A/N – I’m going to start posting my chapters on WordPress and linking it from the forums. This saves me the worry of making sure everything is completely forum-appropriate.
I woke suddenly after only a few hours of restful sleep. The sun poured directly through the slanted windows, bathing the entire room in the yellow light of late morning. As I rose from the bed, my arm pressed over my eyes in an attempt to block the sun from blinding me, I glanced quickly at the clock. I wasn’t sure what time I had finally succeeded in falling asleep, but I knew it was after the sun had already begun its ascent in the sky. Was it six or seven? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that the minimal sleep I had managed to accrue was going to make the day a difficult one. My body ached, my mind was foggy, and I had no idea what the afternoon would bring. I was used to irrational anxiety, but I had entered uncharted territory and, as enjoyable as the experience had been, the aftermath left me feeling overwhelmed.
I turned toward Pacifica, who continued to sleep soundly. My eyes followed the lines of her back where they curved from the column of her slender neck down toward the swell of her heart-shaped bottom. The light glinted off the pale blue strands of her hair, which had spread wantonly across her shoulders during the course of the night. I smiled in spite of myself, feeling the anxiety flutter away for just a moment as I looked down at the sleeping goddess beside me. I could see her body rise and fall with the steady rhythm of her breath, and I felt my heart quicken. She was so beautiful, so flawless. And for some reason, I was the one she wanted to be with.
She wanted to be with me. I turned away quickly as the memories of the previous night flooded back. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, rubbing my face roughly with my palms. Edie, I love you. The words she had spoken to me in the early hours of the morning, so softly I thought I had imagined it. Had I imagined it? It wouldn’t be the first time I had let my imagination weave an illusion to the point of severe anxiety. That was how I was programmed: to make mountains out of molehills. But it felt real. I closed my eyes tightly, trying to create a vivid recreation of that moment, when she had opened her heart to me in a moment of vulnerability. But my brain felt foggy, the memory barely registering in my mind’s eye. All that remained was the soft melody of her voice. Edie, I love you. Edie, I love you. It played like a broken record inside my head, taunting me with its beautiful symphony. I didn’t know if it was real. I wanted it to be real, though I didn’t understand why. Why did I need it to be true? I wasn’t ready to think about it yet. My chest tightened.
I quickly pulled on my boxers, moving silently to avoid waking Pacifica, and grabbed my overnight bag as I headed into the bathroom.
I unzipped the side pocket of my bag and removed my toothbrush and toothpaste. I sighed softly as I squeezed the cinnamon-flavored paste onto the brush. There were so many unfamiliar thoughts screaming inside my head, I couldn’t delineate each individual one. It was a cacophony of agonizing screeching rattling around in my sleep-deprived brain. I pressed the brush against my teeth, scrubbing away the sourness of morning breath and the last traces of Pacifica’s sweet lips. I focused on the steady rhythm of the toothbrush as it played a chorus against my teeth. I listened to the sound, clinging to it like a lifeline drowning out the constant flurry of screams inside my mind. I needed peace; I needed to think…or to not think. I needed to breathe and relax and push away the doubts and confusion that were tightening around my heart like a vice. My chest ached, and I pressed my free hand against it, as if the gentle pressure of my fingers could release the tension that was taking hold. But it was to no avail; the internal war continued to rage.
I spit the last of the foaming paste into the sink. The water drained in a soft swirling motion, and I stood mesmerized. A moment of silent reflection before I heard the door creak open behind me.
Pacifica stood before, buck naked in all her magnificent glory. Her blue skin glowed softly by the light of the morning sun that poured in through the bathroom window. My breath caught in my chest and my heart skipped a beat. I had held her body close to mine, joined with it in a frenzied coupling, and she still left me breathless and aching with some emotional need that I couldn’t define. Would the desire ever fade? Would I finally wake up one morning and realize that I didn’t need her anymore? Part of me wished desperately for that day, but another part, a part that confounded and alarmed me, prayed that it would never come…that I would wake every morning needing her with the same intensity as I did today.
I smiled shakily, though it probably came out more like a grimace. After all we’d experienced together last night, why was I still so awkward?
“Morning, sunshine,” she said in a velvety voice, “what are you up to?” She grinned in a manner that was somehow both childlike and seductive.
“Uh, I,” I stuttered wildly, “I, um, I thought I would, you know, take a shower before we started the day.” Smooth, Eden. That’d really woo her.
She giggled softly, amused by my nervousness. “Can I join you?” She asked with a wink.
