Unravel, page 13
She feeds me a few bites until I tell her that’s enough and I’m hungry for something else.
I am utterly obsessed with her nipples which are so pale they nearly blend in with the surrounding skin of her breasts, the elegant line of her shoulders and neck, the indecipherable, breathless mumble she makes when she falls apart. Afterwards she tucks herself up small against my chest, fitting perfectly in the hollow beneath my chin and within my arms.
“Why don’t you like being called Penelope?”
She stiffens slightly. “It’s too long. Four syllables is too long for a name. It takes too long to say.”
“What does Hmmm mean this time?” she asks.
“It means I don’t think you’re telling me the whole truth.”
“When I was younger it seemed like a very grown up name, and I didn’t care for it.”
“And I guess Penny stuck?”
“I’m sorry I kept calling you that a few weeks ago.”
“Why did you do that?”
I have to think for a moment, then I gave a lock of her a hair a very light tug. “The same reason a little boy pulls a little girl’s pigtail on the playground, I suppose.”
“Because you’re mean?” she asks, sounding genuinely puzzled.
I roll her beneath me and kiss her forehead, the tip of her nose, and her lips. “I could never be mean to you.”
She doesn’t look entirely convinced of that, but her arms wind around my neck. She hooks her ankles behind my knees. “Lay on me, all the way.”
“Put all your weight on me.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Penny.”
“You won’t. Please, Liam. Just for a second.”
I obliged her request, but don’t place all my weight on her. I’m not overly large, but in contrast to Penny I am huge.
She lets out a long, contented sigh against my shoulder, and after a brief moment, I roll aside carefully. “Thank you, Liam. That was nice.”
“You’re welcome?” I laugh lightly. She gives me a nervous grin in response, so I pull her up on top of me and fling my arms out. “I think I’m starting to see the appeal. This is nice.”
Penny’s smile turns genuine, but a few hours later when we prepare to turn in for the night and I ask her about the blanket she brought along, her smile disappears completely. “I brought it just in case.”
“In case you were cold?”
She shrugs, leaving it folded up with her bag.
“Is it the same one I saw in your dressing room?”
Penny shakes her head.
“Did you make it?”
She nods, and slowly moves to go retrieve it. “I like to feel the different fabrics. That’s why it looks like this. It’s arranged by texture, not color or pattern.” Penny spreads it out across our laps and starts pointing out the stitched together blocks. Sateen, velvet, poplin, damask… As she speaks, she takes my hand to run my fingers over each square.
“Is it like a… security blanket?”
That question makes Penny laugh, but she doesn’t answer me one way or the other.
I turn off the light, and pull her against me so both of us are beneath her blanket. For some reason I’m more intrigued than off-put. I suppose I’m wondering what she needs security from, if it’s anything tangible or just an old habit.
The next morning Penny is up very early without the aid of an alarm. She wakes me as she carefully stretches out of my arms. “Where are you going?” I mumble groggily.
“Liam, I’m not trying to be aloof again but I need to go work,” she whispers.
I sit up to turn the bedside lamp on so I can take in the sight of her, slightly frizzy hair and puffy eyes, her serious, expectant countenance. “Were you just going to sneak off?” I ask.
“I didn’t want to wake you.”
“I don’t mind. I’d much rather you wake me than disappear without a word.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll remember that.”
Laughing quietly, I pull her up against me. “If you don’t at least kiss me goodbye, you’re going to hurt my feelings, Penny Abbott.”
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Liam Thibault.” She kisses me, not begrudgingly exactly, but there is an air of impatience like she really is eager to get back to her place and get busy.
I’m starting to see Penny is a bit quirky, and a lot independent. I give her ass a playful swat. “I’ll see you later, beautiful girl.”
The morning of the show’s opening, I find Penny in the smallest studio just like most other mornings. “You should save some of that for tonight.”
Penny smirks up at me. “Is that a suggestion or an order?”
“Neither. It’s really just an excuse to come see you for a moment.” I take Penny’s hand, and slide my other palm against the front of her hip and down her thigh until she floats her leg back, then I lead her around in a slow promenade. After a quick peek over my shoulder to make sure we’re still alone, I press my lips against hers in a lingering kiss.
Penny blinks up at her, her eyes a bit hazy with desire. “You just saw me this morning.”
“But that was this morning.” I’ve seen her every morning, and every evening since that first night together, and in that time I’ve started to pick up a bit on Penny’s… peculiarities, for lack of a better term.
When she says, “I need to work now,” or those moments when she reaches for her blanket, I know she wants to be alone. The rest of the time she is content to occupy practically the same physical space with me, curled up against me, sitting on my lap, pressed beneath me. What I took for aloofness is something else I haven’t yet defined, but I’ve quickly learned not to take it personally.
She usually prefers solitude while she dances in the morning too, but I’m not getting that vibe from her at all right now. She twirls slowly and molds her back against my front, draping one arm up and behind my neck. Penny doesn’t ask for what she wants. She shows me with one carefully pointed foot placed out to my left, a gentle tap behind my ear. I lift her up and around. Her eyes find mine in the mirror and she takes my hand on her waist and tugs it up to her breast.
