Undertow: A compilation of short beach stories, page 31
“Hey, yourself. Thanks for the toothbrush and the gardenia soap. I slip behind him and wrap my arms around his waist in a hug. “Can I have a do-over on the strip tease thingum?”
“Hol…” he straightens and turns in my arms “…you can have all the do-overs you want, anytime you want. I’ll save the playlist.”
He nods solemnly. “Yeah.”
I lift a shoulder with a half-hearted chuckle. “Last night was a microcosm of my life.”
“Well, I be killing it…” I flashed Max a look of inquiry and frown. “I was killing it, wasn’t I?”
Max smiles and nods with a soft, “Yes, ma’am. You were effing laying it down.”
“Well…I’ll be killing it and then something unforeseen will put me on my ass.”
Max’s arms tighten around me and we stand there in silence until the coffee is ready.
I fucking hate myself. I should’ve told her. I should have told her when we were standing in the kitchen this morning. I want to protect her. I want to shelter her from all those ‘unforeseen’ circumstances—not be one of them. What are the words to that song? If you liked it, you should’ve put a ring on it. Yeah, I want to put a fucking ring on it. It’s that simple. She’s it for me.
Holiday insisted on going home. Said she didn’t want to get me in trouble with my boss. Fuck that. I should’ve told her then. Instead, I drove her the five-minute drive to her apartment in that piece of crap bus—the poor babe could hardly walk, much less work a clutch—and then I called a cab and came back to the cabana. I’m not supposed to drive because of the seizures, but I figured I could handle a five-minute trip to West Palm. She lives in a dump. The effing cockroaches are as big as her goldfish. I want her out of there. I should’ve told her. Shit. I can’t lose her. I gotta find some way to tell her.
The first thing I do after waving good-bye to Max is check my mail. Yes! My lab results. I rip open the envelope and scan the small print. All normal, not that I was worried—much. We won’t need condoms for birth control, either. I have an IUD. Good thing, as I would probably forget to take a pill every day. I can’t even remember my vitamins.
I lean against the kitchen counter and pull my dirty clothes from yesterday out of my backpack. A white legal envelope falls to the kitchen floor. I eye it. Do I want to know what’s in it bad enough to bend down? Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I do. Five minutes later, I carefully open the envelope and smile. It’s cash. Max paid me. I still feel guilty about taking money for something that’s such a joy. I count it. $250.00 in twenties and tens. I feel giddy having so much money. I pull out $50.00 to use for groceries. I’ll bank the rest for my tuition. I put the envelope in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, as I have no illusions about how easy my apartment is to break into. I figure no thief will check the freezer. My phone chimes. Max sent me a text.
Max: Miss U. What U doing today?
Me: LOL U just saw me. Miss U2. Laundry!
Max: U have food? Aspirin?
Me: Yes. I’m good. Go to work! Don’t worry about me.
Max: Not happening.
Me: OMG labs came. We R free to whatever.
Max: Whatever? Babe, UR killing me.
Me: Thks for the $$$
Max: You earned it. Whatcha wearing tomorrow?
Me: LOL I think Super Girl is up. Give Snaf a kiss. XOXO
Max: Nope. Keeping them all for me.
True to my word, I spend the day hanging out in the laundry room and then grocery shopping. OMG. Driving the Wombat? Either my yelps when I shift are pretty loud or the engine runs quieter than usual. Hmm. I think Fred has fixed more than the battery cables and not charged me. I wouldn’t put it past him. I’ll have to add some extra to the $12.99 I owe him.
I blame fantasizing about tomorrow for the extravagance of the warming lube that made its way into my grocery cart. $4.59 for a one-ounce bottle? Wow. That’s two twelve-packs of ramen beef noodles. If Max likes it, it’s cheap. What can you say about a man who makes me forget about my awkward ineptness? Yeah, I wish I was a world-class lover who blasted Max into orgasmic space. Realistically? Sex is like dancing. No one is very good while learning the steps.
Somehow, with Max, I don’t mind my klutziness or lack of experience. His eyes light with a gentle humor that tells me he’s charmed and entertained—instead of irritated or put off. Well, after the pain fades, anyway. Le sigh. In the three minutes before I fall asleep tonight, a warm glow fills me. I’ve never felt such joy and hopefulness about my future. My happiness is bulletproof.
