Unravel, p.12

Unravel, page 12



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  “I guess.”


  The way he says hmmm strikes me as funny and I giggle breathlessly. Hmmm, like someone trying to solve a riddle or a puzzle. If I haven’t been able to solve it in all this time, what makes Liam think he is capable? He flicks his tongue across my clit and I stop giggling.

  Liam lifts his mouth off me. He takes my hand and sucks the tips of my index and pointer finger into his mouth. For some reason I find the sight outrageously erotic. Then he takes my hand and places it at my center. “I want you to touch yourself for me.”

  I start to shake my head. “I don’t… No, Liam.”

  “Why? You never touch yourself? Remember. Only truth.”

  “Sometimes,” I whisper.

  “Then do it for me now. I want to see. I would love to watch you pleasure yourself.”

  “Liam, I’m not comfortable with this.”

  He leans up and removes his slacks. I lean up to watch him nudge his boxers down his hips. Liam stretches back out beside me and grabs around the base of his cock. “I’m touching myself, see?”

  Yes, I see, and I’m hypnotized by the sight of him slowly stroking himself. When I reach for him, he takes my hand and places it over my pussy again, making a little tsk sound. “So, what happens if you lose control?” he asks.

  “I don’t know.”

  “What is the very worst thing you can imagine? Tell me, Penny. Tell me the truth.”

  “Sometimes it feels like… I might pee?”

  “Would that be so terrible?”

  “Yes! That would be awful.” I laugh. He presses his hand over mine, urging me to keep going.

  “You have more sheets, right? It would be okay. What else? What other bad things do you imagine might happen?”

  “I might say or do something strange. I might make a weird face.”

  “You might,” he agrees. “Let’s make some weird faces now.”


  “It’ll be fun. I’ll start.” Liam lets his cheeks puff up with air, and sticks his tongue out. I laugh. “Don’t stop touching yourself, Penny. Now it’s your turn. Show me your weirdest face.”

  I go cross-eyed up at Liam until we’re both laughing.

  “What strange thing are you afraid you might say?” he asks, slowly circling one of my nipples with his thumb.

  “I might say something I don’t mean.”

  “There is nothing you could say that I wouldn’t forgive you for.” Liam rolls over halfway to reach for his pants. Never taking his eyes off my face, he tears the condom open and rolls it down his length. “Would you forgive me if I said I’ve been touching myself to the thought of having you like this for weeks now?”

  I start to shake my head, then nod quickly. “No. I mean, yes. I would forgive you. I forgive you, Liam.”

  He laughs, but his nostrils are flared from breathing heavy. “Keep touching yourself.” Liam lifts my leg up, pausing to lightly bite the back of my ankle. The gentle scrape of his teeth over that sensitive spot makes me shiver and gasp. He settles himself between my parted thighs and leans over to kiss me.

  Liam nudges against me, sinking into me so slow. I am very wet, achingly ready for him, and I tilt my hips up to meet him. His elbows rest on either side of my shoulders, and his face is very close to mine.

  After he’s seated fully inside me, Liam says my name over and over again in a desperate, pleading voice. “Penny, I’ve been looking for you for ages.”

  I don’t really believe that, but staring up into his eyes, I decide to let myself believe it in this moment. What harm could come from it? What is the worst that could happen if I lose control?

  I get crushed, and shattered, and cast aside by someone who has the power to really hurt me, is what.

  But he’s already spent well over an hour wearing down my control. It feels like he’s been doing that for weeks now. This time when I bump up against that edge, he tips me right past in a blinding, dizzying wave of sensual heat that overwhelms me completely. I shudder beneath him, and gasp unintelligibly between Liam’s parted lips. The sensation ebbs on and on. My chest aches from trying and failing to draw in breath. The way he utters my name when he swells inside me makes my chest ache for an entirely different reason.

  Chapter 15


  “I’m sorry that took so long,” Penny mumbles against my chest.

  I press my finger over her mouth, and shake my head at her. “I never want you to apologize for such a thing again, understand?”

