I push my flat door open. The rest of my day was weird and exhausting. I want to spend the evening curled up on the sofa, eating junk and drinking vodka, but the light is on in the corridor and my place smells like food, so I know I won’t be having any time to myself. I guess that’s okay, since I’ve been trying to get in touch with Levi since this morning. I’m kind of dreading seeing him now, though. How can I possibly have this conversation?
I open the door into the living room.
“In here,” he says from the kitchen. The door is ajar, so he’s obviously been expecting me. I completely forgot he was meant to come over tonight. He waits to speak again until I’m standing in the kitchen. “It sounded like you were having a hard day, so I thought I’d come over a little earlier and make us some food.”
He’s so sweet. I wonder if he’s really here to break up with me for a second, even though he looks completely relaxed as he stirs the pot with a wooden spoon. “Food?”
“Yeah,” he replies. “Cactus soup.”
“Yeah. I saw this recipe I wanted to try.”
He looks at me and smiles. Levi’s teeth are perfect. Not in a “he’s gotten a lot of dental work done” way, in a “he really looks after himself” way and “happens to have great genes” kind of a way. His eyes light up, too, when he smiles, but not in a way that contrasts with his face. He’s one of those people who looks like they’re always smiling. Which shouldn’t work and doesn’t even make sense—Levi doesn’t smile that much—but it totally does work.
I swallow and try not to look right at him. “We need to talk.”
“I know,” he says, turning the stove down without looking at it. “What’s going on? I got about five texts at five thirty.”
My heart is beating really fast. Levi’s only been in my life a few months, but it feels like forever. He’s been nothing but nice to me—well, that’s not true, he was reticent at first, which meant he was a bit hot and cold, and he’s put his foot down about keeping our relationship a secret, but it’s with good reason. I’ve managed to slowly lull him into a sense of security. He trusts me now, I think, though he says he always liked me. And I’m about to ruin all of that because I thought some punk jerk was hot. “I did something.”
He raises his eyebrows. Why isn’t he wearing a shirt? This would be easier if he was wearing a shirt. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I reply too quickly, rubbing the bridge of my nose. I feel like I’m about to faint. He knows me well enough to know it’s a lie, but I don’t know if he’s going to call me out. If I do faint, I wonder if he’d catch me if he knew what I had done. I’m so busy psyching myself up and completely forget I’m supposed to actually be talking to him.
He prompts me, rather gently, his voice all quiet. “Damien?”
“Actually, no,” I reply. It takes me forever to talk and I feel like an idiot because, when I finally manage to speak, I can’t even do it quickly. It’s just drawn out and torturous, the sound of my own voice. “I did something really stupid and I think you’re about to dump me.”
He looks right at me, his grey eyes sparkling. If I didn’t know better, I would say he’s trying to contain laughter. But I do know better. I just don’t know exactly what he’s trying to hold back. “What did you do?”
“I, um, well—someone kissed me.”
He nods, his hair moving around his face when he does. He keeps it tied up, but little strands of black hair still fall on his face, barely touching his skin when he moves. He looks like something out of a romantic painting, bits of splotchy light and dark on his face, his outline perfectly framed as if he was some sort of hero or something. “Someone kissed you?”
“Yes,” I say, looking away from him. I don’t know how I’m meant to speak to him about something that could break us when he looks like this. “My new, my boss, I guess, I don’t really know. He kissed me.”
Levi bites his lower lip. I think he’s trying to stop himself from smiling. Or maybe crying. I don’t know and I daren’t ask. “What did you do?”
I wonder if I need to give him a full account. Some sort of play-by-play, something. But if he knows I was just standing there—if he knows I was waiting for it, then maybe he’ll cut me even less slack. I decide to just go for simple. There’s less than can go wrong that way. “I, um, kissed him back.”
He tilts his head and looks at me, narrowing his eyes just a little bit. “And then what happened?”
“I broke it off,” I say before taking a deep breath. “But not, not as quick as I should have. Just when I knew things were going a bit far.”
Levi smiles. That’s not what I expected. It seems sincere enough, wrinkles appearing around his eyes. “And how did you know it was going a bit far?”
I’m so confused. Which seems to be the standard lately. I don’t think I’ve felt certain of anything at all today, and my head is swimming.
“I could, uh, feel him,” I say. I’m not looking at Levi anymore, I’m looking at my shoes. “You know. Like, pressing against me.”
For a moment the world is perfectly still. Nothing happens. Then Levi speaks. “You mean you could feel his erection?”
My heart is racing when I finally answer. “Yes,” I say, feeling my cheeks blush. “That’s what I mean. Levi, I’m so sor—”
“You don’t feel like he forced himself on you? You said he was kind of your boss.”
I could probably get out of this if I say he did. I consider doing it for a second before I finally gather all the courage I have and look up at him again. The amused expression is gone, but it’s not replaced by anger. He’s worried and that makes me feel even worse.