We meet back at her dressing room only because it is closer. It’s a bit reckless perhaps, not that it would be the end of the world if someone found out, but we’ve haven’t done anything like this at the theater up until now.
I have Penny pinned against the back of her door, tasting the skin of her neck. At least she has the presence of mind to turn the lock because I’m not entirely coherent at the moment. She untucks my shirts and runs her hands beneath to skim up my torso. The leotard she wears has snaps at the crotch which give way with relative ease. There’s no discussion about it, but I think we both understand it’s best to work around what clothes we can.
We make it over to her small couch. She pushes me back so I’m sitting and starts to tug down her tights and panties, not in a teasing, strip tease fashion. Penny seems as eager to have me inside her as I am to feel her around me.
Her initial nervousness in regards to this has completely vanished, but I still catch her off guard when I turn her around so she is facing away from me. I slide my palms along her inner thighs until she is spread wide for me. Her small fingers are warm around my cock as she pulls me free.
“Shit.” My head lolls back against the back of the sofa. “I don’t have a condom.”
Penny groans in frustration, sliding against the edge of my length. “I’m safe… if you are, and I’m on birth control, but I like to be extra careful, you know. Just in case. If that makes sense. Does that make sense?”
“You want me to pull out.”
“I can manage that.”
Before I’ve even managed that full sentence, she is directing my tip at her opening, and I lift my hips to thrust inside her.
“Oh, this feels different,” she remarks, wiggling her ass against my hips until she
“You’ve never done this before?”
“No. I like to be extra careful. A baby would ruin… Oh. Oh, god.”
“Shhh.” One of my hands works between her legs. The other pushes her leotard up her stomach and her chest to lightly pinch her nipples.
I find us in the vanity mirror situated over to the side of the room. Penny’s half-lidded eyes are already there. Biting her lip, she is fixated on the sight of her body stretched around my length. I lick behind her ear. “You like watching us?”
“I don’t know.”
“The truth, Penny. Only the truth.”
“I like it,” she admits.
“I like it too.” I lean back and pull her more firmly against me, driving myself deeper inside her. “Spread your legs wider so we can both see.”
Penny obliges my request with a low moan.
“Quiet,” I whisper close to her ear. “I’m going to fuck you hard now, but I’ll have to stop if you can’t control yourself.”
Her eyes go round and her breath hitches. For a second I fear I’ve gone too far, but the tight squeeze around my dick tells me otherwise.
One of her arms stretches behind us as she palms the back of my neck. The other is wrapped around my forearm. She rolls her lips inwards and bites down to keep quiet as I roll my hips up against her ass at a driving pace.
Penny controls herself very well. I’m the one forced to suck on her shoulder just to keep quiet. Being inside her without that barrier between us feels amazing. She is so wet and tight, I’m delirious with lust for her. And that’s all it is, I tell myself as I watch her face grow blood red with the effort of holding it all in. It’s only pure, carnal lust.
I’ve never excelled at self-deception, but I try hard to fixate that lie as truth in my mind.
Penny is beautiful, and beautifully responsive to me in every way after the first night I struggled to calm her nerves and get her to relax. But she is also wishy-washy, cold and hot, and she’s already stated very plainly that this is temporary. Letting myself fall for her would be beyond foolish.
I’m almost able to believe the lie as she flutters around me, arching her back, shuddering and shivering against me. I can almost believe it as her head falls back and she gasps quietly towards the ceiling. Even when I pull out at that last critical moment and direct my release at a spot just left of her belly button, I think, yes, this is just lust.
Penny’s fingers slide through my hair, and she kisses under my chin. “Oh, Liam,” she says with a soft, contented sigh.
There is a quality to her voice as she says, Oh, Liam, that makes believing that lie impossible.
Liam has just left, and I am put back together, but something must’ve shown on my face a few moments later when Seth burst into my dressing room. “You little slut. How long has this been going on for?”
I swivel around in my chair and regard my reflection. What gave it away? My still slightly flush face? The fuzzy, fly aways that float free of my tight bun? I smooth a hand down the front of my leotard, checking again for any errant cum stains, but there are none.
“Well, aren’t you going to say something?” Seth asks.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he mocks in a high, nasally voice. “Really, Penny? We’re friends.”
“How did you even know?”
“I just saw him leaving, and he looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.” Laughing, Seth pauses to look around the small room. “It smells like sex in here too.”
I wrinkle my nose.
“What? It does.”
“Seth, please don’t tell anyone. Please,” I beg, and for some reason tears are welling up in my eyes.
“I won’t. You know I won’t. Penny, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” It’s the truth too. Nothing is wrong. Everything is perfect, but for how long?
“If nothing is wrong, why are you crying?”
I open my mouth to speak, but no words come out, only a sound like a wounded animal.