  She nods slightly, and goes along complacently as I pull her over with me so we are facing each other in bed. Staring into her soft gray eyes, I’m at a loss for words. I push the hair back away from her face and over her shoulders. Her eyes drift closed and she makes a soft, mewing sound.

  “Do you like that?”

  “Mmhmm.” She nuzzles her face against my neck. “Maybe you can brush my hair later?” she asks quietly.

  “I would love to do that for you. Did you want me to stay over?”

  She nods. “If you want to. I don’t want you to feel obligated.”

  I laugh. “I can’t think of any other place I’d rather wake up than besides you.” Perhaps I should reel it in a bit, but I’ve spent so many long weeks thinking about this girl. Having her here in my arms is going to my head a bit. “Let me go take care of this,” I say, alluding to the condom. “I’ll be right back.”

  The first thing I notice about Penny’s bathroom is how incredibly clean it is. Not a hint of soap scum on the glass shower doors, or an errant spec of toothpaste on the vanity or mirror. I’ll admit, I take a quick peak in her medicine cabinet to find it practically bare. A couple different OTC pain relievers, birth control, lotion, a scant few cosmetics. I wash up a bit and stroll leisurely back to her bedroom, taking it all in. “What is all this?” I ask, waving my hand around at the sewing machine, mannequin, and bolts of colorful fabric laid out.

  Penny is beneath the cover now, and she pulls it back for me to climb in with her. “I’m a seamstress.”

  “When you’re not a dancer.”

  She wastes no time curling her body up against mine. Her arms circle around me, and her small hands roam all over my shoulders and back. “I guess you could say I’m both.”

  “What kinds of things do you make?”

  “Whatever people pay me to make, but it’s mostly costumes. Custom tutus. A lot of doll clothes. You wouldn’t believe how much people will spend on doll clothes. Also outfits for pets.”

  “So, you’re a dancer, seamstress, and a cuddler, I see.”

  Penny pulls away from me. “Sorry.”

  “No, come here.” I pull her back against my chest. “It wasn’t a judgement, just an observation. I love laying here like this with you.”

  We lay entwined together like that for quite a while, then I lean up against the headboard while Penny sits in front of me and I brush her hair, both of us still completely nude. It seems like such an oddly intimate act for some reason. I can’t explain it, but I’m as captivated by the glossy, golden sheen of her hair, as her lyrical voice as she tells me about the projects she is currently working on. There is excitement lacing her words as she describes the different types of fabrics required for each, and which she prefers to work with the best and least.

  “I’m starting to think you’re more of a seamstress than a dancer.”

  She narrows her eyes at me over one shoulder. “What is that supposed to mean?”

  “Relax.” I can’t help but laugh. “You are an excellent dancer. I just meant, the way you talk about your business. I can tell you’re enthusiastic about it.”

  “One day I won’t be able to dance anymore, and it’s all I’ll be, so it’s good I have it.”

  “That won’t be for a while yet.”

  She hums under her breath.

  “Are you really planning on staying at Garden City?”

  “I like it there.”

  “But you might like it somewhere
else too.”

  “I know everyone, and I feel like I fit in here.”

  “Where else did you dance?”

  She tenses in front of me. “Different places.”

  “Here in Chicago?”

  There is a lengthy pause. “I lived in New York for a while, then I came back.”


  “My mother died, then I tried to quit dancing for a few months, but I wasn’t really sure what else to do with myself. That’s when I ended up at the GCB.”

  “I’m sorry.”

  “It’s been a long time now.”

  “But it’s one of those things you never get all the way over I suppose.”

  “What about your family?”

  “You’ve met her. There’s Cate, and then my nephew. That’s all I have left really as far as family goes.”

  “That’s about the same for me. I just have Paige.”

  “You two seem close.”

  “We’ve gotten a bit closer the last few years, but we didn’t grow up together.”

  Penny’s phone rings, and she startles, then stretches over to retrieve it. She twists around to press a finger to her lips. “Hi, Seth.”