I’m up extra early Wednesday morning. I figure I’ll want the time. While I feel bunches better than I did yesterday, my right butt cheek still shrieks stop every time I ‘go’ and sitting down is, um, problematic. But! I’m not going to let a little discomfort rain on my Sex-With-Max parade. Gosh…I hope he’s planning on sex with me; Miss Kitty is tired of being dressed with no place to go.
My heart does a little leap when I see the two of them waiting in the early dawn light. I can’t think of a better way to start a day—or end it for that matter—than seeing Max Harper and Snafu. Max saunters toward me with a wave and a big grin on his face. Snaf does his usual imitation of a bowling ball and I brace for contact.
Max’s limp is barely noticeable. I shouldn’t have suggested we walk the beach yesterday. I caught the grimaces of pain on his face and the pill he took at lunch when he thought I wasn’t looking. I didn’t say anything. His pride has taken such a battering. I’m not about to deal it one more blow by suggesting he can’t handle a slow stroll down the beach. I’ll remember to keep it short next time.
“Free for whatever, Holiday?”
I shiver in anticipation at the suggestive note in his call as he approaches. Miss Kitty is doing high fives all around. “Um…yeah, Max.” I bat my eyes playfully and channel my inner sex kitten. “Whatever,” I call back.
When he reaches me, Max hands me the tennis ball chucker and I dutifully hurl a ball down the sand for Snafu. Max pulls me into his arms for a gentle hug and I can tell the direction his mind is taking. I wiggle my hips into his groin. “Rex is up awful early this morning.”
Max throws his head back and laughs. I’m toast. The carefree joy I hear fills me with such love for this man I’m about to burst. I’ve been warning myself to be more cautious with my heart, but I have no defenses against Max Harper. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
“Babe, Rex has been up since your text yesterday.” Max grins at me from his towering six-three and waits for me to toss another tennis ball for Snafu. “More important, how are you feeling?”
“My butt’s a little cranky and the back of my head is still tender.” I smile up at Max. “But, given my enthusiasm for the upcoming game, I can play with the pain, coach. Put me in.”
His smile softens and his gaze holds mine. What I see in it sends Miss Kitty strutting to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk. When he leans down, cradles my face and kisses me, I’m lost in the warm pressure of his lips and the gentle play of his tongue. He tastes like mint toothpaste. Years go by. Okay…minutes. He has to steady me when he finally pulls away, and both of us are breathing like we’ve run five miles. “I’ll get back to this later, babe.” He strokes my cheek and steps away.
For the rest of the morning we play with Snafu, laughing at his antics and chatting about my plans for enrolling at Palm Beach Junior College. I tell Max about my ambition to become a legal assistant and child advocate. The entire time, anticipation for later this afternoon plays like a song in the background.
“A child advocate because of your situation in foster care?” he questions.
“Yeah. There are so many kids lost in the system who need an adult to speak up for them. What about you? Happy being a caretaker?” Max shifts his position on the beach towel and gazes at the water. He picks up some seashell fragments from
“It keeps me occupied while I’m recovering and I don’t mind the work. I wouldn’t want to make a career of it, though.”
“Do you know what you’d like to do?” I toss the 1,523rd ball for Snafu. He bolts after it as if it were the first. Tireless. I’d pay for his energy. Max continues to flip shells into the sea.
“Once I get a handle on my physical situation, I’d like to go back and finish my masters in finance. What I’ll do with it, I’m not sure.”
“Gosh, Max, when did you have time? I thought you were pretty busy ducking for cover.” Max snorts and cocks his head, flashing me an amused glance.
“I was a forward sharpshooter, babe. Most of the time, you couldn’t distinguish me from the cover.” He flipped another seashell into the surf. “There’s some down time and the Army encourages you to get your degrees. I took most of my classes online. It’s a slog…no doubt about it, but I’d need something more than high school when I got out. It took me over six years. The norm is four or five, but I stayed after it.”