My eyes opened wide. I quickly scanned her delectable form, trailing the curves of her hips with my eyes, and sensual images flooded my brain. Our bodies wet, slathered with soap, pressed against one another, joining together. It was too much to bear. My lungs felt thick, my heart beating wildly against my ribcage. I was on the verge of hyperventilation. I shook my head so quickly that my neck ached from the rough movement.
She stepped back and frowned. No, I didn’t want to upset her, it was just – “I just want to make this a quick shower,” I emphasized, trying to smile reassuringly. “We can, um, we can do…you know…later.” Later? I was making promises I wasn’t sure I could keep.
She raised an eyebrow, but then smiled. “Okay then, I’ll see you in a few minutes.” She leaned forward and kissed me softly on the lips. I stiffened for a moment, but managed to relax my lips beneath hers.
She sauntered out, swaying her hips in a painful display of pure sensuality. I took a deep breath, dropping my boxers – which had become a bit too tight. This was going to be a long day.
Fortunately, Pacifica was dressed and ready to go when I came out of the bathroom about ten minutes later. She’d pulled her hair back into a ponytail and slapped on a little bit of eye makeup (which I couldn’t understand since she was so beautiful without it). She wanted to show me the town, and I knew that it was just the kind of distraction I needed, so I let her lead the way.
We walked to the Briocheport plaza, which was an ugly amalgamation of gray and brown – not a trace of bright color like we had in Sugar Valley – but Pacifica seemed excited about it. She pointed at every little thing we passed, chattering enthusiastically, but my eyes couldn’t seem to stray from the monstrous structure in plaza’s center.
“I think they call this modern art,” Pacifica said, wrinkling her nose slightly.
I snorted. “Really? I just call it ugly,” I said.
Pacifica looked at me with wide eyes and I worried for a moment that I had offended her. But she burst into laughter very suddenly, cradling her stomach as she fell forward in a fit of giggles. She snorted in that way of hers and I found myself laughing alongside her. This was turning out to be a fun distraction.
We stopped at food truck that Pacifica insisted was the best thing about Briocheport. I was intrigued, because we didn’t have anything like this in Sugar Valley. We had ice cream trucks, of course, but I wasn’t sure that qualified. The smell of grease emanated from the windows of the vehicle, and it burned my nose. I wasn’t sure that this was the healthiest idea in the world, but Pacifica skipped right up to the window and ordered herself a beef and cheese burrito.
“A burrito? Are you sure that’s the best idea in the world,” I asked, my stomach turning from the thought of such a greasy concoction.
“No,” she said smiling, “but life’s short. You got to live a little!”
I went with the clam chowder. It seemed like a slightly safer option.
We found a small table nearby where we could enjoy our food and relax our feet for a bit.
As I dug into the chowder, I found myself wishing I had taken a chance on the burrito. It wasn’t that it was bad per se, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t achieve from a can. Pacifica’s burrito, on the other hand, smelled so amazing that I started to salivate. Sour cream dripped from her chin as she devoured her meal, not caring how ridiculous she looked or who saw. She caught me looking at her and shoved the burrito toward me.
“Want a bite?” She inquired, her mouth stuffed with beef and cheese.
Yes, I absolutely did want one, but I also didn’t want to admit that she was right and I should have gotten something more interesting. “Uh, no,” I said, regretting the words as soon as they left my mouth. “I’m good.”
She swallowed her bite and leaned across the table, waving the burrito right under my nose. The little minx. “C’mon, Edie, you know you want some.” She grinned mischievously.
“Fine,” I said, giving in and taking the burrito from her hands. As I bit into the tortilla, my mouth sang with sheer pleasure. It was the best burrito I had ever eaten. I closed my eyes and hummed a soft, “Mmm.”
“Didn’t I tell you?” She asked.
Without opening my eyes, I nodded. She was right. Life is short.
After we’d digested our food a bit, Pacifica grabbed me by the hand and pulled me toward a staircase that appeared to lead underground. I dug in my heels and stopped us both hard.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked, the anxiety evident in my voice.
“I’m taking you on the subway,” she responded. “My feet are tired and we need to get back.”
“Whoa!” I exclaimed, my eyes widening in terror. “You want me to climb into a narrow metal tube hurtling through under the city at Berry knows how many miles per hour?!”
“Edie, you can’t come to the city without experiencing the wonders of the subway,” she said, pouting like a child. I knew it was a manipulation tactic, but it was so adorable that I found myself unable to resist.
The sour smell of human filth and discarded food drifted up the stairs and my stomach recoiled. I looked around, though I can’t say why, looking for some kind of reprieve. I turned back to Pacifica, who fluttered her lashes, trying hard to break me down. It worked.