Seth is on his knees in front of me, peering up into my face. “Did he hurt you, or make you do something?”
“No. God, of course not. It’s just... Liam is so… He brushes my hair, and he didn’t laugh when I showed him my blanket, and he… he… fixed me somehow.”
“What do you mean, fixed you?”
“When we were together, I could… you know.”
Seth grins at me. “What are you crying about then?”
I shake my head, unable to string together coherent sentences that might explain. The truth is, I don’t fully understand it myself. I only know that I’ve been completely myself with Liam, and I’ve never done that before. Maybe when I was young, before I can remember, but I learned pretty early on that I was strange, and it was just easier for everyone if I wasn’t so strange.
I embarrassed my mother, although she mostly chose to ignore my strange behavior in hopes that it might go away, but Foster chastised me for my restlessness constantly. Eventually I hid in my room if I needed to spin or rock. I learned to wring my hands together on my lap instead of flapping them uselessly or twirling my hair. Luckily many of those urges grew less as I grew older, and I overcame my shyness to a degree, or I learned how to fake polite conversation anyways.
Seth knows of some of my strangeness. We’ve been friends for a long time now, but even he doesn’t know all of it. He perfectly understands my trepidation before that evening’s performance though.
Opening night, and every seat in the theater is occupied. I am so restless that I resort to wiggling my fingers and bouncing up and down in a short arc. It’s better than plucking at my fake eyelashes or pulling out single strands of hair from my tight, hairsprayed bun. Seth and the other dancers pay me no mind. They’ve seen this before. Liam hasn’t and he seems worried, I think. I’m experiencing a bit of tunnel vision, but I can sense him hovering in my periphery. I hear his voice vaguely, but it’s muffled and distorted like it’s being filtered through water.
“She’ll be fine,” Seth assures him. “You’ll see. This is just her process.”
Orchestra music heavy on drums fills the air, drowning out the hushed commotion. The other dancers file out first, leaping and bounding over each other. I feel like one huge spring inside the shell of my body about to burst out at any moment. I also feel the light coating of foundation across my face, the perfect tint for my complexion. It’s a gentle reminder that I am separate from all those eyes on me, and I remember also that no one in the audience can tell that I’m not looking at them. I fixate on the lights, and Seth, the sound of my breathing, and the feel of my heart hammering.
After all these weeks, the movements are muscle and bone memory. Bend. Reach. Breath. Leap. Seth is there, solid and supportive, familiar. It is all familiar to me. We’ve rehearsed this ad nauseum. The only difference this time is all those watching eyes, but I tune them out to the best of my ability.
Unravel is segmented into two acts, between which I chug water and roll my neck in a slow circle, then my shoulders. Liam offers me a smile from afar, which I try to return, but it’s best if I stay completely focused until the end.
And the end comes without mishap. We make it through. Oddly enough, the bow is always the worst for me. Standing closer to the end of the stage, I fix a wide smile on my face and focus on the red exit sign at the back of the theater.
“You had me worried there for a minute before the show tonight,” Liam says later, when we are alone and curled up together on my couch.
One of my hands strokes the small patch of wiry hair at the center of his chest. The other rubs across a square of corduroy near the corner of my blanket. “I get nervous before shows,” I admit.
“Like stage fright?”
“I guess.” I rub the tip of my nose across his shoulder, inhaling the scent of his skin. “I’m kind of a nervou
“Then what made you want to perform?”
“I’ve never wanted to.”
His hand stroking through my hair freezes. “Why do you do it?”
“Because I’ve always done it.”
“What does hmmm mean this time?”
“It means - Hmmm, you are an enigma to me, Penny Abbott.”
“Enigma,” I parrott back, laughing for some reason.
“Seriously, why do you do it?”
I rub my cheek against his arm. “No one is going to pay me to dance alone in a room.”
“Why do you dance in the first place?”
“I told you, I’ve always done it. Or I’ve done it for as long as I can remember.”
“What if you could dance and didn’t have to perform?”
“That would be nice. I like dancing solo, which you already know, but not all the time. It would get really lonely, and I think it’s good to face the things you’re afraid of too.”
Liam tips my chin up and gives me a light smile, but there is a line formed between his eyebrows. “But you’re principal. You… Penny, I don’t get it.”
I have look away from his eyes. Something about it feels so invasive to me at times, like he can actually see through my pupils into my brain and read my thoughts. “I didn’t really want to be, but Andrea made me a deal that was hard to say no to.”
“She gave me that key to the theater so I could come and go as I pleased, and I only have to play kiss ass after the gala’s for twenty minutes, then I’m allowed to hideout until the end of the night.”
Liam gives an amused laugh. “Where do you hide out?”
“Sometimes the sound room above the balcony. It’s kind of interesting to watch everyone unaware from up there. There’s a lot to see in the basement too. I tried my dressing room, but Seth found me, and dragged me back out.” I fit my fingers between his and squeeze our palms together. “Oh, he knows about us by the way. Sorry.”
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