The strong scent of chlorine burns my nose and attaches to my clothing like a stich in the fabric. My head has not stopped spinning since I began my fourth drink, and right now I’m working on pure motivation rather than logical sense. I crash through the doors, the wave of humidity rushing over me and pulling me further inside. I stumble ahead my limbs weak, and unable to find a balance. The further I move ahead, the more upset I become. Why won’t anyone listen? Why am I the crazy one in all of this? Am I just nearly subjecting myself as a victim? All of this uncertainty and all of this anger has become plausible as I pause at the edge. My focus shifts from the bottom of the pool to the reflection of myself atop the water. My lips are puffy, my makeup runny. A physical appearance brought on by rough sexual experience with Trenton, and a nervous breakdown in front of Emily.
“It’s not rape Naomi he is your fiancée,” she snipped.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You should be grateful for what you have,” he echoes.
God his voice, I hear it wherever I am. It’s always there. Taunting me, loathing me and picking me apart. I want it to stop. I yearn for his voice to stop and leave me alone. I’ve tried to ignore it. God, how I have tried to ignore it. But now, now I know. The only solution is to drown it. Drown Trenton’s voice out of my head. Not with music. Music isn’t strong enough. Because eventually the song ends and a bracket of seconds before the next one’s about to start is the perfect window for him to lurk back in.
I hear footsteps above me and I panic. I twist back and see no one, but that doesn’t lessen my sense of urgency. I don’t want anyone to see me, or anyone to stop me. Force me to change my mind. So I hold out my arms and let go. I lift my toes up off the tile, and close my eyes. My body is falling. Falling, until it hits the top of the water and begins to slowly sink.
My inhale is slow. Collecting the outside air through my nostrils, and pulling it deep down into my chest before I slowly release it out my mouth. My fingers are strumming vigorously against my bare thighs, stopping every so often to clench my skin and release the tension I can feel rolling down my shoulders and through my spine. I switch my balance from my left foot to my right. The sting from the cool pavement against my warm heals makes my feet feel as if I’ve pressed down on hundreds of tiny needles.
Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this?!
“Naomi,” I hear Josh call, his voice reminding me that he is already in the pool, waiting anxiously, watching my confidence crumble. “I know I told you to take your time,” he begins, “I understand you’re scared as hell. But this wasn’t what I planned on doing the entire night.”
I let out a puff of air and assemble the courage to walk forward. With the slowest of movements I place my feet down onto the top step. The water distorts immediately, swallowing and rippling the appearance of the surface.
I mash my lips together as inhale once again. The temperature of the water sending warmth along my feet while the cool air pricks my bare skin. “Don’t joke with me right now I’m mad at you,” I hiss.
“You’re not mad at me. If you were, you wouldn’t be partially standing in this pool.”
“Well when you said ‘date night’ I didn’t know this is what it entailed.”
“If I told you what I really wanted to do, then you would have locked yourself in the bathroom.”
I don’t give him the courtesy of a response. I scowl at him because I’m furious yet all I want to do is fold my arms around his waist and kiss every exposed inch of his skin. Starting at his neck, down over his chest, pausing in the center of his stomach, and ending on the tattoo resting lazily on his side. I don’t know how he convinced me to come out here. One minute we were driving in the car to dinner, and the next we’re stripped down to our underwear testing the water. Literally.
“Didn’t we pass this house already?” I mumble, creasing my brows together as Josh and I pass by a house I swear we’ve already driven by. I’m having repetitive déjà vu. Each house looks just like the last, and we’ve made nothing but left turns. I feel like the car is driving in a circle, stuck on a wheel that is constantly turning.
“Naomi it’s a private drive. All of the houses are suppose to look the same,” Josh insists slipping his hand off his lap and over my knee, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. For a moment I shut my eyes, savoring not only the chills his fingers send along my skin but the pleasure of having his hands on me, and not being afraid of his touch. Rather than worry about what is to come, I anticipate it. Each second left waiting is one too long.
“What are you up to?” I mutter back, pulling his hand up off my knee and pulling his palm up to my lips.
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Why?” I press, continuing my slow assault along the tips of his fingers. My eagerness to feel a part of him against my lips is something even I’m not accustomed to yet.
“Because,”’ he says pulling his hand away to grip the steering wheel. “We’re not going anywhere tonight.”
My jaw drops slightly as I realize he is pulling the car back into his driveway. I attempt to piece together the crumbling thoughts I had assumed tonight would be but unfortunately come up short. “So…then what…. what are we doing?”