“Fine,” I said, grumbling.
She squealed excitedly and practically dragged me down the stairs.
As we exited the subway, Pacifica’s phone rang. Her record studio wanted to see her this afternoon to go over some demos, which meant I would be left to my own devices for the next three or four hours.
We stood in front of Pacifica’s building and she stopped suddenly at the door. I turned to her, catching a wistful look in her eyes. I frowned in confusion.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. I didn’t know if I’d done or said the wrong thing. I thought we were having fun, but I had never been especially talented at reading social situations. I was afraid that she regretted what we had done the night before. She hadn’t said anything about her words the night before – assuming they weren’t a product of my own imagination – so I didn’t know what to think.
“I just –“ she started to say something. She stopped and stepped toward me, pressing her lips hard against mine. I gasped a little and her tongue found its way inside my mouth, entangling with my tongue the way our bodies had less than twenty four hours prior. My hands came against her hips and she wrapped her arms around my waist. The kiss was not a gentle one; it was rough with need, with emotion. As though she was trying to say everything she was thinking with her lips alone, speaking some indecipherable language that I couldn’t translate.
She pulled away, gasping for breath, her lips nearly bruised from the force of my own. She shook her head quickly. “I have to go,” she said, pressing the key to her apartment into my head. I opened my mouth to say something, but she had taken off running toward the subway.
I walked up the stairs toward her apartment, glancing behind me after every two or three steps. I don’t know what I expected. For her to come back and tell me she loved me? Maybe. Edie, I love you. I shook the memory from my mind and went to put the key in the door. Something stopped me.
I sighed and stepped back from the door. I needed to do something first. I needed something for Pacifica to show her…I didn’t know what. My affection, or my appreciation? I don’t know what I was trying to show, but I knew I needed to find something special for her. Something, so that she would always remember this weekend and our time together. I took off back down the stairs.
I probably walked a mile before I finally found a store that seemed suitable. Everywhere I looked I had seen fancy, upscale jewelry stores with diamonds and rubies twinkling in the windows. But setting aside the fact that I couldn’t even begin to afford fine jewelry on my meager salary, I didn’t want Pacifica to have something cookie-cutter. I wanted her to have something special, that she wouldn’t see around the neck of a celebutante on the cover of a fashion magazine.
I found a small resale shop that seemed promising, so I walked in. The door chimed its welcoming bell as I entered, and I took a deep breath. As I scanned the room, I saw a wild assortment of items, primarily clothing. Some seemed to have been popular in decades far beyond any in which I’d lived. I sighed, hoping there was something – anything – that would show Pacifica how much I cared about her.
I was on the verge of giving up when my eye caught something shiny hidden behind a bunch of old rusted tools. I knelt down at the level of the small bookcase, shielding my mouth from the cloud of dust that coated the surface of the shelves. I reached back and pulled out a delicate chain with a small jewel-encrusted pendant at its center. I used my fingers to brush away the last traces of dust and my mouth dropped in awe. It was perfect. A small treasure, no box to be found, hidden among trash. It was reminiscent of Pacifica – a shining jewel trying to find a place among gilded steel. It was laughable that she didn’t realize that she was more real, more beautiful, than any of these so-called celebrities she tried so hard to impress.
I stood, smiling down at the pendant in my palm. I hoped she loved it as much I as did.
I set the necklace down on the counter in front of a bored cashier. He eyed the necklace, his expression softening a bit.
“Wow, that’s quite a find,” he said. “Mostly, we just sell junk.”
I shifted awkwardly at the social interaction. “Um, how much?” I asked, wanting desperately to get out of there.
“Oh,” he said, looking up. “How does $10 sound?” He asked, shrugging slightly.
My eyes widened at the low price. “Wow, really?” I asked.
He smiled. “Yeah, why not?”
I pulled my wallet out and quickly handed him a ten-dollar bill. He put the necklace in a small box for me and I started to hurry away.
“Hey,” he said, stopping me in my tracks. I turned back nervously, afraid that he had changed his mind.
“Yeah?” I said, my voice breaking a little.
“She’s a lucky girl,” he replied, grinning.
My eyes widened in surprise. I nodded. “Thank you,” I said softly, before rushing out the door.
I sat on the couch twiddling my thumbs for the next two hours. I turned the TV on, trying to find some way to distract myself before Pacifica came home. After flipping through the channels a half dozen times, I gave up and switched it off. I laid my head against the cushions of the sofa and started to doze before I heard the door open. I jumped up.