“You’re down-playing the work involved. You must be pretty smart.” Max shrugs. “Come on. Fess up.” I poke him in the ribs and he flinches with a grunt. “What’s your GPA?”
He rolls his eyes and mutters, “Three point eight-five. Writing for the Business Professional was a bitch.”
“Max! That’s almost an ‘A’ average. You are a genius.” I cross my arms and gloat. “I knew it. Handsome and smart and you cook. You are truly a god among men.” He makes a rude noise, shakes his head and stands, pulling me to my feet. I yip at the protest from my hind regions and wave off his look of concern. “Fine, fine…just a little sore.”
We pack up our stuff in silence charged with sexual awareness. Max holds my hand all the way to the cabana. There’s that low voltage—again. When we get there, we set about our normal routine but I stare at the shrimp salad and slices of avocado on the counter. “I don’t think I can eat,” I whisper. “I don’t know why I’m whispering.”
Max hits me with a half-lidded, smoldering side-glance. “I’m not hungry either and I know why you’re whispering,” he whispers.
“You do?” I whisper back.
“Mmm-hmm.” He stands, holds out his hand and helps me off the barstool. His warm hand envelopes mine and he leads me quietly to his bedroom.
I gesture to the bed and whisper, “Are we going to…ah…”
“Mmm-hmm.” Max’s lips curve in a half smile. His gaze examines me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and refocuses on my breasts. I’ve seen cheetahs on Animal Planet wear that look as they stalk their prey. “I need my backpack,” I whisper. “It’s by the door.”
Max nods. “I need you on that bed,” he murmurs. “I’ll get your backpack.” My heart beats triple time in my chest as I back away and sit in the middle of his bed, Indian style. I can see the sexual tension floating in the air. It has disguised itself as dust motes. It’s not. He points at me. “Don’t move a muscle.”
Holy Moly. I swallow heavily. Then he grins and laughs.
“Breathe, babe.” The tension eases, but his eyes never leave mine until he turns and strolls out of the room.
When he returns, he tosses my backpack to me and begins to unbutton his shirt. I stall, caught in admiring the golden tanned skin, sculptured pecs and abs on display. With a shiver, I shake myself and unzip the compartment holding my extravagant purchase. I toss the backpack on the floor and hold up the bottle of heating lubricant. “Thought this might be fun.”
Half-undressed, Max crawls over the bed and lies down on his side with his head propped on one hand. He pats the bed next to him. “Right here. Show me what you have there.” I snuggle next to him and hand him the bottle. “Hmm. ‘Enhance your intimacy with a gentle warming sensation’…” His eyebrows rise and he shoots me an amused look. “Love the idea…but, let’s try vanilla for our first time. I’m pretty sure I can get you warm.” He grins. “I used to be pretty good at this.”
My mouth rounds in an unspoken, “Oh.” Max traces a finger under my chin and gently closes my mouth. At the nape of my neck, his fingers find the bow to my bikini top and pull. His fingers trace down my spine to the other strings at the middle of my back and pull those. As his hand skims my flank, his fingers close around the material of my top and slips it free. The girls rejoice in their liberation and ache for a touch. With a fascination undeserved by my worn cut-offs, Max watches intently as he skims my shorts off. With a bark of laughter at my panties, he catches my eyes. “Superwoman? Good choice.” He hooks those off, too.
Max groans. One arm wraps around me and pulls me underneath him. He bears the majority of his weight on his elbows. One heavy thigh lies across my groin and his erection prods my thigh.
“Aren’t you going to take off your shorts?” I want to feel all of him, skin to skin.
“Eventually. I’m not rushing this,” he murmurs as he nuzzles into the crook of my neck. His pecs graze my hard nipples and I inhale sharply at the lance of sensation. Miss Kitty is dancing the Jive. “I’m going to make you feel real good first.”
“That won’t be hard. I feel pretty good already.”
“Ah, babe, I’m just getting started. You’re so pretty. I don’t want to neglect a single inch of you.”
He doesn’t. He pets, licks, teases and caresses every single centimeter of my flesh—front and back, even between my toes—until I’m a screaming, pre-orgasmic wreck. How long have I been here? I’m sure it must be Friday by now. Max pauses to skinny out of his shorts then returns to my breasts.