“The house is empty tonight. We have it all to ourselves. I want to take advantage of that.”
I shoot my eyes back to him and see he has broken into a heavy sweat, fidgeting with his tie. “Josh-“
“Look if you’re not ready that’s fine. I just…these past two weeks have meant something right? I mean I’m not crazy, I know we have a lot to learn but I’m going insane inside not being able to show you.”
“Show me what?”
“How amazing it could be. How amazing we could be together.”
Our eyes meet and the tension between what he wants to hear and what I want to say is thicker than the fog looming on the horizon. I swallow the dryness in my mouth knowing that if we enter that house, there will be no going back. As I realize this, I am met with a sense of eagerness, not worry.
It had to be the shift in our relationship these past two weeks. Our days were spent rebuilding the puzzle of his life, exactly who he was and what he loved. While our nights were spent focusing on each other, confessing something new. I would talk while he listened. An odd routine we built rather quickly. I told him little things and sometimes even bigger things. Like how much Trenton hated the picture Josh found at the diner, or how Trenton had true talent of building ideas of what I could never be inside my head. I slowly open up, but still keep mum about the engagement and the rape. Those are two pieces of information that are too complicated for late night bedroom chats. Not because I didn’t want to discuss them, but because a part of me knows those situations are still unresolved; Still holding to many questions that I don’t have answers for, and maybe never would.
I never knew how much he wanted to hear. How much rambling he could handle or how much baggage he would help me claim till he reached the limit. But rather than tell me to stop, He would kiss me. That’s when I knew the talking would cease and it was time to focus on the physical aspect of us. Each night it got deeper as he wrapped me in his arms and whispered in my ear between breaths. I could tell he was making it a personal mission to put me back together, to show me that I didn’t have to let the traumatic events of my past entrap me. That there was a possibility of moving forward, there was a future that didn’t include all of that pain.
Each night of confessions, it became harder to cease-fire and to also not go past the point of kissing. I knew his will power wouldn’t let him cave in like that. A moment of rapture was not moment of weakness for us. It was another way to learn about one another without the use of words.
I wanted it though, sex. I often dreamt of it. My dreams had become untouchable for Trenton because Josh overpowered them. I was scarred but I wasn’t ruined. I still craved sex just as much as the next woman.
"Why don’t you show me then?" I reply pulling open the car door and climbing out. Walking slowly ahead, his footsteps inches from mine, his breathing heavy.
With the turning of a key, and a twist of the doorknob we are back inside. I stand immobile in the center of the foyer, unsure of where to go or what to do. My clouded thoughts are stilled though the moment I sense Josh approaching me from behind.
“What should we do?” he asks against the back of my hair, his fingers fluttering from behind my back, to the center of my stomach. Pressing his palms flat he pulls me back into his chest. The gasp of air is out of my throat before I can catch it, and I can feel his smile against my neck.
“You’re the mastermind behind this idea, shouldn’t you have something already planned?”
His lips move to hover over my left ear. “Oh I have. But you have to promise to stay open minded.”
"What do you mean?" I ask cautiously, trying to process his statement while ignoring the rush of chills running over every part of my body.
“I don’t want you to retreat,” he demands, moving from behind me to my side, his fingers lacing with mine and pulling me forward. We walk through the hall, and to the back door. “Promise me you won’t run away. Or shut me out. Just keep your mind open.”
"You’re scaring me.”
"No, don’t be scared. Just trust me. Can you do that?"
I nod and not because I feel obligated, but because I actually do trust him. Being with him meant not just compromise but discovery. Josh pulls me out the door and onto the back patio. I give him one last glance before I look forward. My joints lock, and my muscles stiffen the moment I see what we are standing in front of. His pool. He hasn’t said it but I know that’s exactly what he wants to do. He wants to help me get over my fear of the pool. Crumble it down till it’s nothing but ash.
“Don’t!” he points, cutting me off before the sentence I was forming could slip from my lips. “I’m going to hold you the entire time.”
“Josh, I can’t do it.”
I hear a sigh and then I feel his hands on both my cheeks, guiding my sight up to his. “I wouldn’t push you to do this if I didn’t think you were ready, if I wasn’t certain that you trusted me.” He rubs his thumbs in small circles against my cheeks. “You’ve told me so much about yourself and I never expected you to be capable of doing that. But you did Naomi.”
“But talking and doing are two different things. I’m better at one than I am the other.”
“You can beat this…You are better than him.”