  All I hear from the phone pressed to her ear is loud music and Seth’s familiar voice, slightly slurred, at high volume.

  “I’m not coming out. It’s too late… It’s the middle of the week… You’re going to feel miserable tomorrow… No, I’m turning in soon.” Penny laughs. “You’re not driving are you?... Okay, have fun. See you in the morning.”

  “Should I expect a hungover Seth for rehearsal tomorrow?”

  “Probably.” She sighs. “He gets lonely when his boyfriend is out of town. But I hate going out with him. I’m not much for going out anyways, and since I hardly ever drink, I just end up being the babysitter.”

  “Seth’s a bit old to need a nanny.”

  “You’d think.” She leans back against my chest. “I won’t mention anything about us. He has a huge mouth, and you were right before. We wouldn’t want this to interfere with… It would be awkward. Everyone gets so gossipy there. I mean, if this is even… If this is only a one time thing, that’s okay. I understand.”

  I sweep Penny’s hair over one shoulder and press my lips against the side of her neck. “I hope it’s not a one time thing. In fact I was going to invite you to my place tomorrow for dinner. I’ll even let you watch me cook.”

  She lets out a soft, tinkling laugh. “I know it’s strange. I don’t know why I’m like that.”

  I smile against her shoulder. “You can never be too careful.”

  Penny turns around to face me. She drags the blanket along with her hands and wraps us both up in the downy warmth.

  “How is your ankle feeling?” I ask.

  “Much better.”

  “Maybe you should take another day off.”

  Penny stares at my mouth. “Are you saying that because we’re lying in bed together?”

  “Nope. I’m saying that because I’d rather have you at the top of your game for opening night.”

  “Because I don’t want it to get weird, okay? This and that are totally separate, right?”


  “Good.” Penny rubs the pads of her thumbs along the sides of my nose. She smoothes them across my cheekbones, and down the edge of my jaw in a motion reminiscent of someone molding clay.

  “Was what you said earlier true?” I ask.


  “That you can’t… or you couldn’t get off with someone else?”

  Penny nods slightly.

  “Even that guy you were with for three years?”

  Her eyes are on my mouth. “Uh huh. But he never knew, I don’t think.”

  “Why didn’t you tell him the truth?”

  “I wanted him to love me.” she states matter-of-factly.


  “Hmmm,” she shoots back, mocking. “What is that supposed to mean? You say that a lot, and sometimes I don’t know how you mean it.”

  “This time I mean it like - Hmmm. That’s kind of curious, and a little sad.”

  Penny makes a little hmmm sound of her own that dissolves into a laugh. “I wouldn’t be too curious, or too sad about it.”

  “Why lie to him, and tell me the truth?”

  “Because you said you liked it when I tell the truth, and because I don’t care if you love me or not.”

  “Why not?”

  “Because we both understand this is temporary.” She tips my chin up, and skitters her fingertips down my neck.

  I suppose she’s right. This is temporary. Penny is too young for me, and no matter how detached she may seem about it, she’s coming off a three year relationship, an engagement even. It’s a good thing for me to keep in mind, and I’m glad she laid it out there clearly. It’s a refreshing change not to play that guessing game.

  And it’s a gargantuan lie, of course. I’m not glad to learn this is transient, no matter how much I tell myself otherwise. It makes me a little numb to her lips against mine, to the scrape of her teeth against the lobe of my ear. By the time her lips are tracing down the center of my chest, I’m feeling less numb. When her lips are wrapped around my cock, I’m not numb at all.

  “I hope these aren’t expired,” Penny says a little later, leaning over me to paw through the drawer of her nightside stand. She come back with a condom that lucky for both of us isn’t expired.

  Penny’s lips slants against mine in a heated kiss that goes on and on. This time she doesn’t require nearly the same amount of coaxing. Her palms press into my shoulders as she moves on top of me at a slow, even pace that quickly ramps up as I reach between us to strumb my thumb against her swollen clit. Her hair falls around us like a shimmering, golden veil. She flutters around me, panting into my mouth. Her back arches and she murmurs unintelligibly against my chin. Hearing her and feeling her come undone, undoes me, but it’s not enough to completely blot out that word said in her usual quiet, slightly raspy voice.