Pacifica smiled, not showing any signs of her earlier demeanor. “Hey,” she said, “I hope you weren’t too bored while I was gone.”
I cleared my throat. “No, no, I kept myself entertained well enough.” I laughed nervously, which earned a look of confusion from Pacifica.
“Um, okay,” she said. “What did you do?”
I shuffled a bit, looking at my feet. I looked up at her and she raised an eyebrow. I knew it looked suspicious, but I wasn’t sure how to tell her what I had done. What if she didn’t like it, or laughed in my face? Maybe getting her a gift was premature. I wasn’t sure how she felt about gifts, so she could be offended. Or what if she didn’t like it? I mean, sure, it made me think of her when I saw it, but she was used to people showering her in fancy jewels and clothing, so she might scoff in disgust when she saw my flea-market find. The pessimistic thoughts swirled through my head and I had to breathe deeply to avoid fainting. I pressed my hand against my mouth against a wave of nervous nausea.
“Edie?” She said softly, her voice concerned. “Is something the matter?”
“No,” I said quickly. “It’s just,” I took a deep breath. “I got you something,” I said finally.
Her eyes opened wide and her mouth broke out into a smile. “You did?” She asked excitedly. “What did you get me?”
I started to reach into my pocket to retrieve the small box, but I stopped and looked up at her. “Close your eyes and turn around,” I said.
“Um, okay,” she said hesitantly, but she complied with my request.
I pulled the necklace from the box and stepped up behind her. It took me a minute or two to get the clasp unhooked, but after some maneuvering and soft cursing, I managed to get it around her neck. I made sure the pendant settled against her breasts before whispering, “Okay.”
“I can open my eyes now?” She asked.
“Yeah,” I said. I braced myself for her reaction.
She opened her eyes and pressed her hand against the pendant around her neck. She looked down, raising the pendant up for examination. She gasped softly, her eyes scanning the small silver fairy and the turquoise stones, a color reminiscent of my own eyes. She stood there for over a minute, just looking down at her gift. She didn’t speak and I became concerned.
“I, um,” I wanted to explain myself, to explain why I had chosen it for her. “It reminded me of you,” I said with a shaky laugh, “because you’re like a fairy, with this magic and playfulness and –“ What was I even saying? “I don’t know how to describe it,” I said, “but I saw that and I saw the turquoise stones and I just thought – I thought it was perfect for you.” I took a deep breath.
She turned and looked at me, her eyes wide. “Eden, I,” she shook her head and my heart fell.
“You don’t like it,” I said, feeling defeated. “I know, it was stupid, I shouldn’t have gotten it.” I laughed humorlessly. “Typical Eden.” I wanted to crawl into a hole, to be anywhere but here.
“No, Edie,” she said, finally. “It’s, it’s –“ I noticed that her eyes had filled with tears, and she was trying to keep them from escaping.
“Cici,” I said finally, “Are you okay?” I stepped forward as she nodded her head furiously.
She looked up at me for a moment and we stood frozen in time, our eyes locked intently, not blinking. I could barely breathe. She reached up and brushed her fingers against my cheek. The touch was feather-light, but there was an unmistakable tenderness behind the gesture. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against mine softly. This wasn’t like the kiss from earlier in the afternoon. This was gentle and sweet, filled with emotions that I refused to name. It was a caress, not an assault. It was beautiful and sweet.
I could taste the saltiness of her tears as they poured down her cheeks. Silent tears, speaking to some part of her that I couldn’t yet reach. My heart ached with a wistful sadness; I wanted so much to understand those tears, to know what was in her heart right now. But I was too afraid to ask.
She pulled back slightly and whispered against my mouth: “It’s perfect.”
We made our way up the stairs, melting out of our clothing like a butterfly shedding the last remnants of its cocoon. We never made it to the bed, falling instead to our knees on the fluffy rug beneath it. Our bodies came together tenderly, with an emotional need, different than the carnal, physical coupling from the previous night. I pressed my lips over every inch of her skin, loving the feel of her silky flesh beneath my lips. We made love slowly, for hours, saying everything in our hearts without ever saying a word. It was beautiful and terrifying. We were falling, drowning, trying desperately to save ourselves, but not knowing how. So we clung to one another like a raft, our bodies whispering promises and reassurances to stifle the hopelessness.
We fell together in a tangle of limbs as the morning light started to creep up over the horizon. We had gotten ourselves into something that neither could understand. As I fell asleep, I pushed away the voice of doubt that whispered nasty thoughts into my ear. All I needed right now was Pacifica.
For tonight, she was mine. I wouldn’t let myself dwell on the possibilities of tomorrow.