“Max! Please, please, please. In me, in me. I need you in me!” I begged, writhing under his sucking and laving of my nipples. All the while, Rex lurks on Miss Kitty’s threshold promising ecstasy. She’s thrown the door to the party wide open but Rex ignores her blatant invitation—just leans against the doorframe and growls naughty things to her. Max flashes his hazel eyes at me, smiles around my nipple, then comes off with a pop. My chest heaves with my strident inhales and exhales. “Please, Max…please. No more teasing.”
His long arms wrap under my shoulders and his hands hold each side of my face. “Keep your eyes on mine, babe,” he murmurs. He centers himself and pushes with his hips. Oh…um…wow. Miss Kitty’s gonna have a full house. My eyes widen at the stretch. Max pauses.
“You okay, babe? I know it’s been awhile.”
I nod vigorously. “I’m okay. Don’t stop.”
A wicked smile flirts with his lips. “No. Not for a long time.”
I think I did something dignified—like whimper. He works himself into me gently, only stopping when he nudges my tonsils. His eyes hold mine with such warmth and tenderness that had my heart not already been lost to Mr. Harper, he would have captured it then. There’s something about being filled to the point where it’s almost painful. Somehow, your body accepts the invasion and then…oh…and then.
He’s in no hurry. It’s as if he luxuriates in the feel of me, as if he wallows in the pleasure one body creates for another. Max uses his like Michelangelo used his brush. He paints a masterpiece of physical sensation that lifts me higher and higher to a crisis of pleasure that fractures me into millions of pieces of ecstasy. My screams still ring in the room when I open my eyes. Max watches me with a look of immense satisfaction. I’m lost in his handsome face. It takes me a moment to register the steely hardness still filling me.
“You didn’t come?”
He kisses me, lingering and soft. His heart pounds in heavy thuds in his chest and the muscles in his arms tremble. “Not yet.” He nuzzles me and places small kisses around my lips. “Am I too heavy for you? How’s your butt?”
“What butt? You mean I’ve body parts not centered between my legs? Oh, Max…I had no idea.” I feel his laughter inside where he still stretches me. His hips begin a gentle advance and retreat. Miss Kitty sits up from where she’d passed out on the floor and straightens her party hat. “Oh…Max,” I moan
Methodically and thoroughly, he destroys me again. This time, his groans accompany my screams, and afterward he rolls over and pulls the shot-silk duvet over us. I’m too happy and too limp to utter one word of protest about duvet abuse. I snuggle to his chest and surrender to an excess of bliss.
“Holiday? Stay with me tonight.”
Max’s chest vibrates under my ear. I nod. “Mmm-hmm. Max?”
“It’s still Wednesday, right?” His low chuckle bounces me on his abdomen.
“Yes. It’s Wednesday for another ten minutes.”
“Mmm-kay. The orgasms displaced my brain. I kinda lost track of time. I have a catering job on Friday afternoon. Please don’t let me miss it.” His arms hug me closer and he kisses the top of my head.
“I won’t let you miss your job, babe.”
“Thanks.” I wiggle closer to his warm body. “I don’t want to move.”
“Let’s slide under the sheets and then you don’t have to.”
I prop up long enough for Max to turn the sheets back and then we both slide in and spoon. I’m oblivious until morning.
The smell of fresh coffee hits my nose about the same time as Snafu. The Lab snuffles and licks my face. “Hey, buddy.” I pat him on the head and stir. I’m alone in the bed. I crane my head to see the clock. “Oh, wow, Snaf, 9:00 a.m. I gotta get up.” I carefully straighten in bed and do a mental inventory. I ache between my legs—a good kind of ache. My head is still tender. My butt still complains. None of it can dim the euphoria of my spirit. I’m so in love it makes me dizzy. I need to find Max.
The man of my heart walks into the bedroom. He smiles and sits on the side of the bed. An ordinary white undershirt and low riding jeans have never looked so good. “Hey, babe.”
I beam at him. “Hey yourself, stud.” His grin widens. Shyness overwhelms me for absolutely no reason and I examine the slubs of shot-silk on the duvet. “Last night was…ah…awesome.”