  We are still entangled and connected, neither of us quite come down all the way yet, when she grins at me. Penny’s laugh is sweet and lyrical as she kisses my face all over. “Liam Thibault, I think you fixed me.”

  The next morning I wake up mildly disoriented, and confused about my surroundings, alone in an unfamiliar bed. I lay there for a moment, rubbing my eyes, and staring vacantly at the painting hung on the opposite wall. After a moment to consider, I wiggle down in bed a few inches until the foreground details sharpen, and the background grows fuzzy, producing almost a 3D effect.

  If I hadn’t had Penny at my side at that art show, I would’ve passed this piece by without a second glance. From a distance, it’s nothing special. The same from up close, but there really is a magic perspective that makes it come alive.

  After a quick stretch, I climb out of bed, and wander out in only my boxers to find Penny hunched over the table in her living room. There is gold fabric spread out, and she is pinning a sheer paper cutout along the center.

  “Good morning.”

  Penny murmurs under breath without looking in my direction.

  “You’re up early.”

  “I like to get up early.”

  Obviously she’s at an important place in whatever she’s doing, so I help myself to a cup of coffee and watch her work for a bit. Her hair is damp from the shower, and she’s already dressed in her usual attire, leggings and a slouchy sweater.

  Penny takes a break from what she’s doing to stretch, then she wanders over to the window to peak out between the blinds.

  “I should probably get going,” I say, trying not to sound as conflicted as I feel over her dismissal.

  “Okay. I’ll see you at rehearsal.”

  And that’s that. I get dressed and prepare to leave. Penny doesn’t offer me anything as I depart except a flimsy smile aimed over my shoulder.

  At rehearsal Seth is indeed hungover. Penny behaves like the usual
Penny, quiet, focused, barely paying me any mind except when I’m speaking directly to her.

  This is good. It’s just as well. Five days out from opening night, and I don’t have the time or patience for a new, complicated entanglement. Whatever happened was just casual.

  Lies. Lies. Lies.

  I’ve done the casual thing a number of times since my divorce. I haven’t been interested in much else, but my feelings for Penny far exceeded casual before last night ever transpired.

  And she made her feelings blatantly known this morning.

  Then much to my surprise and mild annoyance, Penny catches up to me after rehearsal, moving quiet as a little mouse like always. The small, warm touch of her hand on my elbow startles me, and the sound I make startles her.

  We both say sorry at the same time.

  “Did you still want me to come over tonight?” Penny asks.

  I almost want to say no, but I can’t force the single syllable out. “Do you still want to come over tonight?”

  She nods up at me earnestly.

  “Because after this morning, I thought… Penny, I’m not sure what to think about you sometimes.”

  Penny sighs at the floor. “I’m not sure what to think about me sometimes either.”

  I laugh, and some of the tension I’ve been hoarding in my shoulders all morning melts away. “You were a little... aloof towards me this morning.”

  “Oh.” Penny blinks towards my chest a few times, appearing deep in thought. “Sorry. I’m used to being alone in the mornings. I like to work when it’s quiet.”

  It’s such an honest, straightforward answer, which doesn’t really do much to explain the difference between Penny last night and this morning, but I’m already feeling so hopelessly lost for her, all I can do is let it slide.

  Chapter 16


  That evening Penny brings along a bottle of wine, which she doesn’t drink a drop of. She picks apart the stir-fry I made, choosing to eat small portions of the individual parts. I’m beginning to think Penny isn’t just shy, she’s a bit eccentric. Also her shyness seems so transient, and almost nonexistent at times when we’re alone together.

  After she’s eaten a bird sized portion of her meal, Penny crosses over to settle herself on my lap without invitation. The way she does this is so natural, without a hint of hesitation, I can’t help but laugh.

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