And as much as I wanted to fight Josh and tell him I probably never could, I cave.
“I think your feet are turning into prunes,” Josh jokes holding his hand up for me to take. “Come on… keep going. Give the rest of your body the same treatment.”
I reach my trembling fingers out in front of me, while he offers a hand to steady me. I clutch at him and squeeze it tighter the further down into the pool I walk. My breathing catches as my hips sink beneath the water. The water bites at my skin like a knife, cutting into my core and hunching my shoulders in defeat. The temperature sends an icy chill and a haunting tremor down my spine. I am quaking and shivering as I stand in place for several minutes, teeth chattering, mind uncomfortably spinning.
“I’m freezing!” I hiss to Josh, hoping more demonstration of my discomfort will further prove this was a pointless idea.
“Come over to me then, I’ll warm you up,” he teases, waggling his eyebrows in a playful manner.
“I’m not walking out any further! I state, keeping one foot pressed to the side of the bottom step, my arms within reaching distance of the ledge.
“Just swim over to me! Nothing is going to happen to you. I won’t let it.”
“No! What more do you want me to prove? I’m in the water for Christ Sake! Can we please go inside now?”
“God, you’re so stubborn,” he jokes, stepping closer to me.
“And you obviously enjoy it.”
“I oddly seem to, don’t I?”
“Can we please go inside now?”
“Only if you do one more thing.”
“What?” I growl, splashing
“NO!” I yell loudly, backing up and away from him.
“Give me one good reason why?”
“A good reason why? Is the fact that it reminds me of how I wanted to end my life not good enough? How I wanted to end the pain permanently.”
Josh bobs his mouth down into the water, so I can only see his eyes. He watches me for several seconds, his response building within his mind. “Why don’t you replace it then?” he suggests as he lifts back up.
“What do you mean by replace it?”
“Take that memory, and replace it with another one. So when you’re reminded, the new memory is the one you think of, not the old.”
“How do you suppose I do that?”
Rather then answer back Josh hooks his arm around my waist, pulling me in for a kiss. His lips are damp compared to mine, which are still dry. My skin feels like silk as it effortlessly rubs against his. The closer our bodies push into each other become the more my attention is redirected to the lustful sensation building in his groin.
I pull my hands up out of the water and place them on the back of his neck. His hair is matted, wet and much more vulnerable to the assault my fingers are unleashing. The moment his tongue slips between my closed lips I don’t feel like resisting him any longer. He has unknowingly taken on the role as my protector. Seizing my battles and proving to me no fight is worth letting go of. I kiss Josh harder just as I feel his body shift back, footing giving way to the heaviness.
“Will you go under with me?” Josh begs pulling away in hopes to regain his posture.
“Yes,” I reply returning my lips back to his.
We don’t break away as we slip down into the water, a realm of new sensations entrapping me like the hundreds of bubbles climbing up my skin. Sensations like the way his top lip is forming against my bottom one, or the way his fingers dig into my hips, holding my back in line with his chest. I am overwhelmed by it all, and I love every passing second.
I grip the sides of his face tightly, trying to keep myself from floating back up to the surface. Floating away from this triumphant moment still unfolding. The harder I pull him into me, the more I realize I am helping myself win. I am conquering the mistake I made less than a year ago, and proving it doesn’t define me.
The first time this happened I had no power. I was weak and intoxicated, the drugs coursing through my blood, heightening my confusion and more than anything my fear. And as much as I wanted to kick, twist and flail, the greater part of me knew not to. This time is different. I am now the one in control. My body may be weightless; my mind is as heavy as a brick. I can feel my hair floating off my shoulders, the low hum from the pump creating a rhythmic, therapeutic sound.
I feel peaceful, and it is better than anything I’ve experienced in a long time. My feet reposition themselves on the bottom, and back up, my head remerging on the surface while I pull the air back into my lungs. Josh pulls my hand off his face and guides my arms up around his neck before releasing it and skimming his hand down the side of my body.
“See it’s not bad at all,” he whispers, running his nose down along mine. I am panting heavily, eyes closed while I clutch at his shoulders and neck, legs twined around his waist, crushing his weight to me.
