You’re incorrigible,” I told him, giving him a shove. “Careful, or I’ll bite you.”

He gave me a devious grin, and began to let me up. I retrieved my hand from the cat and pushed back, expecting him to go back to his computer, but I was wrong. Oh, how very wrong I was.

His teeth closed over the soft spot where my neck met my shoulder, firmly taking hold, but not hard enough to really hurt. I gasped, frozen, caught between the urge to fight him off and the urge to pull him closer. Traitor, I thought viciously, as my body went pliant, heat pooling in my belly.

With a dark chuckle, he peeled himself off of me. “Like that?” I turned to glare at him, my temper spiking at the smirk that still graced his lips. Part of me wanted to slap him, to throttle him for making me feel, making me want. How dare he go back on what he’d said, toy with me, play me, treat me like…

An idea swirled in my mind. As he turned back to his computer, I realized he had given me the rules to his game. Rules I could play by better than he did. The same smirk still curving his lips ghosted onto mine. He wanted to play? Let’s fucking play.

I moved like a shot, launching myself toward him, bracing myself on his arm and his thigh. Silently, I dragged my lips up his neck with agonizing slowness. “That was mean,” I purred with my lips grazing his ear, then nipped my way back down. I heard his sharp inhalation and smiled against his skin. He rarely showed any emotion, rarely had a visible reaction to anything– but here he was, taken by surprise as I had been, caught off guard, and showing me everything I needed. I slid myself into his lap, straddling his thighs. His hands came to my hips, gripping me tightly as he stared, glowered almost, up at me. The blank facade was in place as ever, but I could see the darkening of his eyes, sense the effect I had on him. I smiled, fueled by both my anger and that traitorous desire to touch, to taste, to take.

He bucked deliberately under me, sending my thoughts and my heartbeat skittering away. I lost my composure for a split second, shutting my eyes and sucking in a breath as I felt him pulsing between my legs, and felt the responding rush of heat race up my neck and down my thighs. Though I recovered quickly, it wasn’t fast enough. Now he had the reigns, and he knew it. The corners of his lips were curved up, just enough that I knew he’d read me. Damn.

I gathered my wits and lifted my hips from his, only to be yanked back down forcefully. With a whimper, I arched my back, painfully aware of how hard he was, and how much that was turning me on. He wrapped a hand in my ponytail, yanking on my hair, knowing full well what it did to me. Delicious shivers ran down my neck and back, my lips parted, and before I could stop either of us, he had pulled my face down to his. Our lips met, as they always had, in a dizzying, electric daze. It was like the first time, every time, no matter how many times we kissed. I hated it, resented it, yearned for it. The moment our lips joined, I knew I’d lost the battle.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t put up a valiant fight.

I sucked on his bottom lip, sinking my teeth into it, delighted when his hands tightened on my hips. He rocked again, and I readjusted, rocking with him in a way that made me nearly delirious with pleasure, but wouldn’t give him the satisfaction he was looking for. His hands slid up to squeeze my breasts, gripping them firmly, almost painfully in his long, lean hands. My hands danced under his tee shirt, my nails scraping across his skin. He grabbed the hem of my thin hoodie and wrenched it off of me, lunging for my neck again. His hand cradled the back of my head, the other bracing the small of my back, his lips gentle, nibbling at the side of my throat. I struggled not to let the intimacy of the position pull me in, fought to keep the fire of betrayal in me, despite the swell of my heart and the fluttering of butterflies in my belly. He had always known how to seduce me. Bastard.

Seizing his tee shirt, I pulled, determined to have him more vulnerable than I was, but he returned the favor, pulling my tank top up as well. We heaved breathlessly, not even bothering to look at each other as our shirts went flying. I pulled his hair and pressed my lips to his again, letting more of the fire inside me pour out. It only seemed to fuel whatever was urging him on. He laid me back in his arms again, this time leaving a blazing hot trail of love bites down to my breast. The bra had been intended to remind him of just what he was missing out on, and I realized, with a mix of satisfaction and shame, that it had done the job remarkably, and then some. His fingers grasped at the clasp frantically, and all I could do was pull him closer and laugh as he struggled to free me. He growled– literally growled– as he successfully unhooked my bra and all but ripped it off of me, not bothering to look where he tossed it as his mouth closed over my nipple.