“No.” I exhale heavily through my nose. This is it. I’ve ruined it. The best relationship of my life and I’ve cut it short by being an absolute idiot. So fucking typical. Well, I guess there’s nothing else to lose at this point. “No, not at all. He did kiss me first, but I knew that it was coming. I could’ve stopped him—”
“Let me rephrase that,” Levi says, putting his fingers under my chin and lifting my face up. “Did you feel like you were in a position where, if you were to turn him down, you’d be in trouble?”
Ugh. Even after all of that, he’s still worried about me. It makes me feel sick to my stomach.
“I mean, a little? Honestly, Levi, I wasn’t thinking about my job when I was doing it.”
He stops touching me, but he’s still staring. He doesn’t move his hand either—his fingers are still, like, hovering around me, like he’s waiting for me to say the right thing so he can touch me again. “So you liked it.”
Now I’m really, really nervous. This feels like a test and I’ve never been good at tests. It was easier a second ago when I had felt like I’d already failed. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say here. I wonder if I should lie. “He was—I mean, he wasn’t you.”
“Tell me the truth,” he says, cutting right through me.
I take a deep breath. This is it. This is the end. Okay, at least I’m ready for this. I open my mouth, fully aware than I’m about to kill my relationship. “I liked it. That’s why I stopped it. I didn’t want to—”
“Cheat on me?”
“Yeah,” I say. His hand is on my cheek now and I lean into his touch. I close my eyes and try to keep my voice steady when I speak. “Cheat on you any more than I already have.”
When I open my eyes, he’s frowning, but he hasn’t moved his hand away from me. “I didn’t know we were exclusive.”
“Wait, what do you mean? Have you—”
“No,” he replies, laughing, tracing my lips with his fingertips. “Not since we’ve been seeing each other. You know, properly, since the beginning of the summer. We just haven’t had this talk and I assumed that we weren’t there yet.”
“So you’re not angry?”
“I’m a little angry.” He finally drops his hand and he’s not touching me, but it’s okay. He was doing that to reassure me, I think, and it worked. I don’t feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff anymore, but the ground doesn’t feel steady quite yet.
“But you’re not breaking up with me?”
“No,” he says. “I’m not breaking up with you. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I don’t understand,” I say, sighing. “Then why are you mad?”
He tilts his head and smiles. “You know, I’m not actually sure.”
“But we’re, we’re okay?”
“Yes,” he replies. “We’re okay. Thank you for telling me.”
He kisses me on the lips, putting his hands on my arms. I place my hand on his chest and kiss him back, feeling an incredible amount of relief. He breaks off the kiss, smiles, and kisses me again, this time sticking his tongue into my mouth. He fumbles with the buttons on my shirt. He slides the shirt down my arms before he moves away from my face again. His hand is on my chest and now it’s moving up toward my face again. He stops on my neck before he speaks again.
“What does he look like?”
I frown. “Who?”
“Your boss maybe,” he says.
“John,” I reply. We’re both shirtless and his hand is on me and I don’t know why he’s decided to talk about this now. I really, really need this, so I don’t know why he’s stretching it out. Making it painful. Though I guess I deserve it a little bit. “Do we need to talk about it?”
He smirks, bites his lower lip and yanks me toward him. “Yes,” he says before he starts nibbling on my neck and stroking my back. “We do.”
“He’s cute,” I say between pants. “White. He’s your type actually, about six three, I guess, a bit taller than you. Dark hair, green eyes. A little thin. Really intense. Has a mohawk.”
“He sounds hot,” Levi says into my neck. He rubs on the fabric of my trousers before he moves his hands toward my belt and unbuckles it with ease. He wraps his fingers around me and chuckles and holy shit, I don’t think I’ve ever been this hard before in my life. “Obviously.”
I nod and tilt my head back, trying to think of something else. Because I feel like I’m about to explode. “He is.”
“Is he a good kisser?”
Oh my God, I think Levi is trying to kill me.
“Yes,” I say. Moan. Something. I think I manage to make it sound slightly coherent. “A very good kisser. Aggressive.”
Levi nods. “Did you want him to fuck you?”
His breathing has quickened too, but his voice sounds totally fixed. Almost bored really. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to say. Is this part of the test? Will he stop touching me if I tell him the truth?
“Damien,” he says, stretching out my name. His voice sounds a little rougher, a little more insistent. “Did you want him to fuck you?”
I’m actually, literally too overwhelmed to speak right now. But that seems to be enough of an answer, because Levi smiles knowingly and kisses my chest and my stomach until he’s down on his knees, and I’m in his mouth.
As soon as his lips touch me, I feel my knees go weak. I grab him by the hair. I mean, I try to run my fingers through his hair, but I’m totally useless and it’s too much, and I stop him.
“Wait,” I say. “I’m really close.”
He moves away from me and laughs, but I can still feel his breath on my skin and his nails on my legs. “I’ve hardly touched you.”
“I know,” I say. At least this is giving me a little time to think, even if it is infinitesimal. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
He laughs again, and this time it’s a proper laugh, not the kind of playful chuckle from before. But it kind of catches in his throat and his voice is hoarse when he finally speaks. “Why don’t we take this to the bedroom?”
I nod, help him get to his feet, and let him guide me towards the bedroom.