“Kiss me again,” I plead avoiding his observation. He’s right, it wasn’t bad at all but the selfish part of me doesn’t want to think of that now. Rather I want to feel his lips move across mine until they go numb from the contact. We had each waited for far too long. We had each thought about this exact situation. Whatever we were doing now wouldn’t be enough. The desire that had built up for the other, we might actually be in a situation where I was comfortable enough to allow it, to let him have me fully. He found the strength before I did, to break our lips apart and rest his forehead to mine. His forehead was damp against mine; our wet bodies sliding over one another. I understood his need to pause, and catch his breath but that didn’t subside the ache that built up the moment he followed through.
"This wasn’t where I thought we’d be going with this tonight."
"That doesn’t matter to me." I pant breathlessly into his cheek.
"Naomi, I don’t think we’re ready for that."
"Josh," I cry grabbing his face between my hands. "I don’t want him to still have the one part of me that is supposed to mean the most. He’s the only other person I’ve been with and when I try to think back he’s all I see. I don’t want to see that anymore. I want to see you. It’s been you, every moment since we met. I just didn’t realize it till now. I want you.”
"It’s not going to change how he treated you."
"But it will change how I react to it."
He runs his hands down to small of my back and I can feel his fingers slightly tremble at the hem of my panties. He’s being gentle now, so gentle in fact I want to urge him I don’t need special treatment but then I realize he needs this. He needs to take note of every inch of skin because to him it’s more than just a cover over my flesh. It’s a key to my lust, and more importantly my trust.
I don’t know how we made it down stairs, or how I ended up beneath him. I couldn’t grasp what was happening and that was okay with me. The roaming of fingers and lips felt like freedom. With Trenton it was calculated, planned, deliberate. I knew exactly where his hands were going, and what his mouth wanted. What he wanted was to fuck me, and how long I had to endure it was just a matter of time.
With Josh it was exactly the opposite. It was exciting, enticing. His lips touched my skin and the heat from where he nipped and pecked would linger. Burning until he switched up his course. The return of his lips to an untouched patch of my skin inflamed a sensation in my core. He lavished affection on my chest, creating a swelling in my heart. From afar it was probably sloppy, and frantic. But for Josh and I, it wasn’t enough.
Josh moved his lips back to mine but with their return brought new company, Trenton’s voice. Starting as a whisper, the cryptic messages he planted inside of my mind were crawling out from hidden corners. I let my hands roam around Josh’s back, grabbing and pulling. Hoping the sensation of Josh could captivate me and pull me back into this moment, this haze with only him. The harder he presses into me, the louder Trenton’s voices gets.
“You’re nothing but a good fuck,” rings in my ears as Josh guides his hand up the side of my stomach and gently rubs his thumb over the lace of my bra.
“No one else will want you the way I want you,” it continues as our lips break and my neck becomes the newest place Josh wants to consume. I squeeze my eyes so tight they burn; I bite my bottom lip so hard I feel like I draw blood. I want these horrible thoughts to go. I need them to disappear.
Josh lifts himself up a little higher and guides my left leg wider with his. I’m spread before him and vulnerable. Revealing more than I thought I would, Josh watches me intently, his breathing in spurts as he draws imaginary patterns over the top of my panty line.
"Good for nothing tormenting slut!" The voice screams, and I jolt upward, snapping my legs back together and pulling them up to my chest.
"Naomi?" Josh looks at me with concern and fear, while he gently places a hand on my knee.
"I hear him all the time," I begin to sob fisting my fingers through my hair. "I thought leaving him would make it all disappear. I prayed that this…. this distance would pull me out of it. But…. but I was wrong."
Rather than speak he reaches forward, tugging at my arm and pulling me into his chest. He’s on his knees, and he looks uncomfortable but he doesn’t even flinch. He holds me, softly humming into my ear while fingers run from the top of my shoulder blade slowly down my spine.
"It’s all so true,” I blurt out “What you said that night. It’s not fair," I speak softly into his chest.
Josh sighs and falls back, taking me down with him. “Naomi, falling apart is okay. But falling apart and not bothering to stand up again is not.”
"I am tired of letting him win. I always let him win.”
"You haven’t had enough time to learn how to not let him win. And that’s not your fault. You had no support or examples as to how to change. You’ve been at this by yourself. Your so much stronger than you let on.”
I lift my cheek up off his chest and place my lips right in the center. “I don’t want what we started to end like this.”
"I’m not pressuring you. You’re not ready. I can wait. I will wait."
"But I am ready," I insist pulling myself up and sitting astride him. The heat and the tension beginning to build back up the moment I feel his erection pressing against the bottom of my ass.
He leans forward and cups my cheeks with his palms. “Naomi, this is enough. Being able to do this,” he pauses and kisses me gently on the lips, “and this,” he continues, moving his mouth down near my earlobe. “The fact that I will someday be able to do much more, that is enough.”