I swallowed another whimper as he toyed with me. This was not putting up a good fight, but I wasn’t going to stop it for the world. Maybe I was selfish and cruel and pitiful, but I could wallow in guilt and self hatred later. Now the only thing I could focus on was the way he gently pulled me closer to him, rolling his hips under mine, filling me with an impossible need. I pulled his hair again, the anger starting to sneak in again. I couldn’t tell which I wanted to do more– pull him closer or rip him away.

His lips came to mine again, and I bit down on the bottom one, harder than I’d intended to. He jerked back. I’d never been rough with him, always content to let him lead, let him have the control, let him do the marking. I could tell I’d startled him, maybe even hurt him. The combination of lust and rage surged to the forefront of my mind, and I grinned. He had done more than open the door when he’d first bitten me; he’d obliterated the door entirely, and now he could face the consequences.

I shoved him to the side, catching him once again off guard. He fell back, pulling me with him, fisting a hand my hair and dragging me down to kiss him. He was just as brutal, worrying my bottom lip in his teeth. I swept my hand down over the tight bulge in his shorts and was rewarded with an involuntary thrust of his hips. “Now who’s mean,” He demanded, his voice infuriatingly steady despite his hips still rocking under my hand.

Grinning wildly, I grabbed his wrists and planted them beside his head. I knew he could get out if he tried, but I also knew he was enjoying this too much to do so. I put my face inches from his, just far enough away that he couldn’t kiss me, and hesitated, deliberately out of his reach. “You have no idea,” I whispered, gazing into his dark eyes. With that, I sat up, removing myself from him completely. I snatched my phone up from where it had fallen, startling the cat, who had taken to napping during our heated session. She stared at me incredulously, as I imagined her master was doing, while I entered my pass code and went serenely back to reading.

There was a heavy pause, in which I managed to steady my breathing and replace the cold, detached facade I’d learned from him. The satisfaction of having led him on as he’d led me on countless times before kept a faint smirk on my face, and soothed both the unsated lust and the simmering resentment I had for him.

He rose, and I felt triumph surge as I listened to him disappear into another room. I didn’t pay attention to which, didn’t really care, as I reached over to grab my discarded clothing and redress myself. If I was lucky, he’d take long enough for me to leave unnoticed. I could leave with the final victory, my dignity still mostly intact. A part of my brain cried out furiously that I was still not satisfied, but I ignored it. I could throw myself at him and be the most ridiculous hussy that ever lived, or I could walk out with my head held high.

Neither, apparently, had crossed his mind, however.

I was already yanking down my tank top when his hand came around my arm. I turned, prepared to argue, to fight, until I saw the look of unbridled lust on his face. It startled me, stalling me. He was in the same boat I was in, I realized, a little sadly. Selfish, cruel, and pitiful. Ruined by his lust just as I was ruined by mine.

We weren’t fighting each other anymore. We were fighting ourselves. And, in all honesty, I didn’t have the strength– or maybe I just didn’t have the will– to fight anymore.

Decided, I grabbed his shirt in my hand and dragged him down. The air seemed to shift between us, going from stubborn to desperate. He had my shirt in his fist, his other hand at his side, while I shoved my hand into his hair and pulled him closer, closer, as though we were going to melt into each other.