I moan and push my hands against Josh’s chest, the light force causing him to fall back onto the bed. The change in angle causes his erection to glance against my thighs, and sends a warm trickle of desire from my core. I want this, I want him and the force of it whisks away all of the voices.
"Josh," I breathe as I slide my right hand up to my shoulder, pulling the strap of my bra down off of it.
"Naomi?" he pants, eyes wide, watching as I repeat the same action on the opposite side. The slow dragged out striptease enough satisfaction to encourage me further.
"I want you to know," I whisper leaning down so are noses are almost touching, "I’ve never trusted anyone the way I trust you." And as the words trust and you fall out of my mouth, I unhook my bra, pulling it off completely.
"Can you touch me?" I request calmly, biting my lip and grasping his left hand guiding it up to my breast. He mirrors my actions with the other hand and very gently begins to message my breasts, kneading them and proving to me just how much his trust means to me. The touch is electric, and I instinctively throw my head back and arch further into his palms, heightening the rhythm of his caress.
"Oh God. I want…I need to be inside of you.” Josh mumbles, his mouth moving everywhere along my neck, his hands rushing up my back and over my thighs.
“Yes,” I pant trying to process his pleading words.
“Tell me if I do anything that makes you uncomfortable?”
My responses are clipped, but the beating of my heart is not. I lift up high enough so the two of us can both remove the last of the fabric barriers. Completely exposed to one another for the first time leaves the Josh and I in moment of uncertainty. The need to: touch, kiss, stare, smile, and compliment all rushing to the surface. My breathing stills as he pulls me back onto his lap by my neck, momentarily paralyzing me.
“You’re touching my neck,” I whisper quietly freaking out, but enjoying the sensation of his sturdy chest pressing into me and the feel of his fingers clutching my behind.
"Shit. Damn it. I’m sorry," he pleads pressing his face into the expanse of skin above my breasts. "I’m just nervous," he mumbles, his lips pressing softly into my skin.
“It’s okay. It’s okay.”
“Are you ready?”
I nod and lift up again, watching as he slides the condom down over his erection. He holds himself in place while I press myself down onto him. I suck in my breath, and my teeth seek my bottom lip. Biting hard over the pleasure of how complete I feel knowing he’s inside of me.
I grip his shoulders, the skin beneath my fingertips turning white from the pressure. “I haven’t done this in so long,” I whisper, pressing my forehead into his, my body still acclimating to the feeling.
“Just move, please.” He whispers softly as his hands run down my back and collecting underneath my ass. Using my knees as leverage, I comply. Rising up and then gradually falling back down. “That’s it,” he hisses through his teeth, “Yes! God! It feels so good Naomi.”
My orgasm was never a priority of Trenton’s. If he was not satisfied we would keep going until he was done. It was always rough, and eventually he noticed that the cruder he treated me during sex the faster he would finish. So that’s what it became. Trenton was my first and by the time he was finished with me, I was certain he would be my last. I was convinced sex was just added greater expectations to something that needed to be left alone.
Yet now, my legs began to shake from pleasure. The blood in my body flooding skin as Josh lifts me faster and faster. I feel as if I was a black storm cloud moving quickly in over the horizon, filled to capacity waiting for the right moment to set itself free. Each new gentle thrust creating more energy, turning over and building. Thunder in my throat; lighting in my veins; churning until I can hold no more, finally bursting free like a spring storm.
For a moment we stay still, unhurried, two people trying to remember how to function. It’s more than I ever thought possible, more than I ever thought I deserved. Would it, could it always be like this? My past made me fear it wouldn’t be, but my future encouraged me to not care because after this I never would need to know anything else.
“Naomi,” Josh whispers being the first to speak for the two of us.
“Hmmm?” I coo into his neck.
“That was more than I ever imagined it could be. ”
As I pull my face back in front of his, I see it. The lust he so badly wants to exert and the love I’m certain he wants to unleash. I know its love because I’ve never seen this look before in my life. I’ve also never experienced this feeling that it brought on. But I can’t allow myself to walk down that road. I can’t over indulge in happiness because too much of a good thing leads too more bad than good. Maybe one day it will be okay, and maybe it won’t be a bad thing. But right now, it’s not.
I lift my trembling fingers up over his lips, and watch intently as I drag them over his lips. ”I don’t know what you see in me that’s so special, but I wish I did.”