He had me back on the couch in seconds, my shirt once again being launched across the room as he feasted on my neck and breasts. He didn’t need to bother with my bra, as I was already wrangling it off myself, tossing it carelessly after my shirt. Wrapping my legs around his waist, I pulled him down onto me, wanting our skin to touch. He resisted, and I clawed my nails down his back. He settled then, growling again, flushed and sticky and wonderfully heavy against me. His hands went to the fly of my jeans, prying them from my legs without moving his lips from my throat. His skin was deliciously hot between my thighs as I returned them to his waist, and I shivered, heat rushing to my core. With an impatient noise, I grabbed him by the hair and pulled until he came up to kiss me again. I wasn’t paying attention when he shimmied out of his own shorts, but I did notice him hook a finger under the lace of my panties and tug. Lifting my hips, I released his waist again, not letting him pull far away as I drank from his lips, my hands framing his face.

We were naked then, bare in front of each other as we had been only a handful of other times.Before, we’d always been more focused on teasing each other, or too frantic to get off that we didn’t bother getting undressed. The few times we had managed to get naked, things never seemed to last long enough for either of us. It seemed more intimate now, somehow. I felt my emotions surge, but fought them, smashing them back down with every bit of internal strength I had. He stared at me as he panted, and I realized what he’d been holding this entire time: a condom. I felt my heart flutter, and shoved that away, too. He was a smart man. He was always safe.

I watched him slide the condom on, my heart still racing, and then locked eyes with him. I had never been able to read him well, but I knew, somewhere in my heart, that despite everything, despite choosing someone else over me, he felt something for me. It may have been purely physical, but for me, it was enough. I reached up as he came down on top of me, pulling him close as we began the familiar dance, kissing him with every ounce of passion I could muster. He was the first man who had never hurt me, the only one who managed to drive me wild and satisfy me at the same time. He left me writhing, stole my breath, brought me up and up and up– and when I shattered, he shattered with me, both of us rendered silent by the force of our orgasms.

I collapsed, shaking, his weight warm and blissfully heavy on top of me. I felt the rush of emotions again and didn’t bother to stop them, allowing the hot, bitter tears to escape, thankful that my breathing was already unsteady. I traced the line of his back, gently, bringing my hand up to rest in his soft, sweat slicked hair. He had tucked his head into the curve of my shoulder, and seemed to be in a sort of post-coital daze.

Turning, I pressed a kiss to his temple. This had stopped being a battle, I realized, the moment I’d opened my arms to him. It was a goodbye.

I sneaked my one, miraculously free hand up to rid my eyes of the tears, hoping that my climax-flushed face would hide any other signs of my crying. He recovered with a kiss on my shoulder, sitting up and pulling out of me. His face was blank, but when wasn’t it? Taking my arm, he helped me sit up, and then rose to dispose of the condom. Evidence, my mind whispered to me, but I ignored it. I gathered pieces of my clothing and began to pull them back on, clenching my jaw to keep from losing my composure. I knew if I let go now, I wouldn’t be able to stop. He’d see me. He’d know. I was dressed before him, pulling together my purse and phone as he dressed himself, and waiting for him by the door.

His stoic expression mirrored mine. I wondered if his was a mask, as mine was, but pushed that thought away, too. With more effort than I thought I could manage, I managed a pleasant, almost affectionate smile. “I’ll see you at work.”

“Yeah.” We stared at each other for another long moment, before he leaned down, impossibly, and touched his lips to mine. Sweetly, gently. A goodbye. “Take care.”

“You too.” He held the door as I walked out, and I heard it shut, after a moments hesitation, behind me. I didn’t look back as I walked to my car. I didn’t even look back as I drove away. Despite the agonizing ache in my chest, I didn’t look back. I didn’t have to. I knew he wouldn’t be there. He never was.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, into the silence, into the sunset, into the void that was my heart. I wasn’t sure if the apology was for him or for that poor girl who he had betrayed, or even  for myself. Bitter tears, once again, began to run down my cheeks. I pulled over and let them fall, letting myself finally, finally let go. The sobs that wrenched me were pitiful, shameful, but I didn’t care. I was selfish and cruel, but I cried nonetheless.

At least, I told myself bleakly, I had never admitted that I loved him.

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